Self-Publishing News: 8.5.2020

On-trend 2020 calendar page for the month of August modern flat lay.

And now for the news.

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

That’s more like it! Last week might have been a slow news week for self-publishing, but this week has more than made up for it. We’ll start with Rob Price’s opinion piece on earlier this week, a piece which sets out to explain why it is that self-publishing is where it is right now, poised to take huge chunks of the publishing market share with the advent of COVID-19 and a big turn towards reliance on e-books. And Price should know what he’s talking about, since he’s the president of Gatekeeper Press as well as a former chairman of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). He himself has sold 200,000 copies of his self-published books, so he’s writing as both an industry professional and an author who has achieved incredible success. Price, who founded Gatekeeper Press in 2015, writes that “When the coronavirus pandemic hit five months ago, something big happened: Author consultations and publishing services skyrocketed.” (This confirms what we’ve suspected for a while, and we’re very much looking forward to retrospectives once the full year’s book data comes in.) But why? Price points to authors having more free time as a result of the pandemic, as well as the society-wide emphasis on storytelling during both the pandemic and the  BLM protest movement. This is also a time of fast-moving news headlines and struggle, so the timeliness and turnaround speed of self-publishing is a major asset, getting books into peoples’ hands before public attention moves on. He’s also certain that in a time of great disconnect and distancing, the personal assistance a small press or self-publishing can provide is critical to the forward momentum of new and inexperienced authors. We recommend taking a look at all of his points in more detail!

This week on Entrepreneur, contributor Ken Dunn brings us an interview with bestselling author Jack Canfield, who co-created the “Chicken Soup” series that has become one of the world’s top-selling nonfiction series of all time. (His founding partner was Mark Victor Hansen.) Writes Dunn, “Jack’s books have sold over 500 million copies around the world. Although there is no way to confirm this definitively, Jack Canfield is likely one of the top non-fiction authors of all time.” That’s quite a resume. What Canfield goes on to tell Dunn amounts to a rousing top five suggestions for authors looking to break into self-publishing, and they include knowing who you’re writing for, and how you want to help them; finding a competent editor before publication; embracing persistence in an industry that requires both lots of attempts and lots of legwork; taking advantage of free media opportunities like podcast interviews to boost public awareness of your book; and lastly, following the “rule of five.” Says Canfield, this “rule” requires self-published authors to “Do five things a day toward the achievement of your breakthrough goal. Our breakthrough goal was to get this book to be a bestseller.” And eventually he and Hansen achieved that goal––but it wasn’t by way of immediate breakout success. After fourteen months of work, they hit their first bestseller list, and after a slow ascent it stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for three years. This success depended on the authors’ dedication to that rule, Dunn implies. You absolutely must check out the full article.

Our final must-read news item for the week comes from Forbes, which has over the last couple of years made a point of regularly publishing articles on self-publishing by various contributors. This week’s contributor is Serenity Gibbons, whose work centers on entrepreneurs and how they achieve success. Despite the quick uptick in e-book sales as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown, Gibbons answers the question “Has digital content demolished print books?” with the answer: “No more than elevators replaced stairs, points out British comedian Stephen Fry.” She goes on to make note of the fact that over the last few years, print sales have been slowly increasing their market share, not decreasing in the way that many expected after the first advent of e-books and their sharp rise in sales. She also notes that many wealthy readers consider print books “because they view this material as more meaningful than what they read online.”  Gibbons draws upon conversations with a number of authors to lay out her ten recommendations, which run the gamut from purpose to planning to researching the competition to cultivating feedback and partnership and creating a “circle” of personal influencers. We highly recommend reading up on all ten of her tips!


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: A Month of Romance (part 1)



This being Romance Awareness Month, I thought this would be a great time to tackle the genre here on the blog .We have never done a deep dive into romance before, which I find somewhat surprising, given the number of romance authors I have worked with over the years. So today, we’ll be breaking new ground as I start a new series following the publishing and marketing processes behind releasing a romance novel into the world.

(If you do not write romance, never fear! Many of the steps through which a romance novel must go are the same or quite similar to the steps through which books of other genres must go as well. You’ll simply need to apply your own lens to the information in order to apply it to your work.)

Today I want to ask two very important questions we all have ready-made answers to, but which I think we must revisit to discover what’s really going on.

Who is romance for?

