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.


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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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.4.2016

happy 4th of july independence day

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!

Here in the United States, we’re busy celebrating the hard work done by many people all over the world to ensure our freedoms, and planning how best to continue that work in the years to come. Now, we know it’s not Independence Day for everyone–and that many still live in poverty and even in modern forms of slavery–but we hope that what we do here on this blog every day throughout the year contributes, in some small way, to building hope and cultivating the conviction that independent thought and action is something to be admired, and supported.

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

This June 30th article by Catherine Dunn for Digital Book World continues a series being published to that website regarding the ins and outs of the self-publishing experience.  The whole series, as we mentioned last week, is worth checking out and exploring–it’s packed with insight and thoroughly researched–but this week’s is perhaps more pertinent than ever, given that the topic is marketing.  (And we really like talking about Marketing here on Self-Publishing Advisor, if you haven’t noticed!)  This week, Dunn taps into some of the fundamentals of the marketing process: getting reviews, getting creative, leveraging social media and giveaways to meet your needs, how to watch your budget while marketing, how to keep the momentum going, and what to do next once you launch your book into the “real world”.  All in all, it’s a tightly packed little essay on the process of marketing for indie and self-publishing authors, with a good dollop of common sense and a large serving of innovative thought.  But what else would we expect from Digital Book World?  We love those guys.  They’re awesome.  You can read the original article here.

This piece by Caitlin Rosberg went live on The A.V. Club on June 30th as well, and from its title you might have guessed that it has a little something to do with the world of self-published comics–a growing market niche we’ve commented on here and there at Self-Publishing Advisor in months past.  According to Rosberg, our attention has been well-allocated, since changing the way comics are published (or at the very least, providing a viable “other way” for them to be published) benefits everyone involved in the self-publishing industry, from authors to illustrators to readers.  Spurred by her dissatisfaction with this year’s Eisner list of award nominees–none of which were self-published, for reasons we’ve discussed elsewhere (*coughcoughSTIGMAcoughREPUTATIONcough*)–Rosberg unveils a few of her favorite self-published comics as well as the ways in which they’re changing the comic landscape.  She drops a lot of names (Smut Peddler, anyone?) and her points hit home.  To read the full article, drop on by The A.V. Club article here.

What we have here may be something less than an article and something more along the lines of a press release, but it’s big news nonetheless: on June 28th, Barnes & Noble declared several groundbreaking (and ground-shaking) changes to its lineup of products and services.  The main event is the unveiling of NOOK Press, which B&N is launching in order “to provide NOOK Press authors with an easy-to-use, self-service program that enables them to create hardcover and paperback books for customer purchase.” The new platform will allow eligible NOOK Press authors (conditions apply) to “have the opportunity to sell their print books at Barnes & Noble stores across the country on a local, regional or national level, and online at BN.com. Authors can also qualify for the opportunity to participate at in-store events including book signings and discussions, where they will be able to sell their print books and meet fans.”  There’s a lot to chew on here, but the moral of the story seems to be: if Amazon does something for half a decade and finds success, maybe it’s time to take note and jump on a similar train.  To read the full press release, follow the link!
happy 4th of july independence day


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.

Self-Publishing & Merchandising : Working with Barnes & Noble

Last week, you’ll recall that I put together a few words about working with Amazon to merchandise your work.  (And really, they end up doing much of the work for you, which is nice.)  I also mentioned the fact that much of the merchandising we’ve looked at together over previous weeks takes for granted that the book is its own complete product, the sum of its parts (see: book covers and jacket design, interior design, special additions, and the blurb), and the sum of other parts, too (see my posts on the book review, as well as how to get and give blog reviews).  As a massive online retailer, Amazon happens to be one of those parts, but what about Barnes & Noble?  Is there any work to be done there, when it comes to merchandising your self-published book?

Despite the fact that Barnes & Noble seems to be losing its edge in the digital book market, it is still a juggernaut of a force to be reckoned with.  The decision whether or not to self-publish your book through Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Press ought not to be touched, yet, by rumors of the company’s eventual demise––a demise which may indeed come, but not before the retail giant sells many more books, of which yours may be one (or two, or three, or five hundred).  Instead of asking “Should I?” a better question might be, “How can I best take advantage of the service while it exists?”

