Should Self-Publishers Try to Hide It?

Still on vacation, so another quick one today.

I see a lot of tips for how to make your self-published book look more official/legitimate, things like having a complicated copyright page or getting an ISBN through your own “press,” not under your own name (or generically through CreateSpace or similar).

Beyond making sure your production quality is flawless, do you think a self-publisher should try to look like an “official” publishing house, or is it fine to openly acknowledge that you’re one person putting out your own books? Writers, what are your thoughts and experiences? Readers, do you get turned off from a high-quality book when you find out it’s self-published?

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5 comments

  1. I use Fox Collie Publishing as my publisher, but I did this because I chose to buy my own ISBN numbers and needed a name. I could have used my own name, but I decided to go with Fox Collie Publishing instead. Usually, I’m pretty open that I am a self-published author. I figured if I ever wrote under a pseudonym, I would still publish it under my publisher. I also thought it looked slightly more professional or pretty than saying my publisher was Createspace. Having my own ISBN numbers also means that I can move my work to new printers or distributors without needing to change ISBN numbers.

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    1. I hold a pretty similar position. I’m publishing under Clickworks Press, but it’s more because I want to lay infrastructure for the business I’m building than to look official or serious somehow. In fact, with self-published authors making up press and publisher names left and right, I doubt that having a miscellaneous “press” listed as your publisher is going to give any air of legitimacy for much longer.

      I’m still figuring out how openly individual and indie I want to be in my branding, marketing copy, etc. – even stuff like deciding between first-person and third-person for About the Author sections and CTAs. I’m leaning toward a pretty friendly, personal tone. I think the cachet of being traditionally published is on the decline (though still strong), and readers will generally care more about quality than publication minutiae. Given that’s the case, I think a personal touch and strong (individual) voice can actually help build a connection with readers and could almost become a type of unique selling proposition, not to get too calculating and business-y in our terminology.

      A related question is how much you should try to look successful to try to drive success/reputation. I feel a proper post brewing on all of this if I can make the time to write it all up soonish.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the idea of that post. I agree though. I’m sort of torn between the two worlds because I am self-published but am in grad school for creative writing and am surrounded by professors and students who think traditional publishing is the be all and end all (more so profs than students). I have a 3rd person bio because it’s the industry standard and it sounds awkward on other sites that aren’t my own since I use the same bio for nearly everything.

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      2. Agreed. It’s sometimes hard to judge the line between formality as basic professionalism and formality that’s just an attempt to look like you’re kind of a big deal. I think in Stone & Song I ended up using a third-person author bio (because first-person just sounds weird) with fairly friendly first-person CTAs.

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      3. Exactly. There are “norms” of the business and being a bigshot. It’s like slapping best-selling author on everything when you were only a best-seller in the Kindle free section. It doesn’t count.

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