Self-Publishing and Libraries


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An overview of self-publishing/indie publishing and what it means for libraries. Understand different types of publishing, support patrons who would like to self-publish, and understand the issues involved in selecting and purchasing self-published books.

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Self-Publishing and Libraries

  1. 1. Self-Publishing and Libraries Why should libraries pay attention to self- publishing? Some popular authors have moved away from traditional publishing but are still in demand While traditional publishers struggle to adapt to the disruption caused by ebooks, self-publishers are succeeding with low cost ebooks. Patrons are interested in self-publishing, and the library can advise or even partner with them Libraries risk being left out of an Amazon-centric developing “indie” book culture
  2. 2. Types of Publishing Traditional publishing Author sells rights to work, gets advance on royalties (i.e. profit minus book design, editing, production, publicity costs, and agent and bookseller percentage (agent gets 15%, booksellers get 30-40%). Publisher provides guidance, publicity, and gets books into good positions in brick and mortar stores. Publisher has distribution deals to get books to wholesalers/retailers. Large print runs are more cost-effective, which means warehousing and returns of unsold books. Realistically, today an author must do a lot of extra publicity on her own.
  3. 3. Types of Publishing Self-Publishing/”Indie” publishing Author keeps rights and gets profit minus design, editing, production, publicity costs, and bookseller percentage--depending on how the book is sold, perhaps also shipping or transportation costs, distribution costs. Author must provide her own editing, design, and marketing, and will have limited access to shelf space in brick and mortar stores. If not using print on demand, author must deal with warehousing/returns. With POD, this is not an issue. For ebooks, production/distribution costs are almost nil.
  4. 4. Types of Publishing Vanity/”Subsidy publishing” Author sells some/all rights AND pays up front for production costs--often more than they're worth. Some vanity publishers do some distribution work. Assisted Self-Publishing Author keeps (most) rights and pays up front for production costs. Service provider offers editing, design, distribution, and marketing services as packages or a la carte. Authors must take care to make sure that prices are fair. Hybrid Publishing Author publishes some titles herself and some with a traditional publisher, or uses a traditional publisher for print vs. ebooks.
  5. 5. The Self-Publishing Revolution? Reasons for the rise of self-publishing: The “death of the midlist” The rise of ebooks Ebook dominance in genre fiction (Read Courtney Milan’s blog post about her print sales with Harlequin vs. her self-pub ebook sales) Print on demand technology
  6. 6. The Self-Publishing Revolution? Some authors who have gone from traditional publishing to self/hybird (follow the links to see their reasons why): Bella Andre, Courtney Milan, Eileen Goudge, Claire Cook, Guy Kawasaki, Holly Lisle Authors who got their start self-publishing and later got traditional publishing deals or went “hybrid”: Lisa Genova, Christopher Paolini, Amanda Hocking, Richard Paul Evans, Hugh Howey (a top proponent of self-publishing), Richard Bolles (What Color is Your Parachute?), Ken Blanchard (The One Minute Manager)
  7. 7. Who Succeeds in Self- Publishing? Mike Shatzkin: “Comparing self-publishing to being published is tricky and most of the data you need to do it right is not available” Authors who are experts on a niche topic and have a built- in audience at talks, seminars, etc. Authors with an existing audience from traditionally published titles Authors in genres like romance and science fiction where readers prefer ebooks, it’s difficult to get shelf space in brick and mortar stores, and readers don’t rely on reviews from mainstream media sources Authors with a strong social media/web presence Authors who are entrepreneurs and have some legal/technical knowledge
  8. 8. Self-Publishing Service Providers Suggested ebook: Choosing a Self-Publishing Service Provider 2014: The Alliance of Independent Authors Guide More from ALLi: Major players: Amazon Kindle Direct, CreateSpace Smashwords (ebooks only) Lightning Source, Ingram Spark
  9. 9. Avoiding Predatory Service Providers Writer Beware Predators and Editors Absolute Write Water Cooler The worst offenders: Publish America/America Star Books Author Solutions (iUniverse, Xlibris, Author House, many more) (More info here) The line between vanity presses and assisted self-publishing service providers can be hard to define. Companies like Outskirts Press offer some valid services a la carte, but also offer overly expensive services that do not deliver. Author Solutions is particularly aggressive about selling customers on services they could get themselves for much less. For example: Author House charges around $3000 to get you reviews in three paid services, including Kirkus. Those same reviews purchased directly cost $1300.
  10. 10. Self-Published Books in Libraries Josh Hadro, What’s the Problem With Self-Publishing? Library Journal, April 11 2013 Most self-publishing service providers offer a listing with Ingram or other wholesalers. Many providers use Ingram’s own POD service, Lightning Source Smashwords and Author Solutions titles in Overdrive (in a separate section of Overdrive Marketplace). Smashwords titles appear to be available only in Overdrive Read format (not downloadable). Authors with more than 10 titles may apply directly to Overdrive for inclusion with trad. Published books. Other companies exist that will manage your ebook distribution to Overdrive. Biblioboard/SELF-e
  11. 11. Collection Development Reviews of self-published books: Kirkus (costs $400-$600 for a review, authors have option to keep negative reviews from publication) PW Select/BookLife (PW Select charges $149 for a listing and a chance to be reviewed. Recently launched BookLife is free; it’s unclear how this affects PW Select) Library Journal E-Originals (for ebook romance only) Blogs (more on this) Reader reviews (Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari)