Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Authors: who cares who published your books? Probably no one

I was at a community social event a few days ago to meet some people I knew only through Facebook. I had taken a few copies of my newest book to give to them. We were seated in a huge room with hundreds of people and we talked to strangers who were sitting near us. 

When I took the books out and signed them for the FB friends, the strangers immediately asked if they could see them. They flipped through the books and smiled (a good sign). 

One said, "I never met an author before." Another asked where she could buy the book. A third asked how long it takes to write a book. Someone asked if I find it hard to write a book. Another asked how I decide what to write about. 

One question that nobody asked is "what company published the book." 

From what I've observed, a publisher's name on a book is very different from a brand name on a bottle of wine or a pair of shoes. It's more like the name of a TV channel -- close to completely irrelevant.

Readers are interested in a book's content and maybe the author's reputation -- not the name of the company that delivered the content. 

  • Zoe Winters writes quirky and sometimes dark paranormal romance and fantasy. She says, “The average reader doesn’t care how a book gets to market. If the book is good, it doesn't matter if your Chihuahua published it.” 
  • Author Simon Royle wrote, “People don't buy books from publishers. They buy them from authors.” 
  • Edward Uhlan founded Exposition Press -- an early and important pay-to-publish company -- in 1936. He said, “Most people can’t tell the difference between a vanity book and a trade book anyway. A book is a book.” 
Concentrate on producing top-quality books. Choose a good name for your tiny publishing company. Don't for a minute fret that readers will reject you because the logo on your books doesn't belong to Penguin or Simon & Schuster.

dog pic from Google Images


  1. Why did you pick "Silver Sands Books" for you company's name?

    1. Silver Sands is the name of a state park and beach near me in Milford, CT. To me the name seems pleasant, relaxing, informal, not genre-specific and was easy to develop a logo for. Also, I've always liked alliterations. http://www.SilverSandsbooks.com

  2. Great advice. Thanks.

  3. I'm on the fence regarding your point as a self-publisher myself and one of the world's leading experts on self-publishing. The presence of a recognizable publisher's name speaks to the technical quality of the book, a book that has benefited from the involvement of a copy editor, a developmental editor, and other team members. Without the publisher's imprint, one could be purchasing a book that suffers from no only technical errors like spelling and grammar mistakes, but also continuity, storytelling, and other developmental flaws common amongst self-published works. Not all self-published works suffer from these problems, of course, and not all self-published works lack editorial contributions. Unfortunately, without a publisher's imprint, there's no way to tell the difference, pre-purchase, between books that have been polished by professional assistance and ones that could be the poorest quality drivel.

    As self-publishing matures, as the various distribution media for self-published works evolve, hopefully a way will emerge that helps assure a measure of quality without relying on the lumbering behemoths of big name publishers.

    1. Unfortunately, lots of poorly edited, inaccurate and ugly books are produced by the major publishers.

      Also, while such names as Simon & Schuster and Doubleday may be recognized by book shoppers, there are a great many imprints from the majors that will be unrecognizable to shoppers and not have any advantage over self-pubbers' brand names.

      Surely, "Steve's Book Company" sounds like the work of an amateur, but my own "Silver Sands Books" is no worse than "Puffin Books" and "Gotham Books" (both from Penguin) or "Broadside Books" and "Ecco Books" (both from Harper Collins).