Articles tagged "reporting"

The State of Self-Publishing

Recently, Bowker issued a report on the state of self-publishing, analyzing ISBN data year over year to identify changes in the number of print and eBooks published by the top self-publishing platforms. And guess what? Self-publishing isn’t going anywhere.

“Our general conclusion is that self-publishing is beginning to mature. While it continues to be a force to reckon with, it is evolving from a frantic, wild-west style space to a more serious business,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services. “The market is stabilizing as the trend of self-publisher as business-owner, rather than writer only, continues.”

A few key takeaways from the report:

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    Bowker Report

    Self-published titles jumped to more than 458,564 in 2013, increasing by 17 percent over 2012 and 437 percent over 2008.

  • Printed titles were up, as well. Specifically, increasing by 29 percent over 2012, indicating the format remains popular amongst authors and readers, alike.
  • The industry continues to be led by a handful of self-publishing service companies, with over 75 percent of self-published titles being brought to market with support from just three companies: Lulu.com, Smashwords and CreateSpace.

Plus, not to toot our own horn, but Lulu.com was the only self-publishing company to remain ranked in the top three when you compare ISBN output from 2008-2013 across total print and eBooks, just print books and just eBooks. Alright, maybe we’re tooting our own horn just a little bit.

The picture this data paints is very exciting for the future of the self-publishing industry and the team at Lulu.com is thrilled to be on the leading edge of the direction the industry is moving.

eBooks: A Home for Long-Form Journalism

Have you heard the phrase ‘eBook singles’? If not, this refers to short pieces of fiction or journalism that are sold for less than five dollars. The success of eBook singles has paved the way for bigger players to get involved. Last week The New York Times released its first eBook Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek, which is a long-form, reported piece about a group of skiers trapped after an avalanche in Washington State.

The eBook itself contains original material that wasn’t included in the newspaper version of the piece, and uses several new techniques that enhance news reporting. Seeing a reputable periodical like The New York Times embrace eBooks is a testament to the value of the format. For years there has been talk that journalism is at a crossroads and that newspaper reporters are in a race to the bottom – getting paid less for stories that have a dwindling readership. But, what we see happening here is simply indicative of a change in both format and pay-schemes.

Journalists and media outlets, by taking advantage of eBooks, are entering a voracious reading market. When people buy e-readers, they read more, and they’re able to read a wider variety of content. E-readers can provide an outlet for long-form journalism pieces that are too long to fit in the layout of a printed newspaper, but too short to publish as standalone books. As readers and writers, we welcome the return of long, thoughtful, journalistic writing. Cheers!

Fact-Checking Your Book

With the precipitous fall of the New Yorker‘s Jonah Lehrer, whose books and articles were riddled with inaccuracies, it’s clear that a quick way to ruin your career as a writer is to pass off fiction as fact. But as you put together a book based on reporting, the line between fact and fiction can blur. 

It’s difficult to get all the facts right. Journalists write a piece then get fact-checkers to make sure they’re correct, or amend the facts. But for the writer who uses an open-publishing platform, the risks are magnified. You have to fact-check your own piece, and if you end up letting a few fabrications through the cracks, your entire career can be ruined.

In that spirit, here are some “Best Practices” for fact-checking your own writing:

1. Always get two sources. If you can find a fact or statistic once, you can probably find a different outlet to back up the same fact. It might seem like overkill, but even the most trusted sources get it wrong sometimes.

2. Wikipedia is a good resource! It might seem counter-intuitive to trust Wikipedia with facts, but the online encyclopedia has an insanely devoted group of volunteer editors who make sure that every fact is correctly sourced. Even better, they include links to the original sources on the bottom of every page, allowing you to find a more trusted source. It’s best to think of Wikipedia as a helpful tool, and not a definitive source.

3. Make the call. If you need answers about facts from specific individuals or organizations, call them. The Internet might be the repository of all things important, but at the end of the day, just calling someone can get you a lot further than endlessly scanning Google results.

4. Have a friend highlight. The best way to differentiate between something that should or shouldn’t be fact-checked is by having a friend or editor highlight all the facts in your piece. Often, when you’re close to a subject, you can’t tell the difference between what you know or what you think you know. A skeptical friend can be a writer’s best friend.

Starting with these four practices can help your writing become more accurate and also help you avoid the terrible fate of a writer who fabricates. Do you have any of your own best practices to add to the list?