From the Archives: “Start Summer Right. Write Now toward Publishing”

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.

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[ Originally posted: June 21st, 2010 ]

Finishing a book is not as daunting as it sounds. The key is to write something everyday. Then, use the Internet for accountability. Interesting right?  Write everyday, and publish everyday—either on a bulletin board, a writing group, or on a personal “blog.”

There are a number of reasons to do this.

1) The public commitment will help motivate you. When you publicly declare that you will add content to your blog every day, or every week, you are more bound to complete your task.

2) If you choose the right forum, people may offer to help you. (Note, if you choose the wrong forum, and find people are being counter-productive, simply change venues).

3) By creating an Internet presence this early in the process, you can start to generate interest in your book when it comes out—either search engine interest, or human interest. Both are good when it comes time to promote and sell your book later on.

You may wish to search Google for some forums in which to participate. You’ll be writing and more and you may make some new friends and/or fans.

Then when you are ready to publish your book, consider all of those things we’ve discussed previously in finding the right self-publisher to meet your goals.

Have fun and keep writing.

– by Jodee Thayer

 

Summer is almost upon us, and your next book is calling.

I don’t know about you, but I love each season, and the variety of seasons, and the changing of seasons. This winter has been a long one, and even now it has a tenuous grip on the Rocky Mountain landscape in which I live; ugly snowbanks still hide where the sun doesn’t shine, and the roads are gritty with salt spread to speed the melting ice. The ground is heaving in my back yard as the moist earth thaws, then buckles. With the thermometer still dropping at night, it’s not yet safe to plant. It feels like forever since I sat outside with a cup of coffee and a book, forever since that first pumpkin spice latte last Fall.

But sure as the world turns, we are getting closer. We are officially in Spring, no matter what the thermostat setting, and Summer approaches apace. I, for once, am nowhere near ready for it. For me, Summer means far more frantic planning and balls in the air than it does relaxing days at the beach (what beach? I guess lakes have beaches, too…) or even pleasant woodland strolls, no matter how much I love them. After all, I have a family. And kids have a lot they want to get done in Summer, as do husbands, and the house inevitably falls apart a little bit and requires some maintenance, and the lawn too, and…and…and….

You know how it is. If I want to get something done in the Summer, I really have to lay the groundwork in Spring. If I want to get something done by the Summer, then I really have to start chipping away at it now.

Which means, yes, it’s time to break out the manuscript revision process and the marketing calendar, too. If you often feel at a loss, as I do, then it’s always worth investing in something like the Author Marketing Calendar, which lays out what to do each month in order to create a balanced, achievable marketing routine throughout the year. Sometimes it really is nice to take the guesswork out of the equation–although my point about being extra busy in Summer still holds.

As Jodee wrote in 2010, one of the most important steps is setting up and grooming an online presence. That’s a good first Spring-cleaning step for us as self-publishing authors. And as someone who works daily with other indie authors, too, I can’t stress the importance of laying out a pattern of behavior now, getting support and accountability from those who can help you reinforce these new habits–like getting up earlier, and writing each morning, undisturbed–and then making this new pattern rock solid and reliable before Summer and its various stresses arrive.

We’ll be writing more about how to prepare for Summer as the weeks tick by!

summer glow

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.

From the Archives: “Self-Publishing Advantages Out on the Table”

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.

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[ Originally posted: November 10th, 2009 ]

This posts and blog exists to help you make the best informed choices for the future of their books. Whether you’re still in the conceptualization phase or searching for a publisher, these are tips, each worthy of careful consideration.

For example, take a moment and write out your personal publishing goals…

For many authors, these 7 are the most important:

1) Keeping 100% of your rights and creative control to your book
2) Keeping 100% of your author royalties
3) Unlimited wholesale and retail availability
4) Additional marketing support and services
5) Publishing imprint and ISBN flexibility
6) High-quality book design
7) Complete print-run flexibility (1 to 1000s)

What would you add to this list?

