Tag s | Self-Publishing

How Self-Publishing Has Changed Authors

As a literary agent, not a day goes by when I don’t encounter the changes in thinking from authors caused by the expansion and availability of self-publishing.

It’s understandable, because there are over twice as many books self-published every year in the United States than are published by traditional publishers.

Traditional and self-publishing generate over one million new books every year in the U.S. alone according to RR Bowker.  Two-thirds are self-published.

According to the United Nations cultural arm UNESCO, well over two million new books are published annually by traditional publishers worldwide.

The Federation of European Publishers reports on the status of book publishing across the continent. They show revenues and traditional publisher title output are generally flat over the last five years, but the number of titles available in print has grown from 8.5 million in 2011 to 22 million in 2015. Digital printing and self-publishing bring more titles to market and keep more in print longer.

However, those 22 million titles generated slightly less revenue in 2015 than the 8.5 million titles did in 2011. Not revenue per title, but total industry revenue.

No wonder book publishing is a challenge for everyone.

Self-publishing has become ubiquitous and is here to stay, but has also created the impression traditional publishing has changed far more dramatically than it actually has.

If you are self-publishing and desire someday to be published by a traditional publisher, you need to change your thinking depending on your intention.

And learn a new language.

How has self-publishing altered the thinking and professional language of authors?  There are five primary areas (and probably more if I think about it).

  • Control – traditional publishing has always been more of a collegial collaboration between publisher and author. Give and take. Negotiation. Honestly, some authors simply should never be traditionally published because of this. They view control as a non-negotiable and will not relinquish it.
  • Timing – You get an idea, write it and publish it as a self-published author. When I tell an author it will take 15-18 months or longer to get a book published traditionally, the stunned silence says it all.
  • Quality of Manuscript – there is no such thing as a finished manuscript. Even if it is edited by three Nobel laureates and chiseled on stone tablets, the manuscript isn’t finished until the publisher says it is. And now you know why some authors self-publish!
  • Length of Manuscript – There is an optimum length of a traditionally published commercial product based on the type of book. Self-published authors write the length they want. A 6,000-word memoir is a thirty-two page free pamphlet, not a commercial book. A 375,000-word novel is generally not commercially viable as a 1,200-page book selling for fifty dollars. If an author cannot tell me how many words are in their manuscript, only it is 200 manuscript pages, they have been completely influenced by self-publishing thinking. Self-publishing is by pages because your costs are a function of the number of pages.
  • Cover Design – The dead giveaway you are a self-published author is you have a final cover, approved by friends and family and ready for print. Covers at a traditional publisher involve input from a dozen people or more who develop covers as part of their profession. Leave your cover at home when talking to a traditional publisher.

So, when I get a proposal from an author telling me they have a 275 page, finished manuscript, need it published in less than six months, and the cover is already done, I know I am about to disappoint them significantly with my reply.

Sweeping generalities can be tricky, but compared to most self-publishing models, traditional publishing is still a slow, methodical, careful and deliberate way to publish, involving many moving parts with creative input from a wide variety of professional people accountable for the long-term financial health of the publisher.

So, if you desire to self-publish and also be traditionally published, be very careful about control, timing, manuscript quality, length and cover design to make sure you use appropriate publisher-language. For self-publishing, the author is in control of everything, which some find very comforting.

Then you learn the hard truth of all book publishing, no matter the path you take:

Half of all published books don’t sell particularly well, but you never know which half.

Leave a Comment

News You Can Use – June 18, 2013

Self-Published eBooks Account for 12% of the Entire Digital Market – Watch the stats for trends.

How People Read Online – Does this mean I have to shorten my blog posts? And if I do will you still skip the last 2/3rds of what I write anyway?

Three Scriptural Cautions Against Self-Publishing – Do you agree or disagree? (and then read the next link below)

Three Reasons to Support Self-Publishing – A rebuttal to the previous link. I appreciate careful discourse and debate that does not devolve into chaos. This point-counterpoint is a wonderful example of how to conduct this type of conversation.

Did You Forget to Pay Royalties for Singing “Happy Birthday”? – A fascinating article which tells of a company who is suing to get “Happy Birthday” declared public domain. Ever wonder why restaurants all have their own song for celebrating birthdays? They don’t want to receive an invoice from the copyright holder who makes $5,000,000 a year in royalties.

3 mistakes to avoid when following up on a pitch – This article can be applied to pitching editors and agents too.

10 Blogging Tactics To Maximize Long-Term Results – Excellent advice from Heidi Cohen. I get this kind of question a lot from authors trying to use their blog to market their books.

The Overwhelming Force of “Gradual” – Seth Godin talks about building low and slow for maximum success.

Read More

News You Can Use – Dec. 4, 2012

Guideposts sells Ellie Claire Line and Selected Summerside Titles to Worthy Publishing – Worthy Publishing adds a great gift book line along with some Summerside non-fiction to their company. Plus they added a new VP, Jason Rovenstine, who joins them from his similar role at Ellie Claire/Summerside. The Summerside fiction line remains with Guideposts with no editorial changes. Guideposts fiction and non-fiction remains untouched. (If you are curious an out of date web site shows previous products published under the Ellie Claire imprint.)

