June 11 NISO Webinar Fragmented Publishing: The Implications of Self-Publishing


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About the Webinar

In the six years from 2006 to 2012, the number of self-published books grew an astounding 270% to more than 235,000, almost as many as were published "traditionally." The easy access to publication tools and distribution mechanisms has ushered in a new era of how content is created and disseminated. No longer do authors need to work through a publisher to have their content accepted, processed, and distributed. The impacts of this revolution in publishing extend well beyond what used to be called "vanity publishing." A variety of best-selling books in recent years have come out from successful self-publishers sharing their tips on how others can follow in their footsteps.

How can publishers capitalize on this author independence? How do libraries incorporate self-published works into their acquisition processes? When there is no publisher reputation behind a title, how does a library or user separate the wheat from the chaff? This webinar will explore these issues and the impacts of the self-publishing movement on both publishers and libraries.


Todd Carpenter, Executive Director, NISO

When Authors Assume Their Own Risk
Laura Dawson, Product Manager for Identifiers, Bowker

Self-Publishing with Smashwords
Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, Smashwords

Helping Libraries Help Themselves: The Library Publishing Toolkit
Allison Brown, Editor & Production Manager, Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo

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  • As traditional publishers consolidate, they become more risk-averse. This creates fewer opportunities for authors in those channels. One emerging trend we’ve noticed at Bowker is a massive increase in self-published titles. Authors are taking matters into their own hands and assuming the risks for their own books.

    Bowker’s Books in Print, which measures ISBNs in the supply chain, has 28 million book records in its database. These can be broken down as follows:

    Millions of titles produced by companies that snap up public domain titles, out of print public domain titles, that no one will ever want
    Millions of titles produced by traditional publishing houses, both small and large
    Hundreds of thousands of self-published titles (and that only includes the ones with ISBNs) – around 400,000 of them.

    So what we have to focus on is the incredible abundance of book content (not including website, magazine, TV, radio, film content) vying for an audience’s attention, and what this massive fragmentation means for us as an industry and as a culture.

    So how did we get here?
  • The World Wide Web allows, as its founder Tim Berners-Lee says, “Anyone to say anything about anything.” And publish it. At any time.

    Web-based tools and technologies have, over time, lowered the economic barriers to entry for publishing. Print-on-demand, outsourcing, ebooks, Amazon and other digital retailers – all of this is made possible by the invention of the Web. And eventually, those benefits were bound to reach the individual level.
  • Well, first, publishers ignored the phenomenon. There was no indication this was going to turn into anything more significant than the existing vanity presses that had always operated alongside traditional houses.

    Then, they began to acknowlege it – primarily by looking at what was going on in the self-publishing environment and signing up authors who seemed to be doing really well. Hugh Howey, E. L. James, P.J. Lyons are some great examples of self-published authors who are now traditionally-published.

    Then, they began to acquire or develop companies that serve the self-publishing community. Penguin acquired Author Solutions just prior to merging with Random House (and yes, there is controversy over that acquisition). Simon & Schuster developed Archway (also backed by Author Solutions). HarperCollins developed Authonomy. Hachette and Macmillan have, to date, not acquired or developed any self-publishing platforms, but they are looking at self-publishing as a sort of “farm team” and acquiring the work of writers who are doing well.
  • So far, the self-publishing and traditional publishing universes seem to be co-existing fairly well. Authors who self-publish are not siphoning off enough revenue from traditional publishers for the big guys to really get concerned – they seem to see it more as an opportunity to expand their own services into that market rather than a threat to existing revenue.

    But again, there is that number of 28 million. There’s loads of content swarming through the ecosystem. Traditional publishers are, above all, curators for mass media. And they have plenty of submissions to sort through.
  • So by and large self-publishers are to traditional publishers like mice are to lions. What about the smaller niche publishers? What about more entrepreneurial authors? That’s where things get interesting.

    The same factors that allow for the proliferation of self-published authors also contribute to the proliferation of small presses. Print-on-demand, free or low-cost tools, easy(er) ebook conversion, Amazon, outsourcing editorial, design, and marketing work – all these things allow a small organization to publish relatively cheaply.

