Taking Charge in the New Year

New Year's Resolutions 2020

Around this time last year, I was busy making resolutions for the new year–2019, the year we’re now bringing to a close–and in some cases I have actually managed to make good on those resolutions.  This year, however, I’m pushing back a little against the instinctual attraction to “list-fever,” that special kind of holiday mania that leaves us mellow and warm and happy once the list is complete (it always feels good to write up a list, doesn’t it?) but panicked and anxious as the year reaches its end and we haven’t yet accomplished all that we set out to do.  And so it is that this year, instead of compiling all of the things I want to do, I thought I’d craft a little manifesto for us all.


In 2020 …

We hereby claim the mountain of content and the island of method for us, the (few, the mighty) self-publishing authors of the world.  We assert our right to write what we please in whatever manner we please and within whatever time frame we deem fit.  We declare nothing off-limits, nothing too “edgy” or “tame” or “niche” or “unique.”  We are the fearless in life, and we have the right, too, to write and publish as adventurously as we live.

We hereby claim the lake of responsibility and the waterfall of ethical treatment for us.  In the little skirmishes and give-and-take between the traditional and self-publishing worlds, we occupy the high moral ground, ground from which we foresee a future in which authors are treated with the respect that they have earned, simply by virtue of being authors, and in which no one–neither the authors nor the publishers, the editors, the graphic designers, nor any other professional involved in the industry–uses their influence to abuse or undervalue others and the services they offer.  We assert our support for a future in which no-one can claim a monopoly on distribution or quality of product.  I claim the right to creative freedom and creative control–as well as an ethical flow of profits to and from the right people–for us, the self-publishers.  And we also claim the collective right to not tolerate unethical behavior from the corporate publishing sector which routinely reneges on its commitments to writers, readers, and its own employees.

We hereby claim the plains of ambition and the foothills of inspiration for us.  We will write, to the best of our ability, the best books we are capable of writing.  We will create, to the best of our ability, the finest covers and illustrations and altogether visually pleasing objects of which we are capable of creating.  We will learn from our mistakes without damage to our sense of self or our ego; we will seek out expert feedback and emerge with a refreshed sense of purpose and vision for where to go next.

We also claim the right to act out of self-interest, collectively and individually, for us–the authors who have been told we don’t belong or aren’t good enough but most definitely do and are–while also upholding our commitment to generosity, compassion, and social responsibility.  We claim the right to take full advantage of the digital revolution, to look forward to and think with a futurist’s imagination about, a publishing world and a market that looks radically different from the one we work with now.

We hereby claim ownership of our own decisions.  We do not ask for permission from others to write what we write or publish what we publish; We write and publish what brings joy to us and to our readers.  We do not ask for compliments or pats on the back or for any recognition which undervalues our skills and the intelligence of our readers.  We declare our obligation to respect, value, and represent the interests of others, and to balance this obligation with our own needs as authors and human beings.  We recognize the privileges of our position as people of influence, people with the vocabulary to reflect and shape the world around us, and seek to put that privilege to good use for good ends.

We are not shy about recognizing our strengths, and we are not afraid of our weaknesses.  We hereby claim the valley of well-earned pride and the city of well-learned failures as our province.  We are proud to work with self-publishing authors, and proud to be a part of a wider community of independent creators as well as the readers who open their hearts and minds to the books we place in their hands.

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: 12.17.2019

December banner with fir branches.

Welcome to December!

And now for the news.

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

The big news in self-publishing this week is, of course, about as politically charged and divisive as it gets. As such, we’re not going to get too deeply into the woods here, but simply point out that there’s some confusion over what self-publishing platforms, specifically, were at play. The Washington Post article linked here mentions self-publishing three times, each time going on to name Medium and “some other self-publishing platforms” or “other blogs and self-publishing platforms.” One can certainly use blogging platforms such as Medium to self-publish short form pieces like articles and short stories, but it’s not widely or at least entirely considered one and the same as other (legitimately and uncontestedly and solely) self-publishing platforms. This is because many self-publishing companies and websites offer proofing and editorial services or can otherwise check for deliberately spread misinformation, which would make them unlikely places to find something like the list mentioned in the news just now. All this to say—self-publishing can look like a lot of different things, and it’s articles like this that muddy the waters and lead to increased stigma.

Now that we’ve gotten the least fun and most unavoidable news out of the way, here’s a palate-cleanser! This article from Blake Morrison of The Guardian is everything we needed to remind us that yes, creative work is valuable, and yes, self-publishing is everything we need it to be right now—a force for good. Morrison addresses self-publishing’s place in the larger ecosystem of memoir-writing and publication, writing:

The outlets for publishing memoirs have diversified too. Small presses and the subscription publisher Unbound have widened the field. Self-publishing also plays a part, as does the internet: from online blog to book-length memoir is an obvious trajectory, since both are first-person discourse offering an intimate relationship with readers.

