Self-Publishing News: 5.14.2018 – The Interviews!

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, specifically interviews with or articles written by self-publishing authors and experts!

Ironically enough, we can’t access part one of this series, but we are absolutely in love with part two, in which author and Mount Observer assistant editor Michele Walsky details both personal experiences in self-publishing as well as various tips and tricks for getting ahead when self-publishing on a platform like Amazon. Walsky, who publishes under the pen-name Chele Pedersen Smith, is known for the romantic spy mystery, Behind Frenemy Lines, and a collection of mini-miracles, The Pearly Gates Phone Company. Putting it succinctly, Walsky writes that “Part one, ‘The Whirlwind of Writing and Promoting,/ appears in May’s print edition of The Mount Observer and covers the creative process of writing, unlocking writer’s block, editing and conjuring up promotional ideas. Part two will follow the technical side of publishing and contains links to the Amazon sites.” Part two poses some important questions and takes some significant steps towards answering them, too: what’s the deal with a book’s cover? How difficult is it, really, to generate an ebook from your manuscript? Should you print physical copies as well? How should you price those editions? And what role do royalties play in the larger picture? We’ve made attempts at answering these questions ourselves here on the blog, but it’s refreshing to find someone so articulate, like Walsky, who can sum it all up in a nice article. So if you find part two as useful as we did, you’ll be scrambling to track down that print edition of part one. If all else fails, you can simply follow Michele’s progress and stories by clicking the link (in-story) to access Walsky’s Amazon author page.

Megablockbuster-selling and iconic literary fiction author Richard Russo isn’t exactly the first name to leap to mind when we think about self-publishing, but this week he delivered an interesting interview via the web-based news platform Fosters.com. As you might expect, he and interviewer Deborah McDermott come off as rather harsh critics of the self-publishing process (describing it as something which puts “a writer’s life […] on the brink – a brink of self-publishing where craft often takes a back seat to swift scripts and swift economic returns, a brink where there is less room for the slowly-emerging novel that goes through a rewrite, and then another rewrite, and perhaps a rewrite again”).  More interesting than their take is what emerges between the lines: a portrait of misunderstanding. It would seem that authors like Russo fundamentally do not understand what the self-publishing process entails, and the self-publishing industry’s heavy reliance upon editors, graphic designers, and other industry experts which the traditional publishing industry has been setting adrift during the economic downturn at increasing rates. There’s rather a lot of expertise available to the average self-publishing author, and if that author can’t afford to pay for certain services or wishes to retain creative control, that’s that author’s prerogative–and no one is forcing Russo and other authors like him to read anything he doesn’t want to read, or publish any differently than he always has. But perhaps we are, as Russo puts it, putting “righteous indignation” on the front foot. Whatever the case may be there, we’re proud of how far self-publishing has come–and that it perhaps poses a legitimate challenge to those systems and structures which have been gatekeeping excellent authors out of publishing until the rise of self-publishing set them free.


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.

icon logo self publishing advisor

Self-Publishing News: 3.5.2018 – The Company Files!

march

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

Starting with some positive news today, we recommend you check out this press release courtesy of Outskirts Press and Benzinga, a premier source for the latest in information on the self-publishing industry (among others). At the heart of this story … well, a lot of heart. A lot of love! Because it’s almost that time of year, isn’t it? And Outskirts Press is determined to ensure that those authors choosing to self-publish this year have the best possible Valentine’s Day ever! This self-publishing company, which has a history of both fantastic deals and long-term contributors to this blog, will be giving authors twenty percent off in a flash sale on its popular Full-Color and Ultimate publishing packages. That’s a pretty sweet deal–almost as sweet as the real and genuine care which this company is reputed to take with those works which pass through its expert services. Of course, we’re a little biased. But Outskirts Press has been voted #1 Publishing Company by Top Consumer Reviews, several years running!

