Self-Publishing

The Woman Publishing Her Refugee Memoir

23 February 2015

From the Twin Falls Times-News:

I first met Liyah Babayan last year while covering the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Since 2009, refugees and members of the community gather around a plaque in Twin Falls City Park to pay their respects to the 1.5 million Armenians who were killed during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 in present-day Turkey. Last year, it was a cold and dreary day when about 30 people gathered to pray and lay roses near the plaque.

Five generations of Babayan’s have experienced genocide. Her family fled Baku, Azerbaijan, to Armenia when she was a child. From 1988 through 1990, the Armenian population in Soviet Azerbaijan were beaten, tortured, murdered and expelled from the city. In 1992, when she was 11, her family was brought to Twin Falls with help from the College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Program.

Babayan didn’t know English when she first arrived. As she started learning the language, her first sentence she wrote in her journal said: “War kills childhood.”

Her essays for school were always about the horrific things she had seen and lived through as a child. While other children were sharing stories of what they did on their summer vacation, Babayan was telling stories of her family standing in lines for rations and secretly living in a utility closet inside of an Armenian school for four years because they had no where else to go.

. . . .

She said her teacher at Harrison Elementary, Nancy Gunter, gave her a copy of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.”

Frank’s story not only gave Babayan someone to relate to, but also provided her an outlet to express her feelings. Babayan began writing her memoir in the fourth grade. She decided at a young age to share her story, not only for herself, but also for her family and those who lost their lives.

. . . .

Babayan is now 30 and has two children. She has owned Ooh La La!, a women’s boutique in downtown Twin Falls, for seven years. She recently was appointed as a member of the Twin Falls School Board.

She still has her old journals and classroom writings that she keeps in two storage boxes.

. . . .

In the fall, Babayan hopes to self-publish her 200-page memoir titled “LIMINAL: A Refugee Memoir.” She has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $6,000 to publish hard copies of the book, which will also be digitally available. Her campaign ends March 2. As of Friday, the campaign had almost received $3,000.

Russ Tremayne, an associate professor of history at College of Southern Idaho, is editing her book. Babayan said she met him while taking his history class five years ago.

“It’s going to be self-published. I had a contract, but decided against it because the integrity of the story can be changed,” she said.

Link to the rest at Twin Falls Times-News

Big Wayne Dundee Hits Amazon Pay Dirt With Westerns

21 February 2015

From author and TPV regular Julia Robb:

Big Wayne Dundee took control of his longtime writing career last Fall, began to make money and has never looked back.

Dundee (whose friends really call him “Big Wayne”) lives in what was once a notorious cowtown, Ogallala, Nebraska.

. . . .

Most of Dundee’s early work featured his PI protagonist Joe Hannibal. Titles in the Hannibal series have been translated into several languages and he’s also the founder and original editor of Hardboiled Magazine.

But Dundee now writes Westerns and has a growing following. Western Fictioneers has given him three Peacemaker Awards, including “best first Western novel” for Dismal River.

. . . .

Q. You are a very productive writer! How many books have you written?

A. So far I’ve written about 27 novels and over three dozen short stories. My earliest books (nine in the Joe Hannibal PI series) ran 80–100,000 words; my later work, mostly in the Western genre, qualify more as short novels or novellas and tend to run more in the 30–50,000 word range.

Q. About a month ago, you had six books on Amazon’s Top 100, most of them in the top 50. How did you do that?

A. I’m really not sure. If I knew for certain, I guarantee I would have done it a heck of a lot sooner.

What I can tell you is this: For starters, eBooks, POD, and self-publishing played a big part for me. I think it also helps to have a good backlog of titles and for at least some of them to be part of a series …

In my specific case, with these tools at hand and having received some lessons on Kindle preparation and cover creation, I reached a point where I decided I would quit being dissatisfied with the way others were handling my work and take a shot at doing it the way I thought it should be done.

With my sales hardly setting the world on fire the way it was, what did I have to lose?

