Articles tagged "independent publishing"

Mythbusting: Traditional Publishing vs. DIY Publishing

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 1.32.51 PM“The only reason I’m here is to support and do whatever is possible for an editor to do to support a writer” is how Roy M. Carlisle started his presentation at the Writer’s Digest Conference.  This was refreshing…especially since it was being said by a man who lived in traditional publishing for years. Carlisle is currently the Acquisitions Director for the Independent Institute and gave us the inside scoop about traditional publishing and the myths associated with the industry.

A few things that are myths in traditional publishing:

  • Traditional publishers will always tell you that the self-publishing marketplace don’t exist.  Truth: that is completely false and your market is out there. Editors are often going to small publishers now to find authors.  Independent small publishers have grown by 5,000% in the last few years and there are 40,000 independent publishers now publishing really interesting, creative things.
  • You can’t do this on your own.  Truth, you CAN publish individually! You need to know what your strengths and your weaknesses are…in other words, know yourself. Reach out to experts from editors to cover designers and listen to their advice.
  • Only the GOOD books are published by traditional publishers. This is a blatant lie! There are numerous examples of amazing books done by DIY publishers. Refer 50 Shades of Grey sales figures. Don’t believe the hype!
  • Minor myth: Authors get rejected for specious reasons. Often times, traditional publishers are limited in their ability to respond in detail because of legal reasons. Get strong editorial critique from a qualified editor and don’t be afraid of it.

Final word: you are the future of publishing.

Yes, we are!

Independent Publishing at SXSW

SXSW, the Austin-based conference that features events base around technology, education and music took place last week and I’ve now finally recovered from all the excitement of having all of these insanely talented minds congregating in one place. While I did not attend the interactive presentations on independent publishing (they were packed!), from outside the convention center, I can tell you that independent publishing and eBooks had a huge presence, as the technology continues to evolve and become even more intertwined with other digital platforms like phones, tablets, and videogames.

In the Publisher’s Weekly roundup of events, you can see how the energy around independent publishing has freed up authors t make more interesting publishing decisions:

“Originally published by small press, Hugh Howey quickly decided to go the self-publishing route generating an enormous word of mouth following that turned his books into e-book bestsellers on Amazon. Indeed Howey said at one point he was generating $30,000 to $40,000 a month in sales and selling hundreds of thousands of e-books.”

The move by established authors to selling books on their own was a huge topic of conversation. For established authors to then use their reputation and leverage a successful independent publishing campaign from it has been a huge development, and lent a lot of credibility to independent publishing.

Another new development has been the discussions over whether you should give away content for free to build your credibility. David Carr, of the New York Times, had some choice words at his presentation,

“Don’t give your shit away for free,” he declared to the hall—emphasizing that “exposure” doesn’t work and free doesn’t lead to paying customers. But he also seemed so focused on the newspaper world—unsurprisingly— that his vision for the future of digital content kind of stops at the New York Times website, now revitalized with an innovative pay wall generating a sustainable and growing level of income. 

It seems like the argument over pricing will go on for some time. However, walking along the convention hall, it was easy to see that the rise of eBooks will continue at its staggering pace. New electronics, like Google Glass, will make reading even more accessible. eBooks will continue to grow and the fact that the leaders in technology are even talking about books, unthinkable only a few years ago, is a testament to this wonderful phenomenon.

Any writers out there make it down to SXSW this year? What did you learn? Any plans to go next year?

iBookstore showcases indie books in new Breakout Books section

You might notice something new on your next trip to Apple’s iBookstore: You! Independently-published books will be prominently featured as part of Apple’s new “Breakout Books” section. Featuring titles from independent authors, the section will work to highlight books that have been highly rated, regardless of how they have been promoted or who published them. In short, taste will rule. And for independent authors, that is incredibly good news.

The books that will be featured will be broken down into four categories: Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Mysteries & Thrillers, and More to Explore (we’re guessing that encompasses everything that can’t be easily put into a genre). This kind of attention, putting a book front-and-center in front of millions of prospective readers is a huge opportunity for independent authors. In the past, publishers would fight over this “front-of-the-store” space, usually reserved for books with huge initial print orders and authors with highly established reputations. Now, just by writing a quality book, authors can find their book with the type of promotion that usually comes with a high sticker price.

According to the New York Times (Apple to Highlight Self-Published Books), one of the main motives for getting behind independent publishers was their pricing: independent authors sell their books at significantly lower costs than major titles (those produced by major publishers). This pricing model encourages readers to buy more independently published books than they would more expensive ones, further democratizing the marketplace.

