Friday, August 24, 2018

Readers Don't Care Who Publishes Your Book--Really!

One of my private amusements is the serendipity surrounding how well my different books sell, or not.  And how that really doesn't align with who published it.  A writing friend was bemoaning this with me, feeling bad about her small press status versus a Big Five publisher.  But her book has sold well, very well.  While other writers I know, published by a top echelon press, sell fewer copies. 

When I recently came across this article from Grub Street's blog, interviewing debut writers about the post-signing process (what happens once you do get an agent and a publisher), it confirmed my long-held belief that readers really don't care who your publisher is. 

Read the article here, to find out more about the surprises that await once you have "made it."  (If the link doesn't work, go to and search for "The Eight Most Surprising Things."

I'm amused by this because we writers are SO involved with who published what.  The bigger the press, the bigger the name, the more we've arrived.  Yes, to a certain extent, the bigger publishers have the potential for more sales, better reviews--but only if you are high on their list and get the required attention from their sales department.  Big Five publishers release a large clutch of books each season, so salespeople often select a few titles to promote to booksellers.  Yours may not be one. 

Why do you think agents want to know about your platform?  Because it tells them how much you'll be involving in selling your book, through social media, Goodreads, newsletters or blogs, blurbs and reviews.  The publisher may help, or may not, depending on your book's placement on that list. 

My friend's small press (and my own experience with small presses confirms this) actually gave her more attention than many big publishers would, and her sales, combined with her own efforts, reflected this.

The Grub Street blog article talked about how these debut writers were pretty surprised that none of their readers ever asked "Who is publishing your book?" 

I've published thirteen books in my writing career, three via agented submissions to major presses, nine to small presses sans agent, and one self-published.  One of the small press submissions was a bestseller for the press because my editor put it up for a national award and it won third place (the sales and award landed me a second contract, but I can't say this was more than sheer beginner's luck--I didn't know enough back then to market my own books effectively).  Another small press, non-agented, book became a bestseller via word-of-mouth.  One of the three agented submissions landed on that year's top list for its publisher and sold a gajillion copies, so I got a couple more books via that publisher and royalties for ten years.  The other bestseller of the group was my self-published book, which has only succeeded from my own efforts and that of my readers.     

Nobody, except my writing friends, has ever asked who published any one of these books.  None of my readers ever asked if it sold well or poorly.  They just want a good book. 

I realize the argument is not as simple as I've presented here, but consider this:  where and with whom you publish, be it a Big Five house or your own, is nowhere near as important as how well your book is written.  Writers get so twisted about this.  Maybe it would be a relief to read the Grub Street article this week and reassure yourself?   

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