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Fringe Fiction General Chat > How to know an author is self published or not

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message 1: by Floryie (new)

Floryie | 11 comments I have always wanted to ask this Q to others. How do I know if an author is self published or Indie author or traditionally published?

I am so confused!


message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) I'm not clear on what you're asking, so I'll just provide what answers I can.

Scroll down on the Amazon page, look for Publisher. If it says something like Createspace or Amazon publishing services, then self-published.

Self-published just means the author published themselves and not with a publishing house. An independent author could be self-published or published with a small press, either way, not published with a traditional big publishing company.

I hope that helps.


message 3: by Floryie (new)

Floryie | 11 comments Oh that helps.. I am trying to figure out the authors I read come under which category and I got confused because I couldn't figure out if they are using a small press or self publish because I see so-and-so in Publisher field.


message 4: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Well, self-publishing and small press amounts to the same thing - independent author. Personally, I don't see a difference with those two.


message 5: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Just to tweak things a little bit: an author might get published with their own publishing house and they still remain a self-publisher...


message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Don't confuse Floryie lol


message 7: by Ashe (new)

Ashe Armstrong (ashearmstrong) Self-published authors can create their own imprint name for the purpose of printing their own books, but that's also contingent on purchasing ISBNs instead of taking the free ones Amazon/CreateSpace (and Smashwords) offers. CS has a policy that if you use a free ISBN, they will then show up as your publisher, period. You can purchase an ISBN from them for $99 to put your own imprint but that is a TERRIBLE IDEA.

If you go to Bowker's site (the folks that handle ISBN stuff in the US), you can buy your own there. A pack of 10 is basically $300 and a pack of 1000 is $600. Instead of paying the $99, save up, spend the $300 and get a 10 pack that will, depending on how you're publishing, get you 10 ebooks at best or if you're publishing solely on Amazon, 5 pairs of paperbook and digital.


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Knight (riknight36) | 9 comments Right. This is the best explanation. Createspace is Amazon's publishing group. Bookbaby also works with self-published authors. My first book was by Bookbaby. My second with Createspace. Bookbaby does all the formatting work for you, but Createspace is so easy to use, it's no wonder so many people opt for it.


message 9: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments To be fair, there are small publishing houses out there who give a great deal of support to their authors, some more than the big ones do now (unless, of course, you've got a track record of making megabucks for them). CelticCat is one that's been more of a traditional publisher to its authors than many of the Traditional houses. I'm sure there are others, I just happen to know this publisher personally and several of the CelticCat authors. The founder is, I think, retiring, so there may be changes, but hopefully not.


message 10: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) To clarify, I only said Createspace or Amazon publishing services as examples. I couldn't possibly list all of them.


message 11: by Ashe (new)

Ashe Armstrong (ashearmstrong) Lily wrote: "To clarify, I only said Createspace or Amazon publishing services as examples. I couldn't possibly list all of them."

There are a fuckin lot around now. I got a sales letter from one in St. Louis recently that was trying to be "different" by making the front side read "blah blah blah SALES PITCH blah blah blah BOOKS" only to have the opposite side deliver the sales pitch they were so "cleverly" avoiding.


message 12: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments I should have referenced post #4 ;-)

Well, self-publishing and small press amounts to the same thing - independent author. Personally, I don't see a difference with those two.



message 13: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Ahe, there are tons and tons.

Renee, ah, I gotcha now. It's all good.


message 14: by Ashe (new)

Ashe Armstrong (ashearmstrong) I'm actually tempted to scan that stupid "letter." Just censor the company name and whatnot so I don't get sued for mocking them or something.


message 15: by Longhare (new)

Longhare Content | 60 comments Just a tiny bit more clarification. Traditional publishers (including many small presses) invest their own money in the production and distribution of your work. They expect to make their money back through sales of your book.

