Self-Publishers

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Self-Publishing is something that has always interested me. There are so many ways to put your work out for people to read besides going through a publishing house. It almost seems like it is a rebellion against traditional publishing.

A few things I do know about self-publishing is that it is all on you, hence the term Self-Publishing. Editing the book is all on you. The designing of the cover is all on you. The marketing is all on you. Printing copies and mailing them that is all on you. No one has said it would be easy, but I think the outcome can be rewarding.

When it comes to self-publishing, my book is going to be an e-book. According to an article I read for indie authors, self-publishers usually use Amazon, but Amazon does not make it easy for most authors with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). KDP allows E-books to be sold to readers. However, readers only pay for the total pages read. If a person does not complete the book then less money is earned.

A challenge that most self-publishers have is getting their books on shelves in book stores. The revenue drop with e-books has taken a toll on authors. Now they are looking to a print format again because that is what readers prefer. You will most likely find self-published books through an e-book/online source.

Something that I found in an article is how many of the self-publishers could possibly get a TV deal. For example, Universal Cable Productions has a deal with Wattpad. If they read a story they like, they can produce a movie for people to stream. Wattpad is an interesting platform for writers as they can post their stories and make money through ads. It sounds to me that Wattpad is a good deal.

The article continued showing how self-publishers list their multiple positions on their business cards because they wear the hats of a consultant, publisher, and marketer. They truly do it all.

Publishers Weekly is my article of reference. It is filled with useful information for author hopefuls. I learned about a site called Book Life. The site is for indie authors looking to put their book out in the world. The site is basically a one stop shop for self-publishing. They will even help you through some parts of the process.

When it comes to marketing a book, you do not have to do it alone.You can hire someone. Not an agent, but there are self-publishing services out there at any writers disposal. This article suggests focusing on the bigger picture. Some steps including:

  1. Reaching out to the desired audience.

If you have social media, already have a target market and you know who should be interested in your book then you are ready. Letters and posts about your book will help build your audience.

  1. Write, write, and write some more.

The number of books you have out matters. If you are a first-time self-published author, you have work to do for marketing. If you have multiple books released, then you more than likely have an audience that will want to know what you are writing. Your marketing work is already half way done.

  1. Use multiple mediums and channels.

If you can put your book on more platforms than just e-book it will help even if it is just posts on Wattpad. Audio, print, YouTube. Anything will help get your book noticed.

  1. Know people

When you know someone with connections it always helps. Try and meet people that can help put your book in the hands of readers. If you do not have that kind of pull, then think of others who can help you. Organizations are a good place to start.

  1. Use good timing

It is important to publish your book at the right time and price. For example, people give books at Christmas. Spend time thinking about your readers and how you want to reach them. You have to think about the big picture for your readers.

Some additional tips I learned for a want to be self-published author include:

  • Patience- it is really important that you do not impulsively publish your first piece of work.
  • Persistence- rejection is normal in this industry so be prepared and don’t let it get you down. Listen to constructive criticism make your book the best you can.
  • Prayer- you always need some help from above.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Writers, Editors, and Agents

Agents and editors are a writers best friend. And their relationship should be a mutually beneficial symbiosis. Finding a good editor usual starts with a manuscript. Then the writer will send queries to agents and if they hear back, they will send a sample of the work. When an agent sees a work that has promise, or meets an author that they like, they will give the authors notes are let them know what they would like to see changed in the manuscript, much like an acquisitions editor. Then the manuscript is sent off editors at publishing houses to screen the manuscript and decide if they want to option it or not. The editor and the writer will then discuss the manuscript further and possibly restructure it via notes from the editor to the writer. The other potential avenue for a book is when a writer, or editor, has an idea for a book and the writer and editor work together to organize and “manufacture” the book.

It seems to me that finding a good agent is one of the most important steps in having success as a writer because a good agent understands the writers material and can assist in revisions and seek out the publications they feel it would be best in. The relationship between the writer and edit is as much the relationship between judge and talent, or teacher and student. The editors job is to determine what could be working better and it is the writer’s responsibility to respect the editor’s advice and take it to heart. A writer’s success lies in his understanding of the editor’s response to the piece because the editor will see the most flawed portion of a manuscript and will give the most honest feedback.

