Future Self-Publishing Models?

Are these experimental models the future of self-publishing, or will they simply become footnotes as the industry evolves? It’s an exciting juncture in self-publishing, and new technology and innovative minds are bringing ideas to life every day. While this list makes no effort to be all-inclusive, here are a few models to watch. by Joe Wikert
Publish date:


Touted as an ATM for books, the Espresso Book Machine serves up paperbacks to order. Named one of Time magazine’s best inventions of 2007, the EBM houses laser-printing, paper-slicing and book-binding mechanisms, and it’s networked with a digital database of more than 200,000 public-domain books—plus the ability to download your personal files. Nine experimental machines are operating worldwide (with just four in the United States), and parent company On Demand Books (ondemandbooks.com) alludes to the release of a commercial machine soon. With the EBM, you can have a freshly made 300-page book in hand in three minutes. Have an espresso while you wait.


Several new online communities are experimenting with an e-publishing model in the spirit of critique, collaboration and publication—in no particular order.

WEbook (webook.com) defines itself as an online book publishing company that “does for the industry what ‘American Idol’ did for music.” It offers opportunities for peer review at each user’s discretion. Then, users can submit their work for inclusion in periodic voting cycles. Projects are offered to the community for polling, and selections from the top 10 percent win the opportunity to “solidify a publishing plan” with WEbook.

Scribophile (scribophile.com) is designed primarily for peer critique. What’s unique about the format? Before you can post a work, you need to earn karma points by critiquing and rating the works of others. Scribophile acknowledges that by posting your work for the public, you’re publishing it, but also states, “Scribophile isn’t a publisher; we just want to make you the best writer you can be!” You can restrict your work to other members to help protect your rights.

BookRix (bookrix.com) is a Germany-based platform that “provides an online destination where authors can showcase their work.” Works don’t need to be book-length; short stories and poems are welcome. Discussion groups, rating and reviewing systems and competitions are also offered. Terms of use insist it’s not a publisher, stipulating the site “merely places online a platform enabling others to upload and perceive contents which have been created and/or uploaded by users and which enables communication between users.”

These sites can be innovative forums for writers who manage their expectations and decide the services are in line with their goals. But remember: When you post your work online, you’re essentially publishing it. Never enter into such an arrangement lightly, especially if you have traditional publishing goals in mind for that same work. Scrutinize terms of use and FAQs before posting a word. Most of these sites are so new that they’re still evolving, and so are their terms—so if they seem decidedly vague, it may be because they are.


What if you just want to make a book for yourself, or a handful to give as gifts? Blurb (blurb.com) offers affordable services that yield professional-looking results.

Just download its free bookmaking software, design your own book using original text (and even photos) and choose your format: paperback or hardcover, black-and-white or full color, in small to coffee-table sizes. Finished books arrive at your door in days.

This article appeared in the March/April issue of Writer's Digest. Click here to order your copy in print. If you prefer a digital download of the issue, click here.

The Full Package on Self-Publishing:

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson discusses how she never gave up on her story, how she worked through internal doubts, and how research lead her out of romance and into historical fiction.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Seven New Courses, Writing Prompts, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new courses, our Editorial Calendar, and more!

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Kentucky’s Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson discusses how each project has its own process and the difference between writing fiction and her new memoir, Perfect Black.

From Script

Approaching Comedy from a Personal Perspective and Tapping into Your Unique Writer’s Voice (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, interviews with masters of comedy, screenwriter Tim Long ('The Simpsons') and writer-director Dan Mazer (Borat Subsequent Movie) about their collaboration on their film 'The Exchange', and filmmaker Trent O’Donnell on his new film 'Ride the Eagle' co-written with actor Jake Johnson ('New Girl'). Plus, tips on how to tap into your unique voice and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Here are the top creativity websites as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Proest Dalgron: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn proest dalgron, a Welsh quatrain form.

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a palindrome is when it comes to writing, including several examples of palindromes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time to set a trap.