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

The 4 different publishing paths authors can pursue today.

It was that long ago that becoming an author meant there was one path to pursue. Find an agent to represent you and then have that agent sell your manuscript to a publisher. But as you know, the indie revolution has created more opportunities and choice for authors than ever before and so now there are four different paths authors can pursue to get their work into the hands of readers. 

…..the indie revolution has created more opportunities and choice for authors than ever before…

The first is what I call the Free DIY path. This is the author who uses a publishing tool like Booktango, Smashwords or Lulu to create a formatted book for limited distribution. It may only be an e-book and only  for sale on the publisher’s web site, but it is out there and available for readers.

The second publishing path  is what I call the General Contractor path. These are the individuals who serve as the “general contractor” for their book project and obtain all the services they need to create, publish, print and distribute their book. Some of the work they do themselves  and some they hire out , but they are in control of the whole project. I find this group is currently the most vocal and the ones most proud of how they are sourcing everything themselves or doing it on their own.

Which path is best for you? It depends on the skills, time and dollar investment you can make and what is your ultimate publishing goal.

The third path is the one where an author uses a bundled services package to get published. Imprints such as AuthorHouse or iUniverseoffer such packages.  This

More options mean more opportunity for authors.

Publishing Package path may mean paying more to get published than with the first two paths,  but there is a convenience and time savings to working with one company to get everything done. For whatever reason, the General Contractor authors seem to be most critical of this group of authors because they feel like they are overpaying to get their book published, but I think they are missing the point. You absolutely can use other means than a publishing package to get published, but if you don’t have the skill or time to mess with all the details, working with a professional services company is the fastest and easiest way to get to the goal of a published book.

The fourth path is the one that has always existed and will continue to persist. It is Traditional Publisher path. However,  the indie revolution has changed  where traditional publishers are finding authors they want to pick up.  It used to be they would only find them from query letters from agents, but now they are actually finding authors who are using free DIY, general contracting and publishing packages to publish.  That means the walls that have historically stood between authors and a traditional publisher have been torn down.

Now each of these paths has advantages and drawbacks, but the most important thing is that each of them can get you to the place where your book is available for readers. Which path is best for you? It depends on the skills, time and dollar investment you can make and what is your ultimate publishing goal. But you have four paths to choose from instead of just one.  That is why it truly is the best time in history to be an author.

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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, book selling, Ebooks, Editing, Indie book publishing, Kindle, Publishing, self publishing, writing

New study declares: The Self-Published Book: A Major Force in the Publishing World

Self publishing is not a new phenomenon, but while I have read much from journalists and bloggers on the topic, I have not seen academics weigh in on the topic. That is until now. Researchers at the University of Arizona are in the midst of a study on the shifts taking place in publishing.
This week, La Monica Everett-Haynes, from the University of Arizona Communications office wrote an article detailing some of the early results and conclusions of the research team. Her article bore the following headline:

A UA-led research team has spent years investigating the emergence of non-traditional book publishing and is predicting major shifts in the industry.

What follows is the text of her article. I think you will find it reaffirming and helpful as you wrestle with the dramatic shifts taking place in publishing today.

_______________________________________________________________

Which books have gripped you, challenged your mind and evoked your emotions? Maybe it was The Little Prince? Beloved? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Perhaps The Iliad or Lord of the Rings? Seemingly, it was once easier to find a good book. But a UA team has found that with shifts in social media and the publishing industry, readers are relying on new methods to find good reads.

Self-publishing not only is changing the traditional publishing industry and the relationship between authors and editors, but also the ways readers are connecting with books.

This affirmation is based on a major, multi-year investigation into the alternative publishing industry led by a research team at the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science, SIRLS.

The emergent self-publishing model poses itself as a hybrid in the world of publishing. And, in effect, self-publishing is disrupting the traditional industry while also creating shifts in how readers connect with books.

Convened and led by Jana Bradley, a SIRLS professor, the team since 2007 has studied how the recent emergence of digital self-publishing has resulted in major shifts in the industry.

Mainstream trade publishing still dominates print sales. But self-published, print-on-demand for private, local or niche audiences is faster, said Bradley, founder of the Research Group on Non-Traditional Publishing Practices, RG-NTPP.

That growth was propelled by a number of things.

