And now for the news!
Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!
In this recent article for the Irish Examiner, contributor Margaret Jennings converses with Frank Kelly, a printer who provides services to self-publishing authors. Kelly, who often partners with older authors looking to publish for the first time after retirement, pushes back against the lingering threads of stigma still tied to the process, especially when it comes to older writers. Writes Jennings,
You don’t have to “have a creative bone in your body”, he says, to witness the joy of seeing your name in print. Memoirs, biographies, family histories, local historical society compilations, are also all very popular projects and demand the focussed [sic] application of collating information in a chronological order.
All this is very good for the ageing process, he says.“It’s great for our whole well-being and longevity: it exercises the brain; it gives you a purpose in life, and a sense of achievement. We should always have something to look forward to, that’s my own personal philosophy — it’s the simple things that keep you going in life.”
For positive brain-ageing, writing focuses the mind, but also encourages the self-discipline to sit down and write a few pages every evening, he argues: “Instead of sitting down and watching a box-set, like a couch potato, in the evening, do a chapter a day, or write four pages a day; make a commitment to do something.”
In addition to the benefits associated with writing, Jennings (and Kelly) also note that publishing, separately from writing, has its own advantages: publishing provides a legacy, while promoting a new book with a launch party gives the author a specific time and place to boost their connectedness within their own community. Sounds pretty good to us!
In this week’s issue of the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit, Dr. Beth Driscoll digs into the development of what she calls microgenres, or “ultra-specific tags and categories” which are affixed to various books as they are published in order to render them more easily findable by readers. According to Dr. Driscoll, while “Genre has never been a very stable concept […] that hasn’t stopped it shaping the book industry and driving readers’ choices,” and the rise of microgenres isn’t all bad. Writes Dr. Driscoll, “they have effects that are social, textual, and industrial. Genres prompt social gatherings like cosplay at conventions. Genres influence what happens on the pages of books”—and “In an industry where all publishing is to some extent digital, microgenres, categories and tags all feed algorithms and make titles discoverable.” This is good news for readers. But what about self-publishing authors? As someone who has gone through the process herself, Dr. Driscoll knows a bit. “It’s often authors, these days, who choose how to categorise their own books,” she writes; in order to explore just what the experience looks and feels like, Dr. Driscoll and her fellow researchers co-wrote a comic erotic thriller about self-publishing and then … self-published it. Under a pseudonym, of course. They picked their codes and microgenres and then released into the world. The project is ongoing, writes Dr. Driscoll, but some results are already in:
As author-publishers, we have found that ultra-specific tags and categories can feel limiting, like putting creative work into ever-tinier boxes. But they can also feel generative and exciting, as they suggest new pathways for a book to travel along.
What our self-publishing adventure highlights is that microgenres help books and readers find one another in a global, digital age. Microgenres feed the algorithms that can push books towards niche bestseller charts or reading communities, and then springboard them into wider readerships.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenging instability and adaptability of ‘genre’, it is an ever-more powerful tool to help books circulate.
As you write and publish your own works, it’s worth keeping the power (and pitfalls) of microgenres in mind.
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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.