Self-Publishing News: 5.18.2021

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There has been a lot of news lately regarding self-publishing and politics, specifically how it is providing a publishing haven for those individuals that have been rejected by the Big Four traditional publishing houses (Penguin Random House/S&S, Hachette, Macmillan, and HarperCollins as of May 2021; PRH has already begun the process of absorbing Simon & Schuster). At first glance, this news isn’t a surprise, as self-publishing has always been the place where authors previously seeking traditional book deals turn after finding them too constricting or flat-out unavailable. What’s different this time is how the choice, repeated regularly and often by high-profile politicians or those affiliated with politicians, has set up self-publishing to be cast as partisan: right now, those affiliated with the conservative right are self-publishing, while those affiliated with the conservative left are championing traditional publishing. Or at least, that’s how news outlets are covering the various happenings. This article from Fischer and Rummler of Axios outlines the sequence of events that has led up to this situation, and holds back from drawing too many conclusions. It is to be hoped that these same news outlets will also cover the critical role that self-publishing has played in providing a platform for diverse and marginalized voices of all kinds for decades, and steer clear of judging the many thousands of such writers who continue to self-publish today.

Time for a palate-cleanser! This article from Forbes contributor J.J. Hebert is not quite what it looks like, as it’s most definitely an argument for self-publishing. (Many articles that start with “Don’t X before X” end up being arguments against X.) Hebert, CEO of a self-publishing company and a self-publishing author himself, covers five critical aspects of the process that lay the groundwork for a solid start for those authors who have not yet taken the leap. His questions cover everything from quality control and editing to format options to identifying target readers to selecting a self-publishing platform that fits an author’s needs. It’s a fantastic and fairly concise introduction to much of the architecture required for a solid self-published success.

It has been a rough year for those who love (or whose success depends on) book fairs. Thankfully, many companies have been working hard to adapt to the post-pandemic world, and Publishers’ Weekly is hosting its inaugural PW US Book Show from May 25-27. They’ve updated their website with a list of participating virtual “booths,” and you can find out plenty more about pricing information and how to participate [ here ] and [ here ]. This virtual book show is intended to fill part of the vacuum left behind after the cancellation of so many in-person bookish events, and to provide librarians and booksellers (and those affiliated) with access to information to assist in connecting readers with their books. As with many other book fairs, though, the general public is invited to attend. It will prove to be an interesting experiment!

This much-needed article from Book Riot provides a straightforward and comprehensive explanation of what both traditionally and self-published authors make, on average, from their books each year. It also provides a nice breakdown of what all the complicated terminology means, which is just as important. And finally, it also profiles fifteen authors from all kinds of backgrounds and from both spheres of publishing who were willing to share data on what they make. Article author Sarah Nicolas refrains from sharing most of their identities (Jim C. Hines is an exception), and notes that none of the big “blockbuster” authors (think Grisham, Rowling, Quinn, etc) shared theirs. But even beyond the fascinating data we find the stories of how the finances fit into individual authors’ lives most revealing of all. Given the range of authors who participated, there should hopefully be at least one that can provide insight and context for new authors looking to break in to the publishing world. Would you need to pay for medical insurance out of your book earnings if you wrote full-time? Do you plan to write as a side-job? How much, after taxes, do you need to achieve your financial goals? What does your schedule look like? Each author Nicolas interviewed has something different to share.

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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: 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: 2.25.2020

February concept. stationery and notebook, business background

And now for the news.

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

We love these monthly lists from Publishers Weekly! Not only do they serve as a critical discovery tool for those of us who read self-published books regularly, but they also help authors and the industry, too, by raising awareness of new titles and subjects of interest percolating through the wider cultural consciousness. Those behind the monthly lists make a real effort to represent the fantastic work being done across genres from romance to thriller to nonfiction and poetry, and this same even-handedness is shown in representing titles from big-name self-publishing companies to those offering full-service options like Outskirts Press (this month it’s Asking the Moon to Leave by Johnny Randolph Hunt) to those books which are published under only their authors’ names. As Publishers Weekly puts it,

Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 54 self-published titles below. Each appears with a list of retailers that are selling the book and a description provided by its author. Some of these writers are waiting to be discovered; others have track records and followings and are doing it on their own. If you are a self-published author interested in listing titles in this section, please visit publishersweekly.com/pw-select for more information.

This list comes out each month in both print and digital versions of the magazine, and we can’t recommend it highly enough!

We couldn’t resist talking about this article by Erin Grace of the Omaha World-Herald chronicling the further adventures of the inimitable Robin Reed-Poindexter, an Omaha native whose years fighting fire in California in part fuel her work as a writer. Reed-Poindexter has published two semi-autobiographical children’s books based on her experiences, as well as a lengthy 660 page (!) memoir titled Now I See Clearly. Having made history as the first black woman hired onto the Richmond Fire Department in 1987, Reed-Poindexter “scrapped her way” (Grace’s good word choice there) through some tough times and retired in 2019. Writes Grace, “Robin said she wants the stories to remind students who get in trouble that they should never write themselves off. While grateful for the support she said her North Omaha network of friends, family and educators gave her, ultimately she had to prove her worth on her own.” Her children’s books set out to render this ethos accessible to kids. In a year that has already seen much conversation about fire and the power of civic engagement, we can’t think of a better self-publishing story to feature here on our blog today.


