Self-Publishing

Beautiful Redemption: A New Era

4 September 2015

From author Jamie McGuire:

Many of you know that last summer I chose to transition back to indie publishing. I have released ten indie works since my last release with a publisher! (Find the list at the end of this post.) The only downside has been hearing the frustration from my readers, knowing that there are only a few online places to purchase my indie paperbacks and hardbacks. Until today, readers have only been able to buy my self-published works on Amazon.com, Createspace, TheBookDepository .com, or a limited number of signed paperbacks and hardbacks could be ordered from my website shop. It has been tough for me, too! I’ve missed seeing snapshots of my new releases on the shelves, and so many of you say you’ve mourned the excitement of finding them. I love hearing  stories of how you’ve witnessed someone pick up one of my books off the shelf and then you walk away triumphant after talking them into putting it into their basket!

Today, in a groundbreaking move by Wal-Mart, Beautiful Redemption: A Novel will be on the shelves in select stores! This is huge. This is pioneer stuff, friends, and this isjust the beginning of your favorite self-published titles being available to you! It’s no secret that self-published eBooks became successful because of readers like you, and once again, indie authors are depending on youBeautiful Redemption is one of the first paperbacks to be sold nationwide by a huge retailer without a publisher as the middle-man, and I would like to see this retailer support for indie authors become commonplace. Wal-Mart is the first! Let’s show them our appreciation! We need to prove to Wal-Mart and other retailers who support indie authors that readers will support them, too!

Link to the rest at Jamie McGuire and thanks to Shelly for the tip.

Here’s a link to Jamie McGuire’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Writing as Therapy, Self-Publishing as Fulfillment

3 September 2015

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Link to the rest at Fox13 and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Literary Outlaws

3 September 2015

From author Kevin G. Summers:

You don’t know what you should read. You’re not smart enough to figure it out for yourself and that’s why you need someone to tell you.

Friends, followers, and fellow authors, the gatekeepers of traditional publishing have been telling us what we can and can’t read for our entire lives. We didn’t even know it until Hugh Howey smashed through the gate and the light came pouring in. It used to be that we would go to the bookstore in the hopes of finding something new, something powerful, and we ended up walking out with a carbon copy of a last year’s bestseller. How many unfinished books do you have on your shelves? How many underwhelming novels have you donated to your local library because you just didn’t care how it turned out?

Thankfully, ebooks and print-on-demand have opened up a whole new world of Indie Publishing, or maybe we should call it Outlaw Publishing. Now for every generic Harry Potter knockoff we have a Nick Cole, a Michael Bunker or a Rysa Walker. There are authors in every genre, of every worldview, of every lifestyle, out there challenging the status quo and delivering brilliant novels every single day. They are Literary Outlaws and they are the first true literary movement in generations.

. . . .

Every person that has ever purchased from an Indie Author, every reader that has ever connected with one of us on Twitter or attended a launch party on Facebook, they are Literary Outlaws as well. They don’t care about what they should be reading, they read what they want. They don’t need anyone to tell them what to think, they can do that all on their own.

Link to the rest at Kevin G. Summers

Here’s a link to Kevin G. Summers’ books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Being in the Kindle Scout Program

2 September 2015

From author and TPV regular Sariah Wilson:

How I got involved – I had been published traditionally by a small niche publisher many moons ago. I found myself disenchanted by the entire process – not being allowed to write what I wanted, having my titles changed and some not-so-fun covers, in addition to the very small royalty checks twice a year – after three historical romances and two non-fiction books, I decided it wasn’t for me. I left my groups, stopped reading blogs, and fell away from the industry. It helped that I had two babies right in a row (twenty-one months apart), and they took up all of my time, along with a cross-country move.

. . . .

I knew who Joe Konrath was. Back in my early days of trying to make it, I had heard a lot about him – about how he was a marketing genius and had sacrificed a lot of money and a lot of time to trying to get his work out there (something his publisher should have done, but didn’t). His blog was one I used to read all the time, and I thought he was so smart in how he chose to do things – I specifically remember him saying he wished he could give a book away for free because he felt like that would be the best way to build an audience, something I wholeheartedly agreed with.

Now he was talking about publishing independently with Amazon. It was like I had been standing in a dark room and someone had turned all the lights on. I spent about three days in front of my computer devouring all his posts. For the next two weeks, it was all I wanted to talk about. The revolution was here. I could publish what I wanted how I wanted and when I wanted. To say I was excited would have been an understatement.