So, early last fall, I reclaimed publishing rights to as many titles as I could get my hands on, re-formatted them, created new covers, and started re-releasing them through Kindle Direct for 99-cents each.

One title in particular — a brand new, just-completed Western entitled Fugitive Trail — took off right away. And then the others, slowly but surely, started following along in what I came to call “the slipstream effect.”

. . . .

Q. Many social pundits have declared Westerns a dead genre, but it seems many readers still love Westerns. What do you think about this?

A. Westerns are distinctly, uniquely American yet have developed a worldwide appeal. For these reasons I don’t think the genre will ever completely “die.” Their appeal will ebb and flow and may very well have peaked, especially cinematically … but die? Nope, I don’t see it.

In fact, I think eBooks have currently revived it as far as having an audience of readers.

Link to the rest at Julia Robb

Here’s a link to Wayne Dundee’s books and here’s another to Julia Robb’s books

Author Solutions Partner Imprint Bites the Dust with the Closure of Harlequin’s DellArte Press

20 February 2015

From The Independent Publishing Magazine:

It was one of the early self-publishing service imprints to be launched by a major publisher in the USA. Back in November 2009, the launch of DellArte Press (Harlequin Horizons as it was then) — an imprint of romance publisher Harlequin — was operated under a partnership agreement with self-publishing service giant Author Solutions Inc. The launch of DellArte Press quickly followed a similar partnership Author Solutions had with Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. While self-publishing service imprints are now nothing new for the big five publishers, the reception to such imprints was very different in 2009. While Thomas Nelson escaped much of the backlash with its WestBow Press imprint, Harlequin drew considerable negative feedback from the traditionally published author community, particularly those published by Harlequin itself.

The imprint never quite took off at a time when other print-centric self-publishing services were booming in 2009. In its original incarnation as Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin came under considerable pressure from USA-based writers’ organisations and publishing watchdogs. Preditors & Editors changed its listing for Harlequin to that of Vanity Publisher. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) briefly revoked Harlequin’s rating and benefits which it generally extended to all traditional publishers. The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) also took up the gauntlet and Harlequin, after several weeks, announced a change of name and some contract terms. The direct association with the Harlequin logo was removed from the imprint’s website, and Harlequin Horizons quickly became DellArte Press.

Link to the rest at The Independent Publishing Magazine and thanks to Cora for the tip.

E-Book of Malcolm X Autobiography

20 February 2015

From The New York Times:

One of the last major digital holdouts, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” should soon be available as an e-book, the attorney for the late activist’s estate told The Associated Press.

L. Londell McMillan said Friday that a digital edition will likely be out by May 19, what would have been Malcolm X’s 90th birthday, and that the estate expects to self-publish the book. Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of Malcolm’s assassination.

“Malcolm X was a fervent advocate for self-help, self-reliance and self-respect,” McMillan said in explaining why the estate favored self-publishing over releasing the e-book through the publisher of the paper editions, Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

“Today’s technology allows for innovative means to share content and add to it for educational, cultural and commercial purposes. Malcolm X did not grant all rights to a publisher in perpetuity. The works and rights of Malcolm X belong to his children and the community, not a publisher.”

. . . .

 Agents have long complained that e-book royalties paid by traditional publishers are too low, but rarely have works as popular as “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” been self-published or released through a third party. J.K. Rowling decided to sell e-editions of her “Harry Potter” books through her own Pottermore web site.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Tom for the tip.

You’ve Got to Pay Your Dues: Kevin Morris’s Indie Success

18 February 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

It’s difficult for a first-time author to put out out a collection of shorts, especially when none of the stories have been published in a literary journal, let alone a literary journal of repute. Of the nine stories in Kevin Morris’s self-published collection, White Man’s Problems, none appeared in a journal. Yet, last year the indie author’s collection was picked up by Grove’s Black Cat imprint.