    And niche presses experience a little bit more competition from self-published authors – particularly those authors who have developed a following due to some expertise. Eventually, they have their own platforms and find it more expedient to control the publishing process themselves. (This happens a lot with knitting pattern designers, who publish in magazines, for example – they gain a following over time, and eventually release their own volumes – meaning that craft publishers are losing out on a source of expertise and revenue.)
  • At Bowker, we’ve noticed that self-publishers can broadly be separated into 3 different groups. (And this is very broad – mostly for the purposes of marketing – there are definite subdivisions and exceptions within each one of these groups.)

    The aspirational authors are those who ideally would like to publish traditionally, but have not been successful or have decided to give self-publishing a go first, to see if they’ll get picked up by a traditional publisher. These are generally authors of fiction, memoir, or self-help. (Again, very broad – these are just trends that we have seen since we’ve been monitoring.)

    The entrepreneurial authors actually fall into two different subgroups. One group is generally focused on a business of some sort – consulting in some area of expertise. Their books are essentially souvenirs that they give out at talks or engagements, or invitations to companies to engage them for work. They are not so interested in making money from the books themselves (though that is nice) – they’re interested in growing their business. (Seth Godin experimented with this model a few years ago before returning to his traditional publisher – presumably because managing the sales of his books proved too onerous while he was also trying to consult and write his next book – he was a victim of his own success.)

    The other group frequently begins as aspirational authors but realize that they enjoy the level of control they have over the publishing process; they enjoy learning new skills and applying them, as well. And eventually they start publishing work other than their own – other authors come to them for their expertise.

    The hobbyist is generally the person who “has a book in them”. They’re not so interested in making money (though again, that would be nice), but they want to have a book to give out at family gatherings, or to their friends or colleagues.

    Many of these authors start out wanting to be published traditionally, but many begin to see the benefits of doing it themselves and enjoy the process of it. (And the control.)
  • Then, you have authors like Stephen King, JK Rowling, and David Mamet issuing limited-release books on their own. You have midlist and classic authors (or their estates) re-releasing backlist after the rights have reverted from the publisher – usually working through literary agencies.

    In other words, “publishing” is not a straightforward system anymore.

    In a world where anyone can publish anything about anything at any time…everyone will.
  • So, what does that mean?
  • Well, it offers an expanded role for libraries.

    Libraries play a unique role, as we know – they are local informational civic centers, that serve very specific communities. And librarians know what their constituents want.

    Self-publishing affects libraries in a couple of different ways. First, libraries play a vital role in the community as information hubs. Understanding the self-publishing process, and passing that understanding on to patrons who want to begin that process, is a great service – and we’re seeing many libraries beginning to do this. (Mark gave a great presentation last year about the possibilities here.)

    Second, of course, is that there may be a number of self-published titles that library would benefit from – here, the librarian serves the traditional role of curator, locating and sourcing these books and making them available for the community. Of course, there are many services and tools to help librarians sift through the abundance that’s out there, such as Shelf-E (a Library Journal project that just launched), Foreword’s Clarion reviews, or Shelf Unbound’s annual writing competition.
  • Obviously with any discussion about curation, we have to talk about metadata and standards (or, at least, I do).

    At Bowker, we’ve noticed that our self-published authors are getting savvier about metadata and identifiers. Many of them attend conferences where they begin hearing about these things, and as they fill out form after form and upload book after book, they can see for themselves what the effect of metadata is on whether or not people can find their stuff. (Again, libraries can play a particularly helpful role in advising would-be self-published authors about what makes for good discovery – nothing like a librarian to spread the word about that.) At Bowker, we’re continually emphasizing to them the value of good metadata and standardized listings.

