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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I set up my own publishing company but not just to publish my own work. I recently published a book that I love from a girl whose work I had seen online a few years back. But now no one seems to believe that it isn't my writing!

It just got a new review that refers to how it's not bad for a self-published book.

I was like, it's not self published! What do I have to do for you to believe me? People think they know it all. If they see a low price, it must be a self published book. Well, it's not. I published it and I did not have anything to do with writing it.

The only thing I can do is leave a comment on the review, I guess.

I'm so frustrated that people are just assuming that my company is simply a front for self publishing. On the other hand, I have published a couple of my own books too.  :-\
 

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Small press doesn't get much more respect than self-publishers. I would say the more books you put out from other writers the more people will get it. Tell your author to be active in promotion online so people who like the book will see a different person.
 

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Young, small companies will always have difficulty garnering credibility from the big boys. People will say "Oh, you think you can just up and one day start a PUBLISHING company? Who do you think you are?" etc...

It will obviously take a serious investment of time and work to get respect, but if you keep it at, your publishing company can be as big as HarperCollins or Random House. All companies have to start somewhere, right?
 

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In many ways, there really isn't much distinction between what you're doing and self-publishing (I also own a small boutique publishing company and publish a small number of authors). It's really a matter of degrees and perceptions. Embrace the fact that this reviewer seems to have a double standard, judging what s/he perceives as self-published as having a different quality than trad published books (much the same way that readers expect something different from their pulp fiction or paperback writers). Embrace, but don't respond. You'll just stir up a hornet's nest if you do. If the book is good, that review will eventually fade away.

Bottom line, as a business owner and a professional (publisher), do what you can to give your books the polish they need to blur the lines between yourself and Big5 books and don't sweat the small stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, you guys are right.

The more authors I have, the better established I'll become. It's just slow going nurturing books to the point that they are ready to publish! (As you all know!)
 
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I think the problem is that your site doesn't actually look like a legitimate publisher site. It looks like an author blog. The problem is that it is pretty common for three or four authors to get together, create a false publishing name, and just all self-publish under the same brand. Your site looks like that. It doesn't look like a publisher's site.

If you want people to treat you like a publisher, you have to act like a publisher. You have to LOOK like a publisher. You have to both walk the walk and talk the talk. Otherwise, people will assume it is just you and a few friends banding together to form an imprint. Frankly, I enjoy author collectives (the more formal name of that sort of thing). Author collectives are a wonderful way to control costs and present a uniform, professional face to the public. But some people DO abuse the idea of a "publisher" and just call themselves a publisher when in fact they aren't performing a single responsibility other than uploading a file.

Do you make the tough decisions as to what does and does not get published?
Do you pay for the editing and proofreading?
Do you handle all of the formatting and production of the finished product?
Do you pay for the cover art?
Are you responsible for the core marketing strategy?
Have you set up a legal entity and/or taken the neccessary steps to make sure that you will be able to issue 1099s and meet all of the neccessary tax liabilities for your publishing company?

If you are doing all of that, then you are the publisher. It doesn't matter what a single reviewer says. If you are taking on 100% of the responsibilities of a publisher, you are a publisher. All you need to do is clean up your presence online so people don't instinctive think you aren't a publisher.



 

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tensen said:
Which sadly is only likely to make it look more like a self-published book in most people's minds.
Agreed.

And I also agree with Julie that your website looks more like an author's website than a small press website.

Is this an author collective (which I think are awesome, btw) or an actual royalty-paying small press?
 

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TexasGirl said:
And get author photos up for as many people as you can!
Very good point. If only one author has an author photo and then the rest don't, then it's not difficult to assume that the others are pen names of the first author, in which case it's a front for self-publishing. I'm not saying this is what is going on, but it's a reason why some people might assume it's you.
 

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Probably doesn't help that the voice in the two books is so similar. Once you get a couple more authors with a distinctly different style, it won't be an issue IMO. But what's been said above is spot on. Photos and making it LOOK like a publishing site is priority number 1.
 

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Dalya said:
It's hard to get respect.

Focus instead on the money. The money doesn't judge. ;)
Respect definitely follows money - I'm convinced that's what's given self-publishing the respect that it has garnered so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks very much for the advice! I didn't realize my site didn't look professional enough. What do people think I could change to make it look more like a publisher?

