Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: self-publish

#Smashwords 2017 #Survey


Smashwords If you’re not familiar with Smashwords, it’s a space for authors to self-publish, with no upfront fees (and, with distribution to the most important retailers); plus, of course, a space for readers to find a wealth of books…

And, comparing it with Amazon is simple—Smashwords actually goes to great effort to help authors sell books…

And, even though it was published three years ago, their Indie Author Manifesto is worth a read…

Something else worth reading are the Surveys that Founder Mark Coker writes…

Here’s a bit of his intro to this year’s survey:

“Each year for the Smashwords Survey, I analyze ebook sales aggregated across the Smashwords distribution network.

“We’re looking to identify potential data driven insights that can help authors and publishers make their books more accessible, more desirable and more enjoyable to readers.”

You can read more of Mark’s intro to the survey; but, I’ll put the questions it seeks to answer here:

What are the top fiction and non-fiction categories?

What romance categories perform the best?

How do box sets perform, and which types of box set perform the best?

Do authors who release ebooks as preorders sell more books overall?

How do preorder adoption rates differ across genres (New!!)

What percentage of overall sales in each genre for new titles go to books released as preorders (New!)

What are the pricing sweet spots for full-length fiction to maximize both readership and author earnings?

Do longer books still sell better?

Does FREE still work, and what about free series starters?

Do series books sell better than standalone books, and if so, by how much?

And, here’s this year’s Smashwords Survey:


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“Write Faster!”, Might Be the Worst Advice . . .


So much in our highly materialistic age is bad for us… Slow Writers can be Better Writers

I’m not denying the benefits that have come with mastery of the material realm; it’s just that, due to a certain denial of our higher selves, materialism has also bequeathed some very deadly things

One of the great benefits, for readers and writers, is all things Digital

All, that is, except the modern maxim from the self-professed “gurus” that the more you write and the faster you write it, the more “valuable” you are

There’s a certain blog that has posts from two writers—Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris.

Their blog recently had this article, Are Slow Writers Doomed to Fail in the Digital Age?well worth reading and pondering; so, I’ll share a few excerpts to help you decide to take that last link (or, share it with writer friends...).

It begins with:

“…back in 2014…the indie superstar gurus were telling writers to grind out ebooks as fast as they could type to take advantage of the ‘Kindle Gold Rush’.

“Three years later, the Kindle Gold Rush is history; but there’s even more pressure to write fast—not only for authors who self-publish, but for traditionally published authors as well.”

Then, this:

“I’m afraid I’m in the tortoise camp myself. My plots morph and change during the writing process and never bear much resemblance to my original outline. That means I spend a lot of time rewriting and reworking.

“Maybe I could write faster if I kept to my outlines, but then I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun writing the books.”

And, a bit later:

“…much of the developed world seems to be engaged in some turbocharged drag race of the soul, hurtling our frenzied selves from cradle to grave, terrified of slowing for even a minute of rose-smelling.”

Then, further on:

“In an an economy where fewer people have steady jobs and many eke out a living with random piecemeal employment, working an absurd number of hours becomes something to be admired.

“In fact, taking care of ourselves has become something of a taboo.”

After engaging in a practice I use quite often (linking to a number of other articles supporting the theme), the author continues with:

“If we’re blogging, networking, sending out newsletters, and churning out books as fast as we can type, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important person in the publishing equation: the reader.”

Then, after much more valuable information, advice, and reasoning, this is said:

“Okay, I’ve learned to compose a little faster than I could a few years ago. I’ve moved from a snail’s pace to that of an arthritic penguin, but I still can’t write much more than 2000 words a day on a WIP, combined with an average of maybe 500-1000 words of nonfic for blogs and social media, another 1000-3000 on email and replying to requests, comments, and questions, plus a few hours editing or proofreading.

“Am I a failure? I don’t feel like one….

“I’m certainly not keeping the publishing industry afloat like those Duck Dynasty guys or the adult coloring book craze, but I have 10 published books, several of which have made bestseller lists. I’ve got several books in translation and audiobooks, and I’m being read all over the world.

“Hey, I even have haters, which might be the real mark of success in today’s snarky Internet culture.”

Well, with an article that has so much good stuff, I have to restrain myself from stepping over the boundary of “fair use”; but, I’ll just share this one last excerpt, ok?

“…remember there are other ways to make money from your books that don’t involve churning out 12 books a year. Go wide, get translations and audiobooks (You can find translators and narrators for no money up front at Bablecube and Audible.) And most of all—live a healthy, balanced life, remembering that you are part of a community, not simply a book-generating machine.”

Yes, I know, if the article is way longer than this blog post, lots of folks may not go read the whole thing…

Well, most of those folks will be missing out on something great

And, because this post was so long, here’s the link to the full article again:

Are Slow Writers Doomed to Fail in the Digital Age?
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The Most Helpful Book I’ve Ever Read About Self-Publishing . . .


It sure can seem like a lot of the info on self-publishing is generated primarily to make money, not to help folks really learn what they need to know.

