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Is the World Power Shifting to Digital Self-Publishing?

1. 2004  “POD (Print-on-Demand) Is Partnership Publishing” by Rolf Gompertz


2.  June 15, 2010 Read this article to see how the world of publishing is shifting or has shifted to epublishing: ‘Vanity’ Press Goes Digital by  Geoffrey Fowler And Jeffrey Trachtenberg
Wall Street Journal


3. December 16, 2010 “How the  iPad changed 2010” by Pete Cashmore in CNN


4. February 17, 2011 Associated Press article in The Charlotte Observer: “Borders Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.” They are closing 200 stores.


5.  March 20, 2011 And this article: “N.C. State Teacher Is Part of a Self-Publishing Revolution – With new technology, more authors discover the ease of doing it yourself,” about Elisa Lorello of Raleigh, written by Pam Kelley, Reading Life Editor of The Charlotte Observer:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/03/20/2156266/shes-part-of-a-publishing-revolution.html#ixzz1HFAvQZwR

If you’ve read the above articles, you’ll have enough information to form an opinion.

I self-published Flip Flap Floodle (the Never Give Up Duck) in 2004. The number of books sold didn’t reach my dream number. High prices of self-published books and inability to place them in the bookstores, hindered it. Now seems to be the time you and I might need to re-word our dreams.

1. Self publishing doesn’t have the bad reputation it once had. Writers are editing their work and putting it in good format before publishing it.

2. Mainstream Publishers are overwhelmed with the number of submissions from 10,000 to 50,000 a year. They use agents to cut down on the number of submissions they handle. We have millions of writers. Then the fledgling writers submit to agents. Now agents and independent publishers 6,000 -50,000 submissions a year.

3. This is the age of communication. Cell phones, internet, websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter only scrape the edge. Enter the invention of Apple’s  iPad that makes looking at even the blandest text exciting,  Da-Dum!

4. You don’t need a book store. You don’t need a mainstream publisher. You don’t need an agent. All you need is a company that can make your book into the format that can be used on Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, and other digital gadgets and a way to let people know about it – Here’s where your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter,  and other networking groups come to play. You could still reach a wider market with a mainstream publisher. You could reach a mainstream publisher if you had an agent. You might want one, but what I’m saying is that technically, you might not need one, especially if you’re well-known and have a great following.

5. Will there be book stores as we know them today ten years from now? Will there be libraries as we know them today ten years from now? Libraries are already changing with adding more and more computers. Funds from the low economy have collapsed forcing them to purchase licenses to download ebooks for distribution to their library patrons. The low economy has closed some libraries and forced others to limit the number of days they are open. Here’s an interesting recorded interview of Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Agency http://www.macgregorliterary.com/. The interview is with Alton Gansky on Daniel Benjamin’s blog: http://dragonscanbebeaten.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/what-publishers-want/. MacGregor thinks there will be smaller bookstores and big publishers will create small spinoffs to handle books more personally.

6. Although CreateSpace has set policies to lower the prices of their self-published, print-on-demand books – for instance, my book, Flip Flap Floodle, a little duck who never gives up, book coverFlip Flap Floodle went from paperback of $16.99 in 2004 with BookSurge to $10.00 with CreateSpace in 2010. However, we have millions of people . Even with lower prices, they can’t afford to support their favorite writer friends with paperback or hardback books with prices over $15.00. They have to put food on the table for their families.

I am going to get an ebook of Flip Flap Floodle. Graphics do not turn out really well on Kindle and Nook. So picture books need a special application. I tried one creator of iPad applications for picture books. I wasn’t a well-known writer. He wouldn’t take a chance with me. Another wanted an outrageous price. I’m waiting for inexpensive software to create an iPad and iPhone application for me. After I first did this post, I found out about ePub Bud, http://www.epubbud.com/, a non-profit company that will make iPad applications for free. Check it out below.

