Self-Publishing News: 9.26.2016

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

“In its annual summary of ISBNs registered for self-published works, Bowker reported that nearly 730,000 were issued in 2015, up from 153,000 in 2010,” writes Brian O’Leary in this September 23rd report for Publishers Weekly. “The numbers cover ISBNs issued for both print and digital formats,” he writes–but why should self-publishing authors care?  O’Leary has the answer:

The ISBN is a useful way to monitor sales across the supply chain, but works published on a single platform can forgo the identifier and rely on platforms such as Amazon to report performance. Because the creators of many self-published works do not apply for ISBNs, the number of new works published each year is believed to be greater than Bowker is able to report.

The result is that self-publishing authors are selling books which aren’t being effectively tracked by a third-party organization which reports on print, digital, and traditional vs. indie market shares.  Amazon, as we’ve mentioned elsewhere, doesn’t tend to release its sales figures to the public–and if it does, usually it’s only for a special occasional.  All of this is well and good if nobody minds that Amazon and other companies involved in self-publishing continue to withhold important information from the public, and if the public in turn doesn’t mind if it allows Amazon–a company with a vested interest in only its own shareholders, not the quality or diversity or ethicality of the product and marketing–to retain its unchallenged position at the apex of the indie revolution. O’Leary may not come out and say these things, but there’s the subtext when he concludes that “It’s not just a debate about traditional versus independent publishing, although that discussion will go on for some time. Understanding the market gives authors and publishers the data needed to inform where and how they spend their time and resources.”  For the rest of O’Leary’s excellent report, follow the link.

Monica Rhor pulls no punches in this September 24th article for USA Today; she’s ready to let the publishing world have it, and she delivers the full force of an argument that has been percolating among the near-holy trifecta of authors, publishers, and readers for some years now: Children need to see themselves in the books they read, and they aren’t getting that chance if they happen to be anything other than white and middle-class. And parents like Rhor’s interviewee, Victoria Cepeda, want to purchase books that “reflect her 4-year-old son’s cultural roots as well as his potential aspirations. [Cepeda] seeks stories that promote education and achievement, with characters who mirror his Latino heritage. Pretty simple stipulations. Amazingly difficult to find.”

This shouldn’t be the case, Rhor argues. But what’s holding us back? “Of the 3,400 books received by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education in 2015,” writes Rhor, “only 58 were written by Hispanic authors and 82 were about Latino characters. Most large-trade publishers in the U.S. send copies of their new books to the CCBC, an organization that tracks the race of authors and characters in children’s books.” This is despite the fact that fully one-quarter of US school-aged children are latino/a in heritage–and they all are being read to as a part of their school curricula. They are being told, in essence, that their culture and background doesn’t matter. That they are expected to identify with exclusively white characters, while white students are being taught that they aren’t expected to relate to anyone from a non-white background. If history has taught us anything, it’s that this kind of disparity does not teach empathy or create a safe environment for a growing nation’s minorities.

But there’s hope, and Rhor runs down a short list of opportunities now opening to latino/a authors, publishers, and readers (parents and children alike). To track these opportunities, read the rest of Rhor’s article here.

“Fear of failure and concerns over what the process would entail always put a stop to the idea; until now that is,” writes Chris Myers, co-founder and CEO of BodeTree, “a financial management solution for organizations that serve small business,” and frequent contributor to MSNBC. His “until now” reference is, as you might have guessed, to do with the rise of self publishing.  As Myers documents in this September 23rd piece for Forbes, self-publishing may actually be one of the few cases where a process is easier than advertised. (And it’s a fact that many experts caution authors as often as encourage them, for fear that they might lead them to think the process too easy.) And there you have the first thing Myers learned–“Publishing is easy”–as well as the preamble to his second point–“Marketing is hard”–which sounds about right, given the plethora of websites and blogs and books out there (including ours) which have something to say on the subject.  And Myers’ final point?  “It’s important to keep your expectations in check,” he writes, because “It’s a difficult and often thankless journey, but ultimately we do it for ourselves rather than fame or money.”  And if you haven’t already bought into the truth of these statements, check out Myers’ full article at the link, and make up your mind after reading how he came to these three realizations.