In 2016, Nielsen compiled its research on genre readership into one very handy infographic: “Romance Readers by the Numbers.” While I’m including the infographic here, I absolutely encourage you to read Nielsen’s entire report! It’s full of fantastic information that totally re-oriented my perspective on romance readership.


At its base level, many of your assumptions are true––of a majority. But I think it’s taking a closer look at those minorities, because if you consider that more than one in four fiction books on the market in 2015 was a romance, and that 16% of the readers reading those books are not female, that still leaves you quite an important market share––compared to, say dystopic science fiction. Nielsen hasn’t updated these numbers in a few years, but if the percentages hold true, that could equate to around 32 million reported units being read by men. Sure, women might be reading five times that many books, but 32 million is not an insignificant number if you’re smart in how you promote your book.

The same holds true, of course, for other minorities! Consider that more readers are not white than are not female, percentage-wise––up to 38 million readers of color relative to the (admittedly rough) 32 million calculation for male readers. And while the Nielsen infographic doesn’t have room to show it, LGBT romance ebook sales are on a sharp rise now that its authors have moved from fanfiction websites into the main stream of publishing and self-publishing. 

Keep in mind that Nielsen can only track books that are sold and tracked with ISBNs, and only about 1/3 of the ebooks sold in the year covered by the infographic (2015) had ISBNs. With ebooks soaking up around half of book sales overall, with that percentage leveling out but still growing (especially during quarantine), that’s a BIG chunk of ebooks that are just … an unknown quantity. Another report from the same year says that “the 2015 Smashwords sales report shows that 89% of their sales are fiction with romance taking 50% and erotica another 11%. K-Lytics indicates that romances on Kindle outsell cookbooks, for example, by a factor of 27 to 1!” Publishing numbers are still, five years later, trying to figure out how to measure and quantify and compare numbers coming from platforms that aren’t selling the written material they’re publishing, or that are publishing paid stories that are not in “book” format. Consider WordPress, storytelling podcasts, and interactive book apps like the ones created for Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar (as an easy-to-remember example). 

One also has to consider the old library sales that “if you make it, they will come”––readers have to know something exists and is attainable before they come looking for it. So if the Nielsen’s reported readership doesn’t match up to what you know your friends and fellow readers are interested in but aren’t being offered, that might be a sign that you need to help carve out a new niche. It’s not easy, but when it works––wow, does it work! Consider young adult fiction, which wasn’t a significant market share before the one-two punch of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Now there are dedicated rooms in libraries and bookstores dedicated to that readership. You can definitely launch new trends!

So yes, the majority of romance readers are white and female. But a significant number are not, and for many authors that means that yes, there is room for your unique take on romance. 

This ran a bit long, so I’m going to answer my second question next time so as not to overwhelm you just now:

Who writes romance?

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.

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.

In Your Corner: Fall Abundance (Part II)

Are you facing down the same cold snap that I am? It’s looking to be quite an early start to Winter, almost skipping straight over Fall, but I’m determined to wring every last drop of sunshine and joy out of these long afternoons.

Last time I wrote to you, dear readers, I launched this series about fall abundance and taking a moment just to breathe it all in … along with all those pine needle and pumpkin spice and fresh-baked shortbread aromas that are spiking the air right now.

fall cookies pumpkin autumn halloween

As the evenings take on a distinct bite, there’s still the tang of summer smoke in the air–all the fire of a season packed with heat and mixed feelings–and it’s time to start thinking of how to make the most of the Autumn writing and marketing season. Yes, it may be most often called the ‘back-to-school’ season, but we all of us go back to things in Fall. Back to work, back to family routines, back to the marketing strategies we … may … have let languish during the busy summer months.

How can we flip the switch and get back to work?

Here are my recommendations:

  • You’re not the only one who may need a reminder that change is upon us. Use the next month as an opportunity to launch a special deal or giveaway. You can frame it as ‘back-to-school savings’ or you can use it as a promo for new or upcoming releases.
  • Think visual. Fall is perhaps the most striking of all (or at the very least, one of the most striking) seasons. Take advantage! Your book is a product, and selling a product is at least half of the time about selling an image. If you haven’t created an Instagram and Pinterest, now is the time! These two social media platforms offer a great way of humanizing your brand and showcasing your product.
  • Fall is a great time to get your networking game on! People may not be thinking about taxes just yet (or they might be thinking about them a lot if they applied for an extension), but you certainly want to get your foot in the door before the holiday craze so that readers remember your name and your book come tax time–and come the holidays! Connect the dots between everyone you ‘meet’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and even LinkedIn and work those contacts and relationships now, while they’re planning out their budget, calendar, and holiday schemes for the school year.
  • And on that note, it’s time to plan your own editorial and marketing calendar–or at least to sketch out the outlines! Is it your hope to write some newsletters, blog posts, or social media updates in the coming months? Do you have some new work on the horizon? Now is the time to schedule not just your writing time or your own holiday marketing plan–it’s time to lay the groundwork for an entire year of editorial works!