Any publisher that offers to publish your work for a fee is not a traditional publisher. They expect to make money by charging authors for services. Bad actors can be very expensive and very aggressive. Beware of any operation that solicits you--it is sniffing around for a fee.

All self-publishers are independent, and I think most people consider small presses indie--even though their business model is traditional.

If you check out the copyright information in the book, whether ebook or paper, a press will have an address. If there is no address, it's a pretty good bet that the work is self-published under the author's own imprint.


message 16: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Ashe wrote: "Self-published authors can create their own imprint name for the purpose of printing their own books, but that's also contingent on purchasing ISBNs instead of taking the free ones Amazon/CreateSpa..."

Wait, aren't ISBN numbers free? In my country, they are... poor Americans...

@Lily: I'm not trying to confuse anybody; authors founding their own publishing houses just for the sake of publishing their own books are really common.


message 17: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments ISBNs can be free, Jacek, or you can buy them en bloc for a fee.


message 18: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Jacek, ISBN's are free in my country too, but I chose not to say anything. It's kinda beside the point.

ISBN stands for Internatial Standard Business Number. In order to get your books in certain stores that uses ISBN, you need one. However, you could sell books on a street corner without an ISBN and it would still be legit. ISBN's are for the retailers, not for the author. You don't need an ISBN to publish a book.

Sorry to go off topic, I just wanted to clear that up. Carry on...


message 19: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Still, that's weird - where I live, ISBNs are just free. You can get 10 of them, you can get 1000 of them, you still don't pay a cent. No one ever charges you for ISBNs (unless they're fraud).

But it's clearly off-topic so here I stop. :)


message 20: by Ashe (new)

Ashe Armstrong (ashearmstrong) Lily wrote: "Jacek, ISBN's are free in my country too, but I chose not to say anything. It's kinda beside the point.

ISBN stands for Internatial Standard Business Number. In order to get your books in certain ..."


This is an important distinction to make, yeah.

And I'd heard that authors could obtain ISBNs free and easily elsewhere, but this is America and we believe in charging for everything. That's why children with cancer rack up huge medical bills for their parents.


message 21: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Actually, this is a group on a website and the internet is a an international platform. Also, get back on topic ;)


message 22: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments There are so many different self-publishing platforms out there now it can be difficult to tell if a publisher is self-published. I used to tell by looking at the quality of the work but now there are so many poor small press or vanity publishers (vanity publishers are really self-publishers pretending they're not) that that's not necessarily a guide.


message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) In al fairness, if an author was swindled by a vanity press like Publishers America, they would still be self-published. They just has to pay a hell of a price to do so.

To distinguish between a traditonal publisher and everyone else, that's actually pretty easy. 5 main companies own all traditional publishers and their imprints. It can be easily looked up on Wiki. I guess I've memorized all the big names that I don't think about it anymore.


message 24: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments That might be the case in America but there are smaller, independent traditional publishers in other countries that don't come under the umbrella of a larger parent organisation. My publisher is one of them.


message 25: by Renee E (last edited May 03, 2015 01:59PM) (new)

Renee E | 395 comments It's that way in the U.S., too, Lynne, and then there are the university presses, sponsored by and operated under the auspices of a college or university.


message 26: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Traditional publishers are owned by 5 main companies all over the world. There's Harper Collins. Harper UK. Etc, etc.

I find it's better to assume the vast majority are not traditionally published. Because, you know, world wide, that's a crapload of authors.


message 27: by Longhare (new)

Longhare Content | 60 comments Coffee House, Gray Wolf, City Lights, and the New Press are among a number of very respected small presses that are not owned by the Big 5. Some of the lit mags, like Tin House, have successfully branched out into book publishing. Many of these are non-profits, but their model is to publish high quality books for distribution and sale in bookstores, as well as online. These are not self-publishing outlets, but they are indies.


message 28: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 154 comments Floryie wrote: "Oh that helps.. I am trying to figure out the authors I read come under which category and I got confused because I couldn't figure out if they are using a small press or self publish because I see so-and-so in Publisher field."

