Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Self-Published Authors

New #Publishing Periodical for #Writers & #Authors ~ The Hot Sheet

If you’re a writer (author) looking to be published or striving to understand the publishing-world, you may want to spend around $US 2.27, biweekly, for an email periodical from two industry powerhouses—Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson.

Here’s a bit about Jane:

Jane Friedman “Writer and professor Jane Friedman has more than 15 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer’s Digest, where she ultimately became publisher and editorial director; more recently, she served as the digital editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review. Jane specializes in educating authors about the publishing industry, and is known for thought-provoking talks on the future of authorship. She currently teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly.”

And, a bit about Porter:

“Journalist, speaker, and consultant Porter Anderson is Associate Editor for The Bookseller’s The Porter AndersonFutureBook in London. A former news anchor, correspondent, editor, and producer, he now focuses his coverage on publishing. His analysis is read at New York’s Thought Catalog, and he programs conference events for IDPF, Frankfurt Book Fair, The Bookseller, and Novelists Inc. He has worked with CNN International,, The Village Voice, Dallas Times Herald, Publishing Perspectives, Rome’s UN World Food Programme, and Copenhagen’s INDEX. He is a Fellow with the National Critics Institute.”

Here are the basics about the periodical from their site:

Why did you start The Hot Sheet?

“We wanted to create a way to help authors understand issues that affect them, but without drama and hype. With a biweekly schedule, we’re not interested in delivering breaking news, but perspective on stories that are likely to retain importance or meaning for your long-term decision making. Thus, we hope to provide distance and nuance on complex issues.

“We hear frequently from authors that they’re confused about what’s happening in publishing, or they wonder who’s ‘right’ about controversial issues. The Hot Sheet helps you sort through the noise. You’ll understand reactions and opinions from across the publishing spectrum, and you can decide for yourself where you stand. We think this helps reduce anxiety, increases the knowledge and power of authors, and helps us all work better together.

“Without fear of missing out, you can stop looking through comment threads or social media channels in which everyone is shouting at each other, and focus on your author career.”

Is it for traditionally published authors or self-published authors?

“Both. Changes in publishing affect everyone. We take a neutral perspective on how authors publish, and deliver information about stories, developments, publishers, retailers, and services without any specific agenda or bias.”

Is it for unpublished writers?

“If you’re interested in keeping up with changes in the publishing industry, sure. You’ll be able to understand it. But this newsletter isn’t about how to get published.”

So that $US 2.27/biweekly ends up costing $US 59.00/year and they call that an “Introductory Rate”

They offer a “30-day free trial” but it ends up that you need to pay for a year; but, they don’t charge your credit card during the first month and you can cancel anytime for a prorated refund

You can use PayPal to subscribe but they don’t spell out how the first-month-free works for that

I’m recommending this periodical purely on the reputation of Jane and Porter—I can’t imagine them doing something that’s just hype or producing something that isn’t of great value

So, if you’re interested, go grab The Hot Sheet :-)

Here are a few more reasons, from Jane & Porter, to try it:

  • Do you worry that you’re not keeping up with marketing strategies other authors use? When it comes to PR, are you on thin ice?
  • Do you get exhausted trying to find information about something “somebody said on some blog the other day”—and you don’t even know if it’s important?
  • Have you ever tried to figure out how changes in the publishing industry affect your next book? For that matter, do you know what most impacted your last book?
  • Can you tell if the latest overnight success story is an outlying case, or if it represents something you need to add to your long-term goals?
  • Are you so focused on your writing that you don’t have the industry context to assess issues? When you look for answers, do you find only gossip?
  • Are you looking for a competitive business edge—to be a smart and informed author in today’s shifting business environment?


Perhaps I’ve given you enough to encourage you to, at least, go visit The Hot Sheet site?
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Let’s All Help Independent Authors

There are many posts on this blog about the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishingAlliance of Independent Authors

But, you might wonder how independent authors could ever make waves in a world where traditional publishing has such a foothold and most of the money

Ever heard of Change.Org?