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


Kelly

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, kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing: 10 Things You Need to Know

If you are new to self-publishing, it can seem a little overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of great resources to help you decide if self-publishing is right for you and to answer all your questions on hot topics such as copyediting, copyrights, and book formatting. Below is a list of 10 must read articles for self-publishing authors. Each gives you helpful information to ensure you have a great self-publishing experience.

1. 4 Reasons to Fall in Love with Self-Publishing

Not only is self-publishing a huge trend among first time authors, but it is also becoming increasingly common for writers who previously used traditional publisher (and had great success) to switch to self-publishing. This article discusses the top four reasons why writers love self-publishing.

2. The Cost of Self-Publishing

The cost of self-publishing is a common question, and concern, for many writers. This article provides an honest look at the cost of publishing your book.

3. 5 Self-Publishing Mistakes You Can Avoid

Sometimes self-publishing gets a bad rep because of the amateur mistakes some authors make. This post will help you avoid those mistakes so you can be seen as a professional and your book can be taken seriously by readers and the publishing industry.

4. What is an ISBN?

This article explains what an ISBN is, if you need one, and how to get one.

5. Paperback vs. Hardcover: Which is Better?

This post discusses the pros and cons of paperback and hardcover books. It will help you decide which cover is best for your project.

6. Should You Create Your Own Cover?

A great book cover can significantly impact your book’s success. This article breaks down the pros and cons of creating your own book cover or hiring a graphic artist.

7. The Importance of a Compelling Back Cover Synopsis

The back cover of your book is also important. This article explains the importance of a compelling back cover synopsis and provides tips on creating one.

8. Copyediting 101

This article explains how copyediting is different from proofreading and why it is a good idea to consider hiring a professional copyeditor.

9. Top 7 Book Formatting Questions for Self Publishing Authors

One of the most popular topics I receive questions on is book formatting. This article tells you what you need to know.

10. Top 6 Self-Publishing Copyright Questions

Copyright is another hot topic among authors. This great article answers the most common questions, such as what is the fair use law and how do I know if something is copyright protected.

I’d love to know, what other questions do you have about self-publishing?

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.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Every book that is sold has a unique number known as an ISBN to help book purchasers identify it.  It is like a social security number for your book.

Books published as of January 1, 2007 have ISBNs that are 13 digits long. Prior to 2007, ISBNs were 10 digits long. While it is not necessary for all books to display an ISBN, most book stores only carry ISBN-bearing merchandise, so it is very important that your book has a printed ISBN.

While there is a method to how the ISBN is determined, it may not be necessary for every self-publishing author to understand this process. What is important to know is how to get an ISBN for your book. The exact steps vary depending on your publisher of choice, but sometimes the ISBN is simply included in your self publishing package. Check with your publishing company before you start publishing to make sure your book will have its own ISBN and that they will handle the details of this for you.  After all, that is a benefit of using a full-service self-publishing company!

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 and Shelf Space

Perhaps one of the most extraordinary experiences for self-publishing authors comes in holding your book in hand for the first time.

Unfortunately, I see many self-published authors trying to replicate that experience for a handful of others by seeing their books stocked in a brick-and-mortar store. Physical inventory in areas where you can do book signings and readings can be a good thing, but for many finding shelf space in a physical location will be about as productive as pushing boulders up a mountain.

The book industry, while slower than others like the record business, has changed. Now, your ISBN is infinite shelf space. And shelf space where your book will be priced lower, and royalties higher. For readers, your book is just as real, and just as important. Instead of spending all that time, energy, and lost royalty revenue, peddling your books around, let those like Amazon do the work for you. They’ve already made the investment.

