Imprint or stuff it?

I’m experiencing a major analysis paralysis. Just as the target is within reach, I seem unable to decide whether to get an ISBN from Amazon, or to go the more complicated route of buying my own ISBNs and registering as a publishing company.

The easiest way is just to upload the file and let Amazon take care of everything. The ISBN would be free, the only obvious (to me) downside is that “Amazon Digital Services” will appear as a publisher, and anyone “in the know” will immediately recognise the novel as self-published. Like it or not, there’s still a stigma associated with self publishing. I can also buy a pack of ISBNs, but then the publisher will be me, and again very obviously self-published. Creating a company would give me an “imprint” and ability to use that imprint for marketing (to be honest, I don’t fully understand the importance of this at the moment!)

Does it really matter? I mean, I was browsing a few self-published titles for research on how to format headings and came across one with track changes still visible in the table of contents. This novel was in top 10 in its category! Maybe readers truly don’t care about proofreading?

On the other hand, there are a number of online resources passionately advocating registering your own ISBN, like this Pearls Before SwineΒ blog. Some, like the well known Book Designer, even advocate setting up your own publishing company.

Should I go the whole way and set up “Awesome Big Book Publishing Company”, or just get this project done without driving myself insane?Β Would I limit my future options by taking the easy route now? Should I take a nap? Probably the nap first…

74 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

74 responses to “Imprint or stuff it?

  1. I set up my own publishing company, mind you I’m publishing others now too, but I’m starting to wonder whether it was a worthwhile venture. I think I had a stronger support system with the “indie” title than I do now that people assume I’m traditionally published, although I’ve never said that I am.

    Like you, I wanted people to quit with the, “Oh, she’s self-published,” and actually read my books, judgement-free. I came up with a fancy name and became excited about others taking me more seriously as a writer. I believed their assumptions were all misconceptions about indie authors.

    The problem… now I have two sets of social media accounts/websites/email to monitor and manage, and it’s a lot of work! I’m starting to think it was all in my head and I could have just continued publishing under my own name. Changing your account to a publisher account with Smashwords, one of my distributors, is not reversible, so I strongly recommend that you consider what you want to do before you make the move. It’s a lot of work and I have haven’t seen any particular reward from doing it.

    I say, if you’re only doing it because you think there’s a self-publishing stigma, that’s a thing of the past and you’re safe to publish under your own name.

    As for ISBNS, in Canada they’re free, so I can’t help you there. I wish you all the best of luck with your decisions!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Set up your company…who knows it could grow with emerging writers, you could publish me πŸ™‚
    I really think that it’s better to get your own ISBN, you’re doing all the work already, Amazon is just a tool, keep control:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I honestly think the stigma of self-publishing is a thing of the past. I set a publishing company up a few years ago for the same reason that you’re contemplating and am now of the view that it was a whole lot of work, with little to no reward.

    I think I had more support as an “indie” than I do now that most believe I am traditionally published, although I’ve never suggested that I am. If the stigma is the only reason for creating a business name, I’d say it’s not worth it. That’s just my opinion.

    As for ISBNs, they’re free in Canada, so I can’t help you there. Hopefully someone else can help with that. I wish you all the best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I got my own ISBNs. Yes, the prestige of self-publishing is a dubious one. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I went the complicated route–but I wanted to be able to work with Lightning Source for printed copies and eBookit for digital distribution. And I thought as you did, that people would see my name all over the place, decide it was too much of a “self-published risk,” and walk away. (From the printed books, especially.) I’m not sure that my disguise has made any difference, honestly, when it comes to sales. You’ve got a great cover design. That, plus whatever sample chapters are available, ought to counter any self-published stigmas people might have.

    I don’t have any definitive advice, sorry to say–publishing changes so rapidly, and so do the specifics in Amazon agreements and offers–but here are the main questions I asked myself when I started: What are my plans for the book (ebook, print, or both)? Who will I use (Amazon only, or some combination of companies)? How many books might I write and then publish?

    Once I decided to put Lightning Source in the picture, my path was set. I had to register as a publishing company: They don’t (or didn’t at the time) work with individuals.

