News From the Self-Publishing World: 8/31/15

This week in the world of self-publishing:

We’ve written about Espresso Book Machines before, but now it looks like the prestigious and world-renowned Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in the Upper East Side is set to unveil one of these delightful gadgets for its patrons to use.  All that’s necessary for New York’s elite to self-publish a book is, now, to drop on by the store at Lexington and 68th Street with a flash drive in hand.  The machine prints around 100 pages a minute, and provides cover design features to make the process as easy as hailing a cab.  In addition to the EBM, Shakespeare & Co. has additional good news for self-published authors: as its summer-long renovations wrap up, the store is set to unveil a new section dedicated entirely to self-published authors!  For more information, check out Shaye Weaver’s article on DNAinfo.com.

Self-published author Zen Cho has locked in a three-book deal with major publishing houses Penguin Random House (in the US) and Pan Macmillian (in the UK).  29-year-old Cho, a London-based writer with Malay roots, has seen previous success through publication in indie online magazines and through the 2012 release of The Perilous Life Of Jade Yeo, a romance which centers on a Malaysian writer in 1920s London.  In Annabeth Leow’s article for Asia One, Cho dishes on both her writing method and the backstory to her latest book, Sorcerer to the Crown, an English Regency romance that tackles subjects as ambitious as the “transatlantic slave trade and the conquest of India,” all while adding a fantastical twist to the Alternate History genre.  While she joins the ranks of traditionally-published authors with this twist to her own tale, Cho’s story remains one that holds a lot of pith and promise for those of us who steer clear.

In this article for The Guardian, Anna Baddeley delves into what’s changed and what’s remained the same in respect to the conversations surrounding ebooks.  And the long and the short of it is this: more has changed than has stayed the same, and that’s a very good thing.  She comments on the diversification and stabilization of the ebook market and its interconnectedness with self-publishing.  To Baddeley, the obsession over whether ebooks are going to destroy the publishing industry is little more than a “distraction,” and as the market matures beyond this distraction, it lays the groundwork for a few clear benefits.  Says Baddeley, authors are now more “clued up about how books are made – and more aware of the power they have to influence what and how they read.”  For us indie and self-published authors, there’s no better encouragement to keep making the choice to empower ourselves and our readers than the knowledge that we do, indeed, have the collective power to reshape the industry to very, very good ends.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

chessman

Weekly Self-Published Book Review: “Chessman: And His Nine Lives on Death Row”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review by Midwest Book Review:

chessman

Chessman: And His Nine Lives on Death Row

Terrence W. Cooney

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN:9781432795689

Synopsis:

On May 2, 1960, on its ninth attempt, the State of California finally executed Caryl Chessman. Terrence W. Cooney’s Chessman, told in the liberating form of a factually-informed novel, introduces the reader to all the players in a long odyssey that brought such infamy to the state and country. From Governor Edmund “Pat” Brown to the Chessman himself and to the landscape of a fast-changing California, Cooney anchors a chapter of the state’s history that for too long has meandered a-sea. Many of the facts of this hysteria-inducing ordeal were gleaned from archival histories, both oral and written. And while much of he dialogue is imagined, the times, attendees, and days of the meetings that hosted such conversations are not.

In 1956, the author was appointed by the California Supreme Court to serve as counsel representing a defendant who had pleaded guilty to two murders. It was, Cooney knew from the start, a death penalty case. Cooney argued that the arbitrary imposition of the punishment violated the 1791 Eighth Amendment of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights against “Cruel and Unusual Punishment.” His argument was rejected. Subsequently, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted that position in 1972 when it so ruled that the arbitrary imposition of the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Four years later, still unable to shake the case, Cooney had become engrossed by the Caryl Chessman affair that had started to become headline news throughout California and beyond.

In 1960, Cooney produced the documentary: Justice and Caryl Chessman. The film was shown in more than 1,500 movie houses throughout the United States alone, and in countless theatres worldwide. During the filming of the documentary, Cooney met Chessman who was, at the time, the most famous resident of San Quentin’s death row. In the process, Cooney also met and conversed with Chessman’s attorneys, prosecutors, investigators and jailers. Calls for clemency came from all over: Norman Mailer, Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Governor Brown’s own son and future two-time California Governor Jerry Brown. So strong was the worldwide vitriol over Chessman’s impending doom, that his eighth stay of execution was issued by Governor Brown mainly out of fear of retaliation against President Dwight Eisenhower who was scheduled to be traveling in South America at the time. Governor Edmund Brown later conceded that the Chessman affair cost him any real chance at a successful bid for the presidency of the United States of America.

After Chessman’s execution, Cooney was able to meet former Governor Edmund “Pat” Brown and members of his staff. After fifty years, after decades of anger, hysteria and misinformation, Terrence W. Cooney, has made the boldest move yet by placing all of these facts into the center of a novel that attempts to get to the heart of the matter.