The 51-year-old entertainment lawyer had always wanted to write fiction, but had been busy running his own business— a “very creative endeavor” in its own right, he says. “I never did an MFA or the other things younger writers do to develop their craft,” says Morris. “For me, going to law school seemed like the responsible thing to do. My hope was that I’d gain some life experience and get myself into a position where I could maybe not have to write under tremendous financial pressure.”

Five years ago, having reached a comfortable stage with his law firm, Morris rented a separate office space and started seriously putting pen to paper. Though he had worked with Hollywood writers, Morris had no plans to write screenplays of his own. “I always knew I wanted to write fiction,” he says.

. . . .

 Morris is aware that he had many connections at his disposal, but he preferred not to use them. “I know I might have been able to push [the book] through relationships or something like that, but I didn’t really want to. I had enough respect for writing to know that it was a long, arduous process, and that you’ve got to pay your dues.”

. . . .

 “I was pretty frustrated with the standard literary fiction submission process,” he says. “I sort of gave up on revising and said, ‘I have a manuscript here,’ and that’s when I looked at the Amazon self-publishing platform.”

. . . .

 “When you look at this world of self-publishing, I have nothing but good things to say about it,” Morris says. “I’m having positive feelings about both sides. I know that I’m [now] with a house whose tradition and integrity I admire. Everything has been happening for the right reasons, and people have responding well to the material.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Scholastic Acquires Teen Author Aija Mayrock’s Self-Published Survival Guide to Bullying

18 February 2015

From PR Newswire:

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, has acquired North American rights to 19-year-old Aija Mayrock’s self-published ebook, The Survival Guide to Bullying. The revised Scholastic edition (The Survival Guide to Bullying: Revised Edition) will be published simultaneously in paperback and ebook formats in July 2015, with a hardcover library edition to follow in September 2015.  The deal was negotiated by Debra Dorfman, VP and Publisher, Scholastic, and Jay Kramer for Aija Mayrock.

Written by a teenager who was bullied throughout middle school and high school, The Survival Guide to Bullying offers a fresh and relatable perspective on bullying. Along the way, author Aija Mayrock offers guidance as well as different strategies that helped her survive even the toughest of days. The Survival Guide to Bullying covers everything from cyber bullying to how to deal with fear and how to attain the self-confidence to achieve the life the reader dreams of having—from inspiring “roems” (rap poems), survival tips, personal stories, and quick quizzes. The updated Scholastic edition also features new, never-before-seen content, including an epilogue and an exclusive Q&A with the author.

. . . .

“We were all immediately blown away by Aija’s book and the strength of her voice,” said Debra Dorfman. “What a feat for such a young woman to take a painful personal experience and turn it into a beacon of hope!  We knew immediately that with our extensive connections to kids, parents, and teachers, Scholastic would be the best home and platform for her to reach people affected by bullying.”

“When Scholastic told me they wanted to publish my book, it was a dream come true,” said Aija Mayrock. “It was only a year and a half ago that I won the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for my poetry. That was the moment that changed my life and gave me the confidence to write the first page of this book. I am so honored to be part of the Scholastic family.”

Link to the rest at PR Newswire

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis self-publishes

17 February 2015

Yanis Varoufakis, the Finance Minister of the newly-elected Greek government, is a self-published author, releasing an ebook entitled Europe after the Minotaur: Greece and the Future of the Global Economy on Amazon.

Here’s a link to Yanis Varoufakis’ books on Amazon and here’s a list of his other books on his personal blog.

Thanks to M.S. for the tip.

Indie & Trad Publishing & Flying Monkeys On The Yellow Brick Road!

13 February 2015

From author Bob Mayer:

As you negotiate your journey through the wonderful world of publishing, be careful of those flying monkeys as you gaze in the crystal ball of your career path.

Don’t take anyone else’s monkey as your own! We all are on our unique yellow brick roads to Oz, whatever Oz might be for each of us.

Lately I’ve run into some new writers at conferences who eventually whisper to me they’ve signed a traditional deal, but they’re afraid to mention it to anyone because they get castigated. The attitude seems to be that if the book is good enough to get a book deal, then self-publishing makes more sense.

