Self-Publishing News: 7.23.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Our first item of news is a fascinating one, coming this week from the GoodEReader’s Michael Kozlowski, who sets out to answer the question of “why are there so few places to buy ebooks?” The answer, he explains, is not quite as complex as you might think: the big distributors—all of which are familiar household names, from Amazon to Apple, Barnes and Noble to Kobo, and Google—already have created a collective monopoly, and they’re able to exert pressure on small startups by virtue of their existing partnerships with the Big 5 publishers (who would be distributing traditionally published ebooks) and major self-publishing companies (who would be distributing many self-published ebooks). Writes Kozlowski, “Starting an ebook store is challenging. Major publishers refuse to do business with anyone that wants to get involved in selling digital content, they have their small list of preferred vendors and that’s it.” It’s a difficult market to break into, and there are few structures in place to make it happen. And since competition is an engine of affordability, the availability of diverse options is something readers would definitely benefit from. Worth keeping in mind.

Adam Rowe of Forbes shows up for self-publishers everywhere yet again in this week’s article on book cover design, a subject we’ve discussed numerous times here on the blog ourselves. But first, what is the “7-second test”? Rowe explains:

You might not have heard of book cover design’s “7 second” test, but if you’ve ever wondered through a bookstore, you’ve undoubtedly tried it yourself. Pick up a book, glance at the front and back covers, and you’ll likely make the decision to either nestle it back on the shelf or seriously consider buying it. That tiny window of time is all an author has to sell their story, and it all comes down to a great book cover design.

With that in mind, authors have to pump up the visual appeal of their book covers in order to have a chance of out-competing fellow authors and seeing their books fly all the way from physical or digital bookstore shelves to the checkout aisle (or virtual checkout, as the case may be). Rowe has some suggestions, all of them good, from reflecting genre expectations to expressing emotion, crafting an attractive thumbnail image, keeping it simple, and ensuring it’s unique. Even in a digital age, when authors aren’t always holding physical books in their hands, Rowe implies, it’s important to consider all of the elements that go into making a beautiful and attractive book cover. A must-read article!

Last but not least, a sweet little article from Laura Hamm of The Bookseller, a privately-owned industry magazine and news engine. Writes Hamm,

I didn’t think I’d ever call myself part of the publishing industry, I’m still not sure I can. I started approaching stories with digital eyes, and have come full circle to print. So I’m now a double self-publisher – I started a self-publishing platform for kids, Fabled, and now I’m creating a book of kid-authored stories, The Future Is Make Believe (live on Kickstarter now). A strange sort of industry beast to be sure, but I think how I’ve grown may be of some interest to the traditional animals out there too.

Hamm’s goal is to render self-publishing accessible and useful to children, a population that by and large has been left untargeted by self-publishers. (There are reasons for that, including the prohibitive costs associated with producing beautiful hardbound books in all the various unusual sizes typical of picture books.) After describing her process and background in creating not just a platform but a book full of stories written by real kids, Hamm closes out with a moving endorsement for all self-publishing authors looking to reach kids:

I think the strange fluidity I’m in as I build my brand mirrors the way children interact with stories. Children are story first and format second – they don’t come with our snobbery about form. They play at Spiderman mashed up with Harry Potter, they read Winnie-the-Pooh, collect the Shopkins and watch Paw Patrol, and it is all fodder for their imagination. It all gets whirled and re-spun in daydreams and their stories. If we give them space to do it that is, if we listen. And I intend to.

We love that.


