This week in the world of self-publishing:
- Self-Publishing Platforms Deemed Distributors, Not Publishers in Privacy Suit over Unauthorized Book Cover
In the world of self-publishing, we know just how important precedents can be–and we have a lot to learn about and deal with when it comes to the legal ramifications of going solo. And well–another precedent has just been set, as reported in this April 1st article for the National Law Review by Jeffrey Neuburger, a Partner in the New York office as well as co-head of the Technology, Media & Communications Group and a member of the Privacy & Data Security Group. In short, Neuburger is an expert. He knows what he’s about, and he takes the conversation about self-publishing’s future seriously.
Writes Neuburger, “We live in a world that has rapidly redefined and blurred the roles of the ‘creator’ of content, as compared to the roles of the ‘publisher’ and ‘distributor’ of such content.” And what exactly is the nature of this precedent? In short: “This past month, an Ohio district court ruled that several online self-publishing services were not liable for right of publicity or privacy claims for distributing an erotic (and so-called “less than tasteful”) book whose cover contained an unauthorized copy of the plaintiffs’ engagement photo because such services are not publishers.” The plaintiff brought suit not just against the author but against Amazon’s Kindle Digital Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, and Smashwords. Luckily for self-publishing, the suit was dismissed on the grounds that the author had signed agreements with all three companies stating he owned the rights to all material he published–and therefore bore sole responsibility for violating the plaintiff’s privacy. But the implications, should a similar case be brought against self-publishing authors and companies in the future, are massive. And in an industry that is increasingly hybridizing–with companies offering book cover design packages among many others–the boundaries become even more blurred.
Have you ever wondered if there might be a hidden cost to the self-publishing industry’s near-rampant success? Well, there is one, but it might not be what you think: The rise of self-publishing and the high demand for uber-cheap stock photos of steamy men to grace the covers of new (self-published) romance novels has cut the bottom out of the industry that used to supply these photos. Or at least that’s what Laura Holson argues in this March 30th article for the New York Times Business Day.
The demand for steamy cover photos has never been higher–but indie authors aren’t willing or able to pay what traditional publishing companies have paid in the past, so the (mostly male) cover models make less per photo. Holson quotes Liz Pelletier, “the chief executive of the romance novel company Entangled Publishing” as saying: “I never thought I would say this […] but I am so tired of looking at men’s abs. I don’t know if these ones are sexier than those other ones.”
Most telling of all is the average income for these models, and Holson singles out a Mr. Baca to illustrate the difficulties facing them now: “Few romance models, if any, make enough money to eke out a living. Mr. Baca, for example, works at the Housing Authority of the Santa Clara County, Calif., as a customer-service clerk. And although he has an agent, he said he earned only $20,000 in his best year. This, despite the fact that he is a tireless self-promoter who fancies himself the next Fabio.” And appeared on the cover of Playgirl in 2004. While you may or may not be a romance novelist in addition to being a self-publishing author, Holson’s article serves as a useful reminder that every change in the status quo or in a market trend is bound to have some kind of human cost. To read the rest of Holson’s article, follow the link.
In his March 31st interview with self-publishing sensation Elyse Salpeter for The Island Now, Adedamola Agboola begins with the author’s rocky path to improvement. “I wasn’t always a great writer but I had great ideas,” Agboola quotes Saltpeter as saying, after recounting her early humiliation at the hands of an unkind schoolteacher. And more importantly, Saltpeter never gave up: “Since 2011,” writes Agboola, “Salpeter has self-published nine books in four different genres from thrillers, horror, fantasy to young adult novels.” Nine books! And all of them brought into existence as the final product of a creative mind set at liberty to realize its full potential–without the limitations and criticisms systemic to traditional publishing. But Saltpeter didn’t start with self-publishing; as Agboola recounts, she published her first book through the traditional imprint of Coolwell Press. But over time, her relationship with her editors deteriorated, and after they “trashed” another round of drafts, it took “almost 15 years to hit [her] strides” again–and she did so by going indie. While Saltpeter is honest about the challenges facing self-publishing authors in a crowded marketplace, she sticks by her decision. For more information about Saltpeter and her latest book, The Call for Mount Someru, you can access Agboola’s full interview here.
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.