Self-Publishing News: 8.5.2020

On-trend 2020 calendar page for the month of August modern flat lay.

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

That’s more like it! Last week might have been a slow news week for self-publishing, but this week has more than made up for it. We’ll start with Rob Price’s opinion piece on Cleveland.com earlier this week, a piece which sets out to explain why it is that self-publishing is where it is right now, poised to take huge chunks of the publishing market share with the advent of COVID-19 and a big turn towards reliance on e-books. And Price should know what he’s talking about, since he’s the president of Gatekeeper Press as well as a former chairman of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). He himself has sold 200,000 copies of his self-published books, so he’s writing as both an industry professional and an author who has achieved incredible success. Price, who founded Gatekeeper Press in 2015, writes that “When the coronavirus pandemic hit five months ago, something big happened: Author consultations and publishing services skyrocketed.” (This confirms what we’ve suspected for a while, and we’re very much looking forward to retrospectives once the full year’s book data comes in.) But why? Price points to authors having more free time as a result of the pandemic, as well as the society-wide emphasis on storytelling during both the pandemic and the  BLM protest movement. This is also a time of fast-moving news headlines and struggle, so the timeliness and turnaround speed of self-publishing is a major asset, getting books into peoples’ hands before public attention moves on. He’s also certain that in a time of great disconnect and distancing, the personal assistance a small press or self-publishing can provide is critical to the forward momentum of new and inexperienced authors. We recommend taking a look at all of his points in more detail!

This week on Entrepreneur, contributor Ken Dunn brings us an interview with bestselling author Jack Canfield, who co-created the “Chicken Soup” series that has become one of the world’s top-selling nonfiction series of all time. (His founding partner was Mark Victor Hansen.) Writes Dunn, “Jack’s books have sold over 500 million copies around the world. Although there is no way to confirm this definitively, Jack Canfield is likely one of the top non-fiction authors of all time.” That’s quite a resume. What Canfield goes on to tell Dunn amounts to a rousing top five suggestions for authors looking to break into self-publishing, and they include knowing who you’re writing for, and how you want to help them; finding a competent editor before publication; embracing persistence in an industry that requires both lots of attempts and lots of legwork; taking advantage of free media opportunities like podcast interviews to boost public awareness of your book; and lastly, following the “rule of five.” Says Canfield, this “rule” requires self-published authors to “Do five things a day toward the achievement of your breakthrough goal. Our breakthrough goal was to get this book to be a bestseller.” And eventually he and Hansen achieved that goal––but it wasn’t by way of immediate breakout success. After fourteen months of work, they hit their first bestseller list, and after a slow ascent it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for three years. This success depended on the authors’ dedication to that rule, Dunn implies. You absolutely must check out the full article.

Our final must-read news item for the week comes from Forbes, which has over the last couple of years made a point of regularly publishing articles on self-publishing by various contributors. This week’s contributor is Serenity Gibbons, whose work centers on entrepreneurs and how they achieve success. Despite the quick uptick in e-book sales as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown, Gibbons answers the question “Has digital content demolished print books?” with the answer: “No more than elevators replaced stairs, points out British comedian Stephen Fry.” She goes on to make note of the fact that over the last few years, print sales have been slowly increasing their market share, not decreasing in the way that many expected after the first advent of e-books and their sharp rise in sales. She also notes that many wealthy readers consider print books “because they view this material as more meaningful than what they read online.”  Gibbons draws upon conversations with a number of authors to lay out her ten recommendations, which run the gamut from purpose to planning to researching the competition to cultivating feedback and partnership and creating a “circle” of personal influencers. We highly recommend reading up on all ten of her tips!


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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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

In Your Corner: A Month of Romance (part 1)

 

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This being Romance Awareness Month, I thought this would be a great time to tackle the genre here on the blog .We have never done a deep dive into romance before, which I find somewhat surprising, given the number of romance authors I have worked with over the years. So today, we’ll be breaking new ground as I start a new series following the publishing and marketing processes behind releasing a romance novel into the world.

(If you do not write romance, never fear! Many of the steps through which a romance novel must go are the same or quite similar to the steps through which books of other genres must go as well. You’ll simply need to apply your own lens to the information in order to apply it to your work.)

