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114 - Understanding the Publishing Imprint



Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here! I’m the host of the Let’s Get Your Book Published podcast. I’m also the author multiple books, a Book Designer, and a Publishing Coach as well as an intuitive Business Coach.

I’ve been in the book business for awhile now and I’ve helped many clients get their book published over the years. On this podcast I share personal stories, client stories, and the truths about the publishing industry….


It’s been awhile since I was here. So much going on it’s hard to put into words. One of these days I will get another podcast up and going that will be a bit more of me speaking my truth and I’ll share more there. I do share a bit of my thoughts at the end of this podcast, but for now lets get into todays show…

One of the reasons I began this podcast was to help new authors understand some of the pitfalls and truths about the publishing industry. Sometimes I think I’m hitting on the topics my listeners want to hear and sometimes I make assumptions on what they know. Then, other times I’m hit with something out of the blue that makes me wonder what foundational belief my clients or listeners come in with that requires me to back up a bit to help explain. I honestly don’t know where some people pick up some of the false information they come up with.

I do my best to set a base level understanding with my clients when they hire me. Many times clients come in wanting to know specific things because it’s where they have a breakdown in understanding, but the breakdown has actually occurred far earlier in the process than I realize.

So, last week I had a client wanting to know more about the printing processes and wanting to set up talks with a printer but not understanding that a printer really doesn’t care to have these kinds of discussions with a novice author. They expect you to work with someone that knows the process. Of course, there is always someone there to take advantage of a novice too. They seriously just print - that’s it! The printer plays no other role. They don’t make corrections, they don’t distribute your books. They simply get a file for the jacket and one for the interior from someone that knows what they are doing (usually a graphic designer) and they print the book!

There tends to be a lot of misunderstanding on the role of the printer, but when it comes right down to it, you are just picking out materials like paper, size, and whether or not you want hard or soft copy. They don’t do anything else. In fact, they generally get rather agitated when a client wants to make changes after they have already received the files. Depending on the way they are printing they may have to set up templates for print and changing means the templates have to get re-worked. Until the quantity is chosen by the author, the printer may or may not print digitally. So, the author can often times be subject to additional fees if a change is made once they start the printing process.

So, I titled this podcast “Understanding the Publishing Imprint” and yep, you guessed it - this is one more thing the printer doesn’t do! But, often times when it comes to pulling all the elements together and the imprint gets placed on the book by the Designer is when the author says, oh… I thought I got a choice of imprints. The imprint is not something that you just pick per se.

Many of my more cash-flush clients like the idea of being able to have the Gucci or Prada imprint from the big publishing houses but they don’t understand they don’t just get to pick one and place it on the spine. They think they can buy their way in, but the publishing imprint isn’t something you buy for a nominal fee. The publishing house has to agree to work with you and buys the rights to your book. You are stepping into an agreement where you agree to work for them to sell and market your book. You agree to do events to gain exposure. You agree that you no longer own the rights to your book. You have to buy copies just like the general public does. You have to show up when say show up and you have to cut or paste material in the manuscript that helps them shift and manipulate the content to fit their narrative. There is a kind of soul contract you have to agree to. There is a price to pay for arrangement. Are you willing to sell your soul to achieve a certain level of fortune and fame? And, they do have ways to mitigate their risk. The unassuming author will not understand they will need to pay back any signing bonus or fees if they don’t sell a certain number of copies. They simply will not take the risk on an author that will not produce a lucrative end product. And, what they call a platform is one they manufacture. It may not fit your personal objectives or goals.

The simple fact is that if they don’t think they can make a profit on you they don’t invest in you. There are a whole host of other issues that many unassuming new authors are unaware of and they aren’t aware of the demands placed on them should a publisher pick them up.

As a self-published author, the publishing imprint is something that at a certain point you get locked into. When you choose to go with a self-published book you get the freedom to write the manuscript exactly as you intended, you get to go to print as quickly as you compile the content, and you get to manage the entire marketing and sales cycle. When you decide to self-publish you do have to make choices on the best imprint and publisher for your goals. Most of the time you want the look and feel of a big publishing house without all the soul-binding ties. So, let me shed a bit more light on the topic now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to be proud of your choice not to use a big publishing house. The reality is that you are smart and self-publishing is most-certainly nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, its truly smarter business!

