Self-Publishing News: 5.18.2021

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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.

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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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

Self-Publishing News: 10.13.2020

And now for the news.

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

If you haven’t yet gotten into the world of podcasting as either a listener or creator, 2020 may just be the year to do so! One of our weekly contributors (Kendra M.) is something of a book-related podcast fiend, and pointed us to this recent podcast episode put out by Book Riot‘s children’s book show (they have many, which is why we’re being so specific here) Kidlit These Days, hosted by Matthew and Nicole. The episode in question is titled “Self-Publishing and Getting It Right,” and you can listen to it on the Book Riot website (linked here) or on most of the other podcatchers out there (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and etc.). The conversation about self-publishing really gets going at about the 8:40 mark. While Kidlit These Days focuses most frequently on books for younger readers (young adult and younger), their conversation on self-publishing is worth listening to no matter who you’re writing for.

In a recent opinion piece for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philip Martin describes a personal experiment with self-publishing: “As an experiment, I recently self-published a book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing e-book publishing service. It cost me exactly nothing, because I designed the cover and formatted the text.” Apart from some annoyances specific to Amazon advertising, he writes, the process was straightforward and easy. He goes on to note that “Most of my favorite books from the past few years have been from presses I’d never heard of before I received the book. The digital disruption of publishing has had some negative effects […] but for a consumer, it’s a good deal.” His piece is informed by his work as a critic whose career has included many a review of the printed page, and who is now surfing the wave of transition into the brave new world of mixed indie and traditional medias, in print and on digital platforms. It’s great to see this take added to the list of author and reader thoughts on the subject.

This article by Sassafras Lowrey for Publisher’s Weekly blew us away this week. PW has often included positive reflections on self-publishing in the past, but mostly contextualized within a larger conversation about its merits in comparison to the traditional model. Writes Lowrey, “My biggest wish is that self-published authors could stop apologizing directly or indirectly for the ways in which their books came to be in the world. […] The most important thing for the success of a book is that the author has confidence in whatever publishing decisions are being made—especially if the decision is to self-publish.” Like many authors, Lowrey has dabbled in both modes of publishing, and she’s eager to advocate for the merits of self-publishing independent of how it may or may not compare to what’s come before. She tackles issues pertaining to diversity and representation, creative control, royalties, and much more. We can’t recommend reading the full article enough.

If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is with zines or are curious about the possibilities zines offer the self-publishing author, we have some good news! This year the Twin Cities Zine Fest (TCZF) is going digital as a result of the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named, and that means you can participate no matter where in the country you happen to be––an unexpected bit of good news to offset some of the grimness out there. According to this press release,

TCZF aims to sustainably support self-publishing and the DIY ethic in our communities, with an intersectional focus on politically and socially engaged zines, community partnership, and amplifying the voices of those who have been historically unheard.

That’s a mission statement we can get behind! For those of us who do not live in the kind of urban sprawl that gives birth to fests like these, a digital option is a most welcome development. The Hennepin County Library, as sponsor of the event, does offer some tools and resources to their local library users that won’t be available to those who dial in from outside, but are available to the rest of us. Browsing the zinefest and watching the TCZF’s scheduled live events online is free, and many of the events have incredible titles, including the intriguing “Crafting autobiographical work without going nuts!” panel with M.S. Harkness on Thursday, October 22. Sounds like a great opportunity to interact with other creators despite the unusual year we’ve had. You can find more information at the link provided.

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.