Printing costs

A brief guide on how to finance the printing of your doctoral thesis and information about VG WORT.

One key issue when it comes to the publication of your PhD thesis is the financing of the printing. This challenge presents itself—depending on your personal situation—in many different ways and there are many different solutions:

  • A publishing contract without additional payment. If you are doing a PhD on a subject that is of interest to a large publisher of nonfiction, there is a possibility that the publisher will include your book in their catalogue without additional payment.
    • With profit sharing: This is the jackpot. The publisher assumes that your book will sell well and includes it in the regular catalogue. This is rare. So assuming it will happen is more than risky.
    • Without profit sharing: In this case, you have no claim to royalties, but also no costs. You may receive the required copies for the university or free copies for yourself. But some contracts exclude even this. You have to keep this in mind—especially if you want to distribute a large number of copies free of charge to reviewers, friends and family—in terms of costs.
  • Publication as part of a series: A publisher is involved here, too, of course. If your supervisor, the institute or the university where you are pursuing your PhD has a publication series, then it is sometimes possible to publish your work as part of this series free of charge or at a favourable price.
  • Scholarship:
    • Study scholarship: If you obtain a PhD scholarship from a foundation or other organisation, make sure you find out well in advance whether the scholarship includes (partial) financing of the printing costs. Your scholarship provider may also have a separate programme for this purpose, for which you will have to submit a separate application.
    • Printing cost scholarships: Foundations and other scholarship providers are not the only ones to offer targeted support for printing costs. Many universities and colleges also have their own funding programmes, which might range from covering only the printing costs to a late-stage grant for completing a thesis. In some cases, these scholarships are awarded in order to promote specific groups of PhD candidates, such as people with a migration background, women in academia, etc.
  • Online publication: You should check this point in your PhD regulations, but nowadays it is normally permissible to publish your thesis online only, for example on the servers of your respective college or university. Apart from some formalities, “one click” is all it takes and the thesis is published.
  • Your own resources: Congratulations! Thanks to good fortune or hard work you have sufficient means to finance the printing costs yourself. But even in this case it is worth comparing offers. The formula “good publisher = higher printing costs” does not hold true. It can even be the other way around.

(In some older PhD regulations there is still a rule that the publication can also take place completely without a publisher and it is enough to supply a certain number of bound copies to the university or college. But since copying and binding costs should not be underestimated, the costs are not insignificant. In addition, the text cannot be ordered later via the book trade, which of course adversely affects the distribution of the work.) 

Whatever your personal situation, don’t forget to register with VG WORT!

The Verwertungsgemeinschaft (copyright agency) WORT takes care—like GEMA in the music sector—of remuneration for the written (or spoken, such as in radio pieces) word. Registration is free of charge. The only important thing is that it should take place no later than two years after publication—that is how long retrospective checks and payments are made.

When registering, you must make sure that you do not allow the publisher to have a stake in the pay-out, otherwise you will only receive part. However, check beforehand if the contract with the publisher provides for this otherwise.

By the way, it is also worth your while to enter articles that you have written for trade magazines or other journalistic purposes into the VG WORT portal. There are amounts for these, too, that are paid out in the annual distribution.

Please note that the amount due to you will always be transferred one year after publication and depending on the relevant deadlines. This has to be taken into account in the financing of printing costs, because it thus becomes more a case of partial refinancing at a later point in time.