And these are just a few of my recommendations! As you might expect, there are plenty of chances to enrich your opportunities during the Fall. Don’t put things off–start now! More than just a hint of pumpkin spice is wafting on the rising breeze of Autumn ….

fall cookies pumpkin autumn halloween

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!


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.

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

Two weeks ago, I started us off on a month-long exploration of one of my favorite subjects: the intersection of reading with writing and publishing, a journey that I continued last week in honor of National Reading Awareness Month.  I said it then but I think this bears repeating: here at Self-Publishing Advisor, we love the fact that there’s an entire month devoted to celebrating the written word–as well as the ways in which we can spread the joy of literacy–and so I would like to invite you to continue joining me in making reading a focus all month long, here in our Thursday blog post slot.  How am I going about that?  Well, for starters, I’m running down my go-to list of tips and tricks for the new and ingenue self-publishing author.  This week, I’ll be starting with …


TIP EIGHT : Craft a “keep in touch” plan

Last week, we examined the benefits to putting together an active mailing list and/or using a Facebook group to keep in touch with your readers through direct messaging.  But what’s next?  Once you have put together your active mailing list, you’ll need to decide how you want to keep in touch.  And by “how,” I’m talking about the content and quality of your communication, not just the platform.  One thing is absolutely, unarguably true: over-sharing can prove more toxic to your message than bad grammar and condescension put together.  I highly recommend that you find a reasonable frequency–for example, a monthly newsletter–to touch base with your readers.  You can write about topics related to the genre of your book or other similar books that you think your readers would enjoy, or you can stick to more of a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse into your writing process, if you feel like you have enough to share without spoiling the reading experience itself.  If you plan on publishing multiple books–say, in a series–your followers would no doubt love updates on the status of each upcoming book, the research you’re doing or interesting things you’ve discovered during the writing process.  Give them just enough to whet their appetite, but not so much that they feel like they have to sift through an essay to find the important facts!

keep in touch

TIP NINE : Go to the Press

And by that, I mean: It’s time to start thinking about putting out a press release.  Any time you have important news to share about your book–such as announcing its publication, the advent of a book signing event, or spreading the news about an award it has won– you should definitely look to your local newspapers, radio stations, and other media sources … but this shouldn’t preclude you from looking further afield, to national media outlets and popular blog sites, for example.  You can use online press release distribution sites or try contacting your local newspaper as a first step, and if you’re working with a hybrid or full-service self-publishing company you should definitely check out their list of marketing options.

press release

TIP TEN : Get your next manuscript off the drawing board

Hollywood scriptwriters and directors often talk about “development hell,” but this term isn’t the exclusive property of the rich and/or famous: it applies to authors of all kinds, too!  We all know the dangers and struggles facing us in the form of the dreaded Writer’s Block, so if you’re ready to start publishing–or you’re getting close–you should definitely try to give yourself the necessary kick in the pants necessary to put the finishing touches on your manuscript and start the publication process today.  Delay hurts no one more than you, and that’s the truth!  Many companies offer publishing packages or offer the services of a Publishing Consultant to assist with this process, and sometimes a little help really is necessary.  There’s no shame in turning to a professional for help if it means your book gets off of the drawing board and into the hands of your readers!

drawing board

TIP ELEVEN : The book must be blogged!

An oft-overlooked component of a successful marketing strategy is the beloved book blogger.  We love them, we read their posts, but we don’t often think of them as partners in our journey to publication.  But they are!  They really, most definitely, can give your book a boost in visibility.  So, my last tip is more of a suggestion, really: Find those book bloggers you need to increase the exposure to your book.  Check out websites such as to find bloggers interested in the genre of your book, and look to the book bloggers you personally admire and find readable.  Find out which bloggers would be open to reading and reviewing your book and contact them–or vice versa.  You might even get a link to your website or your Amazon book page out of it!

I’ll be back next week with some more tips!  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.

