self publishing

What are some the next big things we will see for self-published authors?

This past weekend I was a panelist at the Writer’s Digest conference in a session that focused on new developments in indie or self-publishing. Panelists included Dan Dillon from Lulu and Amanda Barbara from Pubslush, which is a crowd funding platform for authors. Moderator was Phil Sexton from Writer’s Digest.

Jimmy Brass

Jimmy Brass is a graphic novel that was self-published through AuthorHouse in partnership with Golden Apple Comics

As usual, there was some lively dialogue and great questions from the audience and I always find the Writer’s Digest conference to be one of the best in the country. Being on the panel prompted me to think about what might be  some of the next big things we will see in Indie or self-publishing.

Self-published graphic novels will grow substantially

This past spring, we announced a partnership with Golden Apple comics to launch self publishing packages specifically tailored for graphic novel creators. About the same time, Amazon also announced a move into that space. Both are signs that graphic novel creators are going to be the next big group of content creators to take advantage of indie publishing.

Gorging Out cover

Gorging Out is a self-published novel that was recently optioned for film right.

Hollywood will produce a movie based on a self-published novel.

50 Shades of Grey will be in theaters shortly and while it started as a self-published novel, its meteoric success came once a traditional publisher, Random House, picked it up. I believe it won’t be long before you will see a film on the big screen that is developed from a self-published book. In fact, recently we announced another book that was optioned by Hollywood. Link to the release is here.  Stay tuned.

Subscriptions will not be as big a deal as the current bluster would lead you to believe.

If you pay attention to publishing news, subscription services are getting quite a bit of coverage. However, it is interesting to me that none of the news is around how many readers have signed up for the services. I think that is because consuming a book is a very different experience than consuming a song or a television show or movie. Pandora and Netflix do not require a significant commitment of time and much of what you get from their subscription services is disposable. A book is different. In the time it takes you to read a book, you could listen to one hundred songs or watch multiple movies. You can justify the value of a subscription because of the volume. I don’t think people will see the same value with books because they cannot consume them at the same rate.

I could be wrong and time will tell, but it will be interesting to watch.

Subscription services may lead to the resurgence of the serial.

While I don’t think book subscription services will get the traction of music and video services, I do think the format may fuel a resurgence of people writing serials and introducing a new chapter or what I call a micro-book each month. It has happened yet to any measure, but I think it will and may be one of the ancillary benefits of the new subscription services.

What do you think? Do you see any other big developments that I have missed? Use the comment section to let me know.

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Author Solutions, authors, Editing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Answers to Mistakes spell check would miss, but a good editor will catch

In my last post, I suggested that spell check does not take the place of a good editor.  In fact, it will overlook errors that an editor will catch. I gave these examples and asked you to see if you could find the mistakes.

  1. I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
  2. Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
  3. He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.

Here are the corrections. quick edit of errors second attempt

 How many did you catch?

Also if you are looking for other information about editing, just simply type editing into the search box on the blog and you will find some helpful posts.

 

 

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Author Solutions, authors, self publishing, writing

Overcoming 5 Common Roadblocks That Keep Writers From Finishing Their Books (Part 1)

RoadblockHaving an idea for a book is really easy.  Starting a book is easy, but writing to finish is difficult and very few people actually reach the goal. Why is that?  I believe it is because the path to a finished book has many obstacles.

Why do some authors get published and others do not?  Well, I have authored three books myself, but more importantly, I have had hundreds of conversations with authors. It is from those chats that I have seen five common roadblocks that prevent writers from getting the manuscript to finished book.  Here is that list and some ways you can overcome them.

  1. Forgetting why you wanted to write the book
  2. Losing the discipline of writing regularly
  3. Losing sight of the day you want to hold your book
  4. Doubt creeps in.
  5. Unclear what you will do when you are done writing.

