Saturday, October 20, 2007

In general I have been a little scathing about writers who invent the name of a "publisher", obfuscating that their book is self-published. I have seen many cases where the identity of the press is further shored up by accepting submissions from other authors. Often followed by less than deft editing, packaging and promotion--leading eventually to disappointment, acrimony and threats of legal action.

But then I came across rare but legitimate stories such as Maggie Anton's (author of the Rashi's Daughters books) where the front press opened the door to mainstream success. And I find myself reading opinions such as the following by Christopher J. Jarmick with more of an open mind.

" don't have to come right out at tell them it is a self-published book and if you have been reviewed in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal etc.. and the book looks as if it was published by a quality small press, then omitting that detail will give you a chance of getting a review."

Especially as it is followed by:

"If a book editor contacts you and asks you point blank if it is a self-published book, then you must decide if you want to lie and risk pissing off the book editor or worse... "

So what do other authors think about misdirection and lies of omission to avoid the roadblocks normally faced by self-published books?


Kathie Thomas said...

My book is self-published, but through a Press House so I have the best of both worlds. If this first book does really well then it's possible they might decide to publish my next one for me. At this stage they are promoting my book, contacting book stores and negotiating with them on my behalf and I pass all bookstore leads and contacts to them. They are my 'publisher' - I just paid them to print my book.

meika said...

I used an "imprint" title.

a wombwell book

It had nothing to do with trying to avoid looking like a self PODded title, and everything to do with the interior logic, or poetic structure even,of the book itself.

As indeed everything in the book is.

It wasn't about being a publishing house wannabee. You see, there are other titles to come and they need to be bundled together somehow. An 'imprint' does that.

Some PODders are there for the art, not the publishing mystique.

Poor fools that they are.

Snook said...

Lying will never get you anywhere. If the work is good, you might eventually make it. The end does not justify the means when the means is a lie. I don't see any problem with small press or imprints, they are what they are. They perform a valuable service for some, lord knows that my stuff needs an editor.

cheryl anne gardner said...

I whole heartedly agree ... an honest author who believes in their work enough to take the risk really shouldn't be concerned with all the ridiculous self-pub stigma, which is perpetuated by people who haven't a clue what they are talking about anyway.

It's really all about integrity, isn't it? I would much rather read a book by a self-pub who worked their butt off, slaved over their art, and honestly believed in it enough to make it happen, instead of pulling the fake press name trump card or taking the pitiable woe is me tact as they cry over the piles of rejection letters yet do nothing to shift the paradigm.

And how embarassing that must be later when they get caught in the lie.

If you decide to self-pub, just keep in mind the risk you took, the murky waters you braved ... be proud of it, you have every reason to be.

Tabitha said...

I'm very glad to see this dirty little subject brought out into the light. As the legitimate reviewer of iUniverse books, I have already sidestepped the deception. An author cannot join this particular pack of chicken-weasels and receive any of my blatantly honest reviews of her book. All the authors I review have stood proudly by their work, and I tip my mouse to them for their integrity.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Have you been to Maggie Anton's site, Emily? I went there when I first encountered the book. She'd created a press specifically for the publication of Rashi's Daughter: Book One. It was obvious from the site.

That wasn't what fueled her success, though. It was her direct targetting of her audience and bringing them into her world.

Emily Veinglory said...

I think, and Anton certainly claims, that posing as a small press was part of her successful strategy.

Anton says, "I chose the name Banot Press- Hebrew for 'daughters'- rather than the more obvious 'Anton Press,' because I wanted to maintain the illusion of a small California Press rather than a blatant self-publishing effort."

Darryl Sloan said...

Ask yourself, as a reader, have you ever bought a book by an unknown author purely on the strength of its cover and blurb? That's rare for me to do, as a reader.

But that's the position we self-published authors are in. Except ... I allow my readers to try before they buy, with a free sizeable excerpt. If I can get them to the point where they've read the excerpt and liked it, their choice whether to buy the novel or not will be based solely on their enjoyment. They simply will not care whether it's a self-published novel.

I am always forthright on my website about the fact that I'm self-published. It hasn't stopped my books from selling. Readers do not care.

But if an author isn't willing to share some writing for free, they won't buy your book anyway.

This is my experience.

L.K. Campbell said...

I've been told by writer friends that mentioning my self-pubbed books is probably the biggest factor that has kept me from getting an agent or a traditional publisher. Maybe they're right, but how can I lie about a thing like that? All an agent or editor has to do is google my name, and they can find out that I'm self-pubbed.

Dusk Peterson said...

My impression is that a lot of conventional self-publishers do consider themselves to be publishers. And if you look at the history of small presses, they have a point - an awful lot of well-respected small presses began as one- or two-person ventures to publish the publisher's own books.

I chose to be unconventional and use my Website URL as my press name, simply because it's an easy way to tell readers where to find my e-books. Nor am I keen on the "fool the reviewers" motive for adopting a press name.

However, there's something to be said for reassuring the readers. When they look at a book, they may or may not be trying to weed out self-published books, but they're certainly looking for evidence that whoever published the book knew what they were doing. If I'd gone immediately into print publishing, I'd have had no qualms about using a traditional-style press name, as a way of telling the readers, "I understand the publishing business, and I'm following its conventions."

When I was a teenager, The Cottage Press lived on the ground floor of my house. It was a typesetting business run solely by my parents.

Emily Veinglory said...

I think that previously just getting bookj made and distributed kind of made the self-publisher a small press or close to it. But now with Amazon and Lulu etal... not necessarily.