And now for the news!
This week in the world of self-publishing:
“If the Internet allows people to share their unadulterated ideas, what are zines still doing here?” asks Dillon Pilorget for The Oregonian on July 10, tracing the history of these “small, self-published magazines” back through the 1970s punk movement and the birth of mass-marketed science fiction and its doppelganger, fanfiction, in the 1930s. They were, as Pilorget writes, one of the earliest forms of self-publishing, making room in beloved genres for the unsavory or the uncensored–in other words, for creative license without editorial oversight. Before, Pilorget notes, the internet rendered such literary misbehavior accessible to the average person. But, he continues, “the medium is perhaps as strong as ever,” and cites his experiences at “the Portland Zine Symposium,” held on July 9th of this year. Pilorget reports on his conversations with zine makers Quinn Collard and Meilani Allen, as well as Powell Bookstore’s zine procurer, Kevin Sampson. Well worth a read, I’d think–and you can catch the full article here.
We all know this story: a book is self-published, author uses substantial market savvy to push it into new readerships, and through a series of unlikely events, the book is discovered by a literary “talent scout” and published through a traditional Big Five publisher, leading to world-wide sales and general success. What we’re not quite so used to, however, is the author in question being anything other than North American, with the rare exception (my current favorite exception to everything being Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin’s The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep). But as Rachel Deahl reports in this Publisher’s Weekly article on July 8th, we have a new entry to the global self-publishing-to-traditionally-published market: Diary of an Oxygen Thief, originally self-published in Amsterdam by an anonymous British author in 2006. The book, which Deahl describes as “detail[ing] the travails of a broken-hearted, alcoholic, and bitter misogynist (who is also an unreliable narrator)” was recently picked up by Simon & Schuster, but the real work was done and the real groundwork laid, Deahl says, “due predominantly to the marketing efforts of its anonymous author. He pulled off a savvy publicity campaign that prioritized, above all else, getting the book’s title shared on social media.” The book’s rise to “respectable” sales in the traditional publishing market does not, in point of fact, prove that real success comes after transitioning away from self-publishing–it proves, rather, that “savvy” and social-media rich marketing by a self-publishing author is what makes or breaks a book’s sales. Oh–and sometimes, the generosity of a good friend. For the full article, follow the link!
- Controversial Africa memoir draws fire for Louise Linton, actress, self-published author and Trump dining companion
Actress and self-publishing author Louise Linton is having a rough time in the public eye after the publication of her memoir featuring somewhat terrifying adventures in the heart of Africa, as Michael Schaub writes for The Los Angeles Times in this August 6th report. Perhaps the politics of her situation are partially to blame for the negative press she’s receiving–after all, she’s dating Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s hedge-fund manager and campaign manager, Steven Mnuchin, during one of the most linguistically violent and controversial electoral battles of recent memory. Or perhaps we might attribute the book’s negative reception to the very real necessity for authors to write what they know, and for authors of privilege (white or otherwise) not to steal the limelight away from the underprivileged peoples they ostensibly write about, especially when those people are embroiled in an ongoing conflict that–as in Linton’s case–is treated without full understanding. Schaub quotes one particularly acerbic reviewer as saying, “If you’ve read the [T]elegraph excerpt and have at least half a brain you can see the string of every possible stereotype of life in Africa: jungle canopy, vines with killer 12-inch spiders, orphan girl with AIDS, rebel soldiers and so on and so on. […] This is 2016. We all know better than cling on to that drivel.” The moral of this story for self-publishing authors may be manifold, but I think it’s safe to say one should trade neither on stereotypes nor on celebrity to sell a book. As self-publishing authors, we have the opportunity and therefore the responsibility to color outside the lines, bringing voice to those who lack one, and taking the time to represent the unrepresented–and well.
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.