Pitfalls of Grammar Checkers

Grammar checkers, sometimes known as spell checkers, have the power to correct typos (misspelled words) and grammar errors in your writing. These days, you can find grammar checkers with almost anywhere where you can type words: word processors like Microsoft Word, online apps like Google Docs, and even online browser extensions like Grammarly.

But while grammar checkers can be for zapping typos in your texts or personal messages, don’t over-rely on them in your professional writing. Grammar checkers are not enough when self-publishing a book.

Your self-publishing author career relies on you building a team of editors and other professionals to assist you and your book. In this endeavor, it’s good to understand why computers are yet to replace human editors, and why it’ll likely stay this way.

Here are some pitfalls of grammar checkers that you can fall into when you rely solely on them, instead of hiring an editor.

Grammar checkers can miss grammatically correct errors.

You may use the wrong word, and because that word doesn’t cause a grammar issue, your grammar checker won’t flag the culprit.

Assume that you have a character named Mr. Petersen, not Peterson. You may write this sentence:

“Mr. Petersen will read the proposal and get back to you by Friday.”

Here’s a rewritten version that uses a different but incorrect spelling of his last name, but doesn’t trigger my grammar checker:

“Mr. Peterson will read the proposal and get back to you by Friday.”

See the difference? What if a reader notices that you spelled the same character’s name two different ways? You may get a bad review for poor editing.

While modern grammar checkers may flag the most misused word choices, you must check between the gaps for mistakes that the grammar checker misses, because you know your manuscript better than your computer.

Grammar checkers can interfere with your writing voice and style.

How many times have you typed a real word, only for the grammar checker to flag it as a typo?

Grammar checkers can wrongly flag new words, alternate spellings, and uncommon names. Names can be a particular sore point, as it’s not a good feeling when your software claims that your first or last name is spelled wrong.

You can address these situations by adding words to your app’s personal dictionary, or right clicking the word and selecting “Ignore.” Even then, your checker’s inaccuracies can distract you with its misplaced colored underlines.

At worst, grammar checkers can nudge you to “correct” sentences and push you from your personal style and toward the app developer’s biases. A skilled writer knows when to put style over “correctness,” and grammar checkers can sabotage these decisions.

Even the best editor needs a second pair of eyes.

Here’s a saying among lawyers: He who represents himself has a fool for a client. You can say the same thing about authors without editors.

Editors who publish their own book have an editor too, because they know that even the best editor needs a second pair of eyes.

A writer can be vigilant with using a grammar checker while editing. That said, a writer’s proximity to the work is a double-edged sword, as it’s easy to pass over mistakes that a second reader might spot.

Do yourself a favor and get a second reader to double-check your edits. And sometimes, even more.

Grammar checkers can’t do high-level editing.

Maybe you are the best grammar checker in the world, and you can check your writing perfectly. That’s not enough.

“Editing” can refer to different levels. Typically, a grammar checker only handles mechanical editing / light copyediting, checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Other levels of editing include:

  • proofreading to check what the manuscript will look like in print and ebook formats
  • heavy copyediting to correct non-grammatical errors and inconsistencies, such as style and word choice
  • line (or substantive) editing to check the tone and flow of paragraphs and chapters
  • fact checking to uphold creditability in non-fiction books and verisimilitude in novels
  • developmental (or structural) editing to revise a book’s more “macro” elements, like chapter order and the book’s big ideas

Some professional authors hire one editor for most of these editing levels. Others may hire separate roles, such as a developmental editor alongside a copyeditor.

You may also need other readers that don’t necessarily edit, but help you shape your story. For example, you can hire a sensitivity reader to check your manuscript for potentially offensive and inaccurate content, like with race or indigenous culture.

No matter what, even the most well-used grammar checker can only handle a narrow section of editing. For other levels, you must get an editor or other reader.

While technology is pivotal to the modern writing process, no app or tool can replace the human touch of an editor.

When you give your book to an editor, don’t think of it as admitting failure, but as your showing respect to your professionalism as an author and your manuscript’s potential.

Leave the grammar checker for your personal Facebook profile and give your book an editor.

What’s your experience with spell checkers and grammar checkers? What are some other pitfalls you can think of? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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.

In Your Corner: The Art of the Outline (III)

Two posts ago, I introduced the concept of outlining as a function of planning your next book, and in my last post, I began to present you with a buffet of possibilities you might mix and match between, with the idea that you could research further into the one or few that appeal to you. As it turned out, I had rather too much to say about too many possible options to put into just one post, so I had to break off about halfway through with the promise to finish in this, my latest post.

