Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing is the Best Solution to Low Author Earnings

13 October 2019

From ALLi:

There is an old business saying: follow the money to see the true story. If we follow the money in publishing, from the perspective of authors, what story does it tell us?

This is the typical money trail in trade publishing:

  1. Reader pays bookstore
  2. Bookstore pays wholesaler
  3. Wholesaler pays distributor (sometimes wholesaler and distributor are one)
  4. Distributor pays publisher
  5. Publisher pays agent
  6. Agent pays author many months after the sale (who, by the time everyone has had their cut, receives less than 10% of book retail price).

This business model of selling print books through bookstores is not commercially viable for most indie authors. Economies of scale means that few of us can compete with trade publishing in the  print-book-to-bookstore model. And the economics of physical bookstore distribution, given the discounts retailers, wholesalers and distributors need to make their profits, are punishing, even for big publishers.

. . . .

In self-publishing the most common money chain looks like this:

  1. Reader pays online bookstore (the author’s website or a retailer such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo etc).
  2. Author gets paid immediately on own website (full cost of book, minus publishing expenses); or 90 days after transaction (up to 70% of book retail price) through the retailer or one of the aggregators who distribute to them (who will also take a cut).

And these online stores, with their global readership, 24/7, give far more access to readers than any physical store can provide.

. . . .

Self-Publishing is also advantageous from a rights perspective.

The days of needing to give an exclusive, all-territories, long-term, license to a publisher in order to see our books on sale, disappeared a decade ago.

Indie authors retain ownership of all publishing rights and the savvy author understands the value of that. Owning and creating value from our rights, today’s authors can adopt a variety of business models, produce a variety of book-related content, in text, video and audio and distribute it through a variety of outlets and platforms, not least our own websites.

The author who is stuck in a Cinderella complex, where Prince Publisher Charming is going to sweep in, fall in love with their book, and carry them off to fame and fortune, without them having to do the work, has failed to grasp the enormity of what gets handed over in such a transaction.

. . . .

What few authors know is that a publisher’s business model is built on failure for the majority of authors that they take on. Of every 20 authors who sign with them, probably two will do well enough to make a living from their writing (and pay the overheads of the publisher). The problem is they don’t know which two it will be.

They are fired out into the marketplace, to see what sticks. From the publisher’s perspective, that’s understandable. They know they only need that one or two to do well in order to recoup their investment in all.

The effect for the authors is devastating. They, and their “failed” books are dropped, but they have gained no publishing skills in the transaction. Any confidence they gained from signing the deal in the first place has probably been eroded. And if they seek another publisher they are doing so from a very weak bargaining position.

By contrast, those who self-publish, and combine self-publishing with selective, non-exclusive licensing, are building skills and confidence with each book, each sale, each negotiation, each deal. We are building an author business, step by step, book by book, reader by reader, collaboration by collaboration.

As an author, you may relish the creative challenges of self-publishing, or you may quail at them, but building those skills empowers you.

Link to the rest at ALLi

What is hybrid publishing?

10 September 2019

From Nathan Bransford:

In the last twenty years there has been an explosion of new publishing models that take advantage of new opportunities afforded by the internet and advances in printing on demand. There’s also been a corresponding rise in scams. So what is “hybrid publishing” and how does it fit into all of this?

Hybrid publishing isn’t quite traditional publishing and it isn’t quite self-publishing. Essentially: A hybrid publisher takes on some or all of the functions of a traditional publisher, but the author shares in more of both the initial investment (in the form of fees) as well as the upside (in the form of higher royalties).

It’s tough to generalize about hybrid publishing because there are so many different models with so many differing levels of legitimacy. Many scam artists out there have taken advantage of the hype around hybrid publishing in order to put a glossy spin on exploitive practices.

One more reason for confusion around hybrid publishing is that a “hybrid author” is a totally separate term. This usually refers to an author who has been both traditionally published and self-published (such as yours truly), not necessarily someone who has published a book with a hybrid publisher.

Hybrid publishing is still viewed with quite a bit of skepticism in some corners of the publishing world, with some still viewing it as little more than vanity publishing by another name. But as publishing continues to evolve away from the virtual monopoly of traditional publishing, expect to see new upstarts continue to pop up in this zone.

. . . .

One helpful way to think about the book publishing process is as a collection of services, such as editing, design, and distribution. In traditional publishing, the publisher handles all of the services and pays the author an advance on top of that. In self-publishing, the author handles (or outsources) all of the services but receives more money per copy sold.

