From the Archives: Self-publishing vs. Independent Publishing

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: July 28th, 2010 ]

Guest Post: The Book Doctor on Self-Publishing vs. Independent Publishing

Q: When you spoke at a conference recently, I heard you refer to self-publishing. Isn’t “independent publishing” the correct term now?

A: Yes and no. An independent publisher is a small publisher that may or may not publish the works of the owner, but it always publishes the works of other authors, as well. When you publish only your own books, you are self-publishing. I know the distinction is vague; in either case you have to set up a company and be a publisher, but an independent publishing house accepts the works of others, as well as the works of the owner.

Also, when you use a firm that helps you publish, so that you don’t have to set up your own company, you are a self-published author, as opposed to a traditionally published author.

In the end, we are simply talking semantics. If you spend any money at all toward the printing of your book, you are self-published. Being self-published used to carry a stigma, and perhaps that’s why some people don’t want to use the term, but the market has changed over the years, and people’s attitudes have changed with it. At a time when selling a book to a traditional publisher is almost impossible, yet printing your own book has become easier than ever, self-publishing has taken on a whole new character and lost much of its prior poor image. Nowadays the only stigma comes from a poorly written or unedited self-published book. If the book looks good, reads well, is thoroughly edited, and sells well, who cares who paid for the printing?

While the words of the Book Doctor remain as true in 2016 as they were in 2010, I’d like to play devil’s advocate for a moment and argue that no, we’re not just “talking semantics” when we talk about the distinction between “independent publishing” and “self-publishing”–and in part I’m inspired by yesterday’s news compendium, or more specifically, Alex Palmer’s “Indie Authors Business Guide” for Publisher’s Weekly.  A self-publishing author who does not run an indie press may or may not choose to pursue becoming a limited liability corporation (LLC), but an independent publisher has no choice in whether or not to run his or her work as a business.  (Besides, passions run hot when it comes to these distinctions, as Judith Briles of AuthorU explains at length.)

And there’s an additional wrench in the works: “independent publishing” is not the same thing as being an “indie author.”  As Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn writes, “The term ‘indie author’ has been increasingly claimed by authors who want a new label, one that does justice to the work involved.”  This isn’t a matter of semantics, but of self-identification and empowerment.

As Penn goes on to point out, the proliferation of publishing platforms and models means that there’s a lot more confusion between the clear-cut definitions that we have relied on in the past, as we did in our 2010 Book Doctor post.  “Indie” could mean someone who publishes online and cuts out the middleman entirely, someone who publishes through an indie press, someone who partners up with other self-publishing authors to create a micro-business, someone who publishes through unpaid digital platforms and relies on sponsorships and donations, and so on and so forth.

One of the things I like best about using the term “indie” is that it takes the heat out of the situation.  There’s a tendency to consider self-publishing the opposing binary or even “enemy” of traditional publishing, but the savvy author knows that it’s less about the inherent components of the model than it is about the people working within that model and how well they serve the author.  Self-publishing may be “friendlier” on the whole to its authors by design, but that does not mean every traditional publishing option is inherently evil or that every hybrid or self-publishing company treats its authors well.  Indie authors take control of their publishing experience by finding the right option and team of professionals for them, without pitching publishing models against each other in some kind of Game of Thrones death match.  Indie authors are entrepreneurs as well as consummate businessfolk, and I respect them so much!

Close up of innovate definition

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

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.

Paid Review Services, Are They Worth It?

Books reviews are very important in the publishing industry, especially for new and self-published authors. Book reviews help authors promote their work and increase their credibility. In the highly competitive publishing industry, the success of your book depends on positive reviews.

A book published by an unknown author has little chance of gaining attention, while the same book (and the same “unknown” author) with a number of positive reviews can begin to gain momentum.  Those positive reviews can help persuade potential new readers to buy the book and the word-of-mouth continues.

So how do you get reviews?

You can start with friends and colleagues. Just be sure to encourage them to be honest in their reviews. Readers won’t be convinced to read your book just because your mom thinks you are amazing.

Next, there are some free review services where you can send a copy of your book.  These services are a great resource; however, because they are free, the reviewers get inundated with books and can’t review every book they receive.  Their services can also take several months and the reviews are not guaranteed to be good.

In addition to free review services, there are some services available where you can pay to be guaranteed a review.  That said, the review is still not guaranteed to be good, but if you are confident in your book (which you should be, after all you wrote and published it!), you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

Here are three pay-for-review services you can start with:

BLUE INK REVIEW

Standard Review is $395 for the review to be completed in 7-9 weeks.

Fast Track Review is $495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks.

BlueInk considers for review any book that has been published (self-published and indie published).  They review e-books, on-demand books, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys. They do not review manuscripts pre-publication.

FOREWORD CLARION REVIEW

The cost is $305 and turnaround time is 6-8 weeks.

Open to all books and publishers, Clarion promises an objective 400 – 500 word review/critique with a quick six to eight week turnaround. The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere.

KIRKUS INDIE REVIEW

Standard review is completed in 7-9 weeks for $425.