Critique:

Death is final, and that makes many people uncomfortable with using it as a punishment in a flawed criminal justice system. “Chessman: And His Nine Lives on Death Row” spins a narrative drama of creative nonfiction from Terrence W. Cooney as he tells the story of Caryl Chessman, who faced a death sentence and had execution stayed eight times before the sentence was carried out, due to Cooney’s efforts. Arguing that the death penalty qualifies as cruel and unusual, he presents the long legal battle using the format of a novel to tell the tale. Intriguing argument about the status of life and death as punishment, “Chessman” is well worth considering for those seeking a different form of legal debate. [ reviewed by Mary Cowper ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

I’ve always been fascinated with the Chessman case, and this book gives an in-depth look at the behind-the-scenes workings of our justice system. While not promoting Chessman’s guilt nor innocence, the author instead looks into the curious reasons Chessman was prosecuted, and how he survived 12 years on Death Row, escaping the gas chamber 8 times. Revenge, religion, philosophy, and even ego all played roles in the very compelling saga of Caryl Chessman. I recommend this book to anyone who is not only interested in the case, but also to those who want to know more about the justice system, how the courts work, and to those who are concerned with the pros and cons of the death penalty.

Amazon Reviewer Mickey J. Allen

CHESSMAN, by Terrence Cooney, does justice to its compelling subject. The author deftly recounts events and juggles the many striking historical characters in this well-researched and illuminating book that’s not only about a man, but a state and legal system as well.

Amazon Reviewer Longwalk


Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!

Self Publishing Advisor

selfpubicon1

The Joy of Publishing

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 08/28/2015

WHY SHOULD I PUBLISH? Part IV – The JOY

Oh, yes! Joy is definitely a defining and delectable feeling that comes with being a published author.  When I was asked to autograph my book for the first time, I suddenly realized that I had not taken the advice of my author-friends to prepare a short sentence for these occasions.  Yet, within my next heartbeat, the phrasing flowed forth.  Since then, I’ve honed it a bit and definitely change it up considering the person who will walk away with my book.  Someone once told me that I’d get tired of autographing books.  At this time, I doubt it!

The Joy of Publishing

SO…on to the next joyous elements of being that published author.

  • Prestige—Respect—Acknowledgement. In recent years the literary world’s perspective of publishing with a traditional publisher versus self-publishing has narrowed considerably. Readers are searching for excellent writers in their genre-of-choice in both arenas and admire the authors who have done the work and written an exceptional book.
  • Connection-s. There is something very special about an author’s connection with their readers. When those words on the page talk to the person who is turning the pages magic It matters little whether the book is fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, cookbook or a photographic collection of bird species around the world. When the author’s enthusiasm for their topic touches the passion within the reader that becomes a marvelous connection, indeed!
  • Open Doors. Several years ago, an author friend told me that she continues to write and publish because “…even when you’re sleeping, someone in the world is reading what you’ve written.” When writers publish that first book, this statement can seem a bit exaggerated. However, consider the ease with which readers can access the internet these days, find your book, and have access to it instantly. Don’t be surprised when someone from another state—or country—sends you an email asking questions about the content of your book or simply wanting to “meet” the author and thank you!
  • Continuing Education. Once you’ve published that first book, you’ll be amazed by ALL that you’ll learn in the areas of marketing from developing your “tribe” of folks who share interest in your field to improving your skills in the multi-media avenues of promotion. If you’re thinking that you’d prefer not to get involved in all of this, so you’ll wait for a traditional publisher to pick up your book(s), please think again. TP’s will do some initial work in this area, but every author will need to learn these elements in order to keep their book “alive” in the eyes of today’s readers.
  • Writers I know who have published are actively writing their next book(s). I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché statement that “A Rose is a Rose is a Rose.” The same is true for the writer—A Writer is a Writer is a Writer.  It is an addiction that fills your mind and heart, cannot be denied, and will give you GREAT JOY in return.

And, so we have it!  After looking at the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing, digging a little deeper into the publishing processes, and talking a bit about literary agents and publishing contracts, you’re now aware of the main pieces to include as you make your decisions. It is my hope that your passion for what you’re writing will bring you the JOY of being the published author you’re meant to be! ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Etsy

An Indie Author’s Social Media Primer | Etsy

If you’re a bibliophile, chances are you’ve heard of Etsy.  Chances are you’ve shopped on Etsy––or at the very least, window-shopped.  There’s something so winsome about this platform that just … sucks you in and then later spins you out, dazed and simultaneously envious of other peoples’ talents at handcrafts and carefully counting your change to see if you can afford to buy something beautiful today.  I’m not speaking from experience, of course.

