Great News for Indie Authors!

It’s always good to get encouraging news when you’re an indie author, and I found a whole lot of encouragement in this article so I thought I’d pass it on. Not all that long ago there was a huge stigma associated with self-publishing, but not so much any more. Hard work and perseverance does pay off! Special thanks goes to all you readers out there who are helping to change the trends. It wouldn’t be happening without your support.


Traditional publishers’ ebook sales drop as indie authors and Amazon take off – By Frank Catalano (published in GeekWire)

 

Ebook sales are dying. Ebooks are insanely popular. If the short definition of cognitive dissonance is holding two contradictory ideas to be true, ebooks are about as dissonant as digital content gets.

Yet ebooks may also represent a chapter in the still-being-written story of how keeping track of what’s happening with content hasn’t always kept pace with the technology that’s transformed it.

Let’s start with the bad news. Two new sets of numbers covering 2017 show ebook sales are on the decline, both in terms of unit and dollar sales.

The first, released in April by market research firm NPD’s PubTrack Digital, saw the unit sales of ebooks fall 10 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. In absolute numbers, that meant the roughly 450 publishers represented saw ebook sales drop from 180 million units to 162 million over a year’s time.

The second, just released by the American Association of Publishers, reported a decline in overall revenue for ebooks, a year-to-year decrease of 4.7 percent in 2017. AAP tracks sales data from more than 1,200 publishers.

This ebook decline occurred in an overall publisher revenue environment that AAP said was essentially flat in 2017. So some other kinds of book formats that AAP watches, like hardback books, went up as ebooks went down. For its part, NPD says when combining print and ebook unit sales, ebooks’ percentage of the total dropped from 21 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017.

It turns out this downward ebook trend isn’t new. It may actually be an improvement, of sorts. “The pace of ebook decline appears to be cooling,” AAP’s Marisa Bluestone said, noting 2017’s drop was, “significantly less than the double-digit declines experienced in 2015 and 2016.”

Among the categories showing a decline in both NPD’s and AAP’s figures were kids’ ebooks. Children’s ebooks had the most dramatic decline in unit sales, and children’s/young adult ebooks have suffered double-digital revenue drops every since year 2015.

And yet, NPD reports, even though it’s also declining, adult fiction remains the most popular ebook category, with 44 percent of all adult fiction sales in digital form.

On the surface it would seem like all of this is going to come as a surprise to boosters who thought ebooks would replace traditional paper book publishing completely.

But there are three key words to keep in mind: “traditional book publishing.” And that’s the good ebook news. Because the very same technology that allowed traditional publishers to create and sell ebooks also allowed authors to do the same — directly to readers.

NPD and AAP don’t measure those indie sales. Centralized reporting of direct-from-author sales is tougher to come by, but by all anecdotal measures the independent market has taken off, notably in the also-still-large category of adult fiction.

Click to read the rest of this “good ebook news” on GeekWire

 

Self-publishing and the snobbery issue

I work with all different types of authors, those who are hoping to secure a publishing deal, those who are chasing the self-publishing dream and even a couple who have gone on to secure a deal with one of the big five (or six, or whatever it is). Some of these writers are brilliant, some are really talented, some are steady, dependable story tellers who can spin a good yarn, some aren’t that great, some have accepted help and advice and have improved in leaps and bounds, a few I have advised to go right back to the drawing board and there have been a handful who I have had to advise that writing is perhaps not the path for them (this is at the sample edit stage – I never take a penny from authors in this situation).

You might be surprised to know that most of the authors that I’d put in the first three categories are self-published…

Source: Self-publishing and the snobbery issue

Self-Editing: The Importance of Consistency

When you’re editing your own work for publication, one of the easiest ways to look like an amateur is by not being consistent. Character names, place names, capitalization, spacing, indentations, and general formatting can end up varying a lot when you’re working on a lengthy manuscript that takes months or years to complete.