If you missed the previous methods of outlining, we covered the Bullet Point, Sticky Note, and Index Card methods, some of the apps and software available, and the Hero’s Journey, an organizational metaphor which might just provide a structure upon which to hang one’s outline. [You can read that post here.]

This week, I have four more outline options for you to consider.


If this method sounds a little biblical in nature, don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you carve anything onto stone tablets (unless you actually enjoy that–in which case, I admire you and your wrist strength very much). It is perhaps appropriate that the Five Commandments method would evoke visions of bygone days, given that it’s a well-respected outlining practice with a long legacy of usage. As with my last post’s description of the Hero’s Journey, this is an outlining practice distilled from an organizational metaphor. This one, as we’ve already noted, evokes the sense of a sacred text, but what it describes is the standard five-point plan often taught in high school and college classrooms to creative writing students. The points are:

  1. Inciting Incident
  2. Complications
  3. Crisis
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution

The general idea is for the writer to use these “five essentials of a good story” (as one of my professors once put it) as a starting point, or as a framework upon which to hang the coat of one’s entire book. Functionally one can make that outline as simple or as complicated as is useful–simple phrases or entire paragraphs answering to the implicit questions posed by each point. I absolutely must recommend checking out Joslyn Chase’s “How to Write a Book Using an Outline,” which covers both the Five Commandments method in detail as well as the next one I’m going to summarize here: the Nine Checkpoints. (She also points to some additional resources to flesh out your understanding of outlines, which is always nice.)


The Nine Checkpoints method sounds a bit more bureaucratic than biblical, which can be either freeing or somewhat discouraging in the way of standing in lines at the DMV. In reality, it’s simply an unpacked version of the previously described commandments, only instead of five points around which to cluster one’s ideas, there are nine:

  1. Hook
  2. Backstory
  3. Trigger
  4. Crisis
  5. Struggle
  6. Epiphany
  7. Plan
  8. Climax
  9. Resolution

In this outline method, one can look at the hook, backstory, and trigger sections as equating roughly with the Five Commandments’ “Inciting Incident” point, with the crisis, climax, and resolution sections all have exact correspondence. The only loose points remaining, then, are the struggle, epiphany, and plan sections. It’s easy to see the correlations and divergences between the two methods; what’s less easy to see is the organizational metaphor behind this outlining method. In my mind, each checkpoint in a line of checkpoints carries equal weight and priority, which may or may not reflect how I actually feel about the work I’m writing. Perhaps I know with absolute certainty what I want for one or three or eight of the points, and the others are able to flex and be sculpted around those certain ones. Perhaps I don’t. It all depends on the specific demands of the work in progress.


Before this last month, I would have ended my list of suggested outlining methods there, with a Cold War or Man From U.N.C.L.E. reference regarding checkpoints. But then, while researching additional resources to point you to, I stumbled across this excellent piece on Sharon Watson’s blog, “Fun with Outlines. No, Really.” (Putting a positive spin on things is one sure way to always hook my attention!) Watson’s post on outlining introduced me to the idea of the Grocery Store method, as well as the final one I’ll summarize, the Restaurant method. What I love most about these methods is that they flow naturally out of a more intuitive writing process, and they flex in exactly the way that I hinted at earlier. This is not to discount the value of a more evenly-weighted lists or principles around which to circle an outline, which I feel have significant benefits in ensuring even pacing and a sense of “completeness,” particularly if one is drafting a work of creative nonfiction or memoir. That said, I might just love the intuitive means of the Grocery Store method best.

Grocery stores are easy to picture in the mind’s eye. They’re organized in intuitive ways, with snacks near drinks since they tend to be consumed together, and household cleaning supplies near pet supplies since, well, half of caring for a pet is cleaning up after her. (I’m putting off vacuuming right now. Why do cats have to have so much fur?) It’s also easy to put yourself in the mindset of a shopper in a grocery store: you go in with a few items you have to get on your list, but a couple of other things catch your eye as you walk up and down the aisles. This is where you need to be in order to use the Grocery Store method to outline your next book. Then, all you have to do is picture the contents of your work in progress as the produce filling the aisles. You can reflect this structure in a bullet point list (taking us alllll the way back to my first recommendation in respect to outlining!), or you can mock up a visual outline more along the lines of the Sticky Note method: sketch some aisles, and fill them with all the information you feel is important going into your book, leaving room for extra items to fill out the shelves as you get underway.


