The Author as Publisher, Author as Fraud | The Passive Voice

The Author as Publisher, Author as Fraud | The Passive Voice.

This is an interesting idea. I confess I’ve never thought about forming my own publishing company to put out my books. Several people point out that doing this makes taxes easier, but I’m not sure I see how.  I’ve had businesses, incorporated and non, and the taxes don’t get easier either way.

I consider my writing a business, although if I really think about it, it’s the act of publishing and selling a book that brings in the money. I could write every day forever, and it wouldn’t make a whit of difference regarding the tax man. It’s the moment I sell a book that he gets interested.

So in that sense, publishing is the business. Writing is just one of tasks to be done. Which is food for thought.

As far as the fraudulent aspect of it, I’m not convinced either way. A self-published author with his own imprint, can certainly act in ways that deceive the public. “So-and-so publishing company has just bought my book! They’ll be publishing it next year!” This kind of thing looks like a snow job to me. But if you say, “I’ll be publishing my book under my imprint, so-and-so publishing,” that’s a lot more clear about what’s going on.

In the end, I don’t think many readers give a whit about the publishing company. I know I never did, until I started down the querying path. A book was a book. It was either a book that I would like, or it wasn’t. Who published it never came into the decision.

Ah, but you know, that has changed recently, and it doesn’t have anything to do with my reading habits. It’s changed, because like a lot of you, I’ve been burned by buying a badly written, error-filled novel with a laughable plot. I’ve been burned more than once. So now, when browsing for books, the first thing I do is check to see if the book is self-published. If it is, or if I don’t recognize the publishing company, I read the first few pages of the book. I do that anyway, to see if the story sounds like it will live up to the cover blurb. But now I’m also looking for quality, which is not something I worried about before self-publishing became so easy.

But here’s where the publisher still makes no difference: if the book is good, and it’s one I’ll probably like, I buy it. I enjoy it. I don’t care who published it.

What about all you other self-publishers? What’s your opinion? Have you formed your own company, or do you think you will? What are your reasons? What about incorporating?

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7 thoughts on “The Author as Publisher, Author as Fraud | The Passive Voice”

  1. I agree with you. As a reader, the publisher makes no difference to me. But I do feel it’s a bit off-putting if the person is obviously trying to hide the fact that they’re publishing themselves. Usually, that’s a huge tip off about the quality of the writing. Like you, I’m very wary now of self-published authors. The ease of self-publishing has given way to an avalanche of books, most bad, some good and some great. I have trouble finding the latter and the former is clogging up the internet any way they can, clamouring for attention.

    I stick to people, like you, who impress me with the quality of the writing from the get-go. If you can’t get through 3 pages without the same number of typos or more, I’m going to have a hard time with you. But if you’re choosing to get your edited works out there because you think you have something to say and no one’s willing to take a chance, go for it. I’m seriously considering self-publishing myself, especially now with the new Kobo platform sounding so enticing. I just feel like what I write is not in fashion right now, but I suspect readers don’t care and might enjoy it. Or maybe I’m fooling myself. I haven’t made my mind up yet. In the meantime, I edit.

    1. I admit, sometimes I have a hard time telling potential customers that I’m self-published. On one hand, it shouldn’t matter. The book is either good, or it’s not. I don’t want to deceive people, but I feel strange about the idea that I must make sure they know the truth – as if I’m admitting my book is substandard because it’s not published by a major house.

      Is it wrong to not say anything about who published it?

      I just looked into Kobo, and it does look interesting. I signed up so I can see about putting my books on that platform, too. I hope you do self-publish. You know how much I love your Gaia book. Have you finished it? I’d love to be a beta reader.

  2. I formed my own LLC for tax stuff and the goal of making enough money someday to make it worth while LOL! But I have never pretended my LLC ‘bought my book’ that’s just silly, and I always list is as AMJ Publishing LLC- my name is Alica Mckenna-Johnson so i don;t think it’s difficult to tell that its mine. I think the average person isn’t concerned with who published the book, but if they enjoy it.

    1. Yep. I think that’s true.

      I won’t do an LLC, even if I do start a comapny. I did that for my chef business, but it’s not worth it. California charges a “fee” of $800/year from all corporations. So my little business that made a few thousand a year in profit (or lost money) had to pay the same amount as Google or Chevron. It was the biggest rip-off.

  3. I’m not going to make my own publishing company. Too much paperwork to accomplish the same thing. Like you said, taxes are annoying regardless, and that’s why God made some people accountants.

    But, I will say this: I’ve read some horrible books that were published by traditional publishers (albeit not the big six); I haven’t noticed that anything self-published has been any worse (although I perhaps weed out the worst stuff by being pretty picky with the description; I won’t buy something with a bad blurb).

    1. A bad blurb is almost laughable. Why do these people bother?

      You’re right about the small publishers. Some of them are excellent, but too many are are unprofessional, or worse, outright scams. It’s always important to read through the first few pages of a book before buying it.

  4. I set up a publishing company in 1999, back when that’s what all self-publishers did. Things were a lot different then. I winced when I read about the misleading claims — I never would have done that. Self-publishers were encouraged to come up with a name that wasn’t obvious, but I ignored that advice. My last name was Galinsky at the time and my company was Gal In Sky Publishing.

    I published two books under that imprint and dissolved Gal In Sky a few years ago. It didn’t make sense to keep the company open.

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