When I tried to share this excitement with other authors, I was categorically shut down. I was told only outliers would make any money, and that I was foolish to be doing this. It was a fad that wouldn’t last. (I can’t even tell you how many of those authors are now self-publishing. Probably like 90% of them). But I knew this was the future.

. . . .

I’m not a big fan of doing my own marketing (I know, boo-hoo on me, I need to get over it). I have total admiration for those people who either have a talent for it and succeed naturally or are bad at it like me and do well anyway. When I heard some of the success stories of indie authors (not outliers, but regular people), many of them had done well because they had been “noticed” by Amazon. I wanted to be “noticed” by Amazon. They started their own publishing lines, and I realized that Amazon was who I wanted to be in business with. Who could do more advertising for me than the biggest bookseller in the entire world?

Their contracts were reputed to be extremely fair and honest, something lacking in regular publishing houses. Problem was, you had to have an agent to submit. And part of the point of going the indie route was never having to worry about agents or New York publishers ever again. I also didn’t want to give someone 15% of my money forever for very little work (I know there are agents out there who earn their money and then some, but I didn’t think this was a situation like that).

Since I had no hopes of getting a publishing contract with Montlake (Amazon’s romance line) all I could do at that point was hope that somehow, somewhere, Amazon would notice me and I’d get picked up with the advertising. But how to get it done?

. . . .

The very day I finished the book, a member of Indie Author Hub (an online group I belong to) talked about an email she got about something called the Kindle Scout program. I read through it and got super excited, unlike the rest of the Internet. People were upset about the royalties, which is understandable when you’re indie and you get to keep all the money.

My thinking was this – have you ever seen the TV Show “Shark Tank?” It’s one my family and I enjoy watching (and even own some of the products!). The premise is somebody who has a small company or a great idea comes in and pitches to these extremely wealthy and successful entrepreneurs/millionaires. Those entrepreneurs then either pass or make a monetary offer in exchange for a percentage of the company. Many times those people say no to the offers, because they “don’t want to give away that much of their company.” At that point, I am usually throwing things at the television. Because by themselves, the people may be making like $100,000 a year (nothing to sneeze at!). But the Sharks can turn that into $10 million a year for like 40% of the company (they have to have skin in the game to care about it being successful, right?). Because as far as I can tell, $6 million dollars is much better than $100,000. I would take those deals in a heartbeat because I’d rather have a smaller piece of an enormous pie, than a tiny pie all to myself.

Not only that, but Amazon gives you back your copyright if they’re not making you money. Who does that? Can you imagine the Sharks doing that? “I didn’t make you money, so I’m giving you back your company.” It would never happen. So I felt like there wasn’t even any risk involved.

I knew I was supposed to enter Kindle Scout. I knew, in my gut, that I would be chosen, and that this could be a stepping stone for me into a much larger partnership with Amazon. So I hired a cover artist, had some beta readers go through it, and I submitted (no editing of any kind, at that point).

. . . .

I was among the first people chosen, and when the initial ten Kindle Scout books were released, I was one of those first ten. Which meant a lot of publicity as Amazon did a massive press release. It was pretty exciting to see my name in publications like “Business Week” and “The New York Times.” I know it worked because when the book was on pre-order, the “Also Boughts” were my nine fellow Kindle Scout winners.

It was one of the reasons why I wanted to get it on the ground floor – I figured it would be like the first season of “American Idol” – where a Kelly Clarkson was launched. What was fun and exciting at the beginning might lose its shine as time went on.

Then the launch day…and in the first couple of weeks I got as low as #204 in the overall store. I had never been that high (low?) before, and I couldn’t stop grinning. I was #1 on various subcategory lists, and I did very, very well. Even with the royalty share, it was still good money.

And even better? Sales of my one indie book skyrocketed. I can only imagine how much better I would have been doing if I had ten books for sale instead of two. For those asking whether Kindle Scout is worth it, my resounding answer is YES. I have found the people at Kindle Press (the publishing line for the Kindle Scout winners) to be amazing and intelligent and so helpful. I have nothing but good things to say about Amazon and Kindle Scout.

Link to the rest at Sariah Wilson in two parts – Part I and Part II

Here’s a link to Sariah Wilson’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Would-Be Authors More Comfortable With Self-Publishing

1 September 2015

From The Hartford Courant:

Three years ago Laura Noe mused, “I could write a book.” That phrase used to carry the same credibility as “I could eat a horse.” Hardly anyone did either.

