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Kelly Schuknecht: The Highlights Reel (part 2)

Today we continue the work began in last Wednesday post as we farewell our longtime contributor Kelly Schuknecht. Kelly is moving on from Self Publishing Advisor to take on new challenges and we wanted to revisit some of her best and most popular posts here. Here are three more posts that really went down in the record books with us and our readers!

self-publishing in december

Here’s a gem for the ages! After all, it’s an evergreen subject; every author needs constant reminders of just how easy it is to miss errors in one’s own work, and of the need for extra eyes on any unpublished manuscript before it goes to press. This post, first published in 2010, really connected with its audience–and that was before Kelly updated the post with further tips and tricks in 2016. This post, and its update, has been one of our top performers of all time, and for good reason: Kelly walks readers through how to utilize an editor, how to get those extra eyes on your work, how and when to leave the manuscript as finished, and several suggestions on how to read the material by your lonesome and still achieve excellent results (clue: the words “out loud” and “backwards” are both used, but not together). This post serves as great proof that good writing will always be good writing, and therefore suggestions on how to craft good words will also remain steady.

Have you even thought about Amazon’s BXGY lately? Chances are that you haven’t, since the program was phased out soon after Kelly’s original post in 2008 (one of her earliest!). It’s worth checking in on the original post just to see how far Amazon’s sales algorithms and promotions have come; back in 2008, this post was so popular it almost broke our analytics, but these days for obvious reasons it’s a quiet corner of the blog. If there’s a moral to be learned here, it’s that the only constant in the age of the internet is change, and Amazon is no exception–and one of our missions, as self-publishing authors tasked with marketing our own books, is to adapt to those changes and try to get ahead of the curve … if we can. That’s one of the reasons we write this blog!

Last but not least (for today, that is), we bring you one of the blog’s highest-performing posts of all time. As with her post on tips and tricks for finding errors in your writing, Kelly’s suggestions in using your first chapter to boost book sales has a serious and ongoing following–because the information is still useful and valid. And yes, Kelly did an update of this post too (in 2016), and it too is a high-performer (statistically speaking). In her original, Kelly walked us through how to use Amazon, email, and even Craigslist to host the first chapter of your book and gain those “preview purchasers,” browsers who are unwilling to commit to a purchase unless they have a chance to look inside first. In her update, she touches on using social media as well as the Kindle app, two of the most popular ways to discover new material these days. We have the feeling that this blog will have a very long-term following, indeed–and we definitely recommend that you check it out (old and new) and leave us your own feedback. This is a post that ought to constantly evolve to fit the times!


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 week to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 9.11.2017 – The Interviews!

september

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!

Early this month, this article by Kathy Boccella went live on The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s website, and we haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Here, Boccella tracks the evolution of one teen’s quest to become self-published–and who, at 13, has already accomplished that particular dream. Blogger, founder of both  and GenZInsider.com, and now an author, Sky Rota is quite the force of nature. Says Boccella, “It’s hard to imagine how he found the time among maintaining his Gen Z website;  filming videos of exotic cars, a hobby since he was 8; and advising clients such as an online handbag seller on e-commerce and an app developer trying to reach teen customers”–but as she goes on to show, he does, and he does so with insight and dedication, two qualities he brings to every aspect of his life, including his publishing. Rota is the author of The Gen Z Answer Key for Business, which he self-published earlier this year in the hopes of spreading his ideas as an inventor to a new generation. Rota has also, for better or worse, become something of a spokesperson for disability rights in this country: As recently as last year, he and his family went up against the school which expelled him in a landmark legal case. Says Boccella, “their high-profile loss in the courtroom is part of a much bigger narrative about how a child who has struggled with conventional reading and writing can also — aided by 21st- century technology — find outlets for his energy and ideas.” Luckily, the closure of that case has done nothing to dampen Rota’s desire to advocate for others in and outside of the classroom. Of one thing you can be sure: we’ll be watching with eager interest as he continues to self-publish!

