From the Archives: “Bestselling Author and the BIG Move to Self-Publishing”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: November 4th, 2010 ]

Ten years after the success of his debut novel, bestselling author of “Kidnapped,” AJ Davidson, has made the switch to independent self-publishing. With the availability of full-service publishing options on the rise and the high profile moves of established authors to independent publishing, AJ discusses the increasing appeal of this new model for traditionally published authors.

Q: What was the deciding factor for moving to independent publishing?

A: Initially I wasn’t entirely sure if Indie publishing was right for me. The deciding factor was how traditional publishers seem to be narrowing the range of their lists with each passing year. I recently compared 1970s best sellers with the 2010 best sellers and was staggered to realize how many of the chart-topping writers of yesteryear are still there four decades later. Kudos to the authors for consistency, but the dearth of new names is a sad indictment for the publishing world. The smaller presses are more adventurous, but more often than not the marketing will be left to the author, and if that’s the case, then Indie publishing is the way to go.

Q: Now that you manage the marketing independently as well as the publishing, do you find it difficult to switch back and forth between writing and marketing?

A: I have found the change in my writing to be a dramatic one. In the past I was the only one I had to please with a piece of prose. Now I’m much more aware of the readers’ attitudes. As I write I find that I ask myself constantly how the readers would react. This transformation is due largely to the immediacy of Indie publishing. With a traditionally published book there can be years between writing and publication. Your agent might suggest minor changes. It may then take time for the manuscript to be accepted. The publishers will nominate a slot, often a year or more in the future. Libel lawyers may have to cast an eye over it. Copy and proof editors will refine the work. Artwork will be done. By the time the book hit the shops, the writer will have moved on, often immersed in another project. I often felt a sense of detachment from a book by the time it was published.

Q: The list of well-known authors that are moving toward Independent publishing structures continues to grow. Do you think this is opening up possibilities for less established authors or monopolizing what was formerly their only option?

A: I’m optimistic about the future of Indie publishing and would buy shares in Smashwords faster than in Barnes & Noble. The fate of the traditional bookstore will be down to specialization. I doubt if they can continue being all things to all people. We already see some very successful stores concentrating in one or two genres. This genre specialization will develop, and no doubt the giants of the retail industry have a trick or two yet. I expect some form of stratification will enter Indie book publishing.

Perhaps a division between the one book author and the multiple author. Certainly we have seen a rise in the popularity of book series in the last decade and readers do enjoy embarking on journeys with writers they admire. It is anyone’s guess where will this leave the authors of a single text. Bad news for the Harper Lees and Margaret Mitchells.

Q: You give your work away for free. Can you explain your strategy on this?

A: Giving away the occasional free book is an established marketing tool. The first Walter Mosley book I read was a magazine freebie, and I became a huge fan. It’s a great way of increasing consumer awareness. I have had readers read my free e-books, then go buy the paperback. I still have the Mosley book, but I also bought another edition of it.

Q: How relevant is your success with traditional publishing to your reputation as an independent author?

A: Being a traditionally published author who switched to Indie does lend a degree of credibility. But reputations do not sell books. Positive word of mouth is the magic key to high number book sales and the only thing that will generate that is a damned good story. Admittedly the snowball rolling down a hill effect will be faster for a moderately well known author. It would be nice to be still amongst the best sellers in forty years time.

From the Huffington Post, October 29th 2010

So how did that work out, anyway?

Pretty good, actually.

When you visit AJ Davidson’s website now, it’s not a flashy page full of advertisements for his books––it’s a blog, a simple blog hosted by WordPress and packed with useful tidbits of information, including the latest gem from January 17th of 2017:

AJ Davidson has become the second Irish writer to join Radish, the serial fiction platform based on the incredibly successful model used in China and Korea. Paper Ghosts, Davidson’s most downloaded book (1,400,000) will be available in the near future, closely followed by a sequel released on a serial basis.

Can you imagine––almost one and a half million downloads of just one book? Yeah, Davidson may not be making the news the same way (after all, to do so, he’d have to self-advertise and aggressively) but he’s being productive in the way that counts most for an author: sales and distribution.

AJ Davidson
Author Photo

So why revisit this blog post?

It’s because we’re so used to stories of self-publishing authors “gone big,” gone over to traditional publishing after having been scouted by some enterprising soul within that industry. And don’t get us wrong, we love the stories about Andy Weir’s The Martian and Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle as much as anybody––but they’re not the only Cinderella stories out there. We have people like AJ Davidson, too, who defected from traditional publishing to move into the world of indie books because he saw the value in shaking off old modes of thinking. (And yes, there are other authors who defect for other reasons, including neglect or downright mistreatment from their publishing houses and marketing teams.)

