Category Archives: Independent Publishing

Infographically Explained: Should You Self-Publish or Go Traditional?

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The Write Life publishes an infographic to help authors decide whether they should pursue self-publishing or follow the path of traditional publishing.

In a discussion of this infographic, Mutterings of a Fantasy Writer refers to July 2014 Author Earnings Report which reports some statistics about “emerging trends in the world of digital publishing”

One thing that I’ve wanted to point out is that I think there is a general misconception with traditional and self publishers about “getting the book out there.” There is no “out there.” There is only “who is for” and “how is the author cultivating and adding value for readers.” People read and share information based on trust in relationships, and we should bear that in mind when we write/publish a book.

Image Credit: The Write Life

Author Branding: Writing Partnership & Blogging

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A blog named Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors is dedicated to introducing tips and advice on writing, publishing, and book promotion. I would like to briefly showcase three of their pieces on author branding: writing partnership, developing websites, and writing reviews.

Guidelines to Making a Writing Partnership Work: Some issues to note when you are co-authoring a publication, including picking the right partner, drafting a contract, assigning work, and sorting out arguments. An example contract is provided at the end of this article.

Developing Effective Websites: For author websites, it is important to define your site/blog clearly, and keep it consistent. Pay attention to not only the details of content but also the visual design, with a particular focus on readability and accessibility.

Writing Reviews: Tips on writing reviews which can work “in your favor as an author”, including commitment to honesty, structure of the review, development of a clear rating system, and frequency of review posts on your author website.

Image Credit: The Creative Penn

Kindle Self-Publishing Tips: Making Your Book More “Visible”

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Brian G. Johnson, author of Azon Bestseller, shares Kindle self-publishing tips and advice that will allow you to drive more traffic and thus make more sales. Talking from his experience as an “Internet Marketer”, Johnson elaborates on how to make your books more “visible” amid the ocean of books on Google and Amazon by explaining how the search engine works.

Please also be aware that some form of self-promotion of the speaker’s book is involved in this short video. While I have no intention at all to promote Johnson’s book per se, producing a tutorial video does seem to be a great marketing idea for self-publishing authors, especially if you are a Youtube savvy.

Video Credit: Brian G. Johnson

Perks, Pitfalls, and Paradoxes of Amazon Publishing

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Nina Shapiro discusses how Amazon has created a new model of publishing, and how this new model will impact the authors. Her article The Perks, Pitfalls, and Paradoxes of Amazon Publishing sheds light on the much controversial change that Amazon has brought to the publishing industry in the past decade.

The article begins with the publishing endeavours of an author, Megan Chance, who was convinced that she had fallen into the “vicious cycle common to the publishing world”. Having signed up with Amazon Publishing, Chance witnessed the Amazon team utilising all their online resources and making her latest book a great sale. But all success comes at a cost, and for Chance, it involves not seeing her books in stores, “sacrificing prestige in the traditional, New York­-based literary world”, and some recognition in the rest of the world, because Amazon’s publishing model is “almost entirely self-contained.” The model that Amazon Publishing created has not won the reputation that it aspired in more than a few ways, but it has proved “surprisingly profitable” for authors who seek self-publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing houses.

However, Shapiro points out that some authors realise the model is not working for them; “… the hurdles to success, especially in the self-publishing market, are getting harder by the day.” Stories of a few more authors with Amazon experience were discussed. With some part of the publishing world starting to call Amazon “monopoly”, some author organisations are even preparing to take it to court while others grow a more supporting voice.

Shapiro describes Amazon Publishing — and what it will achieve — as an unfolding tale. The division now seeks opportunities in not only self-publishing, but also “republishing out-of-print books”, and introducing foreign language books into the English literary world (via translations imprint Amazon Crossing). As Amazon Publishing declares more competition with major publishers, many wonder if “gold rush is over.” As  Bob Mayer, a publishing practitioner and writer, points out: “It’s the best time ever to be an author since there are so many options. But it’s as hard as ever to succeed long term.”

Image Credit: Morgen Schuler for Seattle Weekly 

E-Book Market Review: Guide to 2015

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Anita Lovett gives an overview of the e-Book market in 2014 and prepares a guide for the new year. The literary market share of e-books continues to grow, and Forbes reports that e-books “have dominated 30 percent of 2014 book sales”. E-book sales have expanded to more than 45 times larger in the past five years, with people’s willingness to buy e-books “on the rise”. Lovett then highlights 5 major details that authors and publishers should pay attention to, in order to succeed in the e-book market in 2015: book cover design, book description, book reviews, genre identification, and extensive revision and editing.

In addition, Darrick Dean holds a discussion about whether Book Price Wars will be the “publishing battleground” in 2015. Some are concerned with the situation where traditional publishers will lower prices in their competition with indie authors. However, Dean argues that first of all, “there is always competition” regarding book pricing; the key is to connect with audiences “with a strong, quality product.” With traditionally published books going cheaper, the authors earn a lower profit, which is why indie authors still have some advantages. He ends the discussion with a particularly thought-provoking sentence: “There’s room for all publishing models, but we are seeing a settling of which is good for whom.”

Image Credit: Anita Lovett & Associates

Gender Split in Self-Publishing: Female Domination

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Maggie Brown reports in her article The Fifty Shades effect: women dominate self-publishing on the Guardian that “middle-aged and well-educated women […] dominate the growing e-publishing market”. However, the article does not really give any satisfactory explanation to the finding, but rather goes on discussing self-publishing and how it causes change in the publishing industry. My personal postulation comes from Alison Baverstock’s comment that lots of self-publishers have been very collaborative and share information with each other; sociology and linguistics studies have revealed that prototypically, women are considered stronger at building interpersonal relationships and attending emotional connection, while men are considered more keen on establishing hierarchy and seeking power. Although these claims can be quite overgeneralised and may not apply to every aspect of human behaviour, they might still offers a perspective into examining why women, presumably to be stronger at collaborating, outperform men in self-publishing.

My favourite quote in this article comes from Michael Tamblyn’s “how people engage with books has been an undiscovered country”. If publishers cannot get timely feedback about (the change of) readers’ interests through marketing research, most publishing endeavours are likely to end in vain.

Image Credit: Ohio University

Self-Publishing: Blessings and Woes

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In the article Why You Need to Become an Independent Publisher, Geoff Livingston advocates writers to consider self-publishing; he also shares the valuable things that he has learned in the process. Livingston states that the trend of independent publishing is mainly due to “retaining artistic direction, a higher percentage of profits, and the increasing lack of editorial and marketing support offered by traditional publishing houses”. He offers suggestions on producing an outstanding manuscript and marketing the book after it has been published.

Meanwhile, Joe Belanger discusses the potential disadvantages of self-publishing in his article Self-publishing risks and rewards explored. He points out that independent publishing not only means that authors must be involved in the “creative aspect” of production, but they must also make “a series of business decisions”, which possibly takes up the time that could be spent writing and even leads to unwise decision making without seeking professional guide, which could make authors suffer financially. Self-publishing seems to become more and more popular these days and has certainly presents a challenge to the traditional publishing industry, but as an author, you do need to think twice before taking this path.

Image credit: Copyblogger Media