Self-Publishing News: 10.27.2020

And now for the news.

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

When it comes to speaking directly to the troubles of the present, one can’t overlook the impact of articles such as this one by Tiffany Johnson for the Spokesman Reporter, in which she records details of a conversation with self-published author W.D. Foster Graham, who is using his experience and voice as a Black author in America to broaden the diversity of local library collections both through the inclusion of his own books as well as by requesting a number of books by other authors be added to their catalogs. Foster Graham is most well know for “Never Give Up and Mark My Words, which are both part of his Christopher Family Novel series.” Writes Johnson, “He used the self-publishing process as an opportunity to care for his project in a way that was relevant to his unique narrative as a Black voice in the United States. “I had to vet editors. I would ask them, ‘What does cultural sensitivity mean to you?’” he said.” Once his books reached publication, he began approaching libraries. The Hennepin County library welcomed his books into their collections, and other libraries began to follow suit.

According to Foster-Graham, now seven counties in the Twin Cities metro area plus St. Paul, Rochester, and St. Cloud, offer his books and other Black authors that he has requested. He urges the Black community to do the same. “You need to come at them with data on how they can access more African American books. I provided them with an alternative [solution],” he said.

We cannot recommend this article highly enough. It’s not too long, so we don’t want to steal too much of the limelight from Johnson’s excellent writing, but suffice it to say this is a positive, proactive approach to improving the quality and quantity of voices represented in a regional way, and it just might offer a roadmap for other authors and readers to assist in starting tough but necessary conversations with their own local libraries.

Alright, now this is interesting––and if the first reviews of the crowdfunding project Spark Books Accelerator Program by the Spark Project come back positive, then this might prove to be an incredibly useful tool for some self-publishing authors who have struggled to raise the money to pay for premium services, like copyediting and illustrations (just to name two). According to Patricia Mirasol of Business World, this “accelerator program uses a similar model as the local crowdfunding platform that matches creators with backers who are willing to pitch in money for ideas they find compelling and worthwhile.” Sounds nice, right? As more details are made public and the Spark Project beta tests its first few crowdfunding attempts, we will report further on this subject! Quoting from one of the project’s founders, Mr. Dulay, Mirasol repeats his words that “The beauty of crowdfunding is that it [offsets expenses]. Our goal is for the whole process to pay for itself.” Nice idea, nice plans, and now we watch and wait for nice test runs.

Prabbhan’s article in The Free Press Journal is something of a wake-up call. Not only do writers struggle with the same COVID-19 inspired challenges that we all face, but they are also struggling with the additional challenge of not being able to access their local libraries and bookstores (or at least, not in the same ways as they did before––most bookish spaces have pretty robust online presences these days). Bookstores offer inspiration, research pathways, and much more, hints Prabbhan, who interviews a number of young writers for the article. That said, one interview––with author Karan Puri––is especially illuminating in a positive sense. Writes Prabbhan:

[Puri] believes that the ‘stay home stay safe’ phase can be a terrific option for those wanting to maximise their side-hustles. “The lockdown gave me the time to complete my book and release it all over the world through Amazon self-publishing. A great platform, I took advantage and first launched the ebook version of the book. I started interviewing a few people who had gone through such issues for my book, and it’s been a worthwhile pursuit.

Whether or not his local bookstore is open for business, Puri sees possibilities. That’s a notion we will keep in mind when the days seem especially hard. There is a silver lining, perhaps, for some authors who never quite found the time in their busy lives to complete their manuscripts!

Every list needs to end with something as pure and sweet as this article from the Green Bay Press-Gazette! As Clough himself puts it in the article’s opening lines, “It’s not often a golden retriever gets a writing credit, but that’s the case on Baby Bumbu, a book from writer John Koski and illustrator Ben Toyne, both of Sturgeon Bay.” The cover is adorable, and the idea is adorable: “tells the fictional story of a puppy taken to join a circus in France and her efforts to return to her Wisconsin home,” writes Clough. Bumbu has been “dognapped”! Obviously we’re going to have to read the book so we find out what happens to poor Bumbu. In addition to the regular edition of the book, a special addition is available for an additional fee that goes directly to a nonprofit. Clough sums up the details: “Those who order directly from Koski can have their books ‘signed’ with a paw print from Grace Ellen.” We don’t know much else about this particular book yet on the blog, but we can’t wait to learn more. Find out more information at the link above!

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: 9.16.2020

And now for the news.