In fact, many sources of “expertise” are misleading and aimed right at our bank accounts.

This is my 85th post on Self-Publishing—many about my own experience and many about what I’ve found that makes sense, and has a sense of service about it

It’s also my 31st post featuring Joel Friedlander—usually about posts on his blog, The Book Designer. JoelsBook

I just finished reading his book A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.

In the book, Joel says:

“Instead of a how-to book, I decided to create a kind of ‘why-to’ book.”

“I went through the archives of my blog looking specifically for articles that contained my best advice for new self-publishers. I ignored the articles that dealt with specific tools like writing software or page layoutsI wanted to find, and to offer to you, the articles that would come together to give you an overview of the self-publishing possibilities we have available today, to warn you of mistakes that are easy to avoid if you only know about them, and to encourage you to use these tools to pursue the publication of your ideas, your history, your dreams, and your personal story.”

On the site Wordpreneur they say this about Joel:

“The man knows his stuff. He won the AIGA ’50 Books of the Year Award’ for his work at Aperture Publishing. And the Printing Industries of America Gold Award as well for his book design and production. Born in the Bronx, New York, and educated in Buffalo and Danbury, Connecticut, Joel now owns and runs Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California.”

My own first impression of the book was that it definitely “has a sense of service about it”

Here’s an excerpt that exemplifies that service-attitude:

“Each author who decides to self-publish has a logic all their own. Some books may be more profitable than others, but in my experience this is not what moves authors to publish. The more you understand your own motives and goals, the more likely you are to succeed in self-publishing, because you will more accurately define that ‘success’

And, there are many comments that reveal his motivation for being so involved with the Book-World, like this one:

“I love self-publishing because of the absolute finality of the process. At the end, you are left with a book in your hand, one that will probably outlast you and most of the people you know.”

And, combining his service orientation with his own experience:

“When you self-publish, you get to define success, to set goals for your own publication. In a way, you’ve already won.”

Then, there are the warning statements, like:

when authors go looking for a way to get their book into print, all too often they are seduced by misleading or downright fraudulent advertising by the industry that’s sprung up to sell services to these authors.”

And then, the abundance of sage advice, like:

“Avoid overwhelm, burnout, and weeping in frustration. The solution is to approach your new business as . . . a business! Do what you can do well, and the things that you are interested in.”

“Leave the rest to the many skilled practitioners who are only too happy to help.”

Last, a summation of the book itself, about three-quarters of the way through:

“Think about what you know that others might find interesting. Know your niche and how to market to people with similar interests. Create a quality product. Take one step at a time and build credibility, leveraging into larger and larger networks. Take the long view, seeding success tomorrow by your actions today.”

I should add that he gives an even-hand to fiction and non-fiction writers.

This is an extremely valuable book, written in a voice that makes consistent sense, based on hard-earned experience.

Here’s his table of contents:

A Self-Publishing Orientation

Why Self-Publishing is Entering a Golden Age
“I Want to Be a Book Publisher”
Two Kinds of Self-Publishers ~ Which One Are You?
7 Scenarios for Successful Self-Publishing
The Self-Publisher’s Self-Questionnaire
Four Ways to Publish Your Book
5 Good Reasons to Self-Publish Your Book
What Hasn’t Changed in Self-Publishing
5 Things That Shouldn’t Surprise You About Self-Publishing
8 Answers That Help Self-Publishers Get Up and Running
What Does It Take to Make a Publishing Company?
Is It Time to Kill “Jerry”?
How to Get Unstuck
Top 10 Worst Self-Publishing Mistakes ~ Explained!
The Secret to Successful Self-Publishing
Things I Love—and Hate—About Self-Publishing
26 Ways to Win at Self-Publishing

Bookmaking

Does Book Design Really Matter?
Book Design Tips for Authors
Cover Design Tips for Self-Publishers
3 Ways Self-Publishers Fail at Cover Design
What Book Designers Do to Get Your Self-Published Book Into Print
The Death of Book Design
Designing Books

Social Media for Authors

Rise of the Content Creators
The Hub & Outpost Method to Organize Your Social Media Marketing
How to Get Started on Twitter
Self-Publishing Pro and Con(temptuous)
17 Ways for Writers to Publish Their Content
Why Authors Shouldn’t Blog Their Books
The Big Problem With Blogging Your Book
Self-Publishers and the Social Media Divide

The Ebook Revolution

The Problem With “E-Books”
Is the Paradise We’ve Lost the Beautiful Page?
Less Expensive, Bite-Sized, Available for Take-Out: The Book of the Future
EBooks Today: Futility or Utility?
6 Keys to Self-Publishing Success in the Age of the Ebook

The Electronic Life

Why Self-Publishers are Exhausted
I Am My Keyboard
Frustrated Self-Publisher Escapes DIY Trap
The 5-Million Word Typewriter and How to Stay Focused
Tribe
Two Things All Content Creators Can Do

You Are the Market

How I Sold 10,000 Copies of My Self-Published Book
What Writers Need to Know Today
Why Self-Publishing Is a Long-Tail Business
Author Branding: The You That Is Everywhere
Author Platform: What Are You Waiting For?

