• Brooke Warner
  • What Indie Authors Can Do about the Book Industry’s Discrimination Problem
This blog was featured on 08/29/2016
What Indie Authors Can Do about the Book Industry’s Discrimination Problem

As a country, we grapple with more than our share of discrimination challenges—where people of color, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities (to call out only a few of the bigger groups) feel its blow every single day. And while it’s frustrating at best, and often devastating, at least there’s a dialogue about it, and at least you can find outrage if you’re looking for it.

In book publishing, however, there’s a sanctioned discrimination against authors who subsidize their own work, and if people even bother to acknowledge it, few seem to be outraged. It's upsetting because publishing folks are generally pretty liberal people—not the kind to condone discrimination in any form. Discrimination, however, is at its worst and most insidious when it’s sanctioned—and exacerbated when the perpetrators are justifying it as okay, business as usual, and just the way things are.

In a recent Guardian post, Ben Galley traces the rise of the self-publishing stigma—noting that it stemmed from a flood of substandard books entering the marketplace. “Bad editing, awful covers, and mediocre content were rife,” he writes. In his post, which asserts that the stigma is fading, Galley concludes that it’s “short-sighted to ignore the indie author.” I agree with him, but I want to take this a step further and suggest that indie authors begin to demand a more level playing field. Books that are poorly edited, have awful covers, and that suffer from mediocre content may still abound, but they are not difficult to spot. I can spend five minutes (oftentimes less) with a book and assess its merit. I have my training as a former executive editor to thank for this skill, yes, but anyone with a trained eye can sort out the rubbish from the books of merit. As of today, the industry still only sees books as either-or, self-published or not, even though indie authors have moved on from this model and many are occupying the gray zone in between. And yet instead of coming up with a list of quality measures for books generally—like a catchy opening few pages, a fabulous cover, a book that meets the standards of a traditionally published book—the industry has instead chosen the lazy (and yes, discriminatory) path of measuring a book’s worth by whether or not the author has paid to publish.

Here’s how this actually plays out. In the world of reviews, industry magazines have created separate self-published sections, for which self-published authors pay to get reviewed. Their traditionally published counterparts do not pay, and industry people (book buyers, librarians, decision makers) are not blind to the fact that these self-published review sections are under a different heading—like Publishers Weekly’s “Select” and Kirkus’s “Indie Reviews.” A review from one of these sections brands authors as self-published, and the industry is invested in keeping it that way. Now let’s move on to the world of contests, which are worse offenders because many of them simply bar self-published authors from entering. The rules won’t always blatantly discriminate, in that most of them won’t explicitly state “no self-published authors” (though some do). Instead they prohibit any author whose books are print on demand, or whose work is “subsidized,” or who did not receive an advance. Subtle, right? And then there are the associations, like the Mystery Writers of America and countless others, that do not allow self-published authors into their ranks at all. These are organizations that claim to support authors to succeed, and yet what they’re really doing is erecting barriers to keep some authors out. This smacks of schoolyard ostracizing.

The industry is promoting a singular message, and they’re banded together in their efforts to keep an entire group of authors out, based on a singular criteria. They’re united around the belief that if a publisher at a major house does not deem your work worthy that you are not worthy of receiving a fair review, of entering your work into a contest to be judged (fairly, ostensibly on the merit of the work), or of being a member of an association that touts itself as promoting writers’ interests. (Thankfully, there are organizations, like the Historical Novel Society, whose membership is open to all authors, and though they do separate out their review process, their measure is not author-subsidization. Refreshing.)

If traditional publishing were holding up a high standard with every book published, I might tone down my firm accusations of wrongdoing here, but instead they’re publishing so many books whose literary merit is questionable at best. And on the same note, there are self-published authors who are striking out on their own, green-lighting their work, and becoming bestsellers, sometimes selling their work to traditional houses, sometimes not. The indie author community has been striving to raise its own standards, and while it's being noticed, the industry is making no moves to shift their segregated practices.

