Self-Publishing News: 5.14.2019

May -wooden carved name of spring month. Calendar on business office table, workplace at yellow background. Spring time

And now for the news!

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

In this recent article for the Irish Examiner, contributor Margaret Jennings converses with Frank Kelly, a printer who provides services to self-publishing authors. Kelly, who often partners with older authors looking to publish for the first time after retirement, pushes back against the lingering threads of stigma still tied to the process, especially when it comes to older writers. Writes Jennings,

You don’t have to “have a creative bone in your body”, he says, to witness the joy of seeing your name in print. Memoirs, biographies, family histories, local historical society compilations, are also all very popular projects and demand the focussed [sic] application of collating information in a chronological order.

All this is very good for the ageing process, he says.“It’s great for our whole well-being and longevity: it exercises the brain; it gives you a purpose in life, and a sense of achievement. We should always have something to look forward to, that’s my own personal philosophy — it’s the simple things that keep you going in life.”

For positive brain-ageing, writing focuses the mind, but also encourages the self-discipline to sit down and write a few pages every evening, he argues: “Instead of sitting down and watching a box-set, like a couch potato, in the evening, do a chapter a day, or write four pages a day; make a commitment to do something.”

In addition to the benefits associated with writing, Jennings (and Kelly) also note that publishing, separately from writing, has its own advantages: publishing provides a legacy, while promoting a new book with a launch party gives the author a specific time and place to boost their connectedness within their own community. Sounds pretty good to us!

In this week’s issue of the University of Melbourne’s Pursuit, Dr. Beth Driscoll digs into the development of what she calls microgenres, or “ultra-specific tags and categories” which are affixed to various books as they are published in order to render them more easily findable by readers. According to Dr. Driscoll, while “Genre has never been a very stable concept […] that hasn’t stopped it shaping the book industry and driving readers’ choices,” and the rise of microgenres isn’t all bad. Writes Dr. Driscoll, “they have effects that are social, textual, and industrial. Genres prompt social gatherings like cosplay at conventions. Genres influence what happens on the pages of books”—and “In an industry where all publishing is to some extent digital, microgenres, categories and tags all feed algorithms and make titles discoverable.” This is good news for readers. But what about self-publishing authors? As someone who has gone through the process herself, Dr. Driscoll knows a bit. “It’s often authors, these days, who choose how to categorise their own books,” she writes; in order to explore just what the experience looks and feels like, Dr. Driscoll and her fellow researchers co-wrote a comic erotic thriller about self-publishing and then … self-published it. Under a pseudonym, of course. They picked their codes and microgenres and then released into the world. The project is ongoing, writes Dr. Driscoll, but some results are already in:

As author-publishers, we have found that ultra-specific tags and categories can feel limiting, like putting creative work into ever-tinier boxes. But they can also feel generative and exciting, as they suggest new pathways for a book to travel along.

What our self-publishing adventure highlights is that microgenres help books and readers find one another in a global, digital age. Microgenres feed the algorithms that can push books towards niche bestseller charts or reading communities, and then springboard them into wider readerships.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenging instability and adaptability of ‘genre’, it is an ever-more powerful tool to help books circulate.

As you write and publish your own works, it’s worth keeping the power (and pitfalls) of microgenres in mind.


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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In Your Corner: Summer is Coming

Look, we know summer is just around the corner, and we also know you’ve all been mainlining the latest season of *ahem* a certain popular fantasy show, so here’s our thirty-second shout-out:

brace-yourselves-summer-is-coming-quick-meme-com-4945958

Okay, now that that‘s done, we can move on from wisecracks to talking about preparing for summer book sales and marketing plans.

As a self-published author, you’re no doubt already well-aware that book sales are seasonal. According to this excellent report from Springer (which is dedicated to taking a numbers approach to publishing), the winter holidays remain the season with the highest book sales, followed by summer. The report writers state that:

In early January, the lowest median sales over the years is close to 15,000 copies a week, a number higher than the highest median sales of any other time of the year except late December. For fiction, a similar but less pronounced peak is observed during the summer months with median sales surpassing 10,000, likely due to book purchases in preparation for the summer vacation. In nonfiction, there is no such summer peak. During these periods of elevated sales a book needs to sell more copies to make it to the New York Times bestseller list than during other months. We also note that in general, fiction books sell more copies than nonfiction, a gap which is largest during summer and decreases considerably during the holiday season, where the sales of both fiction and nonfiction are significantly elevated.

