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  1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Essentials for a Small Publisher Website?

    Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Catrin Lewis, Mar 18, 2017.

    If you're indie publishing or planning to, and if you've set up a small publishing firm separate from your author name, what did you include in your publisher website (I assume you have one)? I was reading the other day on Dean Wesley Smith's blog that it's critical to have one, even if it's just a shell, but what did you put in that shell?

    I'm interested in links to see what others have done. I especially want to look at websites that are fairly new, that don't have a lot of published works to feature as yet.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wait. You're only publishing yourself, you've already got an author website, and you're going to set up a publisher website, too?

    A) - how much time do you want to spend updating websites instead of writing?

    B) - what's the purpose of the publisher website?

    C) - it's pretty easy to tell when someone has set up a "fake" publisher in order to give their self-published books "fake" legitimacy, and I really don't think it's a good idea. There's nothing inherently illegitimate about self-publishing, and there's something really uncomfortable (at least for me) in the idea of trying to fool readers. So I hope there's a different purpose in mind for these publisher websites...
     
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  3. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, I have a writer's blog, but that's not the same.

    Actually, there's no such thing as a "fake" publisher. Anyone who publishes anything in any way is automatically a "real" publisher. Think of it: all the big names started out as one-man shows, and grew from there. Sure, I could publish my work under my real name or my pen name, but having a separate DBA (as I do) keeps things businesslike and accountable for fiscal/tax purposes. It also enables me to keep the accounting in one place if I decide also to publish nonfiction, say, under my real name or YA under a different nom de plume. The publisher website can list all those, without my having to maintain separate pages. It can also offer all of them for direct sale, if I choose.

    In fact, going with a publisher website will eliminate the problem of having to redesign the writer's blog to match. Hmm.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But are you planning to publish other people's books?

    I mean, you don't need a website to have a DBA or for fiscal/tax purposes...

    And it'd be a bit weird if a single publisher had, like, three fiction books, two non-fiction and a chapbook of poetry... but I guess that's what you'd be planning if you used the publisher website as your main website?

    I mean, it's your thing - obviously your decision. Do you have a link to the article that said this was a good thing to do? I'm curious about the rationale.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    The thing that would worry me is that it would like you are trying to present yourself the author and your dba as two separate entities. As a reader, I would suspect that you were endeavoring to hide the fact that your work was self-published.
     
  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    http://helensedwick.com/should-self-publishers-use-an-imprint-name/
    http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/think-like-a-publisher-2015-chapter-one-the-early-decisions/

    There might have been others, but I first found out about this last June or so and don't remember the exact posts or locations.
     
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  7. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or trying to promote the idea that I'm approaching this as a business?

    But these observations don't answer my original question.

    EDIT: See this, including the comments: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2012/06/the-author-as-publisher-author-as-fraud/
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  8. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, looking at the sites of the people who wrote those articles is a bit confusing. The DWS one seems to be a combination of his work and his wife's? And then they also seem to run (?) a literary magazine, maybe, so it's the site for that, too, and they have other authors working for them through that? They mention having several full-time employees, so I'd say they are, at this point, operating as a micro-press. But I assume it took them some time to build to that point, and I doubt you'd have anything to put under most of the headings they have for their site.

    So, looking at the other one... she's just got contact info and a link to her book. (Just one book, published in 2014, so... I'm not sure she's really an active writer? The "contact" link mentions asking for "pre-release" copies of the book, which suggests she hasn't updated the website for the last several years?)

    I'm really not sure what you'll put on this site that wouldn't be a duplication of your author site, but if you're planning to have just the one, not an author site at all... I guess you'd want links to your books, probably a bio page, a blog, a contact page... ?

    But I know quite a few self-published authors (and am one myself) and I don't think it's at all essential to have a publisher page. So if you're doing this because you want to do it, obviously you should carry on. But if you're doing it because you believe DWS and some random woman that you must do it... I don't think you must. At all.
     
  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    It would all depend on the presentation. There's nothing wrong with creating a publishing company to publish your own work, but if it appeared to be a misrepresentation (you were vetted and let through the gates, therefore the work must be "good") I wouldn't go anywhere near it. That's just me. Other readers might not care or be more inclined to buy the book. I'm not saying that's your intention at all, but it would be something I'd hold against the writer if the work was not up to snuff. More so than if it were a "keep it real" self-publication.