In hybrid publishing, the hybrid publisher usually manages these services, including distribution, but the author shares in the cost of production and an initial print run in exchange for royalties that are higher than traditional publishing but less than self-publishing.

In theory, hybrid publishers offer value by managing these tasks for the author, and some offer better design and print distribution than a self-published author would be able to achieve on their own.

Some hybrid publishers are selective in the authors they choose to take on, others are more like assisted publishing models that will take on all comers.

. . . .

There are really two types of authors who should consider hybrid publishing:

  • Authors with cash who are looking for a bit more upside than regular self-publishing.
  • Authors with cash who don’t want to manage the publishing process on their own.

Notice the “with cash” part? Yeah. If you don’t have cash to burn there are more economical ways of getting your book out there. Traditional publishers will pay you to publish your book, and self-publishing tends to cost less than hybrid publishing, especially if you handle some of the tasks on your own.

Some authors might appreciate having the publishing process managed for them and are willing to pay to not have to get into the self-published weeds. Or you might come across a hybrid publisher who genuinely seems to offer a value add with their design or distribution.

. . . .

At worst, a hybrid publisher is really just a vanity press or scam artist in disguise, taking advantage of the buzz around hybrid publishing and exploiting your ego to charge you top dollar for things you don’t need.

. . . .

  • Know what you’re signing. What rights are you handing over? What costs are you committing to? How can you get out of the arrangement if things go south? Be absolutely sure of what you’re getting into before you commit.
  • Be very skeptical of agents and publishers who use a bait and switch that steers you to their self-publishing arm. Many publishers, including some of the major ones, use extremely scuzzy services that are at best extractive of your cash and at worst wholly exploitive. Some reputable agencies have established legitimate hybrid publishing enterprises, but unless you’re already a pre-existing client, be very skeptical.

Link to the rest at Nathan Bransford

PG will second the warning about scam artists contained in the OP.

At this point in the self-publishing revolution, there are quality cover artists who are happy to work with indie authors for an appropriate fee. There are quality editors who are willing to work with indie authors for an appropriate fee.

Book formatting for most fiction books and many non-fiction books has become much easier to do on your own with Amazon’s Self-Publishing Resources, including Kindle Create. However, it’s not difficult to find a professional book formatting artist who will work with indie authors for an appropriate fee.

If you want help, email and online marketing service specialists are not difficult to find . . . online!.

PG thinks in all but very unusual cases, the author should be the boss and everyone else should be a contractor, providing a particular service. The author needs to be in the position to advance fees to the various specialists, but that relationship puts the author in control. If money is very tight, friends, acquaintances, high school or college art students looking for opportunities to build artistic résumés, etc., are possibilities.

The author is the one who publishes the book and receives all sales proceeds directly from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc. If accounting or business management help is needed, the author can send copies of royalty reports to those specialists providing assistance.

What Is a Hybrid Publisher?

10 September 2019

From Jane Friedman:

Over the last year, I’ve received more questions than ever—usually from journalists—asking me to explain “hybrid publishing.”

This is a confusing term to discuss, because you will hear different definitions or descriptions of hybrid publishing depending on who you ask and what their agenda is. The term has become popular among companies that wish to put a new, “innovative” face on a very common, age-old activity: charging writers to publish.

Here’s what I think most people can agree on: Hybrid publishers combine aspects of traditional publishing and self-publishing.

. . . .

While is nearly impossible to generally describe hybrids, here are some rough categories you’ll find in the market today.

  • Editorially curated. While authors typically subsidize the costs of editing or publication, the publisher doesn’t accept every author who walks through the door. As a result of their selectivity, the publisher usually has better marketing and distribution. Examples include She Writes Press and Greenleaf Book Group.
  • Crowdfunding driven. Publishers such as Inkshares and Unbound require the author to raise a certain amount of money from their readership before they are granted a deal, which then closely adheres to a traditional publishing process.
  • Assisted self-publishing. Authors pay to publish, and there is little or no discernment in what types of authors are accepted.
  • Traditional publishers with a self-publishing arm. Some traditional publishers—usually small presses you haven’t heard of—may offer author services or assisted self-publishing.

These last two categories can be the most questionable in value. In the case of assisted self-publishing or publishing services (called “vanity presses” in the old days), these companies adopt the moniker of “hybrid publisher” to look more innovative or attractive to authors. They’re not really a hybrid publisher unless they can point to what they do that offers a traditional publisher’s value—such as selectivity in acquisitions, editorial guidance and vision, and distribution and marketing muscle that can’t be secured on your own as a self-publishing author.