The writers also point out that not only are “the first year sales are the most important for a hardcover,” but also that “most fiction books have their peaks strictly in the first 2–6 weeks [… while] for nonfiction, even though peaks at weeks 2–5 are common, the peak can happen any time during the first 15 weeks.” While on a surface level this might lead one to believe that it would be smart to time a book’s publication with an upcoming sales peak, the reverse may actually be the case. As the Springer report’s authors point out, one has to sell a lot more books during a sales peak than at any other time of year to hit bestseller lists—or see a boost in the Amazon sales rankings. This is because there is more competition during sales peaks (winter holidays for nonfiction, and both summer and winter holidays for fiction). Your sales ranking, for those who may not know, shows how high you rate compared to other authors and books in the same category—the lower the number, the more popular you or your book is. (There are separate rankings for authors and books.)

A book can see successful sales at any time of year, of course, and a refined marketing plan is probably more of a determining factor when it comes to sale than time of year of publication, but it’s well worth keeping certain questions in mind: Can you make effective use of your sales ranking (on Amazon and elsewhere)? That may just be a deciding factor in what you choose to do next in your summer marketing plan.

Next time, I’m going to break those sales rankings down for you, and demonstrate how you can use your Amazon sales ranking to better market and sell your self-published book!

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Self-Publishing News: 5.07.2019

May -wooden carved name of spring month. Calendar on business office table, workplace at yellow background. Spring time

And now for the news!

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

In keeping with its power to assist in democratizing literature, self-publishing has always provided a home for authors traditionally locked out of the traditional publishing process, including authors who are women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, and people without access to great resources. This week, at least one of those groups is seeing themselves and their works reflected on the awards circuit: women took home all of awards for all six of the categories of the second annual ‘Pen to Publish’ contest, sponsored by Amazon India, that recognizes “and celebrates self-published digital literary works across several Indian languages,” according to this article in India’s Business Standard. Barriers to women in publishing exist internationally, and so it’s really quite nice (to put it mildly) to see six Indian women recognized for their skill and craft. Totally worth a look!

Did you know the American Booksellers Association runs online marketing meetups? Neither did we! Now that we do, we’re super excited to hear from BookWeb a little bit about their most recent meetup, the first in a series of tree focused on IngramSpark, Ingram’s print-on-demand and e-book distribution platform. Ingram is one of the major companies to keep in mind when attempting to sell your self-published books through retail locations, including both the biggies (like Barnes and Noble) and indie bookstores. Barnes and Noble, of course, has its own thing going on with the Nook platform, but indie booksellers—and libraries!—rely heavily on Ingram for their purchases, and some will only stock books if they’re available through that platform. Emily Behnke of BookWeb points out a number of the meetup’s highlights, and provides a summary of the IngramSpark offerings. Definitely worth checking out!

In further exciting news for gamers, as the headline from GBATemp makes clear, Platinum Games is breaking into the self-publishing market. As GBATemp‘s Krista Noren says, Platinum’s CEO “Inaba hopes to spend 2019 preparing Platinum Games for a future where all its games will be self-published.” That’s pretty cool! We’ll be watching as the self-publishing phenomenon continues to make inroads into the gaming sector.


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.

icon logo self publishing advisor

Self-Published Book Review: “My Backyard Garden”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

my backyard garden by debra hester

2016 reader views reviewers choice award

My Backyard Garden

by Debra Hester

ISBN: 9781478757375

 

Synopsis*:

