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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spa-news.jpg
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.

7 Simple Steps to Succeed at Book Fairs

London Book Fair

Selling books at book fairs can be an exciting event for newly published authors (or any authors, actually). Book fairs, author signings, and other live events offer your chance to meet readers face-to-face, mingle with other writers, and most importantly, sell some books!  Book fairs take place year around all around the country and the world. Your local library most likely has a calendar of upcoming book fairs, or you can always conduct a search online. Once you schedule your appearance and reserve your space at a book fair or author event, it is time to consider what your “space” is going to look like.  Typically, you will be provided a 10-foot x 10-foot space with a 6 foot long table and two chairs. The rest is up to you. But it’s what you do with this “blank canvas” that often separates a successful event (where every attendee stops to check out your book) from an unsuccessful one (where you watch in misery as the crowd passes you by to check out other authors and other books).

So how do you make sure your author space is unskippable? By following these seven simple steps.

  1. Dress to impress. That doesn’t always mean dressing professionally. It means dressing in a way that is related to your book or to your author brand.  Have you written a series of children’s books? Dress as the main character. Do you write spy novels? Dress like James Bond. Westerns? Wear your sharpest cowboy attire, spiffiest cowboy boots, and shotguniest cowboy hat. You get the idea.  

  2. Act the part.  Don’t just stop with the outfit.   If you’re dressing as one of your characters, introduce yourself as the protagonist (or antagonist) of the books on your table. Does your character have an accent? Use it.

  3. Be approachable. Even if the character you are playing is a gruff sour puss, you certainly don’t want to be.  Put on your friendliest face and your biggest smile for this event and stand at the side of your table rather than sitting behind it.  Greet everyone who approaches with a friendly nod, a bright smile, or a chipper “Hello!”

  4. Dress your space.  Now that we have you covered, let’s discuss your space.  Certainly having a lot of copies of your book(s) on the table is important, but that’s not enough to attract the kind of attention you want. This is where posters come in.  Two large posters of your book cover are worth their weight in gold (and are reusable from book fair to book fair). Hang one from the front of the table and one on the wall (or divider curtain) behind you.  This is just another reason why a stellar cover is so important. Make sure your cover is an eye pleaser and a crowd pleaser.

  5. Dress your table.  Depending upon the event, your table may or may not come with a table cloth.  Which is why you want to bring one. Be sure the color contrasts with the cover of your book so your books “pop” while on display.   Another way to make sure the books “pop” is to display them artistically or creatively. Rather than just placing a stack of them on the corner of the table, arrange them face out and at different heights by resting them on and against various sized props or boxes.

  6. Prop your table.  Books aren’t the only thing that should grace your table.  If you have any book awards, be sure to display them. If you don’t have a physical award, print out the certificate or award image and display that instead.  If you have received a glowing review or endorsement, print that and bring it, as well. Or better yet, select the best blurb and incorporate that into your poster.  It’s also not a bad idea to have a dish of candy or some sort of edible “treat” (and if it ties in with your book, all the better!).

  7. Bring business cards and pens.  Another item for the table is a stack of business cards (ideally, they’re also branded with your book cover and include ordering information).  Many of the people you talk with may not buy your book right then and there, but they’ll always take a business card and that may turn into a sale down the road. The pens aren’t to give away (unless you have branded pens with your website on it, which is a good idea); the pens are to sign copies of all the book you’ll be selling, because you’ve followed these seven simple steps to succeed at book fairs. Way to go! 

    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

International Book Fairs as a Networking, Marketing, and Sales Tool

Networking is a powerful marketing tool – as a matter of fact, it is one of the most powerful tools in a self-published author’s marketing arsenal. An author who is skilled at communicating their ideas to others can very well write their own ticket, not only to increase book sales, but to garner speaking engagements and future publishing contracts. The challenge is that far too many authors don’t know how to “network” their way into more sales.

Attending book fairs and festivals is a good place to start.  Local events keep your start-up costs to a minimum and give you a “safe” forum in which to perfect your presentation skills. As you become more comfortable at local events, graduate to state, regional, and then national events.  Then start setting your sights on the major international book festivals everyone in the industry knows about, London, BEA, Beijing, and Frankfurt. Attending book fairs overseas can start to put a strain on even the largest marketing budgets, which is why most authors rely upon representation services provided by their publisher.