    But if I were to only use Amazon, I would certainly wonder–as you do–if the hassle and extra expenses are worth it. Because it *is* a lot of hassle and expense. Even more so if I only planned to publish for Kindle.

    Would this limit you in the future? That (probably) depends. Safest thing would be to take some time now (or after a nap) to plot out the potentials, and then read Amazon’s fine print with those in mind. If you’re only likely to use Amazon for everything, then no, I wouldn’t imagine too many limitations. They *want* you to look to them for everything, and they give benefits for that. If you want to offer printed copies through someone other than Createspace…then you’re more likely to run into ISBN issues.

    (My own experience there is that Createspace prints a decent book. Lightning Source’s version is a bit easier to hold, feels a bit nicer–but the main thing is that it’s what my local book store can order through their usual suppliers. Would they have stocked the Amazon version? Possibly, but I would have to get it to them myself and put it on consignment.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Rafinley! I’d love to be a full time author, but then I once thought I was gonna be an actress, and before that – a microbiologist, a beekeeper, a sculptor, and a professor, in no particular order. At this point I’m thinking maybe keeping things as simple as possible while continuing to write and manage life, is the way to go…thinking “oh god, now I have to do paperwork for a company” got me a little depressed…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! Yes, I’m on a meandering career path, too. Great “research” for whatever stories I might write someday, but it does make me wonder what the heck I was thinking, sometimes.

        If your intuition says keep it simple, do that! There’s a huge benefit to simplicity, especially when you’re just starting out. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to make a wrong choice, here. There are no Wrong Choices with this, really. You have to start somewhere, right? Might as well do so with the least amount of stress.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. After taking views from many Indie authors in the UK the preferred method these days is to do both! I started by setting up a Createspace account, which is Amazon’s tool, and it doesn’t say Amazon design services anywhere. In fact, I created an imprint name without setting it up as a company – it’s only worth doing that if you start hauling in six figure sums I should think. The person who designed the cover and back put the imprint name on the back so that it says Published by Cabrilon Books (my invented name) and the only hint it was done by Createspace is where it says Made In the USA, Charleston SC on the inside back page, but only Indie Authors would know that means Amazon. The advantage of having your own ISBN though is that other bookshops that show an interest don’t deal with Amazon. They do, however, deal with Ingram Spark and their British branch, Lightning Source. You need your own ISBN to publish with them but your book then appears in their catalogues which go out to the book stores. It’s all a bit complicated and we all would prefer writing, to be honest, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ve had good advice. Setting up a company though doesn’t have to be a problem. You just invent a name, without registering it until you are ready to go completely out on your own and make the big bucks. Hope that helps

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Nick! Use a company name without registering it? You’re a rebel! I’m going with Kindle first, then Create Space. So what, where it asks for a publishing company, you just put a name, no proof required?

      Like

    • Exactly. You just said everything I just tried to say in my comment. Why didn’t I read this first? LOL πŸ™‚ On a serious note, very true. Remember people: Be wise as serpents, but innocent as doves. Just a little creativity, as Nick has outlined, and you’re good to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the ping-back. What I am actually suggesting is to have an ISBN Number period, whether you get a free one or your own, just have one. Your problem is actually all in the formatting. Even if you get a free ISBN you are still the publisher and if you list yourself as the publisher in the imprint of your manuscript while formatting it (the copyright page), that’s all that matters. I mean, as a reader I don’t say, “Hey, let me see who’s the publisher”. Just being real with you, I just read the book. So until you are ready to establish your own company (which I think can be successful, not as a traditional publisher, but as a Self-Publishing Company), you can go with the freebie and still be professional. It may have an Amazon imprint but so what? Personally I’m not interested in that, is the book a good read? Who cares what people think when they buy, the real deal is in the book. Who published it? You right? Right. You’re the publisher regardless, Amazon is really just your printer if you think about it that way, but that’s just me. Perhaps I’ll write a post about it. πŸ™‚ Thanks again for the mention, yasss.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am always in favor of a nap. πŸ™‚

    It looks like you’ve gotten solid advice. I believe the stigma attached to self publishing is disappearing. I think the only reason it still lingers is because of things like you mentioned (where the Track Changes was still in the table of contents — of course it obviously didn’t hold them back!). Many people are afraid — based on experience — that self-published books will be poorly edited. Of course that sometimes happens with traditionally published books too. πŸ™‚

    I look forward to hearing what you decide!