Last but certainly not least, the restaurant method is another outlining option I first read about in Sharon Watson’s outline post. This one is a little harder to visualize mentally, since Watson is sharing tips as an educator with other educators in mind, and her worksheets are designed with high schoolers in mind. The challenge she issues to her students is to picture the variety of restaurants and how they’re arranged, from a fast food restaurant to a buffet to a sit-down gourmet restaurant. In a sense, I can see this as a useful starting point in the quest to outlining your next book, as it may present you with a range of organizational metaphors from which you need only pick one to develop further using one of the other methods I’ve described over the last two of my own posts. I did think it worth including, however, simply because of its novelty; we’ve all heard of sticky notes and bullet points before, but have you thought of using a restaurant to outline your work before? Chances are there are some seeds of possibility there.

Looking for yet more information on outlining, and how to make it work for you? I’ll be back in two weeks to close out this series and to answer any questions you might have.

Thinking of you always. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: The Art of the Outline (II)

My last post introduced the concept of outlining as a function of planning your next book. We got so far as to be ready to start looking at specific ways of doing so. My goal isn’t to recommend any specific way, but to present you with a buffet of possibilities you can mix and match between, should you like, or that you can research further into the one or few that appeal to you.


In this section of today’s post, I’m going to highlight some methods that have been thoroughly described elsewhere, with a brief summary description. I highly recommend following the hyperlinks to read the beautiful words and details put together by these phenomenal author advocates!


This is probably the simplest and most straightforward possibilities out there, and a great place to start if you’ve never or rarely ever created an outline, and are just dipping your toe into the process. Bullet points are one of the most motivating kinds of information organization systems out there, as there is a great deal of emphasis on streamlining things down to the bare minimum of crucial points. (In that way it is similar to the sticky-note and index card methods, which I get into later on.) Whether you’re working in print and doing a lot of the editing before you even put pen to paper, or if you’re using some kind of word processor that allows for constant reorganization and editing after the fact, there are huge benefits to this system of outlining. It forces an author to focus on the fundamentals: characters, plot architecture, inciting actions, and the basic scaffolding of the book. Whenever I’ve used this method myself (mostly back in my college days, to be honest) I discovered connections and related ideas as I typed them up, and used the COPY + PASTE functions on my laptop frequently to regroup these ideas into clumps that felt right together. The Australian literary magazine Writer’s Edit has broken its recommended “clumps” (my imperfect word, not theirs) to a series of eleven, including timeline and character design and arcs, voice, chapter organization (and reorganization), and how to survive the dreaded “middle.” The article was written by Kyla Bagnall, and is worth tucking away among your many drafting resources.


To echo what I said earlier in the “Bullet Points” description, keeping things simple has enoooormous benefits to many authors–whether it’s because of your own editing within a word processor or the repeatedly limited space provided by a sticky note pad (and I’m resisting the urge to recommend buying those fantastically huge, easel-sized sticky notes that are used for workshops and breakout activities in professional settings). The physical constraints of sticky notes (and index cards, too, as I discuss below) force an author to slow down and think very deliberately about what to include–and there’s the added benefit that you can essentially rearrange the sticky notes as you discover connections between them, whenever you want (although keep a water-soluble temporary adhesive glue stick with you as you go, since some sticky note pads aren’t exactly known for … sticking). You can even follow the same loose pattern as you would in a bullet point list (or turn a bullet point document into a sticky note outline, if you like to edit down digitally but arrange the points visually).

I have only used this process once, but I loved the flexibility of trying out different visual arrangements: information trees and hierarchies, venn diagrams, and loosely clusters of notes that would break up and reform as the drafting process continued. Any available wall or window will do for your workspace, which makes things quite fun for everyone except for the poor person on window-cleaning duties afterward! On the Writing With Sharon Watson blog, Sharon has included some additional ideas for a sticky note method, and there are plenty of beautiful pictures of people at work using it, as with the image at the top of this post. Sharon comes at the subject as an educator tasked with motivating students and teachers alike to tackle creative outlining styles, which I find really interesting.


