Do Readers Care Where Books Come From

My guest today is Norah Wilson, author of sexy contemporary romances, a vampire romance series, and the Dix Dodd Mysteries.

Norah is a 3 times RWA Golden Heart Finalist and the 2003 winner of the New Voice in Romance contest sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine. You can find Norah at her website, "Where Danger and Desire meet," or her blog.

A few months ago, I included a review of Norah's vampire romance The Merzetti Effect in a trio of reviews. The second book in her Vampire Romance Series, Nightfall, is out now, and I can't wait to read it.

Now, please welcome Norah Wilson whose books are available from all the popular ebook sellers.

Do readers care where books come from?
By Norah Wilson

I self-published my first book in the summer of 2010. I had been previously published by a New York publisher, but after a six-year drought, upon hearing the fabulously talented Delle Jacobs talking about her experiences with self-publishing, I decided to follow the trail she was blazing.

Back then, I was eager to call myself an indie author and wanted to join every indie author network going. While I still have indie author affiliations (I’m a proud member of IndieRomanceInk), I no longer feel the need to wave the indie flag so aggressively. Nor do I build my platform around my indie status.

Why the change of heart?

Well, it’s more of a change of strategy than a change of heart, and here’s why: I’ve come to realize that most readers really don’t know or particularly care who publishes the books they browse and buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iTunes. I don’t think readers are looking at the publisher’s name to ensure the book is traditionally published before they buy it.

Nor do I think they’re searching out indie books the way a jaded music listener might cruise indie music offerings. I think they’re just looking for books that appeal to them (attractive cover and compelling blurb) and which are well written and cleanly formatted (which they can easily ascertain from downloading a sample).

Entrepreneurs Enter Indie World

As self-publishing has matured, a number of services have sprung up to assist indie authors in putting forward books that are virtually indistinguishable from traditionally published books. From cover artists to content editors to copy editors to formatters, these professionals can help us compete for the hearts – and dollars! – of readers.

When I first started out, these resources were not so readily available, nor could I have seen my way clear to risking that kind of money on a market that was in its infancy. But the ebook market has evolved since then and become considerably more competitive. We can no longer count on modest indie pricing alone to deliver the customers. Also, many consumers have grown wary of indie offerings after having been disappointed on the quality front. Thus I think investing in professional assistance is more important now than ever.

Be Cautious

That said, I don’t recommend new indie authors leap into agreements with companies to “self-publish” for them. These companies typically take a fee upfront (sometimes a pretty substantial one), but they also glom a chunk of the author’s royalties, in perpetuity. If someone offers you that opportunity, I recommend running the other way. You can, and perhaps should, outsource certain pieces of the job (editing, proofing, cover design, formatting) to ensure quality, but that’s different.

In the latter case, you’re paying a fixed price for a one-time service. In my opinion, the author should never give up royalties in exchange for such services. (Of course, for every rule there is an exception. I’m thinking of the situation where the author strikes a deal with a translator to translate their book into another language. Translating a book can be prohibitively expensive, and royalty sharing might be a viable alternative.)

So that’s where I am right now – availing myself more and more of the services of professionals in order to give my books the best possible chance to compete in a crowded market. I want my books to be judged against all available titles, regardless of who the publisher may be.

Judge For Yourself

To that end, I recently replaced the covers on my Serve and Protect romantic suspense series. The graphic below contrasts the original covers and the new covers. If you click on the graphic to magnify it, you can see the changes more clearly.

Though I did pay a graphic designer to dress the original covers, I felt they needed sprucing up.

The new ones look more professional (I hope!) and do a better job of branding the series.

I hope they’ll also help me compete more effectively in a crowded market.

Thank you, Norah, for sharing your insights with us today. I'll add my two cents about the covers. I love the new covers. Great cover art, but, more importantly, they do brand the series and your author name extremely well. Come back and visit and tell us if the new covers are a success.

Takeaway Truth

Readers, you can thank Norah by buying any of her books. You'll find them at most ebook retailers.


