Saturday, November 30, 2013

Self Publishing Skyrockets

Self Publishing Skyrockets | PubCrawl According to a new analysis released in October by ProQuest affiliate Bowker, the ISBN agency, self-publishing continued its growth spurt, up 59 percent in 2012 over 2011, from 246,912 titles to 391,768. The gains were even more startling over the longer period for which Bowker collected data: a 422 percent rise since 2007. Not surprisingly, “ebooks continued to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012 [156,837 vs. 234,931 for print], up from just 11 percent in 2011.”

A handful of companies dominated the list of self-publishers. “More than 80 percent of self-published titles came to market with support from just eight companies,” Bowker reported. They included Smashwords, CreateSpace, Lulu, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, and iUniverse. The last three are divisions of Author Solutions, owned by Penguin (now Penguin Random House).

The growth has made self-publishing services a big business. “The most successful self-publishers…invest in their business, hiring experts to fill skill gaps [like marketing], and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker director of identifier services. Bowker recently launched its own self-publishing service,

Bowker’s research also revealed the most popular self-publishing categories: most authors “plan to bring fiction to market, followed by inspirational or spiritual works, books for children, and biographies.” Categories for total publisher print output for 2012 (projected) based on ISBN counts were similar, with fiction in the lead, followed by juvenile, home economics, sociology/economics, and religion and science, which were tied.

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Amanda Hocking's sales of her self-published e-books inspired a publisher to sign her

In the spring of 2010, Amanda Hocking, a social worker from Rochester, Minn., uploaded several books she had been working on to In the first weeks, she sold a few dozen copies — success for someone who just wanted to have her work read.

In the next few months, she published several more manuscripts, and soon, the sales started piling up. By the end of the summer, Hocking had made enough money to quit her job, and in January 2011, she sold "an insane amount of books," she said, estimating the total at 100,000.

Her sales numbers soon drew the attention of Macmillan, one of the largest publishers in the world, which signed her to a four-book deal for more than $2 million, followed by a deal to republish three of her most popular titles for $750,000 more.

Hocking, now 29, went from social worker to best-selling author and millionaire in a year.
Inspired by her story and that of other early self-publishing success stories, hundreds of thousands of others have followed in Hocking's footsteps. While many are traveling the same trail she did several years ago, few are finding anything near her level of success.

That doesn't mean she's the only one making money from the new boom in American self-expression. The old yarn about the San Francisco gold rush applies here: Even though a tiny percentage of those heading west looking for gold ever found fortunes, those who sold the pickaxes, pans and whiskey got rich.
The ranks of self-published authors are swelling. The number of books being self-published in the U.S. ballooned to 391,000 titles in 2012, according to Bowker, an industry research group — an increase of nearly 60% from the previous year. Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform, one of the most popular for self-publishing, today has "hundreds of thousands" of authors and titles, the company says.

Before this boom, authors such as Hocking and Bella Andre, another successful self-published author, did all the work of creating, editing, formatting and distributing e-books, often slogging through complicated technical manuals and getting stuck for days or weeks on complex software problems
"At first, I was doing it all myself," said Andre. "When I started three years ago, hardly any of these services existed or were as good as they are now."

Andre is referring to companies such as Smashwords, which distributes 250,000 titles for more than 60,000 authors to most of the world's e-book stores for a percentage of the author's profits. Another is Author Solutions, which was acquired by publisher Penguin last year and has helped some 170,000 authors bring more than 200,000 titles to market by selling them editorial, e-book production and marketing services. A company called FastPencil helps about 80,000 authors work on their writing, and when they're ready, publish and distribute it — for a fee. There are many others.

In addition, a new ecosystem of freelancers has developed to fulfill demand — e-book developers, cover designers, copy editors, publicists and more.

Andre estimates that she spends $60,000 to $80,000 a year creating and promoting her books, employing about a dozen freelancers for various parts of her operation. Each works up to 10 hours a week for her.
"Almost every step of the way, there's an opportunity to make money," said Steve Wilson, CEO of FastPencil.

But few authors actually find much gold when they go digging.

Wayne Hicks, 58, of Fort Smith, Ark., is among the more successful self-published authors. He has five titles to his credit and has spent about $700 on editorial and marketing services, as well as more than 1,000 hours writing, creating and promoting his books. In that time, he's sold nearly a thousand copies, to make about $1,400. Katie Lippa, 40, of Portland, Maine, is another. She has spent nearly $700 on editorial services and has made about $1,600 selling books.

But there are dozens or even hundreds who have barely made back their investments. "On average, authors spend between $1,000 and $2,000 to get their books into the marketplace," said Keith Ogorek, senior vice president of marketing at Author Solutions.

According to Smashwords, which distributes many self-published authors and titles to some of the most popular e-book sites (save Amazon, for most of its titles), the best-selling 1% of titles net half the sales. There is a wide disparity among the top 500 best-selling books: Smashwords' No. 1 best-seller, The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window by Kirsty Moseley, sold 37 times as many copies as the No. 500 best-seller.

To be sure, money isn't the sole motivation for self-publishing. According to a recent study by Digital Book World, a trade publication that covers the digital publishing industry, and Writer's Digest, a magazine for writers, "to make money from my writing" is fourth on a list of reasons authors want to publish books. The top two answers were "to build my career as a writer" and "to satisfy a lifelong ambition."

Jeremiah Johnson, 30, is a soldier in the U.S. Army currently stationed in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment. He's made $90 selling his self-published book of poetry, Black Rose; Dying, which he published under the pen name Edward Val.
"I wanted to leave something behind in case the worst happened," he said.

Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers Publishing your own book is easier than ever, but it still takes a lot of hard work and know-how. Here are five steps to help you get started:
Think about your goals. If the idea is simply to become a published author, you may choose a very different path than if your motivation is to make money.
Make sure your book is ready. Rewrite and re-edit until you've nailed it.
Figure out which path is right for you. Doing it yourself involves editing, coming up with a cover design and managing distribution and marketing. Using a company to provide those services and/or hiring freelancers to help means you'll be paying for services. Or you could try the traditional route: Look for an agent and a publisher.
Don't forget social media. With Twitter, Facebook, etc., everyone can talk to a wide audience. The larger your platform, the easier it will be to get people to read your book.
Have fun.
Jeremy Greenfield is editorial director of Digital Book World. He has also been a careers editor at Dow Jones and has written for The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Forbes, and other publications.
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