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

We’ve written about Technavio reports before; unfortunately most of each of their reports is hidden behind a paywall, but they always create an attractive summary infographic that is useful all on its own. Their timeliness in collecting and publishing data means that they’re often among the first to note new trends and developments in both traditional and self-publishing. Their latest report (and infographic) is out now, and the news is mostly positive: Technavio reports that the data suggests publishing will actually grow in 2020, albeit incrementally and not dramatically all at once. (Which would be fun, but also potentially unsustainable.) They also speculate on possible dates when the market might “normalize” after COVID-19, which ranges from the third quarter of 2021 (at the earliest) to the first quarter of 2022. It’s always worth being reminded to be patient with a market as large as publishing (traditional and self-publishing) when going through something as disruptive as this virus. We can only imagine what’s hidden behind that paywall at present in respect to further information, but even just that news is both encouraging and realistic.

This week in The Arrow, Lucas Irizarry covers the story of Jasmine Jones, a student at Southeast whose first self-published book came out in 2018 when she was, herself, only 18––and who has just released her second and latest book of poems in July. According to Irazarry, Jones “said the process of getting self-published is surprisingly easy, and she learned of the opportunity by watching poetry Youtubers.” That’s not an avenue one might expect, given that most of the stories we’ve heard and reported over the years have focused on careful comparisons of existing self-publishing platforms, and not so much the possibility of discovering a resource by way of YouTube. But Jones’ story is interesting in many ways, not just her source point of discovery; she published through the B&N website, and states that the appeal of self-publishing was in that it “allows the user to decide the color of the pages, if the book will be hardback or paperback and the size of the book. Jones designed the covers for both of her books, but she said authors can hire any designer or illustrator to create them. She said it took about a week for her to perfect each of her covers.” We’re always excited to hear about new young authors embracing the process of publishing, and Jones seems to be emblematic of that particular trend. We’re excited to see what Jones does next!

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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: 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 Cleveland.com 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!


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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: 7.21.2020

21 July on wooden blocks with a white daisy on a red background

And now for the news.

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

In their recent press release, the industry data analyst Technavio has published some insights on the trends that they observed in the global publishing industry throughout the first half of 2020 and some they expect to continue to develop through the end of the year–and then onward through 2024. The release opens with the statement that “Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the growth of various industries, the immediate impact of the outbreak is varied. While a few industries will register a drop in demand, numerous others will continue to remain unscathed and show promising growth opportunities.” That tantalizing statement is a preface for (paid) access to their full report, although the do offer a free sample report that is definitely worth seeing. (Infographics really are our friends!) From what we can gather, print sales are lagging across many genres and ebooks are again rising in popularity to offset that, likely as a result of bookstores struggling to put print books into peoples’ hands by way of bookshop browsing. Consider this your annual reminder to seek out new ways to partner with your local bookstores–and to diversify the ways and means that readers can lay their hands on your books!

In an article for Entrepreneur that was picked up later by The Hour and other online platforms, Lucas Miller of Echelon Copy LLC shared six common errors that self-publishing authors frequently make when breaking into the business. We won’t spoil the whole article for you, as it is truly worth a read on its own merits, but we were particularly struck by how no. 5 (“Forgetting print and digital formatting”) reinforces what we just noted above in our review of Technavio’s report: if you want your self-published book to thrive during the era of social distancing, making sure you have multiple avenues–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org and indie bookstores, and so forth––to purchase your books is important, and so too is making sure that you have a range of formats–ebook, print, print-on-demand, audiobook, and so forth–available to suit the needs of your readers. 

Our last news that we’re going to feature this week is specifically relevant to those indie authors based out of the US who use the program Substack for their newsletters, and since Substack continues to grow in popularity, we thought it worth a mention here. Brian Heater of TechCrunch covers Substack’s latest move, launching Defender to assist in (lacking a more specific term) defending the legal rights of indie authors. As Heater puts it,

In the worlds of journalism and publishing, it’s fairly common for the wealthy to attempt to shut down reporting with legal threats. For those publishing on large platforms with plenty of resources, such challenges can be a massive headache. For independent writers and publishers, on the other hand, the consequences can be far more dire.

If you use Substack, take a look at Heater’s full article. Hopefully other newsletter platforms will follow suit!