Not only can self-publishing provide a way forward for authors emerging from times of disappointment, as with Sky Rota, but it can also be a healing process in and of itself. This is the case with Brocton mother Michelle Marsh, author of a new self-published novel called Hidden Scars. In this piece published on the Enterprise website, contributor Marc Larocque tracks Marsh’s progress through the 13-year process which led to the book’s publication, a process which included marriage, children, and–here’s the hardest part–divorce. As Larocque records, Marsh found her feet in the act of writing: “To me,” says Marsh, “it was time to start a new chapter, and it was time to start something new [….] I started and I did not want to stop. Once I got off Facebook, I got into my own world, and really just got into my characters. I just wrote.” And we’re glad she did; Hidden Scars not only promises to be a fine novel, but it also launches a series of books. “My readers are waiting patiently for the sequel,” says Marsh. And they are … including us!

If you thought dancing was just a stay-at-home activity, boy, does author and dancer Mike Gomborone have some news for you! Gomborone, as the Batavia Daily News contributor Mallory Diefenbach reports last week, “has seen the world”–and all because of dance. He spent his high school years doing plays, then spent nine years on cruise ships honing his skills as a performer, and now he’s ready to talk about it: in February, Gomborone released his memoirs as a collection of 75 essays, a book called Singing My Way Around the World: An Entertainer’s Life at Sea. And as Diefenbach writes, it’s not your typical memoir: “Each of the essays he wrote turned into a chapter in the book, accompanied by a hand-drawn map of where it took place.” With such an experimental format, perhaps it’s no surprise that Gomborone would turn to self-publishing, which has always been friendlier to mixing visual art with the written word than the establishment. But then, Gomborone’s life hasn’t taken the ordinary path, either. Diefenbach writes that the entertainer has had to perform in some truly unusual–even frightening–circumstances. “We were from Japan and Hawaii and we had one day that was almost unbearable,” says Gomborone. “You couldn’t walk anywhere. You basically had to lie down and that was pretty scary.” But as performers the world over have gone on to say, the show must go on–and we’re incredibly excited that Gomborone’s experiences are now accessible to us thanks to the world of self-publishing!


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: 8.28.2017 – Publishing Trends

Hello august. Splash paint letters

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!

Well, of course they do! I mean, when you look at the numbers, that’s quite a bit less than one in ten people alive on Planet Earth–and if you’ve spoken to any number of earthlings lately, you’ll know we’re a species addicted to storytelling and words. But the point, according to the UK’s Southern Reporter, is actually something quite different. (And also, the article is talking specifically about 5.3 citizens of the United Kingdom alone, which is rather a smaller population than Earth’s 7 billion.)  No … the point is that memoir and autobiography now make up a majority in terms of author-interest. According to the article, “One in five of those planning to write a book would like to pen their own life story (21 per cent), more than twice the number of any other non-fiction genre and considerably more than any genre of fiction” (emphasis added). This means that, in about five or ten year’s time, whenever this massive percentage of UK authors finally sits down to pen books in their retirement years, the majority of books published may in fact be autobiography and memoir–not mass market genre fiction. Not romance, not crime fiction, not Nordic Noir. How cool is that? Keep your eyes on your pocketbooks, people! British nonfiction is a storied and legendary canon, and about to get a lot more diverse and interesting!

We’ve known for a while now that the publishing industry isn’t doing so well, as a whole, while self-publishers are growing and diversifying at record pace. Well, this article by Michelle Caffrey of the Philadelphia Business Journal chronicles the progress of BookBaby, a South Jersie Print-on-Demand (POD), ebook distribution, and indie publishing company known for its ease of use. The full text of the article is only available to subscribers, but if you don’t happen to be one, you can catch much of the same information in other places and from the BookBaby website itself, specifically its “in the press” page.

And you thought the New Yorker was irrelevant to indie authors, huh? Well, maybe even the New York literary scene can take a clue or two, as Stephen Burt’s most recent piece dives into the nature and values of fanfiction. The worlds of fanfiction and self-publishing are not, it’s true, one and the same–but there’s a tight correspondence to explore, as very often fanfiction authors have no other option forward to publication than going indie, and many times established self-publishing authors began as writers with a foray or two into the fanfic universe. Burt spends some quality time with other cousins of the self-publishing movement, cousins we have spoken about regularly here on the blog–fanzines, science fiction (and other popular genre fictions), as well as the rich relationship between scholarly analysis and pop culture–and upon which we could hold forth for quite a long time. Suffice it to say, Burt’s piece is a refreshing take from an establishment magazine which has often spurned “our people,” and an insightful bit of analysis in and of itself. Well worth taking 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.
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: 8/18/2017

S. O. S. – Writers Need Help, Too – Part III

The manuscript is finished! Woo Hoo! Now you’re ready to PUBLISH! The writing was so much fun! Where do we go from here?

The “big” traditional publishing houses today literally have hundreds of back-logged books waiting for their editorial staffs to “review” manuscripts and make their changes according to the “standard” of every specific genre.

First, I NOT want my book to be changed. My editor and I have completed it just the way I want it and no other editors are required.

Second, contracts with the traditional publishers give them full latitude in selecting a book cover. Nope—I do not want that, either. I have very specific ideas for the cover design.

help wanted

So, let’s look at the options today’s self-publishers offer. Again, this will require a bit of Internet Research to find the BEST FIT for me and my book.

  • After making a list of the Self-Publishing companies that look best to me I begin calling their main telephone lines and asking to speak to a Publishing Consultant.
    • I compare the publishing consultant to a National Park Service trail guide who, before I embark on my highly anticipated journey, will give me the “lay of the land.”
    • This person will walk me through the pros and cons of each publishing option available within their specific company.
    • He/she listens to what my manuscript is about and guides me to the best options for my particular manuscript needs.

The best Publishing Consultant I’ve ever enjoyed working with literally held my client’s hand through the whole start-up process. Her conversations with him extended over several weeks, which is exactly what he needed in order to make the best decisions for his book(s). She looked at the initial manuscript pages we submitted, listened to my client’s purpose for writing the book, and guided us to the very best options, which included personal cover design, extra help with photography placements, and layout design. My client gave her rave reviews in a letter to company’s owner.

Even though I sincerely believe that most of my clients would develop ulcers if they attempted to publish totally independently, to be fair, I will also mention the self-publishing “tools” to be considered. They include: Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, Smashwords, and others. IF a client has little or no financial support for their writing efforts, or they have something short they want to publish—something that will possibly attract Readers to their major book(s)—I believe these are good options to consider. However, there is no Publishing Consultant to walk you through this forest.

Working with a Self-Publishing Company, and their publishing staff of experts, is (in my opinion) the best option for today’s authors. If finances are a concern, many have “gift cards” available (given by supportive family and friends) which can be applied to any of the publishing needs. The helping hand of the Publishing Consultant is priceless—and is included in the publishing package you select. ⚓︎

 


Royalene

ABOUT 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.

Easy Breezy Summer Publishing (Part 4)

future forecast

As the summer draws to a late middle, it’s time to ask some of the tough questions—questions about the future for you and other self-publishing authors looking to market your books.

So, what is the general outlook for self-publishing in terms of independence?

Everyone seems to have an opinion.

Lorraine Candy, interviewed for The Guardian, thinks that “There is enough evidence to prove that there will be print, and it will continue to be in many forms and be available in many places,” and that the future “will be about working in a much more collaborative, better and bespoke way.” Sounds neat. The Guardian‘s other interviewees have a lot to say about journalism (understandably) and the “disruption” created by social media.

Meanwhile, over at the 2017 London Book Fair, industry vet and the executive director of a publishing business, Kristen McLean writes that “one thing we do know: there is no going back. People now integrate technology seamlessly into their lives, and they do whatever makes the most sense to them as they pursue their goals in a particular moment.” So—disruption isn’t all bad, and we don’t at this point in time have to pick a side in the ongoing Print vs. Digital debate. Says McLean:

The passion of the individual organizes [their] pattern of investigation, not necessarily the content creator. In fact, the most exciting examples of this type of consumption are not usually the product of a single creator or company, and seem to take on a life of their own. (For instance, are you aware of the current slime frenzy? Google it.)

All the same, children’s media and audio—particularly cross-platform audio, available in analog and digital forms—are on the rise. If you’re looking to market a self-publishing book this year, you’ll need to pay attention to the buzzwords associated with these trends. Check out the Publisher’s Weekly article for more!

Jason Illian of Digital Book World begs to disagree—or at the very least, to take a different tack from these other pieces. In an article titled, somewhat snarkily, “The (Real) Future of Publishing” he writes that “Everything being said about the state of publishing is (relatively) true—but not everything that is true is being said, as there are data points and trends being left out of the broad discussion.” What isn’t being said? He cites major shifts at institutions as diverse as Penguin Random House, Wal*Mart, Barnes & Noble, and public libraries as representing a growing confidence in digital, despite talk about plateaus and slow-downs. Says Illian:

When a new technology gets talked up and fails to fundamentally change everything in a short amount of time, the conversation turns negative. But that doesn’t mean change is over. It is the pause in the action, the short breath of time where most traditional firms tout their belief that disruption is over, only to soon find out that real change has just begun. What we are experiencing rather is just the break between the waves. And the next wave could forever change publishing.

Lastly, Justin Pang of Tech Crunch has his own take. Says Pang, “The playing field is starting to level between the most-savvy traditional publishers and top digital native publishers.” This is good news for indie and self-publishing authors looking to break into a crowded market, although Pang’s primary interest is with companies like Netflix and Gawker. It does seem clear, however, that as messaging apps overtake social media for the highest number of user hits per month, that we may need to shift how and where we market our books. As publishing races to catch up to this particular shift, smaller and more nimble indies may finally find themselves on an even playing field.

It’s time to get savvy and experiment with some of these trends. How will you go about marketing in a post-digital, rapidly changing world? We’d love to hear from you; simply drop us a line in the comments section below!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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

From the Archives: “By virtue of the term: 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: October 14th, 2010 ]

Digital democracy. iTunes changed the record business forever. Blogs have reshaped the landscape of traditional print news. YouTube challenged the way television and advertising CEO’s communicated with the viewing public. Who would have thought even ten years ago that a majority of users would value a user-generated encyclopedia over Britannica?

Technology has quickly and powerfully changed the way we think, enjoy, communicate, and create. Across each industry one thing holds – a democratization effect – where artists make the rules.

On-demand and digital self-publishing is equally shaking things up. As the WSJ notes, “once derided as ‘vanity’ titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment.”

“Playing God” in his book Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven, former Yankee pitcher opted to self-publish in order to maintain his content control. A wise move that is rumored to have been opted into a movie project reuniting Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

democracy definition

The democratization of self-publishing is a big deal, even seven years after we originally mentioned it. With our current grab-bag of print on demand services, self-publishing companies and vanity presses alike, we have an enormous quantity of titles available to readers for affordable consumption–and while few of them get printed in any quantity, is that really an undesirable thing? I mean on a large scale, not an individual one. Clearly it’s better for the individual to have more money in the wallet than otherwise. But a democratic system is a diversified one, with products and services to meet every preference. And that’s where we are, more or less!

So how does this democratization help authors? As someone who has dabbled in both nonfiction and memoir, here’s one way:

Traditionally, nonfiction authors were required to draft outlines and preliminary chapters, submit these to agents and publishing houses for review, and hope that someone would like that material enough to give them an advance–money to help them do the research required to write the rest of the book. Research, generally speaking, is expensive–especially because for nonfiction it usually requires travel, lodging, meals, and subscription or access fees to information repositories like museums and so forth to complete. Many wonderful nonfiction books have not been written simply because authors weren’t able to give publishers a real sense of what their book was about because the money had to come first in order to really do so….

Self-publishing, however, has co-evolved with a whole host of crowdsourcing options. I have at least one friend who financed her book over Kickstarter with some success, and others who have been even more creative. (But that’s for another post. Soon, I promise.) These alternate revenue streams mean that self-publishing authors don’t have to wait on anyone’s say-so, and they don’t have to sacrifice any creative control over the research, writing, and publishing experience to an institution which will always value its own success over its authors’. So nonfiction authors, in this situation specifically, benefit a great deal from not being dependent on an advance. The same holds true for fiction authors in all of the most important ways, and you only have to follow the career of poet Rupi Kaur to see how self-publishing can indeed be more than congenial to that third great genre.

Of course, the idea and status “commercial author” may be on the way out, or at least these authors who’ve chosen to struggle through the traditional publishing model may have diminished opportunities. Fewer authors each year see the virtue in being one of these so-called “starving artists,” who make their way in the world based on an antiquated publishing model which never treated them well in the first place. This is okay. It’s also okay to be a starving artist, by the way. I just wouldn’t want to be one, and it’s no longer the only model of a successful artist anymore.

Self-publishing still has its flaws. But anything that makes publishing possible for more authors, more affordably, and guarantees them more rights and freedoms, is a democratizing influence. And I love democracy! The fact that self-publishing also makes reading more affordable and a more diverse experience can only lead to good things.

 

Fun Note: A quick foray on Google reveals that as of 2015, at least, Peterson’s book is still under development by Affleck and Damon, so that’s another ray of good news.

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.