Not anymore.

Indeed, Laura Noe, like thousands of others today, has found her muse: She has self-published her book. “Travels with My Son: Journeys of the Heart” debuted on Amazon in June for $15, and in mid-August she sold more than 30 copies at a book-launch party in her hometown of Branford.

She hopes to sell upward of 500 copies, which would cover the costs of “on-demand” printing and the $5,000 she paid a firm that helps writers like her. An ebook edition will follow, according to Barnes MacQueen Publishing Resources of Burlington, Vt.

“I’m an unknown,” Noe said. “So there was no big publishing house looking for me, and I’d heard horror stories about getting an agent and then getting rejected over and over again. So I looked for another way.”

. . . .

Self-published titles surpassed traditional books in 2008, and over the next five years increased by 437 percent, to nearly half a million books in 2013, according to the international publishing firm Bowker.com. The nonprofit StudentScholarships.org reports that there are 281,300 authors, writers and editors in the United States and that two-thirds of these, like Noe, are self-employed.

Carl Pritzkat, who oversees self-publishing operations for the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, said that the firm set up a special website, booklife.com, for indie books last year and that it currently lists about 7,000 titles. “We are not only getting more submissions, but the quality of the self-published books is getting better and better and that is reflected in our reviews of many of them,” he said.

. . . .

Other self-publishers simply believe that no one can do it better than they can. Robert Rennie McQuilkin, Connecticut’s poet laureate, got into the business because he didn’t like the design of his first book of poems, which was published by an established house. So he set about learning the trade. As the one-time director of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, he knew many accomplished poets who didn’t have a book to their credit; he felt he should remedy this.

“Major houses will not publish poetry because it is not a big seller, so more and more poets are looking to various kinds of self-publishing,” he said. “Even well-known poets are turning to it, not in order to do better financially — although, in fact, they will — but in order to have the design of their books be to their liking.” Selfie authors invariably make considerably more per book sold than their counterparts with established publishers.

Link to the rest at The Hartford Courant

Sales of Self-Published ‘Rabbit’ Sleep Book Top 29,000

27 August 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

The self-published picture book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin, sold more than 29,000 print copies at outlets that report to Nielsen BookScan last week, making it the #2 juvenile fiction title for the week ended August 23.

The sales jump for the picture book, released through Amazon’s CreateSpace, was one rarely seen in publishing. At the close of last week, on August 16, the book had only sold 24 copies through BookScan outlets, and had sold just over 300 copies since its release in April 2014.

The book, which claims it has the ability to quickly send children to sleep, hit the Amazon bestseller lists last week, starting in the U.K., where media reports there fueled sales that eventually spilled over to the U.S. and other global markets.

The Stockholm-based Salomonsson Agency signed Forssén Ehrlin last week and world English rights to the book (along with two sequels) are rumored to have be bought by Random House in a seven-figure deal. A spokesperson for the publisher would not comment on the acquisition.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Bailey for the tip.

Self-Publishing Is Good for You … and Authors and the Book Industry

26 August 2015

From Wired:

Shannon Mayer writes great urban fantasy—she hovers just behind George R. R. Martin on Amazon’s Kindle Fantasy charts. She’s another triumph for self-publishing, but the real beneficiary of the DIY book boom is the publishing industry itself. We talked to Mayer about why.

More productive authors. Tired of waiting for the next Game of Thrones? Mayer has published 25 books since Martin came out with A Dance With Dragons in 2011. Almost all of them have earned 4.5- or 5-star ratings.

More affordable books. Most of Mayer’s books are $3 to $4—cheap enough to keep people buying them but profitable enough that she was able to leave her day job years ago.

Link to the rest at Wired and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

PG was receiving error messages when he clicked on the Wired link above (although they cleared up later after he send an email to Wired).

If error messages reappear, PG solved his problem by using Chrome and opening the page in an Incognito window. You can do this by right-clicking on the link and choosing “open link in incognito window”.

Incognito mode opens a new window where you can browse the Internet without Chrome saving the sites you visit. You can open many tabs in incognito mode and navigate back and forth between the pages you visit. When you close the tabs, Chrome won’t save the sites you’ve visited.

When you browse sites in Incognito mode, you are a man/woman/etc. without a history, a mysterious new stranger who appears at a website out of nowhere, then disappears without a trace.

The Holy Grail for Authors. 5 Reasons to Self Publish

25 August 2015

From author Sheri McInnis via Gordon A. Wilson:

Gordon asked me to explain why I’ve decided to self-publish my third novel after working with traditional publishers on my other books. He said most writers consider a book deal the “holy grail.” Why would I make the change?

