Archive Dive

Self-Publishing a Century Ago

Self-publishing is hardly a new idea, as evidenced by an editorial we published 100 years ago. The piece addresses the question of whether “the bookseller should be advised [by the publisher] when a work is an author’s book, i.e., a book published in whole or largely at the author’s expense.” What it also reveals, however, is how common it was then for traditional publishers to publish subvented titles in addition to wholly publisher-funded ones, something that rarely happens now in mainstream publishing.

“The practice of allowing the author to pay in whole or in part for the publication of his manuscript is by no means confined to certain of the smaller and less-known publishing houses. All publishers, unless we are much mistaken, have authors’ books on their lists. There is nothing underhanded in their publication, for of certain books the reputable publisher says quite frankly, ‘These books are not of such a nature as to make a wide appeal, and consequently, however worthy they may be, we cannot afford to publish them without the author’s assistance.’ ” —From “Authors’ Books,” The Publishers’ Weekly, June 3, 1916

From the Newsletters

Tip Sheet

Alexis M. Smith, author of the novel Marrow Island (HMH), explores the treatment of women in the wilderness in literature.

Children’s Bookshelf

How two authors who started a $40,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of their children’s book, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, ended up raising $675,000.

PW Daily

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For the third week running, the most-read review on last week was The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley (HMH).


More great moments in epigraph history, and a look back at some recent conversation-starting pieces we’ve run on how romance covers get made, funny books, and more.


Introducing the June Book Blast Challenge: reading 30 books in 30 days.


Week Ahead

PW senior writer Andrew Albanese on two recent surveys that suggest library spending may be stabilizing.

More to Come

The More to Come crew on DC Comics’ latest superhero relaunch; the uproar over a new Captain America plot; Louise Simonson, pioneering female comics writer; and Comixology Unlimited, a new digital comics subscription service.

PW Radio

Popular science author Mary Roach discusses her new book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War (Norton). PW bookselling editor Judith Rosen previews this year’s Children’s Institute.