Let me try to clear up a few more loose ends here with understanding what the imprint is and how it’s used… I’ve already said some of this, but it bears repeating and then we’ll circle back around to give you some more clarity on the best imprint to use for a self-published book…

The publishing imprint is the thing that goes on the spine of the book and it also goes on the copyright page. But, before we get to placing these on/in the book we have to also understand who our publisher is going to be.

I’ve been doing this a long time but I had a client last week tell me that he wanted a particular imprint and name on the spine and as a publisher. I never really know what my clients don’t know til they tell me something like this. So, it’s certainly not something I’m judging because all new authors have a certain level of naivety in this process. Honestly, I’m thankful for that as it keeps me employed! But, there is a whole backend discussion that needs to be had well before this imprint happens.

The publishing imprint is the thing that comes from the publishing house. It’s like the emblem on the hood of a car. With a car however, you go pick out the one you want and pay extra for the brand name and features. In the publishing world you can’t do this. Money cannot buy you a top label. You don’t get to choose. In fact, not only do you not get to choose but you have to shop around to be bought. In other words, a publisher has to like what you are offering with both your book and your platform. They want to know how profitable you are for them to invest in you. They want to know you have a big audience, you are out being a change-maker, you have a following, you have a platform that you intend to manicure and showcase for many years to come, or you have some level of fortune or fame that commands a readership.

You see, what people don’t know is that a book is like selling a gadget, a product, a trinket…if you don’t have some leverage or expandability you’re not as marketable. Think of it like a vacuum. If the vacuum has accessories like bags, brushes, or extra arms to reach in obscure places, then you have more promise than just the profits made on the vacuum. And you have more items for distribution. But, like all items for sale, how you have created awareness for this item is what builds intrigue for distributors and reps to sell your products. A book isn’t much different. But, a book has an emotional component that many authors get lost in. There is a story to tell that comes from the heart, but is it truly valuable enough to the reader and how much expandability does it have? How else can you be sold and marketed?

I’ve said this in many previous podcast episodes, but I’ll say it again, if you don’t get clear on your why then you will have a hard time making a profit…because the real income comes from outside of the book! And, I’ve also said this before, but I’ll say it again. You need to create your own hype to interest a publishing company in investing in you. This generally means you make them money. You have to prove your item for sale (your book) is popular first. So, this generally means you have to sell some 30-40,000 copies to get their attention. And, many self-published authors aren’t tracking copies sold correctly out of the gate so proving your popularity can also be tricky. The average self-published author only tracks how many books they’ve printed and not how many books have been sold through proper distribution channels. If you aren’t selling through the Ingrams network then none of the books sold truly count. In fact, many authors lie regularly about the numbers of books sold because they only place really tracking any of this might be Amazon and there really is no way to get proper numbers sold, but once you’ve set up with a distributor you might get closer to knowing. And if you aren’t set up with a distributor then you aren’t tracked. So let’s just say I set up with a company like BCH Fulfillment…a pretty basic distributor for many book genres. I package up and send them a box of books that I pay to ship and pack…unless of course I was smart and sent them direct from the printer when I printed them. Now the distributor puts them up on Amazon and tries to sell them in a variety of different networks. They list the book with Ingrams and they shop it out. They might package it up and send it to Chapters Book Store in Canada, to Barnes and Noble, etc. But, there may be no demand for the book so they take a loss for the effort. This may happen several times. Now you make no profit when it finally does sell. But, you need this network to track the sale. So, sales are tracked based on the ISBN Number. This is the unique identifier for each format of your book that is sold…hard cover, soft cover, audio book, and eBook. One format may be more popular than another for your reader. This ISBN number is what ties back to the publisher.

So, when you sell books, the publisher of a big publishing house would be tracking these numbers. They might get disappointed in your numbers and push you to do more events and get people engaged. For you, this may not be your goal. The ultimate freedom in self-publishing is not selling for numbers but selling and promoting books for an agenda. That agenda is what you deem to be successful. If number of copies sold is your goal then perhaps you’ve missed a more aligned agenda tying back to your original why. Why did you write the book in the first place? If you are retired perhaps you are just knocking off a bucket list and telling a few stories of a life well-lived. You have to define what equals success for you well before you produce the book. That emotional component in the process will sometimes play with your mind here. Yes, what you have to say is meaningful and worthwhile, but to move mountains with your book oftentimes requires you to leave your comfort zone and put yourself out there. The book simply won’t sell itself. So, ultimately you have to define your end goals. Many authors figure this all out well before they write the book. They know that the end result isn’t quantities sold, but rather it’s about branding and positioning and using the book as a tool to create awareness for some other component of your message or linked more directly to a profit center in your life or business. The book often times further defines your center of expertise. If you are retired you might write to leave a legacy but you might also be using it to position yourself as a center of expertise for coaching or consulting younger generations in your field of interest. If you are in your younger years this might be a tool to create a beacon for your center of expertise and further define a platform or segment of specialty you intend to lay down as an expandable platform as you navigate through your career. As a coach or teacher you may use this as a topic of conversation in a niche market then later write another book for another niche market you are navigating into… again, to create awareness of your capabilities.