    To answer the original question, I have no idea. I've never seen one of these solo publication websites. A traditional publishing website has the usual links for authors, books, philosophies, submission guidelines, etc.... Doesn't look like any of those would be relevant in your case. The articles you posted are interesting, but I'm still not seeing the necessity of having an author website and a publishing website that contain identical information.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're not publishing other people's books, then the vast majority of the functionality of a publisher is absent. Given that, this sounds like you want a website like the site for a very small business--I don't feel that using publishing as a model really makes sense. Googling "what should go on a small business website" produces a lot of hits.
     
  11. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    FWIW, I wouldn't see a site like this as an attempt to deceive the reader. I'm more likely to read it as someone taking the publishing business a bit more seriously than whacking out 10k words and then sticking them on Amazon. I'm not totally sure how I'd even find the site from the book listing - Amazon don't tend to link out to publisher sites. Is this something you're planning on promoting separately from your book?

    As to content, it's not something I've done myself, but I think I'd expect to see:

    Who you are (where 'you' is the company, not the person)
    Why you exist
    Books you've published. If you've not published any books, then books you're working on.
    Submission guidelines, if you take submissions. This isn't necessary - a description like 'Catrin Publishing was founded to publish Catrin Lewis's saga of forbidden love between a pirate and the octopus that took her leg' doesn't raise any particular red flags for me, and I wouldn't expect a company set up specifically for a single author to necessarily take submissions from other people.
    Contact details
     
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  12. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can I elaborate a bit on the last part? I'm not saying Catrin is planning to become an actual publisher (like, of other people's works), but, in general...

    People who get into publishing casually, with no experience in the field, no real marketing or business plan, probably not enough capital to keep a business afloat? These are the people we WARN new authors about. These are the people who self-publishing zealots use as their examples of why the publishing industry is rotten and bad for authors.

    Again, I'm not suggesting that anyone in this thread is contemplating such an action. But in case anyone comes along and reads this...

    There's nothing wrong with self-publishing. It is INFINITELY better to self-publish than to work with a fly-by-night company that can't do anything for you that you can't do for yourself, and that will tie your work up in a contract, use up your first publication rights, and take a significant percentage of your sales. Do NOT send your work to publishing companies without proven track records and staff who have extensive industry experience.

    There's nothing wrong with straightforward self-publishing. Publishing through an established publishing company is good because of the value they add in editing, marketing, etc., not because they have a company name to slap on your book.

    If Catrin wants to create a company website, obviously that's her decision. But we can't, as a board, be seen to encourage the slap-dash creation of publishing companies for publishing other people's work. There's too much at risk for the other people.
     
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  13. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eh, I don't have a huge problem with publishing houses like that existing as long as they're honest about what they are. There's still value to an author in that kind of set-up - if the company is being an actual publisher and not a vanity house, it'll still be acting as a gatekeeper. It'll still be paying for the cover, editing etc. It'll still do a load of production work so the author doesn't have to.

    I don't mind submitting to and spending my first rights on a publishing company that's actually just an enthusiast doing this stuff in their spare time, as long as I know that's what I'm doing. Some people will mind submitting to those places, and that's fine. They can just... not do that.
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess, in the same way that people can put pens in their eyes if they want to and others can just not do it.

    To be clear, I'm not talking about well-run publishers with experienced owners that just happen to be a bit small. I'm talking about, like, if I started a publishing house. No editing experience, no marketing experience, no cover design experience, and not willing to sink my life savings into the project. It would be better for someone to self-publish than to work with me, absolutely.
     
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  15. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that depends where the author in question sees the value. It's not necessarily about doing a significantly better job than the author would if they were self-publishing the book - it's about doing a job that isn't any worse, doing it for the author so they don't have to spend the time, and doing it for future royalties rather than a large up-front payment. Not everyone's going to see that as worth it, which is fine. As long as the publisher in question is honest about what they're offering the author and what they're taking in return, I don't really see the problem. They probably wouldn't be my first recommendation if someone asked me where they should submit their MS to, but I still feel like they've got a place on the spectrum of available publishing options.
     
  16. Solar

    Solar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I assume you have a business plan?
     
  17. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    What is the purpose of this website? If you're not publishing other people's work, why does your "publishing company" need a website at all?

    The content you need is wholly dependent on the purpose, so it's impossible to advise at the moment.
     
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can be a business without being a publisher. An example is the Boxmasters site:

    https://theboxmasters.com

    They're a band, they're a business, they sell their CDs, but they don't present themselves as a record label. They present themselves as a band, because that's what they are. Why can't you present yourself as an author?

