Tag Archives: literature

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



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

Publishing Facts: Featuring US & UK Publishing Industries


Pete Klein writes about some Publishing Facts which features the U.S. publishing industry in 2014. He provides statistics about books being published and sold, as well as information related to traditional publishing, Amazon publishing, and Print on Demand (POD) publishing

Creative Industries UK quotes from Publishers’ Association website and reports a series of informative facts and figures about UK publishing industry, which is said to be “highly productive”, “highly successful in overseas markets”, and innovative.


Image Credit: DomGreco.com 


Perks, Pitfalls, and Paradoxes of Amazon Publishing


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 

The Life Cycle of A Book



This picture illustrates the (traditional?) publishing process, which involves four major parties and twelve steps. If authors take the self-publishing approach, some steps (e.g. Agent) might be optional; if only e-book version is produced (whether on the author’s own website or under contract with publishing platforms like Amazon), then details of the Distribution step will also alter. In addition, the “Print on Demand” (POD) model is bound to have a great impact on the distribution process.

I personally think that these days it will be necessary to draw a direct link between “Writer” and “Book Buyer”/”Reader”. With online platforms like Goodreads, Amazon, and various blogging sites, writers and readers now can easily engage with each other in the life cycle of a book. Wouldn’t it be a great way to promote book sales if reading becomes more interactive?

Image Credict: International Book Promotion

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Challenge

Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014.”

This video went virus within the online author/publisher community when it was first released. Now a discussion in retrospect, we can refresh our memories of how Le Guin informs us once again the “dangers to literature” and schools us on creative freedom. While our community need people who know the difference between “the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art”, we should also bear in mind that books, whose profit motive often conflicts with the purpose of art, “are not just commodities.”

At the end of the speech Le Guin says, “But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.” Spirits of the writing and publishing community — a belief in resistance and change in “the art of words” — shall stay alive.  That’s really all we need to hear.

Video Credit: National Book

Source Credit: Write Through It, The New Yorker

Changing Role of Literary Agents


In the article Literary Agents: heroes no more?Bonie Santos introduces John Saddler’s class about the role of literary agents, and how this role has changed over the course of publishing history. She lists six major responsibilities of a literary agent, including bridging between authors and publishers, advising authors, and handling issues related to marketing and rights.

Various roles were introduced into the publishing chain from the early 17th century to the late 19th century, as illustrated in the picture above. Today, the necessity of literary agencies are challenged by the emerging e-book market, which makes their role less profitable, and by the digital technology that allows authors to directly reach their readers through self-promoting on social media. There have been concerns about the loss of status of literary agent, which may potentially put authors in disadvantage during negotiation with publishers; Jason Allen Ashlock urges fellow literary agents to “retain their heroic role, which is to protect authors”. However, this concern seems much less relevant if the authors take an alternative approach — self-publishing. I believe that in digital era, where there is challenge, there is opportunity, as indicated in the Chinese phrase for “challenge” (危機/危机, wei1 ji1). As for literary agents, they may wish to seek a brighter future in honing on their consultancy and networking services rather than simply acting as a representative during the author/publisher negotiation.

Image Credit: Kingston Publishing/MA Publishing team at Kingston University

Publishing in the Regency Era: A Tale of Jane Austen’s Publishing Options


Jane Austen just celebrated her 239th birthday on December 16th!

Regina Jeffers introduces some interesting historical facts about Publishing Options for Women During Jane Austen’s Lifetime on her blog.

Female writers during the early Regency suffered from the gender bias from their time, and were generally faced with great difficulty in pursing writing as a career. Encouraged and supported by her family, Jane Austen mainly had four means of publishing her works: Publishing by subscription, publishing by profit sharing, publishing by selling the copyright, and publishing on commission. Their explanations are followed by a brief introduction to Austen’s Publishing History. Her influence as a successful writer and an inspiring woman continues into our age.

Image Credit: Austin Authors

Source: Courtesy of Regina Jeffers