Self-Publishing News: 5.19.2020

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

And now for the news.

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

In a sense we’ve known this was a possibility for a while, what with occasional Wattpad stories being plucked from the milieu and given a Netflix movie or Hulu series adaptation or some similar development–mostly when folks already in the media business stumbled across specific stories on Wattpad and requested film rights. Now, however, it is one of the platform’s company goals to transform cloud-sourced and user-created content into other forms of media, writes the Globe and Mail‘s Technology Reporter, Sean Silcoff. Wattpad, a platform which allows its users to self-publish both short and long-form works (in installments) for little or no cost, and has turned that content into its most marketable product by paying close attention to the analytics. Those stories which perform strongly on the platform in terms of readership might just make the right material for an adaptation, they seem to suspect. Writes Silcoff,

Wattpad has close to 50 TV and film projects in development after a string of successes. Those include The Kissing Booth, based on a Wattpad story, which was one of the most-watched films on Netflix in 2018, and After, based on a popular young adult romance series by Anna Todd that started life on Wattpad, was one of the top-grossing independent movies of last year. Hulu series Light as a Feather, another Wattpad adaptation, was nominated for a Daytime Emmy.

Still, it’s difficult to pin one’s hopes on a company where you are the primary product being bartered for, and where only 50 stories are on development out of the “millions” (Silcoff’s word, not ours!) of contributing authors and their contributions. It would seem that the same skills and talents, resources and investments, pay off on Wattpad just like with any other platform or self-publishing company.


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.

 

Self-Publishing News: 5.12.2020

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

And now for the news.

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

It is one of many ironies in the world that there are now traditionally published books and authors recommending that their fellow writers go indie. Such is the case with author Courtney Maum, whose book Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’ Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book was released in January. Maum, in an interview with Diane Slocum of Authorlink®’s Writers and Readers magazine, surprised a few by pushing back against the misconception that traditional and self-publishing are somehow at odds with each other, or mutually exclusive. Says Maum:

Honestly, what I tell a lot of people is that not all books need to be—or even should be—published in the traditional way. There is a place for guerilla publishing, for self-publishing, for making your own zines—there are a lot of books that find their way to readers off the beaten path, not on it. Publishing with traditional houses is a privilege and it’s super exciting, for sure. But it is hard. It is incredibly competitive. You have to be “on” all the time and good at all the social media stuff in a way that many writers aren’t. You’re going to be really visible. You make one misstep, the Internet might come for you. You are going to have colleagues who aren’t going to like your book, parents who won’t read it, writers you admire who won’t blurb it, you will get bad reviews. Some people are literally not going to be able to withstand the emotional damage to write another book. It can be a very harmful experience, publishing a book. It can be joyful and rewarding and exciting too, of course. But you need to be made of very stiff cloth to hold up against the winds of favor. I self-published a collection of short stories in my twenties and I also have a chapbook. I’m proud of those little books. That was the right form for them, they found their perfect path. Every book has a different destiny and not every book’s destiny is going to be Penguin Random House.

What a fantastic way to start off the week!


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.

 

In Your Corner: In a Time of Social Distancing, Come Together (Digitally) for Children’s Book Week 2020

If you’re one of the many authors whose lives have been touched by recent events, you might have found that the line “children’s books are much harder to write than you think” has more resonance than ever. Authors, editors, and publishing professionals alike must face up to the peculiar challenges of the genre–which include writing a captivating story, generating eye-popping illustrations, and creating a marketing strategy which will appeal to both the children who make up your primary audience AND the adults who must pay for its purchase–all in a time when everything feels just a little bit harder. Even the biggest event related to children’s books, Children’s Book Week, has had to make accommodations.

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Event planners have compromised by preserving the original week of celebrations (May 4-10) and taking them digital, then moving the offline aspects of the program to November 9-15. Join us and tens of thousands of others in celebrating in May by using the hashtag #BookWeek2020atHome and making use of the Children’s Book Week website’s many fun at-home resources for kids and adults.

There are ways to write and publish children’s books which will sell well to folks of all ages, and here we have put together a top six tips list to help you create your own.

  1. Mind your length. As any preschool teacher or children’s librarian can confirm, reading with children is most enjoyable for both parties when the book in question contains just enough text to carry the story along without exhausting their attention.
  2. Pick a timely subject. Picture books are more likely to be picked up by parents, teachers, and librarians on the prowl if they tackle subjects which these adults want to prepare their children to face. Take advantage!
  3. Don’t dumb it down. You heard right—baby talk doesn’t carry as compelling of a story as a book which treats its younger audiences with a rich vocabulary and age-appropriate but sophisticated sentence structure. 
  4. Voice morals carefully, and cleverly. Few will argue against picture books as prime tools for teaching sound decision-making skills, but most of these success stories find clever, quiet ways to do so without alienating readers by being too “preachy.”
  5. Think about those end materials! Many of today’s best picture books include a few pages at the end which include notes for adults on how to make best use of the book in teaching a skill or an idea to young readers. Hint: this is especially useful to parents grappling with becoming educators as a result of stay-home directives.
  6. Humor me. Or rather, humor them! Children have a keen sense of humor, and are particularly sensitive to farce and comedy. Adults are more attuned to situational and other forms of irony. A good picture book will entertain everyone!

