Self-Publishing News: 11.11.2020

Veterans Day. November 11. Honoring All Who Served.

And now for the news.

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

Here’s a fun and uplifting story for those fans of epic fantasy: Isaac Stewart, who has worked as art director for fantasy megastar Brandon Sanderson among others, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to launch his lift-the-flap picture book after struggling to find a traditional publisher willing to take on the project. The fundraising campaign for the book, Monsters Don’t Wear Underpants, was fully funded within 12 hours, and has now more than doubled Stewart’s original funding goal. (So nice things can happen on the Internet after all!) At least for now, the book is available for pre-order, and even if you don’t have children going through potty training, you can certainly take notes from Stewart’s well-orchestrated Kickstarter process if you’re thinking about taking a similar path to self-publication.

“As a ghostwriter,” Elaine Pofeldt writes in the opening to a recent Forbes article, “I often hear from prospective authors who would like to write a book but are on the fence about whether to self-publish it or try to find a commercial publisher.” Pofeldt, a longtime contributor to a number of high-profile publications on the subject of entrepreneurship and co-founder of the entrepreneur-boosting company 200kfreelancer.com , offers a well-rounded and realistic comparison of the self-publishing process in contrast to a more traditional (or “commercial”) approach. She covers topics ranging from funding through writing, editing, publishing, and promoting your book––and how each experience varies between the two options. This is a thoughtful article that despite being written by someone “in the industry” will still prove useful to those readers who are not specifically launching their books through her business.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spa-news.jpg
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: Home by Midnight

In the story of Cinderella, our heroine must get herself and her carriage home before the midnight bell, when the spell breaks that has turned a pumpkin into a carriage and a poor orphan servant into a lady. In some tellings of the tale, Cinderella doesn’t quite make it in time, and finds herself mixed up with the pulp and seeds as her carriage reverts to its original state. I liked these stories the best as a child, mostly because I can’t imagine explaining that to a prince (or a mean stepmother). Then I would imagine the scene as it played out, with Cinderella explaining: “I’m sorry, I lied about everything and am not a princess, but would you like some pumpkin seeds for your garden? I understand this variety can grow to be the size of a carriage!”

Now, if you search for “Cinderella” and “Halloween” together online, you’re likely to pull up a list of absolutely useless Halloween costumes based on the Disney animated (or live action reboot) version. They’re cute, but they’re not demonstrative of an actual connection between the two.

But consider: On this particular Halloween––that is, October 31st, 2020––the night between Halloween and a candy-induced migraine of a Sunday is also the night in which we get to celebrate midnight twice. ÂNDˆa full moon. This particular pumpkin patch of coincidences, in which Halloween, Daylight Savings Time, and a full moon. This particular full moon will be the Blue Moon, as it is the second full moon in the month of October, and that is a fairly novel event, which explains the origin of the phrase “once in a Blue Moon” to describe an event that is rare. It’s kind of weird, but it’s also kind of amazing. What a year, right?

Halloween is an astronomical celebration. It is a cross-quarter moon, which I am just beginning to wrap my head around, that falls roughly halfway halfway between equinox and solstice. But don’t trust me, trust diagrams from the great and wonderful Internet full of amateur astronomers!:

There’s a lot of fun science behind this astronomical event, one definitely worth celebrating (maybe even in a Cinderella costume). It is also, of course, considered something of a spiritual event, with both its lovers and its haters due to its pagan origins. Of course, a person could say the same thing––that there’s a lot of fun science behind it––about each of these things: the Blue Moon, a full moon on Halloween, and Halloween as a cross-quarter event.

Perhaps this is just me connecting the dots between two very different things, but I always think of Cinderella around Halloween, mostly because of that iconic pumpkin carriage scene. If there was indeed a ripe pumpkin on the vine the night that Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed her into a high-status lady for the prince’s ball, then the events in the story may very well have happened on Halloween. There’s a shared wistfulness and aspiration behind the story of Cinderella and the stories of modern day trick-or-treaters (or since this is 2020, those folks who dress up for the day even though it’s difficult to go door to door safely in some areas due to COVID-19).

They are aspirational because they reflect some larger than life passion or desire. For Cinderella, that desire was to be seen for who she was inside and not be defined by her poverty. For many trick-or-treaters, often it reflects someones or somethings that they find interesting and compelling enough to put on as a costume. (Unless you’re an infant, in which case, it reflects your caregivers’ passions.) Kids dress up as superheroes, first responders, heroes and villains from any number of shows and movies and books––and they do so because they wish to be extraordinary too, deep down.

They are wistful because so often our lives take us in a different direction from those aspirations. (It’s extremely difficult to find available fairy godmothers these days who are taking on new clients.)

We as writers often feel similar things about the publication process, that it won’t ever possibly work because it’s too difficult, or requires specialized editorial or software know-how, and so forth. We are afraid of still being in the pumpkin as the carriage reverts, and feeling publication as an impossibility that one can only wistfully watch from afar as it happens to other people.

Today, as you go about your final preparations for Halloween (maybe complete with a splash of some Cinderella story), I want to challenge you to see publication as something that is, in fact, within your ability to achieve. This is where you see the connection between all of these different dots. Self-publishing exists for a reason. For many reasons. And unlike Halloween, to become a published author isn’t something that you can only ever be aspirational for. If you ever figure out how to get a radioactive spider to bite you, I want to know your secret. But suffice it to say, most Halloween costumes do not reflect achievable career paths. It’s extremely difficult for Spider-Man to pay the rent if he’s constantly running away from work to do a second, unpaid job of saving people and annoying Tony Stark.

(Yes, I’m a nerd.)

View Post

But self-publishing isn’t some remote once-in-a-blue-moon possibility. It exists precisely to get you from your aspiration to whatever the complete opposite of wistfulness is. Celebration of past accomplishments, perhaps? Pride in a job well done, and pride in a dream realized. And it isn’t something that you have to do alone through impersonal computer-mediated steps. Self-publishing as an industry is absolutely packed with amazing people with useful and related skills who are not just happy to talk with you in a casual sense––they’re eager. And delighted to help aspiring authors become published authors, and then to welcome new authors to the author club.

This has been a year of feeling alone in the face of all the things our world is throwing at us. But don’t fall into the trap of including publication on that list. You can chat with your local librarians, your local bookstore staff, the excellent employees of self-publishing companies, and yes, you can chat with me too.

Don’t let yourself be frightened to publish––or at the very least, don’t let yourself talk yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy of publication being impossible. Get yourself and your pumpkin carriage of a manuscript home (and published) by midnight––and see what kind of wonderful things can happen when you believe in yourself.

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
Elizabeth

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.
pumpkin

Self-Publishing News: 10.27.2020

And now for the news.

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

When it comes to speaking directly to the troubles of the present, one can’t overlook the impact of articles such as this one by Tiffany Johnson for the Spokesman Reporter, in which she records details of a conversation with self-published author W.D. Foster Graham, who is using his experience and voice as a Black author in America to broaden the diversity of local library collections both through the inclusion of his own books as well as by requesting a number of books by other authors be added to their catalogs. Foster Graham is most well know for “Never Give Up and Mark My Words, which are both part of his Christopher Family Novel series.” Writes Johnson, “He used the self-publishing process as an opportunity to care for his project in a way that was relevant to his unique narrative as a Black voice in the United States. “I had to vet editors. I would ask them, ‘What does cultural sensitivity mean to you?’” he said.” Once his books reached publication, he began approaching libraries. The Hennepin County library welcomed his books into their collections, and other libraries began to follow suit.

According to Foster-Graham, now seven counties in the Twin Cities metro area plus St. Paul, Rochester, and St. Cloud, offer his books and other Black authors that he has requested. He urges the Black community to do the same. “You need to come at them with data on how they can access more African American books. I provided them with an alternative [solution],” he said.

We cannot recommend this article highly enough. It’s not too long, so we don’t want to steal too much of the limelight from Johnson’s excellent writing, but suffice it to say this is a positive, proactive approach to improving the quality and quantity of voices represented in a regional way, and it just might offer a roadmap for other authors and readers to assist in starting tough but necessary conversations with their own local libraries.

Alright, now this is interesting––and if the first reviews of the crowdfunding project Spark Books Accelerator Program by the Spark Project come back positive, then this might prove to be an incredibly useful tool for some self-publishing authors who have struggled to raise the money to pay for premium services, like copyediting and illustrations (just to name two). According to Patricia Mirasol of Business World, this “accelerator program uses a similar model as the local crowdfunding platform that matches creators with backers who are willing to pitch in money for ideas they find compelling and worthwhile.” Sounds nice, right? As more details are made public and the Spark Project beta tests its first few crowdfunding attempts, we will report further on this subject! Quoting from one of the project’s founders, Mr. Dulay, Mirasol repeats his words that “The beauty of crowdfunding is that it [offsets expenses]. Our goal is for the whole process to pay for itself.” Nice idea, nice plans, and now we watch and wait for nice test runs.

Prabbhan’s article in The Free Press Journal is something of a wake-up call. Not only do writers struggle with the same COVID-19 inspired challenges that we all face, but they are also struggling with the additional challenge of not being able to access their local libraries and bookstores (or at least, not in the same ways as they did before––most bookish spaces have pretty robust online presences these days). Bookstores offer inspiration, research pathways, and much more, hints Prabbhan, who interviews a number of young writers for the article. That said, one interview––with author Karan Puri––is especially illuminating in a positive sense. Writes Prabbhan:

[Puri] believes that the ‘stay home stay safe’ phase can be a terrific option for those wanting to maximise their side-hustles. “The lockdown gave me the time to complete my book and release it all over the world through Amazon self-publishing. A great platform, I took advantage and first launched the ebook version of the book. I started interviewing a few people who had gone through such issues for my book, and it’s been a worthwhile pursuit.

Whether or not his local bookstore is open for business, Puri sees possibilities. That’s a notion we will keep in mind when the days seem especially hard. There is a silver lining, perhaps, for some authors who never quite found the time in their busy lives to complete their manuscripts!

Every list needs to end with something as pure and sweet as this article from the Green Bay Press-Gazette! As Clough himself puts it in the article’s opening lines, “It’s not often a golden retriever gets a writing credit, but that’s the case on Baby Bumbu, a book from writer John Koski and illustrator Ben Toyne, both of Sturgeon Bay.” The cover is adorable, and the idea is adorable: “tells the fictional story of a puppy taken to join a circus in France and her efforts to return to her Wisconsin home,” writes Clough. Bumbu has been “dognapped”! Obviously we’re going to have to read the book so we find out what happens to poor Bumbu. In addition to the regular edition of the book, a special addition is available for an additional fee that goes directly to a nonprofit. Clough sums up the details: “Those who order directly from Koski can have their books ‘signed’ with a paw print from Grace Ellen.” We don’t know much else about this particular book yet on the blog, but we can’t wait to learn more. Find out more information at the link above!

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

Self-Publishing News: 10.13.2020

And now for the news.

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

If you haven’t yet gotten into the world of podcasting as either a listener or creator, 2020 may just be the year to do so! One of our weekly contributors (Kendra M.) is something of a book-related podcast fiend, and pointed us to this recent podcast episode put out by Book Riot‘s children’s book show (they have many, which is why we’re being so specific here) Kidlit These Days, hosted by Matthew and Nicole. The episode in question is titled “Self-Publishing and Getting It Right,” and you can listen to it on the Book Riot website (linked here) or on most of the other podcatchers out there (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and etc.). The conversation about self-publishing really gets going at about the 8:40 mark. While Kidlit These Days focuses most frequently on books for younger readers (young adult and younger), their conversation on self-publishing is worth listening to no matter who you’re writing for.

In a recent opinion piece for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philip Martin describes a personal experiment with self-publishing: “As an experiment, I recently self-published a book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing e-book publishing service. It cost me exactly nothing, because I designed the cover and formatted the text.” Apart from some annoyances specific to Amazon advertising, he writes, the process was straightforward and easy. He goes on to note that “Most of my favorite books from the past few years have been from presses I’d never heard of before I received the book. The digital disruption of publishing has had some negative effects […] but for a consumer, it’s a good deal.” His piece is informed by his work as a critic whose career has included many a review of the printed page, and who is now surfing the wave of transition into the brave new world of mixed indie and traditional medias, in print and on digital platforms. It’s great to see this take added to the list of author and reader thoughts on the subject.

This article by Sassafras Lowrey for Publisher’s Weekly blew us away this week. PW has often included positive reflections on self-publishing in the past, but mostly contextualized within a larger conversation about its merits in comparison to the traditional model. Writes Lowrey, “My biggest wish is that self-published authors could stop apologizing directly or indirectly for the ways in which their books came to be in the world. […] The most important thing for the success of a book is that the author has confidence in whatever publishing decisions are being made—especially if the decision is to self-publish.” Like many authors, Lowrey has dabbled in both modes of publishing, and she’s eager to advocate for the merits of self-publishing independent of how it may or may not compare to what’s come before. She tackles issues pertaining to diversity and representation, creative control, royalties, and much more. We can’t recommend reading the full article enough.

If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is with zines or are curious about the possibilities zines offer the self-publishing author, we have some good news! This year the Twin Cities Zine Fest (TCZF) is going digital as a result of the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named, and that means you can participate no matter where in the country you happen to be––an unexpected bit of good news to offset some of the grimness out there. According to this press release,

TCZF aims to sustainably support self-publishing and the DIY ethic in our communities, with an intersectional focus on politically and socially engaged zines, community partnership, and amplifying the voices of those who have been historically unheard.

That’s a mission statement we can get behind! For those of us who do not live in the kind of urban sprawl that gives birth to fests like these, a digital option is a most welcome development. The Hennepin County Library, as sponsor of the event, does offer some tools and resources to their local library users that won’t be available to those who dial in from outside, but are available to the rest of us. Browsing the zinefest and watching the TCZF’s scheduled live events online is free, and many of the events have incredible titles, including the intriguing “Crafting autobiographical work without going nuts!” panel with M.S. Harkness on Thursday, October 22. Sounds like a great opportunity to interact with other creators despite the unusual year we’ve had. You can find more information at the link provided.


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

Self-Publishing News: 7.21.2020

21 July on wooden blocks with a white daisy on a red background

And now for the news.

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

In their recent press release, the industry data analyst Technavio has published some insights on the trends that they observed in the global publishing industry throughout the first half of 2020 and some they expect to continue to develop through the end of the year–and then onward through 2024. The release opens with the statement that “Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the growth of various industries, the immediate impact of the outbreak is varied. While a few industries will register a drop in demand, numerous others will continue to remain unscathed and show promising growth opportunities.” That tantalizing statement is a preface for (paid) access to their full report, although the do offer a free sample report that is definitely worth seeing. (Infographics really are our friends!) From what we can gather, print sales are lagging across many genres and ebooks are again rising in popularity to offset that, likely as a result of bookstores struggling to put print books into peoples’ hands by way of bookshop browsing. Consider this your annual reminder to seek out new ways to partner with your local bookstores–and to diversify the ways and means that readers can lay their hands on your books!

In an article for Entrepreneur that was picked up later by The Hour and other online platforms, Lucas Miller of Echelon Copy LLC shared six common errors that self-publishing authors frequently make when breaking into the business. We won’t spoil the whole article for you, as it is truly worth a read on its own merits, but we were particularly struck by how no. 5 (“Forgetting print and digital formatting”) reinforces what we just noted above in our review of Technavio’s report: if you want your self-published book to thrive during the era of social distancing, making sure you have multiple avenues–Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org and indie bookstores, and so forth––to purchase your books is important, and so too is making sure that you have a range of formats–ebook, print, print-on-demand, audiobook, and so forth–available to suit the needs of your readers. 

Our last news that we’re going to feature this week is specifically relevant to those indie authors based out of the US who use the program Substack for their newsletters, and since Substack continues to grow in popularity, we thought it worth a mention here. Brian Heater of TechCrunch covers Substack’s latest move, launching Defender to assist in (lacking a more specific term) defending the legal rights of indie authors. As Heater puts it,

In the worlds of journalism and publishing, it’s fairly common for the wealthy to attempt to shut down reporting with legal threats. For those publishing on large platforms with plenty of resources, such challenges can be a massive headache. For independent writers and publishers, on the other hand, the consequences can be far more dire.

If you use Substack, take a look at Heater’s full article. Hopefully other newsletter platforms will follow suit!


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