Express review is completed in 3-4 weeks for $575.

The Kirkus Indie program gives independent authors a chance to obtain an unbiased, professional review of their work, written in the same format as a traditional Kirkus review. A book review can be an essential and powerful tool for promoting your book to literary agents, traditional publishing houses, booksellers, and, most importantly, potential readers.

I’d love to know, have you used a paid review service? How was the experience?

ABOUT 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 11/12/13

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 Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

On the Books: Allison Winn Scotch to self-publish fifth novel with Jennifer Garner’s production company attached to film

Entertainment Weekly reports that Time of My Life author Allison Winn Scotch plans to self-publish her fifth novel The Theory of Opposites. This article briefly shares why Scotch plans to self-publish and tells a little bit about the book.

DIY: How to Understand Self-Publishing Acronyms

Bowker’s Senior Manager of Publisher Relations and Content Development, Patricia Payton, recently moderated a session at BEA’s uPublishU on understanding how to distribute a book and offered an extensive glossary of terms. This article shares some of the terms and provides the link to the full list of terms.

Self-Publishing And Direct Sales: Pros, Cons And Problems

This Forbe’s contributor discusses her decision to only sell her self-published book via direct sales. She shares the benefits and disadvantages of this method.

Mahwah teen becomes self-published novelist

This is an inspiring story of a 15-year-old sophomore who has recently self-published her first novel. It shows that anyone, no matter what age, can achieve their dreams of writing and publishing a book.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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.

Self-Publishing Week in Review: 11/05/13

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 Tuesday to find out the hottest news.

Smart Businesses Find that Self-Publishing Isn’t Just for Authors Any More

Self-published books are a great part of businesses’ “content marketing” strategies. This article talks about how smart businesses are taking advantage of self-publishing.

3 Simple Censorship Rules Can Safeguard Self-Published Ebooks

Censorship has been a hot topic recently due to the self-publishing erotica scandal. This article talks about how censorship impacts self-publishing and how changes may impact the future.

Self-publishing grows, with almost 400,000 titles last year

A recent Bowker report shows that self-publishing is still a growing trends. More than 391,000 self-published titles were published in 2012. That is a 59 percent increase compared to the year before.

Opinion: How Indie Publishing Compares to the Indie Music Scene

This interesting articles compares indie publishing and indie music. Not only does it point out all the perks of independent publishing and music, but it also discusses the growing acceptance of indie publishing.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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.

Should You Pay for a Book Review?

As an author in the self-publishing industry, reviews for your book are very important.  A book published by an unknown author has little chance of gaining attention, while the same book (and the same “unknown” author) with a number of positive reviews can begin to gain momentum.  Those positive reviews can help persuade potential new readers to buy the book and the word-of-mouth continues.

You may have already received reviews from some of your friends or colleagues, so what next?  There are some free review services where you can send a copy of your book.  These services are a great resource; however, because they are free, the reviewers get inundated with books and can’t review every book they receive.  Their services can also take several months and the reviews are not guaranteed to be good.

In addition to free review services, there are some services available where you can pay to be guaranteed a review.  That said, the review is still not guaranteed to be good, but if you are confident in your book (which you should be, after all you wrote and published it!), you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

Here are three pay-for-review services you can start with:

BLUE INK REVIEW

Standard Review is $395 for the review to be completed in 7-9 weeks.

Fast Track Review is $495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks.

BlueInk considers for review any book that has been published (self-published and indie published).  They review e-books, on-demand books, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys. They do not review manuscripts pre-publication.

FOREWORD CLARION REVIEW

The cost is $305 and turnaround time is 6-8 weeks.

Open to all books and publishers, Clarion promises an objective 400 – 500 word review/critique with a quick six to eight week turnaround. The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere.

KIRKUS INDIE REVIEW

Standard review is completed in 7-9 weeks for $425.

Express review is completed in 3-4 weeks for $575.

The Kirkus Indie program gives independent authors a chance to obtain an unbiased, professional review of their work, written in the same format as a traditional Kirkus review. A book review can be an essential and powerful tool for promoting your book to literary agents, traditional publishing houses, booksellers, and, most importantly, potential readers.

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on pay-for-review services like these?  Do you have experience with any of the above?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for 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.

Amanda Hocking’s Road to Success with Indie Publishing

Today’s post is by book marketing industry expert, Kelly Schuknecht.

Amanda Hocking has become an indie and digital publishing super star.  The author of 17 books, she began self-publishing them as e-books in April 2010, and what a year it has been!  She has earned over a million dollars in royalties and landed a traditional publishing contract for her next series.

How did she do it?  Amanda writes young adult paranormal romance, and prices her books with a marketing strategy in mind.  She published the first book in each series with a price of just $.99 to encourage sales.  Once readers were hooked, the price of her second book in the series was just $2.99.  She would set the price of the final book in the series at about $8.99.  When readers would purchase all of the books in the series, Amanda would make “a pretty decent profit.”

Hear about Amanda’s road to success in her own words in this Associated Press video:

 

DISCUSSION: How do you use marketing strategy when you set your pricing?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for 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.