What roll should an agent play in aiding a writer with a manuscript? Should this exclusively be the editor’s job?

What should agents look for in finding a new author?

Should writers wait till they have a complete manuscript to find an agent?

How can the writer best utilize structural and inquisitive notes from an editor?

As an editor, how do you work with the writer to produce a book that will sell well? Should you sign promising authors onto extended book contracts?

 

Resources:

Corporate vs Independent Publishers

Corporate Publishers

A common example of corporate publishers are the big five, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster. These publishers put out thousands of titles annually, including their imprints, and are geared towards making a profit. Many authors have dreams of being published by a big five company and selling their books worldwide but it is important for authors to be aware of the nature of the beast that is corporate publishing before diving in head first. Writer David Sterry, shared one of his experiences publishing with one of the big five in his article, How to Get Successfully Published TODAY: Big 5, Indy, or Self-Publish?, in the Huffington Post. One of the first books him and his wife wrote together was published by a big five publishing house – he did not name which one. He said, “…we were full of grand and fantastic ideas about how to promote and market our book,” but to their disappointment the marketing team, one man, decided instead to send out press releases and a few copies of the books – ultimately resulting in the failure of the book (Sterry). This is just one example of a publishing experience gone wrong and authors being lost in the publishing process. The reality is that corporate publishers are ultimately after a profit, not sustaining writers or literature. This is not to say that they do not put out excellent works, because they do on a regular basis, but that they pick what they publish based on what will make the biggest profit. If ones work is suitable to the needs of a big five publisher they could have great success.

 

Independent Publishers

Independent Publishers are typically much smaller than corporate publishers. These publishers put out less titles annually and are not as well-known but they have many benefits for authors. Since they publish fewer tittles editors and staff can spend more time with each work. The author can also form personal relationships with their editor and have more of a say in their final product. Seth Pennington with Sibling Rivalry Press said that their authors are solely responsible for the marketing of their books and for this reason they do everything they can to ensure that their authors love their final product. They work with their authors as closely as possible on things such as typeface and cover images, giving the authors a huge say in the appearance of their book – a luxury that is often not available to authors who publish with a big five house. Steve Almond, in the Special Section of Power and Community, noted on the camaraderie felt and the intimacy of the process when publishing with a small press. He said, “I remember [is] the sense of camaraderie. I got to know the directors of publicity and marketing, the other editors, even the publisher. When I called the Algonquin office, the receptionist knew who I was. That might not sound like a big deal, but it certainly felt like one” (Almond).
Independent presses publish many different works depending on the presses particular goals. Some publishers have only scholarly work and textbooks while others have exclusively poetry or a mix of fiction and nonfiction. Presses, like a university press, are more focused on publishing relevant content and breaking even rather than making a profit. Pennington also said that they have their bigger publications to support the other titles that are passionate about publishing even though they know it will not make a large profit.

Corporate publishers tend to have the advantage in terms of resources such as staff, funding, and marketing. Independent publishers offer more control of one’s final product and a more intimate publishing process that still has the potential for great success despite potentially limited resources. Ultimately,“[e]ach author should operate in the traditional vs independent scene based on his or her best interests and actual opportunities” (Foster).

 

Sources/Articles:

Almond, Steve. The Big Myth: Why Going With a Small Press Can Yield Big Dividends. file:///C:/Users/Morgan/Downloads/Why%20go%20with%20a%20small%20press%20(1).pdf

Foster, Lee. Independent Book Publishing: Is it the Viable Future for Books?. (Copyright © 2016 Lee Foster, Foster Travel Publishing). http://www.fostertravel.com/independent-book-publishing-is-it-the-viable-future-for-books/ 

Sterry, David. How to Get Successfully Published TODAY: Big 5, Indy, or Self-Publish?. Sep 02, 2014.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-henry-sterry/how-to-get-successfully-p_b_5554920.html

Images:

Penguin Random House logo. http://global.penguinrandomhouse.com/news/

Sibling Rivalry Press logo. https://siblingrivalrypress.com/

Blog 3 Instructions: Exploration of an Issue/Trend

Now that we’ve mapped out the publishing industry and developed a basic understanding of the kinds of publishers involved, it is time to more fully discuss the issues, questions, and concerns those in publishing are currently discussing. As a result, our final series of blog posts will help us delve into the conversations taking place in the field.

