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.

Self-Publishing News: 9.29.2020

And now for the news.

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

We’ve written many times about zines––their history, their current value and various applications––and we are always happy to see zines back in the news! This article comes by way of Jasmine Santos and The Chronicle, and it covers the rise of zines and their critical importance in the age of digital impermanence. Says Santos, “Zines give marginalized creatives an inexpensive avenue to disseminate and self-publish their ideas.” And that, in a nutshell, is what we ourselves have always believed to be true. We are also compelled to answer her later question: “Zines offer a space where communities unite and individuals feel included. Indeed, zines do democratize publishing, but so does blogging and desktop publishing. What makes zines different?” We could propose a few ways that zines are different, but we find ourselves agreeing with pretty much everything Santos says on the subject, and we highly recommend reading the entire article. But when Santos writes the following, we were simply in love with every line.

Zines provide what the internet is truly lacking: authenticity and soul. Regardless of background, the art of zines embraces the stories that easily get lost in digital timelines and capitalist assembly lines, and transforms them into a tangible publication — a timeless story. They help creators map out their roles in the social ecosystem through the diversity they invite.

Isn’t that just the most hopeful thought? When you find yourself next at an impasse with writer’s block, perhaps you might consider publishing a shorter work––like a zine!

Speaking of diversity and the benefits thereof, here comes a wonderful article from Ashley Winters and the St. Louis American on two sisters who have found a home in self-publishing. As is often the case when breaking new ground, it was a bit of an uphill battle getting into the game. Together they have published five children’s books that “reflect families and children of color,” which have been sorely lacking due to the many ways the publishing system continues to battle itself to grow beyond decades of under=representation. Writes Winters, “Owens and Draper pride themselves in creating stories that Black and Brown children can identify with. Their goal is for their books to leave a lasting impression on kids who can model the positive messages found in their stories.” Their story is inspiring, compelling, and exactly what we needed to read this week. We absolutely insist you check it out if the events of 2020 have cultivated in you an interest in learning more about diversity in publishing, and the power of self-publishing to democratize the market.

“Books don’t sell themselves, especially when no one is physically allowed to go to bookstores anymore. You need to market,” writes Jia Wertz in a recent Forbes article. Those who have chosen to pursue the self-publishing path are being hit especially hard in this area, as they lack the force of a team of marketing experts that traditionally published authors can rely on to help. (Self-publishing companies do, however, sometimes offer marketing assistance as a part of their publishing package––so definitely check out your options before feeling overwhelmed.) And Wertz has several wonderful suggestions of her own––you absolutely must read her full article––and begins with one of the challenges that all self-publishing authors seem to face in the indie process: when to start.

“During our last self publishing survey, we asked top-selling authors to share some of their secrets to success,” says Stephen Spatz, President of Bookbaby. “One of the most important findings: over 80% of these successful authors started marketing their books before they began writing.” He says the ‘promote-then-publish’ mentality is spreading amongst independent writers and self-publishers.

Wertz draws upon a number of experts while unfolding some of the best writerly and publishing advice out there on the web. Every point brings something of value, and Wertz seems to know exactly who to turn to in order to convince us––to get started on our next project! Check it out.

Just as we are always happy to see zines back in the news, we are always happy to see Publishers Weekly hard at work championing the publication of new indie and self-publishing books. They are back at it in this week’s list of new titles, which include Rita Malsch’s Secure in God and Robert Levine’s The Uninformed Voter––two very different books, and that’s just a taste of the creative range of books on the list. We highly recommend taking at least a quick peek at all the possibilities! Maybe you will find yourself an interesting read … or a bit of inspiration as you yourself move forward with your self-publishing ideal!

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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: 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: 9.1.2020

And now for the news.

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

Here’s a bit of much-needed good news! The Publishers Weekly staff have released their latest round of self-published titles, which comes out each month. The books released in the month of August included some real standouts, such as Janet R. Macreery’s A Little Noble, in which 13-year-old “Mercy must rely on Calum, a Highland lad, to finish her mission by midsummer. Their journey takes Mercy to places she had never imagined and Calum to the place he vowed never to return to.” Perfect for younger fans of the Outlander series, right? Mercy is something of an expert on plants despite her youth, and between them Calum and Mercy make for a great (and funny) team. And of course don’t neglect the other interesting books on PW’s August list! There are 97 in total to choose from. (So many books, so little time. Our favorite problem of all.)

