self publishing

Author Solutions acquired by Pearson and now a member of the Penguin Group

ASI is now a member of the Penguin Group

I know this is old news by now if you follow publishing, but I would be remiss if I did not do a post about the story. It truly is a great day for authors and publishers. The articles that ran about the topic were too numerous to count. As with any change that is this significant, there were a few naysayers and crumudgeons, but almost all the writers recognonized this was a significant day in the history of publishing.  My favorite article on the event was posted on Forbes. com and written by Jeremy Greenfield. I copied below. Let  me know what you think of the news. Thanks.

When you look back at the history of the publishing industry ten or twenty years from now, you’ll point to today as the day when self-publishing went from the margins to mainstream.

Self-Publishing Turns a Corner With Penguin Acquisition

When you look back at the history of the publishing industry ten or twenty years from now, you’ll point to today as the day when self-publishing went from the margins to mainstream.

Today, major publisher Penguin acquired Author Solutions, one of the largest self-publishing platforms, for $116 million. This is a big deal because it signifies that the publishing industry believes now that it needs to embrace the new book ecosystem that has grown out of self-publishing for its own survival.

With this acquisition, self-publishing may have turned a corner, according to the Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss. “When IBM gave its stamp of approval to the PC industry, what happened next was nothing short of remarkable. This feels like what happened with the PC industry back in the early eighties,” he said.

Penguin, thought to be the second largest trade publisher in the world, is now also one of the largest self-publishing platforms in the world: Author Solutions has published about 190,000 books by about 150,000 authors.

In 2011, the self-publishing industry is estimated to have taken away $100 million from traditional publishers’ bottom lines. Sounds like a lot until you compare it to the trade publishing industry as a whole in 2011: $13.97 billion. Just a drop in the bucket, really. Though we won’t have numbers for 2012 until 2013, with self-published works a staple of the Kindle and New York Times best-seller lists, you can bet that $100 million number has ballooned.

It has never been better to be an author. In this regard, there are basically two types: ones who had few choices and now have many; and ones who had no choices and now have many. Traditionally published authors went from being able to choose between a number of publishers that would compete for the rights to publish and market their books to that same group of publishers plus a dizzying number of self-publishing options. And authors who were either ignored or rejected by traditional publishers can now publish their own books through those self-publishing options.

Which publishing option would you choose if given the choice? Either way, everything changed today, the day when self-publishing was welcomed into the big leagues.

For those fortunate few authors with options, they will be choosing between:

Traditional publishing: Possibility of an advance (up-front money); distribution in print and digital formats; editorial, production, design and marketing support provided by publisher; up to 15% of cover price for print royalties and up to 25% for e-book royalties; and limited creative control

Self-publishing: No advance; distribution in digital formats with possibility of print-on-demand distribution; a la carte editorial, production, design and marketing support that the author pays for; up to 70% of cover price for digital royalties; and complete creative control

Essentially, it’s up-front money, support and lower royalties versus no support and much higher royalties. Level of creative control may also be a factor for some authors.

For some authors, there’s a third option. Penguin made clear in a press conference call about the acquisition this morning that it would be accessing Author Solutions authors and looking for titles that it could publish traditionally or, as Penguin CEO John Makinson put it, “It will be interesting to explore opportunities that lie somewhere between self-publishing and traditional publishing as presently defined by Penguin.”

In fact, Penguin has a history of finding authors in non-traditional ways. Penguin picked up Kerry Schafer’s novel, Between, an urban fantasy starring a penguin, after she uploaded it on the company’s work-shopping and self-publishing site Book Country. Penguin gave Schafer a two-book deal.

Which publishing option would you choose if given the choice? Either way, everything changed today, the day when self-publishing was welcomed into the big leagues.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Editing, Indie book publishing, Kindle, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Is this a golden age for self-publishing? Listen to this podcast to find out.

