Thursday, March 24, 2011

Self Publishing is opening a lot of doors...

I have recently read a number of articles about the “science” of self publishing. It is no longer an art form. With the advent of the Kindle, Nook and Apple iPad the book publishing industry has changing dramatically. Even though the industry is changing at warp speed, some things remain constant.

The book publishing industry is taking notice of the fact that a young girl who sells 100,000 copies of her eBook on Amazon each month for $3.50 a piece. Pretty soon you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out its real money. POD and Self Publishing is not the total answer for everyone. There will still be publishers and agents. You will still have the authors like Grisham and Patterson who will produce a best seller ever couple of months and get the best bang for the buck by placing the new release through the distribution network. But not all of us are like them.

There has been a certain amount of smugness by published authors who have characterized self publishing as “vanity press”. I got news for them. The business has changed and will continue to change. There are tons of individuals who want to publish something, whether it is a book of photo’s or a short story that are not interested in having all the notoriety of being on the NYT Best Sellers list each week. They are doing for themselves and their own self actualization.

This growing desire to publish your own works is being generated by technology. For instance you have to look outside the hallowed halls of the publishing industry to see that technology is changing. In the last twenty years we have had the advent of the internet, laptops, IPhone and Wi-Fi. I read an article a few years ago that quoted Sam Palmisano as saying that the PC as we know it is dead. Next year we will ship more tablet pc than laptops and desktops combined. The advent of the Apple iPad has given rise to the rush of digital magazines like Zite and Flipbook. Amazon reported that eBooks outsold the traditional hardbound books for the first time last year. Some of the eBooks were self published. Publishers are reporting that 20% of the sales of new releases in the first week are eBooks. This number is expected to grow to something close to 50 percent. Non-fiction is now catching up with Fiction style books in that percentage. This is because technology has awakened the older generation of writers and artists who want to share their works of craft.

Today I read a blog posting on FeedBlitz which covered a story about a NYT bestseller author by the name of Barry Eisler. He turned down a lucrative offer (a high six figure) to publish his next novel. Instead he will self publish the book.

What does this mean to me…the average writer, stay at home mom, retired bank exec who has never published or attracted the attention of a literary agent. The answer to that question is that your world just got a whole lot bigger. You can now publish that book of poems, create a family memoir with pictures and charts, a coffee table book of your photo’s from Europe or a fictional novel about the ghost of Manchester Beach.

I am in the process of teaching a class in Self Publishing at the University of Dayton. There are 20 students that make up the heart of the class. It is a mix of backgrounds and experiences but they all have something in common: a desire to publish something. The remarkable thing is that many of them are very talented in their own space: webmasters, artists, poets and retired military.

After spending time with them I realized that there are some fundamental questions that need to be answered before to self publish. Those questions start with:

1. Who is your intended audience?

2. What type of product: novel, audio novel, non-fiction (memoir) or a book of photo’s and text?

3. How much time to want to invest?

4. What are your skills with regard to using technology and software?

5. Where do you stand now…do you have a manuscript

6. Do you have access to a pc…mind you I said access. As long as you can enter your story into Microsoft Word then you can create your story line. Besides they tell you to write your original manuscripts in a journal.

7. Develop a time line for your project

Most people ask where do you start if you want to self publish an idea or project? Here are some of the fundamentals that I recommend you consider:

1. Pen, paper, journal/notebook

2. Outline of the project-could be on index cards

3. Pc or at least the use of one.

4. Software: Microsoft Word and Photoshop(or similar)

5. Enroll in some education on Creative Writing or Novel Writing or both. For those who are skilled in writing Poetry you can easily find similar classes.

6. Access to the Internet

7. Format Templates(from the Web sites)

8. Editing and Format Proofing

9. Think about creating a Web site, Blog site and enroll in Twitter.

10. Editors—fellow writers and friends(even your bride)

11. Attend some Writers Workshops

12. Purchase your own ISBN code

This should give you something to think about as you enter this new world. Many of these steps are the same as what you would carry out if you were creating a novel which you planned to pitch at the next Writers Workshop.

In the meantime keep the right side of your brain active…keep writing.

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