There is no wrong reason to write a book, but every part of the process should be something you investigate so that your overall appearance is a cohesive experience for the reader and you are aligning your brand with the overall message. A publishing imprint for a self-published author should ideally give you the image you are going for personally and professionally. The most optimal professional experience for an author is to go with a publisher that has a New York label. The reason for this is for the interviews you have in the future. When someone asks if your book is self-published. You answer is not “yes”, it is also not “no”, it is “I’m with a small publisher in New York. This is not really a lie, but the interviewer will receive the message that you are not self-published. If you were to create your own publishing imprint and company they could do a little research and find out you own it and that doesn’t look as professional. And if you use a print on demand service with a free handout imprint then you are also flagged as self-published upon a bit of research. You will also not be able to sell in bookstores or libraries with this one so don’t get taken there. Free generally isn’t ever in your best interest no matter the topic. There are always arms, legs, and other loose connections to be understood.

I used to work with a small publishing house in New York for all my books but I learned that it doesn’t serve me. So, I created my own publishing company in New York and my latest book used the label. I call it Angel Dog Productions. It’s also the name of my graphic design company. I created this company so that I could give my authors the New York imprint, control the associated costs, manage the relationship with my authors and not send them off to be sold a host of things they don’t need by a third party publisher. I registered with Bowkers and the Library of Congress and can more personally manage the ISBN and pricing barcode process. I honestly don’t like the administrative process but in the end it’s the right solution for my clients. I found that many third parties were charging unusually high service fees for the administration. But, with a little understanding and extra time on my part, I can more seamlessly walk my clients through the book production process with far less hiccups in the end.

So, please don’t be taken by the idea of false fortune and fame. As you grow in your knowledge in the book industry you will see clearly that selling your soul to a large publishing house will cost you your freedoms in the future. A self-published book is far more conducive to an intelligent entrepreneurial mindset and indicates to the reader that you are a straight-shooter who is aware of the sort-comings and manipulation of the publishing industry. The more you know the more you will stand out as a leader in your field and as an aware and awake individual that people want to know and do business with. There is a shift in consciousness overtaking our planet and we can no longer be controlled and manipulated by the industries taking advantage of us.

If you have been following my podcast for awhile, you know that I have become a bit more vocal recently about what is going on in our world and I encourage you to take a stand and know why you are doing what you are doing both personally and professionally and take a stand with your choices and how you spend your hard-earned dollar. Our freedoms are slipping away from us and the publishing industry has always been a part of the game. Keep your message pure and your voice real as you navigate this transformational time. Self publishing is a gift that is still allowing our voices to be heard. Let’s hope it stays this way.

My first book, Finding Your Inner Truth talks of discovering peace when everything changes. It says:  Seek. Trust. Believe. Love. The very first quote in my book is one by  Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher and it says this: “All truth passes through three stages, First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” During this time of massive change on our planet I have been reflective about these stages. I have watched all of humanity move through a variety of these stages. There has been so much ridicule and so much that has been violently opposed. Let’s hope we are collectively moving into more self-evidenced acceptance before we loose our god—given freedoms.

I have become accustomed to being violently opposed as I have been an outsider on this planet my whole life, but God says to keep pushing and trying to awaken those around you. I have been in hiding more often these days as my heart aches with so much pain and compassion for those that refuse to see and refuse to awaken. There is a window about to open for many souls to walk through. Sometimes all you can do is step aside and allow what will be to be… there is nothing you do to awaken a sleeping soul but allow them to witness. I have compassion and love for every soul on this journey. We don’t all make it, so let’s just be kind and hold someones hand and not judge them for where they are.

And on that note, I’m wishing you peace, love, and light…

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