The Index Card Method can indeed be looked at as a slightly less-fun alternative to sticky notes (especially if no walls or windows are available for outlining), lacking both the adhesive backing and the array of bright colors available that can provide useful color-coding (but here’s a secret … colored index cards exist too! Google them if you haven’t seen them before). A definite benefit to using the cards is that you can easily pack a lot more information on the one piece of heavy paper. (Think of how much information old-school library card catalogs managed to pack onto each Dewey reference card!) I could easily see using a phase-by-phase approach with the bullet point section coming first, full of rough and unrefined ideas, followed by the sticky note rearrangement method, which allows for more intuitive clusters of information to just … fall together. And once an author has nailed down exactly the order and shape of things, it might prove useful to rewrite the sticky note information (and expound on it) onto index cards that can be numbered and ordered in sequence. This saves a lot on storage space–you only have one little stack instead of a huge swathe of your room covered in sticky notes–and also keeps everything close to hand and easy to access when beginning the first draft. You’ll never forget what plot point needs to come next according to your grand scheme of things, because you’ll already have sequenced everything while converting the sticky notes into index cards.

Even if you skip the bullet point document and the sticky note method, index cards can prove mighty useful in the drafting process. I have been invited to guest judge several small-town high school speech and debate tournaments over the years, and it has to be said that the speakers who come with sequenced index cards in hand never seem to waste time trying to dredge up information before their presentation time expires. (I prefer spontaneous speeches for other reasons, but that’s beside the point.) And the point here is that outlining and sequencing your work, whether book or public speech, helps prevent veering off course and rambling. In high school, the suggested outlining structure is incredibly simple:

  • Introduction
  • Transition
  • Point/example 1
  • Point/example 2
  • Point/example 3
  • Transition 2
  • Conclusion

… and that’s really about it. Your book is unlikely to be structured as simply as a time-restricted speech or an essay on assigned reading, but you get the idea. And if your structure gets overwhelmingly complicated to the point where you seem to lose your place, you might consider going back to the initial bullet point section and the article I reference there. If things seem just impossible to streamline and you’re feeling panicked, it might also be time to look into those apps and computer programs, including the famous Scribner, that lead you through a step-by-step process of converting your outline into something that looks and feels like it makes sense. More on that next.


I don’t like picking and choosing programs and apps to recommend based on personal preference (favoritism!), but Scrivener is probably the most widely-heard-of example of what’s out there, although it is now facing increasing competition from apps available for mobile devices and app-based operating systems. First figure out what device or devices you want to be using for the outlining process, because that will in large part determine which specific one you pick. Will you need to go to the Apple App Store, or the Android or Google Play app stores for other devices? Some apps are not built to work across both sides of the Apple vs. Android system divide, so you need to know what you’re going to use going in. And don’t be afraid to look up tutorials on using the platform you’re looking into, on YouTube and elsewhere. YouTube helped me disassemble my bread machine in order to replace the drive belt, so a bit of system description and such will most definitely be present on the great and mighty Internet. Here is a great example of a YouTube tutorial on Scrivener by Literature and Latte that visually explains how to use the software’s outlining function. (Scrivener is often offered at a steep discount during or after National Novel Writing Month, so if you’re interested, definitely keep an eye out for good deals like that.) The video may be four years old as of the date of this post, but it hasn’t changed very much in that time. Don’t be shy about trying your hand out with different app or software trial periods, either! Sometimes you don’t know what will truly help until you’ve spent some quality time with it.


Well, I’m several essays into this one post and I still have five more outlining methods that I’m excited to talk about–so I’ve decided to save the final four for my next post (on March 25th) and close out today by briefly mentioning the Hero’s Journey method.

What is the Hero’s Journey? It’s a sort of organizational metaphor originally put forth by the Great and Mighty AKA “appears in loads of composition textbooks” Joseph Campbell. I can’t even touch all the finer points of his epic (bad pun alert!) analysis, which took up much of his professional life, but suffice it to say this is the kind of organizational structure (or “monomyth”) that underlies many (if not most) great stories in the Western canon. Many of you will have probably heard some of his terminology before, so I won’t go into too much detail–and besides, Scott Jeffrey of CEOsage has created a wonderful guide to the Hero’s Journey monomyth and how one can apply it to daily life. If you extrapolate out just a little bit, you can easily see how an author might choose to use the outline of the Hero’s Journey as a kind of template for outlining their own! An author might keep it simple and make use of the three (3) stages of the journey (departure, initiation, and return) or go absolutely wild with the ten (10) more detailed steps that underlie the big three, swapping out the monomyth’s basic steps with the relevant or related bits of your own work in progress. You can get into the weeds of composition and literary theory if you want to by checking out out every book on Campbell from your local library, or you can just start with the basics as described by Jeffrey. You’ll start to see an outline develop before you even know it!

