Self-Publishing News: 3.10.2020

Word MARCH. Vector decorative unusual object

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

Self-publishing is HUGE in the United States, and very accessible. But what about in other countries? This article from the Regina Leader-Post out of Saskatchewan, Canada, offers some interesting insights into just what the industry has done to instill change beyond our national borders. Lynn Giesbrecht chronicles the journey of one author whose work was published traditionally, only for the publishing house that released it to go bankrupt shortly after, taking her book down with it. The grim summary is that “the cost of producing a book in Canada has jumped by 40 per cent since the 1990s while retail book prices have remained virtually the same. This has caused profit margins for the publisher to drop from between 10 and 12 per cent per book to single digits.” But not all is looking so grim, writes Giesbrecht: one respected author of science fiction has recently gone indie, reporting that “Over the last few years, Willett has seen a steady rise in the number of Saskatchewan authors turning to self-publishing or using local publishers instead of submitting their manuscripts to the major companies.” While the loss of any small or indie publishing company is a hard blow to the province of Saskatchewan, the general attitude seems to remain one of upbeat ambition.

On the one hand, this review in the form of a forward is just that: a review of a book about academics who have successfully carved out a niche beyond traditional academia, making use of new platforms and new opportunities courtesy of this digital, connected, global age. But on the other hand, this review/forward by Joshua Kim to the website Inside Higher Ed gives us a critical insight into the ways in which self-publishing has become foundational to even general conversations about the state of supposedly “unrelated” fields. As we’ve noted in previous news summaries and other pieces here on the Self-Publishing Advisor blog, many professors are moving away from traditional textbooks and towards open resources that their students can access for free. In an age where the average textbook seems to cost more than a bout of gambling in a Vegas casino, it’s hard to justify paying for–or asking one’s students to pay for–a book that they’ll likely never look at again, save to perhaps (if they’re lucky) pass it off to another student at a fraction of the price. But Kim’s summary, while it is specifically referring to just the one book, also hints at whole new aspects of connection between academia and self-publishing. It builds a case for the 1974 self-published The Moosewood Cookbook helping launch a generation of “vegetarian academics,” academics who were more likely to question the status quo, and more likely to pursue “alt-academic” careers, and more likely to turn to open resource and self-published materials as resources–or create them themselves. Are we reading a little too much into this? We leave it to you to decide.


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.

 

 

Self-Publishing News: 3.3.2020

Word MARCH. Vector decorative unusual object

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

Medium has become a welcome home for many excellent long-form articles unaffiliated with major news companies in recent years, and this article from Sumbo Bello of EDGY Labs–a “trend forecaster and SEO incubator providing guidance and end-to-end Enterprise level SEO solutions for Fortune 500 brands” according to its ‘about’ page–is representative of the kind of exciting material you can now find on Medium and other long-form-friendly web platforms. Where better to find a quality article describing some of the best content-creation tools out there for writers than a web platform that is itself a content-creation tool? Meta. “The best writing apps are those that help content creators attain a crucial goal, and that’s efficient writing,” Bello writes in the opening line of this piece, citing deadlines both internal and external as one of the main drivers behind the decision of which tool to use. Bello also notes that “Arguably, some of the most efficient writing tools are those that help optimize language mechanics and still cover SEO components like keyword density and relevancy.” (emphasis his) We were delighted to find this summary description list of platforms including the usual heavyweights of Google Docs, Apple Pages, and Microsoft Word–as well as several we are less familiar with, including FocusWriter, Scriviner, Final Draft, and Vellum (but his list goes on). We should note that we do not advocate for any one specific tool among these, especially given that many are paid services, but the information Bello includes is detailed and rich enough to hopefully help you make a decision if you are yourself on the hunt for a new tool, paid or free.

Once again we return to one of our all-time favorite topics in the news section of Self Publishing Advisor: the Zine! This early but time-honored form of self-publishing was absolutely critical to the development of interest in as well as tools to produce later self-publishing options such as on-demand print capabilities and responsive, timely turnaround from writing to publication. Zines were mostly locally distributed (but with some key exceptions) and were mostly individual projects (ditto) and focused around some niche or highly specific area of interest (ditto) … but they have proved an enduring form of what can only be described as a hybrid of art and print publication. Which is why we are so excited to see this article by Jeff Oloizia in Encore celebrating a recent zine exhibition at UNCW. “The best zines,” writes Oloizia, “are transgressive in their activism, born of any number of underground subcultures, and fly in the face of mainstream art and publishing norms.” They’re also, as the exhibition demands audiences to consider, a form of public artistry and worth enjoying and respecting as such. The exhibit described here by Oloiza will remain on display until April 3rd, but zines, as always, will live on indefinitely.


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.