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

In Your Corner: Put Your COVID-19 “Vacation” to Work!

laptop flowers

Oh, I know–turning what’s possibly the most abnormal “vacation” (or slowdown, or full-speed nightmare, depending on whether you work and in what essential or nonessential industry you work in) into a working vacation isn’t necessarily what you had in mind for your summer, but the fact remains: books aren’t going to sell themselves, and when it comes to being an indie author, there’s not a moment to be wasted. Even if it feels like COVID-19 has completely derailed everything else, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed:

Marketing takes a lot of time.

Luckily for everyone, there are some easy ways to boost your sales and make your summer weirdness work for you rather than against your book sales!

Vacations and the reunions that go with them can be the absolutely most ideal time to market your book and gather some new readers. Or maybe old readers. Age doesn’t matter. Everybody reads, especially when they have a personal connection to the author–you! Reunions are a fantastic place to tell family members, friends, and other personal connections about your book and where they can buy it. Obviously we now live in a time of #SocialDistancing, which means most of these reunions (and birthday parties, graduation parties, memorials, holiday get-togethers, and family check-ins) are taking place over Zoom or FaceTime UnHangOut or one of the many other digital video call platforms available. And by golly, everyone’s probably ready at this point to have something to talk about other than the virus and all of its inconveniences. (I know I sure am.) Even though you may not be in the same room, your book may just be the kind of news your family and friends need to distract themselves with, and then share with their friends … and their friends ….

Don’t underestimate the power of your personal network.

Then there’s the most magical of all summer vacation destinations: the gift shop, the ultimate place to display and present your book for shoppers and readers on their various road trips. And while you travel, too–any stranger you meet on a trip is only a stranger until you break the ice by sharing your book. Buuuuut … the virus is here, right? So unless you live in one of those few states where reopening is moving into Phase II right now, what we thought we were going to go and do this summer is turning out to be very different from what we can go out and do. That said, you’re leaving a digital footprint every bit as large as you would have left a physical one during a normal summer. Don’t hesitate to use every platform to launch your book. You just want to make sure you don’t violate that platform’s version of digital etiquette.

Of course, if you’re going to make the most of your, ahem, vacation (whatever this season looks like for you), there are some things to keep in mind. You’ll need to:

Keep up with your social media.

Before you take off for the beach or the mountains or the hazy land of Netflix binges, schedule. Schedule, schedule, schedule. Facebook has a lovely, easy tool built-in to make this possible–simply put your posts together, and click the drop-down arrow next to the ‘post’ button and input the date and time of your intended schedule.

But what about the others? There are quite a few tools out there to manage all of your media at once. Hootsuite is one, Later.com another, Buffer yet a third. Do your due diligence and pick a service that fits your needs, and be aware that there are free options, so you should theoretically be able to take care of your scheduling needs affordably. Once you have an account, all you have to do is preload your tweets, your posts to Google+ and Instagram and so on.

And of course, be safe! If you’re actually traveling, play up your travels as much as you like as a kind of promotion, but don’t make a point of mentioning how long you’ll be away from home, or other personal details that the disingenuous might exploit. Take pictures and make plenty of memories to share later! Those of us who can’t go anywhere are living vicariously through you. Congratulations. Give me all your photos!!

Network!

Take full advantage of your summer to plan for the future. Is there a writing conference taking place in one of your destination cities that’s still on, or going digital? Get on the list. Are there book readings? Could you plan a book reading through one of the libraries near your beach or mountain idyll or thoroughly fortified house? Local writing groups are another great option. Plenty of people might be interested in having you speak about the process of self-publishing, and libraries, writing groups, and other businesses and organizations are in desperate need of new partners willing to learn how to use Zoom (or whichever digital space) and keep their programming alive.

And of course, come prepared. Keep a bundle of digital promo pictures or a pack of business cards, bookmarks, postcards, posters, and a couple of promotional copies of your book on hand, and practice your elevator pitch thoroughly beforehand. If you haven’t yet invested in some merch or beautifully designed graphics, go ahead and start down that glorious road. Think outside the box, too: is there a way to promote your book while traveling, even if it’s only traveling the many varied landscapes of the Internet?

Make it a GRAND tour!

Some of the items on your agenda are a given, no matter what kind of summer we’re talking about. Marketing your self-published book shouldn’t take up all of your precious vacation time, but spending even just a handful of minutes each day checking Twitter or arranging a couple of book readings will help support the marketing and sales momentum you’ve worked so hard to build–not to mention pay for an even better (and hopefully actual) vacation next year!

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

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.