INDEX

INTRODUCTION

STUDY GOALS: THE INDIE AUTHOR REVOLUTION

1. DEVELOPMENT AND TRENDS IN THE NEW, SELF-PUBLISHING WORLD

1.1 DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-PUBLISHING IN THE U.S.

1.2 DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-PUBLISHING IN EUROPE

2. ANALYSIS OF SELF-PUBLISHING PLATFORMS IN THE U.S. AND EUROPE

2.1 SELF-PUBLISHING PLATFORMS

2.2 READING AND PUBLISHING PLATFORMS

2.3 SELF-PUBLISHING AND DISTRIBUTION PLATFORMS

2.4 ADDING UP THE FIGURES

3. BOOK SELLING PRICES, A KEY ELEMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE

3.1 NEW RULES OF THE GAME: UNDERSTANDING DYNAMIC PRICING

3.2 RETAIL PRICES OF SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS

4. AUTHORS IN THE FACE OF SELF-PUBLISHING

4.1 J.K.ROWLING

4.2 GUY KAWASAKI

4.3 MERCEDES PINTO

5. THE PUBLISHER’S ROLE IN THE 21st CENTURY

5.1 FINE PRINT OF SELF-PUBLISHING CONTRACTS

6. STRATEGIES FOR THE MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION OF SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS AND THEIR VISIBILITY

6.1 AUTHORS’ DIGITAL RIGHTS

7. CONCLUSIONS OF OUR SURVEY ON AUTHORS AND CONTROL OVER THEIR WORK

7.1 WRITER BY PROFESSION

7.2 FOR THE LOVE OF ART AS A CONCEPT

7.3 WRITERS’ SELF-ESTEEM

7.4 THE WORD “SALE” IS RELATED TO SUCCESS INSTEAD OF MONEY

8. CONCLUSIONS OF STUDY: “INDIE AUTHORS: THE SELF-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION”

INTRODUCTION

Intro

Self-publishing is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, it was commonly practiced in the 19th and 20th centuries; the fact that Dostoyevski (incidentally, one of the pioneers of crowdfunding) asked his friends for money to finance his books, that Nietzsche paid for the self-publishing of 50 copies of “Thus spoke Zarathustra” out of his own pocket and that Lewis Carroll did the same thing with “Alice in Wonderland”, as did Marcel Proust, Alexandre Dumas, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, Edgar Alan Poe, George Bernard Shaw and Ernest Hemingway, is not something to be overlooked. The same occurs among Spanish speaking authors, and since this report also seeks to reflect the real trends of self-publishing today, in our context, not just in the English-speaking world, it should be borne in mind that it was a kind of tradition imposed by market legislation: in order to make a name for oneself in the publishing industry, it was necessary to have previously paid for a work to be published. This was indeed the case of Jorge Luis Borges himself, as well as Ernesto Sábato, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Juan Carlos Onetti.

All of these writers started off as independent authors in the days when paying for the publication of books out of one’s own pocket was not looked down on and those who wished to make their work known could use their own means, without shame, to reach a limited audience without being treated with contempt. First and foremost, because it was considered that the author in question believed in his work to the extent that he was willing to invest in it. As well as prompting these authors to self-publish their work, it caused many others to do so with more or less success, either on completion of a manuscript, due to the urgency in seeing it published, or after having been rejected by publishers who had failed to understand their work.

This leads us to pose the following questions: Why does self-publishing imply negative connotations today? Why is it believed that the reason authors self-publish their work is because no publishers have wished to do so, thus implying low literary quality or a lack of interest in the story being told? Mainly because this has actually been the case during the second half of the 20th century. The creation of a specific economic and professional publishing sector, meeting the needs of an increasing number of readers in a world where reading and books were no longer only available to the privileged few but to an increasing number of readers due to democratization, became a sure way of finding and publishing these authors. Publishers became the safe channel; the filter or guarantee readers could rely on to feed their reading interests.

It is a well-known fact that even before the dawn of the digital era and the existence of self-publishing platforms, the publishing industry did not always function properly and did not always work as the best filter, which is why self-publishing has been a more or less visible, although persistent, phenomenon throughout time for authors who wished to see their work published, as well as for authors and readers who mistrusted publishers’ instincts. In 2006, “The Sunday Times” conducted an experiment and sent a novel by V.S. Naipaul, Nobel Prize for Literature, to 20 publishers; the novel had been awarded the prestigious Booker Prize in its day. The novel in question was rejected by every single publisher. The same newspaper conveyed the work of another author; the difference being that one publisher expressed an interest in publishing it.