I implore all you indie authors: Stand up to this discrimination when and where you encounter it. Authors who’ve paid their way should not lie down and take it just because the discriminatory rules reaffirm some sense of not having “made it.” Organizations like the Independent Book Publishers Association are already taking strides in their author advocacy for all authors to bring issues like these to the forefront, but the only way to level the playing field and to eradicate discrimination in publishing circles is to name it when you see it. Write the review outlets, contests, and associations letters. Include your endorsements, awards you may have won, and any other accolades. The only way to change this industry is to force the insiders who are setting these rules to see that what matters is not whether an author pays for their work to be published. What matters is the work itself, and that stands on its own, regardless of the author’s path to publishing.

Have you encountered discriminatory practices? Been barred from entering contests or from membership in associations? If so I want to hear your story for a bigger op-ed I'm working on--and thank you!

Let's be friends

The Women Behind She Writes

519 articles
12 articles

Featured Members (7)

123 articles
392 articles
54 articles
60 articles

Featured Groups (7)

Trending Articles

  • Victoria, great comments and really helpful points. I think just naming your publishing company like you do is an important step toward legitimizing. If, as a self-published author, you've created a publishing company and you're doing everything that a publisher would do, then you're a publisher, not just an author. I published my book on She Writes Press. And that's exactly what I do. I just say I publish on She Writes Press. We have to own our language around this too. So again, thanks!

  • Thanks for your efforts, Michelle. I love that all of the SWP authors are ambassadors for a new way of thinking about publishing. Things are shifting, but it does take educating people about how much things are changing and have changed. We have a long road ahead of us.

  • Michelle Cox

    I heartily agree with your statement:

    "If traditional publishing were holding up a high standard with every book published, I might tone down my firm accusations of wrongdoing here, but instead they’re publishing so many books whose literary merit is questionable at best."

    I think this is a really important point.  So much of what is traditionally published now is not worth reading, which is particularly maddening considering the God-like aura that surrounds the Big 5.  

    Personally, I spent from ages 10 to about 40 only reading the "classics."  It was only after my third child was born that my sleep-deprived brain craved something "light," and so I picked up a contemporary "best-seller."  Reading quickly through it and then another and another, I was shocked with what was passing for good writing these days!  

    The stigma remains, however.  Since I began my journey with SheWrites, I've attempted to educate countless people on the benefits of hybrid publishing, only to be met with blank stares and uncomfortable body language from some, excited enthusiasm from others, but mostly suspicious indifference.  It seems an uphill battle, but I do think the landscape is changing.  I agree that the way to change the system is to fight back with letters to the powers that be to advocate for all indie authors and even just with stirring conversations, one by one. 

    Thanks, Brooke!

  • I was selected to publish my first book The Shadow of A Dog I Can't Forget - Poems & Prose by two creative business owners who wanted to use my book as a template to attract high-quality self-dubbed authors. They did everything for me and did a beautiful job. They brought me along for the ride so I learned so much about publishing. I have always won awards and gotten work published so I saw nothing wrong about 'self-publishing'. I did the same thing for my second book Squinting Over Water - Stories. I looked at the best books out there and streamlined my book to look as good or better than theirs. I paid to get the perfect cover from Getty Images and again, I've won awards & had most of my stuff published so it didn't seem like 'cheating' at all. 

    Thanks for the article. It's always like pushing a rock up the hill but as many have said about writing, if it was easy, anyone could do it!!!!! 

  • Concerning the quality of any publication, one of my recent blog posts was about a paperback with a fatal error in it: a series of duplicated pages replacing the pages that ought to be there.  Poor quality can happen with any publisher.

    The real Secret of Annexe 3

    In recent years I’ve complained to myself about the decline in the quality of recently-published books. Most complaints have to do with typographical gremlins that crept in, or story lines that don’t track well. Given this blooper from the last century, I’ll probably have to cut newer volumes a lot more slack.

  • Victoria Noe

    I"ve refused to pay for those segregated reviews, which may not be a good thing. I enter some contests, but not the ones that charge hundreds of dollars. When I do a Goodreads giveaway, I get very few reviews, and like Jane says below, they start off with "I received a copy of this book...". Guess what? I review books on Broadway World's website and I get books for free from traditional publishes TO REVIEW. It's the normal way it's done. It has nothing to do with being self-published.

    I've been denied entry - or offered membership with greatly reduced benefits - in writers organizations (including my home state's organization).

    I'm grateful to the indie bookstores that carry my physical books (all that are members of IndieBound have them on their websites). I've built relationships with them. But it does sting that one turned me down because I was self-published...after customers came in requesting my books. It was so stupid I almost laughed at them. 