I don’t know about you, but when we first published this piece on Self Publishing Advisor, we created a bit of cognitive dissonance; while the seven items listed are indeed advantages, they’re not necessarily advantages which show themselves on a shelf (unless you’re filling a shelf with 1000 copies of your book, which is quite a shelf indeed). Instead, we gave you a list of seven fantastic, but more general, advantages to self-publishing.

So, what are the advantages a self-published book might find on a shelf against other, more traditionally published books?

Many people are accustomed to thinking of self-publishing books as at rather a disadvantage, rather than an advantage, on such a shelf. This is because yes, once upon a time, the cover designs available to indie authors were far more limited in customizability than those available to their traditional competitors. After all, traditionally published authors have the full weight of their publishing houses behind them, with their marketing teams, their graphic designers, and their many other well-financed technical experts on staff.

But things have changed. So even if in terms of covers, the playing field is rather more level than tipped to advantage either traditional or indie authors, there are other ways at which indie books can–and often do–rise above the competition. First of all, there’s the local angle. Many bookstores and libraries privilege local authors over the general horde; all you have to do is bring this to the proprietor’s attention. This “local advantage” also works on potential readers, too. Don’t underestimate the immediate impact that this one simple factor can have on your ideal readers!

There are other advantages your indie book can have “out on the table,” of course! Because you control the price, you also control the price tag. The appeal of an affordable number should not be underestimated. But most of all, your book’s cover is your avatar in the world, a representation of you, and a truer one than any publication company could create. That alone is enough to make it stand out.

book cover designs

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.

From the Archives: “Traditional Publishing: Hard Facts”

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.

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[ Originally posted: October 17th, 2008 ]

We are in ongoing exploration of the advantages leading self-publishing options offered for publishing authors. Collectively, what are the advantages of self-publishing in general over the long established alternative? Here are some hard facts on Traditional publishing.

7 – Traditional publishers lose money on over 85% of the books they publish, so they only accept 2% of those that are submitted.

6 – They typically accept manuscripts only from established authors who have demonstrated a proven track record.

5 – Authors lose all control of their content during the editing process.

4 – Authors must still invest an enormous amount of time, energy, and money promoting a traditionally-published book.

3- Authors typically receive 5-10% royalty on the wholesale price of the book, and from that have to give 15-25% to their agent. Do the math.

2 – The majority of books published by old-fashioned publishers go out of print within 3 years. Many books that are stocked on book shelves remain stocked for as little as five weeks before being returned, unsold, to the publisher.

1- Old-fashioned publishers acquire all rights to your book and keep them, even when the book goes out of print or the publisher goes out of business!

– by Karl Schroeder

On Advances & Other Things

First off, it’s worth noting that the numbers are all over the board here, and that while the industry’s most reliable source of yearly hard data–the annual Author Earnings Report–isn’t out for this year yet (which makes sense, since we’re only a few months in) it isn’t set up to gauge that kind of question to begin with. Publishers understandably have a vested interest in fogging up the data around advances, especially how many people actually earn them back, because the facts of the matter are such that:

  • It’s a much smaller number than Karl reported back in 2008, probably closer to the 2 to 5% range;
  • Advances protect some authors from facing their own losses, but they also cheat some well-performing authors out of representative royalties in a classic case of “settling for a misleadingly presented benefit”;
  • A high percentage of unmet advances equals a lot of waste, and in an industry which is barely scraping by as-is, this would be a major blow to certain publishers’ reputations as champions of the everyman;
  • A high percentage of unmet advances also equals a slippage in the market, and publishers have to maintain intense competition with each other in order to attract that small number of well-performing authors who do make back their advances, and in so doing make a profit for the publisher as well. Lose a couple of big-name authors because their reputation is slipping, and the rest might flee as well … and the publishing house go under.

So it’s not data that publishers really want to broadcast.