    Like

  9. Hi Ana,
    I self-published for my first two books, which were really an exploration into the self-publishing world. They had no editor and covers were my own. For an amateur I thought they were pretty good but not good enough. This time I have an editor, professional cover and am setting up my own publishing house. Hope it makes a difference. I’m also blogging about all this like yourself! (carpetlessleprechaun.wordpress.com) Let’s see how it goes. There’s also a kickstarter and reviewers to get hold of. It gets real busy when you have a day job.

    Good luck with your efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Was it hard to set up a publishing house? So would it be an ok plan to go the easiest route with the first one (considering I’ve expended tons of money/energy/time on the cover and text) and set up publishing house in the future? Or do you wish you did that from the beginning?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m still a novice myself so please don’t take this as gospel but my aim is to make my books just like the ones you would buy from a publishing house. In terms of setting up the publishing house, it’s just me at the moment and working under my name, so it is really all about keeping the books correct. If I integrate other witers this may make things more difficult but that is for the future with me. I think having expended all the finances you have, why not finish it off with a publishing house too. Basically it’s only cost me a logo so far. Hope this helps!

        Like

  10. I’m self publishing soon and intended to take the easy route of using Amazon’s ISBN. I shall be watching what you decide to do with interest. Keep us updated. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a lot of respect for those who self publish so, from a reader’s point of view, I say: go indie! Forget the stigma surrounding it! There are some amazing books out there that have been written by indie authors and some of my fave indie authors got picked up by big publishing houses. You shouldn’t have to hide behind a publishing company that you’ve set up just so people won’t know that you’re going it alone. However, the publishing company would be a great venture if you fancy publishing books by other authors too. 😊 At the end of the day, follow your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I won’t pretend to understand all the implications of ISBN and what control, if any, it provides the entity that assigns it. Control, in my mind, is the key. What you mention (assigning ISBN and setting up a publishing company) are two separate and distinct things. My opinion on Amazon vs your own. The upside to Amazon is that it’s easy and free. The downside is not that it identifies you as self-published. The downside is that it identifies you with Amazon, which other publishing outlets may view as a competitor, making them less likely to distribute your title. Big downside? Not today, but what we all hope is that our work survives us and it is likely that electronic publishing is the future. It may make a difference then.
    But create a company? If you were bringing in 50% of more of you income from publishing? Sure – because creating a company brings liability with it. You will want to register the name and file papers and make it official. That means money and formal obligations.
    Don’t know if this helps. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Imprint or stuffΒ it? | From the Depths of my Mind

  14. I know I’m late to the party and you likely have tons of input by this point, but here is my two cents as a self published author:

    If you’re gonna go through the effort of self publishing this book, and you can afford to, why not buy your own ISBNs? It looks cleaner and, whether fans care about the nitty gritty minutiae of publishing a book, you should care about putting out the most polished, professional book you can.

    That’s how I think of it anyway. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you SR! Too much input is never enough πŸ™‚ I’m just waiting to check with the local Australian Bowler on a few details, and will then make a decision. I think at this point there will not be setting up of any companies, too much trouble. I’m still not sure about ISBNs though, but talking to people who sell them will hopefully help.