In an ideal world, you would be able to focus on the act of writing your picture book, and not have to worry about the complicated minutiae of publishing and marketing your book which you may or may not feel prepared enough to tackle. Luckily, we already live in that world! There are numerous options available if you’d rather trade your limited time and energy for a paid service. These companies offer a comprehensive list of services which they hope you’ll take advantage of as you work to translate your vision to the page. And of course, I’m here for you as well!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author SeLibraries are a book-lovers paradise.  Unlimited books and resources everywhere.  One of the best resources is the librarian itself.  Your local librarian can provide help with possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in the library and much more.  Librarians are an amazing source of help and information services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, 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: 5.5.2020

Well, due to the way the dates have shaken out with our weekly schedule, we have officially missed the two best May-themed memes that there are:

it's gonna be may Justin Timberlake

… and …

Art Deco May the 4th be with you (May 4) Star Wars celebration Day text.

Be that as it … ahem … may, we have some news for you this week!

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

We apologize for the interruption to our normal routine! This has certainly been a disrupting time for everyone, not just us, and we hope that now we are settling into all of our respective new routines that this post finds you well and thriving despite the difficulties.

And now for the news.

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

We’ve written often on the virtues and happenings in the world of zines for self-publishing authors, both as a first platform for experimentation and as a sort of written publication that is so fast in its turnaround time that it provides the perfect way to respond to current events. This is certainly the case with the zines featured in Ysabelle Cheung’s article for HyperAllergic.com last week, which includes the telling subtitle: “There may never have been a better time for the zine, since as COVID-19 rages on, many artists are turning to self-publishing as an alternative way to connect while in isolation.” Cheung, citing the input of zine expert Beatrix Pang, notes that there has been an uptick in zine publications (including zines specifically relating to COVID-19) during the global slowdown associated with the virus. Writes Cheung, some of the best “includ[e] Pop & Zebra’s The New Coronavirus Abecedary, a mini-zine of COVID-19 terminology, and artist Eunice Tsang’s forthcoming No Play Today, featuring photos of cordoned-off playgrounds. In this time of anxiety, Pang says, ‘A zine can narrate ephemeral and mundane daily life experiences, and also deliver important messages and advocate for individual or collective freedom.'” If you have been thinking about self-publishing a zine, or self-publishing in general, but haven’t quite known what to do to get started, we highly recommend taking a look at Cheung’s article and paging through some of the examples if you can. Maybe one day soon we can look forward to getting a glimpse into your quarantine life … by way of a quaranzine!


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.

 

Guest Post: Ingram Puts Publishing on Notice

On April 27, 2020 Ingram Book Wholesalers began removing books from wholesale distribution that they determined to lack integrity and therefore negatively affect the reputations of publishers, libraries, and retailers, and, let’s face it, Ingram.

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Ingram sent all the publishers for whom they distribute books worldwide a “Service Alert” beginning with an initial paragraph containing the sentence: “To align with our industry’s needs for content integrity, we will actively remove print content from our catalog that does harm to buyers and affects the reputations of our publishers and retail and library partners.”

That is a pretty broad statement, so what does it mean? In the most general sense, it means if you paid to independently publish yourself, if you published traditionally, or if you published through a full-service self-publishing company for a service fee, your book is most likely safe since most of them vet manuscripts in advance of acceptance (with the help of an actual human being).  

On the other hand, for authors who have published books through Amazon’s CreateSpace or Kindle Publishing Platform, where the whole thing is done by lunchtime, you may have a greater concern since there was no human vetting process. Amazon publishes just about anything because their product isn’t your book, you are.  Ingram knows this, so books published via CreateSpace and KDP are also likely to undergrow harsher scrutiny simply because of how the books themselves were published.

And that’s the problem. Automated, “free” online publishing platforms like KDP are making it possible for nefarious or unscrupulous individuals or companies to profit from publishing what Ingram identifies as content lacking integrity. To that end, Ingram finds itself forced to become the gatekeeper, a role once held by The Big Five publishers (and their various subsidiaries) but a role that has been sorely lacking in the publishing industry since the advent of automated online publishing platforms.  