Is there a category now?

I must say I mainly select on 'appearance of professionalism'--if a book has a crappy photoshop cover AND an error-filled blurb AND the sample doesn't engage me, I don't care who published it.

If a self-publisher/indie author is a professional, the cover will be appealing and the blurb and sample will be error-free and engaging. And that's all that matters in the end.


message 29: by Lynne (last edited May 04, 2015 04:12AM) (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Absolutely, Martyn. I've seen traditional publishers with crappy covers, and the worst ones all around quality-wise are from vanity presses (although they're really just self publishing at a far more expensive cost).


message 30: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Yeah but what are the chances of a big publisher releasing a book with "a crappy photoshop cover AND an error-filled blurb"?


message 31: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments The big publishers? Very little chance. But their quality should be stellar because they've got the budget for it. And there have been cover disasters even from the big publishers. Usually they change them if they get a bad reception, though (again, because they've got the money to do that).


message 32: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Everyone's quality should be stellar. Just because you're a self-pub doesn't mean you can make typos and draw repulsing covers. Money has very little to do with that.


message 33: by Floryie (new)

Floryie | 11 comments Wow I am gone for a day and the thread fills up :D Trying to catch up!


message 34: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) *sigh* It was overnight for me. It's morning where I m and I'm sipping coffee.

The topic is what are the ways that you can tell if a book is self-published, published with a small press, or traditonally published?

That's it. Nothing else. No need to turn this topic into a random bitchfest over nothing. If cover quality is your indication, fine. But that's a personal opinion, and some, such as myself, will not agree.


message 35: by Floryie (new)

Floryie | 11 comments It's evening for me. What I have gleaned is there are 5 Big ones and any other is self pub or indie.. one step up from confused state.

I was asking because I wanted to feature Self pub/indie authors on my blog and for that I had to understand them first.

@Martyn By category I meant if they are self or indie published. I read books based on the blurb and the story premise. I don't usually pay much attention to the publishers and stuff. I am trying to promote the indie authors * sighs*

Hope that clears up whatever misunderstanding I caused. I am still not clear on it but I am getting there hopefully.


message 36: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Floryie, that sounds good. Best indication for me is to look for the publisher's name or logo. If neither exists or it says Amazon publishing sevices et al, chances are really high it's self-published.

There are SO many small independent presses globally. Like, by the thousands.Often, I just do a quick google search for the publisher's name if I really want to know. That's usually enough for me.


message 37: by Floryie (new)

Floryie | 11 comments Oh ok Thank you Lily :)


message 38: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay I wouldn't really stick to that "5 main companies" thing. Maybe it does work in the US but definitely not worldwide.

But I agree with Lily - unless it's CreateSpace/Amazon something, the best way is just to google for the publisher. Some clearly state that they are indie, some do not, but in most cases, it's pretty easy to recognize if it's trad pub, indie, vanity or just one-man brand.


message 39: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Oh for pity's sake, this is getting just silly.

5 publishing corporations own all traditional publishers in the whole freaking world including their imprints. There used to be 6, but now there are 5.

Many countries ALSO have a long list of independent publishers. As in, they are not part of a global publishing corporation and they are not trditional publishers. Obviously not a bad thing.

That should clear it up.


message 40: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments Maybe it will clear up if there is a definitive description of "traditional" publisher?

(Not that we're all likely to agree . . . ) ;-)


message 41: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) I don't know, i guess the definitions are clear to me. Trad publishers front all costs an expecct the money paid by in sales, if not profit. Independent publishers usually only front the cost of printing and/or distribution.

Or, I just opened yet another can of worms. I give up.


message 42: by Renee E (new)

Renee E | 395 comments Okay. But I've had conversations with writers published by the Traditionals and they've had to front their own expenses for parts of the process, especially doing the personal publicity appearances.