All of this to say, publishers do indeed prefer established authors who have proven track records as blockbuster bestsellers, and newer or more typically performing (“midlist”) authors are left to struggle along with substandard marketing and promotional help, because the publisher doesn’t believe investing more will pay off. These midlist authors must carry the burden of self-promotion themselves, even if they supposedly have the might and muscle of a major publishing house behind them. Only the guaranteed successes are guaranteed significant assistance, and there are very few guaranteed successes, aren’t there?

Control will always be an issue. Perhaps you might consider giving up control, if you knew that you were putting your book into good hands of great skill and leaving your book with a team who really had its best interests at heart. But publishing houses aren’t like that; they have to think about the bottom line at all times, because the industry is so competitive and they’re so often at risk of losing everything. So they make the call on your book cover, maybe even your book title, and on all sorts of marketing and promotional decisions which you may or may not agree with in the first place–because they have to keep the machine moving, and the assembly line in motion.

You might have guessed the preferable option, seeing as how we’re a blog about self-publishing. But we don’t just have a vested interest; we want to lay out all the options, with all the facts, so that you can choose the one best suited to you. And if you know your book is a guaranteed blockbuster success, then traditional publishing may well be a good route for you! But if you’re publishing a book with narrower appeal, maybe more specialized material, or with the goal of reaching a certain fandom–well, self-publishing is an effective and efficient way of doing that, while ensuring you retain full creative control.

That, we can get behind. (And we do … a lot. Sorry about that!)

hard facts child

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.

From the Archives: “Google misspelled itself: The weight of word choice in self-publishing a book”

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.

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[ Originally posted: December 5th, 2010 ]

Scholars and sources claim that William Shakespeare invented as many 1700 in his published and performed writing career. Language is dynamic and words are invented all of the time. Or, in cases like “Google” reinvented through accidentally misspelling the word for the number, googol. When words, specific combinations of words, are used often they can become powerful. They can also become cliché.

An interesting definition of the word cliché from Wikipedia:

“a saying, expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. It is likely to be used pejoratively.”

How many of us where taught to avoid cliché in our writing at all cost? One popular creative writing professor focuses an entire week on the subject.

In print, the French derived word, cliché, came to denote a printing plate used as a cast in moveable type. Commonly used words and phrases were cast into a single mold. The idea was to take a novelty and replicate it easily and inexpensively. The overuse of such came to take on a negative connotation.

But cliché can work for the self-publishing author in marketing your book.

What do words and phrases like these bring to mind?

Change we can believe in
All for one…
Don’t leave home without it…
Google

Even if these are terms you don’t personally buy into, or even agree with, they are indelible. Think of them as the cast plate of the new digital work that come in the form of keywords, tags, Twitter handles, and the list goes on. The can become the brand for your book. And the best part is they are free.

Whether you’re published or just finishing the 1st chapter of your book, start thinking about what makes your work unique, and how cliché may become a key component in your book marketing campaign.

On Clichés

They’re not all bad, are they? After all, there’s nothing quite so appealing as the comfort of familiarity, especially in the midst of unfamiliar territory or while on the hunt for something new to stock the shelves––whether those shelves are in the pantry or the office or the library, this rule will always apply. Even people who self-confess to being “adventurous souls” very rarely try the absolute least familiar item available on the menu; humans are hard-wired to be scientists, and to hone their powers of selection by trial and error.

Try something and hate it, and anything connected to it will automatically become a less likely future choice, even subconsciously. Try something and love it, and anything remotely similar or that shares similar ingredients will strike a congenial subconscious note, making that strange seafood dish you’ve never heard of but that contains coconut and shrimp automatically appealing––or that book you’ve never read, but that uses a similar cover design to Adrian Tchaikovsky or Nnedi Okorafor deeply interesting, even though you’ve never heard of the new author.