More fun options next time, I promise!

Thinking of you always. ♣︎

Daylight Savings is this Sunday!
Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Do we still need to talk about the pandemic?

Writing and publishing is difficult enough without added challenges being added on top of the usual brainstorming, crafting, editing, strategizing, and marketing that self-publishing authors take on as a part of the process. (Allowing, of course, for some variation, depending on existing skills and assistance provided by third parties.) We heard a great deal last year about some of the pandemic’s additional challenges last year, particularly during the summer, but much of that conversation has either died down or been reframed as a part of the “new normal.” So I just have to wonder, do we still need to talk about the pandemic outside of its health- and social-specific effects? Is it still worth grappling with the “extras” that COVID-19 has added to our writing and publishing lives?

I, personally, happen to think that we are entering a new phase of this whole thing. By and large, one year in, we’ve figured out how to live with the restrictions and their consequences (eagerly or otherwise). Two vaccines have passed all the standards that need passing in order to achieve wide distribution, and state governors are working on specific distribution plans for each state. Where I am just now, many of the restrictions themselves have begun to loosen, although most people I know are still being fairly cautious. Some schools are back in operation. My favorite bakery reopened! … and then closed again, then reopened again, and so on and so forth a number of times as the occasional worker came down with the virus. By and large, we are now well-acquainted with this open-closed-open-closed-etc cycle, and well-acclimated to last-minute changes in plans as the knock-on effects of the virus continue to manifest.

But what about when it comes to books? I see that the news posts here on the blog have dealt occasionally with the effects of COVID-19 on the publishing industry since March (summary version: book sales are up, particularly in digital, and so too with digital library offerings, as more library users make use of them). Most of the data, however, is coming from traditional publishers and indie bookstores (which are still struggling). Publishers Weekly (and probably many other organizations) keeps an updated list of COVID-19-related cancellations and postponements––again, privileging the traditionally published lineup, which is usually decided years in advance.

Getting a handle on just how this same situation is affecting those who choose to go indie is another matter. For one thing, self-published books don’t require the same long (up to two-years!) run-up to release as their traditionally published cousins, so there are very few compendiums of upcoming indie publications to build buzz. As we’ve seen throughout this last year, it is entirely feasible to progress from initial thoughts through writing and publication within two months with self-publishing, although we don’t recommend that many sleepless nights to everyone who wants to publish in the next year. (Chances are, anyway, that you have already been working on a manuscript before you read this post.)

Where do we look for self-published book statistics these days? Publishing through Amazon might be an indicator (and the company does love to release its self-reported statistics when they’re good news for them), but due to Amazon’s diversification and movement into the traditional publishing sphere with its own imprint and so forth, “publishing through Amazon” can look any one of a hundred different ways. It is not necessarily a good indicator of general self-publishing statistics anymore, in my opinion––the data I’ve seen talks big about the total amount its authors have earned in the last year, but the company hasn’t released any comparative reports to pre-COVID-19 times, or on whether their authorship has remained steady, much less grown.

About the only people reporting on the effects of COVID-19 on self-publishing are individual authors themselves, on their blogs or in their newsletters or social media feeds. To my knowledge, no one has a good handle on how many books are self-published even during a good year, much less this last year (this is because ISBN purchases, while tracked rather well, only apply to those authors who choose them––and they aren’t required for the publication of ebooks). Perhaps I’m so stuck on this because I myself work in the industry, and I want to know just how the virus’ long-term effects will challenge and/or benefit those authors I work with on a daily basis. Do we even know?

I’ve heard by word of mouth and on social media that many authors are struggling to write because of the persistence of work-from-home directives continuing for a large sector of the marketplace, and because many schools are also either working remotely or in hybrid systems. I’ve also heard that there is a huge wave of pandemic-related works in the pipeline for publication in the near future, although most traditional publishers haven’t quite gotten there without cutting corners. I’ve heard a lot of stories involving children’s books, particularly, when it comes to pandemic-related publications this last year, with the first ones appearing within months of the outbreak, published by schoolteachers and grandparents and other caregivers. But these are just the stories that I, Elizabeth, have heard. I am not representative of the entire industry, for sure.

What have you heard? Do you think we still need to talk about the pandemic when it comes to self-publishing, as I do? I’d love to hear your stories. And as always, I’d love to hear about your 2021 writing goals. ♣︎

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Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process 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, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.