 

 

Self-Publishing News: 2.25.2020

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

We love these monthly lists from Publishers Weekly! Not only do they serve as a critical discovery tool for those of us who read self-published books regularly, but they also help authors and the industry, too, by raising awareness of new titles and subjects of interest percolating through the wider cultural consciousness. Those behind the monthly lists make a real effort to represent the fantastic work being done across genres from romance to thriller to nonfiction and poetry, and this same even-handedness is shown in representing titles from big-name self-publishing companies to those offering full-service options like Outskirts Press (this month it’s Asking the Moon to Leave by Johnny Randolph Hunt) to those books which are published under only their authors’ names. As Publishers Weekly puts it,

Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 54 self-published titles below. Each appears with a list of retailers that are selling the book and a description provided by its author. Some of these writers are waiting to be discovered; others have track records and followings and are doing it on their own. If you are a self-published author interested in listing titles in this section, please visit publishersweekly.com/pw-select for more information.

This list comes out each month in both print and digital versions of the magazine, and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

We couldn’t resist talking about this article by Erin Grace of the Omaha World-Herald chronicling the further adventures of the inimitable Robin Reed-Poindexter, an Omaha native whose years fighting fire in California in part fuel her work as a writer. Reed-Poindexter has published two semi-autobiographical children’s books based on her experiences, as well as a lengthy 660 page (!) memoir titled Now I See Clearly. Having made history as the first black woman hired onto the Richmond Fire Department in 1987, Reed-Poindexter “scrapped her way” (Grace’s good word choice there) through some tough times and retired in 2019. Writes Grace, “Robin said she wants the stories to remind students who get in trouble that they should never write themselves off. While grateful for the support she said her North Omaha network of friends, family and educators gave her, ultimately she had to prove her worth on her own.” Her children’s books set out to render this ethos accessible to kids. In a year that has already seen much conversation about fire and the power of civic engagement, we can’t think of a better self-publishing story to feature here on our blog today.


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.

 

Self-Publishing News: 2.18.2020

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

This thoughtful piece by Emily Larson of The Clipper focuses on a subject of great interest and importance to many students (of all walks of life) in our world today: the cost and accessibility of textbooks. Students, writes Larson, have already expressed their concern over the rising cost of these all-important resources to school administrators. “However, teachers are aware of this situation. Some are already working on changing it,” Larson continues. Many instructors and professors are already pursuing more cost-effective routes, such as employing “non-traditional” textbooks that cost far less or nothing at all, depending on the source. Many are turning to something called Open Educational Resources, a loose online collection of free textbooks and other educational materials. One of the instructors Larson interviewed for the article, Nevins, “encourages students to speak up about self-publishing laws and to support their teachers. ‘The student senate could possibly set up a grant fund to support faculty in creating these textbooks,’ he suggests.” And here’s where the article touches on our field of interest: With a bit of time and elbow grease, educators can create their own custom content using any of a number of self-publishing platforms and offer educational resources for a much more affordable rate than the going cost of textbooks. This is a win for both educators and students, assuming that the educators involved have the time and elbow grease (and sometimes money) to spare. It might prove useful to educational institutions like Larson’s to optimize their professional development opportunities in order to empower their teaching staff to create these kinds of resources with adequate support.

This week, in a segment we like to think of as “self-publishing authors up to cool things,” we find Buzzfeed reporter Tanya Chen interviewing self-publishing Instagram phenom Caroline Calloway as a part of Chen’s ongoing newsletter series, which captures some of the Internet’s “top things” and Chen’s current obsessions. Calloway, whose new self-published book Scammer will release in April (or thereabouts), was the center of an Internet controversy when the Instagram star’s complicated past was written up into an article by a friend and caption co-writer. Rather than running from that experience, as many would have, Calloway took the infamy and reshaped into something true to form and brand: a book riffing on the big reveal. While Calloway still has at least one traditionally published book deal to satisfy, her self-published book Scammer promises to be much more quick to market. Says Calloway, “I think as the media landscape and freelance journalism changes, savvy businesspeople and ambitious writers will see that there is so much potential in self-publishing.” We’re already seeing the change mid-motion, with the Instagram star joining a host of other working professionals–doctors and physicians, educators, activists, and more–joining the movement to self-publish. We wish Calloway all the best as she steps into self-publishing!


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.

 

Self-Publishing News: 2.11.2020

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

The big news of the year is, of course, the rise and fall of one specific title–the much-lauded American Dirt. This book first made headlines after a fierce bidding war propelled it to the top of the list of sought-after books by traditional publishing houses like Hachette and Penguin Random House before landing with Macmillan. Its sympathetic portrayal of cross-border migrants meant that it appealed to the kind of reader who utilizes social media and other platforms for social activism; it came as a surprise to many (but certainly not all) that the book would eventually become something of a hot potato, with Latinx authors, readers, and academics panning its use of stereotypes even while attempting to do good. In a situation that seems like the perfect and utter reverse of the publishing stories of such blockbuster hits as Becoming by Michelle Obama and Educated by Tara Westover, American Dirt has become representative of deeper structural problems pervasive in the self-publishing industry. In this thought-provoking article on Latino USA (a branch of NPR), Christine Larson of UC Boulder attempts to detangle just why traditional publishing has become so difficult to navigate. As you might expect, self-publishing features–although in a nice twist, Larson doesn’t demonize those who seek an alternate path to publishing but rather lays out the facts:

My research has found that romance writers doubled their median income from 2009 to 2014, largely due to self-publishing. Romance authors of color, in particular, found new outlets for books excluded by white publishers. Back in 2009, before self-publishing took off, the Book Industry Study Group identified just six categories of romance novels; by 2015, it tracked 33 categories, largely driven by self-publishing. New categories included African American, multicultural, interracial and LGBT.

