I need opinions on a credibility issue.

One of my partners in Calderwood Books is Jennifer Macaire. In addition to handling publicity, Jennifer has published 20+ books, and turned over still more to us to publish. The first one is our second highest seller so far. Jennifer's fans are a logical market to help spread the word about us to the ebook-reading community.

However -- I hear that one of the things a new publisher is judged on is whether it publishes a lot of books by an owner. (I'm talking quick impression, not actually sampling the books.)

Jennifer is an excellent writer and should be one of our greatest draws -- if the publication of her books doesn't drive browsers away.

Does anyone have suggestions how we can have the best of both worlds?

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I'm not up to speed on them, but you might want to look at the MWA policies about what determines a "legitimate" publisher. Please note, I'm not meaning to infer you're illegit... I think you know what I mean. It's the root of what you're asking about.

It seems to be very hard for publishers who follow this route to have credibility, but Hard Case Crime publishes its editor under a pseudonym. I guess he'd be the best person to ask, because maybe it has something to do with the percentage offset by other books published? I honestly don't know.

This is one of the things that's notably different between publishing and the music business, for example. Artists start their own labels all the time, and instead of calling people "self produced" and dismissing them, many of the music industry awards have "Indie" categories that allow musicians to get recognition. Perhaps this is unique to Canada, though. It seems to be harder for our artists to get deals in Nashville (I'm more up on the country music industry). (And note I stress "seems" - probably with specific reference to our male artists, actually.) It's long and complicated stuff... all I really know is that the stigma isn't there in that business. I personally have no interest in running a publishing company and am thrilled to have someone else take care of that for me, but I do think there's a difference between starting a company and publishing other people as well and just publishing your own stuff.

Best of luck to you.
Yes, we're focusing on having a variety of authors, often people who haven't been able to break into the market because they are unusual or multi-genre. I don't fear that professionals looking at our website would see any "owner favoritism". I am holding back on publishing the later books of the popular series, to keep it that way. The Iskander series was popular at Jacobyte before they went out of business, and it's frustrating to be losing immediate business by not offering the full series. Those obviously can't be published under a pen name, and neither can Jennifer's horse fantasy books, which have a following in the horse community.

I'd like to hear some more opinions. Any votes on how other members would expect the market to react?
I don't know if the market would care. When it comes to readers, they usually haven't a clue of all the behind-the-scenes politics. All that really matters is that they can get the books in bookstores.

Someone else who has some experience with this: Val McDermid. She's part of Bloody Brits Press, and they're using it to keep backlists in print and bring overlooked UK authors to the US market.

Not sure how newspaper reviewers deal with it, though. Sounds to me like you're doing everything right, and yes, potentially hurting the business to make sure there's no appearance of favouritism. It must be tricky. I'd be frustrated as well.


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