In 2012, J.K. Rowling’s crime fiction novel “The Cukoo's Calling”, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, was rejected by numerous publishers. There are countless other examples in the past, such as “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “The Time Traveller’s wife”, which was rejected 40 times until an independent publisher decided to take the risk. This book by Audrey Nifenegger sold more than seven million copies!

However, the world is constantly evolving and brings changes to all the different economic sectors. The threshold of the 21st century coincided with the birth of the digital age, which has incited transformations in the publishing world. While certain people were discussing the kind of publishing model to be applied to their businesses, self-publishing has shaken off its inhibitions and returned to the scene with a winning force, proposing new possibilities for the publication, promotion, distribution and marketing of all kinds of books. If technology has revolutionised communication and even the world of cinema – as we all know, anyone can create a short or long film from home with a mini-camera and a little effort – how wouldn’t it affect the publishing world?

Self-publishing platforms cannot be overlooked. They are technological companies that publish, distribute and promote on demand. They are fast and have a large portfolio of copyrights. Disregarding them would therefore be too simplistic since they are long tail companies, i.e. what is really important is to sell few copies of many titles; in view of that objective and faced with the eternal problem which authors encounter as to how to reach a conventional publisher, these type of companies are progressively and safely on the increase.

Therefore, amidst threats and opportunities, self-publishing has equally been awakening interest and concern in the book world and few are the literature festivals or conferences which do not speak about the boom of this trend, which is undoubtedly leaving its mark on and shaping the future of the publishing industry. The isolated cases of “Vanity Publishing” (which is how the English-speaking community has labelled self-publishing) have consequently come to possess a magnificent structure, with various on-line self-publishing platforms which have cheapened the process for authors who wish to invest in their work, and become an attractive option for a large number of publishers who have decided to participate in the process instead of worrying about it.

REPORT GOALS: INDIE AUTHORS: THE SELF-PUBLISHING REVOLUTION

One of the key elements of this decade (2010-2020) will be the consolidation of self-publishing in the book world. In fact, one of the most broadly discussed recent moves in the sector was made last year, by Penguin Random House, when it purchased the self-publishing service platform, Author Solutions. This is not the only company in the book sector banking on self-publishing: HarperCollins, Roca Editorial, Amazon, Apple and Casa del Libro, among others, have launched various initiatives with a view to breaking into this new world. Important national and international publishers, bookstores and libraries are analysing the potential profits derived from the creation of a self-publishing platform providing services and contents for authors and readers. We aren’t just talking about how an author may find a way of bringing his work to light; we are talking about processes during which readers of the work are present practically from the very beginning. The “Indie Revolution” has actually reached this point.

In this context of change, the objective of the study “Indie Authors: The Self-publishing Revolution” drawn up by Dosdoce.com and Biografías Personales, is to provide professionals in the book world – be they publishers, agents, authors, booksellers or librarians – with a broad analysis of the impact of self-publishing in the publishing sector so that each one may establish the business opportunities and advantages of self-publishing.

This is no longer a simple formula, as it was in the past, where an author self-financed the publication of a work which publishers were unwilling to publish since they were not prepared to take on any risks if they considered that the work failed to meet the requirements of a given catalogue, particularly if the author was unknown, and it consequently became difficult to sell, among many other reasons. However, there is a lot more to it than that. Self-publishing should not even have to be confined to the printed world, which has advantages and disadvantages although there are probably more benefits than drawbacks. As Amazon itself has announced: “what we have done is to provide tools to make it possible for a story to be made available to hundreds of millions of people across the globe in various formats.” Self-publishing today, a phenomenon in constant change well into the 21st century and is keeping up with the times by converting a written story in one language into a story which travels on the net to devices in various countries. In other words, it has no boundaries; the book may be translated into other languages and converted into an audio book; there is no need for the author to keep to a publisher’s traditional editorial calendar, i.e. it may be published as many times as the author may choose throughout the year if there is enough material and a desire for it to be well-known, without actually waiting for a publisher to set a date in compliance with the calendar of the cultural world and other authors in its catalogue.

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