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.17.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

If you needed a laugh (that’s also, admittedly, kind of a groan), check out Kelly Burke’s article on 7News.com.au (an Australian news website), in which she covers the duplicitous exploits of “contrepreneur” and “demotivational speaker,” Mike Winnet. Winnet, who more or less makes his living (or earns his street cred) from similar pranks and social media efforts, set out to tackle Amazon’s self-publishing process this time around. His prank was simple: self-publish a book (titled How to get a #1 Amazon best-seller) that contains nothing but blank pages, and see what happens. In this case, the system, which is designed to pick up on fraudulent sales of this nature, missed the mark and Winnet’s book became listed on Amazon as a best-seller, even though it sold fewer than 50 copies. The book was only pulled from distribution after Winnet ‘fessed up on social media, which begs the question of how closely Amazon is actually watching its self-publishing platform, and what sorts of legitimately fraudulent activity may be taking place on the site. This may or may not impact authors’ decisions to publish or not publish through Amazon, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

To end this week’s news post on a positive note, cast your eyes toward author Amanda Alcántara, whose most recent book Chula inspired this article by Erica Nahmad of BeLatina.com. Writes Nahmad, Chula is “an autobiographical look at her childhood as a Latina in the Dominican Republic and later in the United States, is exactly as inspiring and entertaining as you might imagine.” What follows is a resoundingly positive and lengthy look at Alcántara’s background and the details of the book proper, as well as the author’s decision to self-publish. Says Nahmad, “Author Amanda Alcántara had a story to tell, a story that could not wait and that needed to be shared. And despite the typical obstacles in getting a book published, she took matters into her own hands and told the tale she was born to tell.” Later in the article, Nahmad includes a lengthy section titled “How Alcántara was Empowered by Self-Publishing Her Debut Book,” in which she details Alcántara’s experiences. Writes Nahmad:

“I didn’t want to wait one year to find an agent then one year to find a publisher. I didn’t want to wait three years to publish my book,” she told People En Español. “I didn’t want to compromise on the Spanish and English or the format.”

And that creative control allowed her to preserve the very personal tone and also ensure that she built a team that was connected to her vision and her experiences — the editorial team, cover illustrator and photographer are all of Dominican heritage.

How cool is that?


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.9.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

(Proviso: This article is behind a paywall; subscribers of The New York Times can access the article in full.)

You might have seen this article around, being discussed both by literary elites and by the average Twitter user, in part because it says quite a lot of things about self-publishing, particularly as relates to Amazon’s self-publishing platform. On this blog we have over the years represented a range of opinions about Amazon’s offerings and customer service and central ethic, and we’ll refrain today from passing judgment on the whole—but it’s worth noting that for many of The New York Times‘ thousands of subscribers who trust the paper’s research ethic, opinions about Amazon and opinions about self-publishing are often one and the same thing. This June 24 article by David Streitfeld is intensely critical of Amazon, particularly how the company renders many of the authors who publish through it’s self-publishing arm vulnerable to copycats (and therefore copyright violators). The dangers are well-known, Streitfeld implies, but many authors and small presses feel as though they don’t have a choice other than to work with the problematic industry titan if they want wide distribution. Streitfeld makes no direct statement about the self-publishing industry as a whole, but the bread crumbs dropped throughout the article build to a general negative picture due to the widespread association between the two, and the assumption seems to be that self-publishing leaves authors and readers alike open to exploitation. Which … yes, that’s certainly worth keeping an eye on. But it’s not the only story worth telling on The New York Times broadsheet; it is, instead, a timely reminder that those of us who self-publish works outside of Amazon may need to help advocate for other authors, and raise the profile of alternatives for those seeking to break away from Amazon’s monopoly.

On a different note, this week’s article on Gulf Today by contributor Birjees Hussain serves as a different kind of reminder: That our access to works, whether self-published or traditionally published, hinges on a nascent awareness of what’s out there and how to find it. Hussain’s article serves as both an explanation of why some libraries are disappearing as well as a rallying cry for readers not to despair over the presumed fate of readership at large—routes to publication and options for purchasing and reading books are diversifying, Hussain implies, rather than simply dying out. Hussain’s argument jives nicely with industry reports on the percentage of readers who are sticking with print copies and the percentage switching to digital formats, and the continued relevance of indie bookstores to contemporary readers. Nothing has been lost, but a lot has been gained, Hussain implies. Now that’s an attitude we can support!

