Why I don’t want to invent a publishing name by Diana Kimpton

As a traditionally published author moving into self publishing, I’m surprised at how much of the advice on offer suggests I should invent a publishing imprint for myself. Initially I accepted that advice at face value and started thinking of possible names.

But, as I struggled to decide whether Kubus Books sounded better than DK Press, I realised the whole process was making me uncomfortable. If I was self publishing from choice, why was I trying to hide that from my readers? The more I thought about it, the more sensible it seemed to publish under my own name.

But there was still all that advice. So I looked at it hard and discovered it was based on four assumptions.

You need a fancy name for your business
No I don’t. I’ve been registered with the Inland Revenue as a sole trader since I sold my first book in 1989 and my business name is the same as my real name – ‘Diana Kimpton’. Adding a second name for the publishing side of my business seems an unnecessary complication.

You need a publishing name to buy ISBNs
That’s true, but there’s no reason why that publishing name can’t be ‘Diana Kimpton’.

Readers will take your books more seriously if you invent a publishing name
No, they won’t. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asking friends to name the publisher of the book they’ve just said they enjoyed. Hardly any of them could do it. That’s because every reader’s main concern is whether the book is good or not. They may care about the cover. They may even care about the author, but they don’t care about the publisher. And even if they did, would they really be fooled by a made-up imprint that a quick, online check will reveal only publishes one person?

Reviewers will take your books more seriously if you invent a publishing name
No, they won’t! Believe me! I reviewed books regularly for ten years, and I could always spot a bad, self-published book. The poorly designed cover was usually the first giveaway, closely followed by the actual writing. The fact that the book was supposedly published by I-Invented-the-Name Press did nothing to overcome those two major handicaps. Conversely, if the cover and the layout were professional and the text was good, I didn’t mind at all if the author was named as the publisher. I might even mentally congratulate them on a job well done.

We live in interesting times, and the world of books is changing fast. Self publishing is rapidly losing its reputation for bad quality and reclaiming the respectable place it held in the early days of printing. So let’s be open about what we are doing and stop hiding behind invented imprints.

From now on, I’m going to name myself as the publisher on all my self published books. Unless one of you can persuade me differently.

Before I ventured into self-publishing, I had more than 40 books published the traditional way, including The Pony-Mad Princess series and Doctor Hoof. My first Kindle ebook for children is Perfectly Pony. You can find out about my other books on my website


CallyPhillips said…
It's a very interesting question. I'm thinking about it! Not that I want to persuade you otherwise - I applaud 'transparency' and yes, we should be proud of our efforts not 'hide behind imprints' I think there are other reasons why we 'brand' ourselves as imprints rather than author names which are not to do with hiding the truth or skulduggery or shame of being a self publisher... as I say, I'm thinking about it and will say more when I've THUNK! Great to have a post which really does get one thinking about ones actions though. Thanks.

Go with what you feel comfortable with!

I've switched to an imprint purely because I wanted books with specific covers and ornamental logos: Black Velvet Books. It made sense to me as all the front covers have black frame and silver filigree. The historical novels have more elaborate silver trimming than the contemporaries. The latter yet to be posted to Amazon.

There are people whom suggest it's better to have differing names for differing sub-genre! No thank you. That's as good as cheating on readers. But many authors write under several pseudonyms: why? ;)

CallyPhillips said…
Having had a bit of time to think... no clear resolution but it does seem to have something to do with how one constructs one's identity and there doesn't have to be a bad reason for using a publishing imprint. I chose to use HoAmPresst for many reasons, including that it makes me think PUBLISHING whereas Cally Phillips just makes me think WRITING. Also, easier to google becuase there are many folk with the same name out there but small chance your imprint will have clones! Also, of course, it depends on ones own personal relationship to e-publishing... I'm thinking of taking the publishing beyond my own stuff and so it seemed sensible to have an imprint that stands outside my own name. But really,I think the important thing is that people do what they feel is right, having thought through all the consequences and don't feel second rate however they do their 'indie' publishing.
Diana Kimpton said…
Interesting points, both of you. An imprint makes sense if you plan to publish other people too, but that's something I definitely don't want to do.
Great thoughts, Diana. I agree with you that most readers don't notice imprint or publisher names at all, and they certainly don't fool anyone if the content isn't up to scratch.
I put an imprint name on my self-published fiction because it felt like part of the spell of the package. I'd already published a very practical book on writing and wanted my fiction to feel different. But that's more for me than for anyone else. Also it meant that when I designed the cover for the print edition I had another element I could play with to make it visually complete.
Dan Holloway said…
I have an imprint, eight cuts gallery press, through which I publish others, but I self-publish my own books just with my name. It feels more in keeping with the DIY sensibility that attracted me to self-publishing. It feels quite important to me to keep what I do with other people's work separate from my own. In part, I don't think I'd feel comfortable that I could assure myself I was treating everyone the same if I was alongside other writers. In part, I want to make it clear to people looking at their work that they're not an add-on to something I essentially did for me. And in part, I'd then have to get through the submissions process, and even if the aquisitions editor is me, I'm pretty sure only one or at a squeak two of my books would make it!
Very thought provoking post! I've published all my Kindle books under the name Wordarts - but this has a lot to do with my own history. I've always been aware that my name was 'difficult' (but very reluctant to change it for various reasons - didn't even change it when I married ) so years ago when I had my first website made, we decided to go with Wordarts and it stuck. My own name links to it as well - and I do think that when people are looking online, they will probably look for the writer not the publisher. To be honest, I would hardly ever have any idea of who had published a particular novel. But it was also handy, when I published my son's Breaking Into Video Game Design career guide to have a publishing name to do it with. I think it's best to go with what suits you, personally though - as ever.
Debbie Bennett said…
@Francine. I sort of write under two names - DJ Bennett for my adult thrillers and Debbie Bennett for YA fantasy. Two reasons for this: firstly rumour has it that readers prefer thrillers to be written by men or at least a gender-neutral name! And secondly because my thrillers are very adult in nature and contain material not suitable for under 18s and I'm trying to keep my markets separate. It doesn't help when places like smashwords won't let you have an author name that's different from your account name...
Susan Price said…
Can appreciate all the arguments for self-publishing under an imprint. I suppose the reason I don't boils down to inbuilt, genetic obstinacy. Years ago, I refused to call myself S Price (to be more acceptable to male readers) and refused to change my name for different genres. I stil seem to have plenty of male readers - maybe I'd have more if I'd become 'S Price'? I don't know: my instinctive reaction was; NO. Not because I want to be honest - it's more that I am as I am, and if you don't like it, then pass on.

Popular posts

What's the Big Idea? - Nick Green

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

A Glittering Gem of Black, Gothic Humour: Griselda Heppel is intrigued by O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker

The Splendid Rage of Harlan Ellison - Umberto Tosi

Misogyny and Bengali Children’s Poetry by Dipika Mukherjee