    I hired an editor, formatter and cover designer. My books have gotten almost uniformly great reviews (one complained the book was too short). I have a lot of street cred in the communities I write about. I'm grateful to have found terrific mentors right from the start. My sales are horrible, though I'm pursuing less-traditional sales outlets which should make a big difference.

    I've gotten to the point where, when someone asks who my publisher is, I say "King Company". It's true: that's what I named my publishing company. They nod as if they know what that is and the conversation continues. Very few people actually care about who your publisher is. 

  • Jane Hanser

    Very interesting, Brooke.Thanks for explaining the SPW process, which is very thorough and takes all these factors  into consideration. You know first hand how much time and effort it takes to get a book ready for publication - ready for success. So that's another factor indie writers must be embrace - $$ for developmental editing and copy-editing, AND a lot of patience. (I wrote/rewrote/revised my book 3 times, putting it away for 6 months each time, to get a look at it with fresh eyes. Not to mention the copy-editing.)

    What also bothers me is we have to work hard to get reviews, and then our reviews must say, often it's placed right up front, "I received a copy of this book in exchange for...  blah blah blah," which is a total turnoff. Why don't the media outlets have to write that??? I can see the NYTimes writing that in its review!! Is that Amazon's, Goodread's and LibraryThing's brilliant idea?

    Finally,there is quite a lot of mediocre writing published by traditional publishers. But it is well-edited!!! :-) 

    Take care, Brooke!

  • What you cut and pasted here is pretty on par with what I think of as normal industry rates. SWP charges $60/hour for copyediting. Obviously this is a tricky space because it can get a little subjective, and some editors are helping authors and they're honestly not qualified to be editing. We have a track system at SWP where we are assessing the work and placing authors on a track—1, 2, or 3. The 1's are qualified to publish. They've almost all been previously copyedited, and if they haven't been we recommend that they get a copyedit; the 2's would be required to get a copyedit before publishing with us; and the 3's would be required to work with a coach or developmental editor before publishing with us. So how much someone is edited is dependent on so many factors. Some people are spending a year with a coach to work through a developmental edit. Some are getting a copyedit (typically 30-40 hours for an average length manuscript), and some are ready to go. But those who are ready to go have been edited and edited and edited. Someone who just qualified as a Track 1 told me she's been through three copyedits, and it shows in her work.

    As a former acquiring editor I can tell you that people who read for a living can make a very quick judgment about the quality of a work. It doesn't take that much to weed out the good from the subpar. The industry (again, by which I mean these specific review outlets, contests, and associations), just don't want to do it. So they have created a totally arbitrary and ineffective measure. If a newspaper or magazine doesn't want to review something because it's not good quality or because it's a bad fit, then fine. That's not discrimination, but I maintain that it is discriminatory to segregate an entire group of authors based on one single measure and say that those authors are barred from X, Y, or Z, especially given all the incredibly mediocre quality books being published by the traditional publishers. Anyway, yes, some day we will be celebrating together, Jane. Thank YOU for the dialogue as well.

  • Jane Hanser

    Here's a question for you, Brooke. On average, how much time, how many hours, does SPW spend editing - Developmental editing and Copy editing - the books that it publishes?

  • Jane Hanser

    Thanks for your response, Brooke, and for clarifying.

    it's very difficult to self-judge ones own work/grammar. Even the best of writers cannot. And that assumes that all indie writers know all the rules of grammar and punctuation, which is a bad assumption, given how prolific run on sentences. And fragments are. In our society. Which is why publishing houses have editors and why "pencils have erasers."

    I am not going to say, from where I stand, that these industry reviews are basing their policy on the fact that somebody paid to publish. That may or may not be the reason. It may be because of the quality of the work they've seen. One of my favorite books was indie published (it was ghost written by two professional sports writers): I absolutely LOVED the book but had to stop every few pages to correct the punctuation (yes, in my copy I penciled in the correct punctuation).

