Literary and Commercial Considerations in Self-Publishing

My thoughts on this excellent article by Nick Levey.

tl;dr re my comments

  1. the situation is fluid
  2. those too lazy to do the work of digging through the onslaught of independently published work are missing out, but perhaps they deserve to
  3. I am not embarrassed that I self-published and it is not a fall-back position, it is my first choice.

Maybe I need a tl;dr for my tl;dr

many-books

Quotes in italics (my comments in parentheses.)

shows just how uncomfortably firm the association is between traditional trade publishers and literary value (which we know doesn’t exist: publishing is an industry, it is commerce with primarily financial goals)

There are many possible reasons why literary fiction has fewer examples of successful self-published works, but perhaps the simplest answer is that readers of the genre are served sufficiently by traditional publishers (This is a powerful argument against self-publishing literary fiction to make money which means I’ll have to do it to make art)

a narrower and more volatile market instead of a broad and sustainable one (As author businesspeople, we must take the view of our own sustainability, not that of the market as a whole. If I can live on what I earn from writing, that means exponentially more to me than whether or not my genre or books as a whole are selling better or worse.)

Mainstream literary fiction, we can assume, has different assumptions and associations, and its readers are more reluctant to explore alternative modes of publication (Where does that conclusion come from? Curious about the data supporting the statement that readers of literary fiction are reluctant to explore non-traditional publishing avenues. Chicken, meet egg.)

David Vinjamuri . . . concludes that the “problem with Indie books is that there are so many of them.” (I restrain myself here, but, too many books? Egads.)

Such readers were often also unconvinced of the value of rereading (and later) price can be a key factor in the experience of its products (Note to self: non-rereaders want digital [which = disposable] so dial back my obsession with selling print.)

between 1830 and 1859, more than half of the novels serialized in Australia were written by just one man, John Lang (Great googlymooglies, that’s amazing.)

The spread of literary culture has always been furthered by treating novels as the commodities they are, subjecting them to the whims and peculiarities of the market in order to improve their uptake by the public. (Lovely thought. This is primarily where traditional publishing is missing the boat.)

gives authors the ability to choose how much their book is worth (Badly worded, that. Price and value are entirely disconnected.)

Many post-pressers are thus working only transitionally within this domain, while holding out for traditional validation. (This bothers me.)

(Learned a new word: stoush.)

it’s difficult to view current self-publishing as aligned with an underground when it is so dependent on the technology and the business model of Amazon. (A troubling truth. But why do I find it troubling?)

For Kloos, traditional publishing is still the desirable pathway for the production and dissemination of the literary object; self-publishing comes as a last resort. (I have no respect whatsoever for those who abandon what they believe is the proper course of action. If you think traditional publishing is “real” publishing then either do the work or opt out, but don’t settle.)

ROI: Is Writing a Book a Good Investment in Your Business?

selling-sold-sold-paidFiction authors might want to find something else to read. Today we’re all business.

Selling books is no way to make money. But you’re a business person and you know that some things that don’t directly earn money are still vital to the sales process.

Does a book fit into that picture?

Let’s talk numbers.

… more … “ROI: Is Writing a Book a Good Investment in Your Business?”

How Not to Throw a Mess Over the Transom; or, Who Cares More, You or Your Editor?

the-best-part-of-waking-upMy finger hovered over the mouse button, ready to click “Send” and turn That She is Made of Truth over to Tom for editing.

But wait; there’s more!

Rather than tossing a soiled manuscript over the transom and letting Tom wipe it down before he even begins work, why not tidy it up myself, and let him spend his time doing what he does best?

I always run my manuscripts through AutoCrit before asking anyone else to work with them. It’s the least I can do (and sometimes, the least is exactly what I do.)

… more … “How Not to Throw a Mess Over the Transom; or, Who Cares More, You or Your Editor?”

Meanwhile, at Dave’s: Self Means Self

a-barcode-not-an-isbnAnother good article at Dave Bricker’s site about what self-publishing really means.

Also the beginnings of a conversation in the comment section about free ISBNs.

After I used up the 10 I bought from Bowker, I started using the free ISBNs CreateSpace offers. I don’t care who the publisher of record is. I care who’s credited with the intellectual property (and the payments.)

Other authors have tried to convince me that owning your ISBNs is the only professional route.

Until now, that’s been the whole argument: it looks more professional. Leaving off the rest of the sentence: to other authors. I don’t sell to authors, I sell to readers. Argument over.

