Self-Publishing News: 8.13.2018 – The Interviews!

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically interviews with or articles written by self-publishing authors and experts!

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Why pair these two together? Once in a great while, the letters to the editor can be just as interesting if not more interesting as the article which inspired them, and that is certainly true here. Which isn’t to say the original article, written by Atlantic contributor Alana Semuels, is somehow not good or not interesting itself; the article tracks book sales on Amazon and delves into the oft-fraught history of the relationship between Amazon and books, and between Amazon and self-publishing. Semuels writes about Mike Omer, an author whose books have sold more than 10,000 copies and been rented 10,000 times through Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Omer’s own thoughts serve as a tether, or an anchor, for this article, and as a reminder that all of these discussions are moot if they’re not rooted in the experiences of those who are most affected: the authors themselves. Semuels is interested in how Kindle Unlimited does and does not support authors, self-published and traditionally published. Interestingly–for Semuels, if not the authors themselves–Semuels dedicates the vast majority of her article to the ways in which Amazon, now a self-publishing giant, has undercut traditional publishing and the ways in which it exploits its authors. As Semuels puts it:

Omer’s experience has been like a dream, he told me. But for people in the publishing industry, it may seem more like a nightmare. He sidestepped the traditional gatekeepers to publish his books online on Amazon, gaining thousands of readers. He ignored big publishing houses in favor of an imprint run by Amazon, attracting thousands more. He has little interest in the traditional publishing industry at all, in fact. He’s a successful author, and his whole world is Amazon.

Authors had their own thoughts, though, and they made them known to the Atlantic, and the Atlantic decided to collect together these letters and release them on their own, from those which are mostly interested in amplifying the negative aspects of Semuels’ story, including one by Douglas Preston, to those who have found a home in self-publishing when traditional publishing failed them, such as Wanda Fries. As Semuels points out in an afterward to the letters, the problem isn’t that self-publishing is a success, but rather that traditional publishing has missed an opportunity and alienated a generation of writers instead. “Rather than just rejecting many of the works that come in,” she writes, “traditional publishing houses could have launched their own self-publishing platform, which would have allowed them to keep an eye on promising authors as Amazon now does.” There’s an opportunity in there, and we hope traditional publishing recognizes it.


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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: 8.6.2018 – The Company Files!

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

This month has been a quiet one on the self-publishing front, at least in terms of news from the top. (Next week we’ll be giving over more page space to the many fantastic authors who, as always, inspire and encourage us.) But here comes an interesting article by Shana Lebowitz of Business Insider on eleven CEOs and business founders who somehow managed to save their companies from complete failure; true to form, one of these CEOs has a self-publishing connection. Twitter founder Evan Williams was also the founder of Blogger, now a subsidiary of Google. But early on, Blogger ran into trouble–enough trouble that Williams was forced to lay off all of his employees. How did Williams–and Blogger–pull through? A whole lot of elbow grease, as it turns out: Williams worked on his start-up alone for three years before Google started paying attention … and making noise about buying the start-up.  The other founders in this list have fascinating stories, too, but it’s refreshing to know that at least at Business Insider, self-publishing platforms are one of many platforms giving voice to the average person that is getting serious treatment.

The short answer is … yes. Yes, the hashtag #Bookstagram, most popularly used on Instagram and Facebook (which owns Instagram), is indeed changing the way that we read. According to this article by Veronica Walsingham for Inverse, over two million posts have been tagged with this hashtag, which for many Instagram users is as much about aesthetic as it is about the books themselves. But make no mistake–it’s also definitely about the books! For those who haven’t used hashtags before, the humble pound sign (#) has become an engine of discovery on social media platforms as diverse as Twitter and Tumblr and YouTube and Instagram. It serves as a collector, a kind of vehicle for ideas, in that anyone who tags their post with that hashtag will be gathered together into a separate feed when users click on it. Walsingham’s article is interesting, of course, not just for its exploration of the kinds of content which makes it into the #Bookstagram hashtag, but for its identification of who, exactly is using it. And guess what? Self-publishing authors and the companies which get them onto the shelf are among the many! Read the full article for more.


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.30.2018 – April Round-Up

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, wrapping up what’s new for you and yours in April 2018.

Every now and again, we need a success story to remind us of why we do what we do, and this one from Publisher’s Weekly contributor Matia Burnett is a gem; Burnett interviewed author Susan Wittig Albert, who has published more than 100 books, on how she could possibly both publish books and also make time for “raising cattle, sheep, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, and chickens (not to mention gardening and fiber crafting) on her 31-acre farm in the Texas Hill Country.” The short answer? Susan Wittig Albert has a work ethic which puts many of us to shame, but the long answer? She makes time. Her experience has run the full gamut from indie to traditional to entrepreneur and back and forth again, and she has much wisdom to share on all of these varied and rich experiences. Well worth a read!