    I think the important thing here is that we focus on what needs to be done: Indie writers need to categorically get their books professionally edited, and I think a new cottage industry will open up to reward those books. (Of course getting books professionally edited is expensive, and that's more money that indie writers are going to have to shell out.). Look at this from pbs.org:


    1. Developmental editing

    Once you’ve written your book, a developmental editor is important. Many authors think they don’t need an editor. Everyone needs at least some type of editor. Not having an editor is like not QA’ing a software product or not testing a drug before it goes out into the marketplace. An editor will evaluate and critique your manuscript, suggest and provide revisions, and shape it into a smooth, workable piece. They’ll look at the big picture and make sure everything flows and is consistent.

    1-5 manuscript pages/hour for a manuscript page that’s 250 words, according to the Editorial Freelancers Association.
    $45-65/hour based on the experience of the editor
    70,000/250 = 280 pages
    280 pages /5 pages per hour = 56 hours
    Low end is 56 x $45 = $2,520
    High end is = $18,200

    2. Copyediting

    Once your manuscript is in good shape, the next thing you need to do is hire another editor called a copy editor or line editor to go through and catch spelling mistakes and adjust for grammar, punctuation and consistency.

    2-10 manuscript pages/hour
    $25-50/hour based on the experience of the editor
    Low end: $840
    High end: $7,000 (if it needs a lot of work)


    They're estimating anything between $3360 and the sky.

    I feel the word "discrimination" is used too broadly, to refer to anything we don't like.  If a bookstore doesn't want to sell our books, it's not because of discrimination; it's became of the business model. They get stuck with books they can't sell. That's different.  This will be addressed some day, some how.

    Several local bookstores have been willing to sell my book on consignment. When I told them the book was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion, they were very happy, even when, in one case, they didn't know what it is!  But now they know. And they're only too happy to show the cover with the medallion on it, book cover out. We have a local organization, the IPNE, Independent Publishers of New England, and they get tables at New England book fairs and are working closely with bookstores to get them to accept and carry books.  These are good changes and hopefully in every region of our country this will be happening. Already in Florida there is a bookstore that only sells indie books.

    I'll be the first one to celebrate (well, maybe the second. You, Brooke, will probably the the first because you're one step ahead of everybody here!) when these media open up to indies.

    Thanks for the dialogue!

  • Jane, exchanges like this are easy to misunderstand and I meant "you" in the general sense. I don't think an author who doesn't believe their work can or should be reviewed on a major outlet should have published. That's all. You wrote this:

    "The first time a major newspaper said they wouldn't even look at my book to review it if they discover it's indie really upset me. They explained it's about the lack of editorial control with indie books. It upset me to be turned away out of hand, but they're right."

    The "they're right" thing is what I was reacting to, as it suggested to me that you were saying you agreed with them. But it doesn't matter because I think we're on the same page about quality.

    This post is about discrimination because there is discrimination in the industry. The tide is shifting, but not across the board. Some magazines and newspapers, for instance, do cover indie books, but I'm talking about three specific areas, detailed in the post above:

    1. industry reviews (PW, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal specifically)

    2. Contests (too many to list here but many many that bar self-published authors for one measure only: that they paid to publish)

    3. Associations that bar authors from their membership again for the sole fact of having paid to publish their own work.

    These are discriminatory practices because they are applying a single measure—that you (or any author chose to back your own work)—and saying that you cannot submit or do not qualify or do not belong because of that single measure. It's pretty straightforward.

  • Jane Hanser


    You misunderstand me.

    I DO think that indie writers need to adhere to higher editorial standards than they are currently doing.

    And I never said or implied that my book is below those standards - so I'm at a loss why you'd tell me that I shouldn't have published my book!  Why would I say my book is below editorial standards??? In fact, my book was honored with a B.R.A.G. Medallion.That should say something right there.

    And in fact I brought up SPW because it does straddle both those worlds. Of course it does because 1) you are asking authors to pay, and 2) you require editorial services. So they pay but the book is of a high standard. It's a business model that works for you and for authors.

    Is the tide shifting? Good. Then why the post about discrimination? You're saying yourself that the editorial standards of indie books is not, on the whole, the same as traditionally published books. "So you can't compare them and call it 'discrimination."

    What would be more helpful then, is for you to tell us indie writers (like me) which newspapers are reviewing indie books. I'd like to know which they are!

    Quality of the cover? I'd go with that. Number of sales a book may have gotten? That is not helpful and puts the indie author back in the position he was in before: Traditional book publishers use media to generate sale by sending them pre-publication galleys, and thus generate pre-publication sales, and that instantly gets the Amazon juices flowing. In fact, many book bloggers/reviewers now review advanced copies from traditional publishers and those always get the priority. I know. Sales is not a fair measure.