Here are a few things that organization has helped to make realities:

NFL drops nonprofit status after major national outcry

Kraft removes controversial “Kids Eat Right” label from packaging

Student freed from Iranian prison after brother’s campaign

Ben & Jerry’s to release non-dairy ice cream in 2016

Well, Change.Org is teaming up with the Alliance of Independent Authors to send a petition to:

* Libraries
* Booksellers Associations of Australia & New Zealand, Canada, Europe, India, UK & USA
* Book Reviewers & Review Outlets
* Literary Organisations
* Literary & Publishing Events Organisers
* Library Associations of Australia & New Zealand, Canada, Europe, India, UK & USA

Here’s what it says:

Open Up To Self-Publishing Indie Authors

“I, and the Alliance of Independent Authors, urge you to find ways to include self-publishing writers as a matter of priority.

“As you know, more and more writers are turning to self-publishing and many such authors are producing work of proven value to readers.

“While recognising that there are challenges in incorporating such writers, it has become a necessity, if book stores, libraries, literary events and reviewers are to be inclusive, and fully serve readers and writers.

“I trust you will give this matter the attention it deserves.”

Here’s a note I received today from the Alliance:

“We’ve passed 1000 signatures on our petition to the books establishment to Open Up To Indie Authors. Our aim is 10,000. Can you help? Please share this on your social media outlets and pass to a friend.”

Find out more about this movement to include Independent Authors’ books where the public can find them.

Sign The Petition

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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A College Degree in Self-Publishing !?


Image courtesy of Kati Garner ~

With so much information about self-publishing on the ‘Net one can wonder about the possible benefits of spending money to obtain a college degree in the subject

Of course, much of the information on the ‘Net is suspect

I reveal some of that suspicion in the 104 posts about self-publishing I’ve written, along with what I consider to be valuable information for those pursuing the Indie Path.

Yet, The Guardian has an article about a postgraduate MA in Self-Publishing at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK.

It costs £5,000 (about $8,200US)

Here’s the university’s information page about the course.

From that page:

“This course will equip you with all of the necessary skills you will need to be a self-published author including how to edit your book, how to lay it out, how to monitor sales, how to manage yourself and your finances, marketing yourself and your book and how to create an eBook. The final part of the course will give you the opportunity to complete a finished copy of your book.

“The course is taught by industry experts with contributions from successful self-published authors. Students have round the clock access to our bespoke publishing house in the state-of-the-art Media Factory with all the latest equipment and industry-level software such as Creative Cloud, InDesign and Nielsen Bookscan.”

From The Guardian:

“The MA will begin in September, and course leader Debbie Williams believes it will help ‘legitimise’ self-publishing. ‘Things have definitely changed. In the last two years, self-publishing has stopped being a dirty word, and is a legitimate option for authors’, she said. ‘Even the biggest authors are looking at it now.'”

They go on with this commentary:

“Despite the negative light in which self-publishing is viewed by some — Jeffrey Archer recently said ‘it doesn’t work, don’t do it. The only person who reads it is the person who gets it published’, while Sue Grafton has characterised DIY-ers as ‘too lazy to do the hard work’ — the university pointed to research from the books data company Bowker, which found that around 390,000 titles were self-published in the US in 2012, up 59% on 2011 and a massive 422% on 2007. Digital self-publishing also continues to boom, accounting for 40% of self-published titles in the US in 2012, up from just 11% in 2007, according to Bowker.”

The comments to the article in The Guardian range from praise for the initiative to rank skepticism and claims of fleecing aspiring writers

What are Your  thoughts and feelings about college degrees in self-publishing?
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For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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One Official SLEW of Opinions About Self-Publishing . . .

Back in October of 2013, I published the post “What IS An Indie Author?”.