 


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4 Myths about Book Publishing Today

There is a lot of confusion, controversy, and questions surrounding the terms self-publishing, vanity press, print-on-demand, etc. As you decide the best publishing path for you, let’s clarify some misconceptions some may have propagated.

1. MYTH: Whoever owns the ISBN owns the rights.
FACT: This used to be true. Nowadays, it is no longer true. Good self-publishing options assign the ISBN for the authors’ convenience, but still allow authors to keep 100% of the rights to their books. Be sure to check the contract.

2. MYTH: Independent self-publishing is different from publishing with an established organization because that publisher owns the ISBN.
FACT: It is true that the ISBN identifies the publisher of record. With reputable options, authors can supply their own ISBN as an option. Of course, if an author prefers the publisher to assign an ISBN for them, that should be an option too. And that’s what self-publishing is about – author choice and author control.

3. MYTH: New York publishers promote and market all their books.
FACT: New York publishers usually devote the lion’s share of their marketing budget to the top 1% (Harry Potter, for example) of the books they publish. The other books published during that season are victims of the sliced marketing budget. The majority of traditionally published authors are referred to as “mid-listeres” and don’t get much support from their publisher at all.

4.MYTH: Printing a book with an off-set printer is the same as self-publishing it.
FACT: Printing a book is one facet of publication. Before a book can be printed, it needs to be designed. Then it needs to be printed. Then it needs wholesale distribution through Ingram and availability online with retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Then it needs fulfillment of orders and invoicing.

Printing a book with an offset printer accomplishes one of those steps. Publishing a book with a leading self-publishing option accomplishes all of them. Almost anyone can “print” a book, but what about all the other stuff that is required?


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Self-Publishing Advantages Out on the Table

This posts and blog exists to help you make the best informed choices for the future of their books. Whether you’re still in the conceptualization phase or searching for a publisher, these are tips, each worthy of careful consideration.

For example, take a moment and write out your personal publishing goals…

For many authors, these 7 are the most important:

1) Keeping 100% of your rights and creative control to your book
2) Keeping 100% of your author royalties
3) Unlimited wholesale and retail availability
4) Additional marketing support and services
5) Publishing imprint and ISBN flexibility
6) High-quality book design
7) Complete print-run flexibility (1 to 1000s)

What would you add to this list?

– K


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Self-publishing – Let’s Clarify

Tuesday’s post concerning publishing contract details prompted me to consider a few pieces of information self-publishing authors may benefit from on the front end, deciding which route to take their books. It’s true there can be a lot of confusion about self publishing and print-on-demand. Let’s clarify some misconceptions many have seen floating around.

1. MYTH: Whoever owns the ISBN owns the book.

FACT: This use to be true. Nowadays, not as much so. Most POD publishers assign an ISBN they own, and they do this for the authors’ convenience; in any case authors should ALWAYS keep all the rights to their book.

2. MYTH: Independent self-publishing is different from publishing with a POD publisher because the publisher owns the ISBN.

FACT: It is true that the ISBN identifies the publisher of record. Look for a publisher that allows authors to supply their own ISBN at some level.

3.MYTH: New York publishers promote and market all their books.

FACT: New York publishers usually devote the lion’s share of their marketing budget to the top 1% (Harry Potter, for example) of the books they publish. The other books published during that season are victims of the sliced marketing budget. Most authors don’t get any support from their traditional publisher at all.

4.MYTH: Printing a book with an offset printer is the same as publishing it.

FACT: Printing a book is one facet of publication. Before a book can be printed, it needs to be designed. Then it needs to be printed. Then it needs wholesale distribution through Ingram and availability online with retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Then it needs fulfillment of orders and invoicing.

Printing a book with an off-set printer accomplishes one of those steps. Publishing a book with a turn-key, custom self-publisher accomplishes all of them. Some authors choose to do both; an on-demand edition complements an off-set print-run very nicely.

Karl Schroeder