Self-Publishing News: 8.20.2019

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Once upon a time, way back when, we mentioned on this blog that Beatrix Potter self-published her most famous work, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (see our post here). This week the story is coming back around again thanks to this lovely piece on Mental Floss by contributor Garin Pirnia. Writes Pirnia, Potter wasn’t willing to compromise on her personal vision for her books, and:

On December 16, 1901, a 35-year-old Potter used her personal savings to privately print 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The book turned out to be a hit—so much so that, within a year, Frederick Warne and Co. (one of the publishers that had originally rejected the book) signed on to get into the Peter Rabbit business. In October 1902, they published their own version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, complete with Potter’s illustrations, and by Christmastime it had sold 20,000 copies. It has since been translated into nearly 40 different languages and sold more than 45 million copies.

We’re so glad that Potter went ahead and stuck up for what she knew was the right format for her book, and of course we’re grateful that the success of The Tale of Peter Rabbit allowed her to pursue more publications in that series. Pirnia also points out that Potter’s doggedness in seeing her vision through transformed the way that picture books are written, illustrated, and sold—a win for everyone, ultimately, in the end. Three cheers for more stories about one of the self-publishing greats!

The Missassauga is bringing us some interesting news this week with this article from contributor Carola Vyhnak, covering the self-publishing story of author Jenn Bruer, who looked to Beatrix Potter (how fitting for this week’s run-down of news!) for inspiration when she was getting started. Writes Vyhnak, “As a stay-at-home spouse and foster parent, the Mississauga resident was afraid traditional publishers wouldn’t take her seriously.” Relateable, right? But she had plenty to add to the conversation, Vyhnak continues, “So she wrote a book to help others and, using post-Peter Rabbit, digital-age technology and $6,670 of her own money, self-published it last December.” After moderate success in selling the book, Bruer reflects that the best part of the process had nothing to do with making a profit—it was seeing her book’s positive impact on the larger conversation around mental health and wellness. “‘I just thought it was the right thing to do,’ she says of the 224-pager, written ‘from my heart. […] Burnout is rampant in our society,’ especially among those in the helping professions, explains Bruer, who found her own way to physical, mental and spiritual wellness.” This is an important lesson for all of us, but usefully, the article doesn’t stop there—it provides hard numbers, additional anecdotes from others involved in the self-publishing process, and in general helps pull back the veil of one of the lesser-known aspects of self-publishing: the speaking of one’s truth out into the world. We can all do with more positivity and truth!


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 8.6.2019

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

It’s always exciting when self-published works are associated with, well, anything “high-brow,” and this week Highbrow Magazine’s syndication of NewsUSA covered the story of Jess Michaels, a successful author who just happens to have made her break through self-publishing after previously publishing a number of titles via traditional means. Says Michaels, “I’d begun developing an audience for my books and wanted to try something different. Authors I respected had success and greater control over their work with self-publishing, so I was eager to try it for myself.” Going self-published after completing her pre-existing book deals allowed Michaels to target the audience she knew she most wanted to reach, and to do so with full command over the hows and the whens and the whats. The article, in addition to covering Michaels’ story, advocates for those still considering their options to think about self-publishing’s benefits in respect to three things: creative control, speed to market, and proportional rights and royalties. “Who knows? Maybe the best-seller list is closer than you think,” write the article authors: the perfect happy ending to our romance with self-publishing!

In another success story made good, WHO TV out of Des Moines, Iowa, recently published an article by Megan Reuthers about Iowa author Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Smith, whose works mostly live on the postapocalyptic fiction shelf, has quite the writing work ethic: he sits down for ten hours a day and turns out four to five completed books a year by doing so. (We’re not jealous! We promise! OK, we’re jealous of that work ethic.) His works appeal to readers, among other reasons, for their groundedness and realism. Writes Reuthers:

He gets inspiration from his previous profession as a disaster mitigation specialist with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He said, “It not only inspired me but scared me, and I was able to use that experience on different disasters or threats that we face to implement those in stories and then I used a sci-fi twist.’

He was, writes Reuthers, eventually picked up by a traditional publishing house, and is now producing multiple series simultaneously. But the real trick, Reuthers records, is “treating [writing] like a business. ‘Now is the best time in history to be a writer because you can self-publish a book, and if you know, even generally what you’re doing, in terms of marketing, you can have success,’ he said.” We are always excited to celebrate these both/and self- & traditionally published authors, who consistently demonstrate the fact that everyone’s publishing journey looks different, and there’s a path for everyone!