While “Breakout Books” will not always be the center of attention on the iBookstore, it marks a major change in how digital booksellers are respecting independent authors and how quickly the marketplace is changing. In what was once a field dominated by six major publishers, there are now thousands of people each acting on their own, letting the quality of their work act as their best publicity.

As readers, would you buy a book that has been highly rated by other readers? As writers, how do you think this will change independent publishing? Do you know of any other digital bookstores that have this type of promotion? Let us know!

Advice from a Wise Guy

Photo credit: @abennett96 on Flickr

Guy Kawasaki, one of the most prominent venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, as well as one of the original marketers of Apple, has struck out on his own and self-published a book (which fittingly enough, is about self-publishing). APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur explores the pitfalls and successes of self-publishing from the vantage of a Guy (sorry) who knows a thing or two about success in the digital age.

He’s recently compiled a list of “do’s and dont’s” for independent publishers, which can be quite helpful to consider when you’re embarking on your next big independent publishing project. All of them are particularly smart things to keep in mind, and are questions that one should definitely revisit each time you publish a book.

His bottom line, however, is that when it comes to publishing independently, nothing is set in stone. So with that in mind, here are a couple of additional pieces of advice to consider, especially for keeping yourself in a good state of mind when entering the wonderful world of independent publishing.

1) Let it work for you. You will need to make a decision on how much effort and time you devote to the project. If you would like to make a living off of independent publishing (which is still very hard to achieve), then you will need to give it your all. If you are only able to give half of your attention, then recognize that the results might not be as great as you expected. Keep your expectations in line with your effort.

2) There is no magic formula. Some books take off, others languish. Some of your success will depend on conditions out of your hands. So, even giving it your all might not be enough. Recognizing that we have yet to crack the magic formula of independent publishing is huge.

3) Write because you love it. Kawasaki touches on this a little bit, but I really want to stress that this is the most important part of writing. Love the act, even if it hurts sometimes. Remember that this is your passion, as well as a possible way to make some money. Here, I offer a great quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke on how you now if you’re called to be a writer:

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

4) Be your worst critic/best champion. Be hard on yourself — push yourself to get your book into shape, polished, and something that you really want the world to see. But once you do it, then make sure you are your best champion. You need to believe in your book before anyone else will.

As independent publishing continues to expand, the litany of advice will continue as well. What are your best inspirational tips? What has helped you avoid mistakes? What was the best advice about independent publishing that you ever received? Let us know.

2013 Predictions for the eBook

2012 was a landmark year for both independent publishers and eBooks. While eBooks surged ahead of sales of hardcover books, independent publishers were heralded with widespread acclaim and acceptance as part of a vibrant literary scene. This piece on NPR, summarizes the hurdles that independent publishers have overcome, as well as a few success stories and author insights. Listening to the piece is a great way to cap a landmark year for independent publishers.

But don’t rest on your laurels just yet! Over at The Huffington Post, there are more predictions for the year ahead, including the idea that the glut of eBooks will probably continue. The guess is that as more independent authors bypass major publishing houses, eBooks will flood the market and that out-of-print titles will find new circulation as previously established authors begin to convert their titles to eBooks. But the increased competition should not scare off aspiring writers, the article states. More readers than ever will be searching for eBooks, providing even more opportunities for authors to find an audience.

Another phenomenon to watch out for is the “Black Swan” effect. The Black Swan effect is when a book from an unheralded author becomes a runaway success despite improbability. Expect to see even more of this in 2013 because large publishers have trouble locating Black Swans because of the myriad boundaries they put between themselves and authors. Publishers need to work through agents, who are yet another barrier between the writer and the marketplace. The marketplace, with its democratic way of allowing the cream of the crop to rise to the top, has a penchant for identifying Black Swans. Readers reward novels that are genuinely good, different, and provide something that readers have not already seen. For aspiring writers, the hope is to be that Black Swan, while publishers will continue to put up barriers between themselves and those classics-in-waiting. Expect more and more modern classics to emerge from the ranks of independent publishers.

Expectations for 2013 are sky-high in the world of independent publishing. 2012 was a year of success after success, and 2013 looks to be just as awe-inspiring. What are your predictions for independent publishers? In which new direction would you like to see publishing go? What are your own personal writing goals for 2013?

Marketing a Professional, Technical, or Academic Book

A majority of the blog posts thus far have been more geared toward authors publishing work for the general fiction reader. But what if you’ve written an academic, professional, or technical book that doesn’t have the far-reaching market of a novel? Should you follow the marketing guidelines put forth thus far?

Well, yes and no.

Building a community through social media is important no matter who you’re writing for. However, there are certain aspects niche marketers need to pay more attention to, such as:

Planning your book’s release: Trade books can be released at any point of the year because there is always a willing market of readers. Professional, academic, and technical books are another story altogether. You wouldn’t release a manual for the iPhone4S a month before the iPhone5 is scheduled to come out, nor would you release an SAT guide in May, right after a majority of high school juniors in the country have taken the test. So, before you decide on a release date, research sales spikes for your topic to determine the best season and month for publication.

Finding your niche: This should be a goal for all writers, but it’s especially important for those who write about more obscure or challenging concepts. The good news is that, given the narrow breadth of your topic, you have a smaller community to break into — and thus more of a chance of being noticed. So even before you finish your book,

Author Success Story, "Fallen Heroes"

by Barry Nugentpicture-7

Fallen Heroes is now on the shelves of several branches of Waterstones, including their flagship branch (where it was labeled a ‘cult hit’), which is regarded as the largest bookshop in Europe. I have, since then, done several book signings both in-store and at various conventions.

Thanks to the success of “Fallen Heroes” I now have an agent and an award winning TV and film production company has optioned the book itself. I am also working with a BBC journalist who will be adapting the story for a graphic novel to be published by Insomnia Publications.
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None of this would have been possible without the easy to use and excellent print on demand infrastructure set up by Lulu. One example is the ease by which I was able to release a new edition of the book with a back cover Waterstones review and a front cover quote/recommendation from fantasy author, James Barclay.

Through self-publishing I have pushed myself to do things, in terms of self-promotion and marketing, I would never have done otherwise (signings are not my strong point!). I have learnt a lot about what it takes to not only get your work out there but what to do once it is. It’s been a journey of hard work, disappointment, lesson learning and huge moments of sheer joy.

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Self-Publishing

Over the years we have received a number of questions about why someone might choose self-publishing over a more traditional method and vice-versa. I’ve outlined some of the benefits self-publishing offers authors, as well as some obstacles self-publishers face to give everyone an idea of what they can reasonably expect.

The Advantages of Self-Publishing

  • Your work will be published. As you are self-publishing your work, you know it will be in print and you can hold a copy in your hands.
  • You keep all of your rights. Traditional publishers will almost always require that you give up the rights to your work if you sign a contract. In contrast, self-publishing almost always allows you to retain your rights.
  • You control the production aspects of your book. You decide what your book will look like, how much it will cost, what formats it will be available in, and more.
  • No  long-term contracts. Most self publishing options will not involve you signing any long-term contracts. As such, you have the option of taking your book or other material somewhere else. You can always decide to try traditional publishing if you aren’t happy with self-publishing or if your needs exceed what self-publishing can handle.
  • Turn-around time. Typically the turn-around time for self-publishing is much shorter than traditional publishing. This can obviously vary, but with some options taking as little as a week (and in few cases even shorter!) the turn-around is often within a couple of weeks at the most.
  • You can create a second edition of a book or correct errors much more easily.

The Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

  • It is difficult to get shelf space in a brick-and-mortar store like Barnes & Noble if you self-publish.
  • You have to handle all, or almost all, your own marketing.
  • You pay any upfront costs. This could include copies of your book, editing, cover design or any number of other aspects.
  • Some people still stigmatize self-publishers.

Is Self Publishing For Me?
We recommend you look over the materials we have provided, evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of self publishing, and make your own informed decision. Self-publishing isn’t the right option for everyone, so think about what you’re trying to accomplish and decide whether self-publishing fits those needs.

And the winner is… Contest time!

You’re a self-published author (Thanks Lulu!) but are you wondering how to take your book to the next level? What if you were an award winning self-published author? Yeah, that has a nice ring to it.If you are interested in earning some accolades, here are a few contest and award opportunities for self-published, independent publishers (this is great for Lulus with a “Published By You” ISBN – you’re the publisher), or niche books.The 2008 News Generation Indie Book Awards:

  • Open to independent authors and publishers worldwide
  • Cash prizes and fabulous awards!
  • Click here for more information and to enter
  • Deadline: March 21, 2008 (you need to hurry and publish your book if you already haven’t!)

The “IPPY” Awards (Independent Publisher Book Awards)

  • All independent, university, small press, and self-publishers who produce books intended for the North American market are eligible to enter titles copyrighted or released in 2007. Independent authors using print-on-demand publishing services are welcome to enter their books themselves.
  • Regional and National level awards in 65 different categories
  • Click here for the scoop and how to enter
  • Deadline: April 1, 2008 (a few more weeks… but still you might want to get a move on it)

16th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards

  • Searching for the best self-published books form the past few years
  • Over $15,000 in prizes
  • Click here for the details and how to enter
  • Deadline: May 1, 2008 (you have a month and some change to get your book together).

So don’t hide your light (or in this case, your book) under a bushel. Enter and see what happens. We’re rooting for you here at Lulu!