Three Things You Can Do in a Novel but not Onscreen – Derek Haas helps writers understand the difference.

The Elevator Pitch – READ THIS ARTICLE!!!! – Susan Morris nails it on the head. The best way to talk about your book to and agent or an editor. Excellent.

Archway Publishing: Simon & Schuster Adds a Self-Publishing Division – Victoria Strauss pulls back the curtain. If you weren’t aware “Like the other self-publishing divisions of trade publishers (LifeWay’s Cross Books, Thomas Nelson’s West Bow Press, Harlequin’s Dell’Arte Press [which, unlike other ventures of this sort, produced a furore upon its introduction and had to change its name], Hay House’s Balboa Press, and Writer’s Digest’sAbbott Press), Archway Publishing is outsourced to Author Solutions Inc.”  And Author Solutions was recently purchased by Penguin…which is merging with Random House.
Confused yet?
If you get a contract from a publisher and you don’t have an agent, check out Victoria Strauss’ site and do your research.

The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion – Nathan Hangen makes a great case.

Want to be amazed? Watch this one minute video of a machine scanning a book at the rate of 250 pages per minute. Do the math. If there are an average of 300 words on a printed page and it takes five minutes to set up a new book, you could feasibly scan ten books an hour or 80 per day. A library of 5,000 books could be scanned and digitized  in two months.

Read More

News You Can Use – July 31, 2012

#1 Secret of Great Writers – Joseph Putnam reveals a secret that everyone should know.

Great Keynote Speech from RWA – Stephanie Laurie graciously posted her rousing keynote presentation on the business of writing. (Thank you Debby Mayne for the link!)

21 Links to Fonts for Self-Publishing – On of the biggest mistakes I see in self published books is the use of the wrong font. This incredible resource from The Book Designer blog will give you a crash course on what works and what doesn’t if you are attempting to create your own print book. Even if you aren’t self-publishing this type of “course” will give you a greater appreciation for the “art of book-making.”

The E-Book Marketplace is About to Change … Dramatically – Mike Shatzkin details the implications of the Department of Justice proposed settlement with some big publishers regarding the accusation of price-fixing online.

The Shakespearean Guide to Entrepreneurship – a clever post about how Shakespeare transformed himself from an als0-ran writer to “The Bard.”

How I Did Research for Three NY Times Bestsellers – Ryan Holiday talks about his secrets to doing great research.

Read More

News You Can Use – June 5, 2012

Six Tough Truths About Self-Publishing (That the Advocates Never Seem to Talk About) – Rob Hart writes an insightful and cautionary tale.

22 Rules of Story Telling According to Pixar – This is an excellent article for every novelist to read.

10 Great Science Fiction Novels for People Who Don’t Read Sci-Fi – I have to say that I agree with only four of their choices. Such is the nature of reading and recommending fiction! (Of the 10 I would choose Card, Bester, Shelley, and Herbert.)

Are Books Becoming too Long to Read? – A stimulating article that makes you think twice about the length of your books. I do see a trend in NON-fiction toward shorter books. Fiction is still a matter of taste and storytelling ability.

How Fast Do You Read? – Staples.com provides a quick little test including a comprehension quiz at the end. How fast are you?

A Summertime graphic for you to enjoy:

 

Read More

News You Can Use – May 29, 2012

Self-Publishing: Under 10% Earn a Living – An article out of Australia makes a bold claim. I would claim, however, that only 10% of traditionally published writers earn a living too. Of course that depends on your definition of “a living.”

100 Best First Lines from Novels – In honor of the last two weeks where we talked about “first lines” I found this article from the American Book Review that chooses the top 100.

Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer – Jon Morrow extracts the best parts from King’s book on writing and then applies it to the blogger.

Six Ways Copyeditors Make Your Book Better – Linda Jay Geldens makes an excellent point. Never skip this step before putting your work out in the public.

The No-Tears Guide to Podcasting – There are many who say podcasting is an excellent way to extend your platform and engage your readers.

Two Excellent Articles about Commas: Their use and misuse – written by Ben Yagoda
Fanfare for the Comma Man
The Most Comma Mistakes

Read More

News You Can Use – Feb. 14, 2012

It has begun – The Welcome Assault on Costly Textbooks– But is this the best way to do it? Free online publisher-quality textbooks for five of the country’s most-attended college courses. Funded by big charitable organizations like The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It could change the economic future of some major textbook publishers. I fear the homogenization of Education or the control of what is taught in college Biology class, just because it is free.

Pinterest Boards for Book Lovers – Ten places to try out the latest social network phenomenon.

Five Ways to Maximize the New Changes on Facebook – Confused by yet another change to Facebook? This should help.

Is Self-Publishing a Ponzi Scheme? – Richard Curtis, as usual, is brilliant and insightful. Do think this is out of line? or cutting close to the truth?

Is it Time to Bundle the E-book with the Physical Book in Online Sales? – I asked this question of Hachette 2 1/2 years ago during a Digital Initiatives presentation and was told no. Dennis Johnson of Melville House Publishers discussed the issue with great insight.

Lady Solves Wheel-of-Fortune Puzzle with One Letter – This article shows that it wasn’t luck but years of study and preparation. Sort of like something thinking they can just sit down and write a whole book in a weekend.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Source:LiveScience

Read More