Readersforum's Blog

June 7, 2013

John Green On Self Publishing: Publishers And Bookstores Are Necessary, To Say Otherwise Is ‘An Insidious Lie’ (VIDEO)

John GreenJohn Green is a cult author with more than 1.5 million Twitter followers, a hugely popular Tumblr page, and more than a million YouTube subscribers for the channel he shares with his brother. He headlined Carnegie Hall this year, and we featured his latest book The Fault In Our Stars for a month in our Book Club, which has been on the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller List for more than a year. He talks directly to a huge online following that loves him – so shouldn’t he start self publishing his work?

Many people say that he doesn’t need the middle men of booksellers and publishers in order to make money, that his popularity is evidence that he could strike out alone to increase his profit margin. But as Green says, isn’t only about the money, it’s also about the quality of the editing and the support he gets from the existing publishing, bookstore and library structure.

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March 29, 2013

Books aren’t dead yet

stephen_king_kindle-620x412Self-publishing fans and the tech-obsessed keep getting it wrong: Big authors want to be in print — and bookstores

By Laura Miller

Without a doubt, book publishing is an industry in a state of flux, but even the nature of the flux is up for grabs. Take a recent example of the traditional tech-journalism take on the situation, an article by Evan Hughes for Wired magazine, titled “Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future.” The facts in the story are indisputable, but the interpretation? Not so much.

The news peg is the success of a self-published series of post-apocalyptic science fiction novels, “Wool,” by Hugh Howey. Available as e-books and print books from Amazon, the series became a hit, and Howey recently sold print-only rights to a New York publisher, Simon & Schuster. Print-only because Howey and his agent determined that they were making plenty of money selling the e-books on their own.

Wired characterizes this as a “huge concession” on the part of Simon & Schuster, and in one sense it is: The publisher won’t receive any e-book revenue, and it is in e-book format that “Wool” has seen its success so far. On the other hand, “Wool” is not only already very popular among the genre fans who made it an e-book bestseller, it’s also an object of curiosity for the many otherwise-uninterested people captivated by Howey’s rags-to-riches story in the Wall Street Journal. (By far the best-selling e-book by self-publishing exemplar John Locke is not one of his thrillers, but “How I Sold One Million E-Books.”)

Yes, it’s notable that Simon & Schuster shelled out a six-figure advance for this deal, but publishers have been known to offer similar advances for books that they only hope will find a large audience. “Wool” is that rare thing in book publishing, a known quantity, and a series on top of that, so there are multiple titles to sell.There is surely a sizable untapped market for print editions of “Wool” because e-books remain only 25 percent of the book market.

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February 19, 2013

Should You Publish Your Own Novel? Four Things to Think About

stock-photo-sale-books-image16596310By Holly Robinson

After writing five novels without selling any of them, I lost heart. What was I doing wrong? I had sold many articles and essays to national magazines. I had a terrific agent (and still do). I was a ghost writer who regularly penned celebrity memoirs. I had even sold a memoir of my own to none other than Random House, the Big Daddy of Publishing. Yet I couldn’t sell a novel.

“Maybe you’re no good at fiction,” my inner child whined.

Yet, there was one novel that I still liked. I couldn’t stand to keep it in a drawer, so I decided to make the leap into self publishing. The book has sold pretty well and has been nominated for a couple of awards.

Great! I was an indie author and proud of it. Then the unbelievable happened: a scant two weeks after becoming an indie author, an editor at NAL/Penguin bought my newest novel. I nearly passed out with excitement, but I was also plagued by doubt. Should I take the offer?

I’d heard all sorts of horror stories about writers giving away the bulk of their royalties to publishers that gobbled up profits in huge percentages. We indie authors keep most of our sales. Was I doing the right thing, saying yes to a publisher when I’d already done the tough work of going indie?

For anyone out there trying to make the same decision, I want to share what I’ve learned so far:

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January 30, 2013

Piracy is yesterday’s worry for today’s ‘artisan authors’

Starship EnterpriseFile sharing and self-publishing are becoming the norm for a generation of writers looking beyond a moribund publishing eco-system.