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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: 9.25.2017 – Publishing Trends

september

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’re coming out of the gate with a controversial item today, an article by Gautam Bhatia for The Times of India, one of the region’s most widely-read and well-regarded dailies. In this article, Bhatia digs into what he calls “the rapid privatisation of urban life, and the consequent trivialisation of public culture” and how this has altered public perceptions and quality control in achievement-based celebrations like architectural and literary awards. He hearkens back to a golden age when “Newspapers reported facts; opinions were reserved for the few whose long-term experience of those facts gave credibility to their voice” (which are highly debatable assumptions) and takes time to lament what he considers the downsides of self-publishing, too:

An accountant friend uses Photoshop techniques to make paintings and then sells them as signed prints; another penned a salacious novel, self-published, and critically reviewed and acclaimed by himself on the internet. “I am not a writer,” he claimed modestly, “it just came to me one night.” Both were good reasons for disqualification.

Bhatia is determined to vilify technology, social media, and the “‘I-me-my’ world with its instant gratification [which] has replaced the long-term value of a selective discriminating public space.” What do you think? Do you agree that the way our world works today, including self-publishing, has cheapened perceptions of value and the push for quality? Our own bias may be implicit, but we’re genuinely curious.

On a more positive note, Jane Friedman of Publisher’s Weekly released an article this week about the new ways and means available to authors seeking to reach new readers and therefore sell more books. “Start where you are,” she writes: “Use the power of your community—and the people you know—to gain momentum.” But … how exactly does that work in our modern, tech-savvy age? She argues that “indie authors can become obsessed with Amazon rankings and optimization.” And:

It’s not that those things don’t have a role to play, but national attention and great rankings are sometimes the result of doing a great marketing and promotion job within a community that knows you. It’s often easier to gain traction that way, and encourage word of mouth to ripple further out as a stepping-stone to the more difficult PR wins.

Hm. There’s a lot to unpack in Friedman’s article, which deconstructs the experiences of several specific authors and their books before moving on to providing some key pointers and recommendations. What with Facebook’s targeted ads making news headlines every other week, it’s well worth a look to see what ways going local–and going targeted–can benefit you!

Last but not least, this week we recommend you take a look at a new series just begun on The Guardian‘s website, chronicling the weird little intricacies of making money. This first article traces the path of one book series–J.K. Rowling’s crime fiction series, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith–to success. But this article, by Donna Ferguson, has a twist: she wants to know what algorithms have got to say about literature, and about success. Self-publishing only merits a passing mention, but much of the meat and potatoes of the article applies to authors everywhere, no matter their means of publication. “It doesn’t matter whether a book is published as literary fiction, romance, sci-fi, crime or any other genre, there are some latent features of bestseller-dom in manuscripts and these patterns are detectable by a computer algorithm,” Ferguson quotes expert Jodie Archer as saying. What are those patterns? You’ll have to read the full article to find out. And then, of course, report back to us whether it shapes up with your experiences or not!


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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.

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Self-Publishing News: 1.30.2017

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

 

This week, Publisher’s Weekly gave some predictions for self-publishing in 2017. According to this article, a 21% increase in ISBN registrations between 2014-2015 alone will definitely make some alterations to the self-publishing market. “New services have made it easier than ever to launch self-publishing projects,”  says Alex Daniel, author of this piece, “and as the landscape gets more crowded, it becomes more difficult for authors to stand out and make a profit.”

However, this isn’t just a problem for self-published authors, but authors in general. The rise of the Kindle and other ebook readers has lead to an increase in supply of ebooks, and not necessarily an increase in demand. Daniel says that Amazon “requires participating authors to publish e-books exclusively with Amazon and allows titles to be eligible for Kindle Unlimited—a program that provides unlimited books for readers who pay a monthly subscription fee.” This means that authors are not compensated for how many books they sell online, but rather how many pages of their books are read by online subscribers.

As you can imagine, author’s reaction to the struggle in the online book marketplace has been to retreat from a sole focus on ebook business–to try and get their paperback or hardcover books back into bookstores and libraries, and to expand into other sectors such as audio books and television. Further, Daniel predicts that self-published authors will begin to beef up their business cards by “adding such words as consultant, publisher, and marketer[…], passing on lessons for success to other authors.” This is huge because it means that authors can make some money on the side helping others fulfill their dream of publishing just by sharing their first-hand experiences with self-publishing.

Where the internet seems to be helping authors in 2017, is of course, with marketing. Tapping into exactly who your audience is and what they are looking for has become immensely easier thanks to data from online readers. Not only that, but through social media, authors can directly sell their books to the readers that follow them. This serves a dual-purpose: ease of sales, and the establishment of a more personal connection with you reader base.

We will all have personal, political and business related challenges arise in 2017, however it is not the challenges that will define this year, but how we overcome them. Self-publishing authors are known to utilize their creativity and perseverance in the face of adversity. When a publishing company says “No,” we do not sit quietly and toss our manuscripts aside. If ebook sales are not satisfying our goals, we will find other means to get our work out there. The internet may have its share of flaws, but we can use it as a tool for our success, and this year I challenge you to do just 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 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.