First Amendment pundits may be inclined to cry “foul” and wave their free speech cards, but Ingram’s use of “harm to buyers and affects the reputation of…” is not a subjective matter of opinion or free speech, but an empirical definition of value and quality. This is an important distinction that few humans have trouble making, but one that even fewer computers can make accurately.  For instance, no legitimate publishing company would accept 200 blank pages titled “Scrapbook” and publish it as a book. A computer, on the other hand, might consider 200 blank pages to be perfect. After all, there would be no mistakes, no copyright violations, and no libelous content!

To support that point, Ingram’s notification to its publishers listed some examples of content lacking integrity:

  1. Content containing 90-100% blank pages like notepads, scratchpads, journals, or similar type content.
  2. Summaries, workbooks, abbreviations, insights, or similar type content without permission from the original author. For example: A Summary of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  3. Content that mirrors/mimics popular titles, including without limiting, similar covers, cover design, title, author names, or similar type content.
  4. Content that is misleading or likely to cause confusion by the buyer, including without limiting, inaccurate descriptions and cover art. For example: A book with a cover design that does not match the interior content; a cover that appears to be for a product other than a physical book. 
  5. Content listed at prices not reflective of its market value. For example: a blank journal listed at $99.99.
  6. Content scanned from original versions where all or parts contain illegible content to the detriment of the buyer.
  7. Content created using automated means or mass-produced processes.

These are all examples of books commonly accepted through automated online publishing platforms, but are rarely accepted by full-service self-publishing companies with a human vetting process, which is in place for precisely this reason – to protect writers and readers.

Therefore, the question professional authors who use Amazon’s automated publishing platforms may want to ask themselves is this:  Is that the company I want to keep?


brent sampson

In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the President and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including The Book Marketing COACH, Self-Publishing Questions Asked & Answered, and Sell Your Book on Amazon.

ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “God, Me and the Blackhorse” by Barry Beaven

God, Me and the Blackhorse by Barry Beaven

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

Doc Beaven belonged to a devout Christian family. Because of his faith he chose to be a non-combatant and became a medic who never carried or fired a weapon. After teaching medics he went to Viet-Nam where he was sent to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the first and only independent Cavalry regiment in Viet-Nam. While only having 13,000 troopers during the war the regiment developed an elite reputation for combat and was commanded by the best of commanders, including George Patton’s son. Doc Beaven was awarded several decorations including the Purple Heart, and talks about life and the difficult choices in the war as well as the combat and those who served. Following the war, he became a physician and currently works in Correctional Medicine.

REVIEW:

I have always been cautious of wartime memoirs and even the more realistic wartime fiction, particularly those memoirs and fictions of the Vietnam War, but having taught several of Tim O’Brien’s books in freshman courses, I have a deep respect for the literature that came out of the Vietnam War. I saw how it worked upon my students. Mostly I taught core classes where very few of the students actually wanted to be there, but reading about Vietnam straightened more than a few backs. I’m cautious about reading books from that moment in history because … you can’t read them and remain unaffected. And as is perhaps to be expected for someone of a generation that has never seen a draft, I have no stomach for war.

I began God, Me and the Blackhorse before COVID-19 became the life-altering specter that it has become, and I’ll be honest: I had to put it aside for a couple of weeks when things here in Montana looked bleak. But it’s a compelling read, and once the new normal of working from home and so forth had fallen into place, I found myself drawn back to Barry Beaven’s voice and experiences in his memoir.

His story isn’t the typical one coming out of Vietnam, either, so I learned a great deal about the function and realities of being a noncombatant medic on the front lines. There were a lot of good surprises in reading this book. For example, I knew going in that Beaven had taken the medic path in part because of his religious beliefs, so I expected something more like the memoirs of wartime chaplains that I’ve read, which tend to have more to do with either falling out of faith (disillusionment) or distinctly preachy in tone, mapping the faith lessons of battle onto the peacetime lives of readers who have never been. There’s nothing wrong with those types of books; it’s just that my own religious upbringing means I’ve already read so very many of them.

Beaven is not preachy. His is also not a story of great disillusionment or loss of faith. From what I can tell, he had his reckonings, but he keeps his faith and is rightly proud of his decisions during that time to this day. His is the voice of a thoughtful observer, the kind who notices small details not just because they tended to save his life or help him save the lives of others on a regular basis, but because that’s the kind of storyteller he is. One of my favorite moments in which we watch Beaven watching others is this one:

We had a Spec 6 medic with the unit then. He was an LPN and basically ran the medics. Dr. Cupps was in charge, but the scut was run by him. He had this bad hand tremor that would shake constantly up until the moment he had to do something, and then it would smooth away. It was fun watching him suture or cut as he’d have this shaking needle heading for someone’s skin but then be totally smooth when the needle touched the skin

Through a wonderful command of the details, he perfectly reconstructs both his world and the many personalities moving through it during the wartime years. He summons the tedium of the endless patrols, punctured as it was by sudden bouts of hostile contact.

