Friday, October 19, 2012

Is Your Self-Published Book Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

I recently received an email from a woman in our writer's group. She has just about finished polishing her book and has chosen to self-publish. Her question to me was: Does it matter if I purchase an ISBN from my print on demand publisher and therefore have their name as the publisher on my book, or is it better if I create my own publishing imprint, purchase an ISBN myself, and avoid having their company listed as my publisher?

That's a great question.

(I'm going to work from the assumption that she is not a speaker who is printing this book just to sell at her speaking engagements, personal appearances, and on her website. In that case it wouldn't matter much who the publisher is. I'm going to further assume that she would like as wide a distribution as possible for her book.)

The answer to this question is as simple as:   Do you want your book to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty or guilty until proven innocent?

The Guilty Until Proven Innocent Book:
As a book buyer, when a book is presented to me, one of the first things I look for is the publisher. If I see a print on demand company as the publisher of the book, it's a red flag that the product may be of lower quality or at the very least hasn't already been vetted by a trained eye. This book is now "guilty" in my eyes and needs to prove itself "innocent" of poor writing, poor editing and flawed information. If the topic seemed interesting, I will continue to browse the book, but now, the book has one strike against it and needs to convince me that it is a quality product.

The Innocent Until Proven Guilty Book:
Upon first examination of a new book, if I see the name of a publisher (or imprint) I don't recognize, I don't automatically turn it away. After all, there are many great Indie publishers out there and more are coming on the scene all the time. I will continue to look through the book. In my mind, this book is "innocent" so far, and won't be "guilty" in my mind until I see a topic that doesn't work for my store, poor writing, sloppy editing, etc. These books have a better chance with me and those are just the hard facts.

If at all possible, I encourage you to create your own imprint when working with print on demand publishers. Even if no one has ever heard of your imprint, you will be seen as a more serious writer, this book and subsequent books will be taken more seriously, and your chances of a wider distribution go up dramatically.

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