Since about 2010, “the stigma of self-publishing was quickly diminishing,” Bradley said, adding that the cheaper, growth market is the self-published e-book.

Amazon, in launching Kindle Direct Publishing, was at the forefront in disrupting traditional models of publishing, Bradley said. The company allows authors to post their digital files to an automated publishing system, which then made them available as Kindle products on Amazon. Other companies followed.

“The major disruption, however, was that they allowed the authors to set the price,” Bradley said, noting that the most popular prices were between 99 cents and $2.99. Companies also offered authors royalties ranging between 35 and 70 percent, depending on a range of factors.

Since about 2010, “the stigma of self-publishing was quickly diminishing,”

RG-NTPP research also shows that the reading public is, indeed, embracing self-published titles at the low price points. About one-third of the top 100 paid titles on Kindle are by self-publishing authors.

RG-NTPP members have published a series of articles, including “Non-traditional Book Publishing,” published by First Monday, about the shifting industry and digital self-publishing. That article was co-authored by Bradley, Bruce Fulton, the digital projects librarian at SIRLS, Marlene Helm, an associate librarian at the Arizona State Museum, and Katherine A. Pittner, a SIRLS doctoral student who teaches history at Pima Community College. Other studies are ongoing.

All told, RG-NTPP’s investigations and subsequent findings indicate an industry on the cusp: The traditional publishing mode by which publishers fronting authors a cut of money then handle publishing and marketing, all the while hoping for the best on the buyer’s market, is in transition.

The team noted that the contemporary world of self-publishing can be understood as consisting of two major and different segments.

The first, print-on-demand self-publishing, produces books in print and came of age around 2007. The second segment, digital self-publishing, is the faster growing of the two, and often indistinguishable from digital mainstream publishing.

The team’s results of a multi-year study of print-on-demand self-published books were published in April by The Library Quarterly. The article, “Self-published Books: An Empirical ‘Snapshot’,” was co-authored by Bradley, Fulton and Helm.

RG-NTPP members studied a random sample of 348 books from the nearly 390,000 self-published titles available in 2008 through fee-based services, like Lulu, AuthorHouse and iUniverse.

The team found that self-published authors enjoy more freedom in making decisions about editing, design and marketing.

“This freedom, in the hands of inexperienced authors, can lead to inconsistent writing and grammatical errors, enforcing the view of self-publishing as inferior publishing,” Bradley said.

Yet the team also found a greater variety in self-published books.

“Self-help books on subjects from exercise to grieving were written by people with considerable experience. Authors wrote convincingly about local events, stories and history that would probably never interest mainstream publishers,” Bradley said.

Also, the “private” tribute book surged as ordinary people began writing and publishing about family histories, life events, vacations and wildlife, among other things. Also, established mainstream authors also republished their out-of-print books.

This has resulted in a “blurring of the boundaries” between the traditional and digital publishing, Bradley said, adding that one major difference emerging is who makes the publishing decisions, pays the bills and gets most of the profits.

“Self-help books on subjects from exercise to grieving were written by people with considerable experience. Authors wrote convincingly about local events, stories and history that would probably never interest mainstream publishers”

“Such trends not only are changing what is happening at the publishing level, but also how readers connect with books.

“I don’t know if readers realize it, but they are part of this market shift that is happening,” said Fulton, also a doctoral candidate at SIRLS whose minor is in communication.

Another trend is that readers increasingly turn to social media and social networks for information about books.

Increasingly, mainstream authors are expected to handle their own marketing, which they tend to do through their on Webs and through social media, like Facebook, Fulton said.

For self-published authors, this is essential.

Fulton, whose dissertation work involves the study of publishing and reading given the influential nature of social media, said the same appears to be true for readers.

Another trend is that readers increasingly turn to social media and social networks for information about books.

“Changes in traditional media, like magazines and newspapers, indicate a downward slide where there are fewer reviews in those publications,” he said. Simultaneously, there is an emergence of sites dedicated to amateur editorials and reviews of books, including those that are self-published.

“People are beginning to pay more attention to those,” Fulton said, adding that with the emergence of self-publishing, readers also have a much more diverse range of titles to select.

“There is this notion of traditional and mainstream publishers having been viewed as gatekeepers,” Fulton said. “But people can now choose who they want to be the gatekeepers, so the reader has gotten a lot more power to drive the industry.”