Today I want to ask two very important questions we all have ready-made answers to, but which I think we must revisit to discover what’s really going on.

Who is romance for?

In 2016, Nielsen compiled its research on genre readership into one very handy infographic: “Romance Readers by the Numbers.” While I’m including the infographic here, I absolutely encourage you to read Nielsen’s entire report! It’s full of fantastic information that totally re-oriented my perspective on romance readership.

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At its base level, many of your assumptions are true––of a majority. But I think it’s taking a closer look at those minorities, because if you consider that more than one in four fiction books on the market in 2015 was a romance, and that 16% of the readers reading those books are not female, that still leaves you quite an important market share––compared to, say dystopic science fiction. Nielsen hasn’t updated these numbers in a few years, but if the percentages hold true, that could equate to around 32 million reported units being read by men. Sure, women might be reading five times that many books, but 32 million is not an insignificant number if you’re smart in how you promote your book.

The same holds true, of course, for other minorities! Consider that more readers are not white than are not female, percentage-wise––up to 38 million readers of color relative to the (admittedly rough) 32 million calculation for male readers. And while the Nielsen infographic doesn’t have room to show it, LGBT romance ebook sales are on a sharp rise now that its authors have moved from fanfiction websites into the main stream of publishing and self-publishing. 

Keep in mind that Nielsen can only track books that are sold and tracked with ISBNs, and only about 1/3 of the ebooks sold in the year covered by the infographic (2015) had ISBNs. With ebooks soaking up around half of book sales overall, with that percentage leveling out but still growing (especially during quarantine), that’s a BIG chunk of ebooks that are just … an unknown quantity. Another report from the same year says that “the 2015 Smashwords sales report shows that 89% of their sales are fiction with romance taking 50% and erotica another 11%. K-Lytics indicates that romances on Kindle outsell cookbooks, for example, by a factor of 27 to 1!” Publishing numbers are still, five years later, trying to figure out how to measure and quantify and compare numbers coming from platforms that aren’t selling the written material they’re publishing, or that are publishing paid stories that are not in “book” format. Consider WordPress, storytelling podcasts, and interactive book apps like the ones created for Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar (as an easy-to-remember example). 

One also has to consider the old library sales that “if you make it, they will come”––readers have to know something exists and is attainable before they come looking for it. So if the Nielsen’s reported readership doesn’t match up to what you know your friends and fellow readers are interested in but aren’t being offered, that might be a sign that you need to help carve out a new niche. It’s not easy, but when it works––wow, does it work! Consider young adult fiction, which wasn’t a significant market share before the one-two punch of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Now there are dedicated rooms in libraries and bookstores dedicated to that readership. You can definitely launch new trends!

So yes, the majority of romance readers are white and female. But a significant number are not, and for many authors that means that yes, there is room for your unique take on romance. 

This ran a bit long, so I’m going to answer my second question next time so as not to overwhelm you just now:

Who writes romance?

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: 7.28.2020

Toy forklift hold block l to complete word 28 jul on wood background (Concept for calendar date in month July)

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

In what has been a relatively slow week for publishing overall, it’s really comforting to see that self-publishing hasn’t slowed down much, especially when compared to the traditional publishing market, which has seen publication dates pushed back up to six months and sometimes even more. It’s also fun to see a book that has been on our radar for a while, Sharon Traner’s A Striving After Wind, hit the new release lists. Doubtless you’ll be hearing more about her work both here on the blog and elsewhere, especially when Volume 2 is released.

Janice Gassam of Forbes brings us the week’s most interesting profile of an individual involved in the world of self-publishing: Jasmine Womack, a woman who “has made it her mission to ‘help leaders transform, communicate, and connect with others through storytelling.'” As she notes in her interview with Gassam, Womack’s specialty lies in identifying and encouraging leaders who have a story to tell establish a platform through which to share the lessons they’ve learned and widen the reach of their credibility by publishing books based on their expertise. Says Womack, “The laws that used to exist no longer exist. So, we have a responsibility to put meaningful content into the world because at one time, we weren’t even allowed to open up a book.” Her great, great, great grandmother was a slave, she points out, and her grandmother had to finish her schooling around the sixth grade in order to help provide for family. For Womack, the need to create is also a need to reclaim co-opted stories: “we have the power to create our own narrative and tell our own stories and not just rely or depend on the perspective of our stories about our people or about our lives to be told by other people who have no knowledge of us or no knowledge of what it means to be Black.” She points out that self-publishing allows Black authors a unique opportunity to skip the gatekeepers and maintain “control over your work,” a critical necessity when seeking to embrace authenticity and reclaim one’s story. 