This process of learning and developing tastes by trial and error leads to another psychological distillation which at first sounds ominous: confirmation bias. Essentially, confirmation bias comes into play when people want a certain idea to be true, and they end up coaxing themselves into believing it to be true. As Psychology Today puts it, “They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.” Confirmation bias has been blamed for a lot of negative human behavior, including the recent political conversation about “fake news” and the people who do or do not believe the news in question, but it’s not always such a bad thing. It’s the consequence of how humans learn––by trial and error, and learning from not just our personal errors but the errors of others. Oh, that kind of book cover has let me down in the past. Oh, that genre has been a safe choice before! And so on.

Confirmation bias shares the power of clichés on a grand social level––we only believe them to work because we tell ourselves that they work, collectively. But if there’s anything we can learn from human psychology, it’s that these kinds of collective decisions can have powerful, wide-ranging, far-reaching effects. We will use a cliché if we personally or collectively have tested its premise and found it lines up with the universe well. For example, if we’ve “looked a gift horse in the mouth” or known someone who did, and suffered for it, we’re far more likely to use the cliché ourselves in the future––because it lines up with experience.

So:

Experience is the test of whether you should use a certain cliché in your marketing or not. Don’t use a cliché just because it exists and falls easily off of the tongue (and onto your laptop keyboard) … use a cliché because it lines up with the evidence, personally and generally. Readers have phenomenally sensitive “B.S. detectors” (as my father put it once), and they will not forgive you for lapsing into cliché-speak just to drive sales and without verifying the legitimacy of your language usage. As in all things, you want to be true to yourself, to your voice as an author––in marketing as in everything else––and you want to be the most effective, accurate author possible.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 7.25.05 AM

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.

From the Archives: “Bestselling Author and the BIG Move to Self-Publishing”

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.

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[ Originally posted: November 4th, 2010 ]

Ten years after the success of his debut novel, bestselling author of “Kidnapped,” AJ Davidson, has made the switch to independent self-publishing. With the availability of full-service publishing options on the rise and the high profile moves of established authors to independent publishing, AJ discusses the increasing appeal of this new model for traditionally published authors.

Q: What was the deciding factor for moving to independent publishing?

A: Initially I wasn’t entirely sure if Indie publishing was right for me. The deciding factor was how traditional publishers seem to be narrowing the range of their lists with each passing year. I recently compared 1970s best sellers with the 2010 best sellers and was staggered to realize how many of the chart-topping writers of yesteryear are still there four decades later. Kudos to the authors for consistency, but the dearth of new names is a sad indictment for the publishing world. The smaller presses are more adventurous, but more often than not the marketing will be left to the author, and if that’s the case, then Indie publishing is the way to go.

Q: Now that you manage the marketing independently as well as the publishing, do you find it difficult to switch back and forth between writing and marketing?

A: I have found the change in my writing to be a dramatic one. In the past I was the only one I had to please with a piece of prose. Now I’m much more aware of the readers’ attitudes. As I write I find that I ask myself constantly how the readers would react. This transformation is due largely to the immediacy of Indie publishing. With a traditionally published book there can be years between writing and publication. Your agent might suggest minor changes. It may then take time for the manuscript to be accepted. The publishers will nominate a slot, often a year or more in the future. Libel lawyers may have to cast an eye over it. Copy and proof editors will refine the work. Artwork will be done. By the time the book hit the shops, the writer will have moved on, often immersed in another project. I often felt a sense of detachment from a book by the time it was published.

Q: The list of well-known authors that are moving toward Independent publishing structures continues to grow. Do you think this is opening up possibilities for less established authors or monopolizing what was formerly their only option?

A: I’m optimistic about the future of Indie publishing and would buy shares in Smashwords faster than in Barnes & Noble. The fate of the traditional bookstore will be down to specialization. I doubt if they can continue being all things to all people. We already see some very successful stores concentrating in one or two genres. This genre specialization will develop, and no doubt the giants of the retail industry have a trick or two yet. I expect some form of stratification will enter Indie book publishing.