Marketing BASICS : Ascertaining Your Ideal Reader

Welcome back to Wednesdays on Self Publishing Advisor, where we tackle the intricacies of marketing each and every week in the hopes of making your life as an indie, hybrid, or self-publishing author just a little bit easier.  This is actually the third post in a series examining marketing B.A.S.I.C.S.––yes, that’s an acronym! but more on that later––with a particular emphasis on marketing for new or first-time authors.  It all began two weeks ago with this introductory post, and continued last week with an in-depth look at the “B” in B.A.S.I.C.S.: “Building an Online Presence.”  This week, we’re ready for a new letter and a new sub-topic.  What does the letter “A” stand for, then?  Simple: “Ascertaining Your Ideal Reader.”  This is one of the most important and foundational of steps to crafting a successful marketing strategy.

What is this “Ideal Reader” business??

Your ideal reader is not simply the person who buys your book; he or she is the person who falls in love with the world your book creates and actively looks for ways to participate in that world, whether by following you (the author) on social media or sharing your book with others.  They’re not invested solely out of obligation––which is to say, they’re most likely not members of your immediate family or friend circle.  As wonderful as your existing network of relationships is, and as useful as your friends and family can be––as cheerleaders and amplifiers in your marketing campaign––they first fell in love with you and not your book, and that is always going to be a complicated tightrope to walk.

Your ideal reader, on the other hand, is a fan; but more than this, he or she is engaged with your book outside of the text as defined by letters inked on a page or pixels shadowing a screen.  Your ideal reader will slide your book into a back pocket while walking the dog or slip it into the diaper bag when taking the kids to story hour at the library; she’ll talk about it over the headset while duking it out with her friends on the Xbox or he’ll pass his dog-eared battered copy on to a friend or someone will drop it reluctantly by a Little Free Library––not giving it up because they didn’t have a use for it anymore, but rather giving it up because they’re fairly certain someone else might need it very much indeed.  These people are your mediators, your access, and your ambassadors to the world.

What does an ideal reader have to do with marketing, anyway?

As with any product, your book needs someone to buy it.  You can try to move copies by being absurdly wealthy and getting your superPAC to buy and then distribute thousands of volumes to local libraries in the vague hope that people will discover it while browsing and magically translate that discovery into a sudden impulse to buy more copies and distribute them to friends and family––but I’d be lying if I told you this is a time-honored or even remotely effective strategy.  Time and again, authors who meet their own personal benchmarks for “success” (and the word means something different to everyone) point to these sudden spikes or “strategic bulk” purchases as unethical, while grassroots support from middle or low-income readers who actually love your book enough to buy it despite limited resources tends to lead to long-term sustainable sales.  It goes without saying that people who have a personal, political, or financial stake in promoting your book are useful … but they can also unintentionally sabotage your success if they make your book about themselves, or about anything other than untrammeled storytelling.  And in order to find your grassroots supporters, you have to know where they live (so to speak), and the language they use (literally but also figuratively) to share what they love.

How do I track down my ideal reader, then?

Your ideal reader, if you’re an author of nonfiction, can be identified according to what problem he or she is trying to solve––whether that problem is the reader’s dependency on sugar for energy (a dietary self-help book, perhaps) or the upcoming dinner he’s throwing for the in-laws (a Mediterranean cookbook, perhaps) or her desire to fill a gap in her understanding (of particle physics, or a history of bipartisan politics in America, or the internal hierarchy of multinational corporations).  If you’re an author of fiction, your ideal reader is defined as someone who, when looking for new material to read, is drawn to the type of content or genre or characterization or form which you like to write––in other words, your ideal reader is someone whose tastes in consumption corresponds directly with your tastes in production.  There are many other people who might read your book and enjoy it or benefit from it, but they are baptized into the fold rather than the founders of it.

ideal readers self-publishing

Now, your book many bend genre traditions.  It may be so utterly innovative that the usual metrics of comparison––genre, plotting, etc––break down entirely.  And that’s entirely wonderful, even if it makes identifying your ideal reader just a touch more difficult.  If this is the case for you, instead of trying to jam your book into the confines of a neat description, ask yourself: What do I like to read?  What works of art and music and film move me?  Where do like to go to discover new reading material?  These make for the simplest and most effective path to finding your readers.


Once you find your ideal reader, what next?  Well, you make it worth their while to buy your book.  And that’s where next week’s blog post comes in.  Make sure to check back here next Wednesday!  There’s so much more to come.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,