Recently I was interview for a podcast called, Beyond the Book. This series is hosted by Chris Kenneally of the Copyright Clearance Center and focuses on the business of writing and publishing. It is available on iTunes, but you can also listen to the interview by clicking here. The title of the segment was, “A Golden Age for Self Publishing? Listen and let me know if you agree with my conclusions.

Here’s what Chris wrote on the web site to introduce the segment.

The wild growth in e-books and self-publishing has spurred a fiery debate over the future direction of the industry. While some argue that the growing mountain of books makes it harder than ever for any single title to succeed, people like Keith Ogorek, author of 7 Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors, say that this time, our time, is the best time ever to be an author.

“This is the best time to be an author because if you have a manuscript, you do not need to die with that manuscript in your drawer. You have more opportunity than ever before to get your manuscript into the hands of readers,” says Ogorek, who is Sr. Vice President, Global Marketing, for Author Solutions and BookTango, its e-book publishing venture. “As an author you really have three different opportunities, depending on your goals, your budget, and your talents,” he tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “You can choose a DIY option, and do it only as an e-book. You can choose an assisted self-publishing option. Or, you can still pursue the route of finding an agent and pursuing a traditional contract. And the beauty of this is they’re not mutually exclusive.”

Ogorek’s sunny outlook for authors is confirmed by industry statistics released for BookExpo America in June. In 2011, “traditional” print book production climbed to over 347,000 titles, a rise of 6% over 2010. For the first time, the numbers from Bowker – the official ISBN Agency for the United States and a leading provider of bibliographic information– included self-published titles. By their count, ISBNs were issued to 124,700 such titles — 36% of the total “traditional” output. When self-published e-books are added, the total climbs to more than 211,000.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Author Solutions titles get deals in Hollywood from Book-to-Screen Pitchfest events

A few weeks ago I got a call from a reporter from a leading entertainment magazine and she asked me if I thought the next Hunger Games would come from a self-published author.  In other words, would the next book that gets turned into a big movie be a book that doesn’t come from a traditional publisher? I told her I did not have a crystal ball, but it sure seems likely that would happen.

Since then the evidence is mounting. Shortly after my conversation with the reporter, Variety ran an article titled, Hollywood snaps up hot ebook titles. You can read the complete  article on line by clicking here.

Variety magazine says……as hot ebooks continue to go mainstream, Hollywood will surely continue to pay attention.


Tagline Productions is shopping this story as TV show.

The other significant development is that  in the last month two titles from Author Solutions imprints have signed shopping deals with significant production companies in Hollywood.

The first one was a book titled Searching for Sassy: An L.A. Phone Psychic’s Tales of Life, Lust & Love” written  by author Alyson Mead. She  signed a deal with Tagline Pictures, the producers behind the hit USA Network television series “PSYCH” with a first-look deal at NBC Universal’s Universal Cable Productions, to develop her book, “as a potential television series. The book was first discovered at the ASI  Book-to-Screen Pitchfest event in New York City.

The second book is Mustang Miracle written by Humberto G. Garcia. George Lopez and his production company, Travieso Productions, are  attached to this compelling nonfiction book. “Mustang Miracle,” originally self-published through ASI’s AuthorHouse imprint, chronicles the journey of five young Mexican Americans who, through the game of golf, overcome the challenges of racism and poverty in 1950s Texas. While working as caddies at a local resort, the boys help found their own high school golf team, and with inferior equipment and no formal training, go on to become the 1957 Texas State High School golf champions.

George said in the release, “This story fits right in with our company’s goal to make quality entertainment that crosses all cultural barriers.”


Will it be the next Hunger Games? Who knows. The important thing is these two authors had the opportunity to pitch their books as an idea for film or television and it worked. That is the most important thing to remember during these times of change in publishing. As I have said many times, everyone will not be successful, but everyone will have the opportunity to be successful…as an author and in Hollywood.