One could be forgiven for thinking, at first and even second glance, that Jeva Lange of The Week has something of a chip on her shoulder when it comes to self-publishing. And perhaps she does; like almost all articles pertaining to free speech and self-publishing right now, she approaches the medium’s absence of gatekeepers as the death of fact-checking and good grammar. (You probably already know which examples she cites in her article.) But Lange concludes her article with an interesting statement:

It’s true Trump Jr. has fired a shot across the bow of traditional publishers as self-publishing becomes an appealing alternative for conservative writers both financially and politically. But for the imprints that have legitimized falsehoods with their reputable logos for decades, it’s time to say good riddance.

Steering clear of the electoral politics involved in this quote (and the article at large), it’s clear that Lange and others who bemoan the decline of traditional publishing (which we see as a co-evolution, by the way; self-publishing and traditional publishing are not mutually exclusive propositions) are also on another level aware of its benefits. Self-publishing, as we’ve argued before, is a democratizing influence. Instead of editors and publishers and agents deciding upon whose voices get to be heard (on any subject, not just politics), everyone has a chance to speak up and speak out. In a country as fractured and polarized as ours is just now, the thought that there are more voices of all kinds speaking on a given topic ought to be an encouraging one. We aren’t limited to just two options (for or against, either or or) any one idea, despite the careful curation of certain conversations to seem that way by some others. As a market force, self-publishing has opened the floodgates to countless new perspectives on critical issues, including those guaranteed to ratchet up the tension of  dinner table conversations everywhere. And because readers are hungry for more information, and are hungry for more perspectives on topics they care about, self-publishing happens to be a safe place for authors of all kinds to weigh in. We hope that the publishing houses Lange discusses in her article catch on to the benefits of a both/and world as opposed to an either/or. 


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.

Self-Publishing News: 8.11.2020

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:

This week on Bustle, contributor Megan Reid covered the story of Nikki Giovanni, one of the most foremost surviving figures of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, which also included the Amiri Baraka, founder of BARTS in the wake of the assassination of Malcolm X. Her 34th poetry collection releases in October of 2020. What does this have to do with Nikki Giovanni? A whole lot, as it turns out. As Megan Reid sums it up, “She self-published her electrifyingly vernacular poetry to wild success, selling about 20,000 copies of her first two collections, and was already recognized as one of the preeminent artists of the Black Power generation alongside fellow writers and activists like Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, and her good friend Maya Angelou.” And that’s just where her authorial story starts, publicly speaking––she has become a voice for so many who rarely saw their experiences transformed into public art. We cannot recommend reading Reid’s full interview wit her on Bustle.

Storytelling is often a political act (although this often depends on how you define both ‘storytelling’ and ‘political’), but rarely have we seen a decade of presidential politics so steeped in story (both for and against, Republican and Democrat in takes, or polarizing in how each story is received. This month, however, is an unusual one in that the storytelling platform in question is one affiliated with self-publishing, and this has brought the democratizing power of indie options back into the limelight. As the New York Times’ Elizabeth A. Harris and Annie Karni put it, “His plans to self-publish, however, along with the book’s unconventional rollout and distribution plan, make it something of a curiosity in publishing circles.” Now let us pause for a second to roll our eyes––not at the book author, but at the kind of highbrow exceptionalism that it takes for newspaper companies that also celebrate their identities as “tastemakers” and “literary gatekeepers” to call the fundamental nature of self-publishing a “curiosity.” We love occasional highbrow moments ourselves––fresh-ground coffee really is superior, and looseleaf tea knows what it’s about––but it seems a bit self-serving at this point for the literary establishment to dismiss self-publishing because of its (new this month!) association with politics. At least it’s a step up from being stigmatized simply for existing? Much of the rest of the article focuses on continuing to cast shade at the author, and color us disappointed to see self-publishing so poorly thought of that anyone associated with it must automatically lose face within the literary establishment. We’d really prefer for the world to see us as we really are, supporting the freedom of expression across the political spectrum. Democracy is the stronger for having self-publishing in the mix.


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.