Posts Tagged ‘author’

Famous Authors Who Self-Published

I think it’s instructive to realize that self-publishing isn’t really a new and different approach. Instead, it’s the way that many authors chose to get their words to market. Some of those authors sank, and some swam. Here are a few you’ll probably recognize.

William Blake
Ken Blanchard
Robert Bly
Lord Byron
Willa Cather
Pat Conroy
Stephen Crane
e.e. cummings
W.E.B. DuBois
Alexander Dumas
T.S. Eliot
Benjamin Franklin
Zane Grey
Thomas Hardy
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Ernest Hemingway
Robinson Jeffers
Stephen King
Rudyard Kipling
Louis L’Amour
D.H. Lawrence
Rod McKuen
John Muir
Anais Nin
Thomas Paine
Tom Peters
Edgar Allen Poe
Alexander Pope
Beatrix Potter
Ezra Pound
Marcel Proust
Irma Rombauer
Carl Sandburg
George Bernard Shaw
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Upton Sinclair
Gertrude Stein
William Strunk
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Henry David Thoreau
Leo Tolstoy
Mark Twain
Walt Whitman
Virginia Woolf

Do you have an addition? Add it in the comments below, and I’ll edit the post to make the list more complete. If possible, please cite a reliable source for your information.

Good for You, Seth Godin

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth GodinIn his current blog post, Moving On, author Seth Godin announced that Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? will be the last book he publishes in a traditional way.

Good for him. He’s experienced success in the traditional world and he understands what’s possible. He states, “…my mission is to figure out who the audience is, and take them where they want and need to go, in whatever format works, even if it’s not a traditionally published book.”

I’ve long believed that people who have something important to say and a defined audience to speak to are best served by maintaining control of their intellectual property and choosing the most effective means of distribution. For many authors, there remains the longing for a traditional stamp of approval, but the fact is, readers buy content and the Internet has leveled the playing field in a way that allows authors to reach a target audience as never before.

The twenty-first century stamp of approval is the consumer’s dollar, rather than a publishing house’s approval. This is a power shift that leaves authors in a far better place as long as they’re willing to adapt to the new reality and learn what they need to know. As I’ve written in previous musings on the subject, I believe it’s easier for non-traditionally-published non-fiction to find an audience than for fiction, but even that is changing.

When someone as pivotal as Seth Godin steps away from traditional publishing, it’s clear that the market has spoken.

And now, I’m going to read Linchpin.

NaPiBoWriWee- Another Crazy Challenge

National Picture Book Writing Week, the brainchild of author Paula Yoo, is scheduled for May 1-7. I’m planning to participate, even though I’ll be at at Malice Domestic for the first couple of days. If you’re going to participate, leave a comment below, or stop back by during the week. I’d love to hear how it’s going.

Here are a few excerpts from the press release announcing the event:

In the spirit of National Novel Writing Month (“NaNoWriMo”) where people across the country try to write a complete novel in one month, the fine folks at www.paulayoo.com have decided to start the first ever National Picture Book Writing Week, affectionately nicknamed “NaPiBoWriWee.”

The goal? To write 7 picture books in 7 days.

To summarize, the basic rules:

1. Midnight May 1st to 11:59 p.m. May 7th: Write 7 separate and complete picture books.

2. You are NOT allowed to write the same picture book in 7 variations. Each book must be complete and separate.

3. No minimum word count. Instead, each book must have a clear beginning, middle and end.

4. You are allowed to brainstorm and research book topics before May 1st. Outlines are acceptable. First draft writing is NOT. Do NOT write your books before May 1st – only brainstorming, taking notes, and outlining are allowed.

5. You are NOT allowed to write a single word of your draft until midnight May 1st.

6. There is NO minimum word count required. The fine folks of NaPiBoWriWee require nothing but your word of honor. We will embrace the Honor Code. If you say you have written 7 complete picture book drafts in 7 days, we will believe you. Besides, why would you lie to us? You’re writing picture books for little children! Picture Book Authors are nice, honest people who would never lie!