Forgetting why you wanted to write the book. There is usually some moment of inspiration or impetus that causes an author to want to write.  It is very easy along the way of doing the hard work of completing the manuscript to forget that reason.  Motivation is tied to remembering why.  So it is a very, very simple thing to do, but take a piece of paper and write down why you wanted to write the book in the first place.  Put that paper where you can see it every time you sit down to write.

Motivation is tied to remembering why

Losing the discipline of writing regularly. One thing I have seen that is common to all authors who are successful in self-publishing is they determine the best time to write and they block that time on the calendar.  Every author who I have spoken to usually has a time that is better than others for them to write.  Most authors can write more in one good hour than in three hours when not in the right space or time.

I remember one time I was sitting with an author who is quite prolific.  She has published more than 30 book and I wanted to test this theory with her.  I was having lunch with she and her husband.  I asked her the question, “Is there a particular time that you find yourself more productive in writing?”  Before she could answer the question, her husband said, “5:30 in the morning.”  He knew being married to her that there was a time when she was more productive than not.  So that is an important thing to remember, and what I find is if you try to write only when you have time, you will not be as successful. Other things will rush in and fill up the most productive time you have for writing.  So make an appointment with yourself on your calendar and block that time.

I will address the remaining three roadblocks in my next post. In the meantime, use the comments section to let me know if you think there are any other roadblocks I did not address. (To Be Continued)

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authors, book selling, Ebooks, self publishing

Libraries are selling e-books. What impact will that have on retailers and libraries?

WSJ logoIn the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, an article ran under the headline Libraries Check Out E-Sales. Subscribers to the Journal can view the complete article on-line, but if you haven’t had a chance to read the piece, I wanted to call your attention to it because I think it signals another significant shift in the publishing industry.

The lines used to be very clear. Libraries lent books. Bookstores sold books. Then with the advent of online retailers like Amazon, bookstores were no longer the only place to buy books, but the mission of libraries remained intact. They lent books.

According to a 2013 Library Journal study, 54% of regular library users had bought a book by an author they first discovered at their library.

With this recent development, the lines are blurring once again and I think this is a trend we need to watch. Here are some of the highlights from the article.

  • Roughly 13% of public libraries across the U.S. give patrons the choice to purchase e-books on their websites if a free copy isn’t immediately available, according to OverDrive, an e-book distributor.
  • Library officials said their primary motive was patron convenience; so far, book sales haven’t generated much money for libraries.
  • Offering e-books for sale could also help libraries woo publishers who have been reluctant to make e-books available to libraries for fear it would harm retail sales, according to Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association.
  • The Queens Library expects by the end of June to begin selling print books, e-books and other materials through the book distributor Baker & Taylor, which handles sales for about 60 public libraries.
  • Book sales through libraries so far have been low. More than 35,000 e-book titles supplied by OverDrive are available in the catalog of the New York Public Library. Since February 2012, the library has made less than $1,000 from sales.

    Libraries are selling e-books and prints books. What impact do you think this will have?

    Libraries are selling e-books and prints books. What impact do you think this will have?

While the dollars and units are not significant yet, one other key point made in the article was that according to a 2013 Library Journal study, 54% of regular library users had bought a book by an author they first discovered at their library.

So now if you go to the library to look for a book and they don’t have it, instead of putting it on reserve and waiting, you can just buy it. Time will tell what the impact will be on retailers and libraries, but once again the indie revolution makes things better for readers to get content and for authors to get discovered.

What do you think? Will this trend develop into something significant or will it have no real impact? Is this good for readers and libraries or does it confuse the mission and roles. Use the comment section to let me know what you think.  I personally find this quite fascinating.

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Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Now on C-SPAN2 (BOOKTV): Self-Publishing: Disruptor or Defender of the Book Business

The title of the this blog post was actually the name of a panel I had the privilege of sitting on at Book Expo America. It was moderated by Chris Kenneally, business development director for Copyright Clearance Center. My fellow panelists were James McQuivey, who is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.  He is the foremost analyst tracking and defining the power and impact of digital disruption on traditional businesses, and is also author of Digital Disruption, Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation.  The other panelist was Angela James, who is executive director of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, where, as its motto proclaims, no great story goes untold.  Founded in 2009, Carina Press releases e-books weekly in a number of fiction genres including romance, steampunk, gay-lesbian fiction, and science fiction.