Perhaps a division between the one book author and the multiple author. Certainly we have seen a rise in the popularity of book series in the last decade and readers do enjoy embarking on journeys with writers they admire. It is anyone’s guess where will this leave the authors of a single text. Bad news for the Harper Lees and Margaret Mitchells.

Q: You give your work away for free. Can you explain your strategy on this?

A: Giving away the occasional free book is an established marketing tool. The first Walter Mosley book I read was a magazine freebie, and I became a huge fan. It’s a great way of increasing consumer awareness. I have had readers read my free e-books, then go buy the paperback. I still have the Mosley book, but I also bought another edition of it.

Q: How relevant is your success with traditional publishing to your reputation as an independent author?

A: Being a traditionally published author who switched to Indie does lend a degree of credibility. But reputations do not sell books. Positive word of mouth is the magic key to high number book sales and the only thing that will generate that is a damned good story. Admittedly the snowball rolling down a hill effect will be faster for a moderately well known author. It would be nice to be still amongst the best sellers in forty years time.

From the Huffington Post, October 29th 2010

So how did that work out, anyway?

Pretty good, actually.

When you visit AJ Davidson’s website now, it’s not a flashy page full of advertisements for his books––it’s a blog, a simple blog hosted by WordPress and packed with useful tidbits of information, including the latest gem from January 17th of 2017:

AJ Davidson has become the second Irish writer to join Radish, the serial fiction platform based on the incredibly successful model used in China and Korea. Paper Ghosts, Davidson’s most downloaded book (1,400,000) will be available in the near future, closely followed by a sequel released on a serial basis.

Can you imagine––almost one and a half million downloads of just one book? Yeah, Davidson may not be making the news the same way (after all, to do so, he’d have to self-advertise and aggressively) but he’s being productive in the way that counts most for an author: sales and distribution.

AJ Davidson
Author Photo

So why revisit this blog post?

It’s because we’re so used to stories of self-publishing authors “gone big,” gone over to traditional publishing after having been scouted by some enterprising soul within that industry. And don’t get us wrong, we love the stories about Andy Weir’s The Martian and Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle as much as anybody––but they’re not the only Cinderella stories out there. We have people like AJ Davidson, too, who defected from traditional publishing to move into the world of indie books because he saw the value in shaking off old modes of thinking. (And yes, there are other authors who defect for other reasons, including neglect or downright mistreatment from their publishing houses and marketing teams.)

The story of self-publishing and who chooses to do it is more rich and varied than we ever could have imagined, in 2010. Some indie authors have risen up who never knew any other way of life and publishing, and some have crossed over in each direction from traditional to indie and vice versa, and some still perceive it as the last haven of the desperate. But the stigma is fading, both as the tools for self-publishing improve each year, and as people begin to realize what many of us have always known: Everyone has something to say worth hearing, and self-publishing is the most effective, affordable, and natural way of saying it.

The news may seem a bit bleak overall just now, with political upheaval across the globe and many people still mired in despair, but there is a ray of hope. It may not be able to touch everything––but maybe it can, at that. The future of self-publishing is secure in people like AJ Davidson and in you, and your stories have a home.

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.

From the Archives: “Book Review Leads for the Self Published Author”

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.

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[ Originally posted: September 12th, 2008 ]

Getting your book reviewed is an important part of book promotion for the self-published author.

If you are seeking book reviews: BookPleasures.com is a website you may want to investigate. They’ve been known to write book reviews and even interview authors for additional exposure. There is more information on their site at www.bookpleasures.com

Another opportunity exists at http://www.reviewyourbook.com where you can submit your book for a possible free review and listing on their website. There’s no fee (that I could see) and every little bit helps.

If you’ve written a travel log, or a book that fits the description of “travel log” (a memoir involving a foreign locale, for example), you may also want to look into: sketchandtravel.com

Good luck and have fun!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

A lot of time has passed since 2008 when I first posted some go-to reviewing resources to our blog, and while some stalwarts are still in business (including BookPleasures and SketchandTravel) several others are no longer in operation–at least not in any incarnation which would be useful to you, our readers. Hence the line through one of the sites listed above.