What a change in just a few years when people would break open a bottle of champagne upon getting a book deal. Now one almost dares not mention it for fear of being ridiculed for not taking the indie route. There are some indie authors saying they will never go back to traditional publishing; the key phrase is “go back”. It’s curious that a lot of us who have been successful as indies actually started in traditional publishing, giving us a distinct leg up; along with a thing called backlist.

. . . .

For a new writer, with no backlist, it’s an entirely different event with the first book. It’s easy for me to say “Well, it would be hard for me to go trad now,” when I’ve been traditionally published 42 times. I definitely understand the ups and downs of it. Actually, with the right deal, I would do it. But the odds of that ‘right’ deal happening are iffy at this point in my career—the key being MY career with my particular monkeys, which aren’t anyone else’s (mine are cute). And the other key is I know what would make it right. Or wrong. And I would be realistic about it, not starry-eyed. Actually, I am a hybrid author in that I publish books with 47North, Amazon’s science fiction imprint. I do that for various reasons, giving up a percentage of possible royalties as an indie in exchange for other benefits. I feel it’s the right monkey for me.

. . . .

For a brand new writer, I believe the odds of initial success going the traditional route, if one can successfully negotiate it, are better than going the indie route. Unless, of course, that new writer has mastered all the aspects of indie publishing, which is a Catch-22 right there. How can they master something when they don’t even understand, or have experience in, the basics?

The reality is that there is a reason all these people are employed by publishers: editors, cover designers, publicists, sales force, etc. And agents play a vital role for a new author, helping them negotiate this confusing path. As a small publisher, I understand that because we have to do all this at Cool Gus for an author; on their own they quickly get overwhelmed, which is the reason they want us to handle most of it, while keeping them informed. Would an unpublished author know how to do it, and not just to do it, but do it correctly? And how would they gain an audience in an eBook market that is drowning in content? Most importantly, there is definitely a place for print, and that market is not anywhere near as crowded simply because there is limited shelf space.  Right there, the trad author is ahead of the power curve.  A trad publisher getting a new author’s book into the bookstore is a very, very important thing.

. . . .

On the flip side, I do think successful traditional authors should really consider indie publishing some titles. Keep options open for the future. Because the one constant in publishing is there is no constant. The creative freedom of being part-indie can be incredibly freeing for an author who has only experienced traditional publishing.

Link to the rest at Write on the River and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Here’s a link to Bob Mayer’s books

In Defense of Self-Publishing

12 February 2015

From author Marcy Goldman via PBS:

There are so many op-eds these days on when or if to self-publish, and even more so, features (albeit they’re dwindling) on how inferior self-published works are — just by the very fact they are self-published. This premise is applied even if the self-publishing author has the budget, foresight and professionalism to engage all manner of expert editors, proofreaders, formatters, designersand thoroughly research the distribution and promotion of his or her work. There’s also a presumption (or fear) that without sufficient social media or a platform, books (even great ones) won’t get noticed — that is, if you publish it, who will find you or it? This suggests that Shakespeare or Elizabeth Gilbert, without the benefits of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or a YouTube video of “Othello,” would never have been discovered  — which suggests that we, as authors, creators and publishers, actually believe form trumps content.

And these opinions never cease to amaze (and annoy) me. For one thing, there’s a passion, even a nervous derisioncol or tempered dismissiveness, offered to self-published authors in most of the opinion pieces I’ve read. There’s the assumption that a self-published author is a “never-published author” or “can’t-find-a-book-deal author.” The articles I’ve read also seem to refer to fiction writers when there are many other types of authors. I am, in fact, a cookbook author — another genre of author now in the fray.

. . . .

Cookbook authors are writers. We are not verbose home economic teachers –- we are specialty writers with a second specialty in food. Some, as I am, are trained chefs in addition to being wordsmiths. Consequently, our challenges are even more so than regular writers. We battle the plethora of amateur recipe blogs and zillions of free recipes, the charisma of celebrity chefs on TV, blogs or YouTube phenoms. In addition, our books require expensive food photography and complicated book design, our recipes need extraordinary copy editing, and we also need legions of volunteer recipe testers to make sure our recipes work. When it came to food photography in our cookbooks, many a time my advance (in traditional publishing) was a quarter that of the photographer’s budget.