The story of self-publishing and who chooses to do it is more rich and varied than we ever could have imagined, in 2010. Some indie authors have risen up who never knew any other way of life and publishing, and some have crossed over in each direction from traditional to indie and vice versa, and some still perceive it as the last haven of the desperate. But the stigma is fading, both as the tools for self-publishing improve each year, and as people begin to realize what many of us have always known: Everyone has something to say worth hearing, and self-publishing is the most effective, affordable, and natural way of saying it.

The news may seem a bit bleak overall just now, with political upheaval across the globe and many people still mired in despair, but there is a ray of hope. It may not be able to touch everything––but maybe it can, at that. The future of self-publishing is secure in people like AJ Davidson and in you, and your stories have a home.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


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.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 12/04/2015

LET ALL THE WORLD KNOW

 

“There was a MOMENT—just a flash of an idea—that would not let me go.” My friend Lorry Lutz (author of ten books, soon to be eleven) was explaining that she simply had to write her most recent book. “I don’t remember exactly how I came across this woman’s life story, but when I did I felt like I knew her. Her Faith was a passion and her compassion for women who were being forced into bondage led her into many dangerous situations. I simply had to bring her story into today’s world, so people will realize that each one of us can make a difference.”

And, there we have it—the Personal KEYS to writing—the moment (idea flash), the message (expressed through actions/events), the memory (personal connection) and the miracle (making a difference).

For many writers I know, the moment the writing idea formulates is when we’re half-asleep—or half-awake—whichever side of the moment we’re experiencing. Other times of awareness hit us when we’re driving, stopped at a red light and happen to glance across a beautifully landscaped park, or up into the brilliance of an evening sunset. And, of course, there is the shower moment or the kitchen-sink-full-of-dirty-dishes moment or the changing diapers moment. I’m certain that you can add many such idea flashes of your own to this list. The point being—these inspired moments DO come and we need to grab hold of them as quickly as possible.

Grasping the idea is crucial and so exciting! From that momentary idea flash comes the whole.

  • The Headline that will be highlighted on the back cover of your book.
  • The Summary and/or synopsis that will draw readers and publishers.
  • The Heart—or Thread—concept that will carry your main points throughout.
  • The Passion that you will exude when presenting your book to agents, publishers, and most importantly, to readers.
  • The Significance or Take-Away Value that readers will grasp and carry into their own lives.

Author Lorry Lutz will see her book Boundless (her working title) released in December, 2016. The heroine of this historical fiction novel is Katharine Bushnell (February 5, 1855 – January 26, 1946) who became a medical doctor and social activist at a time when very few ladies were willing to take the risks she did. Her desire to reform conditions of human degradation took her to back-country mining and lumber camps in America, villages in China and palaces in India. I hope you will bring Lutz’s excellent story into your homes when it appears online—an exceptional example of grasping an idea and developing it to its fullest.

 

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Lorry Lutz  (courtesy of her Twitter account)

 

Of course, timing is always a factor: the moment in time when the idea hits us, the months and quite possibly years in the research and writing, and the investigation and decision-making season when publishing options are weighed. Authors today have a quiver full of possibilities when reaching the moment to publish. You already know that mainstream publishers will not come knocking on your door to hand you a contract. However, if you know someone (who knows someone) in the big houses, there is at least the possibility that your manuscript will be read and considered. For those of us who are not in that position, the self-publishing presses have multiple packages that will not only get your book in print, but ONLINE for all the world to see. So talk to your author friends, query writing conference directors, read the Writers Market and Writer’s Digest, and discover where you and your book fit. Then … get it published!  ⚓︎

 

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Top 5 Ways Self-Publishing Authors Can Take Advantage of Social Media Day

Today is Social Media Day. All around the world people are celebrating the birth of social media and its impact on society. Did you know that self-publishing authors can use this day to their advantage? Today is a perfect day to get involved in social media if you haven’t already.

Here are some of the top 5 ways that you can get involved on social media sites and take advantage of Social Media Day:

1. Create a social media account (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, or any other account that may suit your fancy).

2. Re-activate your social media accounts so that you can reconnect with long lost friends.

3. Go to a local Social Media Day event and meet some new people.

4. Post helpful, non-promotional messages on your social media profiles. Vow not to promote your book for the entire day.

5. Start planning a social media party (Twitter parties are the most common) for your book or just for fun!

Keep in mind – the purpose of social media is to connect with others and have a good time. As long as you maintain a certain level of authenticity across your profiles, relationships and possibly new people who are interested in your book may result from your efforts.

So, get out there and enjoy Social Media Day 2011!

New Conference Alert: AFTA Book Exhibit

The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) is hosting a book exhibit at their conference this June, and if you have written a related book, you may be interested in attending.

