This week in the world of self-publishing:
In this February 28th article for Khaosod English (“a Bangkok-based news website providing coverage of Thai politics, economics, and culture to an English-language audience”), Chayanit Itthipongmaetee recounts the history of zines, particularly in eastern Asia, and the positive impact that they have had on Thailand’s literary scene. Says Itthipongmaetee, the zine has its origins in a thoroughly Western context: they “started in Western countries […] with topics considered outsider, aggressive or antisocial such as hardcore punk or metal,” and “exploded in popularity when reproduction technology such as photocopying machines made it cheap and easy for anyone to create their own.”
The story of the zine is, in this context, the story of every narrative that breaks the mold and leaks out around the edges of “standard practice” and “standard interest” in traditional publishing. But zines didn’t stay a Western concept. As Itthipongmaetee recounts, “Whereas zines in the West vanished as soon as anyone could roll a Geocities site, they endured until internet access became widespread in Thailand in 2004 or so. Most Thais turned to blogs, boards or services such as Exteen, Pantip and Thaimail.” This has made zines a more enduring expression of creative freedom in Thailand than they have been in the United States––and, since most zines are self-published, they have become a focal point around which the east Asian indie movement rotates.
For the rest of Itthipongmaetee’s excellent article, including her conclusions on where zines in Asia are headed in the near future, check out the original article here.
“Publishing is not really a business at all, it is a verb, the act of putting something into the wild, usually with a consequence,” writes Philip Jones in this February 26th article for The Bookseller: “They are creationists—in a good way. They need to believe. Yet there is a flip side. Publishers occupy positions of power: what they project into the world has an influence precisely because it has been ‘published.'” This means that self-publishing, rather than just an exercise in ego and self-benefit, is truly a radical act that challenges the established information hierarchy of many nations and cultures. It has the potential to effect real change in redressing many great wrongs that have been handed out to aspiring authors by the traditional publishing industry.
As Jones goes on to point out, “publishing may now be starting to listen (and act).” He’s speaking, of course, about Penguin Random House’s decision earlier this year to sell its self-publishing business (Author Solutions): “acknowledging, one might hope, that investing in authors with one hand, while taking their money with the other, always looked at best uncomfortable and, at worst, an existential disaster.” In a brilliant move that I highly recommend following up on, Jones then points his readers to Penguin Random House’s (UK division) decision to roll out a comprehensive “Creative Responsibility strategy,” with CEO Tom Weldon remarking that a “publisher of our size really could be a force for good in society above and beyond the books we publish.” The fact that Weldon and Penguin Random House recognize the fact that a healthy self-publishing sector boosts their traditional publishing sector––with everyone benefiting from increased value and increased sales––is a hopeful sign, indeed. For the rest of Jones’ article, click here, and for a look at Penguin Random House’s creative responsibility strategy, click here instead.
In a February 25th press release for PRNewswire that was reposted to Crowdsourcing.org, the makers and runners of BookFuel––”a company that provides professional self-publishing services to aspiring authors”––announced the launch of FundMyBook.com, a website dedicated to helping authors “publish with the help of sponsorships and other support by friends and family. FundMyBook.comprovides a viable option to any writer who may have been intimidated by the effort required by other crowdsourcing sites or the expense of self-publishing.” And we’re all very well aware of just how expensive it is to be an author, both in respect to the actual production of a book, and in the marketing campaign that follows. FundMyBook.com is designed to serve as a book-specific analogue to Kickstarter and GoFundMe, two popular project-funding platforms that allow people to raise money from like-minded individuals. There are several key differencees between FundMyBook.com and these other crowdfunding services, however. As the press release points out, it is “difficult for writing projects to stand out” among all of the competition for the average person’s attention. “These other crowdfundingsources also don’t provide the social media exposure or the help planning for the costs of the reward fulfillment that FundMyBook.com does for aspiring authors,” the press release states.
It looks like FundMyBook.com might be of legitimate use as authors look for new ways to reach untapped markets. For the entire press release, follow the rabbit hole all the way down the link!
And last but not least in our lineup for this morning, I give you Jonathan Kile of the Tampa Bay’s Creative Loafing fame on the fundamentals of self-publishing. In his February 24th article for CL, Kile begins with a subtle flourish of dark humor: “So, let’s get this out of the way. Amazon apparently works their people really hard, practices predatory pricing to establish dominance in whatever it is they choose to sell, and also has a special machine that crushes kittens.” But Amazon, Kile argues, is so omnipresent that resistance, in the classical sense and especially as pertaining to authors aspiring to break out into the self-publishing method and market, truly is futile. The “why?” as Kile explains, is nowhere near as important as the “what next?” And as Kile so simply puts it, this step consists of getting “into bed” with the Big Bad corporate world via Amazon. It may not be the ideal situation, he writes, but it’s the one that we must face in any case. “It takes a lot of work to write and publish,” says Kile, “and just as much work to get noticed.” And while he states that this is simply the first salvo in an ongoing series about digital content and Amazon, Kile’s article captures a fascinating cross-section of opinion as regards the current state of indie publishing and how it intersects with the wonderful world of Amazon. For the whole thing, follow the link.
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.
ABOUT 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.