In short, if you think self-publishing the average black-and-white 300-page paranormal novel is difficult, try self-publishing a 300-page full color cookbook.

. . . .

So it’s not about money –- self-publishing garners you 70 percent royalties versus 15 percent royalties at traditional publications. Indeed, if it were, wealthy authors would do it themselves. On the flip side, what is more prestigious is saying you’re a Random author or Scribner author -– at least, when that meant something and had a fiscal bottom line.

But here’s my pain: Overall, there is a premise that if you self-publish, you are either an inferior or unaware author. Having had a reasonable advance, you somehow chose to “go rogue” and venture into self-publishing, whether it is due to a misplaced vanity press adventure spirit or the idea you could out earn on your own what a traditional publisher would be offering you.

As a traditional and well-established cookbook author with a track record and solid book sales, I don’t see myself represented in these discussions, and yet I am part of a silent majority –- the mid-list cookbook author.

. . . .

After 25 years of great publishers, great cookbooks — and what I thought was an upward spiraling career — I self-published my first cookbook, “When Bakers Cook,” two months ago. I did this not because I wanted to but because I had to. I love words, books, and in my case, creating ambrosial baking that I want to share with my readers. As publishing up-ended itself, I realized — with skepticism, then denial, anger, sadness and finally, pro-activeness — I had three choices. I could quit and be a Wal-Mart greeter. I could take tiny (untenable) advances and supplement that with freelance writing. Or I could dive into the Bermuda Triangle of self-publishing.

I’m a Taurus and we don’t quit, so I chose Door No. 3 — self-publish.

. . . .

And let it also be said that we can no longer assume that having a traditional book deal ensures a “team” of editorial and sales help –- things are lean everywhere. Speaking more directly to that, I recently was in Barnes and Noble and stumbled on a cookbook by a great colleague, produced by a huge publisher renowned for their wonderful cookbooks. In this book was a neat three-page addendum of text and recipe errors. My point is, we can no longer assume perfect and quality is only the domain of traditional publishing.

Link to the rest at PBS

Here’s a link to Marcy Goldman’s books.

My Food Journey: How I Self-Published a Cookbook

11 February 2015
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From the Hillsdale Daily News:

The Yellow Table, a gorgeous cookbook from new author Anna Watson Carl, arrived (and quickly sold out) late last year to an exceptionally eager legion of supporters. Many had been waiting for over six months for its arrival—and to generate that type of buzz when you’re not a celeb or viral blogging sensation is just about unheard of.

Now, Carl didn’t fall into her new position as published author by a stroke of luck or coincidence—she worked hard and smart for years and then chose to bypass the route of traditional publishing in favor of self-publication. In the following Q&A, we chat with a refreshingly candid Carl about the people behind the scenes and all the little details authors often prefer tucked under the rug.

. . . .

 Let’s start off with your background. Tell us a bit about your relationship with food, cooking and entertaining and how that blossomed…

Anna Watson Carl: I grew up eating nearly every meal around my family’s yellow table. My mom didn’t necessarily love to cook, but she believed that mealtimes were our chance to connect as a family, so she made cooking a priority. Though I loved to cook as a kid, it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Paris, my junior year in college, that I truly fell in love with food. The markets, with their fresh produce, cheeses, breads, meats and seafood, were a revelation to me, and I loved the mealtime rituals in France. I bought a book on classical French cuisine and began cooking my way through it—I came home determined to pursue a career in food.

