And now for the news!
Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically regarding publishing trends within the publishing industry, and their implications for all authors!
We’ve written occasionally about the happy synchronicity between self-publishing and genre fiction, but this article more or less proves it: while traditional sales in some of these genres, here specifically science fiction and fantasy, actual sales may have actually doubled when those crunching the numbers include information from indie and self-publishing sources. The difficulty, of course, is that many of these companies (here’s looking at your KDX service, Amazon!) refuse to give up information, or at least to do so reliably. Still, from the information available Adam Rowe of Forbes is able to speculate, drawing upon Nielson reports among others, that while “Indie-published authors may be just 48% of the SF&F market (and their unit prices average just $3.20 compared to traditional publishers’ ebook average of $8.04), but these authors are likely still earning the majority of the profits.” This is good news for self-publishing authors, Rowe writes, but may not be the kind of boost or reminder that traditional publishers need to invest in these genres in which authors are jumping ship. The authors are, in part, jumping ship because they weren’t being invested in; they have good reasons to leave the traditional route, just as much as they have good reasons to choose an indie route. At some point, are the Big Five going to reach a tipping point where they simply discontinue their science fiction and fantasy (as well as other genre fiction) imprints? Because that would be a loss to us all.
Speaking of science fiction, did you know that the history of zines is inextricably tied up with this genre? As Claire Williamson of the Japan Times Culture column writes,
“The Comet” is widely acknowledged to be the first zine — first published in 1930 by the Science Correspondence Club in Chicago — and its release heralded the beginning of a decades-long trend of fan-produced science fiction zines. By the 1970s and ’80s, zine culture was decidedly punk; in the 1990s it centered on the feminist “riot grrrl” movement. Nowadays zines often combine elements of both text and design, running the gamut from in-depth, research-based publications to pocket-sized collections of personal doodles, and encompassing myriad topics.
Zines are also, of course, tied up with self-publishing. Writes Williamson, “From the modern ukiyo-e prints of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to contemporary dōjinshi (self-published) fan comics, there has always been an outlet in Japan for artistic self-publishing.” It may have begun in the Edo period, but “The mid-2000s, for instance, heralded the rise of keitai shōsetsu (cell phone novels), which were written in sparse, colloquial Japanese — ideal for drafting or reading on cramped cell phone screens — and appealed to the masses. Meanwhile, nijisōsaku (derivative works) that draw on copyrighted characters have historically been protected from lawsuits to allow the growth of the parent work’s fanbase and encourage budding artistic talent.” As Williamson points out, in such a historical context, self-publishing as we know it today makes for a natural fit. Williamson unpacks the rich story of zines and self-publishing in modern Japan, as well as several of its current players, making this a must-read article. The article may be of local interest, but its implications are global.
Not familiar with The Kissing Booth? That’s alright; until two weeks ago, no one else had either. This made-for-and-by-Netflix teenage drama has risen to through the ranks of most-watched films online in its brief time in the world, and is forcing entertainment companies to re-evaluate where they find their source material. Because The Kissing Booth? Yeah, that was self-published. We’ve written about Wattpad, the blogging and self-publishing site so popular with teens, before on this blog–but it’s worth point out again that self-publishing doesn’t ever look like any one thing. It’s microbloggers like Rupi Kaur who use Instagram to find an audience. It’s fanfiction and lengthier bloggers like those who use Wattpad, LinkedIn, and Tumblr to find their audiences. It’s authors writing full-length novels and publishing them through companies like Amazon and Outskirts Press. It’s zine makers making and distributing their work by hand or through the Internet. It’s indie comic creators and game designers pushing the envelope of what’s considered self-publishable material, as well as musicians and artists and so, so many more. Now that companies like Netflix are literally banking on self-publishing authors and other creators, it’s only a matter of time before we see an explosion and diversification of the base definition of self-publishing, and before that list is multiplied by a factor of ten. If you’re a self-publishing author or creator reading this blog, you’re in the right place at the right time. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
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.