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.30.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

This article came as a bit of a (welcome) surprise, courtesy of The Richest, and contributor Karen Simao. Simao provides brief biographical snippets about each author she features, with a quick reminder that “the internet has also changed this market. Since some years ago, the public has seen talented writers who self-published their books online and are making a fortune. Some of them were rejected many times by traditional publishers.” A quick note, though: this list is not synonymous with the top ten authors in regards to earnings, but every author included has become a millionaire as a result of their work, traditionally or self-published—and that alone puts them all in the top tier of author-earners. Of the self-publishing authors she profiles, we’ve mentioned a few already here on the blog: Amanda Hocking, EL James, and David Chilton come to mind. A number of other authors, including Michael J. Sullivan, have published through both traditional and self-publishing channels, demonstrating yet again that these choices are not always in competition with each other. Self-publishing has a healthy and important role in the marketplace, democratizing access for both readers and authors.

Another great article this week comes from Nicole Serena Silver, an author as well as founder of Ignitingfp.com and GROWmyfuture.org, two entrepreneurial-inspired (and inspiring) portals for the curious-minded. Silver set out to write without a clear idea of what the publication process might look like. She writes, “I did not realize the complexity of the journey I was about to embark on.” The challenges were numerous:

Did you know paperweight makes a huge difference on how potential buyers subconsciously perceive the quality of your book? Yup, I did not know that. Did you know that the newest trend is soft touch books? Soft touch books feel cheap like wrapped plastic books, yuck. At least in my opinion — no offence meant if you like them. Did you know that Shopify rocks?! It’s a super helpful resource for selling your book independently without Amazon taking a ginormous cut and it can also increase your brand quality. There are lots of little details, all which I am figuring out every step along the way.

And while Silver’s article is not itself long, it opens an important door in the conversation about self-publishing, and also points readers to more of her thoughts on the subject, which can be found through her various social media platforms. More at the link!

This piece from Barbara Lane of Datebook is an important one, as it deals with a question at the heart of self-publishing: what is the value and role of a so-called “vanity press”? Many times, you’ll find self-publishing companies fighting to create linguistic distance between what their businesses do and what vanity presses do, given what Lane is talking about when she writes that “In many cases […] having your book published by a vanity press, as the name implies, carries something of a stigma. After all, if your book is any good, wouldn’t one of the reputable publishing houses want the honor of bringing it into the world and pay you for the privilege?” The answer might be a surprising one to some, given that Lane sees vanity presses and hybrid publishing companies as helping to fill a growing void and answering a need in the publishing industry. Writes Lane, “As the publishing world becomes increasingly competitive and the purse strings ever more tightly drawn, it’s become harder and harder to get a contract with a traditional publisher. To meet the needs of writers dying to get their work out, a new crop of hybrid publishers has sprung up. It’s a whole new game out there.” Nobody likes to spend money if they (a) don’t think they need to, or (b) are not receiving fair value for their investment. And Lane acknowledges that $7,500.00 (the cost to publish through She Writes Press) is a hefty price tag, but she also notes that many authors who choose a similar route are turning to crowdsourcing in order to pay off publishing fees. She also notes that one’s reason for publishing plays an important role in determining which publishing route is best suited. A worthy opening salvo of what we hope is an ongoing conversation!


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.23.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Our first item of news is a fascinating one, coming this week from the GoodEReader’s Michael Kozlowski, who sets out to answer the question of “why are there so few places to buy ebooks?” The answer, he explains, is not quite as complex as you might think: the big distributors—all of which are familiar household names, from Amazon to Apple, Barnes and Noble to Kobo, and Google—already have created a collective monopoly, and they’re able to exert pressure on small startups by virtue of their existing partnerships with the Big 5 publishers (who would be distributing traditionally published ebooks) and major self-publishing companies (who would be distributing many self-published ebooks). Writes Kozlowski, “Starting an ebook store is challenging. Major publishers refuse to do business with anyone that wants to get involved in selling digital content, they have their small list of preferred vendors and that’s it.” It’s a difficult market to break into, and there are few structures in place to make it happen. And since competition is an engine of affordability, the availability of diverse options is something readers would definitely benefit from. Worth keeping in mind.

Adam Rowe of Forbes shows up for self-publishers everywhere yet again in this week’s article on book cover design, a subject we’ve discussed numerous times here on the blog ourselves. But first, what is the “7-second test”? Rowe explains:

You might not have heard of book cover design’s “7 second” test, but if you’ve ever wondered through a bookstore, you’ve undoubtedly tried it yourself. Pick up a book, glance at the front and back covers, and you’ll likely make the decision to either nestle it back on the shelf or seriously consider buying it. That tiny window of time is all an author has to sell their story, and it all comes down to a great book cover design.