    Now, Colette Patterns

    https://www.colettepatterns.com

    is Colette Media, LLC, but they aren't presenting themselves as a broad-based publishing company of sewing-related publications. They clearly present a very specific line of products, and the site is for describing, promoting, and selling those products. The front page of their site doesn't talk about Colette Media, LLC, it talks about a remake of the Sorbetto, one of their most popular patterns.

    Am I making sense? You're not a publishing company, you're an author. Putting a wrapper around that fact feels like you're ashamed of it. And that has a bad taste for potential customers. Creating an artificial hierarchical level above your products, even though your products are the entirety of the business, feels misleading.
     
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  19. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Your book, your writing, that's what matters. Big house publishers are great for promoting your work, so are some indie publishers. I don't believe most readers look first at who your publisher is. Other writers do like it's a status symbol. I've seen so many crap books that are published, even by larger publishing houses, so the idea the publisher vetted your book is hogwash.

    The website is another matter. You run the risk of someone clicking on it and only seeing one published book. Were it me, I'd self publish using the imprint name, but stay away from a website until you have more to show for it than one book. On the other hand, if anyone does look up the publisher, they would as you say, expect a website.

    http://selfpublishingadvice.org/should-self-published-authors-create-their-own-publishing-imprints/
    Seems like 50:50 to me on the website.

    Another option is a co-op publishing effort with other authors.

    Using an imprint name other than your name, that makes sense. I wouldn't care that other authors would think it was cheating. Seems a bit uppity to me. I'm not looking for recognition from other authors. I want readers to like my book(s). If I write a good book, that will lead to recognition, not whether a publisher or agent let me through the gate.
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think we also have to be careful about whose advice we're following. As far as I can see, Hawkesbury Press has only three books ranked better than the millions on Amazon, which means they're hardly selling any books at all. So... I don't give a lot of credence to their business advice.

    Ten Gallon Press seems to have fewer books but they're ranked marginally better - still nothing higher than the hundred thousands, though.

    I expected to be way more impressed by WMG's numbers, and they certainly do have a lot more books out. But only one of them seems to be ranked better than the hundred thousands, and it's not much better. I think Dean Wesley Smith may be operating on a lots-of-books business model rather than a lots-of-sales-per-book model, and based on what I've seen of the writing speed of most of the members of this forum, I'm not sure that's going to be a strategy most of us want to adopt.

    I'm not claiming to have all this figured out, not by a long shot. But when I read someone else who's acting like they DO have it figured out, I check their sales numbers. Maybe they have different writing goals than I do, but if their goals include making significant money? I don't think they're meeting their goals.
     
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  21. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Back to @Catrin Lewis 's OP, I set up a website for myself, http://www.lewis-mcintyre.com. This was originally to have a presence so that potential agents could locate me on the internet. Since then, I self-published, so it is now an advertising tool, with links to Amazon to purchase my two books, reviews by my beta readers, and discussions of others in work. I haven't yet found it that effective, though it gets 10-50 visits per day, sometimes, and I am looking for ways to expand its visibility. I found Facebook through Lewis McIntyre (my author site) to have much wider reach, especially when using a cheap boost to my posts which generated some sales in Australia via that means. But again, I am not rolling in royalties. Nevertheless, over a hundred sales (50 online/60 book signings & sales by hand) is a good start for the first six weeks for an indie. But I am still for the most part selling in my circle of friends.

    I just set up a state LLC (online registration cost $190, time about an hour), Lew & Karen McIntyre, Authors, LLC. The advantage here (I think) is that as a business, I can generate a loss this year (office costs/writing conferences/advertising) against what is likely to be a pittance of royalty income this year. This can be a tax advantage, as I have a day job, Navy retirement and now Social Security which generate a good sized income, but writing expenses are not deductible against those incomes. Without an established business, I can only deduct up to my writing income, which is not going to help much.
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are going to be different tax laws in different jurisdictions, so we need to be careful about assuming that a benefit in one place will be a benefit somewhere else.

    And, in terms of your lewis-mcintyre site - I absolutely agree that authors should have a website. There are those who don't, but for most of us I think they're an important thing. But that's different than a publisher website.
     
  23. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    As far as tax, I am more concerned about federal. Having an LLC justifies a Schedule C (which I have used before as a consultant) and allows me to generate a loss. State Law is actually less of a problem, since they don't count my Social Security as income (yet!) but the feds do, at a killing rate for any combined income over $30K.
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But that's US federal tax, not the tax that we'd be paying in any other countries.

    For example, the laws on eligible business losses in Canada have no need for a person to have a DBA or whatever other requirements you guys were talking about.
     
  25. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    An author's website. That's dandy. But you haven't created a separate website for yourself as a publishing house, as far as I know.
     

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