Has someone that you love died unexpectedly? Is the pain hard to bear? It was for Debra Hester, so she makes no apologies for the emotions that are expressed in her memoir, My Backyard Garden. If the emotions seem too much, they are more and maybe even more than you can feel right now or imagine that you or someone you know is going through. Debra Hester was standing at the base of a huge mountain that seemed to emerge out of nowhere after her mother’s death. If you’re at this place, or know of someone who is, her hope is that My Backyard Garden will give you and them hope and insights into the journey ahead. This memoir of how love conquers grief chronicles the days leading up to her mother’s death, the wisdom her mother left behind, the insights she gained at the very end of her mother’s life on this side and the journey of memories that surface for a fight against her deep seated fears, anger and grief. Come to her backyard garden with its natural beauty, its captivating yet calming and healing properties. Come sit with her and share a garden view of a journey we all will take. In My Backyard Garden, a memoir of how love conquers grief her heart goes out to you. She wants everyone who is grieving to not take their feelings lightly or the feelings of others who are going through this season of grief. She shows how real feelings of grief run deep, regardless of what you show or see on the outside. Grief is real and she hopes reading about her journey with her loved ones allows us all to mourn, to reflect and to recover at our own pace and recognize when we have arrived at a better place.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

“My Backyard Garden” by Debra Hester is a love story, though not in the traditional sense of the lover’s relationship. Rather, it is the love story of a daughter as she moves through the grief of losing her beloved mother.

This memoir is unique in the manner in which it is written. The author comes to a realization that though grief occurs as a natural part of life, it exists, or seems to exist on another level within our world as an unknown, until it is experienced at a relational level. Thus, she intentionally uses relational names rather than the actual names of her family members, for example, from page 18: “So somewhere after my arrival to ICU and the discussions with Sister, Brother and the doctors, I knew the time was approaching to offer Daughters an opportunity to fly to Phoenix from Baltimore to see their grandmother.” By offering the relational status of a family member it allows the reader to identify on a different level, perhaps even substituting the names of their own family members and personalizing the experience. For me this style was awkward at first because rather than connecting with the people involved, I felt a bit separated and distanced. As I continued reading however, it became more natural and I was able to focus more keenly on the message itself.

Hester relates the days leading up to her mother’s death, through her peaceful transition, and the months following, sharing her raw emotions without apology. It is through the depths of her emotions that she hopes she will encourage people to allow themselves the grieving process in order to get to a place of healing.

A short 50-page memoir, readers might imagine they will sail through the text in one sitting, but I recommend reading it slowly and taking the time to welcome and contemplate the insight Hester offers throughout her journey.  The beautiful tribute to her mother will stir up memories, giving reason to pause and appreciate your relationship with your own mother.

Hester’s profound love for her mother shines through the pages. One of my favorite passages is a quote by her mother which seems to clearly depict who she was as a person, “If a task has once begun, never finish till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.” (p.48).

I recommend “My Backyard Garden” by Debra Hester to anyone that has lost their mother or other loved one and is looking for strength, wisdom and guidance.

– reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views

Other Reviews

Her style of writing with brought me along the journey with her.

– reviewed on Amazon by CLVDan

5.0 out of 5 starsFinally, a book and an Author that just gets it 🙌❤🙏
It was interesting to see how another successfully found their own path back to love and long-term peace after experiencing one of the most painful losses in life.
This book not only understood my pain and grieving process but it connected to what I was actually feeling that I didn’t know how to articulate into words.
It was unfamiliar at first but then I found myself in a safe place to accept the present. Then, I was inspired to begin/continue down my own path to healing, (not merely living) but thriving for my lossed loved one, and gaining the strength I needed to live in peace.

Let’s just say, I’m glad I read this book because I believe this particular perspective on what we will all eventually face, is truly beautiful. And to me, that’s all true beauty is… peace + healing.

– reviewed on Amazon by Mari Clifton

 


tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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Self-Publishing News: 4.30.2019

the word "april" from the wooden letters

And now for the news!