Adam Rowe of Forbes is fast becoming a name to watch when it comes to the latest and greatest hits on self-publishing and the digital sphere; in this week’s online issue, he tackles one of the greatest thorns in the industry’s side: fraud. But before he gets there, he tackles the history, unfolding piece by piece how both the problems and advantages of self-publishing have evolved alongside the technology itself. He talks about those so-called “agent reading fees” (scam!), so-called “referral scams” (definitely scam!), and fake or misleading awards (also definitely a scam!). Right now, in 2018, Rowe recommends steering clear of anything that doesn’t hold up under due diligence research, including: “A fast fast-growing cabal of predatory self-publishing or marketing companies operating from the Philippines.” A good self-publishing company will be up-front about its fees, and will be more than happy to answer questions when contacted.


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.23.2018 – Publishing Trends Roundup

July

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!

This article from Publishers Weekly comes at the perfect time to remind us how much we love audiobooks (and how perfectly suited audiobooks are for the summer holiday season, with all of its road trips and its changes of pace). The article, an interview between PW contributor Benjamin South and “audio veteran” Scott Brick, is revealing on many levels–first, peeling back the layers (and the myths) of what audiobooks are or are not to authors, including self-published and indie authors. Brick is known primarily for using his voice as a narrator of these books, but he’s also now using his voice to advocate for them. Says Brick:

My choices are driven by wanting to work with really good authors and it’s thrilling when people get in touch with me to say they’ve discovered a new author because of me. I am also a fan first and foremost. Most of the new authors coming out these days are indie authors, and if that’s where they are, that’s where I am going to follow.

Brick goes on to describe what draws him to a book, how he goes about collaborating with indie authors to bring their books to an audio format, and the ways in which working with indie authors and self-published books is different from working with a traditional publisher. If you’ve ever asked yourself whether or not you should pursue creating an audiobook edition of your self-published book, this revealing interview is an absolute must!

Last month in this news space, we discussed a different, earlier article on one of of the new ways that indie and self-publishing authors are breaking out into mainstream awareness: through Wattpad, and collaborations between streaming services like Netflix and Hulu and that unique story-publishing platform. This month, pop culture titan Vulture tackled the subject with this article by Chris Lee, wherein Lee breaks down what it is, exactly, about the platform that has led to it having such a moment. And it’s not just Netflix and Hulu getting in on the action: broadcast television network The CW is also putting out feelers, as well as NBCUniversal. And while Wattpad’s star is rising quite high these days, the question remains: can its success translate or “trickle down” to other indie and self-publishing outlets, platforms, and authors? According to Wattpad Studios’ chief Aron Levitz, (“as well as entertainment executives from companies in partnership with Wattpad,” writes Lee), there’s one specific reason why Wattpad is leading the pack:

[…] the Toronto-based publishing platform’s devoted community of readers provides a secret weapon in developing content with road-tested mass appeal: data. By actively commenting — often paragraph by paragraph over the course of, say, a 300-page online book — Wattpad readers function as a highly motivated focus group, helping dictate plotlines, vetting characters, and even the deletion of scenes.

It doesn’t hurt that while Wattpad is finding ways to its stories, the vast majority of content on the website is free, and the platform is brokering deals with these film companies without necessarily forwarding those profits to its authors. It remains to be seen whether the authors whose stories are being adapted will receive the same treatment as, say, a traditionally-published author or a self-published author in the usual mode. Watch this space as developments continue!

“How would you choose to build a general book publisher today, if starting from scratch? That was the question I found myself asking two years ago,” writes Pete Duncan, author of this recent blog post for The Bookseller. Duncan, who compares the average 10 to 20-year lifespan of a modern tech company to the longevity of many large publishing houses, set out to discover exactly what it would take to succeed in modern terms at “that delicate balancing act which the publishing industry has so often been adept at, of combining riskier publishing with safer bets, to keep shareholders’ hair on, and publishing across unrelated categories, to cushion against unforeseeable changes in readers’ taste.” It’s not an easy act, he concluded, after a year working in consultation with “a variety of book publishers small and large, self-publishing authors, website publishers, and companies from other sectors running some type of publishing activity.” One thing these all had in common? Things may not be so stable when it comes to publishing at all, with fragmentation of services and the multiplication and innovation of online services in many ways replicating and suborning traditional publishing models. Having now launched Prelude Books, a hybrid company seeking to occupy many niches all at once, Duncan is entirely honest about the challenges ahead. But the rewards are equally as great: “In this new type of publishing the relationship with the reader is fantastically direct and instantaneous – no more having to persuade intermediaries to stock a book then rely on yet more intermediaries to build the basic level of buzz.” This whole blog is a gem, and we highly recommend you take a look.