    But one thing we’re encountering is what happens when their data’s released into the supply chain. Of course, every endpoint that receives that data reserves the right to change/correct it. Larger publishers, aggregators and distributors see this all the time. But now individuals are chasing their books’ metadata around, trying to correct pub dates and pricing information and subject headings. And it will be interesting to see how the facility to handle these corrections grows (and hopefully streamlines) over time.
  • This number is not going to shrink. The concept of “out of print” is going away, the barriers to entry continue to drop precipitously, and there’s a sense of permanence to information that web technologies certainly support and enable. The important thing that all of us have to grapple with is improving the signal-to-noise ratio. In a world where anyone can say anything about anything at any time, we need to get the right books to the right people at the right time.
  • What is Smashwords doing to support libraries?
    Reach new readers through word of mouth, or by purchasing books after checking them out
    Many price books lower than retail or at free
    Smashwords Direct – helps libraries establish an opening collection of books
  • Princeton Public Library
    Janie Hermann Public Programming Librarian

    Writers groups—multiple types, leaders, days—one not even a critique group. This represents one of the most universal ways libraries support publishing—in the development of writers. If you are of the opinion that writing is separate from publishing--One aspect to think about is that authors are being asked by traditional publishers to be a larger and larger part of the publishing process—managing their own developmental editing, and more and more marketing. So if the library is truly supporting their writers, they’ll be taking the entire publication process into consideration as well as the act of writing itself.

    Local authors day—there are many libraries that have similar events that help local and independently published authors market to their community because of the volume of request by SP and IN authors to do readings, events, etc. That’s what happened in Princeton’s case, so they decided to designate one day per year to host these types of authors. This event is a great example for a few reasons beyond just giving these authors a marketing platform.

    First because they have well developed policies and application procedures—pretty simple: new book & live close. This is important, I think, because as libraries, we struggle with how to treat SP books, and thinking about standard, simple criteria in terms of acquisitions could be helpful.

    The second reason I think it’s a good example is they expanded the event to include workshops and seminars to also be professional development to the writers presenting their books, as well as the rest of the community.
  • Sacramento Public Library
    Rivkah Sass, Gerald Ward

    Good example of taking advantage of POD technology to become more involved in the community’s publishing needs.


    Almost exclusively used by SP but also by community writing & ed. Programs. They offer a tiered service model with varying degrees of assistance, and most people choose highest level of service. One thing Gerald Ward mentioned was that it was a hard transition to make to offering a paid service, but at the same time he personally ends up working with each author, sometimes on the book itself—he called himself a “book therapist”, which I thought was an interesting way to see a potential relationship between a library and a writer.

    Interest right away—minimal marketing & press releases, and they had a great turnout at their first info session of authors really wanting this face to face local option for self publishing

    Biggest takeaways from talking to Rivkah and Gerald was their insistence that it was the people and programming surrounding the service that brought the library closer to the self publishing community.

    They also acquire many books printed on the machine, and house them in a local collection in the library.
  • Provincetown Public Library,
    Matt Clark Director of Marketing and Programming Development

    Started a press to utilize the library’s skill of curation to publish original content, largely from the community itself.

    Put out the call for manuscripts, and got a lot of attention & submissions. To select the books, Matt put together a team of librarians and local community members to read submissions.

    When I first spoke to Matt & Cheryl they had recently released their first book, and now have 5 more out, and finished a second submission period.

    Hybrid publishing model—giving the author an option between self and trad pub, and retaining their copyright & distribution
    Taking advantage of the ease of electronic publishing

    Another advantage they have by keeping this closely tied with the library and the library community, is they have a way of electronically uniting local talent & locally published work

    They’ve definitely done some smart things and putting together a library/backlist of good titles, esp in terms of what is relevant to their community.

    Provincetown and other libraries doing similar projects hit on the difficulty with library publishing, esp e-content. Because often times, as we can see with these case studies, they are small, local, niche endeavors, and not meant to be large scale, so we are using tools and services marketed to self publishers, which does put the library at a disadvantage. Self publisher’s main goal is to sell their product, but libraries presumably want to both sell and lend, which many these services don’t allow for—and those that do make it difficult to control where the content is going.

    There are more libraries involved in publishing now even than just last year—but these three I hope give you an idea of libraries supporting writers, print publishing, and epublishing.

  • Obv a large portion of the toolkit is devoted to academic libraries publishing—and it’s a fast growing area esp within journals and open access publishing. Today im just going to mention a couple libraries that have large and well developed publishing programs that also provided a lot of resources in the toolkit.