Instructions:

  1. Research your assigned topic using the links provided under Publishing Resources.
  2. Write a post that provides an engaging overview of the issue. In the post, include links to three of the articles you read.
  3. Publish your blog post at least one full day in advance of your presentation date.
  4. Prepare a series of discussion questions about the topic. You will use these to lead the class in an in-class discussion the day you present.

We, as a class, will have read your post and the linked articles prior to the start of class the day you present.

A Few Things About Tor Books

Image result for tor booksIn the world of publishing, few publishers are as well-known by readers as Tor Books. A subsidiary of Macmillan, Tor is a publisher that focuses primarily on publishing science fiction and fantasy stories that range in length from 400,000 word novels to short stories published as ebooks.

Type of Publisher: As stated above, Tor publishes science fiction and fantasy stories; however, they utilize various publishing technologies to do this. They publish novels in both print and in ebook, and they publish short fiction as well (also in ebook); however, they have recently begun publishing novellas using Print on Demand technology as well. This means that, regardless of the word count, writers of science fiction and fantasy can potentially get their work published by Tor.

Market: Tor tends to cater to readers of the genres the publish, particularly ones that are on social media. They have a fairly decent following on Facebook and Twitter, and they have a blog where they discuss their own publications as well as the published books of their competitors.

Funding: Tor is funded by selling books, particularly their famous authors. Their new authors don’t appear to make the company much money until they have published a few titles by that author.

Successes: A few of their books have been made into movies, including Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. MGM has also purchased the film rights to several of Brandon Sanderson’s books, and several of Tor’s books have been #1 New York Times Bestsellers.

Challenges: Likely one of their biggest challenges is selling enough books to make a profit. One of Tor’s authors has commented that first time authors tend to lose the company money, and it isn’t until their third book is published that Tor makes money off the author in question.

Graywolf Press

graywolf_press_logo I did some research into independent presses and after sorting through the results I realized I had encountered books by this press (Graywolf). Specifically Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine which had recently popped up on the “Suggested For [Me]” section on Amazon. I did some more research and found that, to my surprise, I also had first hand experience with some of their authors (most notably John D’Agata). So lets talk about the Graywolf in the room.

Graywolf is a Non-Profit organization dedicated to literary books that will have a lasting impact. They want to produce literature that will backlist, and backlist well. Their goal is to publish modern classics, and on their website they go out of their way to distance themselves from larger publishers (they publish around 25 books per year) with more of an emphasis in profits than literary prestige. Many Graywolf books have been nominated, or won awards, and Graywolf even hosts their own literary contests. The most recent of these awards is 3 Sections by Vijay Sephardi, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2014.

The press itself is incredibly small with roughly 14 people on staff, and around 6 unpaid interns in the areas of development, editing, marketing, and publicity. This is dwarfed by the near 70 members of the various boards and councils that run the non-profit organization. While it is a non-profit that was founded, in part, through the National Endowment for the Arts fund,  66% of their profits come from book sales. That’s no small feat for an independent press in today’s market. Their books are so widely published, that they are actually distributed by a larger corporation: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a subsidiary of Macmillan Publishing, which is in turn a subsidiary of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (one of the big five).

The market of Graywolf is people who are interested in literary books. Their books often win contests and awards and much of their sales come through this, as well as smaller publicity efforts such as books tours and trade shows. They also publish an easily accessible PDF of their backlisted titles, a subtle encouragement to purchase their older books.

I believe the greatest challenges for a publisher such as Graywolf is in sourcing material which fits its goal of diverse modern literature when one attempts to answer the question, “What is both literary and significant?” In this writer’s opinion the same argument against this goal is the argument James Cameron made when discussing the Oscars:

There have been a few times throughout the history of the Oscars where a wildly popular film was well-received, but your typical year the Academy takes the position of: “It is our patrician duty to tell the great unwashed what they should be watching,” and they don’t reward the films that people really want to see—that they’re paying money to go see—and they’re telling them, “Yeah, you think you like that, but what you should be liking is this.”

Cameron is arguing that perhaps the best films are not the ones chosen by the Academy, but the ones chosen by the people that consume them. In the same way I would argue that art which resonates at the hearts of the masses is potentially more noteworthy than art carefully selected by a panel of literature academics. However, Graywolf in all of its beautiful uniqueness, has had tremendous success with both critical and popular acclaim (If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland has sold over 280,000 copies). An inspiring thought for a young writer pondering, or perhaps attempting to tow the line, between works that have literary merit, yet also appeal to a broad audience through entertainment. Because, in my opinion, the best art entertains and informs in equal strides; a characteristic which Graywolf seems to embrace, though they would be reluctant to admit it.

 

BatCat Press

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BatCat Press is a small Independent Press that was founded in 2009 by a managing directer and six high school students. Since then BatCat has grown into one of the top independent publishers specializing in homemade limited editions of new works by both first time and established authors.
Type of Publisher: This publisher is an Independent Publisher started by high school students but turned into one of the top Independent publishers. They specialize in handmade limited edition new works by both first time and established authors. Since 2009 they have published 12 works of poetry and prose, produced countless broadsides and chapbooks, and sold hundreds of one-of-a-kind journals and artist’s books. This year they have 11 staff members along with 1 managing editor. They employ mainly high school students to give them the opportunity to work in a professional press environment while upholding high literary standards, publishing work that is both innovative and accessible.
Market: The market for this publisher is a small market consisting of those who enjoy poetry, prose, chapbooks, journals and artist’s books but their published items are not limited to an age group they are for anyone who is in high school and older.
Funding: The press is funded by Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School
Successes: One of the publisher’s success stories is that they have been featured to the AWP Bookfair for the past 8 times that it has been held. They also have been featured in a review called “The Best Thing I saw at #AWP15” at Kendraspondence in 2015. The books and various journals they have published have many positive reviews. The press has also been featured in The Beaver County Times in 2016.
Challenges: Some of the challenges that the publisher faces is that it is such a small press and that they do not publish that many books a year. Even with being one of the top independent publishers, they do not do a lot of advertising or marketing to really get their name out there. So because it is such a small press, its hard for them to really have a grip in the publishing world.
Source: https://batcatpress.com/

BenBella Books

10900024_788195871263395_1754322909959680571_oBenBella Books was founded in 2001 in Dallas, Texas. It aims to be a choice for authors who want a more personal publishing experience. Even though they are a small independent publishing company, they are very successful. They have published a lot of well-known authors, along with 14 New York bestsellers. One title also sold over two million copies.

 

 

BenBella Books has a small list of that they go by to operate their business:

  1. Publish wonderful, exciting books
  2. Provide our authors with true partnership in every aspect of the publishing process
  3. Creatively and aggressively market every book we publish
  4. Generate significant value for our authors
  5. Understand and exploit the rapidly changing publishing and marketing environment

Type of Publisher: The publishers main focus is Nonfiction, but it does has its occasional fiction stories. From what I could tell from their website, it was filled with a lot of cookbooks, self-help, and biographies. It also has a lot of true crime and pop culture titles. They follow along with most big trade publishing companies, in which they release in the fall and the spring. BenBella has 28 employees whose jobs vary from freelance editors, writers, marketing, senior editors, graphic designers, art director, and many others.

Market: tiny-and-full-380x521From what I could find, their market is adults. The books that they have reach an audience of a healthier group of people. The people who would be interested in their titles would already have some information or already reading the genre. The publisher advertises on all social media platforms. They also have a place on their website for press releases and catalogs. BenBella’s website is also very user-friendly.

Funding: They get their funding like an other big publishing companies through sales of their books. They also have two small imprints, SmartPop Book and BenBella Vegan.

Success: I have not found a lot of success stories about the authors. I did find out that they have 14 New York Bestsellers with one title selling over two million copies. I look all over the site and could not find which one it was. There have been other books that have won awards as well.

Challenges: I have also not found a lot about their challenges. From my research, I found out that BenBella is a pretty big company with smaller imprints. I would say that their biggest challenge would be big trade publishing companies. Compared to them BenBella would be up against alot.

 

 

Dark Horse Comics

 

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Dark Horse comics is a comic book publisher that currently publishes over 70 monthly releases. Each book employs it’s own authors, illustrators, and editors in the Pacific Northwest.

They have a healthy mix of original content, as well as adaptations from other media.  Due to their variety of offerings, their intended audience is not as specific as one might expect.  The comic book industry is widely dominated by Marvel and DC comics, so individual publishers do not have an intended audience so much as individual books have an intended audience.

Dark Horse advertises mostly in comic book shops.  One of their techniques is to provide free copies of promotional issues to be left at the counter of comic book stores.  The idea is that the clerk will hand these out to customers who are purchasing a competitor’s product.  The hope is that the customer will read the issue and begin purchasing the subsequent releases.

Dark Horse was actually founded by an individual, Mike Richardson, in 1986.  He maxed out a $2,000 credit card to open a comic book store but was frustrated by the products available to sell.  His response was to self-publish two comic books that fit more into his expectations. He then began to reach out to independent comic book authors, providing them an opportunity to display their work in his shop.  It has since grown into a company with an international audience funded by in-issue advertising targeted toward readers of specific books.  For example, readers of a comic such as The Legend of Zelda are met with advertisements from cartoons, anime, video games, and snacks.  Meanwhile, readers of a book such as The Occultist are met with advertisements for cars, home entertainment systems, alcohol, and R-rated films.

Since its meager conception in the mid-1980’s, Dark Horse has struggled for market-share against the Marvel and DC giants.  It currently sits at 2.59% of the comic book market share, also behind Image and IDW.  Though many consumers are unaware of Dark Horse’s existence, their influence has been large.  Dark Horse is to thank for many popular franchises in comics, television, and film.

Additionally, many established media franchises claim Dark Horse as a home for their comic book adaptations, since they rely on the title to sell the book rather than the notoriety of the publisher itself.  Since it costs the rights holder less to publish through Dark Horse, it is a win for them.  It is through these books that Dark Horse is able to secure extra profits in order to entice up-and-coming authors/artists.  Some of the franchises that have published comic book tie-ins through Dark Horse are:

Springer Publishing

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The Company’s trademark design may not have the marketability of the golden arches, but it serves the company well. 

We’ve all come into contact with them; textbooks, academic journals, and peer-reviewed articles are essential to any student or academic professional. But who is responsible for gracing our academic consumption with such quality material? Springer International has its roots in a small family operation, but quickly emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the academic market (employing now several hundred both in publishing and academic capacities), particularly in the health professions. Pushing thousands of academic pieces over several mediums, there is no shortage of material for the aspiring professional.

Springer unapologetically favors the world of medicine when it comes to marketing. Hundreds of textbooks available here and oversees (primarily England and Germany), thousands of peer-reviewed academic articles, and a multitude of online subscriptions keep the thirst of any academic quenched. Though selling and primarily online subscriptions, it is important to note that Springer maintains a powerful presence in the health care textbook market.

How does such a reputable publisher stay a float? Springer finds its origins in Berlin by Dr. Bernhard Springer and his wife in 1950. Afer some success, the company gradually acquired a substantial customer base in this niche market and by default a larger company. The passing of Dr. Bernhard in 1970 was not an end to an era, but rather the beginning. The good doctor’s wife selling the company Mannheim Holdings, LLC. The profits from the academic publications do more than keep the lights on, they keep the company in a state of gradual expansion.

Springer has seen its share of success and failure. The website explains the publications initial groundbreaking moment: “Dr. Springer’s first landmark publications included Livestock Health Encyclopedia by Dr. R. Seiden and the 1952 Handbook of Cardiology for Nurses. Nursing publications grew rapidly in number, as Dr. Modell’s Drugs in Current Use, a small annual paperback, became the gold standard text for many years, selling over 150,000 copies over several editions. (Springer, 2017).” Currently, the publisher has won 11 AJN (American Journal of Nursing) awards.

Springer does not claim any failures per se, but the challenges facing a group selling to such a limited audience coupled with the fact that the sheer size of Springer is not all that impressive in comparison to larger publishers. Another limitation may have been linked to the founder, being a family run operation takes a toll both financial and on the integrity of the company. Dr. Bernhard, by trade, was a physician as opposed to the head of a publishing empire.