Gassam’s interview with Womack is well worth reading in its entirety, and we hope you’ll do so! She explains in even more detail the role that self-publishing plays in her work with authors and entrepreneurs.


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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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “A Sense of Urgency” by Patrick McLean (Fiction)

A SENSE OF URGENCY by Patrick McLean

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

Baseball franchise moves can break your heart.

Mark Weber, President & CEO of the St. Louis Cardinals, thought he landed his dream job. Little did he know it would turn into a nightmare shortly after management changes at parent company Rheinhold Brewing Company.

Christina Rheinhold, newly installed President & CEO of the company that bears her name, is anxious to keep the small brewery afloat. What better way than to shed non-beer assets? Especially if you don’t even care about the team, purchased by her father when In-Bev acquired Anheuser-Busch and they also were in an off-loading situation. Christina [is] well aware of the 125 year plus tradition of the team in St. Louis, but it [is] very tempting to sell the team to out of town parties for top dollar.

Can Mark, with the help of natural and even supernatural support, save the team for the city and their fans?

REVIEW:

Baseball! So many different aspects of my life seem to be telling me I should brush up on my (nearly nonexistent) knowledge of the sport. I spent my middle and high school years abroad in a country where baseball doesn’t exist, which probably explains why I know so little about the sport–including its history and why it is of such significant importance to Americans today. There are some similarities across sports: baseball and cricket, for example, are both considered “gentlemens’ sports” in that competition coexists with camaraderie and umpires are as important as the players, their calls are of the utmost importance, and sassing an umpire is as gross a misdemeanor as exists. In many other ways, though, baseball and the culture that has formed around it is utterly unique. In A Sense of Urgency, Patrick McLean captures much of the detail and texture of daily life with baseball and infuses his book with the spirit of the same.

Like the sport itself, A Sense of Urgency is a dialogue-driven read. Thumb your way through the book and you’re liable to land on a series of pages where the majority of the text printed on that page is being spoken aloud by one character or another. McLean is somewhat unusual in this–in writing, I mean. My personal addiction when writing is to scenic description (sometimes I think it’s all I know how to write) and that was fairly common among the writers I became acquainted with back in my college years. There are also plenty of authors who are addicted to what you might call the Infodump, or in some genres worldbuilding without much action. In moderation both worldbuilding and scenic description can be useful, but as most of you can probably attest, something needs to happen in a book in order to keep the momentum going and readers engaged. Too much summary description of action as it unfolds, though, can come off as distant. (“He ran, then he stopped. He ate a sandwich. Then he moved to Alaska to learn how to muster sled dogs.”) It’s almost as if some writers (me included) can completely forget about the power of dialogue–but not Patrick McLean.

One of the benefits of a dialogue-driven book is that it doesn’t come off as teasing or deliberately disingenuous to withhold certain information until the critical moments in which those details are important; a third person omnipresent narrator, however, knows everything the character knows and can therefore be something of a tease in books that depend on the timing of those details for plot momentum and reader interest. (If an author knows that it was Lady Scarlett in the dining room with the candlestick but asks me to consider the butler and Colonel Mustard as primary suspects, I start to wonder what else the narrator is hiding from me. And then I start skimming ahead. Because sometimes I’m a very impatient reader! Whoops.) With dialogue, though, an author is fully justified in only conveying what the characters themselves know or are willing to share in the moment, since their voices are the only (or at least the dominant) voices on the page. This comes in very handy in A Sense of Urgency.

Dialogue also conveys personality and regionality in a way like no other text can. Speech patterns, dialect, and idiom tell people who we are when we speak, more than even our clothes and our resumés, since we can put on costumes and brag as much as we like, but how we speak and how we speak to each other will always reveal who we are underneath the affectations and behavioral habits we acquire.