Okay, so I am.  And what’s wrong with ogling a beautiful watercolor print of one of my favorite quotes, or eyeing a delicate little charm to add to my collection, or drooling (just a little) over the “reading fox” bookends––which happen to come in at #11 on this Buzzfeed contributor’s list of perfect gifts for the bibliophile in your life who already has all of the books that he or she might ever need.  There are at least a dozen other Buzzfeed articles that cover the exact same ground, and this isn’t just because Etsy is a great place to shop.  It’s because Etsy is a great place to both promote and sell, including for the self-published author!

Etsy

When it comes to the big social media platforms out there, nobody quite knows what to do with Etsy.  Is it social media?  Or is it just some form of social shopping, translated from the physical mall into the digital sphere?  The fact of the matter is, most people don’t think of Etsy as a digital gathering space for people so much as for objects, and that’s a crying shame.  Etsy goes out of its way to provide a friendly platform for indie and self-published authors to sell their books––and nobody seems to be talking about this very important fact!  And in large part, this mass silence can be attributed to one overarching misconception about Etsy:

Debunking the Great Etsy Myth: “It’s just a glorified Craigslist for selling vintage castoffs and overpriced coasters.”

Oh man, don’t get me started.  (Well, we’re already started.  This rant’s on me.)  Unlike last week’s post, which delved into the book-lover’s best friend Goodreads, not a lot has been written about Etsy as a community and a platform for authors––so this is all relatively new territory in respect to writing out the theory, even though Etsy has long been supportive of its self-publishing shops.  Etsy has gotten lots and lots and lots of attention, however, for carving out a vital place as a launching point for entrepreneurs of all kinds.

It’s easy to throw buzzwords like “entrepreneurial” around, but Etsy has a history of being absolutely serious about improving the lives of its users, particularly its marginalized, impoverished, or otherwise struggling users.  And self-published authors know all about struggle, right?  Sure, you can buy stuff on Etsy––but that’s not the only thing it’s good for, and if you spend even five minutes browsing the site’s many links and means of connection, you’ll get a good taste for why I’m including it in my list of Very Important Social Media Sites You Should Join Immediately!  Here are just a few thoughts to get you started.

Top 5 Best Practices:

1. Join a team … or a few.  Even before you list items in your Etsy shop to sell, you should take a gander through Etsy’s “Community” tab, and hone in on its ever-expanding list of “Teams.”  I know of at least two that are dedicated specifically to authors––this one, and this one––and there’s at least one more that’s given over exclusively to Etsy users who take part in the November NaNoWriMo challenge.  Quite apart from the wide-open general forums, these teams will help you find “your people” in Etsy.  The author groups are, for the most part, small enough to feel comfortable and large enough to provide a diverse representation of all sorts of best practices as lived out in various authors’ stores.  You don’t have to be an active seller on Etsy in order to take part in the teams and forums, which is a handy thing indeed for when you’re looking to launch your store but are still searching for ways to do so successfully!

2. Work the metadata!  Yes, yes, I know that my continual harping on boosting your “findability” is probably starting to sound like a broken record … but it’s as accurate in application to Etsy as it is on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads, and everywhere else you can imagine.  So: fill out your seller profile page fully, and mention all of the appropriate buzzwords––”self-publishing,” “children’s book author,” “author,” and et cetera.  You can even use your profile picture to feature the cover art for your latest book.  Etsy’s seller profiles, along with each item’s individual listing, feed directly into indexing search engines like Google, so give those algorithms some meat to chew on!

3. If you printed and made your own book, list it.  There are constraints to what you can sell on Etsy, it’s true, and this is how the website has managed to differentiate itself from big box stores and that behemoth, Amazon.  Its forté is in providing specially crafted goods of limited availability, either vintage or handmade.  What qualifies as “handmade” turns out to be a rather amorphous mass of flexible options, so don’t despair!  The easiest book to sell is going to be one you printed and packaged yourself, and if you’ve chosen a Print on Demand (POD) option like this author (who uses a local printing company in the UK) or this author (who used a digital printing company for comics artists, Ka-Blam) then you’re most likely still in the clear.  If you’re unsure about where your POD company falls in respect to Etsy policy, it’s easy to drop an email to Etsy staff to confirm or to apply to work with an “outside manufacturer.”  It’s helpful to approach these occasions not as obstacles, but as safeguards––Etsy simply wants to elevate demand by ensuring an item is of high quality and limited availability.  Self-published books almost always fit these criteria!

4. If your book doesn’t quite fit the category of “handmade,” think “BUNDLE” instead!  You can still take advantage of Etsy by offering your book for sale with a related craft item, perhaps a themed bookmark or other object or piece of limited-run merchandise that somehow ties back to your work.  For example, you might include some handwritten recipe cards if you’ve self-published a cookbook, or include an original (and signed!) piece of art if you’ve self-published a picture book.  Whatever you choose, you can either make it yourself or have someone else make it for you.  Just make sure the bundle carries with it a significant personal touch!  Think in terms of bundles, and think in terms of gifts.  What would you buy to go with that new mystery you picked up for your husband?  What item would just perfectly complete your Christmas package for your bibliophile of a best friend?  These are the sorts of items that will round out your bundle!