7. Please register on http://paulayoo.com/ in order to write comments on Paula’s blog every day with your progress and questions. Go here for help: http://paulayoo.com/content/help-and-faqs

8. If you plan to blog about your NaPiBoWriWee journey, please include a link to:http://paulayoo.com/

9. Several winners will be chosen from random of all the people who comment from May 1-7 onhttp://paulayoo.com/ or who email me to request to be on the drawing list at paula at paulayoo dot com. Winners will receive an autographed copy of my books “SHINING STAR: THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY” (Lee & Low Books 2009)  and “SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: THE SAMMY LEE STORY” (Lee & Low ’05), along with items from our NapiBoWriWee Store(http://www.cafepress.com/paulayoo) and a couple of surprise autographed book prizes from special guest authors!

10. For those of you attending the national Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators(http://scbwi.org/) conference in August, let me know and I’ll arrange for an informal gathering during the conference so we can meet in person and celebrate our first NaPiBoWriWee!

To Publish or Self-Publish? An Unexpected Quandary

I’ve been working on a book proposal, and as it takes shape I find myself in an unexpected quandary. It’s a good book (in my completely unbiased opinion;-)) on a popular topic, and it’s built on many years of practical experience. Although I have a publisher who specifically requested this proposal, I’m hesitating over the question of whether or not I want to go through traditional publishing channels or self-publish.*

You see, I’ve done both, and I know how to self-publish properly– doing everything that a regular publisher would do, including using my company’s own ISBN and hiring experienced specialists for editing, copyediting, indexing, cover design, proofreading and all the other details. I have access to a high-quality pool of experts in NAIWE, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, and I’m not worried about the mechanics of the process. Because I have a reasonably well-established online presence and a solid platform as a writer, speaker, coach, and director of NAIWE, I’m not worried about the marketing.

The reason I’m wavering is twofold: First, I know the vast difference in profit margin between the two methods, and second, I highly value the speed, flexibility, and control of the self-publishing process. For a non-fiction book that is carefully targeted to a specific audience, a competent self-publisher with a high-quality book can easily reap a profit of at least 50% of the sale price per book, and often quite a bit more. If the same book were traditionally published, the author would be extremely lucky to receive royalties of 10% of the wholesale price.

With traditional publishing, authors also lose flexibility. There’s no way to easily update information or release a new edition; the publisher usually keeps the rights to publish the book in alternative formats; and authors must purchase books at the wholesale price rather than cost if they want copies for marketing. Worst of all, if the publisher lets the book go out of print, all ongoing potential income is lost unless the author regains the rights (which is something I’d be sure to specify in any contract I signed). The traditional publishing process can take well over a year, while the length of time between manuscript and book-in-hand for a self-publisher–even one who outsources many steps– is usually a matter of a few months at most.

So if self-publishing is more profitable, faster, and more flexible, why is there even a question of going the traditional route? First, there’s the lure of handing it over and having an editor take charge and direct the editing and publication process. Like most writers, I’m busy. I always have other writing projects going, plus work with the association, so sharing responsibility with someone else is alluring. I know that authors still end up doing a lot of work, but it’s reassuring to have an expert at the helm.

Second, traditional publishing has more street cred. People still regard it as the holy grail for writers, and I respect that. Self-publishers, even those whose books match traditionally-published books in quality, are treated like pre-transformation Cinderellas. There’s a certain cachet in being one of the chosen, but from a practical standpoint it’s the equivalent of marrying for social position. Very few people argue for marriages of status anymore, and publishing for status may be destined to become equally archaic. Right now, though, traditional publishing still holds many of the credibility cards, and depending on what the author wants to accomplish with the book, that added credibility can be important.

What to do? I’ll decide in the next few days. I still believe in traditional publishing for fiction, but for non-fiction, it’s a quandary: money and control vs. time and credibility in the traditional publishing world. Hmmmm…

*The term “self-publishing” is being co-opted by some vanity presses, which are using incorrectly using it to describe what they offer. An author who pays a fee to have his or her book “published” under the ISBN of a “publishing company,” is simply paying to have the book printed by a vanity press. This is not self-publishing, and to call it self-publishing is misleading and inaccurate.