By Damien Walter

The community of SF writers has reason to dislike digital copying, or “piracy” as it’s commonly labelled in the tabloid press. Genre writers exist, by and large, in the publishing mid-list, where mediocre sales might seem most easily eroded by the spectre of illegitimate downloads. SF, fantasy and horror are also the literature of choice for the culture of geeks most likely to share their favourite authors’ works on torrent sites. Not surprising, then, that many professional genre writers and editors respond to the growing reality of copying with the absolutist position that piracy is theft, and should be punished as such under the law.

But SF writers are far from united in that position. Novelist, blogger and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow is well known for providing free digital copies of all his books as a marketing strategy, arguing that in a digital economy, obscurity is a far greater threat than piracy. Charlie Stross blogged such an effective argument against digital rights management on ebooks that it influenced at least one publishing imprint to drop DRM on its novels. And interviewed on the subject in 2011, Neil Gaiman, ever the gentleman, kindly points out that if you are a writer courting fans, screaming “THIEF!” at them and threatening legal action for copying might be … counterproductive.

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November 29, 2012

Is Exploiting Authors To Be The New Publishing Model?

Radical concept: could publishers start treating writers as partners?

By Orna Ross

Is there anybody in trade publishing who is willing to partner with writers as equals?

That’s the question that urgently needs to be answered as Simon & Schuster (S&S) adopts the dubious new business model that’s emerging around the surge in self-publishing. Instead of selling underpriced books to readers, it seems publishers will now sell overpriced   (and in some cases, substandard) services to writers.

Shame on you, S&S, for sullying your name by linking with Author Solutions, one of the most exorbitant and substandard of them all. And on you too Penguin-Pearson, for kicking off this sorry trend with your purchase of Author Solutions earlier this year.

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September 20, 2012

Adventures In Self-Publishing Part 2: From Art To Commerce

  By Rob W. Hart

On the evening of September 10th, I submitted my novella to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. By the next morning, it was live (but only at Amazon–more on that later). The Last Safe Place: A Zombie Novella has a handsome little ‘buy’ button next to it, and I get reports on how many copies have been sold, and someone I don’t know posted to my Twitter account that the preview text got her to buy it.

How cool is that?

So, what’s it about? Glad you asked!

It’s been two years since the outbreak of a plague that turned New Yorkers into flesh-eating corpses. The city’s population has dwindled to three hundred refugees on Governors Island, a park and former military outpost situated in Upper New York Bay, a few hundreds yards from Manhattan and Brooklyn. The survivors struggle with supply shortages and flaring tempers, but the monsters they call ‘rotters’ can’t swim. The island isn’t comfortable, but it’s safe.

That sense of safety is shattered when Sarge, a former cop and the island’s head of security, comes face to decomposing face with a rotter while on an early-morning patrol. There’s no conceivable way for the creature to have gotten on the island. What’s worse is that its stone-like skin makes it much tougher to kill.

Faced with the prospect of an evolving enemy, and desperate to find antibiotics for his dying wife, Sarge has to get into Manhattan, do some recon, forage for supplies, and get out—without drawing the attention of the millions of rotters that now roam the city.

It’s really, really satisfying to see a story through to completion. I’ve written two novels–one that was rubbish, one that needs a lot of work. And here’s a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It feels done, and I’m happy to lock it into a static state and move on. I’m high on accomplishment, and that high is pushing me to produce more work, which is a great place to be.

At the same time, self-publishing feels like a half measure. Not to say I regret doing it, or that I think I should have gotten a traditional deal for it (it’s a novella, I doubt anyone would have taken it). But people have been congratulating me on it. My mom even read it (making me regret how many times I used the word fuck). I feel like I accomplished something… but something worthy of celebration? I don’t know.

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September 8, 2012

The Cruel Paradox of Self-Publishing

By Peter Osnos

Digital and print-on-demand technology has made self-publishing much easier. But for every self-published work that gains traction, the overwhelming majority of books don’t.

