I value Jim Cox’s insight into books and the words that make them. I found this post extremely beneficial. ~MDH
Words are important in how things are described. They can caste something in a positive or negative light. For example, in the political sphere we’ve seen “Inheritance Tax” replaced in the political vocabulary with “Death Taxes”. This ‘name change’ had a dramatic impact upon public perception and consequent federal tax policy.
The same nomenclature phenomena is to be found in the publishing industry. With the growing popularity and ease with which authors can turn their manuscripts into finished books simply by writing a check to a Publish On Demand (POD) company, or following such instructive ‘how to’ manuals as “Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book” or”The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book” by Marilyn Ross & Sue Collier, the term ‘self published’ came into widespread usage — with a consequently commonly encountered problem.
There were so many ‘self published’ books coming into the market that had serious flaws in them that the term ‘self published’ became fairly synonymous with ‘substandard’. So much so that most professional book review publications and reviewers, book wholesalers and distributors, and bookstore retailers, would not consider a self-published book. This prejudice against self published titles continues to this very day.
But there is an antidote to that discriminatory reflex. A simple change of wording. I recommended that the term “Self Published” should be replaced with the term “Privately Published” in all book marketing related materials — and most especially in book reviews.
Every month I receive a handful of books with no publisher name identified. They are almost invariably the first time product of someone brand new to the publishing process and obviously self published. In these cases I take the initiative of plugging in the descriptive term “Privately Published” after Title and Author in the review’s “information block” at the head of the review because our review of the book deemed it to be recommendable to its intended readership and to try to avoid (or at least minimize) the discrimination that has grown up around the term “Self Published” while giving potential customers for the book all the contact information they will need to obtain it.
I advise all self-published authors who have not created their own publisher’s imprint, and all those who are not stuck with a POD publisher identification (i.e. AuthorHouse, PublishAmerica, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, etc.) to do the same.