    UP focuses on Journal publishing, and they use OJS, an open source system that they install setup and maintain themselves. Quote embodies motivation for offering this service, which is applicable to many libraries that publish

    -services include metadata, copyright support, and impact measurement (high needs for publishers/authors)

    They are able to reinforce standards for publishing, while furthering their OA mission, and keeping a close working relationship with their university’s researchers
  • Another example is UM Pub—and they host presses as well as journals and take a really holistic approach to author/publisher support so they have a lot of resources for any portion of academic publishing.

    Snippet I have is from Rebecca W’s chapter in the LPT which outlines different reasons journals may choose to partner with libraries. The chapter she looks critically at how these motivations affect the relationship with the library, and how in understanding the library can plan for sustaining that publication and keeping that relationship alive and productive.

    There are too many libraries in the book to touch on them all, so to finish up I’m going to give you a little bit of idea of what we do here at our library
  • First , point out collected resources from my research & resources mentioned in the book. Esp with libraries mainly pointing patrons to good information on publishing, I hope this can be a good resource.
  • Clear need in general. If there is a need in a particular community--do your research!
    The result is may be doing something that wasn’t in your original job description.
  • June 11 NISO Webinar Fragmented Publishing: The Implications of Self-Publishing

    1. 1. NISO Webinar: Fragmented Publishing: The Implications of Self-Publishing June 11, 2014 Speakers: Laura Dawson, Product Manager for Identifiers, Bowker Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, Smashwords Allison Brown, Editor & Production Manager, Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo http://www.niso.org/news/events/2014/webinars/fragmented/
    2. 2. 28,000,000 and Counting When Authors Assume Their Own Risks Laura Dawson, Product Manager for Identifiers, and webmaster for SelfPublishedAuthor.com, Bowker laura.dawson@bowker.com, and @ljndawson
    3. 3. 28,000,000
    4. 4. The Web
    5. 5. Traditional Publishers’ Responses • Ignore • Acknowledge • Acquire/Develop
    6. 6. 28,000,000
    7. 7. Niche Markets
    8. 8. Types of Self-Published Authors • Aspirational • Entrepreneurial • Hobbyist
    9. 9. The Possibilities Are Endless
    10. 10. 28,000,000
    11. 11. Helpdesk and Curation
    12. 12. Discovery
    13. 13. 28,000,000
    14. 14. FRAGMENTED PUBLISHING: THE IMPLICATIONS OF SELF- PUBLISHING FOR PUBLISHERS AND LIBRARIES June 11, 2014 Webcast Mark Coker Founder, Smashwords Twitter: @markcoker
    15. 15. The Smashwords Backstory • Met wife-to-be, a former soap opera reporter • Wrote a novel about soap operas  repped by great agent
    16. 16. Publishers Said “No” • Despite great efforts of our agent, every major NY publisher said NO (TWICE!) 16
    17. 17. I evaluated our options 1. The rational (conventional) option  Give up, admit failure 2. The irrational option  Believe in ourselves  Try to fix the problem 17
    18. 18. The Path to Problem Resolution 1. Identify the problem  Publishers unable to take a risk on every author  Print model inefficient and expensive 2. Visualize the solution  Every writer should have the freedom to publish  Readers decide what’s worth reading 3. Create the Solution  What if I could enable any writer to publish for free?  What if I could take a risk on every author? 18
    19. 19. Publishers Controlled the Tools and Knowledge of Professional Publishing - 1 - Printing Press - 2 - Retail Distribution - 3 - Best practices knowledge
    20. 20. My Answer: Smashwords • * FREE * eBook Publishing Platform  Free ebook publishing tools help writers become ebook publishers  Distribution to ebook stores and libraries  Free learning materials to help writers learn best practices knowlege of professional publishers 20
    21. 21. Smashwords Distribution Network
    22. 22. 0 50,000 100,000 150,000 200,000 250,000 300,000 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 28,800 92,000 191,000 276,000+ 22
    23. 23. How Smashwords Works • UPLOAD • Author uploads their manuscript to Smashwords (Word .doc or epub) • Instant, free ebook conversion • For sale within 5 minutes of upload • DISTRIBUTE • Distribution to retailers and libraries • GET PAID • Author earns 60-80% list • Quarterly payments 23