To my surprise, the discussion including questions from the audience, was broadcast live on C-SPAN2, which is also known as BOOKTV. An archived version of that broadcast is shown below. It will also be shown again on BOOKTV the weekend of June 15 and 16.

If you are interested in books and what the disruption taking place in the publishing industry means for authors and readers, I think you will find this discussion very insightful and enjoyable.

CSpan interview

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agents, Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, book selling, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

The 2nd Gutenberg Effect: Examples of how it is helping Christian self-published authors

In my most recent post, I published the text of the closing address I gave at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference titled, The 2nd Gutenberg Effect: How self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for Christian authors.

The main point I tried to make was that self-publishing is providing Christian authors the opportunity to spread their message in a way that hasn’t presented itself in such a significant manner since Mr Gutenberg invented his press.  Take Annie Downs for example.

I do not know how many people you will impact with your writing if you publish, but do I know how many you will if you don’t.

Annie Downs has used self publishing to impact young people with her self published book and obtain a contract with Zondervan.

Annie Downs has used self publishing to impact young people with her self published book and obtain a contract with Zondervan.

She is a blogger and speaker who focused on young women and their need to really understand their identity and significance. After many of her talks, she realized she had nothing to leave to with people. So she pursued self-publishing and published her book with the title, From Head to Foot. As she continued to blog and speak, her platform grew, sales increased and an agent took notice. He shopped the book and Zondervan offered a contract and republished the book with the new title, Perfectly Unique, praising God from head to foot.   I featured Annie in a blog post I almost a year ago. If you want to know more about her story, you can read the post and see a video interview by clicking here.

The second example comes from my own experience. I never set out to be an author, but years ago, I was working on a curriculum and writing some material to support lessons in that curriculum. As people started to use the material, they started asking for copies of the readings I had written for the lessons. So I would run to Kinkos and make copies. Frankly, it got to be expensive and tiring so I explored how to get published. It was really a niche book because it addresses the issue of how a person’s worldview is formed. I did not think it had wide commercial appeal so I decided to self-publish.  And this was all before I worked for Author Solutions.

The book has been available for a few years, but about three years ago, I got an email from a gentlemen in Italy. He explained he had been using the book at the Institute where he teaches. When I asked him how he got the book, he told me an associate of his was given the book at a conference he had attended the year before. He went on to explain they now had interest from an Italian publisher and wanted to get it translated and publish it in Italy. He was writing for permission, which I gladly gave. Then some months later a box arrived at my house with multiple copies of the Italian version of my book, A Clear View.

Clear view and italian version groupNow the royalties from this book will never be life changing, but the thought that someone in another country was willing to invest the time and money to translate and publish it, is very satisfying.

I suspect if you are reading this, you have a manuscript in the works or ready to go and you may be pondering your options. You may also be overwhelmed by the options you have today as an author.  But you should investigate self publishing as an option.

Because while I do not know how many books you will sell if you publish, I do know how many you will if you don’t.

Even more importantly, I do not know how many people you will impact with your writing if you publish, but do I know how many you will if you don’t.

Writing is a talent you have been given, but publishing is part of your stewardship.

So I hope you will seize the opportunity that is before you to get your work into the hands of readers and spread the story and message God has given you.

Writing is a talent you have been given, but publishing is part of your stewardship.

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

The 2nd Gutenberg Effect: How self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for Christian authors.

BRMCWC_Logo4This past week, I had the pleasure and opportunity to speak at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, which is one of the premier conferences for writers and authors focused on the Christian market.  It was my first time there, but it was a very good conference. There were a number of informative seminars and the closing banquet and awards ceremony were broadcast over the internet. In the afternoon, I offered a seminar on Four Paths to Publishing which has become a very popular session at conferences this year. The free white paper on the topic is available for download here.

