Tag Archives: Self-publishing

A few links about reading, publishing, timeliness, & poems about dogs

Emotional intelligence, improvement of

For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov

But psychologists and other experts said the new study was powerful because it suggested a direct effect — quantifiable by measuring how many right and wrong answers people got on the tests — from reading literature for only a few minutes.

Does Reading Literary Fiction Make You a Better Person?

(Same story from Publishing Perspectives.) At the end of this article is a link to participate in the study. You don’t have to read any literature, just look at pictures of eyes and determine an emotion. But they do ask you how much fiction vs. nonfiction you’ve read in the past year. (Just so you know, I got 31 out of 36 correct. I think that’s pretty good. But then, I read literary fiction.)

Publishing: Traditional vs. Self (Before we die this will cease to be a story)

Is Publishing Still Broken? The Surprising Year In Books

Self-publishing is a huge and disruptive force in the publishing industry, but contrary to popular belief, it’s largely benefiting publishers.

Bowker Data Offers Surprising Insight into Traditional and Self-Publishing

First, more publishers than ever before signed authors who had previously self-published their books, a far cry from the days only a few years ago when choosing to self-publish was an all-or-nothing choice.

Just in case you were thinking about making a magazine app

Why tablet magazines are a failure

8 apps a day. (Average number of apps opened by mobile users each day. Out of an average number of 41 apps on the device.)

Manners, improvement of

On going over your time

Just don’t do it.

Marketing & Design & Creativity

From today’s Very Short List (@VSL), “the delightful email that shares cultural gems from a different curator each day.” Today’s curators were David Kelley, founder of IDEO and Stanford’s d.school, and Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and bestselling author. One link was to an article titled “Mermaids & pirates take the fear out of hospital scans” about the redesign of MRI scanners.

“I mean, some of the most effective insights we got came from kneeling down and looking at rooms from the height of a child.”

Good news on the one hand, except if you think that this insight is coming after the fact, it’s a little depressing that these machines and the experience for little children wasn’t considered beforehand. Oh well. Better late than never, right?

Curating this edition of VSL was also a good marketing venture for @kelleybros, whose book, Creative Confidence, publishes next week.


Mary Oliver’s ‘Dog Songs’ Finds Poetry in Friends

Hey, I’m a dog owner.

Some links about self-publishing, an Amazon protest, long walks, and a boat-like bike

These next three items are thanks to @EditorialHell who puts together a newsletter from Berrett-Kohler Publishers called BK Communiqué.


And he’ll help support your local indie bookstore. And he’s just one town over from me.

Self-Publishing Could Become a $52 Billion Business: Report

Unremarkable men walk 40 miles for no particular reason

“It’s not anti-charity; it’s pro-friends, pro doing-anything-you-feel-like-doing.”

Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh
This just sounds like a good story. Any time someone helps others tell their own stories, it’s good for all of us.

Just plain weird. Discovered this story while reading blog of author Anne Elizabeth Moore.

Making iOS 7 more readable
For those of us over 50.

If you’re a bike commuter and there’s a body of water between home and work.


Aquatic bicycle

Picture taken from SBK website.

(A few) links about books, bookstores, & self-publishing


Continuing with the Banned Books theme of the week:

[Not your usual list of banned books]
Five Banned Books That You Should Read (That You Probably Haven’t)


What do bookstores supply that Amazon and other online retailers can’t? Personalized advice from a live person. And community. Events. People getting together with other people to talk about books. A place to hear authors speak and to meet their dogs. (I heard Theron Humphrey, author/photographer of Maddie on Things, speak at my local independent bookstore, The Brookline Booksmith. It’s a book of pictures of his coon hound Maddie standing on things all over the United States. He spoke about his adventures and what got him started and all the while Maddie the dog was wandering around and among the attendees. Very sweet. And personal. And something that just is not going to happen online.

The indie bookstore resurgence


Man recovering from an accident finds himself bored and writes a book for his grandchildren. I include the link because I think the important part of this little tale of success is that the book was written for specific people. The author knew his audience and he wrote it for them. It just turns out that what might interest his grandchildren probably interests a lot of other kids that age. But he knew precisely who he was writing for. That’s key.