If you have a book with no graphics, you might want to check out ePublishing. Both Barnes and Noble and Amazon will create your ebook for free, but you may(not sure on this) have to purchase an ISBN for $75.00.  Anila Polat explains personal experience in  “How to Get Your ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobles’  Nook:” http://travelblogadvice.com/travel-blogging/how-to-get-your-ebooks-on-amazons-kindle-and-barnes-noble-nook/.

How to Get Your eBook on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000234621.

Amazon Customer Service
Phone toll-free in the US and Canada: 1(800) 201-7575
International, outside the US and Canada: (206) 346-2992 or (206)-266-2992
Another direct line: (206) 266-2335

How to Get Your eBook on Barnes & Noble:  http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home

Barnes & Noble Customer Service
United States  1-800-843-2665 or 1-877-886-5022
International  1-201-559-3882  or 1-201-438-1475

How to Create  and Distribute Your eBookwith Smashwords

Look at What I discovered in my Children’s Insider eNewsletter.

Create iPad Compatible Children’s eBooks

for Free

ePub Bud http://www.epubbud.com/

There’s a video at the bottom by Jon Bard, Children’s Book Insider,  showing you how it’s done.
They will even scan your book and make an eBook for you free.  The colors look pretty good on the sample books they have for free download.
You can upload from a pdf file of your book, too. Awesome.
They will sell you a ISBN number for $5.00. To sell on Apple’s site, your eBook has to have an ISBN. It should be different from the ISBN on the paperback
and the hardback versions of your book.

7. Will there still be the Mainstream Publishers in the future? Yes, most of them have instituted a digital division. Some are putting out the digital versions first, followed by a print version. Many people really like having a paper copy in their hands. Print will be around. Just not as prevalent, I believe. Enjoy watching the changes being made. Find your place in the new realm.

8. Perhaps professional writer’s organizations, like SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) will add a special membership group for epublished or self-published.  SCBWI allows and welcomes self-published authors and illustrators.  They just don’t have a special group for them like they do for the PAL – Published and Listed (publisher is listed as a bonified traditional publisher).

9. Things to remember if you’re going to self-publish an ebook of any kind. Your eyes are good hiding your typing and spelling errors. They make “childen” look like “children” to you. Another person will catch those sneaky errors.

A. Use the review for grammar and spelling mechanism included with Microsoft Word and other writing software. Even this won’t catch the wrong use of some words. Some errors take the human touch to find.

B. Get in a critique group either online or face to face. Ask them if they think your book is ready for publication.

C. Get a professional book editor, sometimes called a book doctor to edit your book. Use Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and  Literary Agents to help you find a reputable one.

Thanks for reading my blog. It’s not too late to submit your work to a publisher or agent this month! Go for it.

Please, please, please share your thoughts and/or questions. Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. I’d be honored if you would subscribe by email in the left hand column where it says “sign me up.” See below my signature for ways to win a free book or free critique.

Enjoy the Journey- Never Give Up

Joan Y. Edwards

How to win a free book or free critique:

1. Win a free paperback copy of Flip Flap Floodle or a 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer by being the 50th person to sign up for an email subscription from the “Sign me up” block at the top of the left hand column. When you click on the email subscription link, if you have a WordPress blog, it lists your blog. If not, it lists your email address.   I have 35 people signed up now as of today.

2. For a chance to win a free critique,  submit your work in March, then leave a comment on the Pub Sub Page for March post with title of project, name of contest, publisher, editor, or agent; date you submitted, sent by email or snail mail, your name, and your personal blog/website. I’ll add your name to the Pub Subbers 2011 page, if you like. It’s just a way to reward yourself for submitting. I thought it would be cool to advertise your courage. We can also tell how many people are Pub Subbing.  We can see our group grow. I’ll choose a random winner and announce it at noon EST on April 1, 2011.

3. Want to win a free critique, tell me you submitted work to a publisher, editor, or agent during 2010. I’ll put you on the Pub Subbers 2010 page and enter your name for a chance to win. Email me at the address listed in the left-hand column before April 1, 2011.  I’ll choose a random winner and announce it at noon EST on April 1, 2011.