They are interested in books with stories in the following categories (taken directly from their entry form):

  • Health
  • Economics
  • History
  • Recreation
  • Religious Life
  • Generations
  • Psychology
  • Therapy
  • Law
  • Relationships
  • Life Education
  • Demographics
  • Planning
  • Violence
  • Social Work
  • Sexuality
  • Bibliographies
  • Surveys/Studies
  • Kinship
  • Marriage
  • Multicultural Issues
  • Child Abuse/Neglect
  • International Families
  • Structure/Socialization
  • Clinical Assessment
  • Policy Making
  • Dependency Studies
  • Women’s Issues
  • Reference
  • Textbooks

The entry fee is $99 for 1 title and $25 for each extra title. They also have packages for multiple title entries.

You can download the entry form by visiting this link: http://bookexhibit.com/Announcements/2ndQtr11/AFTA.pdf.

Are there any other interesting conferences, etc. coming up that self-publishing authors should attend?

Self-Publishing Authors Can Get Their Books on the Shelves of “Traditional” Bookstores

Even with the recent changes in the book publishing industry, a “traditional” bookstore presence should still be a goal for authors who want this. Why? Well, with this presence, authors are able to target an audience that is passionate about books. Think about it — people have to leave behind the comforts of their own home to go into a bookstore. Most likely they are there to purchase a book. If your book is on the shelf, yours may just have a chance at being the book they buy.

How can you work toward getting your book into that bookstore, though? Is it a matter of luck? Can self-publishing authors make the cut? The good news is that even if you’re not necessarily on a “lucky streak”, it’s still possible to successfully target placement in “traditional” bookstores. However, you must have a solid plan in place for doing so. Here are a few action items to put on your list as you get started:

  • Make sure your book is fully returnable. If your book cannot be returned, there is great risk involved for the bookstore. For example, if they stock 10 copies of your book and only 4 sell over the course of a year, they are losing money. If the book is returnable, though, the store can simply send the book back that doesn’t sell. Think of this return-ability as a type of “insurance” for your book.
  • Offer a sufficient trade discount. What’s sufficient? Typically that will be around 50-55% (or higher). Of course this does cut into your profits, but a higher retail margin gives the bookstore more incentive to stock your book on their shelves. No incentive? No cigar.
  • Build proof that your book is desirable. This is probably the most difficult (though not insurmountable) part of it all because authors often have a bias view of their book. However, the best indicator of a desirable book is exponential sales figures. If the amount of books you sale doubles, triples, quadruples, etc. month-after-month, that is something that can work in your favor. If you aren’t a professional marketer, you may want to seek the services of a book marketing consultant. Make sure they are able to help you draft a marketing plan and go forth on planning your publicity.

After you’ve done all of the above, you must put together a proposal to submit to bookstore contacts. You can find others specifically on their websites, but Barnes & Noble can be reached here:

The Small Press Department
Barnes & Noble
122 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Other bookstores can be found through Google. Another popular site for locating independent bookstores is Indie Bound.

Do you know of any other bookstores that are small press/self-published friendly?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA:
Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Self Publishing Book Review of the Week: Did Success Spoil Jayne Mansfield? by Frank Ferruccio

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if they don’t know about it? Paired with other book marketing efforts, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us let the community know about a great book. So, without further adieu, here’s this week’s book review:

Did Success Spoil Jayne Mansfield book cover

Did Success Spoil Jayne Mansfield?: Her Life in Pictures & Text

Frank Ferruccio

Outskirts Press (2010)

ISBN 9781432761233

Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (2/11)

“I must say that many of us always wanted to know more about the mysterious Jayne Mansfield and the author has certainly done his research on her life and family.

Many individuals dream of being a movie star and Jayne was no different. Even though she came from a very strict upbringing she never lost sight that she would become a star. Jayne was a very beautiful child and teenager and did what she wanted. At the age of fifteen she got pregnant much to the dismay of everyone. She met her first husband, Paul Mansfield, during this time and even though he wasn’t the biological father he stepped up to the plate.

She married two more times, but it was hard for her husbands to deal with her fame and publicity stunts. Jayne knew how to get attention and she went for what she wanted and usually got it.

While she was married to Mickey Hargity, she began to party all night long and become very close to Matt Cimber, who would later become her third husband.

Jayne was fun, interesting and had a good heart. She loved her children and she loved acting. It’s sad that there are so many negative stories about her.

The author has provided pages and pages on Jayne throughout her life till the end. There is so much information in “Did Success Spoil Jayne Mansfield?” coming from interviews with family, friends and others in the entertainment field. The author has done an exceptional job in his research and providing references for all his information.”

DISCUSSION: Are you trying to obtain book reviews as part of your overall book marketing strategy?