And while we thoroughly advocate for reading the whole article, we can think of no better way to end our article today than with a quote Morrison includes by author and memoirist Katherine Angel.

The memoirist will always be asked, with a hint of disapproval: was writing the book therapeutic? But to Katherine Angel, in her recent Daddy Issues, “it’s the wrong question. The more accurate formulation, for me, is that writing is how I experience my experience. Until writing, in mere living, everything is out of focus.”

“Until writing, in mere living, everything is out of focus.” The act of writing is an act of vision, and a way of framing the world for ourselves and others to re-envision their own choices and experiences. What more important work is there than that? What more important endeavor than the one self-publishing helps make possible?


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.

In Your Corner: What to do after #NaNoWriMo?

nanowrimo

November, National Novel Writing Month, is now firmly behind us—and December is well under way. For those of you who participated in NaNoWriMo, the question remains: What next?

Of course, you don’t have to have participated in NaNoWriMo in order to be facing this question, and you don’t have to have participated in NaNoWriMo to benefit from the materials and resources that the NaNo community has put together for those working on complete or partially complete drafts.

So this week, I wanted to point you to some of those resources.

First of all, you definitely need to follow the official NaNoWriMo blog if you aren’t already. The blog runs year-round, and often tackles thorny issues like what to do when you’re stuck in drafting, or editing, or overcoming specific challenges to publication. The blog is easy to find at blog.nanowrimo.org. The post on December 2nd (“30 Covers 30 Days: Wrap-Up Post“) covers some of the highlights from the 2019 November writing crunch. Even more recent articles cover what to do when times get tough, and writing with chronic illness—all part of a 20th anniversary special series. Definitely worth a look. Their older articles are also invaluable, including Lana Alam’s 2017 piece, “6 Steps for Editing Your Novel.” And don’t forget all of those AMAZING NaNoWriMo “pep talks”! They finished out November strong with a pep talk from Anne Lamott, one of my all-time favorite writers and a rock in the sea of changing publishing noise. The Young Writers Project has a separate page of pep talks geared more toward young people too. (Anne Lamott appears on both.)

Writers Digest also hosts a number of useful blog posts and articles on what to do after NaNoWriMo. I recommend “9 Lessons Learned from a First Attempt at NaNoWriMo” by Jess Zafarras from December of last year, and “5 Habits to Help You Go from NaNoWriMo to Published Author” by Tina LeCount Myers from April of 2018.

I also wanted to point you toward Bustle article from last week (“What’s The Next Step After NaNoWriMo? 7 Published Authors Give Their Best Advice”) in which Sona Charaipotra gleans some truly wonderful nuggets of wisdom from authors who have walked the path of drafting, editing, and publishing before. Many of them are self-published or taking a hybrid approach, so there are some gems of wisdom on self-publishing as well.

And of course, we hope you take a look back at our many posts about editing and finishing manuscript drafts here on SPA; in perusing our backlist, I’m continually impressed at how evergreen many of the articles here are. We’ve even written about publishing during the holidays, if you’ve already brought your draft to a polished stage of completion!

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: 12.10.2019

December banner with fir branches.

Welcome to December!

And now for the news.

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

This week, web platform IdeaStream showed up for self-publishing in a major way in the form of an article by Carrie Wise on the stigma (still somewhat) attached to self-publishing. And while we’ve come a long way, writes wise, there are still authors like Shondra Longino (AKA Abby L. Vandiver) “still feel it.” In Wise’s article, Longino notes that she “think[s] more and more people are finding that self-published authors, you know, are good writers and their books are good. But […] there’s still a bias, and they hold us [to] a higher standard.” Longino recently found herself courted by traditional publishers, one sign that the market really is changing and that publishers themselves are now looking to self-published books as a resource and discovery system. Wise also records the changes taking place in how libraries, bookstores, and nonprofits in order to celebrate existing self-published works and support those authors choosing that path.

 Cleveland independent bookstore Loganberry Books carries self-published authors primarily on consignment, according to book buyer Elisabeth Plumlee-Watson.

The stigma around self-publishing “is certainly much less than it was 10 years ago,” she said.

Area libraries are also carrying more self-published books. Akron-Summit County Public Library makes a point to feature local authors. Cuyahoga County Public Library takes the lead on self-published books from the media, picking up ones reviewed locally or nationally. Cuyahoga County also has a writers’ center at the South Euclid-Lyndhurst branch.