Copyright © 2011 Joan Y. Edwards and her licensors

With new technology, more authors discover the ease of doing it yourself

By Pam Kelley
Reading Life Editor

More Information

  • The best e-reader … The Newspaper?
  • The self-publishing revolution

    How big is self-publishing? Consider that about 1 million books were published in the United States in 2009. Of those, more than 760,000 came from self- and micro-publishers, according to the Independent Book Publishers Association.

    Players in the booming self-publishing industry range from old-school vanity presses to companies that produce only e-books. They include:

    Amazon, includes CreateSpace for print and Kindle Direct Publishing for e-books.

    Author Solutions, includes AuthorHouse, iUniverse and Xlibris imprints, charges authors to prepare, market and sell their titles.

    Barnes & Noble, offers PubIt!, which creates e-books that can be read on the company’s Nook and other e-readers.

    Lulu Enterprises, based in Raleigh, lets authors e-publish or print copies as they need them.

    Smashwords, publishes e-books only.

  • A huge victory

    A sure indication that self-publishing can no longer be ignored: Publishers Weekly now reviews self-published works.

    For $149, authors can list their works in a new quarterly supplement called PW Select. Buying a listing doesn’t guarantee a review, but it gives authors a chance. The magazine promises to review at least 25 books in each supplement.

    The decision to end the magazine’s policy against reviewing self-published works recognizes a trend that Publisher Cevin Bryerman doesn’t see abating. “We decided to acknowledge it in a positive way,” he says. “Two or three years ago, we would have never gone near it.”

    The change is a huge victory for self-publishers. A good review from Publishers Weekly will sell “thousands and thousands of copies,” says Danny O. Snow, research fellow for the Society of New Communications Research.

Elisa Lorello of Raleigh had no literary agent, no publisher and nothing to lose when she decided to self-publish her first novel, “Faking It,” as an e-book for Amazon’s Kindle.

At first, she got only a modest response. But when she dropped her price from $1.99 to 99 cents, sales began to soar. Early last year, “Faking It” hit No. 6 on Kindle’s bestseller list, beating out big-name authors and giant publishing houses.

Today, digital sales of “Faking It” and its sequel, “Ordinary World,” have topped 52,000, a figure many established authors would envy.

And Lorello, who teaches at N.C. State University, counts herself part of a self-publishing revolution that’s upending the book business – giving authors more power and bigger profits while boosting the low-rent reputation of the self-published book. At stake? The future of the $24 billion publishing industry.

Until about a decade ago, authors usually needed traditional publishers to ensure wide distribution and a shot at significant sales. If publishers rejected a book, the most common way to get into print was to pay a vanity press. That process often ended with hundreds of copies stacked in the author’s garage.

Now, digital books and print-on-demand technology let authors self-publish with little or no upfront costs. Self-publishing companies, such as Raleigh-based Lulu Enterprises, Smashwords and Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, don’t print the books or take a cut until they sell.

E-books are a big part of this trend, with genre titles, such as romance, fantasy and science fiction, selling particularly well. Amazon now sells more e-books than paperbacks. In 2010, electronic books accounted for 9 percent of new books, up from 3 percent the year before. Today, if you can use a computer, you can publish your book.

The result is a booming self-publishing industry that’s creating – let’s face it – untold numbers of very bad books.

That’s not all. Some established authors also are choosing to self-publish. Last year, Stephen King, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho and “Seven Habits” guru Stephen Covey all self-published some works at Amazon’s Kindle store.

So has AlTonya Washington, a Davidson College librarian who writes African-American romances. When her publisher, Harlequin, decided several years ago to stop publishing one of her series, she continued it by self-publishing.

Her fans followed her. Harlequin still publishes some of her novels. Others she publishes herself, as print and e-books. “I think I’ve made more money self-publishing,” she says. She estimates she earned more than $17,000 last year on her self-published works.

Kindle made the difference

Then there’s Elisa Lorello.