And yes, he paints a pretty good picture of the kind of emotional callouses combat medics have to develop in response to so much death. And while he puts his readers in that moment perfectly, Beaven the adult memoirist does draw back every now and again to comment upon the actions and thoughts of Beaven the young medic.

But it’s not a tedious read, I guarantee you. Beaven has a good sense for when to give his readers a bit of humor. I may or may not have laughed out loud (I admit nothing) when I read the line:

One of our squadron’s medics stole a jeep and drove to Saigon for a bash and sold it to pay for the party. We got him back but not the jeep.

It’s asides like this that make God, Me and the Blackhorse more than just another record of a hard time. And it’s Beaven’s personality that I find the most valuable aspect of this very interesting memoir.

IN SUMMARY:

Barry Beaven is one of those rare wartime memoirists who knows how to let a story breathe, and rarely does he try to tell his readers what to feel. Throughout God, Me and the Blackhorse, he documents the experiences and the emotion of working as a medic in Vietnam with a specificity of detail that those historical fiction authors who have not seen combat simply can’t replicate. Once you settle into Beaven’s voice and style, you find yourself running alongside him to the aid of the wounded amidst the thunder of enemy fire.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find God, Me and the Blackhorse wherever good books are sold, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also find out more about Barry Beaven’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.

WHAT NEXT?

I’m trying out a lot of different things as I try to break myself out of a little bit of a recent reading rut: young adult literature, fantasy, and … sports fiction? I’m fascinated by the role American sports play in history and society, having grown up in large part abroad, so I’m digging into Patrick McLean’s A Sense of Urgency. I’m hoping this book will help me understand baseball, because even after fifteen years stateside, I’m only just now beginning to understand American football. Time to figure out another sport!

 

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

* Courtesy of Amazon book listing.


SONY DSC

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.

In Your Corner: Derailed by COVID-19?

Coronavirus, Covid-19 symptoms

Yeah.

That happened.

For many of us, it’s still happening. Even in those states that are moving into Phase 1 of reopening, there’s a lot left to do and a great deal that must happen before a “new normal” settles into place.

The truth of the matter is that, while some people did find a way to turn lemons into lemonade during this most lemony of seasons, it has still been hard. And it has been hard, specifically, for those in the business of wordcraft. The shutdown has not, for many people, been a nice and relaxing break from “real life,” but rather a stressful and busy time in which we’ve had to master new technologies and new routines while also feeding families and homeschooling kids and filtering social media and grappling with new and shifting work resources. Personality conflicts and tensions both within friendships or work relationships or family groups have ballooned. A librarian friend told me recently that while working from home, her library’s staff were expected to do twice as much as usual with half as many resources, and be able to flip their bedrooms into functional workspaces each morning. And every back-room tension she and her coworkers already had was magnified exponentially by the miscommunications made possible by working remotely. A teacher friend also mentioned a doubled workload; her two young sons were at home and adjusting to taking her direction in their learning, while she was still tasked with designing remote classes and assignments for three different high school English courses. A retired friend, whose home life is markedly less busy, still found himself unable to concentrate on anything other than his own mental and physical health under the COVID-19 restrictions.

Some writers, undoubtedly, will still have produced fantastic and profound works of art during this period of unprecedented disruption. And good for them! That’s fantastic! But many writers (and readers, let’s be honest) can’t settle into the business of words when they’re either so busy or so mentally burnt out as we have been, collectively, over the last six to eight weeks.

And that’s okay, too.

Just as the world turns on its axis and we go through our seasons, our writing lies must also leave room for the occasional tilt or turn. Productivity does not always have to be measured in the number of words written. Sometimes, productivity is a state of mind, of being open and receptive to the world around us without a pen and paper or laptop as the medium of record. If you emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown with just a sense of having survived, you did good and important work. If you emerge with a story or two or an experience you’re still mulling over, that maybe one day will inform a book you write, you did good and important work. If you emerge with nothing at all and a bleak sense of having failed at anything writing-related, we’re here for you.

Ninety-nine percent of writing, regardless of genre, is about paying attention.

There’s been a lot to pay attention to lately. Don’t kick yourself for something you haven’t done or think you failed to do (and you didn’t fail at anything, we promise). The past will keep. Together, we will figure out the next part of our story together. And if there’s any way we can help encourage you here on the blog, or enable you in your writing or book marketing journey, please (please!) let us know in the comments below.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author SeLibraries are a book-lovers paradise.  Unlimited books and resources everywhere.  One of the best resources is the librarian itself.  Your local librarian can provide help with possibly setting up a book reading event to help you market your book, answers to questions on how to have your book stocked in the library and much more.  Librarians are an amazing source of help and information services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, 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.