Publishing is changing.


message 43: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Renee wrote: "Okay. But I've had conversations with writers published by the Traditionals and they've had to front their own expenses for parts of the process, especially doing the personal publicity appearances..."

Maybe that's half of the problem right there. I've heard the same thing. We just happen to be living in a time where everything is changing.

Perhaps the best way is to just ask the author and be done with it.


message 44: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Lily wrote: "Oh for pity's sake, this is getting just silly.

5 publishing corporations own all traditional publishers in the whole freaking world including their imprints. There used to be 6, but now there are..."


I don't want to start any riots, just to get some clarification... I know bunches of publishers in my land that don't make writers front any costs. Those publishers release tons of books annually. And they are NOT owned by any "publishing corporation" or any other economic entity. They're just there. On their own. And they are huge. Does it mean they're also indies because they're not dependent on Harpers or whatnot?

Or am I clearly missing something here and just making a fool out of myself?


message 45: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Jacek, that's about right. I suspect the word "traditionally" might be causing the confusion. We call it traditional, because these are the companies that were the first to produce mass paperbacks in large quantities. Before that, it was much smaller print runs.

It's just one business model out of many, and it's certainly not the only one.

By fronting costs, I mean ALL costs, not just the cost of printing. But, as Renee pointed out, that's been changing in recent years.

Who knows? For the sake of business survival, maybe someday all publishers will become independent and the line will completely blur and no one will have online arguments again :)


message 46: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Okay, so I was just confused by that "traditionally" part. So 100% of my country's market is indie because there's no single company connected to aforementioned "big 5". Sounds weird to me but I'll get used to it. :P


message 47: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Jacek wrote: "Okay, so I was just confused by that "traditionally" part. So 100% of my country's market is indie because there's no single company connected to aforementioned "big 5". Sounds weird to me but I'll..."

Haha, that sounds like Canada ;)

Though, we have the best and the worse of both worlds. Yay us. Harper Collins Canada. Random House Canada. Etc, etc.


message 48: by Martyn (last edited May 04, 2015 10:43AM) (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 154 comments Floryie wrote: "@Martyn By category I meant if they are self or indie published. I read books based on the blurb and the story premise. I don't usually pay much attention to the publishers and stuff. I am trying to promote the indie authors * sighs*"

I was approached by one of my writer friends because she got a lot of flak for not taking the self-publishing route but 'kowtowing' to trade publishers, and she wondered how I handled being 'under contract'.

I told her that, although publishers have offered me contracts, I'm not 'under contract', as I preferred to remain indie. However, I don't think people should categorize books on how they're published, but on the quality of the books themselves.

So, to me, either a book is obviously self-published, or it's published by a professional. And whether that professional is published through a trade publisher or knows how to put together a book that matches trade published books in both appearance and content, that is irrelevant to me.

To me. Other people might judge a book by its cover alone, or not even care about professionalism.


message 49: by Lynne (last edited May 04, 2015 12:47PM) (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Jacek wrote: "Everyone's quality should be stellar. Just because you're a self-pub doesn't mean you can make typos and draw repulsing covers. Money has very little to do with that."

Money and the ability to afford the best has plenty to do with why the big companies should have quality work. And yes, money can affect the quality of everyone's work. My publisher, who doesn't make a lot, always has to scrounge around to find decent people for cover images. That can be one hell of a task.

Inexperience counts also for most people, especially if they go with a vanity publisher, who will take lots of their money and cut every corner known to man.


message 50: by Jacek (new)

Jacek Slay Lynne: right, money can help a lot as far as covers or anything is concerned; my point was - you can't make an excuse for a poorly written book just because you or your publisher don't have money. Self-pub or not, if you want to release a book, do everything to make it stellar quality.

And before Lily decapitates me for the off-topic: I suppose that also might be an indicator for the question. If the book is clearly poor written or has crappy cover or is in any way "unprofessional", there's big chance it's self-published or vanity-published. It ain't a rule but in general trad/indie published books have better quality than self-published.


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