GETTING STARTED :

Luckily, as with Amazon’s Kindle store, Barnes & Noble itself takes care of much of the heavy lifting for the independently published author.  The first step, of course, is to sign up for a NOOK Press account, a simple enough process, and one that is available to authors residing in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands.  With an interface not much different from that of Kindle Direct or Kobo, the NOOK Press website allows authors to publish in Spanish, German, French, Italian, and Dutch as well as the default language of English––and it allows authors to be paid in their local currencies, also, which is a nice touch.

PRESENTATION CREATION :

It is easy to upload manuscript files to NOOK Press, and while the uploaded ePub files often end up riddled with errors, the NOOK Press interface allows authors to make changes without uploading new files––a nice feature, and one that you should absolutely use, given my advice in weeks past about the importance of presenting a polished document to ensure a positive reading experience.  A beautifully formatted book is its own advertisement, after all.

The same golden rules of self-publishing applies to the Barnes & Noble NOOK Press experience as it does anywhere else––and the NOOK Press makes the upload of a book’s cover image incredibly easy.  All you have to do is access the “Cover Image” tab while creating a new project.  (It is easiest, I find, to create a new project through NOOK Press with all of the files you need already in hand, cover image included, than it is to alter an existing project or try to go back and forth between the tabs when creating a new project.)  It’s equally important to render your book ‘findable’ by entering in all of the book’s data at the beginning, including keyword-rich descriptions and summaries.  It’s best not to leave any of the fields provided by the NOOK Press interface blank, as each one generates computer code that subtly tweaks the algorithms that show your book in the NOOK Store and elsewhere online.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS

As with many other self-publishing venues, the NOOK Press interface allows indie authors to incorporate editorial reviews into their book listings, and this is an important feature to take advantage of!  It is, according to Barnes & Noble, only “optional,” but you should question the wording!  Editorial reviews may well be truly necessary to your book’s findability and salability.  Once you ensure you have the rights to publish a review, you should get to it.  You can include up to five (5) editorial reviews with each book you publish through NOOK Press, and every single one of them adds to the reputation and visibility of your book.  (And if you’re looking for more instructions, indie author Sarra Cannon has put together a detailed step-by-step guide to using the NOOK Press interface, complete with screen captures to illustrate each step.)

IN-STORE MERCHANDISING :

Unlike Amazon, a retailer which has found enormous success without a physical presence, Barnes & Noble retains a number of brick-and-mortar advantages in the book-selling market––and not least among their many resulting strengths is the company’s cadre of merchandisers, flesh-and-blood employees whose entire jobs revolve around marketing Barnes & Noble products to the eager book-reading public.  While Amazon and other companies also keep merchandisers on staff, they rely heavily if not almost exclusively on computer algorithms to group products with other products, and those who sell online through Barnes & Noble still benefit from the company’s understanding of what objects and pleasures a casual shelf-browser may find resonant with each other.

THE FUTURE NOOK :

There are plenty of reasons to be both excited and apprehensive about the future of the NOOK Press and Barnes & Noble in general.  The company is splitting, and has indeed shown quite a few fissures for years now, as its NOOK and college stores peel away from the parent company with its lasting brick-and-mortar experience.  This time, the changes run deep, down to the bone of the company.  Still, there’s no reason to expect this split to have immediate consequences for NOOK sales or ebook sales in general, even though I always recommend that the informed author should keep abreast of ongoing shifts in the hazy underworld of book-publishing and book-retailing board rooms.  The ebook market is stabilizing, not backsliding, and new overseas markets continue to open up the industry and inject it with fresh vim and vigor. ♠

I’m realistic, or I like to think I am.  This topic is bigger than just me and my own thoughts.  I’d like to open the floor to you, dear reader.  If you have any thoughts to share on the topic of merchandising, or questions you’d like answered, send them my way via the comments box below!  I want to hear from you, and I love nothing more than a good excuse to do a little research if I don’t know something off of the top of my head.  Jump on in!

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.

What is Sales Annotation ?

Many writers tell me they don’t know what an annotation is. What they don’t realize is they are already very familiar with annotations, they just never knew what they were called. To help clarify this sometimes confusing topic, here is what you need to know about sales annotations.

What is an annotation?

An annotation is also known as a wholesaler’s summary. It is the sales copy that will be used for online descriptions on retail sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so it is an important component to selling your book.

How do you write a good annotation?

It’s best to make this description as persuasive and comprehensive as possible. Take advantage of the maximum length allowed by the website, which is usually around 4000 characters, including spaces. It’s a lot, but these 4000 characters are what will convince many online shoppers to either buy your book, or someone else’s. Also, SPELL CHECK YOUR WORK before submitting it.

What is the difference between Back Cover Copy and Annotation?