Except, Dave makes some points we’re working through. Interesting points that have me thinking.

Once Bitten . . . You Stop Sticking Your Hand in the Cage

pet the catIn her blog today author Lia London tells a harrowing tale of lies, betrayal, fraud — that wasn’t her latest book, it was her previous publishing efforts.

In a Facebook group I’m part of, someone asked for recommendations for a web designer. I dropped my name on the list, already 100 posts long.

The “where should I host my site?” question is asked often, garnering the same list of responses each time: “GoDaddy!” “Anywhere but GoDaddy!” “HostThingy” “ThingHost” “HostHost” “Hostess Cupcakes” “Charlottezweb” (because I’ll never skip an opportunity to promote Jason’s marvelous hosting, even if it gets lost in the crowd.)

We’re re-watching Longmire from the beginning, hoping the long-awaited 4th season will start the night after we finish the cliffhanger of season 3. In last night’s episode Walt tells Henry the reason he’s pulling fingerprints from a car’s steering wheel instead of having one of his deputies do it: “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”

Rather than debate the debatable truth of the statement, let’s talk about why we believe that.

… more … “Once Bitten . . . You Stop Sticking Your Hand in the Cage”

Catherine, Caffeinated: Self-Printed 3.0

selfprintedsplashbadgeCatherine Ryan Howard taught me how to do a Goodreads giveaway, among other things. Wanna know what she can teach you? Here’s a single Q&A with Catherine, and down below, the scoop on the latest edition of her book Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

I asked: Is there any specific data on the ROI for freebies? I’m curious about data like “100 copies given away results in 13 reviews and 3 copies sold” or some such nonsense. Separated by fiction and nonfiction. Also, what’s your opinion on whether such data would have any practical value?

… more … “Catherine, Caffeinated: Self-Printed 3.0”

Publishing Yourself is (One Part of) the Correct Choice (Guest Post by Ed Teja)

In last Friday’s newsletter I stated pretty emphatically that self-publishing was, both artistically and commercially, the right choice. Long-time reader and valued curmudgeon Ed Teja took a different view. He made good points, which he’s allowing me to share here. Please, tell him what you think because we’d both like to know how this resonates with y’all. And Ed, thanks for nudging me to reconsider this topic.)

Ed Teja
Ed Teja
When Joel presented a case for self-publishing über alle it struck a chord in me, yet simultaneously resonated with my automatic “ain’t necessarily so” response. The problem I have with the idea is that it suggests a fish-or-cut-bait approach, presenting a false dichotomy (as writers we get to use words like that. Enjoy). between self-publishing and everything else. The truth is, it’s worth considering a mix of strategies.

Let me say one thing clearly upfront: You will likely, probably, almost certainly, make more money publishing your own work than by working with any publisher. I’ll even suggest that doing things yourself, you stand a better chance of publishing the book you want, not one someone else thinks it should be.

Now give me a bit of room to swing my arms while I explain why, even if making money is the goal, excluding other options is an over-simplification. … more … “Publishing Yourself is (One Part of) the Correct Choice (Guest Post by Ed Teja)”

Your Book’s Best Presentation: PubML

The Blue MonkMany authors dream of including audio, video, interactive maps and more in their digital books. Alas, even color photos aren’t supported by all eReaders.

Twenty years into the internet age, how come books don’t live on the web?

Thanks to PubML, today they do.

And it’s going to change digital publishing forever for those of us who love books. … more … “Your Book’s Best Presentation: PubML”

Use the Speed of Digital to Experiment

experiment!Here’s one place where you might choose digital only: to experiment.

Because it’s so easy to publish your own digital book (or novella, or short story, or poetry chap book) why not put one together right now?

Yes, the words in it should be good stuff. Yes, it should be professional enough so your readers are enjoying the words, not stumbling over them.

But why not test the waters? Thomas Watson, Jr., the man who made IBM a household name, said … more … “Use the Speed of Digital to Experiment”

Launch Print and Digital Versions Simultaneously for Better Sales

Another reason to make both versions available at the same time is to avoid alienating your fans.

“What? No print version?”

“What? No digital version?”

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1115981 by meral akbulut http://www.sxc.hu/profile/merala

Whichever you publish first, someone will feel left out. Don’t miss an opportunity for a sale because you weren’t ready when your fan was ready.

Multi-format sales are slowly bleeding into Amazon. … more … “Launch Print and Digital Versions Simultaneously for Better Sales”