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

Remember how we recently mentioned the Library Writers Project from the Multnomah County Library in Oregon? It looks as though the entire state of Minnesota is now on board and doing something similar as they launch their Indie Author Project. The IAP. One significant difference from the collaborations we’ve highlighted earlier is that the IAP is competitive, with winners receiving both financial and promotional rewards for their involvement. (Multnomah County Library, for comparison, partnered with Ooligan Press to help move certain leading lights of their Library Writers Project into print.) They do share some core DNA, however, in that the IAP’s “Winning authors will reach hundreds, if not thousands, of new readers via Minnesota’s libraries, and can also leverage being an award-winning author for additional marketing opportunities.” The barriers to entry are low, with the only requirements being that submitted works be:

• Indie-published
• Written by a Minnesota resident
• In an adult fiction or young adult fiction genre
• Available in either PDF or ePUB format

If you are a Minnesota author and are interested, there is more information on submissions in the original article, which you can access by clicking the link, above, and following the instructions and links provided there.

If you’re a science fiction and fantasy fan, you’ve likely heard about some of the many award-related controversies taking place in the world of SFF literature. Recently, the Nebula Awards had their own controversy. The Nebula’s parent organization opened their awards to considering indie and self-published books for their awards in 2013 (which was actually rather ahead of the trend, we’d note; many literary and book awards still to this day do not allow indie and self-published works for consideration). The upside of this has been that their ballots have become ever more inclusive and diverse, a fact of which the Nebula organizers are proud of. They’ve gone on the record to encourage voters to vote according to each book’s individual merit, not outside agendas: “The work that stays with you, that moves you, that work that you love the most should earn your vote,” the article quotes. Unfortunately, the downside of opening up the eligibility is that new legions of participants and supporters are now being asked to learn what might be termed “award-season etiquette.” Unfair promotional campaigns, of which there are many kinds, can sway voters in ways that ignore the merit of individual works. A “slate vote” is one such campaign, and often entails someone putting together a list (or “slate”) of books for others to vote for without having read the works themselves. (And yes, often these slates are put together based on ideologies, not the works’ merits.) So what was this most recent controversy? A very well-intentioned influencer put together a recommended reading list of indie publications up for the 2018 Nebula Awards, and the Internet went a little nuts, with widely-varying opinions all being expressed very strongly. The influencer, one Jonathan Brazee, has since written an apologetic explanation for the reading list, which has made clear his good intentions—which were not to sway voters to vote on books they hadn’t read, but rather to boost awareness of the awards’ growing diversity in nominated works.

It’s good to know that even in this age of polarized online debate, people can still come to understand each other better. And we agree with both parties involved—with Brazee, that indie and self-published authors are totally worth celebrating as we exit awards season, and with the Nebula organizers, who are understandably concerned that new audiences may not be aware of some of the inherent pitfalls to award voting processes. Each award has its own rules and recommendations.


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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In Your Corner: Spring into Self-Publishing (Part III)

books planting spring gardening

The first time I wrote, I provided some thoughts on constructive ways to take advantage of the spring to reset our writing. And last time I wrote, I spent some time thinking about why spring is so important to us as writers and writing professionals—as opposed to any other season of the year. This week, I wanted to close out this trilogy of posts by reflecting a little bit on the importance of a “growth mindset” approach to your work.

We’ve discussed the growth mindset before on this blog, but for those who may not have been here for that conversation, the concept of a growth mindset (especially in contrast to a fixed mindset) is one of many tools in the personality toolkits developed and celebrated by life coaches and mindfulness experts the world over. It’s less useful to think of these as categories that a person either falls into or doesn’t fall into, and more useful to think of a growth mindset as aspirational. We want to cultivate a growth mindset, and if you have a growth mindset, you’ll automatically be congenial to the idea that our personalities are not fixed and that life is a moving target.

growth mindset fixed mindset

When you take a growth mindset and look at it in light of our ongoing conversation about springtime and crafting a “spring reset” for your writing and marketing as a self-published author, the two start talking to each other in a really rewarding way. In a fixed mindset, it would be really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your success or failure is defined by strict metrics and that you will either succeed or fail, with no shades of nuance in between. A fixed mindset is allergic to baby steps, progress over the long arc of time, and mistakes.

A growth mindset, in contrast, takes J.K. Rowling’s brilliant “The Fringe Benefits of Failure” seriously. Mistakes aren’t a marker of failure, but rather the building blocks of success. Trial and error? No thanks! Just trial and refinement, for lack of a better term. A growth mindset finds ways to transform the process of self-publishing into a constantly evolving and life-enriching learning opportunity. And this isn’t like when you scraped your knee growing up and your parents sat you down and told you not to cry because “this is a learning opportunity,” but a true recognition of the reality that every experience you have in publishing builds to a final product that is worthy of the time and effort you put into it.

Just as seedlings are fragile when they first start out and take constant care and cultivation, your book deserves the kind of gentleness you give the new plants you’ll put into the ground this spring. Not everything is going to be robust and able to withstand gale-force winds right away, but that doesn’t mean that seedling is a failure or doing anything other than what it is meant to: grow! There is no fixed end of the growth process, no point in time when the project of getting better at what you do is done. All we can do is keep going forward, finding those life-enriching steps that bring us joy and further our book publishing projects, and celebrating each and every step as we take it.

books planting spring gardening

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Self-Publishing News: 4.23.2019

the word "april" from the wooden letters

And now for the news!

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

In a powerful interview with Verne Harnish—author, entrepreneur, and founder of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) as well as founder of global education and coaching firm Scaling Up—Thrive Global‘s Sara Connell gets to the bottom of why the long arc of self-publishing’s ongoing evolution has become so connected, in recent years, to movers and shakers in the world of business and financial investments. A part of it, Harnish hints, comes down to control: With self-publishing, the rapid changes constantly happening in the world of business pose no challenge to the applicability and usefulness of his books on the subject. In the world of traditional publishing, by contrast, books on business and entrepreneurship and finances are often outdated even before they hit the shelves—these are socioeconomic areas where life comes at you fast—and where publishers hesitate to even pick up titles as a result. The byproduct of this lopsided relationship has been a couple of fields where experts lean heavily on blogs, which are easy to confuse with similar blogs by inexpert folk and people with no authority, and a lot of misinformation. With self-publishing, on the other hand, the wisdom of experts like Harnish can be distilled down into distributable, authoritative forms that can then be updated as the fields themselves evolve. Says Harnish: “We update Scaling Up every six months. I have control of it. No one else is controlling my destiny. I get to keep control of my IP completely. And I can use the book as a real strategic tool to both grow its readership and support my business.” That’s a strength if ever we heard one!

Ever wondered why the e-book ownership situation is so complicated? Michael Kozlowski of The Good E-Reader is here with some thoughts on the matter, and the relationship between self-publishing and e-books. The long and the short of it, Kozlowski indicates, is that “Retailers welcome self-published works because they have better [return on investment] and make more money whenever an indie book is sold.” In reality, we never truly purchase e-books … we license them. But why aren’t we transparent about that fact? Writes Kozlowski: “companies could probably educate consumers about this reality. But they don’t. Probably because no one wants to click a button that says ‘license now’ or ‘rent until rights transfer to a new publisher.’ Instead, they bury this information in Terms of Service agreement, which, it is well documented, not very many people read. But is this information unsavory? Need it be obscured?” Now that is indeed an important question to ask.

Recently, one of our blog staff had the opportunity to sit in on a lovely panel hosted by the Multnomah County Library system as well as Ooligan Press, their local university press, at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (#AWP19) conference in Portland, Oregon. Their Library Writers Program is pushing the edge of the envelope in new and interesting ways when it comes to developing partnerships between indie and self-publishing authors and their local purveyors of story. The long and the short of it is, MCL figured out how to host local authors’ self-published works on their website and for access through standard library reading apps (think the library equivalents to the Kindle app); after these e-books had been evaluated and distributed, the MCL staff were able to gauge popularity and readership data, and approached Ooligan Press to see if they would be interested in turning some of those e-books into print form. And Ooligan said yes! As a teaching press affiliated with Portland State University, an Ooligan representative noted at the conference, they were able to be more nimble and take risks on indie authors for reasons of scale. The result of this partnership has been the pickup of author Katie Grindeland’s The Gifts We Keep, which is now for sale in print form as a result of the partnership. The story, as told both in the article we’ve linked here and at the panel in Portland, is just one more delightful proof of evidence that libraries, indie presses, and self-publishing authors may just be the making of each other, rather than competitors. We can’t wait to see what comes next in MCL’s Library Writers Project!


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.

icon logo self publishing advisor