    24. 24. A Look Back at the Dark Ages of Publishing 24
    25. 25. Publishers were once the bouncers at the pearly gates of author heaven • Promised Perks of the Writer’s Afterlife • editing • printing press • distribution • marketing • royalties • fame and respect • readers • “published author” inscribed on their tombstone 25
    26. 26. Publishers held all the power • Publishers Decided • What writers could publish • What readers could read • What libraries could buy 26
    27. 27. Ebook Self Publishing Changes Everything 27
    28. 28. Big Publishers Losing Their Monopoly • Publishing tools and know-how are freely available: • Printing press • Distribution • The knowledge of professional publishing best-practices • Writers asking: • “What can a publisher do for me that I can’t do for myself?” • “Will a publisher actually harm my ability to reach readers?” 28
    29. 29. THE POWER CENTER IN BOOK PUBLISIHNG IS SHIFTING FROM PUBLISHERS TO WRITERS Indie authors are learning to publish like professionals 29
    30. 30. Readers are Embracing Indie Ebooks • Indies scaling all the bestseller lists • Every week, indie ebooks are in the bestseller lists of every retailer • Almost every week, an indie ebook is hitting the NYT bestseller list • Every week, every retailer is featuring Indie ebooks 30
    31. 31. Indies taking ebook Market Share from Traditional Publishers 15 - 20% Today? 0% 6 years ago
    32. 32. Stigmas Reversing: More Authors will Aspire to Indie Publish Aspire Traditional Aspire Indie Today? Aspire Indie Aspire Traditional 6 yrs ago Soon? 32
    33. 33. Give them tools and they will publish. A tsunami of … Indie books Today? New trad. books 33
    34. 34. The Indie Author Movement
    35. 35. Advantages of Indie Authorship • Indie ebook author advantages • faster time to market • creative control • better distribution to global market • immortal ebooks never go out of print • lower expenses • lower prices to consumers • earn more per ebook (60-80% list for indies vs 12-17% list for traditional)
    36. 36. The Rise of Indie Ebook Publishing can Benefit Readers, Writers, Libraries 36
    37. 37. Self-Published Authors Are Pro-Library • Survey of 200+ Smashwords authors/publishers (June 2012) • 82% believe by exposing their books to library patrons, they’ll sell more books at retail • 2/3 said they’d price their books for libraries equal to or lower than the retail price • 24% said they’d give their books to libraries for FREE 37
    38. 38. It takes a village to publish a great book 38
    39. 39. The Publishing Spectrum 39
    40. 40. THE PATH FORWARD FOR LIBRARIES: Promote a culture of authorship 40
    41. 41. Community Publishing Pilot Program with Los Gatos Public Library • Kudos to Henry Bankhead of LGPL for his mentorship and encouragement
    42. 42. Henry Bankhead Recognized as 2014 Mover and Shaker 42 See March 12 Library Journal for more
    43. 43. Community Publishing Pilot Program with Los Gatos Public Library (Goals) • Goals: 1. Marshal local resources to develop and promote a culture of authorship • Library staff • Graphic designers • Published authors • Patrons 2. Develop a future supply of library- friendly authors and books 3. Help authors publish locally, distribute globally 43
    44. 44. IMPLEMENTATION 44
    45. 45. Community Publishing Pilot Program with Los Gatos Public Library (Implementation) • Implementation: 1. Education: • In partnership with Smashwords, educate local writers about ebook publishing best practices • Leverage the physical space of the library to bring together patrons, published authors, aspiring authors, library staff 2. Co-branded publishing portal • Help authors publish locally, distribute globally 3. Partner with local high school to publish ebooks in the classroom 45
    46. 46. 1. Education: LGPL/Smashwords Community Publishing Program • Working with LGPL, Smashwords presented a 3-part seminar series of one-hour workshops 1. Introduction to ebooks (patrons, writers, library staff) 2. Introduction to ebook publishing (writers, staff) 3. Ebook publishing best practices (writers, staff)  Smashwords will supply updated presentations to any library that requests them 46
    47. 47. 2. LGPL Co-Branded Publishing Portal • Co-branded publishing portal with Smashwords • Free ebook publishing and distribution services for library patron authors • Local writer asks, “How do I…” • publish an ebook? • make my ebook available to my community’s library? 47