I know what he means. All my life I dreamed about getting published too. I was lucky enough to have it happen twice: first by Simon & Schuster/Atria and then again by MacMillan/St. Martin’s Press.

. . . .

1) CONTROL

I’ve worked with some of the most successful editors in the business – and I was especially fond of my first one at Atria. But that didn’t make the revision process any easier.

Because as much as publishers hail creative freedom, unless you deliver an ‘approved manuscript’ your book won’t even be published. That means there’s subtle pressure on you to take your editor’s notes – whether you agree with them or not.

The editor isn’t the only one who requests changes either. Notes will come from your agent, the editorial assistant, even the publisher. And their input can range anywhere from the helpful – to the heartbreaking.

Even the marketing department gets in on things. For instance, the marketing people didn’t like the original title of my first book, so the publisher changed it to Devil May Care. Bad luck for me because at around the same time another ‘devil’ book came out. But you probably heard of that one.

. . . .

The Devil Wears Prada was so popular, people didn’t just confuse the titles – they actually thought I was Lauren Weisberger! One bookstore manager was so excited to meet because my book was “just flying off the shelves!”

You can’t imagine how disappointed we both were when I got to the store and he had a huge stack of Prada waiting for me to sign.

. . . .

2) TIMING

Even if I signed a contract tomorrow, the book wouldn’t hit the shelves for at least eighteen months – probably more. I simply don’t want to wait that long.

For one thing, I’m not getting any younger. But most importantly, the main part of the book takes place in 2021. There are technological advances and environmental disasters that only make sense with a believable padding of time.

I also have a specific release date in mind – November 11. The book – a supernatural thriller called The Hunter’s Moon – is about witches and this date is pivotal to the main character’s story arc.

But unless I’m Stephen King or Sophia Kinsella, it would be crazy to request a particular release date from a publisher. They have hundreds – if not thousands – of titles carefully staggered over many seasons.

Even then, a publisher has the right to change the release date – which happened on my second book, By Invitation Only. A more popular writer bumped the release by a month. That writer was Sophie Kinsella.

. . . .

4) PRACTICALITY

In all honesty, it would probably take years – if ever – for me to get another book deal. Neither of my novels were disasters but they didn’t perform as well as expected. What’s worse, I turned into an emotional wreck after the books flopped and actually gave up writing fiction (twice!). Meaning I wasn’t able to quickly write another book to bounce back.

Link to the rest at Gordon A. Wilson and thanks to Cora for the tip.

Here’s a link to Sheri McInnis’ books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Self-publishing: why not?

21 August 2015

From Times Higher Education:

“Publish on Amazon and be damned” is something that the Duke of Wellington might well have said, had he been born two centuries later. To some, this new, relatively unfiltered and uncontrolled form of dissemination may seem little more prestigious than running your own blog. As someone who has published five books with academic presses since 2007, I am now about to publish my sixth, A Century of Supernatural Stories, on Kindle, and via CreateSpace, as a print-on-demand paperback.

Why? The first and simplest answer is: because I want a lot of people to read it. The book is a collection of supernatural tales from 19th-century newspapers, with explanation and commentary derived from my research on magic, witchcraft, vampires, ghosts and poltergeists. Published in their original prose, the tales seem to me to have a nicely textured voice of the period, but they are often also pretty compelling in their own right. I can vouch for this as I’ve got into the habit of paraphrasing them for all sorts of patient listeners over the past few months, most of whom were neither students nor academics.

I am probably not alone in buying a book “on spec” after a quick glance in a bookshop. But while I would readily do this with a paperback priced under £10, I would hesitate with something costing three times that. Century is due to retail at around £8, whereas the paperback edition of one of my existing books is going to cost slightly more than £30. This is, admittedly, a long book; but the only interest I had from an academic publisher for Century was as part of a series for schools, which would have seen a longer version of it retailing at £100.

Those inside the trade publishing world will tell you that, nowadays, it is very hard to sell non-fiction unless you have television tie-in or a “difficult lives” story. Self-publishing is a way to test this claim. It also allows you to disseminate research quickly. In the present case this is very important. Century is devoted to ghost and poltergeist experiences that are very difficult to swallow on first contact. They defy the laws of physics, and they violate the accepted worldviews of many rationalists. But there is very good reason to take them seriously. They have been reported by a strikingly wide range of witnesses, including lawyers, police officers, journalists, scientists and academics. Moreover, it is only once you get into the habit of talking about this subject that people you have known for years will suddenly say: “Yes – that’s happened to me.” By putting these stories out there, and comparing them with more recent cases, I aim to raise the profile of what is currently still a marginal, if not taboo, subject. To me, this is one of the most important things that universities do: they raise difficult questions.

