And now for the news!
Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!
Like it or not, there’s a widespread cultural assumption right now that because bookstore chains are struggling, therefore so too must authors be. Mercy Pilkington of The Good e-Reader is here to complicate that picture with an article that opens with the above provocative question, and sets out to disentangle common misconceptions about the lives of self-published authors as well as their traditionally-published counterparts. So, what, exactly, “does the industry hold for the traditionally published authors, the ones who’ve managed to snag the Holy Grail of writing and find both an agent and a publisher?” Pilkington goes on to answer: “Here’s a hint: the clearance bin at your local dollar store is filled with books that had a traditional publishing deal.” Being traditionally published is no insulation against common market pressures, she infers. Being an author has always, except for the ultra-rare zero-point-one-percent-likelihood blockbuster breakout success, been more about the art than the money for obvious reasons. And Pilkington’s closing thoughts are just as hard hitting. She writes:
But is this a chicken-egg scenario? Are publishing contracts paying authors literally minimum wage because all deals are getting smaller, or are the deals getting smaller because authors are shunning publishers and they aren’t earning as much as they once did? Either way, this situation sheds light on the increased professionalism and credibility that now surrounds the indie author space, indicating that this is (still) a great time to self-publish.
What do you think?
If you haven’t heard about “book-stuffing” … well, don’t worry. Neither had we, until this latest Amazon controversy blew up. Apparently, the self-publishing wing of the website (Kindle Direct Publishing) quietly rolled out some new rules to prevent authors from bundling their books together to get around the page limits of its subscription reading service, Kindle Unlimited. But that’s not where the controversy stops. (This is Amazon after all.) In a turn which surprises no one, Amazon has failed to enforce any of these rules, according to a number of leaders from within the self-publishing community who are pushing for the industry giant to put some weight behind its regulations. The simple fact is that there’s little incentive for the company to do so; its sheer size and its often-accused-as-exploitative author contracts insulate it from many of the ill side effects that the authors themselves will face. The way that Kindle Unlimited is set up, everyone who elect to offer their books through the service is paid out of one shared pot, which is allocated proportionally to its most-read texts. Book-stuffing makes it possible for some authors to exploit loopholes at other authors’ expense, and is therefore not a neutral or mildly problematic activity; it actually threatens livelihoods. Here’s hoping Amazon listens to its detractors and does some enforcement on this issue.
Self-publishing is an emergent opportunity for game design companies these days, with Frontier (above), Bungie, and NieR Studio all making noise in the last few weeks over their intentions to start self-publishing games. Frontier, a British game design company, recently launched an entire self-publishing division after closing down its less successful work-for-hire division. Writes Christopher Dring of GamesIndustry.biz, “It completed its contract with Microsoft (which included the 2015 game Screamride and incubation work on HoloLens), built its own publishing team and now answers only to itself and its shareholders.” The company is now in the process of deciding on how to go about offering third-party publishing to game designers who want to break from the traditional games publishing process. “‘It has to speak to our values,’ [Frontier CCO] Watts says. ‘The games that we make, we want them to be remembered.'” The CEO and CCO of Frontier discuss the elements which make for successful video games, which sound an awful lot like the ingredients for a successful self-published book: authenticity, ambition, attempting something new, and attention to detail. The article serves as a deep dive into the history of one game design company which is “going indie,” but it might just serve as a template to follow for other such companies in the near future.
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.