With that in mind, authors have to pump up the visual appeal of their book covers in order to have a chance of out-competing fellow authors and seeing their books fly all the way from physical or digital bookstore shelves to the checkout aisle (or virtual checkout, as the case may be). Rowe has some suggestions, all of them good, from reflecting genre expectations to expressing emotion, crafting an attractive thumbnail image, keeping it simple, and ensuring it’s unique. Even in a digital age, when authors aren’t always holding physical books in their hands, Rowe implies, it’s important to consider all of the elements that go into making a beautiful and attractive book cover. A must-read article!

Last but not least, a sweet little article from Laura Hamm of The Bookseller, a privately-owned industry magazine and news engine. Writes Hamm,

I didn’t think I’d ever call myself part of the publishing industry, I’m still not sure I can. I started approaching stories with digital eyes, and have come full circle to print. So I’m now a double self-publisher – I started a self-publishing platform for kids, Fabled, and now I’m creating a book of kid-authored stories, The Future Is Make Believe (live on Kickstarter now). A strange sort of industry beast to be sure, but I think how I’ve grown may be of some interest to the traditional animals out there too.

Hamm’s goal is to render self-publishing accessible and useful to children, a population that by and large has been left untargeted by self-publishers. (There are reasons for that, including the prohibitive costs associated with producing beautiful hardbound books in all the various unusual sizes typical of picture books.) After describing her process and background in creating not just a platform but a book full of stories written by real kids, Hamm closes out with a moving endorsement for all self-publishing authors looking to reach kids:

I think the strange fluidity I’m in as I build my brand mirrors the way children interact with stories. Children are story first and format second – they don’t come with our snobbery about form. They play at Spiderman mashed up with Harry Potter, they read Winnie-the-Pooh, collect the Shopkins and watch Paw Patrol, and it is all fodder for their imagination. It all gets whirled and re-spun in daydreams and their stories. If we give them space to do it that is, if we listen. And I intend to.

We love that.


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.17.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

If you needed a laugh (that’s also, admittedly, kind of a groan), check out Kelly Burke’s article on 7News.com.au (an Australian news website), in which she covers the duplicitous exploits of “contrepreneur” and “demotivational speaker,” Mike Winnet. Winnet, who more or less makes his living (or earns his street cred) from similar pranks and social media efforts, set out to tackle Amazon’s self-publishing process this time around. His prank was simple: self-publish a book (titled How to get a #1 Amazon best-seller) that contains nothing but blank pages, and see what happens. In this case, the system, which is designed to pick up on fraudulent sales of this nature, missed the mark and Winnet’s book became listed on Amazon as a best-seller, even though it sold fewer than 50 copies. The book was only pulled from distribution after Winnet ‘fessed up on social media, which begs the question of how closely Amazon is actually watching its self-publishing platform, and what sorts of legitimately fraudulent activity may be taking place on the site. This may or may not impact authors’ decisions to publish or not publish through Amazon, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

To end this week’s news post on a positive note, cast your eyes toward author Amanda Alcántara, whose most recent book Chula inspired this article by Erica Nahmad of BeLatina.com. Writes Nahmad, Chula is “an autobiographical look at her childhood as a Latina in the Dominican Republic and later in the United States, is exactly as inspiring and entertaining as you might imagine.” What follows is a resoundingly positive and lengthy look at Alcántara’s background and the details of the book proper, as well as the author’s decision to self-publish. Says Nahmad, “Author Amanda Alcántara had a story to tell, a story that could not wait and that needed to be shared. And despite the typical obstacles in getting a book published, she took matters into her own hands and told the tale she was born to tell.” Later in the article, Nahmad includes a lengthy section titled “How Alcántara was Empowered by Self-Publishing Her Debut Book,” in which she details Alcántara’s experiences. Writes Nahmad:

“I didn’t want to wait one year to find an agent then one year to find a publisher. I didn’t want to wait three years to publish my book,” she told People En Español. “I didn’t want to compromise on the Spanish and English or the format.”

And that creative control allowed her to preserve the very personal tone and also ensure that she built a team that was connected to her vision and her experiences — the editorial team, cover illustrator and photographer are all of Dominican heritage.

How cool is that?


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.9.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

(Proviso: This article is behind a paywall; subscribers of The New York Times can access the article in full.)