When it comes to plot, there’s not much I can tell you about A Sense of Urgency that’s not already in the description without spoiling key details, but as the omnipresent narrator of this review I’m going to tease you with hints at what you’ll discover when you crack open a copy for yourself. McLean’s command of the details is exquisite. (Who wears loafers without socks??! Who are these people? My mother would be mortified if she were caught out of doors without socks in her sneakers. I, meanwhile, wear sandals until the snow is thicker than the soles of my sandals. Then I switch to boots. I do not loaf. You’ll have to read on in order to discover why this is important in the book.) The little things aren’t always little in this book. But that could also be a hint of misdirection; a Colonel Mustard moment of mine, if you will. (See? Don’t you hate it when a narrator tortures you? McLean doesn’t do this thanks to his dialogue-driven approach.) The Cardinals are more than just a team. Security is called to escort people out … and there are several moments where things get “a little dicey,” to steal an expression from the book. There’s plenty of drama to go around, but I won’t embarrass myself by trying to replicate McLean’s command of how baseball works and will simply state instead that this is a book that is focused on the game and what the game makes possible in the lives of those people who are involved in it.

If you like baseball, or even if you know nothing about baseball but enjoy seeing just desserts dished out by characters who are knowledgable and passionate, this is a book to add to your reading list.

IN SUMMARY:

While the world keeps reminding me that Americans play baseball and not cricket, A Sense of Urgency pairs the sport with storytelling that is bound to appeal to fans and newcomers alike. And yes, Patrick McLean really does convey … a sense of urgency … in this compelling slice of life narrative.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find A Sense of Urgency  wherever good books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also find out more about Patrick McLean’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.

WHAT NEXT?

The year 2020 being what it is, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to Integrity Based Policing by Dan Barry, which is an insider’s perspective based on Barry’s thirty or so years in law enforcement for the City of Las Vegas. Personal opinions aside, I think it’s an important moment to be seeking out stories from all perspectives on this topic in order to better understand what’s going on in the world (specifically America) today.

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Outskirts Press book listing.


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ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

Self-Publishing News: 7.21.2020

21 July on wooden blocks with a white daisy on a red background

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

In their recent press release, the industry data analyst Technavio has published some insights on the trends that they observed in the global publishing industry throughout the first half of 2020 and some they expect to continue to develop through the end of the year–and then onward through 2024. The release opens with the statement that “Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the growth of various industries, the immediate impact of the outbreak is varied. While a few industries will register a drop in demand, numerous others will continue to remain unscathed and show promising growth opportunities.” That tantalizing statement is a preface for (paid) access to their full report, although the do offer a free sample report that is definitely worth seeing. (Infographics really are our friends!) From what we can gather, print sales are lagging across many genres and ebooks are again rising in popularity to offset that, likely as a result of bookstores struggling to put print books into peoples’ hands by way of bookshop browsing. Consider this your annual reminder to seek out new ways to partner with your local bookstores–and to diversify the ways and means that readers can lay their hands on your books!

In an article for Entrepreneur that was picked up later by The Hour and other online platforms, Lucas Miller of Echelon Copy LLC shared six common errors that self-publishing authors frequently make when breaking into the business. We won’t spoil the whole article for you, as it is truly worth a read on its own merits, but we were particularly struck by how no. 5 (“Forgetting print and digital formatting”) reinforces what we just noted above in our review of Technavio’s report: if you want your self-published book to thrive during the era of social distancing, making sure you have multiple avenues–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org and indie bookstores, and so forth––to purchase your books is important, and so too is making sure that you have a range of formats–ebook, print, print-on-demand, audiobook, and so forth–available to suit the needs of your readers. 

Our last news that we’re going to feature this week is specifically relevant to those indie authors based out of the US who use the program Substack for their newsletters, and since Substack continues to grow in popularity, we thought it worth a mention here. Brian Heater of TechCrunch covers Substack’s latest move, launching Defender to assist in (lacking a more specific term) defending the legal rights of indie authors. As Heater puts it,

In the worlds of journalism and publishing, it’s fairly common for the wealthy to attempt to shut down reporting with legal threats. For those publishing on large platforms with plenty of resources, such challenges can be a massive headache. For independent writers and publishers, on the other hand, the consequences can be far more dire.

If you use Substack, take a look at Heater’s full article. Hopefully other newsletter platforms will follow suit!


spa-news

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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.