Read it—Come back here—Tell me what you think :-)
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Are Self-Published Creative Writers Prostituting Themselves?


Many creative writers who pursue self-publishing, which demands a massive effort to self-promote, have what seems like a plaguing moral dilemma

Let me give you links to a few other posts here that bring up “issues” for the creative writer:

In An Attention Deficit World, What Kind of Novel Do You Write?

“Success” Is Vastly Over-Rated

Do Creative Writers Have Social “Responsibilities”?

We’re Infected by Materiality . . . < This one has other authors who’ve left some fascinating Comments :-)

So, back to the “issue” of self-published creative writers—slaving away to create literature that has lasting value—needing to communicate effectively in arenas that definitely don’t resonate to literary writing—selling themselves for well, what is the definition of prostituting?

My Oxford dictionary says: “put (oneself or one’s talents) to an unworthy or corrupt use for personal or financial gain”.

And, for those who like to ponder, it gives this etymology: “mid 16th century (as a verb): from Latin prostitut- ‘exposed publicly, offered for sale’, from the verb prostituere, from pro- ‘before’ + statuere ‘set up, place'”.

So, originally, prostituting merely meant to place oneself before; and, even in its modern sense, a writer would only be a prostitute if they were promoting for personal or financial gain in an unworthy or corrupt way

Enter Dana Sitar, freelance journalist and indie author.

You can check out her blog, DIY Writing, and her most recent book, A Writer’s Bucket List: 99 things to do for inspiration, education, and experience before your writing kicks the bucket.

I discovered her through Joel Friedlander’s blog, The Book Designer, and her guest post, Why Even a Novelist Should Know How to Write Strong Copy.

Near the beginning of her post, she says:

“Fiction authors spend a lot of time developing strong skills for creating characters, incorporating tension, drawing a reader into their world, etc. But when it comes to finding a platform and connecting with readers, that style of storytelling won’t cut it. For these, any writer will benefit from understanding the basics of writing compelling copy. Even if you don’t want to work as a shill, studying the skills can boost your overall writing and style and career.”

Then, she details a few areas where an indie author can prostitute themselves apply what’s called “Copywriting” to help them in their promotion efforts; and, she also gives a few valuable links for learning about Copywriting:

If you’re a creative writer and you are or will be considering self-publishing, do go read the whole post :-)

If you’ve already explored or used copywriting to promote something, please share your thoughts in the Comments
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Is Self-Publishing Good or Bad? & Are Self-Published Authors Doing It “Right”?


I’m sort of a “self-published” author—it depends on one’s definition in a rapidly changing field—but, I prefer the title “Publishing-Aided” author.

Many folks use the term “self-publishing” for any book that isn’t produced by the Big Six (and two of those look to be merging).

Also, even though there are 64 posts on this blog about “self-publishing”, most of the material is about the U.S.A.

I hope my readers from other countries can fill out the global picture in our Comments :-)

A company called Bowker is, in the U. S., the official ISBN Agency.

The article Self-Publishing Sees Triple-Digit Growth in Just Five Years, Says Bowker seems to show self-publishing as a major force in our Book World.

Yet, author Melissa Foster has written Are Self-Pubbed Authors Killing the Publishing Industry?

To me, Melissa’s piece is a mixed-bag of opinions and the 80+ comments that follow it show how polarized people are about “self-publishing”.

Melissa says: “Self-published authors have created a devaluing of the written word, and, some of them are scrambling to see how low they can go to get noticed.”

I say: While I realize that Melissa is wanting to make a point, she states the case far too broadly.

Her “devaluing” refers to low-priced e-books and various methods folks are using to promote their work—she calls them “gimmicks”.

Melissa says: “The lesson may be that if indie authors don’t value their work, chances are no one else will either.”

I say: First, she calls them “self-published” then “Indie” yet, even in the confusing early days of this phenomenon, those two terms seem quite different

Then: Is charging a low price for a book automatic proof that the author doesn’t value their work?

In our materialistic culture, is it a “rule” that one must always charge “what the market will bear”—especially, when that market is being so heavily manipulated that people are struggling to get along?

While Melissa is an “award-winning author of three International bestselling novels” she alsoteaches authors how to navigate the book marketing world, build their platforms, and leverage the power of social media, through her author-training programs“.

In those 80+ comments, Melissa admits that her post was not edited

Strange, since this is one of the most common complaints leveled against self-published authors.

Also, in those comments, she goes head-to-head in personal attacks with another person

I get the feeling that her post is more a come-on for her making money telling other authors how to “succeed”.

The real shame, in this radical phenomenon called self-publishing, is that there are so many authors out there trying to make money preaching to other authors

No matter the Numbers and Dollars, it will be quite some time before authors (or, readers) can definitively claim to confidently comprehend what Value self-publishing has bequeathed to our Book World.
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