You might have seen this article around, being discussed both by literary elites and by the average Twitter user, in part because it says quite a lot of things about self-publishing, particularly as relates to Amazon’s self-publishing platform. On this blog we have over the years represented a range of opinions about Amazon’s offerings and customer service and central ethic, and we’ll refrain today from passing judgment on the whole—but it’s worth noting that for many of The New York Times‘ thousands of subscribers who trust the paper’s research ethic, opinions about Amazon and opinions about self-publishing are often one and the same thing. This June 24 article by David Streitfeld is intensely critical of Amazon, particularly how the company renders many of the authors who publish through it’s self-publishing arm vulnerable to copycats (and therefore copyright violators). The dangers are well-known, Streitfeld implies, but many authors and small presses feel as though they don’t have a choice other than to work with the problematic industry titan if they want wide distribution. Streitfeld makes no direct statement about the self-publishing industry as a whole, but the bread crumbs dropped throughout the article build to a general negative picture due to the widespread association between the two, and the assumption seems to be that self-publishing leaves authors and readers alike open to exploitation. Which … yes, that’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. But it’s not the only story worth telling on The New York Times broadsheet; it is, instead, a timely reminder that those of us who self-publish works outside of Amazon may need to help advocate for other authors, and raise the profile of alternatives for those seeking to break away from Amazon’s monopoly.

On a different note, this week’s article on Gulf Today by contributor Birjees Hussain serves as a different kind of reminder: That our access to works, whether self-published or traditionally published, hinges on a nascent awareness of what’s out there and how to find it. Hussain’s article serves as both an explanation of why some libraries are disappearing as well as a rallying cry for readers not to despair over the presumed fate of readership at large—routes to publication and options for purchasing and reading books are diversifying, Hussain implies, rather than simply dying out. Hussain’s argument jives nicely with industry reports on the percentage of readers who are sticking with print copies and the percentage switching to digital formats, and the continued relevance of indie bookstores to contemporary readers. Nothing has been lost, but a lot has been gained, Hussain implies. Now that’s an attitude we can support!

We’d bet that you can name at least one of them! Entrepreneur.com‘s Antar Atreya summarizes the changing definition and role of an author as such:

ow, who is an author? A couple of decades ago the definition of an author was purely one dimensional; a person who writes a book and is published by a publisher. However, the definition has now changed. Today an author creates his product; which is her or his manuscript, ensures that it will give readers some value and finds, connects and interacts with the potential target readers. So essentially this is how an author is an entrepreneur. This change is large because publishing tools, scopes and expertise are now easily available. Concepts of self-publishing companies and print on demand have also given an opportunity for authors to get their work published easily. But at the same time, they have to take greater control over their book and use different routes to reach the target readers.

What follows is a concise and useful list of reasons why entrepreneurs ought to be paying attention to self-publishing and authorship, as well as reasons why self-publishing authors ought to be paying attention to entrepreneurship. We highly recommend this read!


spa-news

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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.2.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

We really do.

Maybe that’s all we need to say about this article?

But in all seriousness, Matthew Field of Go! And Express is onto something here when he writes that “It could be argued that we are living in a golden age for self-published writers. While it is true that traditional publishers are declining somewhat, it is also true that there are now a plethora of tools out there that allow writers to completely by-pass them if desired.” Self-publishing companies as diverse and varied as Outskirts Press and Amazon’s own platform offer readers and writers of indie books myriad opportunities to publish and discover new works, and the smaller companies are often on the cutting edge of developing ever-better ones. “Self-publishing is still viable today, probably more so than ever before, and the scene is ripe for upcoming writers to make their mark,” writes Fields, referencing various options available throughout the self-publishing process. Overall, Fields’ piece serves as both a bit of a manifesto for indie authors as well as a brief overview of the process for newcomers looking to, as he puts it, ‘make their mark’ in the self-publishing field.

And there are plenty one might choose from, especially as authors seek to take on more elements of the publishing process—from designing covers to formatting pages to editing manuscripts to selecting printing options—and are held to as high of a standard as traditionally published authors with the full force of their marketing and PR teams behind them. Writes Ashley Stahl of Forbes, “So, what do you do if you have a book living inside of you, and you don’t have such assets to sell yourself to publishers? How, in short, is the person with the story to tell but a lack of tools to tell it, supposed to take advantage of the fact that publishing a book pushes careers into the stratosphere?” In conversation with the CEO of one small(ish) self-publishing company, Stahl hammered out some of the biggest pitfalls to be avoided, including the oft-mentioned ugly cover and manuscripts riddled with errors, the less-often-mentioned limitations of an ebook-only release and refined category keyword selection process, and one new one we hadn’t stumbled across before—a warning not to have family and friends review your books on Amazon. Wait, what? Stahl warns that Amazon has developed an algorithm that scans reviews for bias and will actually remove those reviews that it identifies as being such. We’ll be looking more into this in the days to come. In the meanwhile, Stahl’s advice seems sound!


spa-news

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.

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