5. Go digital.  Etsy’s policies allow for automatic downloads when buyers purchase digital files.  This absolutely includes ebooks!  Most of the ebooks for sale on Etsy are, at present, craft-related or instructional guides (as this author/seller demonstrates), but there’s a growing cadre of authors in all genres finding representation there (if you don’t believe me, check out this author, and this one, and this one).  The only limitations are size (20 MB or fewer) and format (.PDF files only), but these are relatively easy constraints to work around.  And as always, Etsy demonstrates its eagerness to set its users up for success by posting a thorough “how-to” page for listing and selling digital items.

Most Overlooked Feature:

As you might have inferred from what I’ve already written, I think the most fearfully neglected asset Etsy has in its favor is its tight-knit community of staff and fellow author-sellers.  If someone hasn’t already asked the question in their forums, and if they haven’t already addressed a concern in their “Online Labs” (found in the “Community” section) or in their “Help” pages, and if it hasn’t been thoroughly analyzed in the “Teams” discussions, then Etsy staff will go out of their way to help you out via email.  Etsy’s founders want you to succeed.  Your fellow authors and sellers want you to succeed.  You want to succeed.  It’s literally the perfect environment for a newcomer to dive into self-publishing, complete with a resilient safety net and a genuinely interested set of supportive people to serve as your cheer squad.

I hope you’ll join me in building this Social Media Primer!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of social media know-how. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.
Bowker Report

From the Archives: “Statistics Suggest Good News for the Self-Publishing Author”

Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: December 17th, 2008 ]

Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information management, recently released 2007 book publishing statistics compiled from its Books In Print database. Based on figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output  last year increased slightly from 2006 to almost 300,000 books. That’s over a quarter of a million books published in one year alone.

Here’s another interesting statistic, while traditional book publishing was basically flat last year, there was a staggering rise in the reported number of on-demand and short-run books to 134,773, pushing the grand total for projected 2007 U.S. book output to 411,422 books. In fact, Bowker has planned to separate this particular output from its traditional reporting and has begun tracking the On Demand industry segment separately.

What does this mean for you? To begin, your book may not stock in every bookstore. Or any bookstore. And it’s entirely possible that you may not want it to.

As a self-publishing author, these statistics undoubtedly suggest your sales opportunities will continue to grow and become more profitable. Sales are shifting from offline to online. More and more people are becoming comfortable with (and even accustomed to) shopping online. Selling books online is more cost-effective than selling through a typical bookstore, and that means more money in your pocket. It’s no coincidence that Amazon’s book sales numbers mirror the same increases on an annual bases. That’s good news.

It’s been said before on this blog, make sure your self-publishing choice lets you set your own retail price, royalty, and discount to take maximum advantage of shifting consumer trends.

Something to keep in mind as you wrap up your writing and begin the publishing process.

Have fun and keep writing.

– Karl Schroeder

Well, it should come as a surprise to no one that Bowker has updated its data sets since we first wrote this blog back in 2008–and the news is, unsurprisingly, mixed but mostly positive when it comes to the world of indie and self-published authors!  The newest report, which covers industry data for precisely the years that have elapsed since our original post (2008-2013), shows that the market for ebooks as well as self-published books has mostly stabilized.

Bowker Report

Here’s what’s changed: while overall, the growth of print and ebook sales has proven to be exponential (436.53% in five years––not bad!), the rate has slowed to a still-impressive 16.56% between 2012 and 2013.  There’s no reason to believe that this should be interpreted as a “slow-down” rather than a natural stabilization, as the Bowker report breaks down the percentage of increase or decrease by indie, hybrid, or self-publishing company.  The fact that some companies are proving to be breakout successes (Smashwords and Blurb, for example) while others have seen steady growth, others slight decline, simply goes to show that the self-publishing market has responded to increased pressures by diversifying and steadying.  Says Bowker Director of Identifier Services, Beat Barblan, self-publishing is “evolving from a frantic, wild-west style space to a more serious business.”  There’s also the lovely little fact that, in 2013, there were as many self-published works (458,564 to be precise!) as there were total titles published in 2007 (including those published by traditional means).

Ebook sales continue to account for the majority of percentage increase in terms of sales over the last five years, which may provide some guidance as you move forward in selecting your self-publisher.  Whatever avenue or company you choose, take a good long look at both the Bowker report and your own personal desires when it comes to sales margins and profits.  You get to call the shots, so make sure they’re on target with the most up-to-date information.  And the verdict is in: the statistics still suggest good news for you, the self-publishing author! 

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.