Earlier this summer, Penguin Group, long a distinguished major publisher of books, paid $116 million to acquire Author Solutions Inc. A leading provider of self-publishing services, Author Solutions said that since it was formed in 2007, “it has enabled 150,000 authors to publish, market and distribute more than 190,000 books in print and electronic formats.” The transaction is a significant breakthrough in what has become a vital factor in the publishing landscape of the digital age. For the first time, an established publisher, the second largest in the world, with about 40 imprints in the United States, is delivering its reputation and management resources to support the vast number of people who want to write a book that, for a variety of reasons, does not make it to a traditional list. By adding Author Solutions, with revenues last year said to be about $100 million, to such pedigreed Penguin names as Viking, Penguin Classics, Putnam, and Dutton, the concept of self-publishing has moved away from what was always known as “vanity publishing.” While these authors are still mainly paying to see their works turned into finished print or e-books, they are no longer consigned just to the margins of the marketplace.

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August 30, 2012

Can self-publishing buy respect?

(Credit: iStockphoto/stokato)

Authors can now buy themselves rave reviews. Now that’s lazy — and counter to the true indie spirit

By Erin Keane

There was much pearl clutching after the Internet aired abecedarian mystery novelist Sue (“A Is for Alibi”) Grafton’s thoughts on self-publishing. Short version: She thinks it’s for lazies. Who you calling lazy? The digital swarm opined and I agreed, to some extent, with the outraged chorus. Who wouldn’t want to be on the side of the self-publishers, those scrappy DIY-ers who, like their punk forefathers and -mothers, step outside of a system that can’t or won’t serve them? Get in the van!

Then the New York Times examined a now-shuttered book review-for-hire service aimed at self-publishers, run by an Oklahoma businessman who realized that a large pool of underemployed writers willing to work for peanuts plus an equally large pool of unknown authors desperate to stand out equals profit. If only he had figured out a way to exploit the hopes of the adjunct professoriate, he could have hit the cynicism trifecta. Authors who wanted to artificially inflate their book’s popularity could buy satisfied reader reviews, circumventing the tedious business of building relationships with readers, librarians and booksellers like those squares in traditional publishing insist you must.

The service itself isn’t all that shocking. It’s not like you can’t purchase reviews from legit outlets like ForeWord and Kirkus, although they do sell review services aimed at self-publishers. Their packages are a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for. One decent, well-reasoned Kirkus review by an experienced book reviewer, even in its “Indie” ghetto, could be worth 20 breathless shills on Amazon, where product reviews have become a kind of meme-based performance art.

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June 14, 2012

How to become an ebook superstar

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 8:11 am

Ben Galley, a self-published author of fantasy books also offers a consultancy service for would-be writers.

A growing number of ambitious authors are turning to self-publishing. But how do they translate their aspirations into success?

By Patrick Barkham

It has never been easier to publish your own book. Traditional publishers may take a year to turn your manuscript into print on a page but you can get your own ebook on sale around the world in about four minutes. The real battle, however, is the same as it ever was: how do you find an audience?

Old-school publishing houses will almost certainly endure. Their expertise in not only editing but distributing and publicising your book increases its chances of success. But alongside them are a growing number of authors who have become editor/designer/marketeer/sales director for their own ebooks. In return for this slog, instead of a modest advance plus 8%–15% royalty from a traditional publisher, a self-published author may enjoy royalties of 70% if their book is sold at a certain price .

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May 25, 2012

Self-publishing: ‘under 10% of authors earn living’

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 6:08 am

 |By Philip Jones

Self-published writers who have an agent, or who use the DIY route to get a traditional deal, earn much more than the average self-published writer, according to a survey of more than 1,000 self-published writers. But only a minority (less than 10%) make enough to live off their earnings.

The survey, conducted by the Australian publisher and authors’ services business Taleist, found that just 97 of the 1,007 respondents indicated they could live exclusively off their royalties. In fact, half the respondents failed to reach $500 in royalties in 2011, with a quarter of the books facing the prospect that they will not cover their production costs.

On average, the respondents earned just over US $10,000 from their self-published books in the year. However, the survey also found that a “two-track economy” existed, whereby a small group of self-publishing authors were earning about 75% of the reported revenue. Two-thirds of these “top earners” were women, and though they are roughly the same age as the average self-published writer (roughly 40), the data showed that they had been taking writing seriously for slightly longer than the rest of the group.

Nearly three times as many top earners had an agent (29% as compared to 10%), but most did not. While having an agent was not a necessity for the majority of self-published writers—even those who earned the most money—the survey found that having an agent was associated with earnings more than three times higher than unrepresented peers.

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