Computing, a scrupulously reputable news engine dedicated to technology (particularly in the UK) is now reporting on further developments in the case against Amazon, which recently shuttered many of its CreateSpace services. Elizabeth covered those earlier developments in a separate blog (which you can read here) several weeks back, but it’s worth noting that the company is rapidly moving from treating its author base poorly to being downright disreputable, and that criminals have found a way to exploit the website without Amazon taking decisive action to shut them down. It’s a complicated story, and one we’ll be following closely. We highly recommend you check out Computing contributor Nicholas Fearn’s full article at the link.


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.

icon logo self publishing advisor

In Your Corner: Who fills the void left by CreateSpace? Think about Outskirts Press

CreateSpace recently announced plans to soon eliminate positions in its editing, marketing and design divisions. While job cuts are an unsavory step for any company, this move is likely intended to streamline operations and shore up financials.

But what will this mean for self-publishing authors? CreateSpace will continue to print books and authors will still be able to upload and sell their books, but with these cuts there will no longer be the option to purchase copyediting, book formatting, book cover design, marketing or any other professional creative services for authors publishing via CreateSpace. Suddenly, CreateSpace authors will need to navigate the process alone or seek out other self-publishing service providers for help.

Here’s where a self-publishing company–like the one I work for, Outskirts Press–comes in.

Based on company-wide conversations already taking place, I’m confident that Outskirts Press will work diligently to accommodate all writers negatively affected by the service cuts at CreateSpace. We’re proud to have been named the #1 self-publisher by Top Consumer Reviews multiple years in a row and will continue the tradition of excellence for all CreateSpace authors who require more than just an upload. In addition to our printing and ebook publishing services, we provide independent authors with all the same services discontinued by CreateSpace, and then some. Our services include:

  • Professional writing and editing services: Our service to independent authors starts long before publication! Whether you need help starting or finishing the manuscript, or require just the final read-through, we can match you up with a talented professional ghostwriter or editor to help you achieve a professional book.
  • Professional book formatting: A wide selection of the most popular book formats and interior formatting options.
  • Custom cover design: Our talented book cover designers will ensure that you get a cover that sells.
  • Book marketing: A broad menu of marketing options to promote your book your way today.
  • All-inclusive packages: Comprehensive publishing packages that include everything you need to polish, format, publish and market your book successfully.
  • Affordable and flexible: With us, you can start the self-publishing journey for only $35 down!

Are you, or is an author you know, left stranded by the void left by CreateSpace’s cuts? You can find out more about how my coworkers at Outskirts Press can professionally publish your book, distribute it globally (yes, even on Amazon) and support you with affordable options at the same time by visiting our website at www.OutskirtsPress.com.

You know, it’s not every day I am compelled to write a “hard sell,” but when it comes to recent events, I feel the need to be honest: what CreateSpace has done will leave many authors feeling abandoned mid-project, or worse, unaided from start to finish. Self-publishing has (and will) continue to thrive and evolve to provide better services due to the diversification of options available to you, the self-publishing author; watching any company in our industry go through the layoff process is not, in the end, a cheerful experience. We feel for those who now find themselves looking for work, and hope that they, as well as you, find that next good thing speedily.

You can read more about the layoffs here.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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: 1.29.2017 – January Round-Up

January, illustrated name of calendar month, illustration

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, wrapping up what’s new for you and yours in January 2018.

We’ll start off today with the announcement of a new kid on the block; every month it seems as though the self-publishing industry adds another heavyweight to the list of available options, and January was no different as America’s last big brick-and-mortar bookstore chain launched a self-publishing platform. This move, announced in a sweep of press releases, is seen by many in the industry as an attempt for the chain, which has suffered slow attrition in sales and the rapid exit of its e-reader (the Nook) in recent years, to rival the incredible popularity of Amazon’s Createspace and KDP services. What many may forget is that B&N already had a self-publishing platform, only it was tied to the Nook. The “new” Barnes & Noble Press™ is an update of that existing platform, untethered from its Nook associations. For more details, check out the press release.

