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123 - What’s All the Fuss About A 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….


Today’s Topic: What’s All the Fuss About A Publishing Imprint?

Sometimes I sit down to write a podcast episode and I think, maybe I don’t have something to say, then all of a sudden something comes through me and I could go on and on. This episode was originally designed to be just a quickie, but well… this is why I have created a podcast - I have far more to say than I realize until I start talking! Once I got going on this topic it just seemed to open up more to talk about. I guess that means we’ll hit this topic again and again and mull it over for anyone questioning more on this topic. So, without further adieu, lets get into today’s show…

I take notice of my most popular podcasts and always try to give you more of what you want. For some reason, the most popular (by far) of my podcasts is anything related to the publishing imprint. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but let’s talk about this and break it down a bit more and let me see if I can bring some needed clarity to the subject.

First of all, what is a publishing imprint? Well, quite simply, it’s the name of the publishing company publishing your book. It’s oftentimes used to market a book if it’s from a top publishing company. But, as a self-published author, there really are no top companies. There might be some more recognized than others, but when it comes right down to it, it’s basically the same thing. But, you might find a publisher that also helps you sell or market your book as a part of their package. Or you might find one with better connections to people and industries in better alignment with your book topic. So, you might find a few differences in what the publisher will do for you, but essentially, the function is the same - to get you an ISBN number and barcode to legitimize your book. Let’s break this down a bit more…

It’s real easy to get your own publishing company set up, but frankly, this serves no real purpose for an author of 1-2 books. And, if you don’t do things professionally here then you come across as self-published. Let’s say your last name is Smith and you name your publishing company Smith Publishing. You just told everyone looking at your book that you are self-published. You have to place an image on the spine of your book and this should be professional. If you don’t design a professional image, again you look self-published. And finally, if you don’t establish some kind of identity for yourself with some level of prominence, you just look unprofessional…and, again, self-published. There’s also the coveting “published in New York” label that many authors want. At minimum, you need to get yourself a New York address to let everyone know you are published with a New York publisher when asked if you re self published. Let’s break this last point down a bit further…

So, here’s a little trick I learned when I first wrote. You can find a New York publisher and then when someone asks you if you are self published you can reply with: “I’m with a small New York publisher. You haven’t answered directly by saying yes or no and that indicates to anyone asking that you are not self published but rather with a small publisher in New York. It’s a little trick many authors use… you haven’t lied and quite honestly those asking generally don’t know why they are, but it can be assumed it’s for credibility.

Let me tell you what I did for my clients. You can leverage my model for yourself by either using it or re-creating it. And I’ll tell you the reason why I created this model. When I first self published I wanted to legitimize myself as an author. I called up a small publisher in New York and told her I was wiring a book and had no idea what she was going to do for me. A few hours later she emailed me a barcode and that’s when the lightbulb went on..oh…so this is what she does! She asked me how many pages my book was and if it was soft or hard copy and, based on my answers, she gave me a bar code which also had a selling price. I later did some digging to determine what was behind this code. In a nutshell, it tells buyers you are selling a book, who the publisher is, the format of the book (hard or soft cover), and how much you are selling the book for. There’s a whole formula in the code that’s unique for each item being sold. I think back then I told her I was printing a 336 page hard cover book and she determined my selling price of $24.95. I also had color end sheets and a several page color center insert with photos on glossy paper in my book. In all reality, there was very little profit selling my book for this low price and had I known what I was doing back then I would have raised the price to $29.95. I think my book was about $14 to print each book, so the profit was minimal and it took quite some time to repay my initial expenses to produce the book at this sales price.

When this is all new to an author we aren’t thinking that what the publisher is doing at this point is determining the sales price of the book. They don’t generally ask what the cost to produce each book is. They don’t generally care if you have color end sheets or expensive color image pages inserted. So, in hindsight, I should have known more about this before zooming ahead in a hurry to get this all set up.

What I have since done for my authors is to give them a choice if they’d like to use my imprint. I have a design company called Angel Dog Productions and at the time I was writing my 4th book I realized that my publisher of my 3 previous books had really done nothing for me, so I knew I wanted to create my own publishing imprint not just for my book but for all future clients that wanted a simple solution or wanted to ease the hassle of creating their own or calling someone else. I wanted to give my label a little bit of legitimacy so I bought an address in New York City on Broadway. I pay a simple monthly fee for this address. Then I went about creating a label for the spine. It’s my cute little dog with wings logo. I called the imprint Angel Dog Productions New York. And now I needed to do a little research on how to legitimize my little publishing imprint into a system that could be used by all my clients. I registered with the Library of Congress under this label and became a publisher. Then I went over to Bowkers and bought myself an IBSN number and downloaded a barcode. Here I learned the importance of why an author needs a new barcode for every format they print. This is how a book is sold in retail locations or online. Should I choose to print a softcover I would need to get another code. An eBook requires another code. And yes, an audiobook gets one of its own too. Now I was off and running with a legitimate publishing company.

