Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Self-published Writers

Independent Bookstores ?vs? Indie Authors

Ever heard of Joe Konrath?

Independent Bookstores and Indie Authors

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If you take that last link, you’ll find 34 past posts that feature him

He’s a rare bird who was doing quite well in traditional publishing, had some difficulties that clearly disturbed him, took to Indie publishing and hasn’t looked back since.

If you need advice to navigate the life of Indie authorhood, he’s one of the top sources for reliable information.

A necessary word of caution: Mr. Konrath has “made it”—he works tirelessly—even if you follow his example you may never “succeed”—do read my most important post for writers

There’s a recent post of Joe’s called, Konrath’s Advice For Indie Booksellers.

He happens to have sold over 2 million books through Amazon.

He recently sent a newsletter to a large group of his readers (he hadn’t sent one since 2014…)

He received the following response from an Indie bookseller on his list:

“One of the first rules of marketing is know your audience.

“It is not the best technique to send an email soliciting orders for Amazon and their related products to Independent Bookstores. This is not the way to win friends and garner bookseller support.

“Knowing that you are putting your personal efforts into Amazon guarantees that your titles are  special order upon request only for my store.”

After he relates much more surrounding his relationship with booksellers and with Amazon, Joe says this:

“The above email…took me to task about one of the first rules of marketing. Well, what is one of the first rules of retail? Isn’t it stocking items that customers want to buy?

“In my novel ‘Dirty Martini’, I thanked over three thousand booksellers, by name. But once I signed with Amazon, these booksellers considered me the enemy, and refused to stock my books.

“Is that the way to compete with Amazon? By driving your customers to because they can’t find what they want at your bookstore?”

There’s also a link to a post from 2011 that had some suggestions Mr. Konrath had given Independent bookstores.

If you’re an independent author (or, want to be), I suggest you read both posts, carefully

But, just in case you don’t like taking links out of blog posts, here’s a list of his recommendations:

Remember why people shop indie
Hold author events
Start publishing

By the way, some bookstores have already become their own publishers… 

And, here’s one of Joe’s closing remarks to Indie Booksellers:

“Nobody wants to see the Indies disappear. There is a tremendous opportunity here, but it starts with taking the emotion out of how you view self-published authors and looking at it with an eye to what customers want.”

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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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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” :-)
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Indie Authors Are Learning How To Act Like Publishers

There are a growing group of folks out there who believe in (and, are working toward) a situation where there doesn’t have to be anyone between the author and their readers—except a bit of highly sophisticated technology :-)

If you’ve been keeping up with the changes in publishing you might think that last statement should be bolder—something like—No writer needs anyone to help them publish—with maybe something else, like; and, make a million bucks.

There are a few writers who self-edit, create book covers, print their own paper editions and format their own e-books, plus build their own website to sell their wares.

Still, it takes a special kind of human being to do all that successfully.

And, ever since print-on-demand and e-book formatting programs came on the scene, there’s been an explosive growth in all types of services for aiding writers—a horde of people—most claiming some “secret” method—all wanting the writers money

So, somewhere between the Olympian individuals who do it all alone and folks who hire a fleet of trained facilitators are the growing body of writers who do as much as they can by themselves then begin the potentially hazardous search for help.

There are many folks predicting what’s to come in the Self-publishing arena…

One set of predictions was in a book from Jeremy Greenfield—Manager of Editorial Content at  DigitalBookWorld.

Another set was from Mark Coker—Founder of Smashwords.

Today, I’m going to quote from an interview with Mark by Jeremy—which is sadly no longer on the Internet.

This is Mark’s response to a question of Jerry’s:

“The biggest challenge is self-restraint. Publishing tools, like Smashwords make it fast, free and easy for any writer anywhere in the world to publish. But we don’t make it easy to write a great book. Many writers, intoxicated by the freedom to self-publish, will often release their book before it’s ready to be released.”

If you’re a writer looking to by-pass traditional publishing and want some guidance, do read Mark’s valuable book

To help you decide to take the time to read it, here’s one key section:

““Write a great book” might strike you as common sense, but it’s the most common mistake authors make. Some indie authors – intoxicated by the freedom to self-publish –rush their book to market before it’s ready to be seen by readers. Is your book ready? By considering this difficult question, you’ll find the path to a better book revealed. With the power to publish comes the responsibility to emulate the best practices of the most professional authors and publishers.

“If your book is poorly-conceived or poorly-edited, readers will reject it. If you write a great book that satisfies readers, they will reward you with their word of mouth. Honor your readers with a great read. Readers value their time more than the money in their wallet or purse. Book marketing has always been a word of mouth business. Your readers will market your book for you if the book touches their soul, or inspires mad passion./strong>

Here’s hoping you read the rest and come back to let us know what you think in our Comments :-)
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