Speaking of Amazon, more big news this month as Forbes took on the controversy surrounding the distribution giant’s ongoing treatment of self-publishing authors, which hasn’t always been easy to parse. This article by contributor Adam Rowe tackles what exactly happened during a brief interlude when many self-publishing authors found a 50% royalty option displayed on their author dashboard, an option which was both unselectable and surprising (the company typically provides 35% and 70% options, contingent upon book price). Writes Rowe, authors “and other industry  watchdogs are now speculating that an upcoming change may offer the 70% only to KDP-exclusive authors while giving authors who chose to also sell their ebooks in other markets the 50% rate for non-exclusive ebooks.” Not everyone has adopted that angle, but many, it would seem, are braced for bad news. Rowe concludes his article with a brief but interesting paragraph framing the current debate within equally current statistics; you can read the full article on the Forbes website.

Here’s an interesting piece from Jeff vonKaenel of the Sacramento News Review, on the nature of journalistic freedom by way of a review of the new Spielberg film, The Post. Sound a bit out of our wheelhouse? We thought so too, until we stumbled across the later paragraphs, all of which unspool why traditional print journalism has struggled to find a funding model that will continue to work in the age of Google Adwords and … you guessed it! … self-publishing. Yes, this editorial is somewhat of a rallying cry for well-vetted information in news media. Yes, it was written by someone with a fairly large stake in the newspaper’s success. And yes, it gives an unsubtle push for more people to invest in print journalism (specifically the News Review). It’s not, for lack of a better term, a self-disinterested piece. But it is thought provoking. Self-publishing has contributed to change not just within the world of books, but also the world of news. The world of magazines. The world of music. The world of comics. The world of gaming. The old models simply don’t work anymore. So what’s next, vonKaenel encourages us to ask? I think that’s up to us, the ones who have figured out another viable way.


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.

selfpubicon1

Becoming an Amazon Bestseller

Not long after on-demand self-publishing hit the mainstream, and Amazon started putting every other company out of business (like Borders, CompUSA, etc.), a “marketing strategy” began circulating about a sales technique whereby a book could (at least momentarily) skyrocket to #1 on the Amazon bestsellers list.  Before this technique started becoming saturated, authors closely following this strategy often saw their books reach an overall Amazon bestsellers ranking of #1.  Then, as more and more authors followed the same steps, it became acceptable to call oneself a “#1 Amazon Bestseller” simply if the book reached #1 in a very specific genre-category on Amazon (which is still nothing to sneeze at).

Most of you have probably seen about or read about this strategy before, but just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick run-down of how it works and why it works.

