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Self-Publishing News: 10.16.2017 – New Releases!

hello October word abstrtact in wood type

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically new releases written by self-publishing authors and published by independent presses! Today we’ll be featuring brand-new releases in the Outskirts Press Bookstore!

Are you looking for a whodunit to liven up your October evenings? You can’t go wrong with Reginald Buchanan’s Deceived, a killer story with a serious twist. It follows the story of Joan Witherspoon, a rising star of an athlete and the kind of senior everyone hopes their children grow up to be: a bright spark, full of life and passion. But her life is about to get very complicated indeed. Tragedy strikes while she’s away at volleyball practice, and while her parents’ deaths are explained away by the local law enforcement at the time, she finds herself years later at the heart of a burgeoning serial murder story. There’s plenty of deceit to go around, as the book’s title indicates, but you won’t see the end coming until it arrives! Sure, it may not be as overtly spooky as a book with “Halloween” in the title, but Deceived is a fantastically creepy exploration of the various sides of grief, tragedy, and the mind of a killer.

On a lighter note, who hasn’t wanted to go backpacking or river boating or parasailing through Europe? (Okay, so that last one may be a bit too much, but there’s always room for a personal fantasy or two in the midst of a book review!) Francis J. Clauss is here to walk us through the jewel of the grand European tour of ages gone by: Italy, land of Roman ruins and lush wineries and volcanoes galore. But Clauss has something more to offer than just a smidgen of sight-seeing! A regular at the San Francisco Opera, West Bay Opera in Palo Alto, Opera San Jose, Santa Fe Opera, the New York Metropolitan Opera, and many foreign venues, he and his wife have volunteered behind and in front of the scenes at various venues and know the lay of the operatic land, so to speak. In this volume, Clauss takes readers on a journey through not just the heart of Italy’s opera scene, but also the history of opera and why it has become such an emotional lynch-pin for those like him, and why it has become a city- and nation-building force throughout the ages. Fascinating, right? More than worth a look!

Following up on the joyous ride that was the first book in this series, Tom Boyhan is back with a new installment! If you or someone you know has loved Harry Potter, The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes, or How to Train Your Dragon, here’s another fantastic fantasy series for young readers that really knows how to blow your socks off! With fire! Dragonfire! What’s cooler than that? I’ll tell you what: a story which combines the allure of martial arts (they win belts!) with boarding school (which we’d much rather read about than attend, except when it’s a magical boarding school for magical kids and DRAGONS) and podracing. I mean, dragon racing! Dragon racing is even cooler than podracing, in our humble opinion. But of course, not all is fun and games at the academy, and our intrepid cast of heroes must fight a shadowy organization in order to survive, save the world, and make it to class on time in the morning. They’ve got a full semester ahead of them, and we have a full evening by the fire reading ahead of us. Can’t wait for book three!


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 every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 9.18.2017 – New Releases!

september

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically new releases written by self-publishing authors and published by independent presses! Today we’ll be featuring brand-new releases in the Outskirts Press Bookstore!

Are you looking to kick off the school year with some current and relevant material on supporting diversity in the American education system? We are! Of course, we may be biased by the fact that we have personal connections to a number of students and educators who might benefit from Joseph T. Mayhew and Robert J. Hudak’s combined experience and expertise–but it would be the rare American who didn’t have some sort of tie to these issues. (The Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon thing works for a reason!) Suffice it to say, this is one of our top picks both for new releases and back-to-school reads. Disadvantaged children deserve a better future than the one they’re given, and special education–rightly and compassionately and thoughtfully administered–may help them find that future.

Not everyone’s looking for a five-alarm snot bomb of a book on the eve of Fall … but some people are, and here’s a fantastic new example of the form! This is the memoir of Peter Gordon, who was pulled out of his idyllic life (he’d been recently remarried, developed a thriving career, and lived in a beautiful mountain resort) by a case of leukemia. The only solution? A bone marrow transplant, an invasive and dangerous procedure under his specific conditions. The book copy calls this a “real-world healthcare saga for our times, offering insightful lessons for cancer patients, caregivers, and medical professionals,” and it’s not exaggerating the broad appeal of this fantastic book! Just make sure to bring tissues.

Some of us may not have run across a Gothic novel (NOT to be confused with ‘graphic novel’) since grade school, when we had to read The Castle of Otranto and Northanger Abbey and–oh? That was just us? Not you? Never mind. Still, Gothic novels aren’t what you would consider run-of-the-mill mainstream fiction in 2017. Enter Dwight Brooks and Salvage Optic, stage left. Here’s a novel to delight and confound your expectations, what with its embrasure of archaic diction (a la the Royal Society, circa 1674) and its ferocious, beautifully-plotted character arcs. Did we mention there are pirates? Our bad. There are LOTS of pirates. And that’s fantastic, really. This is a book packed with swash, buckle, and literary Easter eggs which will keep the discerning reader busy in front of a crackling fire this Fall. Really, you couldn’t ask for a stranger–or more appealing–hybrid of a book!