Let’s take a look at some major book fairs…

  1. The London Book Fair – This event is recognized as one of the first major publishing events of the year, and one of the most important. There are many opportunities here to capitalize on by attending in person or, alternatively, by exhibiting your book with representatives on your behalf. Key industry professionals (like acquisition directors, editors, agents, and foreign rights editors) are always in attendance.
  2. The Book Expo of America – The United States is home to the Book Expo of America, which traditionally takes place in New York (although there have been various times in the past it was held elsewhere). Every year the Book Expo welcomes over 100,000 international attendees, authors, publishers, agents, and buyers. While the attendance is international, the focus is distinctly American, with American books, publishers, and authors receiving the main interest. As such, all American authors would be doing their book and their writing careers a service by attending, or exhibiting their book with representation.
  3. The Beijing International Book Fair – China continues to “open its doors” to the Western world, and in doing so is becoming a major global economic force. The population alone represents a readership opportunity that no other book fair (or publishing event of any kind) can match. It’s literally a feeding frenzy to meet the demand, which presents an exciting opportunity for all publishers and authors.
  4. The Frankfurt Book Fair – Frankfurt Germany hosts the annual Frankfurt Book Fair which typically claims 50% more international representation than the Book Expo. If foreign rights are your priority, and the potential “culture shock” of Beijing is too daunting, Frankfurt is the book fair to attend, or where to exhibit your book.
  5. Bologna Children’s Book Fair – This Italian Book Fair caters specifically to children’s authors, illustrators, literary agents, booksellers, and librarians. Here you will find the very best of children’s publishing and multimedia production, make exciting new contacts, discover new opportunities, and learn the latest trends in children’s publishing. As a self-publishing children’s book author trying to launch a successful writing career, you simply cannot afford to miss the Bologna Book Fair, or miss the opportunity to exhibit your book there.
  6. American Library Association Exhibition – The ALA (American Library Association) annual book fair & conference attracts librarians from all levels of management, from all types of libraries, and from all across the United States. It serves as a meeting place for thought leaders and as a forum to exchange ideas on the multitude of issues affecting libraries. It’s also a great place to capture attention for your book.
  7. PEN World Voices Festival – More than 1,500 writers and artists from 118 countries have attended the PEN World Voices Festival in New York since its founding. This weeklong series of events traditionally focuses on human rights with the aim of broadening channels of dialogue between the United States and the rest of the world—a mission that, today, has never been more relevant.

London Book Fair

 


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.

In Your Corner: What’s in it for you at the book fair?

What’s in it For You?

Book fairs are great! … but they can also be terrifying, or worse, difficult to access for the average self-publishing author.  Combine tens of thousands of highly passionate librarians and booksellers, teeming crowds of readers, not to mention casual browsers and you have an unparalleled opportunity for exposure!  The book fair is unequaled by anything else in the reading and writing world, and because it most often reflects the best aspects of the writing and reading and publishing processes, it has plenty of room for you, the self-publishing author.

Many self-publishing platforms and hybrid publishing companies send representatives to book fairs.  Many, including Outskirts Press, even sponsor booths in order to feature self-published books at home and abroad–face-out, not spine-out! And more than anything else in terms of presentation, face-out exposure sells books!

Audience Matters.

What kind of person attends a book fair?  Interestingly, the London Book Fair has already answered that question and thoroughly; according to the LBF website, the 2015 event drew 1,591 exhibitors from 60 countries and some 25,000 attendees from 118 countries.  In attendance also were around 900 members of the media, also from all over the world.  Since Planet Earth only sports around 196 countries at the moment, this means that the London Book Fair manages to represent at least 60% of the world’s population in some way, shape, or form–each year!  And the LBF is just one book fair among many.

You belong there.

Your book is wonderful. It needs to be read. You may be a bit of a rebel: you’re already striking out on your own, dispensing with the false and burdensome values of traditional publishing, after all. But you and your book are free to take advantage of scaffolding like book fairs without being shackled to the rest of it, and your book is a bonafide example of an author designing and creating and publishing exactly what he or she envisioned.  That kind of artistic integrity creates its own gravity, its own magnetic attraction to readers.  Fair-goers will pick up on that authenticity right away!

Your book ought to be the star of the show.