. . . .

To some colleagues, self-publishing is probably vanity publishing. Perhaps it is if you are not able to publish anywhere else. Personally, I expect also to be entering two or three academic books for the REF, just as in past submissions. And if we take “vanity” in that biblical sense of “futility”, then surely giving large numbers of people the chance to read your books is anything but futile.

Link to the rest at Times Higher Education

Konrath Kindle Unlimited Numbers

16 August 2015

From Joe Konrath:

I might be pretty good barometer for this experiment, because I have a large backlist, I haven’t released anything new in over a year, and I didn’t do any BookBubs or other promo in June or July (May was the last one I did.)

So the only real difference between my numbers in June and my numbers in July is the new KU 2.0 payout system. I’d already shared some thoughts about it last month.

Let’s take a look how I did.

I have 28 novel-length works in KDP, all over 60k words. I have 17 shorter works, ranging from 8k-50k. Genres include mystery, thriller, horror, humor, erotica, and sci-fi.

In June, I made $9300 in KDP sales.

In July I made $10,550 in KDP sales.

In June, I made $5700 in KU/KOLL borrows.

In July, I made $11,600 in KENP reads.

So my KU income doubled under the new payment system. I have no idea what to attribute the extra twelve hundred in sales to, but it’s pretty clear that KU 2.0 benefits me.

Under the old system, I earned as much for With A Twist, which is 23 pages, as I did for The List, which is 310 pages.

. . . .

Under the new system, estimating $.005779 per page read, a full read of With A Twist earned me $0.16, and a full read of The List earned me $1.79.

. . . .

First, I wonder why I didn’t pay more attention to KU 1.0 while it was in full effect, because I should have written a ton of short stories. The short story market prior to Kindle was dismal. Getting into a top market was very hard. There was a lot of competition. Most markets paid $0.05 a word, so With A Twist was worth about $300, and I was lucky EQMM paid more. But the fact that I was making $60 a month on a short story is insane. Never before, in the history of publishing, have short stories been worth so much. I was fortunate enough to get that story into one of the top paying markets in the world, and I made $450. Under KU 1.0 I was on track to make $720 a year on that same story, just in borrows.

Second, even though short stories were finally lucrative, thanks to Amazon, my readers still seem to prefer longer work. With a Twist is a Jack Daniels short. Cherry Bomb, my weakest selling JD novel, had 313 borrows in June, and 179 sales. This is true for all of my shorts and novels; the novels had more sales and more borrows. Anyone who needs more proof of this, look at the thousands of reviews I’ve had for novels. whereas my shorts are lucky to garner a few dozen.

Third, readers really seem to like KU. I was getting more borrows than sales.

Fourth, even though readers did more borrowing than buying, I was earning almost twice as much via sales than borrows.

Maybe this is why I didn’t pay a lot of attention. I saw the numbers, saw that sales were still financially superior to borrows, and decided not to worry about borrows.

Now, there’s no doubt KU was cannibalizing sales, but I wasn’t complaining. I was in KDP Select, but it wasn’t my only source of income. So I didn’t worry about it, nor did I take advantage of it. It was what it was.

. . . .

Under KU 1.0, Amazon was rewarding writers for enrolling in KDP Select. Amazon wanted as many titles as possible, to build their Kindle Unlimited catalog. Shorts are easier and faster to write than novels, so Amazon rewarded short stories by paying authors much higher for shorter works, way out of proportion with novels and with the paper short story market, in order to get more titles into KU so it appealed to more subscribers.

Under KU 2.0, Amazon is rewarding writers for being good writers. Amazon wants writers to hook readers for longer than 10% of the ebook. Amazon wants good, meaty novels, which my numbers point to readers liking more than shorts.

. . . .

Under KU 2.0, I’m continuing to do what all professional fiction writers have done throughout history; write novels. It’s what readers want. With the rare exceptions of a few authors, no one made a living selling shorts. There was a brief moment, during KU 1.0, where shorts were valuable. Their market value has now dropped. Novels are going to earn writers more money. But they have to be good novels.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Stephen for the tip.

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

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