      Like

  15. I know nothing about publishing but one thing to consider…if you go through Amazon can you then put your books on other platforms?
    I have come across several books I can’t get in ePub because Amazon holds the rights.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi TJ – yes, that’s the primary reason, although I have no idea of publishing beyond Amazon. I do hope to get a publisher eventually, cause I just want to write, but the last couple of months feel like I got a second office job…

      Like

      • I guess there are pros and cons for both sides of the coin. and you just have to figure out which one is best for you.
        I know that when I’m looking for books my first stop is always Kobo because that’s the brand of my eReader so I know their product will work without fail.
        Amazon is usually the last stop unless I’m reviewing a book and that’s mostly because the app for Android isn’t as functional as I would like. I like to just open my reader and read; I don’t like having to open an app first then select the book *sigh*.
        Then there’s the whole…this book is not in this platform issue.
        I subscribe to several free or cheap books email lists and quite often a book I want to read isn’t offered in ePub because it’s only on Kindle. I’ll go to Kobo to see if they have it and either they don’t have it at all or it isn’t at the price advertised for Kindle or the others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh man…I might need to look into it. Thank you very much, I sort of assumed everyone will have access to Amazon titles. Live and learn…

        Like

      • Ohhh, we all have access but we can’t read without downloading the Kindle app unless we want to read it online on the Amazon site which kind of defeats the purpose of eReaders, lol.
        Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you TJ, good to know.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. When yosay “register as a publishing company” you’re making it sound more complicated than it is. I bought my ISBN’s at Bowker, and all they need is a name. I put in mine. John Baur is the publisher. Period. End of story. It’s not like it’s a big deal. In retrospect, there are probably better uses I could have put to the $300 (separate ISBNs for the ebook, trade paper and limited hardcover.) But it’s done. And it’s easy. Just go to Bowker and set up an account. Because we’re writers – not accountants, not lawyers, not business people – the ISBN is one of those things that scares us a little. It need not. In the end it’s not that important or difficult. Don’t overthink it..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you John. I’m just waiting till Monday to talk to the Australian Bowler. Yes, I have the added complication of being in Australia and trying to sell a novel set in the US and directed at the US market…

      Like

  17. Oh, and don’t be embarrassed about the supposed “self-published” identity. Embrace it! My book was considered and rejected by 18 houses. Not because they thought it was bad. It was purely a business decision, “We don’t think people will by pirate adventure stories.” I know they’re wrong. The ebook version of “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter” goes up later today, the trade paperback Monday. And I’m absolutely convinced that it will find an audience, and that challenge is part of my marketing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John, and congratulations! How could they, after the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean? I understand, I’ve submitted to over 70 publishers and agents, and the best I got was “it’s funny, but too unusual”. I am too convinced I will find an audience online – in fact I consider not getting picked up in the traditional sense a blessing in disguise.

      Like

  18. Z.

    I have little to no knowledge of the publishing industry. I wish I did. My writing is fledgling, and I’m only now trying to break into poetry journals and the like.

    As an avid reader with a substantial book collection, I find myself more inclined to buy books from local and indie writers. For me, so much has become generic in the “traditional publishing” scene, and talented indie writers bring much needed refreshment to a reader’s world.

    I, like so many more wonderful people before me, have found that self-published writers are much more professional and developed than they used to be.

    The only real consistent issue I see in the self-published scene is tragically poor cover design. (Invest in that too you wonderful authors! It helps tremendously.)

    Whatever path you choose, I hope nothing but success!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Z. It’s a good time to be starting out, so much information out there, I can’t imagine how hard it was for the previous generation. I’ve done my own cover design, hope it’s not too tragic! I’ve paid a designer first, but he did not get my novel at all, although he was technically really good. I’m hoping mine is catchy enough, would love your opinion: https://anaspoke.com/2015/08/16/just-a-little-progress/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Z.

        That is a beautifully done cover.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah? Thank you for making me smile πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Z.

        …I hit the reply button by mistake …

        The cover is composed beautifully. The rip across the center provides a strong contrast, and lends to the illusion that the top and bottom images could have been one complete image.

        The upper and lower images are lined up perfectly creating a powerful transition and unity between them. Smooth.

        The center divide not only strengthens the sense of unity between the images it divides, but in itself is a fine depiction a sudden violent tearing.

        The font and font color of the title fit organically into entire image. The eye is lead to it in a natural flow.

        Overall it is aesthetically pleasing and is professionally done. Most importantly, it conveys a story which is enticing. It is a cover containing a story that demands to be read.

        Beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Z.

        PS sorry about hitting the reply by mistake. I was trying to back out of this app so I could type on the computer. (I type terribly slow on this pjone.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much, Z! I’m practically tearing up with happiness here πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  19. To continue: I have my two self-published novels on Amazon kindle for 99cents. At this point I just want people to read them.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I definitely vote for the nap before anything. I can tell you that as a reader, self published books never turn me off. If anything, I find them more intriguing because of the work the author has gone to in order to share their books with the world. If it were me, I’d not want to complicate my world more. I do plan on self publishing when I reach the stage where my books are ready.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. olivia barrington

    Go with the path of least resistance for now since it is your first book. You can always start your own company at anytime. Since you are only interested in writing and not publishing why invest money in that right now. I can tell you this, everyone I know doesn’t care if a book is self published or not. It never even comes into consideration when we go to read a book. What matters is the content and whether it is well written and something of interest to us. How a book is published matters not to most readers but whether the book is worth spending our precious leisure time on reading it. I’ve only written articles for magazines but have several books in my head I need to write someday and I will self publish because I want the control over my book that gives me. Just an avid reader’s opinion. You have gotten a lot of good advice to help you from other authors. You’ll make the decision that is right for you. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Olivia! Always happy to see your name next to a comment πŸ™‚ I’m leaning towards the path of least resistant, just waiting for Monday to give the ISBN dealer a call, to have a chat about whether or not Australian ISBNs can even be used to market books overseas, and if so – what is the difference. One thing for sure – I want to hit “publish” by the end of next week, this baby’s been cooking too long πŸ™‚

      Like

  22. Whether you start your own company or go with Amazon, “those in the know” will figure out you’re a self publisher anyway. Unless you can come up with a real fancy name for your company or something. I wouldn’t worry about it. Most readers just see the photo, the blurb, and as long as it all looks professional they’ll be interested (assuming it’s the type of reader your book genre attracts.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you BB! That’s a good point, that “those in the know” will know anyway… even after a nap and a goodnight’s sleep the thought of doing even more paperwork is depressing. Me thinks the path of least resistance, otherwise it looks like either a huge delay or some emotionally charged, too-quick decisions that will bite me anyway.

      Like

  23. I can’t speak from the author point of view, but as a reader I don’t care who publishes the book. Whether you go through the motions of creating your own publishing company, or using one provided for you like Amazon, Createspace or Smashwords, is all a personal decision.
    I’m more interested on if the story is something I would read than I am concerned with who the publisher is. πŸ™‚ I’ve always been rather fond of self-published books.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I have *no* idea. I mean, it’s your first book, right? I’d be tempted to let Amazon do this for the first book and then do it yourself for following books. I don’t know….

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi Ana, you are aiming at the U.S. market, and Amazon is a dominant player here.

    On bookstores:
    I could imagine book stores would want something other than an Amazon-affiliated book in their book store as was previously stated.
    But, we have had 3 bookstores close here in my small city in the past few years, so I do know how significant a player these would be in your success.

    For a first book, short of any contradictory statistical evidence, or otherwise successful seIf-publishing accounts, I myself am “very tempted to do exactly that [what Charlie suggested]”

    Very best in bringing your dream to successful fruition.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I’d personally go with; self-publishing, primarily because, you’re chewing your nails to the bone, just making your decision, and you’re taking some of the enjoyment out of; this amazing accomplishment you’ve made……You’ve finished your book!!! let someone else take the strain, on this first one, you can always try another path at a later date.
    Alternatively, take the onus away from yourself; by leaving the decision up to Spirit. write ‘Amazon’ and ‘Own Company’ equally (5 each) on 10 small bits of paper, fold them up tiny, put them in a box, and pick; ONE.
    Another alternative; ask your; intuition spots https://wanag1yata.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/do-you-use-your-body-intuition-spots/
    Good Luck!! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Just a little add-on, to all who’ve commented on this post previously; thank you! Because you’ve given me some amazing information, as well πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s