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.16.2018 – New Releases!

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically new releases written by self-publishing authors and published by independent presses! Today we’ll be featuring brand-new releases in the Outskirts Press Bookstore!

Linda Klein Means knows the world and what it can be like. Born on a farm in Illinois and survivor of a number of family struggles, she spent time in Venezuela, Brazil, and France, sampling the world’s treasures and encountering a number of her own misadventures. This collection of literary essays deals with issues as diverse as grief, uncovering a family legacy of racial policing, tackling unconscious prejudices, growing up alongside a sibling with Down Syndrome, and negotiating one’s own peace with the past and all that comes along with it. Means’ background in news writing—she started in college as a reporter and editor, then moved on to write for The Wilmington (Del) Morning and Evening JournalThe Chicago Tribune, and US News and World Report—lends this collection a pith and appeal for readers of both news reporting and personal memoir.

Every now and again, a person really … needs … a good ol’ fairy tale. But not every fairy tale is created equal, and sometimes what a person needs and wants is an update on the original. Enter Moshe Sonnheim, stage left. Sonnheim’s revelatory collection of fairy tales for parents and children brings in the age-old appeal of dark forests, magic mountains, hidden castles, and talking animals, and adds a modern sensibility. These fairy tales are designed to provide both pleasure in inverting your expectations and in stimulating a child’s imagination. Fairy tales may be vehicles for conversations about morality, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun and current in their application! In an added pop of bonus fun, Sonnheim pairs each fairy tale with relevant pictures and bird songs.

“Everyone has neighbors,” writes Becky Condon in her book pitch: “Neighbors are an obvious arrangement in cities or towns. Good or bad, tidy or messy, quiet or noisy, nice or mean; there are all types.” And for those who move from the city, the country often symbolizes space and solitude, peace and healing. What they often forget about is … the neighbors. In her novel, Condon follows a young family who finally realizes their dream of owning land and operating a farm, building a dream house in what they think is paradise. And then … along came the neighbors: neighbors with sticky fingers for things that are not theirs, and with no respect for boundaries or property rights. Using all the means at their disposal, these neighbors from Hell attempt to usurp the family’s rightful place on their hard-earned land in a battle that may cost them everything. “Sometimes,” writes Condon, “you have to stand and fight.” This new release makes a perfect summer read.

Reality is a tricky beast, isn’t it? In this special book of science and philosophy, retired aerospace engineer Allan Arnold brings all of his experience on the Apollo command and service modules as well as USAF satellite and space systems to bear on the subject of reality. His grasp of project management and engineering lays the groundwork for a rigorous inquiry into the basis for the human perception of reality, and enables him to deliver a book that’s both a pleasure to read and structurally compelling. He asks tough questions, such as: Can you trust your senses? What does it mean to live in the world with the bodies and brains that we possess?  What is our place on this planet surrounded by mostly empty space? What does our atomic structure have to do with reality? This book marries big-picture science with the sense-making possibilities of philosophy. How We Perceive Reality is thought-provoking and a delight to read, perfect for readers of Carlo Rovelli and Neil deGrasse Tyson.


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.9.2018 – The Interviews!

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically interviews with or articles written by self-publishing authors and experts!

Every now and again, we all need a really good overcoming-adversity story, don’t we? Each of us goes through our various lives with such different tools and attitudes, but at the end of the day, struggle is universal and when we stumble across other peoples’ stories of struggle and survival in the midst of dark times, those stories themselves become another tool. Basically, what I’m saying is this: Reading stories like Geordie Stewart’s helps both put things in perspective and encourages us all to not give up. Stewart, whose new self-published book In Search of Sisu just came out this year, ran a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to get his book out there in the world. And the world is what Stewart is all about! His book chronicles his adventures in summiting Everest and other high-altitude peaks throughout the world, one of the most dangerous adventure sports in the world. (“Sports” doesn’t even seem remotely like the right word to describe the grueling rigors of such an activity.) His book received blurbs from figures which loom large over the outdoor adventuring community, including Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Bear Grylis. But his attitude is all modesty, and this interview with Craig Smith of The Courier may be just the emotional boost you need to start your week off right.

Diversity matters, and the concept of seeing oneself and one’s struggles fully represented in children’s literature is one that is unattainable for many marginalized groups, for a variety of reasons. Well, children’s author Nury Castillo Crawford is setting out to change that reality for bilingual children and the children of immigrants who may never have seen themselves in a picture book before–and she utilized self-publishing to get there! Crawford, whose bilingual book 3,585 Miles to Be an American Girl came out in February, is a passionate advocate for representation and literacy. As Jordan Meaker writes in this Red & Black interview, that number–3,585–has personal significance for Crawford, who now works as a director of community engagement for Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia. “The entire story is inspired by my personal journey,” says Crawford. When she first moved to the United States, decades ago, there were no ESL classes to ease new immigrants into a monolingual English-speaking world. Her book, and other bilingual books, serve as a bridge between those two world for immigrant children who may be looking to learn English but struggling with figuring out how.