No list of new releases is complete without a seriously awesome picture book! Bertyl, by Sandra Dobozi, fits the bill perfectly. This sweetly rhyming book follows the adventures (not to be confused with the piratey adventures of Salvage Optic) of a turtle looking to nail down answers to some of life’s tough questions: Who am I? What am I here for? Why am I not like other turtles? (Seriously, we can relate.) Fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder and its picture book counterpart, We’re All Wonders) will appreciate Dobozi’s take on what it feels like to be “different,” and to want to know one’s place in the world. This is the uplifting, positive, inspiring kid’s book we all need to read in the doldrums of 2017.


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 every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Conversations: 8/18/2017

S. O. S. – Writers Need Help, Too – Part III

The manuscript is finished! Woo Hoo! Now you’re ready to PUBLISH! The writing was so much fun! Where do we go from here?

The “big” traditional publishing houses today literally have hundreds of back-logged books waiting for their editorial staffs to “review” manuscripts and make their changes according to the “standard” of every specific genre.

First, I NOT want my book to be changed. My editor and I have completed it just the way I want it and no other editors are required.

Second, contracts with the traditional publishers give them full latitude in selecting a book cover. Nope—I do not want that, either. I have very specific ideas for the cover design.

help wanted

So, let’s look at the options today’s self-publishers offer. Again, this will require a bit of Internet Research to find the BEST FIT for me and my book.

  • After making a list of the Self-Publishing companies that look best to me I begin calling their main telephone lines and asking to speak to a Publishing Consultant.
    • I compare the publishing consultant to a National Park Service trail guide who, before I embark on my highly anticipated journey, will give me the “lay of the land.”
    • This person will walk me through the pros and cons of each publishing option available within their specific company.
    • He/she listens to what my manuscript is about and guides me to the best options for my particular manuscript needs.

The best Publishing Consultant I’ve ever enjoyed working with literally held my client’s hand through the whole start-up process. Her conversations with him extended over several weeks, which is exactly what he needed in order to make the best decisions for his book(s). She looked at the initial manuscript pages we submitted, listened to my client’s purpose for writing the book, and guided us to the very best options, which included personal cover design, extra help with photography placements, and layout design. My client gave her rave reviews in a letter to company’s owner.

Even though I sincerely believe that most of my clients would develop ulcers if they attempted to publish totally independently, to be fair, I will also mention the self-publishing “tools” to be considered. They include: Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, Smashwords, and others. IF a client has little or no financial support for their writing efforts, or they have something short they want to publish—something that will possibly attract Readers to their major book(s)—I believe these are good options to consider. However, there is no Publishing Consultant to walk you through this forest.

Working with a Self-Publishing Company, and their publishing staff of experts, is (in my opinion) the best option for today’s authors. If finances are a concern, many have “gift cards” available (given by supportive family and friends) which can be applied to any of the publishing needs. The helping hand of the Publishing Consultant is priceless—and is included in the publishing package you select. ⚓︎

 


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

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.

In Your Corner: Understanding Copyright

I won’t lie:

Copyright is Hard

So: never let the world beat you down into thinking poorly of yourself for not fully understanding every detail of copyright law. We’ll summarize some of the “greatest hits” of copyright for self-publishing authors here, including when it is important to register your copyright, and what it might look life if you do not pursue acquiring a copyright on your next book … but there’s a lot more out there than we can cover in one blog post, so we’ll provide some of our favorite resources at the end of the post as well.

copyright

The Starter Pack: Basics You Should Know

Copyright was introduced in order to protect intellectual property, and draws directly from the US Constitution, which grants this protection for original works in any tangible medium of self-expression (including books, of course, and art, music, film, et cetera). Copyright covers both unpublished and published works.

Copyright is not something you apply for. It is not something the government issues like tickets at the DMV. Copyright law protects your work from being claimed by others as their own, or from being exploited by others who seek to profit from your work without your explicit permission. Instead, your work is protected under copyright laws from the moment of its creation.

Copyright does not protect everything. It doesn’t cover facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it will protect a textbook or operating manual explaining those things. Make sense? And copyright does not protect the title of your book. You might attempt to trademark a title if it qualifies for that fully separate protection, but that is a lengthy, uncertain, and pricey process. It’s better to know going into publication that your title does not belong to just you. (But then, that can be a freeing thought. You won’t be served papers for accidentally replicating someone else’s title. With so many millions of books in print, that is a good bet.)

Copyright is good in most international cases. As in, there are some countries with whom the United States has not yet worked out mutually beneficial copyright recognition agreements. But the majority of US-allied countries respect US copyright laws.

So What’s This About Registration?

While there’s no requirement to register your copyright—it’s not strictly mandatory, that is, to register—there is a registration service provided by the Library of Congress in order to record claims to copyright. This establishes precedence, and legal standing if someone should ever violate your copyright—it will help you prove that the book in question was first registered by you and you alone. This is one of those “not required but STRONGLY recommended OR ELSE you might lose in a court case” situations. The world is not always a fair place, so we have to protect ourselves whenever we can.