In the case of small presses with a self-publishing arm—which may not offer great professionalism to begin with in their traditional operations—they may be using paid services to prop up their business and also to position themselves as progressive. These can be the most frustrating “hybrids” of all, since they might be identifying themselves primarily as a traditional publisher and be listed in market guides such as Writer’s Market, but could use that as a bait-and-switch: Oh, sorry, your work doesn’t meet our editorial needs for our traditional publishing operation, but would you like to pay for our hybrid publishing [or self-publishing] service?

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

Understanding the relationship between game developers and publishers

4 September 2019

From Gaming Street:

Not only are developers and publishers two distinct entities, but they have often been at odds with each other for decades. Put simply, developers typically focus on creative aspects while publishers handle the financial ones. This may seem like a narrow description to some, yet it’s one that has bubbled to the surface repeatedly since the formation of the first third-party developer in the late 1970s. While disagreements are often unavoidable, the best partnerships come when developers and publishers work together toward a common vision. However, there are plenty of examples where the relationship was far from amicable.

. . . .

  • Game Developer: A game developer is a company or entity that designs and executes the creation of video games. Much like film, games can be developed by as little as a single person to as many as hundreds of people spread across several international studios, with budgets from the low thousands to the hundreds of millions.
  • Game Publisher: Companies that publish games may include providing services such as funding, marketing, distribution, and public relations. Publishers have long been a requirement of getting games onto most platforms due to their monetary value, but digital distribution and new ways of financing independent titles, such as crowdfunding, have shaken up the status quo.
  • First-Party: A first-party publisher refers to companies that make game platforms, such as Microsoft and the Xbox, while first-party developers are internal studios or have been acquired by said companies and develop exclusively for those platforms. Aside from Microsoft, Sony (PlayStation) and Nintendo (Switch) are the two other major first-party companies in the current console generation.
  • Third-Party: Third-party companies may develop and/or publish games without being tied to any single platform. Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Square Enix, Capcom, and Ubisoft are five of the most prolific third-party companies.
  • Second-Party: Second-party is an unofficial term associated with third-party developers who operate like first-party developers by repeatedly taking platform-exclusive contracts, usually with the same partner.

. . . .

Throughout the coin-op and home console boom of the ’70s, publishing and development were virtually synonymous. Hardware companies such as Atari developed games for their own platforms in-house. When Nolan Bushnell sold off Atari, Inc. to Warner Communications in 1979, developers quickly felt slighted, underappreciated, and under-compensated for their work by the new regime. Atari game developer David Crane was directly responsible for games that had earned the company over $20M, but was only being paid a salary of $20,000 with no royalties. Crane and three other Atari all-stars confronted the new CEO, Ray Kassar, about these conditions, and after Kassar told them anyone could do their job, they left Atari and formed an independent game development company named Activision — a portmanteau of “active” and “television.”

During the following years, Atari attempted to sue Activision out of business. The suit was settled in 1982 when Activision agreed to pay Atari royalties for Activision games published on Atari’s hardware, essentially creating the third-party development market. That same year, Activision released Pitfall!, which sold over four million copies and boosted Activision’s annual revenues to an estimated $60 million.

. . . .

Shortly after Activision hit it big in the early 1980s, the video game market suffered a severe crash, putting many companies (including Atari) into an irreversible tailspin. From the ashes of countless shuttered companies that had been titans rose Japanese company Nintendo. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Western counterpart to the Japanese Famicom (Family Computer) home video game console, was an unparalleled success thanks in large part to Super Mario Bros.

Nintendo’s first-party games (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid) were blockbuster hits, and Nintendo had no meaningful competition, giving it a monopoly over the home console market. It allowed third-party developers to license cartridges  — which Nintendo was the sole manufacturer of — to be published for the NES, but with strict quality and content requirements and high licensing fees. Other rules included platform exclusivity, minimum cartridge orders, and a limit on how many games a single company could develop each year. The United States Department of Justice, the U.S. Congress, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted extensive antitrust investigations around Nintendo’s operations, which were subsequently relaxed or removed in some cases.

Nintendo’s seemingly anti-developer temperament saw many developers and publishers turning to Nintendo’s much more developer-friendly rivals such as Sega and eventually Sony. Among them were Electronic Arts, whose officially licensed football games gave Sega a massive leg up in the 16-bit console wars, and Square, whose best-selling role-playing game Final Fantasy VII was a linchpin in solidifying the Sony PlayStation as a household name.

Although Nintendo and others now maintain healthier relationships with developers, it took a long time to get there. The company experienced problems winning third-party support for some of its game consoles until the Wii launched and became a massive hit in 2006. In the meantime, some major publishers established adversarial relationships with their developers, with stories of poor working conditions and exerting excessive creative control later surfacing.