    Public perception of independent publishing will change when indie authors begin paying, routinely, for editing. Are there any statistics to show how many CreateSpace writers use their service? Or how many indie writers have subjected their books to a formal editor? I see many posts about how to increase sales, how to get reviews, but I see very few indie writers talk about editing and how to find a good editor.

  • Thanks for your comment, Morgan—we'll keep working at this I guess. At some point something will have to give. But as I say in the piece, it starts with indie authors refusing to lay down and take it. There has to be critical mass, and a reason for the review outlets and contests and associations to change their policies.

  • Jane, if indie writers want to be taken seriously, they need to adhere to high editorial standards, just like any other publisher/author. I think the indie world is changing, and that authors are taking themselves seriously and not publishing before they're ready. In my opinion, if you think that your book is not worthy of being reviewed in a major magazine or newspaper, then you shouldn't have published it. One of the things we're doing at SWP is making sure that the authors we publish do have a high editorial standard, but this is not about bracing two worlds, because that would suggest that traditional publishing holds authors to a high standard and indie publishing does not, which is the divide I'm intent on closing. Yes, it requires indie authors to get serious about their work, but the tide is shifting. And there are many many authors who are barred from traditional publishing for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their work. And this is why I feel strongly that this is discrimination, because whether or not an author pays to publish is the wrong measure. It's not fair for a magazine or newspaper to say "we don't review self-published books," and most don't do this anymore, by the way. Many newspapers and magazines are in fact changing their tune. I can understand that review outlets may want to find ways to stop the flood of books coming their way for review, but again, they're using the wrong measure. Maybe the measure instead needs to be about the level of editorial work that was put into the book, or a measure about the quality of the cover, or a threshold about the number of sales a book may have gotten. I can think of a number of measures that make more sense than author subsidization. I refuse to condone what's happening in publishing by letting them off the hook by just saying it's too expensive and there's not enough time to review indie books alongside traditionally published books because traditional publishers are no long adhering to a gold standard of publishing. In my opinion it's absolutely critical that the industry change the way it does things, but it has to start with changing public perception of independent publishing as well—and that does fall to authors...

  • I think the stigma is fading slowly - it has to because many mid-list writers are jumping ship. They are leaving the traditional publishers and buying their rights back because they know they can make more profit going it on their own. For too long the advances have been shrinking, the support dwindling, and yes - reviews are more often based on who makes the most money not who writes the best book. So this will add more competition to the Indie's and naturally add incentive for better quality.

    The only concern I have is that we are showing the old gatekeepers we want the reader to decide, yet we are starting up new gatekeepers. I am more wary of how we are moving forward. Do we want the reader to decide which books succeed or fail? or are we reverting back to the system of reviews, awards and SEO & metadata tags?

    I am for the work determining the worth - I do not like awards, competitions with fees, or sold reviews (like Kirkus who charges more to Indies than they do Trad. Pubs)  I hope we can patrol ourselves and keep the business flowing towards a more purified system with the reader choosing who floats.


    ALLi  sponsored the IndieReCon  this year and did a great job.  http://indierecon.org/

    The group is very vocal and offer much assistance for anyone for free, and even more for those who join with paid admission fee. There are blog posts, video streams and more.

  • David Hillstrom

    I think that all self-published authors have faced this prejudice. It is definitely about the volume of books being published and the attempt of a challenged industry to retain control. Of course this amounts to discrimination regardless of the strength og arguments justifying the practice.
    David Hillstrom, self-subsidized author, philosopher, poet.

  • Jane Hanser

    I don't think it's discrimination. I think it's about economics and it's about time.

    I'm an indie writer and I'll be the first to say that there is no inherent quality control with indie books. The first time a major newspaper said they wouldn't even look at my book to review it if they discover it's indie really upset me. They explained it's about the lack of editorial control with indie books. It upset me to be turned away out of hand, but they're right. They're swamped with publishers/authors sending them books. And I would doubt that most indie writers really subject their books to page by page paid editing. I know bloggers/reviewers who have to deal with the indie books they read being so poorly edited they're difficult to read at all. And with 400,000 indie books per year now, I can see why these outlets/organizations draw the line. Not that I"m happy about it and what it means for me, personally, and for my book's publicity. But eventually a whole new industry will spring up to make these distinctions. This is what the B.R.A.G. Medallion is about.