Even though I’m an editor, I can’t always keep that hat on while I’m in theeditor creative process of writing. There are times when just getting the words out is the most important thing, and the detail work of refining must be set aside for a later time. But that later time must eventually come, and all of those little inconsistencies must be fixed for the sake of the work’s integrity.

To help you understand what I’m talking about in practical terms, here are some actual examples of inconsistencies I found (and fixed) when I got to the final editing stage of Ancient Voices:

    • The name of one of my minor characters had been spelled 3 different ways.
      An easy way to prevent this is to save all of your character names into your spell check. That way if a name gets redlined, you know you need to pay attention instead of just ignoring it. For some reason I hadn’t done that with this character’s name and it almost got past me…almost. 
    • I had sometimes capitalized Winter Festival (making it a proper name) and at other times left it lower case, indicating it was just a general description of the event. I had to decide whether or not to make it a proper name, then go back and adjust everything accordingly. I had done the same thing for words like Shrine and Troll.
      A simple find/replace will work if you have the “match case” box checked. 
    • Ok, so this betrays my age a little, but in High School Business class I learned to type on an electric typewriter. Back then, it was drilled into our heads that you put two spaces after every period and colon. This rule has since changed, but I can’t seem to re-train my fingers. I try for a while, inevitably lapsing back into hitting that spacebar twice after every period. I’ve kind of given up. But obviously I have to fix this before publication, and this involves thousands of minor corrections in a full length work.
      Thankfully, find/replace will correct this also. 
    • At the beginning of some chapters I had included the chapter numbers, and for others just the name was there. For one in particular I had changed my mind about the chapter name, changing it in the body of the writing, but not in the Table of Contents.
      Always make sure that your chapter headers are consistent in terms of formatting, and in content. Do a final check that your Table of Contents page matches up. 
    • Word’s grammar check is frequently dead wrong, but when you’re all finished editing and think you’ve fixed absolutely everything, run it anyway. It caught a couple of errors for me that I was happy to fix. In one place I had written “in” twice but not picked up on it. In another I had used the incorrect word…spelled right…but contextually incorrect. Simple mistakes, yet I would not have wanted them in the published book. 
    • Spoken words are always in quotes, whereas direct thoughts are in italics. I found several places where I had forgotten to italicize thoughts.
      Sadly there is no easy way to find this, you just have to be very aware when you’re proofing. 
    • When your publisher offers you the option of a printed proof or digital one, take the printed proof! Yes, you may have to pay for it. Yes, it will take time to get delivered. All of that is really annoying, when all you want to do is quickly scan through the digital copy and click that “approve” button. But considering how long you’ve worked on your manuscript, you can wait another week. 

Make sure your cover looks good in print and not just on screen. You may have reached the point where you feel like you can’t possibly read through your book one…more…time!  When you’re done having your mental temper tantrum, man up, find a comfy chair, and read it again anyway. Pretend you’re a reader who has just paid for this book and is hoping it will be worth the investment. I found stray errors in my printed proof that I did not see, or could not have seen, in my submitted file. Among other things, I found places with weird spacing and formatting from the conversion process, two places where closing quotes were missing, and not all of the italicized thoughts that I had so carefully looked for and fixed were showing up. I had to correct the ones that had not converted properly. I was extremely glad that I had taken the time to read through the printed proof.

All lessons learned, and I’m sharing them because I know from experience how easy it is to get tripped up by the little things. Self-editing is extremely hard—way harder than the writing itself, and harder than editing for someone else. I hope my book is perfect, but I can’t make any promises. Maybe some reader has already found a mistake I missed and snickered about it. But there are plenty of books out there from big publishing houses that end up with small errors in them, too. I’ve even found some in my beloved Narnia Chronicles collection. Nobody is perfect, not even publishing house staff editors. That doesn’t mean we give up trying, because when there are too many little problems in a book, that’s all the reader will notice and remember. It is a major hazard of self-editing, so if you have to go that route, be prepared to do a lot of extra work, and ask others around you for help. In the end, your creative masterpiece is worth the effort.

Want more self-editing tips?  Click here for another article on the subject from earlier this year.