We’d bet that you can name at least one of them! Entrepreneur.com‘s Antar Atreya summarizes the changing definition and role of an author as such:

ow, who is an author? A couple of decades ago the definition of an author was purely one dimensional; a person who writes a book and is published by a publisher. However, the definition has now changed. Today an author creates his product; which is her or his manuscript, ensures that it will give readers some value and finds, connects and interacts with the potential target readers. So essentially this is how an author is an entrepreneur. This change is large because publishing tools, scopes and expertise are now easily available. Concepts of self-publishing companies and print on demand have also given an opportunity for authors to get their work published easily. But at the same time, they have to take greater control over their book and use different routes to reach the target readers.

What follows is a concise and useful list of reasons why entrepreneurs ought to be paying attention to self-publishing and authorship, as well as reasons why self-publishing authors ought to be paying attention to entrepreneurship. We highly recommend this read!


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.2.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

We really do.

Maybe that’s all we need to say about this article?

But in all seriousness, Matthew Field of Go! And Express is onto something here when he writes that “It could be argued that we are living in a golden age for self-published writers. While it is true that traditional publishers are declining somewhat, it is also true that there are now a plethora of tools out there that allow writers to completely by-pass them if desired.” Self-publishing companies as diverse and varied as Outskirts Press and Amazon’s own platform offer readers and writers of indie books myriad opportunities to publish and discover new works, and the smaller companies are often on the cutting edge of developing ever-better ones. “Self-publishing is still viable today, probably more so than ever before, and the scene is ripe for upcoming writers to make their mark,” writes Fields, referencing various options available throughout the self-publishing process. Overall, Fields’ piece serves as both a bit of a manifesto for indie authors as well as a brief overview of the process for newcomers looking to, as he puts it, ‘make their mark’ in the self-publishing field.

And there are plenty one might choose from, especially as authors seek to take on more elements of the publishing process—from designing covers to formatting pages to editing manuscripts to selecting printing options—and are held to as high of a standard as traditionally published authors with the full force of their marketing and PR teams behind them. Writes Ashley Stahl of Forbes, “So, what do you do if you have a book living inside of you, and you don’t have such assets to sell yourself to publishers? How, in short, is the person with the story to tell but a lack of tools to tell it, supposed to take advantage of the fact that publishing a book pushes careers into the stratosphere?” In conversation with the CEO of one small(ish) self-publishing company, Stahl hammered out some of the biggest pitfalls to be avoided, including the oft-mentioned ugly cover and manuscripts riddled with errors, the less-often-mentioned limitations of an ebook-only release and refined category keyword selection process, and one new one we hadn’t stumbled across before—a warning not to have family and friends review your books on Amazon. Wait, what? Stahl warns that Amazon has developed an algorithm that scans reviews for bias and will actually remove those reviews that it identifies as being such. We’ll be looking more into this in the days to come. In the meanwhile, Stahl’s advice seems sound!


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 6.25.2019

june

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

It’s always something of a special moment when a big entrepreneurial website—in this case Inc.com—picks up on the role of publishing in building a personal brand and in sharing ideas, and this week’s example is a very sweet moment, indeed. Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, writes to introduce readers interested in writing a book to the basics of what they need to know in order to do so. Morin first asks the big question: should an author go with traditional or self-publishing, and how do they know which is best for their circumstances? Writes Morin, each choice has benefits and drawbacks, but “A self-published book means you’ll have more control over what goes in the book and how it’s designed. While that can be positive, it also means you have to make more decisions and it’s up to you to hire people to assist you along the way.” Morin also points out that self-publishing is faster and allows authors to jump right into the writing process without delay. Morin’s article is thoughtful and well-reasoned, and for those new to the process, totally worth a read!

In another strong showing from Thrive Global, author Prince Sanders writes that “For publishing my last children’s book, “The Extraordinarily Ordinary Life of Prince – Which Fork’s First,” I opted to go a different route. I didn’t follow the traditional path of publication but instead chose to self-publish my book. Like every choice, the option has both its advantages and disadvantages. I learned a lot through my journey to self-publishing, and you will too! Here are some of the skills that I learned during the process.” Sanders, who is of course associated with a current politician of some power in this country by name and employment, is something of an advocate for author/entrepreneurs—but no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we’re sure you’ll find something of value in Sanders’ closing encouragement: “Publishing your first book is a roller coaster of a process, full of ups and downs. With perseverance, dedication, and self-awareness you will be able to produce a piece that you are proud of. I hope you’ve been able to learn from my journey!” That’s a sentiment that we can all celebrate!