    SWP seems to me to straddle both worlds: They will "publish" a book if they see it has potential, and they they charge the author a large fee, but for that fee, SWP provides editorial services so that, in the end, the book is a quality and well-edited book.

    Personally, I've joined regional indie organizations, and they have tables at regional conferences...  and indie writers have to join up and do these things. For true indie writers, it's a huge challenge.

  • Lissa Brown

    Thanks, Zetta. I just took a look at the site and stopped when I read, "There's plenty of reasons to join us." I sent them email suggesting they need to proof their site.

  • Cristina Olsen

    Zetta, thanks for the ALLi tip.

  • Zetta Brown

    Since IBPA is specifically for publishers and not necessarily self-published authors who publish only their work, I did a search and found this:  Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).


    I haven't had a chance to look at it in depth, but it may be of interest to y'all.

    I used to belong to a group that was formed in 1998 for authors of ebooks when they were excluded from the "real" author and publishing clubs. The group is still around, but not as "vocal" as it could/should be. However, it is an example of how--when there's enough people who see a need--a group can be formed with the purpose to bring about fairness and change.

    She Writes is a good example too. :)

  • So frustrating, Julia! I'm adding them to my list.

  • Morgan James

    Thank you for your post, Brooke. Well said. As a self-published author of four books---and counting---I can certainly attest to what you say. It does seem to be a matter of applying those quality measures you speak of to ALL books. Many self-published works do not belong in the slush-pile. Many can run with the big dogs all day and all night! Yet, let's face it, selling books is a matter of finding a way convince the reader to draw the pearls up out of the vast ocean of product out there. How do we even get noticed? Traditional publishers are invested in continuing to build their brand, not mine, and I understand that. After all, that's business. And every book they release is competition for one of my titles. They have budgets most of us can not even hope to spend, even if places like Amazon would sell us advertising, and the residual street credentials they carry when a title is released is not out there for us. All  that whining aside, I know there is an answer, a way to win even with the odds stacked with the house. I have a sense that we will see some authors co-oping to pool resources and gain credibility. I'm not sure how that might work. It would be tricky. Still, banding together may have merit. I look forward to your op-ed for other thoughts. For now I'll continue to read helpful sites like She Writes. And I'll definitely keep putting my work out there, building a fan base, one reader at a time, doing my best to write stories that are among the pearls.

  • Donna—yes, yes, yes.

    Annette—it's not about whether readers buy based on reviews. It's about the attention and legitimacy your book gets because of them. For instance, Library Journal and Booklist reviews really do make a mark on librarians, and it can impact your book getting into libraries as a result. The system is set up for traditional publishers, and so the reviews, while they might not seem like a big deal, are being tracked by buyers. If you get a review in PW, Kirkus, Booklist, LJ, and Shelf Awareness, eventually it's going to catch the eye of a book buyer, who's reading all the trade magazines. It's about exposure and visibility to those who are the decision-makers, who are buying books for their accounts.

  • How traditional publishing discriminates, let me count the ways. Barring indie authors and publishers from associations and contests is but one form of sanctioned obstruction. Any author that doesn't fit publishing's flavor of the month first faces the industry gatekeeper - literary agents. The Catch-22 conundrum is if you can't interest an agent you can't get published by a traditional publisher; if you're not a celebrity or you're a person of color, over a certain age, not pitching a clone of the latest best seller or do not have 10,000 twitter followers - your chances of attracting the attention of an agent, regardless of how well your manuscript is written, are slim to none. Therefore, if you're not traditionally published you can't be part of traditional publishing's incestuous little club. See how this works? Indie publishing has grown because of the short sightedness of an industry that may soon find itself gasping for air - remember the old music industry? I say start your own contest, form a group and give out your own damn awards if that's what want. Let the legacy organizations and practices fade away just like the record labels did.

  • Annette Drake

    Great blog. Thanks for posting. I share the frustration of not being able to enter contests because I'm an indie author, but I think Zetta asks a great question: do readers buy books solely because they win an award? And is the author willing to give up her copyright and larger profits for the perceived prestige of signing with a legacy publisher?