This post, by Chris Hobson, originally appeared on his blog on 5/9/11.
I was thinking about something over the weekend. Maybe this is obvious to everyone, maybe it’s not, but the more I think about it, the happier I get. Here’s my thought: is there really such a difference between self-pubbers and legacy publishing houses? I know, I know. You’ll come back at me with, "Well obviously, Chris–people READ books published by Penguin because Penguin stands for Quality, whereas they think something printed by Chris Hobson Inc. is probably a cut just above preschool marble painting.
But I know a couple of people who started publishing houses of their own. That’s right: they just up and said, "You know, I think I’ll start publishing people’s books." And they did. And they published good stuff by excellent authors. But how, may I ask, is this different than publishing your own book?
I know they didn’t publish their own books; that’s not what I’m saying. They published other people’s books. But it was them doing the publishing, not some faceless corporation with a decaying old man at the helm. And believe me, they didn’t have fleets of editors or artists at their beck and call: they had to arrange for all of those services on their own.
It’s weird: just because they called their enterprises "publishing houses" they gained instant credibility. One of the guys was able to consistently place ads in Publisher’s Weekly for his clients. Try doing that for your latest greatest self-pubbed novel. I don’t know for certain, but something tells me you’d get laughed off the phone. But what gets me is that these guys had to hustle for their clients, they had to track down cover artists, get layout work done, promote the books to industry magazines, beg book store managers to give them space on an end cap to display the books. If you looked close, their whole operations were held together with balsa wood and chewing gum.
I say again: how is this any different than someone self-pubbing their own books?