. . . .

Fast forward two decades and the game industry has seen a multitude of shake-ups. Digital distribution through online portals such as Steam and the iTunes App Store have lowered or outright obliterated the barrier for developers of all sizes to self-publish their games, to drastically varying degrees of success and sustainability.

Crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter and Fig have brought in millions of dollars for numerous developers. Double Fine Productions, which struggled with publisher Activision during the development of its five-year project, Brutal Legend, made headlines in 2012 when it Kickstarted its next project for $3.3M. Countless other developers followed in Double Fine’s footsteps to varying success, many having had similar sour experiences with publishers, including veteran independent studios Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.

However, the relative ease of self-publishing led to incredibly crowded PC and mobile game markets. It soon became clear that developers and publishers needed each other after all. Developers benefited from the marketing expertise and financial backing of a publisher. Meanwhile, publishers expand their portfolio of titles by partnering with or acquiring independent game developers. Or, sometimes two companies may simply bring greater success to each other. One of the most famous deals came in 2008, when Activision acquired World of Warcraft creator Blizzard Entertainment by merging with its then parent company, Vivendi Games. Activision Blizzard made headlines again in 2016 when it purchased Candy Crush developer King for $5.9 billion.

Link to the rest at Gaming Street

5 Ways Publishing a Book Can Expedite Your Business Success

16 August 2019

From Inc.:

What every entrepreneur needs more than anything else, after they have built an innovative new product or service, is visibility, credibility, and trust by customers, potential employees, and future business partners.

In my experience as a business adviser, one of the best ways to get all of these is to publish a book on the technology, the journey, or some relevant lessons learned.

Your book need not be a bestseller, and it probably won’t make you any money directly, but it’s the best business card you could ever imagine.

In addition, the discipline of producing it, like writing a business plan, will help you immensely in understanding the key elements that drive you and your business. Most good business people I know agree, but don’t know where to start.

. . . .

I often hear the excuse that writing a book takes precious time away from building and running your business, which you cannot afford. In fact, it does take time, but in my view brings far more value than many of the things you might otherwise be doing, including expensive advertising, extensive networking, or email blasts.

Key value elements of a good book include the following:

1. Publishing a book defines you as an influencer and authority.

Everyone realizes that writing a book is not easy, so it shows you have made a real commitment, can get things done, and are willing to take a position.

Customers pay extra and inherently gravitate to people they view as leaders, rather than others just pushing advertising and Web content.

I can tell you from my own experience as an adviser to new entrepreneurs that my first book, Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur, did more for my credibility and leads as an adviser than all the marketing and networking I had done previously.

. . . .

3. Having a book gives you instant credibility with clients.

People who hire consultants and coaches look for evidence of external credibility, such as reviews and referrals, to back up their own judgement of your marketing interactions with them.

If you sell to other business organizations, a book is a huge asset in reducing their perceived selection risk.
For high-potential clients, it’s well worth your investment to hand out a personally signed copy of your book in lieu of the standard business card. It makes customers feel special, and gives you the opportunity to highlight your broad experience and credentials.

4. Being an author will attract top-notch talent to your business.

Potential team members and partners who excel are attracted to leaders and influencers.

Successful businesses require the best people to deliver your vision and services one step better than the competition. They see you as a role model for their own career development.
A good example of this impact is Tony Hsieh, who wrote his own book, as well as one about the culture he was building at Zappos. These books became one of his best recruiting tools, and still are a great lead generation source for his businesses.

. . . .

Another good reason for writing your book today, using self-publishing, is that it is consistent with the entrepreneur lifestyle.

No more struggling with big publishers to meet their expectations and long production cycles–you can make your book innovative and get it done on your terms and timeline. That means you can integrate the work with your own business schedule and objectives.

Link to the rest at Inc.

New Romance-Only Bookstore Aims to Bring Love to Tinley Park

12 August 2019

From Patch:

The second romance-only bookstore in the country opened in Tinley Park in mid-June. Love’s Sweet Arrow is owned and operated by mother-daughter team Roseann and Marissa Backlin, who were inspired to open the business by their love for romance novels.

“Romance is one of the most widely read genres in publishing, and yet there were only two exclusively romance bookstores in the world before we opened. And the only other one in the country is on the west coast,” Marissa Backlin said. “We wanted to do our part to change that and give romance readers a place to find their favorite books in the Midwest judgement-free.”

Developing the store from idea to actual opening took about a year.