But one’s very definition of “success” can shift an experience from negative to positive, Wise hints, quoting musician and self-published author Zach Fenell: “Do not let… somebody else’s opinion of be the reason you don’t self-publish.” The world has come a long way from when self-publishing first became an option, with stigma taking a rapid slide into background noise, but if you do happen to stumble into the middle of some, don’t let it get to you–there’s an entire community of supporters, as evidenced by Wise’s article, eager to show up for you.

In Spokane’s The Spokesman-Review, contributor Jared Brown covers the story of self-publishing author Libbie Grant’s journey to success (on her own terms, of course). Grant, who publishes under the pen names Libbie Hawker, Olivia Hawker, and L.M. Ironside, first built up an audience for her writing through the publication of several works of historical fiction, then began branching out once those books reached a loyal audience. Writes Brown, “The audiences for Grant’s pseudonyms overlap very little except for hardcore fans, she said. At one time, she thought about using initials as a veil for her gender. But Grant said the feminist in her decided she wanted to win a Pulitzer Prize in spite of persisting gender bias.” She also was determined to fight any remaining stigma, as we covered, above: “‘There’s a myth among people who love books that great books are always published,’ Grant said. ‘But that’s just not the case.'” We are so in love with her point of view!


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.

Ask the Book Doctor: Self-Publishing and Editing?

Question: I plan to self publish my book. My book was written and designed and ready to go to a printer, but somebody warned me that it needed editing.  I sent it to an editor, but he said he can’t edit it when it’s already designed. Why not?

blur book business data
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Answer: A manuscript should always be edited before it is designed into book format, and the reasons are simple. If you plan to have the editor work on the hard-copy (i.e., printed-out version) of your manuscript, it has to be in standard manuscript format; that is, twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman type, double-spaced, with margins of at least an inch on all sides. This format is standard in the industry and gives the editor room to make the edits and suggestions. If the book is already designed, it won’t be in standard manuscript format; it will be in book format.

If you plan to have your editor work on your electronic file, the format won’t matter, but it must be in a word-processing document, not a design program or a PDF. Most editors are not designers and won’t possess the prowess to redesign your book after they’ve edited it. (What if they end up removing an entire paragraph, or an entire page? There goes your editing).  If it is in a PDF file, most editors cannot change those files electronically. Worst of all, even if the editor has the capability of opening the design program or manipulating a PDF (which some do), editing a book after it is designed will surely interfere with the design. After the file is edited you’ll have to return it to your designer to get it redesigned, anyway, and there will certainly be an additional charge for that service.

As you can see, it’s cheaper and easier to follow convention. After you have made all the revisions to your manuscript that you can make, get it professionally edited. After it is edited, reread the manuscript for a final proof before submitting it for publication.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com. This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor archives.

Self-Publishing News: 12.3.2019

December banner with fir branches.

Welcome to December!

And now for the news.

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

While December is usually a slow news month in the world of publishing (both traditional and indie) as attention shifts to yearly book lists and awards nominations–as well as to busy personal lives as the holiday season reaches its frantic peak–we bring you this excellent article by way of ArtsHub, an Australia-based website dedicated to boosting the stories and voices of those in the arts, including the literary arts. The article, originally written for New Zealand’s The Big Idea by bestselling self-published author Steff Green under the title “Doing it for yourself,” might just be the most compelling rallying cry or self-publishing manifesto we’ve read this year. “In the beginning …” Green begins, “If you were an author who’d exhausted the options for having your book traditionally published, you only really had a few options left.” There were always a few small-scale operations that managed to just scrape by, but self-publishing only really took off as something attainable and sustainable with the rise of ebooks and dedicated e-readers (although we’ve largely moved beyond those, now, to reading on smartphones and regular tablets). And Green herself has benefited from those new opportunities. She writes:

I’ve been self-publishing my fiction since 2014. My first few fantasy books sold only a handful of copies every month, mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing. It wasn’t until I switched genres to paranormal romance and learned how to write for my readers that I started moving serious units. Now, I’m a bestselling author who gets to make up stories for a living, and it’s an amazing and humbling career.

With numerous books in her personal backlist and a more refined sense of what she wants to do next, Green’s experience serves as both a demonstration of what’s possible and an encouragement to keep choosing self-publishing over the traditional model; she crunches some of the numbers in this article, reminding readers that the royalties really are significantly better in the indie model. She also reminds readers that the world has changed, and for the better. “Self-publishing is no longer a dirty term,” she notes. “It’s a viable career option that’s giving back creative control to authors. To be successful, you have to know who your readers are, and give them more of what they want.” If you can do that more effectively through self-publishing, why not give it a try?

Green’s final words are also an invitation, and we can’t think of a better way to sign off today’s post than to repeat her words:

“Are you ready to join the self-publishing revolution?”


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