Crawford isn’t just a defender of the child and the immigrant; she’s also a defender of self-publishing! “Once you have a contract with a traditional publishing company, you don’t own the book anymore,” she says. “I wasn’t happy about that, I didn’t want anyone to change anything. I decided I was going to have to work and get my own publishing company.” The rest of her interview is just as fascinating. Give it a look!

Speaking of women self-publishing books to assist kids learning how to read and speak, I give you Ashley Imlay’s interview with Amelia Murdock on the Deseret News. Murdock, author and illustrator of the Dash Into Reading series of phonics books for young kids, got started because she wanted something constructive and positive to complement her hours and work as a mother. She used her own background in the arts to write and illustrate the ten-book series, which she self-published in April. She field-tested some of the art and pages on Instagram, and after receiving a massively positive response there, decided to push forward with self-publishing despite rejections from the major traditional publishing houses as a result of phonics books being such a “niche” item. Her journey to self-publishing may not have been her first choice, but now she recognizes that it is a good fit with the material. All of her sales have been made through word-of-mouth recommendations, she says, and through her presence on Instagram. If that’s not a good reason to try out the social media platform, we don’t know what is!


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.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.2.2018 – The Company Files!

july

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

Like it or not, there’s a widespread cultural assumption right now that because bookstore chains are struggling, therefore so too must authors be. Mercy Pilkington of The Good e-Reader is here to complicate that picture with an article that opens with the above provocative question, and sets out to disentangle common misconceptions about the lives of self-published authors as well as their traditionally-published counterparts. So, what, exactly, “does the industry hold for the traditionally published authors, the ones who’ve managed to snag the Holy Grail of writing and find both an agent and a publisher?” Pilkington goes on to answer: “Here’s a hint: the clearance bin at your local dollar store is filled with books that had a traditional publishing deal.” Being traditionally published is no insulation against common market pressures, she infers. Being an author has always, except for the ultra-rare zero-point-one-percent-likelihood blockbuster breakout success, been more about the art than the money for obvious reasons. And Pilkington’s closing thoughts are just as hard hitting. She writes:

But is this a chicken-egg scenario? Are publishing contracts paying authors literally minimum wage because all deals are getting smaller, or are the deals getting smaller because authors are shunning publishers and they aren’t earning as much as they once did? Either way, this situation sheds light on the increased professionalism and credibility that now surrounds the indie author space, indicating that this is (still) a great time to self-publish.

What do you think?

If you haven’t heard about “book-stuffing” … well, don’t worry. Neither had we, until this latest Amazon controversy blew up. Apparently, the self-publishing wing of the website (Kindle Direct Publishing) quietly rolled out some new rules to prevent authors from bundling their books together to get around the page limits of its subscription reading service, Kindle Unlimited. But that’s not where the controversy stops. (This is Amazon after all.) In a turn which surprises no one, Amazon has failed to enforce any of these rules, according to a number of leaders from within the self-publishing community who are pushing for the industry giant to put some weight behind its regulations. The simple fact is that there’s little incentive for the company to do so; its sheer size and its often-accused-as-exploitative author contracts insulate it from many of the ill side effects that the authors themselves will face. The way that Kindle Unlimited is set up, everyone who elect to offer their books through the service is paid out of one shared pot, which is allocated proportionally to its most-read texts. Book-stuffing makes it possible for some authors to exploit loopholes at other authors’ expense, and is therefore not a neutral or mildly problematic activity; it actually threatens livelihoods. Here’s hoping Amazon listens to its detractors and does some enforcement on this issue.

Self-publishing is an emergent opportunity for game design companies these days, with Frontier (above), Bungie, and NieR Studio all making noise in the last few weeks over their intentions to start self-publishing games. Frontier, a British game design company, recently launched an entire self-publishing division after closing down its less successful work-for-hire division. Writes Christopher Dring of GamesIndustry.biz, “It completed its contract with Microsoft (which included the 2015 game Screamride and incubation work on HoloLens), built its own publishing team and now answers only to itself and its shareholders.” The company is now in the process of deciding on how to go about offering third-party publishing to game designers who want to break from the traditional games publishing process. “‘It has to speak to our values,’ [Frontier CCO] Watts says. ‘The games that we make, we want them to be remembered.'” The CEO and CCO of Frontier discuss the elements which make for successful video games, which sound an awful lot like the ingredients for a successful self-published book: authenticity, ambition, attempting something new, and attention to detail. The article serves as a deep dive into the history of one game design company which is “going indie,” but it might just serve as a template to follow for other such companies in the near future.


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.

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