Often a busy or crowded space isn’t the most comfortable environment to spend time talking or browsing for new reading material.  Think of Starbucks–and of bookstores like Denver’s the Tattered Cover.  Both of these companies use small nooks to great effect, and it’s not by just packing in a lot of stuff and posters and wallpapering the whole area with product information.  A book fair is not a bookstore; it doesn’t revolve around books.  A book fair revolves around authors and the worlds that they create.  People can order whatever they like off of Amazon and have it in their hands with far less expense of time and energy and money than attending a book fair–but people still flock to them!  And why?  Because they want to participate in the social world of books.  They want to meet the people who make books happen.  They want to meet you and your book.

So, how do you make your book the star of the show?  You winnow down your display and your presence to the absolute essentials–with full face-out exposure–and you focus on building human connections with the people there. All you need is the confidence to go, and perhaps the support of those who have gone before.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, 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

In Your Corner : Celebrate National Reading Month With These Marketing Tips! (part four)

Exactly three weeks ago, I started us off on a month-long exploration of what I revealed to be one of my favorite subjects–the intersection of reading with writing and publishing–in light of the fact that the month of March is National Reading Awareness Month here in the United States.  I continued my series two weeks ago and last week with a number of additional ways in which you, the indie or self-publishing author, can take advantages of the resources on offer to bolster both your existing writing methods and your book sales.  This week, I would like to invite you to continue in joining me in making reading a focus all month long, here in our Thursday blog post slot.  We may have one more week left in the month of March, but I’m holding nothing back–you get only the best of the best, my absolute top tips, here today! 

TIP TWELVE : Give your blog or website a face lift

If you already have a blog or website where you have been promoting your book in advance of its release, there’s no better time than the present to refresh the look and feel or add content.  And by “refresh,” I don’t just mean a couple of small tweaks or optimizations here and there–I mean a complete overhaul.  As in all things, the self-publishing author must demonstrate full willingness to meet readers where they live, rather than expecting them to stumble across one’s book by happenstance.  There are no (or at least, very very few) happenstances in the publishing industry, since everyone and their lawyer is out to make a profit off of gaming the system.  You don’t want to play your readers–in fact, you want to be wholly honest and authentic at all times–but you do want to show them that you care enough about them to design a website or a blog that meets their needs and outperforms their expectations.  Think big, not small, and make sure your site is inviting and reflects who you are as a writer.  

facelift

TIP THIRTEEN : Play well with others

It should come as no surprise that I’m an advocate for sharing.  After all, I didn’t ignore every single admonition to play well with others when I was a child–some of that well-intentioned parental advice rubbed off.  But in the world of self-publishing, there’s nothing more powerful than sharing!  It’s not just a “good idea”–it’s a vital and impactful way of reaching new readers.  The first step to sharing promotions with other indie authors is one of logistics and networking: I recommend getting started by connecting with other independent authors whose work compliments yours or who live nearby.  Local writers’ groups are a fantastic resource for this!  From there, you can discuss how best to share advertising in your local media to promote your books and events.  Sharing an event with another writer is an excellent way to generate more interest among venues and readers.

sharing

TIP FOURTEEN : Take the Grand Tour

In years gone by–that is, from the mid 1600s to the mid 1800s–it was the custom of the European and American elite to send their children on the Grand Tour of the European continent and parts of Asia Minor and Northern Africa.  The point of the Tour was to expose people of taste to the primary object of their taste–the cultural legacy of the West.  But there’s a far better Grand Tour which you can partake in as an indie author!  There are dozens upon dozens of prime opportunities for promoting your book throughout the year outside of your homeland, including the London Book Fair, BookExpo America, Beijing Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.  But who, you may ask, has the time or money to do that?  Self-publishing may be a recourse for those of humble budgets, but it is also a haven for ingenuity and creative thinking.  You don’t need to stress if you don’t have the time (or money) to travel the world this year: a number of self-publishing companies, including the one I work for (Outskirts Press) offer the opportunity to represent your book at any (or all) of these events throughout the year.  There is usually still some sort of cost associated with this project, of course, but it is a dramatic reduction on what you might pay individually to travel to these places, register for display space and lodging, and for marketing materials.  Just a thought: you can be a world travel vicariously through your book!

That’s it for this week, but I’ll be back next Wednesday with some final tips and ways forward!  And …

… always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, 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.