By 2018, at least 1.6 million books across all genres had been self-published. Nonetheless, though choice is expanding, readership has stayed flat since 2011. With more books but no more readers, it’s harder than ever to get the attention of potential buyers.

But self-publishing is just one of many factors, writes Larson, in the tangled web of publishing troubles. And when it comes to amplifying the voices of marginalized peoples, social media has become a powerful tool by “offer[ing] a powerful outlet for marginalized voices to hold the publishing industry accountable.” Larson’s entire article is well worth a read.

In this Businesswire article reporting on the findings of a recent Technavio report, things are looking rosy for those of us in the self-publishing industry over the next four years (this will come as an encouragement to those who found the American Dirt story, above, deeply saddening). The report’s findings indicate that while “The emergence of smart devices, e-books, and online subscription models has transformed both the publishing landscape as well as the reading behavior of readers,” and even medical publishing companies have gotten on board, ebooks remain a primary driver in the directions both traditional publishing and self-publishing industries will go in the years to come. A sample of the report is available at the link, and it provides more detail and analysis of both the present and the future.


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.

 

Self-Publishing News: 2.4.2020

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

Forbes has proven itself a useful platform in recent years for news regarding self-publishing breakout successes, challenges, and opportunities. This week, contributor Bryan Collins tackled the remarkable success story of Texas-based authors, business owners, and podcasters Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant–as well as their semi-anonymous third partner, who simply goes by the name Dave. Before implementing some big changes, Platt and Truant were “generating over $60,000 a month in royalties from their popular sci-fi seven-book series Invasion, for several months,” writes Collins, but when faced with the kinds of in-person events (such as interviews, convention appearances, book fairs, and so forth) that come with that level of success, they found the process to be “Diluting their focus [… and] they had less time to write genre-fiction books (science-fiction, thrillers, etc.).” Their royalties took a hit, and they took a long look at just what they wanted their legacy–their brand–to be. Together, they landed on crafting a business that resembles a story studio, in that it will employ a number of authors around the world to collaborate on diverse projects. Their vision to pour their personal profits into another way for indie and self-published authors to break out into the public eye is an inspiring one.

This recent article from Emma Shacklock on the Woman and Home website is everything you need to get started in self-publishing, from figuring out which company fits your project to sorting out the benefits of print and digital editions of your book after publication. She also touches on marketing and promotion, with advice on how to make the most of your social media presence and suggestions for maximizing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by way of going all in on metadata. She highlights the need for an attractive book cover design as well as a good, professional editor or proofreader depending on your book’s needs. Overall, Shacklock’s approach is the emotional as well as the practical starter kit we needed this week as a reminder of just what the essentials of self-publishing really are.


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.

 

Self-Publishing News: 1.28.2020

january

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

This week on the Tech Times website, Eric Hamilton gave an important recommendation for the website’s readership to take a longer look at self-publishing than many of them will have given before. This is important because the typical Tech Times reader will already have the sorts of aptitudes and interests to make self-publishing a book and promoting it on social media and through other digital outlets a success–but many of them will not have considered doing so for a variety of reasons. Hamilton appeals to the tech industry’s built-in activist leanings when he writes that “going the route of self-publishing will help someone level the playing field against traditional publishers. With self-publishing tools, authors will have access to the same industry best practices and standards that are used by traditional publishers.” Appealing to a sense of democratic justice can only resonate with generations of Tech Times readers who have come into their voices during the last few decades of increasing online engagement.

Adam Rowe, who has written about self-publishing before for Forbes, brings us another stellar piece this week in the form of an email exchange with self-publishing expert David Gaughran, who serves up his top five reasons for authors of all kinds to spend some quality time developing a robust email methodology as a part of their promotion. His reasons run the gamut from email’s particular suitability for “deepening engagement and retaining readers” to the fact that you own the content, not some social media platform that mines your material for commercial uses, to its unique ability to convert readers into book buyers. While many tout the advantages of social media promotion (including us, of course!), Gaughran writes that the motivational weight of a social media post differs from that of an email. “Through a repost,” he notes, followers “can align themselves with your brand without paying anything for the privilege. But on email, no one’s watching, which encourages genuine, monetary support.” In an age of social media supersaturation, it might just be that slowing down a moment and taking the time to develop an email list retains a certain unmitigated power.


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.