  1. Seeing all those covers together, I can really see your point on cohesiveness. And I found your explanations of why you don't want to brand yourself as indie very interesting.
    Mind you, I've read many of your blogs and found them a font on knowledge.
    Thank you!
    Barbara Phinney
    Hard Target

  2. Hi Norah, Although the old covers were good, I can only applaud the new covers. The pictures exhude life, the titles speak of series and I like your name jumping out of the page. I am sure they are bringing you continuous success.

  3. Thanks, Barbara! Yes, some of my posts are geared to helping indies. I don't ever try to hide that I'm indie, and if people take a closer look at me, they'll definitely see it. I'm proud of it! But at the point of sale, when they're browsing choices and itching to click that buy button, I want my book to be as indistinguishable from a trad-pubbed book as I can make it.

  4. Thank you, Mona! And speaking of new covers, you've got some beauties yourself. Very appealing!

  5. Hi Norah!
    I love the new covers. I agree with your choices as branding is so very important. The cohesiveness of the covers bands them together into a group.

    Enjoyed the post!

    Barb aka Sugarbeat's Books

  6. Hi Norah,
    Fabulous new covers! And I agree, I think readers are just looking for a book that appeals to them and aren't really interested in who is publishing them.

  7. Loved your post, Norah. You always have a finger on the pulse of the industry. I agree that readers, for the most part, aren't paying attention to where the book is coming from. Especially, after they've read one of our books and like our voice and know they can trust that our books are well done. Keep writing! Your books are wonderful!!!!!

  8. Always nice to hear the perspective of another indie author. Do readers care where books come from? part of the beauty of an e-book is that you can download a sample before you buy it. And if you're wanting a print book, there are many options to read the 1st chapter or so online.

  9. Liked the earlier covers but the new ones are masterful at branding. Thanks, Norah, for the interesting post and for blazing the way!

  10. Norah~

    Wonderful post. I know for myself, as a reader, I don't care if my digital book comes from an indie author or a traditional publisher. I only care that I can download it to my android! The speedbump I run into when talking with non-writers about my stories, is that some don't own Kindles or Nooks. They want a print version. That would be depressing, right up to the point where you realize the digital market still has room to grow! Which is great for us indie-authors.

    Awesome covers, BTW!

  11. When I need to know something about indie publishing, I go to Norah Wilson for the answer. She's not only incredibly knowledgable, she's generous with her knowledge.

    Interesting thought if readers care who publishes the book. Personally, if the writing is good, I don't care where the book came from!

  12. Great post, Norah! I absolutely agree about making the book covers indistinguishable from traditionally published books. I feel it helps readers to know the books are just as high quality as the ones they've always read. I love your new covers too!

  13. Thanks, Barb! So glad you like the covers. :)

    Cat, thanks for coming by! (Your YA covers rock; people definitely won't think "amateur".)

    Lina, thank you! You are too kind, as always.

    Thanks for coming by, Linda. And yeah, love the look inside option or the ability to sample. I think readers have grown a little wary about quality, and I'm so glad they have the option of trying a writer on for size before buying.

  14. Thanks, Bev! That's exactly how I felt about the old ones and feel about the new ones. :)

    Thanks, Cynthia. I've finally stopped getting a bit of a startle when I see them.

    And EXCELLENT point, Lynda! Instead of getting depressed about the number of people who resist ebooks, we should take heart at how much the digital market will grow. I used to be one of those holdouts, and now you'd have to pry my Kindle out of my cold, dead hands. ,-)

  15. Great post! I love the new covers and can see your point.

  16. I'm so glad all of you found Norah's article--and her "show and tell"-- so interesting. I thought it was great.

    Since I'm dealing with another little problem that has arisen today about the wedding reception, please accept an en masse thank you to all who visited and commented.

    Sheesh! I am so looking forward to the day after the wedding. *g*

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

  17. Thanks for dropping by, Linda, and for your vote of confidence for the new covers!

    Joan, thank you so much for having me. I know you are smack in the middle of one of the most important events in your family's life. You need to be there for them. Thank you for having me during such a hectic time! IMO, this is one of the best craft/industry/writers' life blogs going, and I'm so pleased to have enjoyed your hospitality.

  18. Yep, always great information from Norah. Great post. This is the feedback I've been so surprised to hear from readers when I tell them I've published. They don't care who published it; they are just excited for me. I love the redos on your covers, so professional. I was going to try to do mine but I'm so glad I didn't.