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Is Self-publishing a Salvation for Authors? The case of Lithuanian printed bestseller in the digital environment

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A lot of speculations in the past years have been done in the case of self-publishing. Some argues that publishing houses as publishing services providers have no future. Sometimes it is thought that now is very easy to publish a book as e-book. There are a lot of success stories of self-publishers around. More and more authors are thinking: do I really need a publisher and retailer if they always takes a largest cut of the pie?
The case of Lithuanian author bestseller book (printed) is analyzed. This book also was fiction book of the year in Lithuania. Author published printed book in Lithuanian language with traditional publishing house and after the impressive results he decided to self-publish digital English language version of the book. The steps which author done towards publishing e-book in Amazon are described and analyzed. The results of selling and promoting that e-book on Amazon platform are presented and some insights on facing the market without professional help are given.

Full article: http://libellarium.org/index.php/libellarium/article/view/213

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Is Self-publishing a Salvation for Authors? The case of Lithuanian printed bestseller in the digital environment

  1. 1. 2nd International Conference on Publishing – trends and contexts 2014 Focus: Digital authors and electronic books 8-9 December 2014 – Pula, Croatia Is Self-publishing a Salvation for Authors? The case of Lithuanian printed bestseller in the digital environment ARŪNAS GUDINAVIČIUS VILNIUS UNIVERSITY LITHUANIA
  2. 2. Self-publishing: not a new phenomenon  Ben Franklin (1706-1790) – the pioneer of self-publishing,  William Blake (1757-1827),  Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849),  Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870),  Mark Twain (1835-1910),  Marcel Proust (1871-1922),  Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936),  James Joyce (1882-1941),  Virginia Adeline Woolf (1882-1941),  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950),  Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)  and many others.
  3. 3. New wave of self-publishing "My friends, we have the chance to become Big Publishing's worst nightmare.“ Stephen King, 2000
  4. 4. 2007: the new era for self-publishers In 2007 Amazon.com launched Kindle Direct Publishing (https://kdp.amazon.com)
  5. 5. Research questions:  Do really author gets all income to himself?  Can author manage all possible risks of his investments (time and money)?  What additional skills (besides the writing skills) author must have to do publisher’s job?  What are small language author’s chances to success with this self-published book in big market?  What are key factors for success?
  6. 6. The case study  Interview with the author combined with already published some facts on author’s blog was used.  The research conclusion makes assertions and suggestions for further research activity.  The limitation of this research comes from case study method: one selected case can offer no strong grounds for generality of findings.
  7. 7. Selecting the case  The case had to be considered typical.  The case had to be from small language market.  The author had to be known in that market.  The eBook must be self-published on large worldwide publishing platform.
  8. 8. Andrius Tapinas steampunk novel “Hour of the Wolf” Published by largest Lithuanian publisher “Alma Littera” (in Lithuanian language) Self-published by Andrius Tapinas (in English language)
  9. 9. Success of the print version  The sales of printed and digital versions (both in Lithuanian) started on 16th February, 2013.  No. 6 in adult fiction category of bestselling books in Pegasas bookstores chain (No. 1 between Lithuanian authors) in 2013  No. 6 (No. 2 between Lithuanian authors) in Vaga bookstores chain in 2013  Book of the Year 2013 Award in Lithuania (by readers; adult fiction)  Lithuanian Literature and Folklore Institute included Hour of the Wolf into his TOP-12 list of The Most Creative Books of 2013 in Lithuanian Literature  Patriots Prize (by Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania and Lithuanian Publishers Association) for best book for young generation  Sales of Lithuanian version (November 2014 data):  14 000 (printed hardcover, 7th edition on sale, 12,5 EUR)  500 (digital, EPUB, 9,5 EUR) All data here and forward comes from A. Tapinas blog (http://www.tapinas.lt/knygos/) and from A. Gudinavičius interview with him.
  10. 10. Preparation for self-publishing on Amazon.com  Translation  Conversion  Right cover for eBook  Purchase an ISBN  Submit title information (18 items: keywords, category, etc.)  Decision on Digital Rights Management preference  Uploading and previewing eBook content  Confirming publishing rights and selecting the territories  Selecting royalty option (35% or 70%) and setting eBook price  Create Amazon Author Page  US Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) or EIN “1 per cent of all self-publishing work are done”, A. Tapinas
  11. 11. Done? Or buried under 3.4 million eBooks?  On September 3rd 2013 was introduced English language digital version Kindle Edition of Hour of the Wolf (Steam and Stone Saga 1) on Amazon.  The price for US citizens was set to $3.99 and $7.25 for non-US.  In Europe Amazon version the price is 2,99 EUR.  Author’s royalty is 70%.  Lithuanian digital version costs 9,5 EUR. “One new title every five minutes an Amazon”, Claude Nougat, writer, economist, painter and poet (August 2014)
  12. 12. Pushing eBook forward  Social networks (Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, LibraryThing, Shelfari, BookDaily, Wattpad)  Reviews  social network followers  StoryCartel system  Advertising campaigns (BookBub, Book Blast, Frugal Reader, Digital Ink Today, Kindle Fire Department, Free-booksy, YouTube)  Kindle Direct Publishing Select program  Amazon 99 cents (USD) campaign Results: No. 23000 in Kindle chart and No. 22 in Steampunk category
  13. 13. Results after 14 months 2 first months with very intensive company, 12 following months without any special marketing  In total about 500 copies sold (price 3,99-7,25 USD)  Last months sales in average of 5-10 ebooks per month “Better spend more time on writing books then on marketing”, A. Tapinas
  14. 14. Conclusions (with A. Tapinas) or some key factors for self-publishing success  Yes, in some cases, the author can get up to 70-80 % to him, but in exchange author need to spend a lot of hours in keeping his readers engaged,  you have to do marketing constantly, without loosening your efforts and do not expect fast results (snowball effect)  author need to organize (or do it by himself) translations, editing, converting, design a cover, get ISBN, deal with taxes, create accounts on many social networks (and keep them active), take care about reviews, do advertising campaigns and have time for writing  the fact you are not Anglo-Saxon native do not helps  author might be known in small market, but it not helps in big market (the small fish in the big pond [Carolan & Evain, 2013])  you have to have more than one book on sale to keep sales up  try to find literature agent (or publisher?)
  15. 15. 2nd International Conference on Publishing – trends and contexts 2014 Focus: Digital authors and electronic books 8-9 December 2014 – Pula, Croatia Is Self-publishing a Salvation for Authors? The case of Lithuanian printed bestseller in the digital environment Thank you. Arūnas Gudinavičius VILNIUS UNIVERSITY LITHUANIA

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