“We had to do a lot of research into authors, publishing houses, form a business plan and attempt crowdfunding,” said Roseann Backlin, who also works as a food service manager at a local elementary school. The Backlins did a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $12,000 and are now accepting donations on Patreon. “We reached out to friends who had spare bookshelves, went to a resale shop [for furniture] and were lucky enough to get some of our used stock from a retiring bookstore owner.”

. . . .

In the age of impersonal ordering on Amazon, Love’s Sweet Arrow aims to be more than just an independent bookseller offering new and used novels. Marissa and Roseann hope to make it a community space, with events centered on bringing local residents together.

“In part of our research, we found that independent bookstores that focused on that community space feel and provided events for the community at large were more successful and were embraced by the community,” Marissa said.

Love’s Sweet Arrow hosts its own book club every other month, but encourages other local clubs to host meetings at the store.

Link to the rest at Patch

PG went to school and lived for several years in the Chicago area. While he vaguely remembered the name, Tinley Park, he had no idea where it was located.

A quick search revealed that Tinley Park is a village of 56,000 in South suburban Chicago east of Joliet.

While 56,000 people sounds a bit large for a “village,” if PG recalls correctly, under state law, Illinois has Cities, Towns and Villages. They are each forms of municipal government and PG seems to remember that no more Towns are being created, just Cities and Villages.

Why, After 12 Books, I’m Self-Publishing

12 August 2019

From Roger Simon:

After a dozen traditionally published books (ten fiction, two non-fiction), for the first time, I am self-publishing my new novel.

. . . .

Why am I self-publishing? Aside from the obvious publishing world bias against anyone to the right of Trotsky (this is particularly true for fiction; there are several good conservative venues for non-fiction), I have real reasons for having decided, after all these years and books, to self-publish. And not just because it’s clearly the wave of the future.

I believe in free markets and self-publishing is entrepreneurial. You get a greater hand in your own creative destiny, even if it’s more of a gamble.

The author foregoes a publisher’s advance for a significantly larger piece of the revenue pie and control of production, pricing, and marketing. Of course, that means paying for everything yourself from the cover design to formatting to ads.

Speaking of which, I recall asking (begging) publishers for ads on more than one occasion and being told: “Ads don’t sell books.” When I replied, “But what about using my [in those cases stellar] reviews?” I was informed, “Reviews don’t sell books.” Then I queried, “What sells books?” Silence.

Enough of that. I’ll make that call for myself from now on, thank you.

Surprisingly, and more importantly, self-publishing tends to make the book itself better — at least it did for me. How’s that? Don’t publishers have editors? Yes, and often good ones, but they don’t, in the end, hold a candle to the “beta readers” you assemble when self-publishing.

. . . .

At a publishing house, you’re lucky to have three or four people actually read your book before it’s published, not counting the marketing folks who often just look at the blurb. (Also re: marketers/publicists, well-intentioned though they may be, what they typically do is ask you whom you know and then they, the publicists, reach out to them for reviews, interviews, etc., something you could do just as easily and — if you have the moxie — more effectively for yourself.)

By the time I finished my final version of The GOAT, I had had close to two dozen of these beta readers. They came from all walks of life — from real estate brokers to tennis partners — not just literary types.

The betas were real readers in the consumer sense and their feedback was invaluable, although occasionally painful, to me. They pushed me and helped me make the book better. I owe it to them that I now believe The GOAT my best and most perfected book.

Link to the rest at Roger Simon

Self Publishing Helps Local Author Leave Government Job to Write Full Time

1 August 2019
Comments Off on Self Publishing Helps Local Author Leave Government Job to Write Full Time

From WHO TV:

An Iowa author was able to leave his government job five years ago and become a full-time writer.

“I love what I do. It doesn`t seem like a job,” said Nicholas Sansbury Smith. “I love writing. I love telling stories. I think it`s a blessing to be able to do that for a career and make money doing it,” he added.

The Des Moines author spends about ten hours a day writing four to five books a year. “I pretty much write post-apocalyptic science fiction,” he said.

He gets inspiration from his previous profession as a disaster mitigation specialist with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He said, “It not only inspired me but scared me, and I was able to use that experience on different disasters or threats that we face to implement those in stories and then I used a sci-fi twist.’

He started writing as a hobby until his second book Orbs went viral. “It sold about 30,000 copies, pretty much in a couple months. And that`s what led me to an agent, some audio deals, Simon Schuster came in, and they wanted to buy the rights to a series. That ended up being a three-book deal and launched me into the traditional publishing world,” he said.

The New York Times Bestselling Author has published more than twenty books with another four currently in the works.

Link to the rest at WHO TV

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