To answer questions, no it is not an author's collective. I pay royalties to the authors.
Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Do you make the tough decisions as to what does and does not get published?
Do you pay for the editing and proofreading?
Do you handle all of the formatting and production of the finished product?
Do you pay for the cover art?
Are you responsible for the core marketing strategy?
Have you set up a legal entity and/or taken the neccessary steps to make sure that you will be able to issue 1099s and meet all of the neccessary tax liabilities for your publishing company?
1) Yes, I decide what gets published and I don't just take anything (though my friends seem to think I want them to throw me their crap)
2) Yes, I pay for editing and proofreading
3) Yes, I format the books and purchase the ISBNs, then upload them to distributors (I want to try lightning source because I think it's more pro than create space, but haven't tried it yet!)
4) Yes, I pay for the cover art and find the artist
5) I do all the marketing myself
6) I have set up a legal entity and am working with an accountant to make sure I'm doing the taxes correctly
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
TexasGirl said:
I was just about to say exactly what Julie said! And get author photos up for as many people as you can!
Unfortunately, Annabelle is very secretive about her identity and she refuses to allow a picture of herself. She's a little embarrassed to be writing what she does :(

The other people I have lined up whose books haven't come out yet are similar.

Do you think I could have author photos that don't clearly show the faces or something like that? No, that really sounds sketchy. Darn it, I need authors who are proud of what they've acheived and want to show off!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
vrabinec said:
Probably doesn't help that the voice in the two books is so similar. Once you get a couple more authors with a distinctly different style, it won't be an issue IMO. But what's been said above is spot on. Photos and making it LOOK like a publishing site is priority number 1.
Do you think so?

I find Annabelle's writing to be light and funny and bright and my own to be morose and dark and too introspective! I wish I could write more like her :)
 
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RuthMadison said:
Thanks very much for the advice! I didn't realize my site didn't look professional enough. What do people think I could change to make it look more like a publisher?
You need to create a "publisher voice." A lot of it will be in the language you use. For example, don't say this:

We're a small company not taking on too many projects at once, but we are currently open for submission.
What this means to a lot of folks is "We aren't established yet and are working on a shoestring budget." Which may be factually true (Hell, I work on a shoestring budget!) But you don't want to broadcast that.

Instead, say this:
"We are a boutique publisher specialized in works that feature strong,well developed characters with physical disabilities."
This implies that you aren't publishing a limited number of works because of your size, but because you service a discerning, niche marketplace.

Most of the "For Prospective Authors" stuff is gibberish and sounds wishy-washy. You need to sound confident and firm. For example, don't say:

We are a new publisher, formed in June 2012, with four books coming out in the next six months.
You need to SELL your qualifications! The fact that you are a nice person is...nice...but not a qualification.

Instead, say:

Dev Love Press was founded in June 2012 by award-winning romance novelist Ruth Madison in order to fill the void in the industry regarding the portrayal of individuals with physical disabilities. Her debut novel (W)Hole (now in its second edition) was an award finalist in the romance category of the USA Book News's National Best Books Awards in 2009.
Which of the above sounds more confident?

We are very focused on the new media and modern publishing. Most of our effort and sales attention goes to ebooks and print-on-demand, which allow for a greater profit for authors.
What you actually say here is "We don't know any more about marketing than most indies." Which is probably NOT the message you are trying to convey!

Instead say:

"We specialize in digital media, but also produce a limited number of print titles based on reader demand."

Don't Say:

At this time we do not offer an advance, but we do have a high royalty rate (16% to start and rising to 50% once a book has made back its overhead costs, which are laid out in the author contract. This is calculated based on the profit coming in after the packaging and distribution fees taken by platforms such as Kindle direct). You will be kept in the loop with all sales made on any channel through a detailed monthly report.
One, this is a conversation best had privately during the contract phase. You don't want to back yourself into this corner and then have to offer more or less that you wanted to on a book. For example, an established author who is tired of self publishing and wants to work with a small press might not even consider you if they know they will only start at 16% (and before you ask how probable this is, Peter Balaskas had his own imprint for years before he closed it and decided I did a better job publishing his work than he could). By the same token, you may come across a new writer that is a wonderful storyteller but needs a lot of hand-holding up front who you would rather start at a lower royalty rate due to the amount of work involved.

And you do NOT want to promise to tell the author your overhead costs! Because you don't know what they are yet! You are setting yourself up for a contract dispute and arbitration audit if you promise this. Do not tie royalty rates to your overhead. For your own peace of mind (and the peace of mind of your poor accountant) just set flat royalty rates and be done with it. You do not want to contractually put yourself in a position where you might have to open your books and justify every single expense to an author.

Our priority is finding readers who will fall in love with your work and with you. Quality fiction is a must and we will provide editing, proofreading, and professional cover design as well as marketing. We will work very hard to keep readers buying your books.
Well, gee, that would be your basic job description as a publisher! Way to make a statement of the obvious! Lol

The whole point of this is that you need to sound confident, secure, and professional.
 

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Dalya said:
It's hard to get respect.

Focus instead on the money. The money doesn't judge. ;)
That is a quotable quote, Dalya. If you make a tall graphic for it, then I will Pin it!
 
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