Now, I thought about how this is going to look to potential new authors hiring me and learning the imprint process. Of course, they want to know someone somewhere in the process of selling their book is going to help them sell it. But, here’s the reality check - even the big houses don’t always set aside a marketing budgets for authors, so a small publishing house is going be no different.

Before we get too far along, let me explain to you what is not a publishing imprint. A free Amazon KDP number, a business name, a picture you put on the spine of your book. Now that we are clear on that, let’s move on!

Why does an author need or want an imprint? If you’re printing a novel and you’re ok going through the amazon system to do that you might find it’s really not important to you. Lots of Indy authors are pretty fine in this digital Amazon world and just want to create lots of novels or a series of books for the joy of writing. But, where things get divided is when it comes to professionalism, reputation, and the future expansion of your book.

Writing as a career and writing for the growth of your business is a bit different. If you want to come across as a professional then you want to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s and do things the right way. If you plan to sell in professional locations, bookstores, libraries, etc. the first thing they will ask you is “Are you self-published” and you may not know how to answer this question. Most authors would say yes. And this generally means they aren’t in the Book Depository. To be considered a book you have to be listed here. Your book must be in print and listed with either Ingrams or Neilson. To get your books stocked anywhere you have to be found here. Your book has to have a unique identifier to even get here - this again, is the ISBN Number.

Now here is truly shocking fact! In 2011 the Book Depository was purchased by Amazon. There was then, and likely will be again soon, some major controversy over the issue of fair trading that came up here. You’ll want to listen to my podcast about the Gutenberg Press a few episodes back. This is all quite a monopoly when you dig beneath the surface. But let’s move on…

When you have your publishing imprint or company defined, the ISBN Number, and Library of Congress Number, then these all get listed on a copyright page in your book. Generally any good editor will help you come up with this page as it can be rather complicated for a new author to understand the details that are placed here. But, this is where the publisher gets listed. This is where someone that knows books will open and say yeah or neigh as to whether a book has good credentials or not…or look to see if it’s self-published. This can be an embarrassment or a bragging page depending on how you go about this. But, please don’t be discouraged if you are not with some big publishing house as it’s really quite simple - you either make all the profits or you give them to a big publishing house. Honestly, I think self-published authors deserve far more credit on taking the steps to learn how to go around the big publishing house models and learn how to produce a professional book and how to earn all their own profits. And, if someone asks you why you self published the simple answer always is “I wanted to keep my own profits” or “working with a large publisher wouldn’t allow me to produce the book I wanted” or, you might even respond with: “why would I want to give away all my profits?”. I have all kinds of answers here and would be glad to equip you with the knowledge to build an intelligent response. Personally, I just like that I get to control my own style and content and I can produce what works best for me, my life, and aligns with my message, model, or business. I mean seriously, there is a lot of manipulation in those big publishing house models!

What else can I tell you guys? Do you want to know if it’s worthwhile to create your own publishing house. For most authors this is overkill and a ton of work and not necessary. If you’re working with my coaching system I’ll get you going with your registration with the Library of Congress and Bowkers and I’ll show you how to get set up with distribution and you don’t have to bother with all the rest. I am set up so that I have no ownership in your material. Honestly, I have no interest in that. I don’t care to make profits on your hard work. I just want to show you how to do all this the right way.

And, how can you secure that your work is safe anyhow? Well, in a self-published model you control the printing so you control how many books get created. The printer, editor, and designer are the only ones that see your work so you could set agreements with them. In most cases, the editor and designer might like to showcase your work as a part of their portfolio, but they own no part of the actual book. The Designer however will tend to own the creative, so no other design company can come along and claim they created your book cover or did your interior design. That’s pretty standard, but it can sometimes get a bit confusing for the new author. No own can really own your book but you in a self-publishing model. But, if that’s a concern for you, I can also always show you how to get things copyrighted. I actually did this only for my 4th book (Let’s Get Your Book Published) because it’s used in an online training program and you can reproduce the book and downloadable PDF workbook and if you were to take  to a printer they might ask you to sign over the rights that you own nothing. Believe it or not, when I went to print my workbook at a FedEx printing center I was asked to sign a waiver and I said, ummm this is my own book and workbook! In all honesty, I was flattered that what I produced was professional enough to be questioned. And to be really honest, I had to fight back tears because I had just worked so hard and for so many months to pull it all together and it was finally all real! I have a 272 book and another 300 plus pages of printable downloads that supplement my online training program. It’s things like a project plan, how to work with an editor, how to work with a designer, what to expect when you go to a printer, etc.

I’m always happy to walk you through any questions you have on the publishing process and I will always straighten you out with the best individual approach for your book project and business when you work with me and my coaching system. I’ve even helped some clients on getting set up with their own publishing company. I have an hourly rate in the store on my website too, so if you want to just get a bit of extra help on a few topics and you don’t need full on coaching for your book project I’m happy to help you there too.

I hope this help nail down a few topics as it relates to the publishing imprint.There are so many moving parts to all this and it can get a bit overwhelming and confusing. Just let me know how I can guide you and I’m happy to help.

On that note - I hope you have a great weekend and as always, I’m wishing you peace, love, and light! Stay strong and be well!

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