HOW IT WORKS 

  1. Pick a specific day in which you will strive for “bestseller status” on Amazon. Make it far enough in advance to accomplish the rest of these steps.
  2. Create Joint Ventures with other authors and/or online marketers. A “Joint venture” is a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby you partner with another writer/entrepreneur to trade something of value (an eBook, for example) with one another in exchange for something else of value (each other’s mailing lists, or word-of-mouth publicity).  Many authors and entrepreneurs are open to being Joint Ventures on Amazon Bestsellers programs because they know you will actively promote it (which is necessary for success). Through that promotion, their eBook, or “product” will receive additional exposure they would otherwise not be able to achieve.  The best and easiest way to find possible Joint Venture partners is by looking at other Amazon Bestsellers campaigns (perhaps you’ve received an email), and following up with the same people.
  3. Contact each of your Joint Venture partners and introduce yourself and your book and ask if they’d like to help you with your marketing campaign.  Ask if they would be willing to give away something of value to your customers in exchange for some publicity, and/or a free copy of your book.  Some will say yes. Others may say no.  It rarely takes much of their time, since you are handling almost all the details, so this is a nice time when you receive more “yes’s” than “no’s”. All they have to do is donate the “free bonus” and offer to email their mailing list on the specific date you decided upon in Step #1.
  4. Once you’ve collect 10 or so Joint Ventures, you need to make a “Sales Page” on the internet.  There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, depending upon your proficiency with HTML.  The purpose of the “Sales Page” is to “sell” your book and, as extra incentive, offer your customers “Free Bonuses”, the combined value of which exceeds the cost of your book.  These free bonuses are compliments of all your Joint Partners; so your sales page also identifies and “sells” each of the Joint Venture products, too.  If your book costs $19.95, but you are giving away $200 worth of “free stuff” anyone with even a passing interest in your book may pony up the twenty bucks just to get all the extras.
  5. At the bottom of the Sales Page is the Buy Button. There are a variety of ways to do this, also, depending upon your HTML proficiency.  You can send them directly to Amazon and ask them to forward you a receipt (the manual process), or you can provide a Promotion Code which entitles them to automatic downloads of all the free bonuses (the automatic process).  Whichever method you choose, make sure your instructions and directions are very clear for them, so they know they’ll get everything you are offering.  If you go the “manual” route, be prepared to deliver upon your promises, even if thousands of orders come in (what a great problem to have!)
  6. Alternatively, you can create the “sales page” within the body of your email that you are sending out. The email still ends with the Amazon Buy Button directing each recipient to your Amazon Sales Page.  You must send your customers to Amazon, rather than selling the book directly yourself. After all, the whole point is to reach an Amazon bestsellers ranking, and that only occurs if your book sales are going through Amazon.
  7. At the date and time determined in Step #1, send your email to your mailing list.  Send out a quick reminder email to your Joint Partners to do the same thing. Provide them with the same email so they don’t have to write anything themselves.  Theoretically, the same email will therefore go to thousands upon thousands of people (when you combine your mailing list with the lists of all 10+ of your Joint Partners) all at roughly the same time, all promoting your book, and all offering hundreds of dollars in “bonuses” to your new readers.
  8. Depending upon the size of the combined lists, even if only a small percentage of people buy your book, it is often enough to “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into skyrocketing your book’s Amazon Bestsellers campaign.

WHY IT WORKS 

Well, that’s why the word “trick” is in quotation marks.  Amazon’s Ranking algorithm tabulates quantity of sales within periods of time. So a book that normally sells 1 book a month that suddenly sells 10 books an hour will “trick” Amazon’s algorithm into thinking it’s selling like hotcakes (because, relatively speaking, it is!).  This is why it’s important for the sales email to be sent on the same day by all the Joint Partners, and ideally all within the same short period of time.  Recipients who act upon the email, and buy your book, will do so within a condensed period of time, which will probably catapult your Amazon Sales Ranking.

Will your ranking last?  No (so be sure to watch Amazon throughout the day and take screen shots). But “#1 Amazon Bestsellers” have never worried too much about divulging the fine print.

amazon bookstore


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

From the Archives: Creating a “So you’d like to…” Guide for your Self Published Book

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.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: September 1, 2008 ]

If you are promoting your self-published book, hopefully by now you have created a few “listmania” lists. If you were poking around your Amazon “Profile” page, you may have also seen the “So you’d like to….” guide section.

Writing a “So you’d like to…” guide is nearly as easy as creating a listmania list and will probably yield even better results, simply because the number of guides on Amazon is less than the number of lists. Why? Because guides are more work to create. But not for you! You’ve already written a book, and you can turn excerpts of your book into guides.

In fact, you can basically cut and paste a selected section from your published book and create a guide out of it. Just follow the steps on Amazon.com by clicking on the “Create a So you’d like to… guide” link in the “So You’d Like to” section of your profile page.

To get there, sign in to your Amazon.com account from http://amazon.com/connect then click on your personalized “Store” tab the top, and then click on “Your Profile” from tab menu.  If you have not set up an Amazon Connect account yet, you can read more about doing this here: Using Listmania to Promote your Self-Published Book

Again, like with the “listmania” lists, the real power of the guide is adding OTHER books that will spark people’s interest in reading your guide.

Good luck and have fun!

As we’ve mentioned in the intervening years since my first post, Listmania has … gone to list heaven. But it hasn’t left a giant gap in our normal ways and means of doing things, as by and large its primary functions were usurped by Goodreads’ superior tools.

And boy, do we love Goodreads. I mean, I. I love Goodreads. A lot.