I also had the privilege of giving the closing address at the conference. I titled my remarks, The Second Gutenberg Effect: How self-publishing is creating exciting new opportunities for Christian authors.  I based my premise on some information I uncovered about Gutenberg and his personal views about his Christian faith and his role in helping spread the Christian message. Even if this is not a market you are focused on, I think you may find my statements helpful. I received a significant number of positive comments from people at the conference right after the banquet and even the next morning. What follows is largely the text of what I presented.

I would suggest in time, the effect of self publishing will be as profound and potentially far reaching as the effect of Gutenberg’s invention.

The Second Gutenberg Effect

A few years ago, the editors of Time magazine published an issue ranking what they believed to be the most significant events of modern history. The list was not that surprising. The invention of the automobile was near the top. So was putting a man on the moon. But according to Time, the most important event in recent centuries was the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg.

That is not that surprising, when you consider Gutenberg’s invention helped fuel some of the most significant social and cultural changes including the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution.  According to one historian, it also orchestrated the creation of the “middle class,” as the free flow of information between common men and women gave power to the people and struck a fatal blow to the absolute rule of the elite. Gutenberg probably didn’t recognize it at the time but his invention would, either directly or indirectly, play a role in dismantling empires and empowering common people.  But we know that was not his primary concern.

Instead, he was driven by a mission that was far simpler but had eternal consequences. Johann Gutenberg wanted to make the message of God available to everyone and, in so doing, share the good news of Christ with people all over the world.  Gutenberg stated his mission with these words. 

God suffers in the multitude of souls whom His holy word cannot reach.  Religious truth is imprisoned in a small number of manuscript books, which confine, instead of spreading the public treasure.  Let us break the seal which seals up holy things, and give wings to truth, in order that she may go and win every soul that comes into this world, by her word, no longer written at great expense by a hand easily palsied, but multiplied like a wind by an untiring machine.

Gutenberg also saw his invention as more than just technology, but actually as an instrument in the hand of God. He made this statement in reference to his press.

            Yes, it is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall soon flow, in inexhaustible streams, the most abundant and most marvelous liquor that has ever flowed to relieve the thirst of men!  Through it, God will spread His word.  A spring of pure truth shall flow from it; like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.

      Most know that the first book ever produced on his press was the Bible, but authors of all backgrounds took advantage of this new-found freedom. Mystics, Theologians, Hymn writers all published their work to help spread the message. Some impacted hundreds. Some thousands and some like Luther, and Calvin and Zwingli and Wycliffe left legacies in print that have edified and exhorted the church for ages.

The effect of Gutenberg’s press was profound and far-reaching both for culture and the church, but not much changed in publishing for nearly 500 years.

Then around 1998 three technologies emerged at the same time to create another unprecedented opportunity for authors called self publishing.

Together, Desktop publishing, digital printing and the internet as a distribution channel made it possible for authors to produce and distribute books without working through a traditional publisher if they chose.

And much like Gutenberg’s first press, this latest development has become disruptive and controversial, but it has also created new and exciting opportunities for authors.  And I would suggest in time, the effect of self publishing will be as profound and potentially far-reaching as the effect of Gutenberg’s invention.

Both for culture and the church–because now stories and sermons, bible studies and personal testimonies and biographies that would not –or could not– be published before can now be shared with readers to edify and exhort, instruct and inspire. 

As before some of these books may only impact a few, others thousands and still others may become the print legacies of this generation. Only time will tell.

But there has never been a better time to be an author because there are a number of different ways to publish these days. These choices can make it exciting and confusing at the same time, but the opportunity for authors to impact others with their writing has never been greater. So no matter which publishing path you chose, I want to encourage you to not neglect the opportunity to get your book into the hands of readers because you never know what could happen.

In my next post I am going to provide some examples of how this 2nd Gutenberg Effect is actually happening with authors, including something cool that has happened with one of my own books.

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