Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: January 28th, 2009 ]

Last Friday I happened to run into a new friend at a coffee shop down the street from my home. She also works in the publishing industry as a consultant, but more on the traditional model side. We enjoy running in to each other and talking shop.

This last run-in she mentioned a new author for which she’s providing ghostwriting and consulting services. Amy was evidently reserved in progressing with the project and I pressed for a bit more information. As it turned out, this particular author Amy was working with has a timely book topic on the table with a pressing eagerness to see it published; and with business savvy, the author wanted to see an attractive return on investment.

“Okay, what concerns do you have?” I asked. Amy first responded that shopping for an agent to pick up the book would push the timeline way back, and then between the agent’s and then the publisher’s cut, what could she reasonably expect to provide as an incentive to her author.

I couldn’t help but smirk. With self-publishing, authors retain exclusive control and full royalties, while having their books published in full-service style – start to finish – in around 12 weeks. Amy’s look was one of almost disbelief. When I mentioned all of these things along with the advantage of unlimited on-demand, international distribution offered by the best full-service self-publishing options she was noticeably, informed.

If you are an author, or publishing professional, revisit this question: What are your publishing goals? For many authors, the most important goals are:

1) Keeping 100% of your rights and creative control to your book
2) Keeping 100% of your author royalties
3) Setting your own retail price, profit, and author discount
4) Publishing a high-quality book that is available worldwide

I hope that helps. Keep writing…

– by Karl Schroeder

When we think of the expression “___ is the new black” in 2016, we envision something entirely different from what Karl intended back in 2009–thanks in large part to Jenji Kohan’s hit Netflix Original Series, Orange is the New Black, now four seasons strong on that video streaming website and renewed for at least another three.  The series, based on a memoir released in 2010, follows a seemingly unexceptional 30-something woman as she enters a woman’s penitentiary for a crime committed in her youth–but of course she’s not the point.  She’s the audience’s excuse to fall in love with all of her wild and wonderful fellow prisoners, learn their backstories, and so on.  And without the limitations of broadcast television, the show’s producers are more than a little on the nose with their depictions of sex, violence, and abuse.  All of this has made the show a worldwide phenomenon … and sidetracked the original reference implied by “___ is the new black” in much the same way that “Kleenex” has come to replace “tissue” as America’s word of choice, in the face of an overwhelmingly popular product.

But you’re not here for a long analysis of Orange is the New Black or even, it must be admitted, Kleenex.  You’re here because you want to know what has happened since 2009 to update our undestanding of self-publishing.  And the expression, not the show, is my avenue into that subject.

The expression “___ is the new black” traces its roots as far back as the end of WWII, and the tasteless few who managed to be flippant about wearing anything other than the standard-issue colors of economic depression and institutionalized grief–or in other words, anything other than black or a very dark grey.  According to Wikipedia (and other sources), the term was most often used in the 1980s, when mass consumer culture began to offer the average Westerner a glut of affordable options in fashion and home design.  When you can wear clear plastic shoes instead of black leather, you know you’ve crossed some sort of cultural Rubicon!

In titling his original post “Self Publishing: The New Black,” Karl was deliberately aligning self-publishing with these trends in order to demonstrate its rapid rise to viability as a competitor to the traditional publishing platform–a full year before the inspiration for Jenji Kohan’s television show was released into the world.  And he was right: like Kleenex, like Orange is the New Black, self-publishing has shot through the roof in terms of popularity.  And the similarities go farther: all of these things (Kleenex, OITNB, and self-publishing) have become household terms due to their popularity.  Almost everyone will know what you mean if you mention one of them.  As products of a capital market, they have staying power.

There are implications to the original usage of “___ is the new black” that I’d be more than willing to retire.  Namely, implications that the subject in question–self-publishing–is faddish and therefore will fall victim to the rapidly-changing dictates of popular fashion.  (And c’mon, we’re always going to need Kleenex.)  It’s not such a bad thing that the expression is now most often associated with an instant cult classic of a television show that shows no signs of losing its devoted audience … but even if it did, self-publishing isn’t going anywhere.  In fact, every round of data and statistics released by Digital Book World and other organizations tracking self-publishing indicates that indie publishing is here to stay!  There’s never been a better time to get on board.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT 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.

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