Defining “Indie Authors” or “Self-Published Authors” is still a work in progress

Yet, that post of mine explores how an innocent comment of mine on Google Plus sparked a vigorous round of discussions at The Alliance of Independent Authors (“Founded in 2012 by author turned indie, Orna Ross, ALLi’s  advisors include Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords; book designer, Joel Friedlander; author gurus Jane Friedman and Joanna Penn; legal eagle David A Vandagriff (Passive Guy); and watchdog Victoria Strauss, among others.”).

Since I’ve featured Mark Coker, Joel Friedlander, and Jane Friedman on this blog many times and since David Vandagriff has featured me on his blog, I strongly suspect ALLi is a decent professional organization.

My small military pension keeps me from joining the Alliance and taking advantage of ALLi’s services

However, there is ALLi’s Self-Publishing Advice Blog, which is free for the taking :-)

Last week, my email in-box had a message from ALLi with a link to A Year of Opinions about Self-Publishing, with the explanation:

“Once a week, the ALLi blog serves as a soapbox for one of our members to speak out about an aspect of self-publishing that excites or enrages them.The more controversial the post, the better! At least in terms of fuelling debate about issues that are key to the success of us all and of indie authors everywhere. These Opinion pieces often fuel lengthy comment threads, and here are some of those that stirred the greatest response.”

And, for those who don’t want to take that link (or, the link that leads to all of ALLi’s Opinion Pieces), here are those Roaring Opinions :-)

To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
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A Mild “Rant” About An Extremely Serious Situation

self-publishing I’ve learned that standing up and screaming about a perceived wrong is, in itself, wrong.

Being mild in speech and patient in attitude can seem less effective but are better all round.

So, I’ll practice what I’ve learned

Most of you know that the digital revolution and its child, self-publishing, are causing all kinds of disruption to traditional methods of writers bringing their work to the public.

It’s quite similar to absolutist rulers finding their power being eroded by popular social movements and going quietly insane in their castles.

The problem is the rulers aren’t being quiet

One incredibly extreme example was a recent article in The GuardianHarperCollins UK boss tells publishers: take storytelling back from digital rivals.

You might think the boss wants a war with rivals over traditionally published books.

Nope, this man’s war is “going beyond ebooks to apps, games and video”.

Nothing about the quality of books or the importance of the author as creative producer—merely a move to make more money

This particular example is rather like the absolutist ruler adopting the demands of the society and selling them back to the people.

For more (some nearly barmy) things these folks are doing, read a few of the posts I’ve tagged with “Traditional Publishers”.

And, I hope a few of my readers who have “successfully” been published through the traditional route will share what they went through

O.K., so self-publishing is here to stay (and, you might still find a decent book that happened to be traditionally published [but, please remember, there are many authors jumping from the sinking traditional ship]) yet, is self-publishing actually harming writers??

One of the most insidious “reasons” I’ve found to defame self-publishing appeared in the article, Self-Publishing’s Parallel Disruptions.

You should read the article to sense the full range of repressed anger at the forward march of author freedom; but, essentially, the point made is that, without the traditional castle and its minions, a writer who uses self-publishing is harming their chance at becoming a truly accomplished author

I can’t avoid sharing one quote from that article (and, remember, these words are a defense of traditional publishing):

“High mastery is expected of symphony musicians, ballerinas, Olympic athletes, brain surgeons and more. Why not novelists too?”

So, if you don’t submit to the demands of traditional publishers, you can never achieve mastery?!?

‘Nuf said

Two Caveats: Nothing I’ve said should be taken to diminish the talent and artistry of those authors who have used or will use traditional publishing. And, there’s quite a bit of dreck being self-published.

Still, I feel all writers would be better served by self-publishing

For those of you who haven’t yet explored the vast realm of possibilities being offered today’s writers, check out the posts I’ve written about self-publishing.

I’d Love to hear a few comments on my “Mild Rant” :-)
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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