Also, self-publishing titles tend to include books that are locally focused, narrate family histories, are niche and at times more risque – around religion, politics, sex and sexuality – than what a traditional publisher might wish to handle, Fulton and Bradley said.

“There is a real value in self-publishing. There are stories self-publishing offers that simply wouldn’t be told any other way,” Fulton said. “So what we’re seeing is something we didn’t have a mechanism for before.”

But self-publishing authors still struggle to make a big break. So one question remains evasive: What does it take to produce a blockbuster bookshelf whit?

“The industry still isn’t very good about predicting what will sell,” Fulton said about both the traditional and self-publishing sectors. “It is still very much an art, not a science.”

Et Cetera

    • Extra Info Books that have been or are self-published:
      • “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White
      • “A Time to Kill” by John Grisham
      • “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer
      • “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
      • “Tiger’s Curse” by Colleen Houck
      • “Caribbean Moon” by Rick Murcer
      • “Lethal Experiment” by John Locke
      • “Last Breath” by Michael Prescott
      • “The Abbey” by Chris Culver
      • “My Blood Approves” by Amanda Hocking

      Sources: Amazon.com, Kindle Store, ParaPublishing.com



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Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Kindle, Publishing, self publishing, writing

My new e-book: Seven Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors

99 cents gets you helpful advice on how to make self publishing work for you

It is amazing how time flies and how the idea of multi-tasking is a bit of an over promise when it comes to writing. Fact is, you can only write one thing at a time. You may have multiple projects started and in various phases of completion, but you can only write one thing at a time. So for the past few weeks, I have not posted on my blog because I have been focused on completing my latest book, Seven Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors.

The inspiration for the book comes from hundreds of conversations I have had with authors who have self-published. As I talked with them,  I began to see there were some common elements among those authors who found self-publishing satisfying. I used those ideas for a webinar on the Author Learning Center and Writers Digest with the same title as the book.  The response was overwhelming. In some cases, more than 2,000 aspiring authors registered for the webinar. So I decided to start with that content and create an affordable e-book. I published on Booktango, which is the newest, coolest, free DIY e-book publishing platform out there. I priced the book at .$.99 so everyone who wants a copy can get one. You can click on the book cover in this post to buy a copy now. Let me know what you think.

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authors, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Kindle, self publishing, writing

Booktango: the new free e-book publishing site that makes your book look great and available for sale on every e-reader

In my webinars, titled Seven Secrets of Successful Self-published authors, which I do frequently on the Author Learning Center and Writers Digest.com, I describe the three publishing options for authors today as DIY, assisted and tradtional publishing. DIY is for authors who want to control the formating, pricing and distribution, but don’t need to speak with anyone. Assisted self publishing allows an author to get published, but provides personal support throughout the process. Traditional publishing is as it has always been. You need an agent to get published and usually lots of patience.

Great new free e-book publishing solution with distribution to all devices.

Author Solutions (ASI) has been the clear leader in assisted self-publishing for quite some time, but recently to serve an even greater author base, ASI introduced a new free DIY e-book publishing solution called Booktango. Booktango gives authors some unique advantages no other DIY solution offers.

  1. Free, easy-to-use editor.  Much like WordPress or similar applications, Booktango makes it easy to upload your manuscript, identify the errors that make e-books look bad, fix them quickly and create a killer-looking e-book. Other applications like Smashwords have been described as meat grinders so Booktango is a a welcome addition to the author tool box
  2. Distribution to all the e-readers and distributors. One of the great challenges for DIY authors is getting the right formating and distribution for the variety of readers and distributors out there. You can publish on the Kindle, but that’s all you get. If you want to publish on other distributor’s platforms you have to create a different type of file and track your royalties separately. Booktango does all that for you.
  3. Set your own price. One of the keys to getting traction for e-books is pricing it to be an impulse purchase. With Booktango, that is easy to do.
  4. Best in classs DIY Cover designer (Coming soon). One of the great limitiations right now for authors creating e-books is an easy-to-use applicatioin to create covers. By the end of March, Booktango will have the best in the market.

Right now, Booktango is in beta, but feel free to take it for a test drive and spread the word. It is one more reason why this is the best time in history to be an author.

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