For many authors at the current time, publishing means self-publishing means Amazon. Amazon is the distributor which provides the shop window for the self-publisher, but does nothing to prepare or enhance individual books and is not itself a publisher.
Attracted by the apparently straightforward non-selectiveness of self-publishing, many authors subsequently find the whole business so time-consuming and frustrating that they are prepared to concede it is not for them. The typical self-publisher writes alongside other, more reliable and lucrative work and therefore cannot devote much time to fufilling the exacting requirements of the various distributors (Amazon is by no means the only one) and promoting themselves in a competitive and hostile world.
This is where a top publishing company comes in, putting its cumulative expertise at the disposal of the struggling small fry.
There are so many things for a self-publisher to get to grips with: editing, formatting, cover design, submission, and then possibly the unkindest blow of all: having to promote their own work and walk the line between uncommercial self-deprecation and offputting boastfulness.
The top publishing company takes it in its stride to perform the various tasks which prepare a book for publication. It becomes adept at satisfying the requirements of the various distributors in terms of format.When it promotes a book, it does so as a third party and so without the violation of personal modesty which can otherwise be entailed.
The advantages enjoyed by a top publishing company are not only dedication and the slickness born of practice, but also the benefits of group presentation and group promotion. It is possible for a top publishing company to have direct selling on its website, either as a sole diet or alongside selling through other distributors. Visitors to the website view the wares, that is to say the publications, of the top publishing company which can be grouped or indexed appealingly and promoted by other contents of the website, such as book reviews, articles and features.
An author who puts his or her book in the hands of a top publishing company will obviously lose a portion of the royalties from any subsequent sales. What they will gain, however, includes confidence that their book, having been accepted, has received third party approbation, knowledge that the book is being presented to the world by experts, more time to write further books rather than spend it on promoting the one already written, and (last but not least) the likelihood of increased sales.
While recent developments in the publishing world have perhaps made it appear that the era of the publisher is over, in reality the need has risen again - in a different guise but just as strongly.