There are, however, quite a few new and wonderful resources, many of which remain free, including:

  1. www.ReadersFavorite.com (free!)
  2. www.digitalbooktoday.com (offers a slew of options, some paid, some free)
  3. www.SelfPublishingReview.com (charges a fee, with multiple packages)
  4. www.IndieReader.com (expensive, but offers a “rush” option which is useful)
  5. IndieBRAG at www.bragmedallion.com (charges a small fee, ebooks only)
  6. www.BlueInkReview.com (charges a small fee, but flexible)
  7. www.MidwestBookReview.com (charges a small fee, but gives great exposure)

There are, of course, a thick pile of reviewers who are always willing to review in exchange for free book copies, but these are scattered throughout the internet and in no one place.

Just because a book review is free doesn’t mean it’s the only review you’ll want … or need. So consider your options–all of your options!–and pursue the ones that are both time and cost effective for you!

(And if you have any review websites we’ve missed that you’d like to see posted here, drop me a line!)

book review

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.

From the Archives: “Quality and Control in Self-Publishing”

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.

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[ Originally posted: November 14th, 2008 ]

A very informative article was recently published outlining one author’s success self-publishing over traditional publishing, most notably in terms of higher net royalties on book sales. In fact, the case study recorded significantly higher royalties on a lower quantity of book sales along that self-publishing route.

The book pricing advantages of self publishing is no stranger to this blog, nor the increasingly successful population of authors who follow that path. But this particular article also mentioned that writers should never have to pay for publishing upfront.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen authors who have been pulled in by that concept, but end up publishing an often poorly produced book sold back to them at highly marked-up costs. (Publishers are businesses and need to make money, after all.) So that model really only puts poorly produced books right back in the hands of authors, not readers.

The successful alternative does involve upfront publishing fees, which opens a direct contract between authors and publishers including quality, professional production on books that are competitively sold in the marketplace, where readers buy books. Make sure your self-publishing choice includes those things like cover design, interior formatting, and full distribution. Also, as I’ve mentioned before – and the significance here is worth the redundancy – make sure your publisher offers pricing flexibility (control) and 100% royalties on book sales.

I hope that helps. Have fun and keep writing…

– by Karl Schroeder

Well, Karl’s not wrong. He wasn’t wrong all the way back in 2008–nine years ago!–and he’s not wrong now. (Of course, this will come as no surprise to those of you who have read some of his backlist posts for Self Publishing Advisor.) Quality is determined by many independent and interrelated factors, and one of the most important of those factors is control. Control of the artistic process, the publishing process, and the distribution process too. Lose your access to influence any of these three steps, and you’re at risk of spending money you didn’t anticipate on processes over which you have very limited control.

quality infographic

I love this infographic from Empathy Lab, because even though they specialize in e-commerce and responsive web design–subjects only tangentially relevant to our interests–they have spent years putting together quality infographics representing ways in which to both qualify and quantify their systems and products. Here, they’ve created an infographic by which any business might measure quality, based on a flexible framework which incorporates everything from inputs, outputs, values, and employees.

While this may not be the most finely-tuned visual for self-publishing, specifically, many of the principles here helpfully capture the spirit of what Karl first wrote in 2008: You must first decide what your priorities are, and how quality is both a product of and a shaping influence upon, what you do. Only then can you decide how much money to invest, and where to invest it, in the self-publishing process. A hint: For most of us, it’s going to be some sort of up-front cost which gives us access to premium publishing services and full royalties, full creative control, and full authority on what happens to our books–because this is your brand, after all.

Take a moment to let Karl’s words sink in, and spend a little time with Empathy Labs’ infographic. See if you can sketch out some thoughts on how your own book and publishing experience is coming together–and let us know how that’s going! We’d love to hear from you and be a resource for you.

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.  ♠


Kelly

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.