Wordsley man who wrote a book for his grandchildren lands publishing deal

Not a book recommendation, since I haven’t read it, but it does sound kind of amusing:

Of course I thought all reading was a cure for something, but these women have been running a “bibliotherapy” business. Specific books for specific illnesses.  Who knew?

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

One man’s guide to printing his self-published book

CreateSpace, Lightning Source, Lulu—Where Should YOU Self Publish Your Book: The Ultimate Resource

flickr photo credit: Okanagan College Library

Some views on the future (present!) of publishing

Book/ebook reader

Photo by Steve Paine

Stumbled across a couple of blog posts recently that survey the current state of publishing, or at least the digital aspect of publishing. At the BookBaby.com blog (What BookBaby is), Chris Robley sums up where he thinks the publishing world is headed in the next five years. The title of his piece also includes “or sooner.” Of course all the things he writes about are already happening somewhere, somehow. I like his first point about digital remixes and the idea of sampling different chapters/sections from different books to create your own unique book. There’s a site called ebookpie that is currently doing just that. It’s in beta (what isn’t these days?), but I’ll be curious to see what comes of that idea.

His point two comes from Todd Sattersten who predicts that in the future physical books will be what audiobooks are now. That is, because of the high cost of producing an audiobook, publishers only make them for some authors. In the future, the physical book will be seen as the “expensive” version that only elite authors will get. I’m not quite so sure about this, because the cost of a paper book is nowhere near the cost of producing an audiobook—think audio engineers, producers, studio time, etc.

On a related front (I think) there’s a post from Julien Smith (co-author with Chris Brogan of Trust Agents) called The 6 Shifts of a Kindle Dominated Marketplace, in which he posits that “This is the time we all become authors.” Why? Because there are no gatekeepers, you are your own publisher (are you going to throw your own work into the slush pile?), you can sell stuff for cheap, you can buy stuff for cheap (though I recently had the experience of buying a Kindle single from someone who is an acquaintance and, you know, it was awful; it wasn’t even worth the $2.99 I paid for it), and so almost everyone who ever wanted to write something will be writing something. Which is exciting and good and a lot of good writing that might not otherwise have made it to the world will, though there will also be tons—tons!—of crap to wade through. (In the future everyone will need their own content curator.) To say nothing of the millions of Chinese fiction authors who are soon to launch their own writing careers.

Then, on the other hand, I was talking with a guy who helps business thought leaders write their books. He thinks books still work because it collects an author’s best thinking in one place. Rather than tracking down this ebook or that .pdf or this series of blog posts, you just put all your best thoughts in an organized fashion in a book. That’s what books are good for. Whether it’s paper or digital, that doesn’t matter. Just get all the thinking organized in one place. Something to be said for that.

If you look at the people who are ringing the death knell for paper-based books, you’ll see that most of them got to be a spokesperson because they authored a big paper-based book. Big books are still the primary way to claim authority, at least in the business book world. Is this all shifting rapidly? Yes. But at this point in time and at least for a few more years, if you want to get your ideas out there and make a business of selling those ideas, you’ll still want to write a big (or fairly big) book.

Having said that, I’m still a firm believer in experimentation. I always encourage any authors I’m working with to put their ideas out there in multiple formats and ways. Anyone who is working on a book should be creating ebooks or .pdfs and giving them away at their websites and perhaps trying to sell some of them at Amazon online. Try different things. And if you’re selling things, try different prices. It’s wild west time out there. Just try stuff. Of course that then brings us back to what Julien was saying in his blog post referenced above.

Self-publish or go with a big house? Not either/or anymore. Or, as you work, so shall you publish.

Four Views of a Book Press

Flickr photo by 802

Just stumbled across this rather caustic overview of the publishing industry from Mark Hurst. (It’s from 2008, so not recent.) Mark’s got a particularly cynical outlook about most (not all!) publishing houses.