…..everyone will not be successful, but everyone will have the opportunity to be successful.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

iUniverse Publishing IPPY award winners make for great summer reads

Recently, the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards were named and the results were impressive. The number of entries this year was  the most ever, with more than 5,000 books in  a wide variety of genres entered for consideration. Perhaps no surprise, the largest category this year again was Memoir.  What was also interesting was IPPY medals were awarded to  entrants from 44 U.S. states plus D.C., 7 Canadian provinces, and 10 countries overseas. Indie publishing is truly a global phenomenon now, which is really exciting to see.

Once again iUniverse titles were recognized for their excellence in a wide variety of categories.  So if you are looking for new and upcoming authors to add to your reading list this summer, these books are a great place to start.

Juvenile Fiction: Dancing on the Inside, by Glen C. Strathy

Multicultural Fiction Adult: The Hometown, by Leena Ceraveeni

Suspense/Thriller :Murder Under the Microscope, by Jane Bennett Munro

U.S. History: Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II, by Ivan J. Houston

Religion: Consider the Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit Life, by Paul A. Fredette and Karen Karper Fredette

Regional Fiction: Sojourner of Warren’s Camp, by Joseph Dorris

Juvenile Fiction E-Book: Shanghaied, by David Paul Collins

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agents, Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

4 important things all authors can learn from Seth Godin’s latest publishing plans

Last week, Seth Godin, author, thought leader and publishing innovator announced he was returning to his traditional publisher, Portfolio, to publish his next three books. At the same time, he was launching a new experiment using Kickstarter to measure interest among his followers for his new book.  The text from the Wall Street Journal article that covered this announcement is copied below.  It is worth the read.

…his hybrid approach—which essentially supplements his publisher’s efforts with his own promotional work—could well become an industry template because it eliminates much of the uncertainty for booksellers and publishers deciding which titles to bet on.Godin has long been one creating new models for publishing..

I find this change in direction a bit surprising and also instructive to any author thinking putting a book in the market in the new world of publishing. Here’s some of things I think we can all learn from this latest development.

Seth Godin returns to his traditional publisher.

  1. A big platform does not always guarantee book sales–Even with Godin’s following, some of his self published books struggled to achieve the sales he hoped for. It wasn’t because of a lack of effort or even publicity, but readers purchasing habits are hard to predict. I find at times, first time authors believe if they do everything they read, it guarantees success as if selling books is like a math problem. Now that doesn’t mean you should not follow sage marketing advice, build a platform and get creative in your marketing efforts, but it doesn’t mean you will always have big sales.
  2. Being an author is as much about the journey as the destination–Despite this change of strategy by Godin, I don’t think he has failed in any way. His decisions and risk taking have helped fuel discussion and debate about how authors and publishers and readers and agents will relate in this new world. If you only measure your impact as an author by book sales, you miss the point. A book gives you a platform from which you can impact people’s lives. That is what makes becoming an author such a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. Publishers and authors will share the risk together going forward–Whether it is through self publishing or through ideas like Godin’s current Kickstarter plan, authors and publishers are each going to have some skin in the game when it comes to bringing books to market. The days of publishing companies putting up all the money are likely gone except for a few exceptional authors.
  4. Creativity is still one of our most valuable resources–Godin has always been willing to try new things and been very creative about how he promotes his books. We can all learn from that. Take some risks. Some will work. Some will not. That’s OK as long as you don’t take a second mortgage to promote your book. And when in doubt, remember point number two in this post.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Giving Book Readers a Say

Seth Godin Returns to Old Publisher, but Measures Fan Interest Via Kickstarter

By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG

Seth Godin, the best-selling business author who jettisoned his longtime publisher Portfolio in August 2010 in favor of selling his books directly to his readers, is now returning to Portfolio and will publish three new titles in January.

Bloomberg NewsAuthor Seth Godin says testing reader interest could reduce risks.

But Mr. Godin, a marketing iconoclast known for titles like “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable,” is taking an unorthodox path. A champion of new approaches to business, Mr. Godin decided to test online whether readers would be interested in his new books before the works actually hit the shelves, a decision that he says could make publishing and selling books considerably less risky in the future.