After registration, you will receive a certificate proving your copyright information and placing your copyright record into the public record. In the off chance you face litigation, you will become eligible for statutory damages and attorney fees, among other things. You don’t have to do this right away, although the sooner the better; if you register with the LoC within five years after your initial publication, you are considered covered under prima facie evidence in a court of law.

Don’t rely on the old trick of mailing yourself a copy of your manuscript in order to acquire proof of copyright; this is considered the “poor man’s registration” but it doesn’t always hold up in court.

If You Do Not Register for Copyright …

Your book might be stolen, knowingly or unknowingly.

How unknowingly??

These days, there are hundreds of automated scripts scanning the web and indexing (or storing old copies of) websites and digital content for archival purposes. Many of these scripts are designed with honorable purposes in mind (wanting to preserve uncorrupted copies of websites in case material is taken offline or corrupted somehow) … but some are not. And some operate in a very grey area. You might remember the trouble Google landed in several years ago for making digital copies of recently published books available through the Google Books platform—the intent was to make all published content searchable, but it ended up making all published content purchasable … and through a website which hadn’t purchased the rights to begin with. It was messy. And it remains messy: the US court system ruled in favor of Google and against the Authors Guild.

Many scripts replicate what Google Books has done, but with even fewer safeguards and protections. This means that you have zero standing if you do not register your book with the Library of Congress and find that a website is running a digital copy of your book pulled from the ether by an algorithm without your permission, and literally anyone can now read your book without consent.

And of course there are much nastier cases, where people intentionally steal copyrighted material or otherwise exploit published material for profit. The point is … give yourself a leg to stand on, even if there’s no judge on your doorstep compelling you to do so this afternoon. There might be one in the future, and you want to be well positioned for that.

Resources

Some of our favorite copyright resources include:

And as always ….

 

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Decluttering … The Desk & Workspace

In the coming weeks, we’re going to be drawing some lessons from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Kondo’s approach is based on a “secret” she claims starts with discarding things you don’t actually use or need and proceed by organizing your space “thoroughly [and] completely, in one go.” Kondo goes so far as to assert that, “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.”

So as a writer, I wanted to see what lesson Kondo’s “magic of tidying up” had to offer. First off, I’d like to discuss how writers can declutter their workspaces, be that a desk or an entire room they write in.

cluttered desk tidying up

1) A cluttered desk means a cluttered mind.

 

This is simple. If there are things on your desk that you are not actively working on, or that are not helping you in some way with the task at hand, remove them! Having to shuffle through piles of bills or checks or having to worry about spilling a bottle of nail polish or a half full cup of coffee that’s now ten days old and definitely has mold growing on it, is absolutely going to affect your productively. For me, a messy workspace equals a great amount of stress. I spend half of the time that I should be working thinking about how I really need to clean. When you’re writing and have useless thoughts like that weighing you down, your writing will come across as inhibited and will probably lack the focus and precision that can actually captivate your readers.

2) A cluttered room will also mean a cluttered mind.

If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room devoted to your writing space, make sure you organize it in such a way that it promotes creativity, provides a sense of comfort and that drive productivity.

  • With regards to creativity: Keep books of authors who really inspire you on a shelf in this room. If you have another artistic hobby that can help you get the creative juices flowing when you’re feeling writer’s block such as music or painting, keep room for those activities in there as well. Then when you’re feeling stumped, you can walk over to a blank canvas and let a paintbrush speak where words have failed you, or let your guitar sing out a calming melody. This way you have access to other things that keep your creative juices flowing–rather than resorting to Facebook or Twitter when you’re at a loss.
  • With regards to comfort: You ultimately want to feel comfortable in your work space. If your chair is ratty and uncomfortable, you’ll subconsciously be focused on how numb your rear end is going while you’re writing, which who knows, could make for some interesting writing, but I doubt it. Have a chair, or a giant bouncy ball, or a bean bag–or whatever sitting apparatus you find most appealing–that you like sitting in. Use lighting that is not too invasive or flourescent that will just remind you of how life in a cubical might be. If you like playing music while you write, have a stereo playing in the background.
  • With regards to productivity: Keeping only the essentials on your desk will be the first step (scroll up to number 1 on this list if you’ve already let what I said escape you). Some things that promote productivity are the tools of the trade: if you write on a notepad, have one of those and a pen. If you’re a laptop kind of gal or girl, have that out and make sure that desktop isn’t cluttered with 1,000 windows of recipes for dinner, iMessenger conversations and eBay bidding wars. If you’re a list maker: utilize a bulletin board (or the more crude, tack it right to the wall approach) with a list of what you want to accomplish for each coming work session. Remove items you’ve completed, pat yourself on the back, tidy your desk after you’ve had a mad writing session, and get ready to do it all again next time!

Remember that there are very few spaces in life that get to be “just ours.” We often share space with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Make your little writing corner a haven, a place you love being in and get excited about entering. Clutter will make this space feel like a burden that needs to be dealt with, rather than a place you go to do what you love. So this week: DECLUTTER!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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