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Archive for July, 2012

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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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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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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