So what if it’s been bought by Amazon? Goodreads has Listopia. Goodreads has “best of” lists. Goodreads has twenty different functions that I haven’t even begun to explore, but love the idea of. (Giveaways! Recommendations! Blogs! News & Interviews! It seems endless.) Just so long as Amazon resists the urge to do more than place banner ads on every page (which we’re more than used to with Facebook, anyway) I will love the gift that is Goodreads.

It’s not just good for readers (and it is good for readers). It’s good for authors, too. Reviews on Goodreads consistently show up in the first three or four items indexed in any given Google search for a book. They probably shook hands under the table somewhere, but it certainly benefits self-publishing authors.

Get yourself on Goodreads. Explore Listopia. Explore the relics of Amazon’s “So You Want To…” guides, but be aware: a lot has changed in the past eight or nine years, and a lot will continue to change as we adapt to an ever-changing digital future. The key is not to hold on tightly to any one tool or service (I know, I know, I need to lighten up on my love for Goodreads then!). The key is to be willing to pick up new ones when they become useful, and to let the old (and beloved) ones fade away into obscurity.

Sometimes, self-publishing is about saying good-bye.

RIP, Listmania.

rip listmania

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.

Self-Publishing News: 5.15.2017

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this week in the world of self-publishing:

Beginning in March, Amazon began a policy which allowed third-party sellers the right to purchase the “Buy Box” for new books being sold on Amazon. Why is this such a big deal? Traditionally, by default, the “Buy Box” has always been something that belonged to the original publisher of the book. That way, when you purchase a book, 45% of the profits go back to the publisher, and in turn, help pay authors. “This contributes to authors’ royalties,” says Brook Warner, “and also means that your purchase is supporting the entity that published the book, namely the publisher.” Warner suggests that this policy not only favors the largest third-seller parties, but it drastically affects publishers and authors.

Warner is affiliated with the publishing industry, so she has seen first hand the negative impacts of this change. One of the authors published under Warner’s press called her to inform her that her book was no longer being offered at all on Amazon from her publisher. If someone were to search for the title of her book, the only available purchase options were from third-party publishing companies. “Amazon’s policy states that ‘eligible sellers will be able to compete for the buy box,’” says Warner, “but in this case, we had been completely wiped off of Amazon as an eligible seller in any capacity, without being notified.” After more investigation, Warner found that some books published by a company she used to work at, Seal Press, were only offering copies from third-party sellers.

The problem with this new policy, according to Warner, is that it affects publishers’ backlist for books “(typically meaning any book that’s six months or older).” To someone buying the book, it appears as though the third-party seller is the only available purchase option, and if they did click the “more buying options” button, it would only alert them to cheaper versions of the book, not the one for sale by the publishing company which is listed as “sold by Amazon.com,” with no nod to the publishing company at all. Because small publishing companies are especially dependent on backlist sales, and because Amazon is the main source for backlist sales, Amazon is making it look as though a lot of these books are out of print with their publishing companies when in fact, they are not.

What are the biggest takeaways from this new policy by Amazon? For Warner, it is that they are trying to further drive down the value and cost of books, something they’ve already done with their ebooks by encouraging authors to sell their books for under $10 by giving the incentive of better royalties if they do so. Further, this makes it so that authors can’t earn royalties for the sale of their books. Amazon has suggested to people who are upset about the “buy box” competition that they should keep their books in stock which is problematic for self-published authors or backlist authors whose books are only available by print-on-demand, which are only printed to order, i.e. out of stock. “This new third-party seller policy is potentially terrorizing,” says Warner, “in that it can and will literally result in publishers selling fewer copies and ultimately being forced to declare backlist books out of print.”

In order to counter this effort by Amazon Warner suggests supporting indie bookstores, avoiding third-party sellers and always considering how your purchase will affect the authors, especially if you yourself are an author. Driving down the cost of books means driving down the value of your creative and intellectual property, which as authors we should all value very highly.


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.

KellyABOUT 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.