And now for the news.
Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:
We’ve written many times about zines––their history, their current value and various applications––and we are always happy to see zines back in the news! This article comes by way of Jasmine Santos and The Chronicle, and it covers the rise of zines and their critical importance in the age of digital impermanence. Says Santos, “Zines give marginalized creatives an inexpensive avenue to disseminate and self-publish their ideas.” And that, in a nutshell, is what we ourselves have always believed to be true. We are also compelled to answer her later question: “Zines offer a space where communities unite and individuals feel included. Indeed, zines do democratize publishing, but so does blogging and desktop publishing. What makes zines different?” We could propose a few ways that zines are different, but we find ourselves agreeing with pretty much everything Santos says on the subject, and we highly recommend reading the entire article. But when Santos writes the following, we were simply in love with every line.
Zines provide what the internet is truly lacking: authenticity and soul. Regardless of background, the art of zines embraces the stories that easily get lost in digital timelines and capitalist assembly lines, and transforms them into a tangible publication — a timeless story. They help creators map out their roles in the social ecosystem through the diversity they invite.
Isn’t that just the most hopeful thought? When you find yourself next at an impasse with writer’s block, perhaps you might consider publishing a shorter work––like a zine!
Speaking of diversity and the benefits thereof, here comes a wonderful article from Ashley Winters and the St. Louis American on two sisters who have found a home in self-publishing. As is often the case when breaking new ground, it was a bit of an uphill battle getting into the game. Together they have published five children’s books that “reflect families and children of color,” which have been sorely lacking due to the many ways the publishing system continues to battle itself to grow beyond decades of under=representation. Writes Winters, “Owens and Draper pride themselves in creating stories that Black and Brown children can identify with. Their goal is for their books to leave a lasting impression on kids who can model the positive messages found in their stories.” Their story is inspiring, compelling, and exactly what we needed to read this week. We absolutely insist you check it out if the events of 2020 have cultivated in you an interest in learning more about diversity in publishing, and the power of self-publishing to democratize the market.
“Books don’t sell themselves, especially when no one is physically allowed to go to bookstores anymore. You need to market,” writes Jia Wertz in a recent Forbes article. Those who have chosen to pursue the self-publishing path are being hit especially hard in this area, as they lack the force of a team of marketing experts that traditionally published authors can rely on to help. (Self-publishing companies do, however, sometimes offer marketing assistance as a part of their publishing package––so definitely check out your options before feeling overwhelmed.) And Wertz has several wonderful suggestions of her own––you absolutely must read her full article––and begins with one of the challenges that all self-publishing authors seem to face in the indie process: when to start.
“During our last self publishing survey, we asked top-selling authors to share some of their secrets to success,” says Stephen Spatz, President of Bookbaby. “One of the most important findings: over 80% of these successful authors started marketing their books before they began writing.” He says the ‘promote-then-publish’ mentality is spreading amongst independent writers and self-publishers.
Wertz draws upon a number of experts while unfolding some of the best writerly and publishing advice out there on the web. Every point brings something of value, and Wertz seems to know exactly who to turn to in order to convince us––to get started on our next project! Check it out.
Just as we are always happy to see zines back in the news, we are always happy to see Publishers Weekly hard at work championing the publication of new indie and self-publishing books. They are back at it in this week’s list of new titles, which include Rita Malsch’s Secure in God and Robert Levine’s The Uninformed Voter––two very different books, and that’s just a taste of the creative range of books on the list. We highly recommend taking at least a quick peek at all the possibilities! Maybe you will find yourself an interesting read … or a bit of inspiration as you yourself move forward with your self-publishing ideal!