Lorello was a Massachusetts graduate student when she got an idea for a story about a sexually uptight young woman who becomes friends with an uninhibited guy. Lorello was working on a master’s degree in writing with an eye toward teaching composition. She wasn’t aspiring to be a novelist.

But the idea wouldn’t go away. Finally, she says, “I was like, I have to get this stupid thing on the page.”

By 2006, Lorello was teaching in N.C. State’s first-year writing program. After receiving multiple rejections from literary agents, she decided to self-publish her novel through Lulu. The Raleigh company, launched nine years ago by billionaire Bob Young, Red Hat Software co-founder, lets authors e-publish or print copies as they need them.

Lorello worked at marketing, placing “Faking It” in two bookstores and publicizing it with a website and blog. Sales were slim until mid-2009, when she put the book in the Kindle bookstore as a $1.99 e-book.

“The first month, I sold 70 copies. Of course, I was ecstatic. That was more than I’d sold of the print.”

The next month, sales dropped to 10. Once she cut her price to 99 cents, sales began climbing. By late December 2009, “I was watching it go up and up and up in the ranking,” she says. By late January 2010, “Faking It” was sixth among Kindle bestsellers.

What’s fascinating about Lorello’s success is that it wasn’t her promotional efforts that sold the book. She believes her sales were propelled by several factors – readers who received Kindles as holiday gifts, a low-risk price and online reviews.

“It’s a beach book with a brain,” says one Amazon review. “It is one of my top 5 best book surprises,” says another.

“Faking It” needed several months to take off, and that’s another advantage of e-publishing, says Mark Coker, founder of California-based Smashwords, which has published more than 34,000 e-books. Since unsold books aren’t taking up space in a warehouse or bookstore, they can stay available indefinitely.

In this new publishing world, even authors with extremely specialized topics can make money.

Lulu’s biggest-selling book is “e-Start Your Web Store with Zen Cart.” Priced at $47.91 in paperback, it’s a guide to using open-source software called “Zen Cart” to perform shopping cart functions on online store websites. Lulu doesn’t release sales figures, but a spokesman says the author has made more than $200,000.

Look for more established authors to self-publish, many experts say, as they discover they can make more money. Self-published authors may earn 70 or 80 percent per e-book versus 10 percent or less for a printed book.

For every 99-cent e-book that Lorello sold on Amazon, she pocketed about 35 cents. Last year, she upped her prices to $2.99. For books priced at $2.99 and up, Amazon gives authors a 70 percent cut.

Lorello has published three novels – “Faking It,” Ordinary World” and “Why I Love Singlehood,” co-written with Sarah Girrell. In 2010, sales netted her more than $20,000.

Will it lower quality?

Like most revolutions, self-publishing has its dark side: It produces many awful books.

Traditional publishers are gatekeepers. They provide editing, design, proofreading, cover art, marketing. They may pay advances, too, from $1,000 to more than $1 million.

If self-published authors want those services, they have to pay for them. Many don’t. “I see authors misspell their own names,” says Smashword’s Coker.

Some in the publishing industry worry that the rock-bottom prices on self-published e-book titles will force traditional publishers to lower prices – and, by necessity, quality.

“Readers are going to say why should I read a Lee Childs mystery for $10 when I could read a book for 99 cents,” says Sally McMillan, a Charlotte literary agent. “I fear that it’s going to totally cheapen the value of the written word.”

Others believe traditional and self-publishing can co-exist. Self-publishing will continue to produce junk, and most authors won’t sell much. But it gives talented writers a chance.

And at least a few, such as Lorello, will make it. Last summer, her hefty sales caught the attention of AmazonEncore. The imprint, aimed at showcasing overlooked books, has published more than 40 titles.

AmazonEncore has now given Lorello’s books new, nicer covers. They’ve been copyedited and redesigned. “Faking It” is now available for $2.99 as an e-book, $13.95 in paperback. This time, Lorello is not the publisher.

Pam Kelley: 704-358-5271; pkelley@charlotteobserver.com.
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