In many cases, annotation copy can be exactly the same as your back cover synopsis, but in some cases, you may have reason for it to be different.  Keep in mind that people who shop for books online will see this information about your book long before they see your back cover text. In fact, in many online cases, this will be the ONLY information available about your book as they decide whether to buy it.

To help you decide, here is a description of both.

BACK COVER COPY

  • Restricted by the size of the book’s back cover
  • Three main components: 1) the headline, 2) the synopsis or marketing copy, and 3) the author biography
  • Can also include quotes, cover blurbs, or other testimonials about either the book or the author
  • The back copy should be composed with the goal of getting a browser to become a buyer.

ANNOTATION

  • Used by Ingram during the distribution process
  • When the book is listed on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website, it’s the annotation that fills the PRODUCT DESCRIPTION/OVERVIEW section.
  •  Restricted in length, although very often can be substantially longer than the Back Cover Copy
  •  Should be as long and as detailed as possible, perhaps requiring multiple headings to separate elements of the annotation.
  • Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the capability of understanding basic HTML formatting tags, so judicious use of several tags can help an annotation really stand out.  Two specific tags that should be used are the BOLD tags and the italics tags, both of which can help draw a reader’s attention to specific words and phrases within the annotation.
  • Bullet point and numbered lists are good here, too.
ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Online Retailers Gained, While Brick-and-Mortar Lost In Wake of Borders Exit

Bowker recently released a study detailing the sales of online and brick-and-mortar retailers after Borders’ exit from the market. Here is a summary of the results:

  • Online retailers — led by Amazon —  earned 44 percent of America’s book dollars. This is up from 39 percent in 2011.
  • Barnes & Noble, including BN.com, remains the second largest bookselling outlet.
  • Women increased their lead over men in book buying, accounting for 58 percent of overall book spending in 2012, up from 55 percent in 2011.
  • Men are bigger hardcover buyers.
  • Ebooks continue their steady upward trend, with an 11 percent share of spending in 2012, compared to seven percent in 2011.
  • Despite the growth of ebooks, traditional print book output grew three percent in 2012.

This information is important for authors who have already self-published or who are considering self-publishing. It is essential that authors are aware of industry trends, so they can use the information to make the best publishing and marketing decisions for their books.

These results show the importance of offering an ebook version of your self-published book. Despite the popularity of ebooks, there is still a demand for print books. For many authors, the best option is to offer both a print and ebook version in an attempt to reach the largest market. However, this varies greatly from author to author and depends on the target market as well as the author’s personal goals.

To learn more about the Bowker report, visit http://www.bowker.com/en-US/aboutus/press_room/2013/pr_08062013.shtml.

I’d love to know, how do the results in this report impact your self-publishing decisions?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Barnes & Noble on the Block

Wise business decisions (or business people) focus on things that can be change and can be changed, while investing little time on those that cannot.

Barnes & Noble went on the block earlier this month, perhaps a good example of wise business, especially in a time when others in the book industry continue to push the proverbial boulder up the mountain. According to Forbes, “The New York-based company, which has struggled along with other brick-and-mortar booksellers under economic pressures and the technology shift away from paper books, said it could sell its famous chain…”

I enjoy the experience of a physical book store as much as holding a real book, and that will never change. But hardcover books are rising on shelves into luxury item status. In the wake of the Kindle, iPad, and digital wave, traditional publishers and brick-and-mortar stores will continually be challenged with creativity amidst this rapid change. Consumers are moving in the direction of digital downloads, as in the music industry where CD’s have been in large part replaced by iTunes and other less expensive digital downloads. While many among the traditional side of the publishing industry are fighting to keep e-book prices commensurate with perceived author value, this trend increasingly allows self-publishing authors access to reader markets at a more competitive price point.


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Self-Publishing – A Growing Industry

Did you know that over 40% of all book sales in the United States last year took place online, through e-retailers like Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com? More and more people are becoming comfortable with (and even accustomed to) shopping online. What’s more, consumers are more likely to purchase lesser-known and self-published books, according to Inc. Magazine.

What does this mean for the self-published author? With the convenience of on demand-printing and full-service self-publishing options: Good things. Selling books online is more cost-effective than selling through a typical bookstore, and that means more money in your pocket. Again, make sure your publisher lets you set your own retail price, royalty, and discount to take maximum advantage of shifting consumer trends.

Just something to keep in mind as you write and investigate the publishing options best in-line with your goals.

Have fun and keep writing!

Karl Schroeder


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