He seems to be upset that the publishers aren’t risk-takers. Well, hello, until a few years ago these folks were running around with leather elbow patches on their herringbone sport coats! These folks aren’t bungee-jumpers! And Mark seems upset that these folks want a certain guarantee that a book is going to sell. Well, they are in business. They want to make money. Anyway, you could go on and on. Mark has some valid points. He does feel the publishers take too big a cut of the revenue given what they add to the process. That may or may not be true. For some folks, having the imprimatur of a big publishing house has a value above and beyond sales of books. But it does seem that he was overly disappointed by the whole experience of trying to work with publishers. It’s probably worth asking him what he expected going in. That might explain a lot of what happened. As it turns out, he self-published his book, Bit Literarcy.

I don’t entirely agree with Mark’s presumption about why you write. He says you don’t do it for the money, and that’s true in the short term, but you should look at a published book, particularly a business book, in a longer-term way. It is your calling card for a speaking and/or consulting career. We still live in a world where “author/authority” means something. Authors have authority. People are willing to pay to hear someone who knows what they’re talking about, someone with information that will help them in their personal and/or business lives.

Whatever authorship means moving forward, I suspect that the world of publishing will be a lot like the world of work. Work-wise, people no longer have one career; they won’t spend their working life at one place. In the old days, someone would get out of college, find employment at a big company and hang in there until age 65, then left with a gold watch. Hard to imagine, but it happened. Well, in a similar way, many authors found a home with a big publishing house and then stayed with them to their mutual benefit for a long time. These days you may work for a big company for a while and then go off on your own and you may go work for another big company. There’s no one way; there’s no linear route. That’s the same for publishing these days, too.

Look at David Meerman Scott, who is one of the commenters at Mark Hurst’s blogpost. (Read all the way through the comments.)  He self-published a couple books, then went to a small publisher and then went to a big publisher, Wiley. Where he is now. He says that he sold more copies in two weeks with Wiley than he did in years with his self-published titles. But in the future he may well revert to self-publishing again. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has published all of her books with a big publishing house, but now she’s setting up a self-publishing operation called Pottermore.

All by way of saying there’s no one solution these days. You do what works best for you at any one time. The one thing that doesn’t change, though, is the marketing. That all falls on the shoulder of the author, whether she’s self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher. (This is one of the things that ticks off Mr. Hurst about the big publishers.) It’s not worth complaining about anymore. It just is. Look at this blog post from Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He lists four reasons why authors must take responsibility for their own marketing. He writes, “Yes, it is easier than ever to get a book into print, but it is more difficult than ever to sell it.”

If you’re going to self-publish, you need a following, you need people who are interested in what you have to say. That following doesn’t show up over night. I’ve heard Seth Godin say that you should give away your first book in digital form. As a way to attract an audience. If it’s good, it will spread. If it isn’t good, you’ll know soon. And that same audience is what the big publishers are looking for. Whichever way you go, you need your own audience.

Seth Godin’s advice to would-be authors. Here again, not recent, from 2006 in fact. But still relevant. Which I guess says something about how forward-thinking Seth is.

David Carnoy, a journalist at cnet.com, has published a list of 25 things you need to know about self-publishing.


Taking control of your publishing future

In a Sunday New York Times Book Review essay, “The Case for Self-Publishing,” Neal Pollack details why he is going to self-publish his next novel, Jewball. (And as he writes at Twitter: 40,000 words! My novel is now only seven thousand words shorter than The Great Gatsby, and almost as good. —@nealpollack) His main point in the article:

But for a writer like me, which is to say, most working writers — midcareer, midlist, middle-aged, more or less middlebrow, and somewhat Internet savvy — self-publishing seems to make a lot of sense at this point. Early in my career, because of some lucky breaks and a kinder economy, I was able to get advances that helped me support my family over the months it took to write a book. I haven’t been a huge best seller… . But I’ve built a modest audience and a name. Now that the advances are smaller and the technology is available, why not start appealing directly to those readers?

But basically he says don’t do this unless you’ve already built up that audience. NOT something for first-time authors as far as he is concerned. Unless of course you are a first-time author with a blog and lot of followers that you’ve building up for a while. Given the amount of time he’s invested in building his own followers, Pollack is making a bet that the number of copies of his book he can sell, be it an e-version or a limited-edition hardback, will bring in more money than what he would garner from a publisher’s advance. (And I would venture to say that part of the appeal is taking control of the whole process.)