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 6.18.2019

june

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

This week, author and entrepreneur Trish Tonaj writes out of her own experience, narrating the story of how she came to build her career in the way that she has. Writes Tonaj,

I think back to a time when the only way you would find your name in the hallowed halls of a library or bookstore was to become “published.” Find a literary agent who would represent your work to a publisher who would “sign you on” and only if they felt you were marketable and had the credentials.

In today’s business climate, you have the ability to become self-published…a journey into the world of words where you may share your sense of adventure and market yourself!

I have had the pleasure of pursuing both options; self-publishing and being represented by a publisher.  To anyone in the biz, you are then able to use the phrase “published author” which confirms the time when someone has taken the leap of faith to “sign you on.”  I have heard it described as having “bonafides” – establishing yourself as a trusted author.  I am not sure if it makes a difference, but, there is something to be said for seeing your name on a bookstore shelf.

Tonaj goes on to suggest several ways of improving your writing and publishing experience, particularly in collaboration with others. Well worth a read!

Publishers Weekly has a long history of supporting indie and self-publishing authors, if only quietly or subtly (depending on the contributor), but this week the publication comes firmly out in defense of those who choose that route, even providing multiple useful tips for making a success out of one’s self-publishing experience and avoiding the pitfalls of falling foul of scams. For better or worse, as many are already aware, the word “scam” has long been (too) closely associated with “self-publishing,” with some detractors even going so far as to assume that every self-publishing company is a scam. This is manifestly not true, and a downright unfair association when one considers how little most traditionally-published midlist authors actually make, and how much support they receive, despite their “traditional” experience. That said, Alex Palmer of PW provides some useful suggestions in steering clear of bad experiences: know who you’re dealing with, spot the danger signs, and use discretion as you would with all other major life decisions. Another worthwhile article!


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 6.12.2019

june

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

The biggest news in publishing—traditional and indie alike—this week is, of course, the sale of Barnes & Noble. After what amounted to a rapid-fire ping-pong match between incoming and outgoing leadership, Barnes & Noble may be on firmer footing at last—although the ultimate effects of having been purchased by the same hedge fund that manages U.K. book juggernaut Waterstones remain to be seen, as The New York Times contributors Alexandra Alter and Tiffany Hsu point out. Barnes & Noble has hit an incredibly rough patch in recent years, shuttering stores and experimenting with new sales models in a desperate bid to keep its head above water. Barnes & Noble’s in-house self-publishing platform was part of a doomed—truly disastrous, financially—bid to keep the retailer on the forefront of change. That platform has fallen by the wayside, but self-publishers everywhere who want an alternative or additional platform through which to sell other than Amazon still lean heavily on the NOOK store for distribution. You can be sure authors and readers across all publishing and genre divides will be watching closely as Barnes & Noble moves into this brave new era with (yet more) new leadership.

EconoTimes has come out with a recent list worth taking note of: the top five ways its staff recommends getting to know one’s readers. The article covers how and why to dig into advance copies (collectively known as ARCs), how to parse digital content created by others as well as how to make full use of one’s own blogging platform for building a sense of community amongst readers, getting interviews on podcasts, and some additional general tips. It’s a great little primer for those who have a manuscript in process but aren’t quite to the publishing stage, and could even prove useful to authors who have already self-published a book and are struggling to connect.

One of our favorite awards of the year, the 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Award winners have been announced! This press release points readers towards the full list: “A complete list of 2019 winners and finalists is available at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards website at www.indiebookawards.com.”  A number of self-publishing and indie presses are well represented, including Outskirts Press! We couldn’t be more excited to dig into our newly expanded reading lists!


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.

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