For Mr. Godin, his hybrid approach—which essentially supplements his publisher’s efforts with his own promotional work—could well become an industry template because it eliminates much of the uncertainty for booksellers and publishers deciding which titles to bet on.

“The pressure on the bookstore and the publisher is to pick stuff that will work,” said Mr. Godin. “I’m saying ‘Hey, Mr. Bookstore Owner, the world has spoken. There are lots of people talking about these books.’ “

Mr. Godin began his publishing experiment in June on Kickstarter, a website that enables people to solicit funds from individual investors. Before agreeing to his new deal with Portfolio, an imprint of Pearson PSO -0.50%PLC’s Penguin Group, Mr. Godin hoped to gauge interest from readers in the three new projects he had in mind. To potential backers, he presented a variety of pledge packages—that is, different levels of financial support for the projects bring perks for individuals, such as previews of the books and copies autographed by the author.

The lead title he offered is “The Icarus Deception,” which he describes online as looking at “how our economy rewards people who are willing to stand up and stand out.” There is also an illustrated book for adults titled “V is for Vulnerable” adapted from one section of “Icarus,” and a compendium of previous writings.

The Kickstarter campaign began on June 18 at 5:50 a.m. By 8:15 a.m., he’d reached his pledge goal of $40,000. By the end of the next day, he had exceeded his personal goal of pledgers signing up for 10,000 copies.

Mr. Godin’s followers continue to sign on to the Kickstarter campaign. As of Sunday at 1 p.m., the pledges totaled $232,000. Since the pledge window remains open until July 17, the total could move substantially higher.

Addressing the response to his new project, Mr. Godin, said, “What this shows is that if you build a tribe, you can use it to calmly build a publishing career that doesn’t involve a roulette wheel experience where you only have a week to succeed.”

Mr. Godin’s experiment comes as publishers and authors alike seek out new ways to build stronger direct ties with readers.

“You have to go direct to consumers today because it’s gotten harder to get attention from general media,” said Dee Dee De Bartlo, a principal in the marketing and publicity firm February Partners. She herself is taking a direct approach in marketing a new title from Rodale Press, “The Starch Solution,” which preaches the benefits of a plant-based diet. Her firm is targeting self-proclaimed vegans on Facebook.

Ms. De Bartlo thinks Mr. Godin’s hybrid approach may appeal to other authors. “It’s hard to convince publishers to take on some authors unless you can prove you have a fan base,” she said. “This is one way to do it.”

After Mr. Godin left Portfolio in the summer of 2010, he launched a joint venture imprint with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +0.09%called the Domino Project, which published a dozen titles. Among them was Mr. Godin’s “We Are All Weird,” which generated disappointing sales, results Mr. Godin later attributed to his own failure to aggressively promote the book. Late last year Mr. Godin called it quits, writing on his blog that the effort was “not a lifelong commitment to being a publisher of books.”

As for Portfolio, it believes that the early copies that Mr. Godin sold will generate wider consumer interest when the book is distributed to stores and online.

“Before we published ‘Purple Cow,’ Seth self-published it and sold 10,000 copies,” said Adrian Zackheim, Portfolio’s publisher. “It went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. The idea is that the core base will start talking about the book, and that will spread to non-core readers.”

Kickstarter Pitch

Author Seth Godin is seeking fan pledges via Kickstarter:

For $4 or more: Pledgers get a digital preview edition of ‘The Icarus Deception.’

$49 or more: four copies of ‘Icarus’ plus access to the preview digital edition.

$111 or more: eight hardcover copies of ‘Icarus'; two signed copies of ‘V is for Vulnerable'; a limited-edition essay collection; digital preview.

$1,150 or more: Mr. Godin will interview each participant and write a brief account of an artistic accomplishment that will be included in ‘Icarus.’ Pledgers also get eight hardcover copies of ‘Icarus'; two signed copies of ‘V is for Vulnerable'; an essay collection; the digital preview.

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