R: What was your chief reason for wanting to write a cookbook? AWC: I am obsessed with cookbooks. I’ve been reading them since I was a kid and collecting them since I was in college. Once I started cooking and writing professionally (in 2002), writing a cookbook became my long-term goal. But in the past few years, I started getting serious about this goal. After working for years as a private chef, recipe developer/tester and blogger, I had built up a repertoire of simple, healthy recipes—and finally possessed the experience and confidence to write a cookbook. My chief reason for writing The Yellow Table was to inspire people to cook and to gather friends and family around their own tables.

. . . .

 R: In the beginning, you did explore going the traditional publishing route. Can you tell us about your experience? What did you find publishers wanted to see, and why did you decide to go for it on your own instead?

AWC: I started reaching out to some agents in 2012, and the feedback I received was that in order to get a book deal you needed to either a) be a famous chef b) have a Food Network show c) be a celebrity or d) be a blogger with at least 100,000 visitors a month. Since none of those things described me, I was told that I had a very slim chance at getting a book deal—regardless of my dedicated blog following or my experience as a cook and a writer. It was frustrating hearing that, but eventually, in the fall of 2013, I decided that rather than wait on a publishing deal, that I’d just get started on the book and share the behind-the-scenes process on the blog. My friend Signe Birck, an incredible food photographer, agreed to take the photos, so I decided that we should just go for it! We didn’t have the budget to rent out a studio space or hire a styling team, so we just worked as a duo (with the help of my incredible intern Elise Inman), shooting in my apartment once or twice a week over the course of five months. The shooting process was especially complicated because I live on the top floor of a fifth-floor walkup apartment in Manhattan (i.e. no elevator and tiny kitchen). We borrowed props each week from ABC Carpet & Home and floor samples from PID Floors (to use as rustic wooden surfaces to shoot on)—and had to carry all of it (plus groceries) up five flights of stairs each week. It was so much work, but I absolutely loved it.

. . . .

R: Are there any common pitfalls in self-publishing? How did you avoid them?

AWC: I’m not sure about the common pitfalls, but I can tell you a few things that I learned along the way:

  • Don’t assume that just because you can write a cookbook that it will fly off the shelves. That sounds like a negative thing to say, but if you don’t have a publisher, the selling falls 100% on your shoulders, so it’s a good idea to really make sure your idea both has wide appeal and is truly unique—and that you have a strong platform to sell your book (perhaps via your blog or a restaurant or small business that you own).
  • Write a proposal. Part of the process of getting a traditional publishing deal is putting together a cookbook proposal, with details on how your book is unique, descriptions of exactly what’s going to be in the book (including recipes and sample chapters), research on the current cookbook market—to see how your idea stacks up against what’s already available, and a timeline on how you’re going to get all of it done. Writing a proposal forces you to do a lot of the hard work up front. Next time I write a book—self-published or not—I will start with a proposal to keep me organized and accountable.
  • Find a great printer, and make sure you see samples of their work. I chose Worzalla because a) they were based in the U.S., which cut down substantially on the time it took to print the books and b) the quality of their work—specifically photo-heavy cookbooks—was top-notch. They were a pleasure to work with, and I am so pleased with the way the books turned out.
  • Hire a top-notch team. Some printers or “book-packaging” companies come with an in-house team that take care of design and editing, and sometimes even photography. This can be great option if you want a bit more guidance throughout the process and don’t want to steer the ship. I really wanted to maintain creative control, so I hand-selected a team of people who were not only super-talented, but with whom that I’d really enjoy working. I was so proud of them that I put everyone’s name and picture in the front of the book. I’ve never seen that done in a cookbook, and it’s one of my favorite features.
  • Figure out how you’re going to pay for the book. Printing and production costs and incredibly high for a self-published book, so look at the costs up front and map out how you’re going to pay for it—via pre-sales, a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter, or perhaps you know that your sales will be high enough to cover the costs after the fact. But take a hard look at this up front, so you don’t have sticker shock.
  • Sell on Amazon—and have them ship the books for you! My books sold really well on Amazon (so well that they sold out) and it was a dream having them handle the shipping for me.

Link to the rest at Hillsdale Daily News

Here’s a link to The Yellow Table.

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