    48. 48. 2a. LGPL Publishing Portal • Custom hyperlink from LGPL web site 48
    49. 49. 2b. LGPL Publishing Portal • Writer signs up for free Smashwords account 49
    50. 50. 2c. LGPL Publishing Portal • Free publishing and global distribution • Smashwords manages end-to-end relationship from publishing to payments 50
    51. 51. 2d. LGPL Publishing Portal Free Author Tools • FREE publishing platform • FREE, best-practices resources: • Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook) • Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book) • Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors) 51
    52. 52. 3. Ebooks in the Classroom: LGPL/Smashwords Community Publishing Program • A first-of-its kind experiment • 120 freshman high school poetry students collaborated with Smashwords and LGPL to professionally produce, publish, distribute and sell poetry anthology ebook: Windows to the Teenage Soul 52 Windows to the Teenage Soul $2.99 at iBooks, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo. Includes Teacher’s Guide
    53. 53. Future plans for LGPL/Smashwords Collaboration • Future plans • Underway: More partnerships in the works with local libraries and schools • “Publish to the Library” – LGPL can purchase local authors’ ebooks via OverDrive • With over 90,000 authors, Smashwords has authors in nearly every zip code in the US. • These authors can be invited to the library to for seminars, workshops and panel discussions to mentor fellow writers about ebook self- publishing 53
    54. 54. The Plan Forward 54
    55. 55. Summary: How to Foster a Culture of Authorship in Your Community • Indie authors are • the future of publishing • pro-library • It takes a village to publish a great book • Help your community publish great books • Marshal local talent of patrons to mentor next generation of pro-library writers • Hold events featuring local authors who can help mentor the next generation of authors • Help your patrons publish locally and distribute globally (Smashwords PubPortal can help!) 55
    56. 56. Learn how to e-publish like a pro with Smashwords Tutorials at Youtube at youtube.com/user/Smashwords 56
    57. 57. Connect Connect with Mark Coker and Smashwords: Web: www.smashwords.com Blog: blog.smashwords.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcoker Facebook: facebook.com/markcoker HuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker Twitter: @markcoker 57
    58. 58. The Library Publishing Toolkit Allison P. Brown Milne Library
    59. 59. Why does publishing (& self-publishing) matter to libraries? Libraries are invested in authors, readers, and publishing Because we, as libraries, are relying on a system this is in some major transitions, and we have a stake in its future
    60. 60. Openaccessonlinepublication&alsoavailableforpurchase: publishingtoolkit.org
    61. 61. Public Libraries 26% Academic Libraries 65% Consortia 2% Independent Writers 5% Companies 2% Participating Institutions (Total: 46)
    62. 62. Supportingauthorsinwriting&marketing
    63. 63. Supportingprintpublication
    64. 64. Facilitatingelectronicpublishing
    65. 65. “Bypublishingnewopenaccesscontent,librariescannotonlyhelpmeet themostfundamentalneedsoftheresearcherstheysupport,butcan simultaneouslyhelptransformtoday’sinflationarycostmodelforserials.” (Deliyannides & Gabler, “The University Library System, University of Pittsburgh: How & Why We Publish”, Library Publishing Toolkit, 2013)
    66. 66. • Tech Support • Backup Plan • Breaking New Ground From Welzenbach, “Journals Are People, Too: The Human Factor in Sustainable Journal Publishing Partnerships”, Library Publishing Toolkit, 2013) Motivating factorsforJournals partneringwithlibraries
    67. 67. Genesee Valley Historical Reprints
    68. 68. From The Boethean Cook Book, 1921 Available at go.geneseo.edu/omp
    69. 69. Geneseo Authors
    70. 70. Open SUNY Textbooks
    71. 71. Moving forward Playing to our strengths: • writer/author relationships • curation & information synthesis Learning about standards, the industry, & the technology.
    72. 72. NISO Webinar • June 11, 2014 Questions? All questions will be posted with presenter answers on the NISO website following the webinar: http://www.niso.org/news/events/2014/webinars/fragmented/ NISO Webinar: Fragmented Publishing: The Implications of Self-Publishing
    73. 73. Thank you for joining us today. Please take a moment to fill out the brief online survey. We look forward to hearing from you! THANK YOU