Self-Publishing News: 5.18.2021

news from the world of
self-publishing

There has been a lot of news lately regarding self-publishing and politics, specifically how it is providing a publishing haven for those individuals that have been rejected by the Big Four traditional publishing houses (Penguin Random House/S&S, Hachette, Macmillan, and HarperCollins as of May 2021; PRH has already begun the process of absorbing Simon & Schuster). At first glance, this news isn’t a surprise, as self-publishing has always been the place where authors previously seeking traditional book deals turn after finding them too constricting or flat-out unavailable. What’s different this time is how the choice, repeated regularly and often by high-profile politicians or those affiliated with politicians, has set up self-publishing to be cast as partisan: right now, those affiliated with the conservative right are self-publishing, while those affiliated with the conservative left are championing traditional publishing. Or at least, that’s how news outlets are covering the various happenings. This article from Fischer and Rummler of Axios outlines the sequence of events that has led up to this situation, and holds back from drawing too many conclusions. It is to be hoped that these same news outlets will also cover the critical role that self-publishing has played in providing a platform for diverse and marginalized voices of all kinds for decades, and steer clear of judging the many thousands of such writers who continue to self-publish today.

Time for a palate-cleanser! This article from Forbes contributor J.J. Hebert is not quite what it looks like, as it’s most definitely an argument for self-publishing. (Many articles that start with “Don’t X before X” end up being arguments against X.) Hebert, CEO of a self-publishing company and a self-publishing author himself, covers five critical aspects of the process that lay the groundwork for a solid start for those authors who have not yet taken the leap. His questions cover everything from quality control and editing to format options to identifying target readers to selecting a self-publishing platform that fits an author’s needs. It’s a fantastic and fairly concise introduction to much of the architecture required for a solid self-published success.

It has been a rough year for those who love (or whose success depends on) book fairs. Thankfully, many companies have been working hard to adapt to the post-pandemic world, and Publishers’ Weekly is hosting its inaugural PW US Book Show from May 25-27. They’ve updated their website with a list of participating virtual “booths,” and you can find out plenty more about pricing information and how to participate [ here ] and [ here ]. This virtual book show is intended to fill part of the vacuum left behind after the cancellation of so many in-person bookish events, and to provide librarians and booksellers (and those affiliated) with access to information to assist in connecting readers with their books. As with many other book fairs, though, the general public is invited to attend. It will prove to be an interesting experiment!

This much-needed article from Book Riot provides a straightforward and comprehensive explanation of what both traditionally and self-published authors make, on average, from their books each year. It also provides a nice breakdown of what all the complicated terminology means, which is just as important. And finally, it also profiles fifteen authors from all kinds of backgrounds and from both spheres of publishing who were willing to share data on what they make. Article author Sarah Nicolas refrains from sharing most of their identities (Jim C. Hines is an exception), and notes that none of the big “blockbuster” authors (think Grisham, Rowling, Quinn, etc) shared theirs. But even beyond the fascinating data we find the stories of how the finances fit into individual authors’ lives most revealing of all. Given the range of authors who participated, there should hopefully be at least one that can provide insight and context for new authors looking to break in to the publishing world. Would you need to pay for medical insurance out of your book earnings if you wrote full-time? Do you plan to write as a side-job? How much, after taxes, do you need to achieve your financial goals? What does your schedule look like? Each author Nicolas interviewed has something different to share.

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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: 9.26.2016

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

“In its annual summary of ISBNs registered for self-published works, Bowker reported that nearly 730,000 were issued in 2015, up from 153,000 in 2010,” writes Brian O’Leary in this September 23rd report for Publishers Weekly. “The numbers cover ISBNs issued for both print and digital formats,” he writes–but why should self-publishing authors care?  O’Leary has the answer:

The ISBN is a useful way to monitor sales across the supply chain, but works published on a single platform can forgo the identifier and rely on platforms such as Amazon to report performance. Because the creators of many self-published works do not apply for ISBNs, the number of new works published each year is believed to be greater than Bowker is able to report.

The result is that self-publishing authors are selling books which aren’t being effectively tracked by a third-party organization which reports on print, digital, and traditional vs. indie market shares.  Amazon, as we’ve mentioned elsewhere, doesn’t tend to release its sales figures to the public–and if it does, usually it’s only for a special occasional.  All of this is well and good if nobody minds that Amazon and other companies involved in self-publishing continue to withhold important information from the public, and if the public in turn doesn’t mind if it allows Amazon–a company with a vested interest in only its own shareholders, not the quality or diversity or ethicality of the product and marketing–to retain its unchallenged position at the apex of the indie revolution. O’Leary may not come out and say these things, but there’s the subtext when he concludes that “It’s not just a debate about traditional versus independent publishing, although that discussion will go on for some time. Understanding the market gives authors and publishers the data needed to inform where and how they spend their time and resources.”  For the rest of O’Leary’s excellent report, follow the link.

Monica Rhor pulls no punches in this September 24th article for USA Today; she’s ready to let the publishing world have it, and she delivers the full force of an argument that has been percolating among the near-holy trifecta of authors, publishers, and readers for some years now: Children need to see themselves in the books they read, and they aren’t getting that chance if they happen to be anything other than white and middle-class. And parents like Rhor’s interviewee, Victoria Cepeda, want to purchase books that “reflect her 4-year-old son’s cultural roots as well as his potential aspirations. [Cepeda] seeks stories that promote education and achievement, with characters who mirror his Latino heritage. Pretty simple stipulations. Amazingly difficult to find.”

This shouldn’t be the case, Rhor argues. But what’s holding us back? “Of the 3,400 books received by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education in 2015,” writes Rhor, “only 58 were written by Hispanic authors and 82 were about Latino characters. Most large-trade publishers in the U.S. send copies of their new books to the CCBC, an organization that tracks the race of authors and characters in children’s books.” This is despite the fact that fully one-quarter of US school-aged children are latino/a in heritage–and they all are being read to as a part of their school curricula. They are being told, in essence, that their culture and background doesn’t matter. That they are expected to identify with exclusively white characters, while white students are being taught that they aren’t expected to relate to anyone from a non-white background. If history has taught us anything, it’s that this kind of disparity does not teach empathy or create a safe environment for a growing nation’s minorities.

But there’s hope, and Rhor runs down a short list of opportunities now opening to latino/a authors, publishers, and readers (parents and children alike). To track these opportunities, read the rest of Rhor’s article here.

“Fear of failure and concerns over what the process would entail always put a stop to the idea; until now that is,” writes Chris Myers, co-founder and CEO of BodeTree, “a financial management solution for organizations that serve small business,” and frequent contributor to MSNBC. His “until now” reference is, as you might have guessed, to do with the rise of self publishing.  As Myers documents in this September 23rd piece for Forbes, self-publishing may actually be one of the few cases where a process is easier than advertised. (And it’s a fact that many experts caution authors as often as encourage them, for fear that they might lead them to think the process too easy.) And there you have the first thing Myers learned–“Publishing is easy”–as well as the preamble to his second point–“Marketing is hard”–which sounds about right, given the plethora of websites and blogs and books out there (including ours) which have something to say on the subject.  And Myers’ final point?  “It’s important to keep your expectations in check,” he writes, because “It’s a difficult and often thankless journey, but ultimately we do it for ourselves rather than fame or money.”  And if you haven’t already bought into the truth of these statements, check out Myers’ full article at the link, and make up your mind after reading how he came to these three realizations.


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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.


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.