Self-Publishing Firm Website Features Author’s Bill of Rights

WRITERS. If you’re a first-time author, or new to self-publishing, comparing self-publishing companies can be tough. For one thing, each company offers a different mix of services and pricing packages. Plus, it’s hard to predict exactly which services you may need as your project progresses.

Self-Publishing Press Authors Bill of RightsThat’s why the newly redesigned website of the Self Publishing Press includes a variety of educational features, including an Author’s Bill of Rights. The “bill of rights” includes the right to full disclosure of all publishing-agreement details and the right to simplified pricing with all charges clearly identified.

Other features on the site include tips on book marketing, a glossary of terms, and an Editor’s Notebook blog guiding authors through all steps in the self-publishing process.

Self Publishing Press is a New Hampshire-based company led by Kevin E. Pirkey, who has spent the last 25 years in the printing and publishing industry. His goal is to give authors a cost-effective way to self-publish their books without waiting months or years to try to get the attention of a large publisher.

“With the support of Self Publishing Press, authors can match the services of large commercial publishers and publish their books the way they want, with the quality and
professionalism their creative works deserve,” Pirkey says. “Just because an
author has never written a book before or doesn’t have the name recognition of Stephen
King doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the same access to readers and all over
the country.”

Pirkey was motivated to start Self Publishing Press by his love of books and publishing: “I love to share in and encourage the passion of a new author for their work. There is great satisfaction in seeing an author receive the first copy of their newly published work.”

The Self Publishing Press offers four packages. Most authors will choose either the Bronze, Silver Premier, or Gold Deluxe package because these include editorial and marketing support services. The Family Memories package is for authors who want to self-publish works with limited distribution, such as family genealogies or cookbooks.

The packages include an author website through which reprints can be ordered as needed. A variety of a la carte services is available, including cover design, page layout, website development, e-book formatting, and press release writing.


Website: Self Publishing Press

Facebook Page: Self Publishing Press


Useful Stats:Trends in E-Reading

Two separate reports from InfoTrends and the Association of American Publishers indicate that people are quickly adapting to new ways of reading.  Although the market for reading books and publications on screen is still small, it’s expected to grow rapidly as better devices and content continue to be introduced.

Paying attention to trends in e-reading and e-book-publishing can help you determine whether it makes more sense for you to self-publish and promote your own works or continue to seek a traditional publisher for your work.

InfoTrends E-Media Report

InfoTrends recently captured survey responses from 700 users of e-reading devices, including dedicated devices (such as the Kindle and Nook) and multi-purposes devices such as iPads, laptops, notebooks, and smartphones. The results from this survey suggest that e-reading is here to stay and poised for growth. InfoTrends analysts believe that within five years, one-third to one-half of all readers will be using electronic devices.

According to the study, the amount each survey participant spends on e-media is growing at 4.3% a year among those who use dedicated e-readers and 6.9% among those who use multi-purpose devices.

The report was conducted to help technology providers and publishers understand some of challenges and opportunities related to e-media hardware and content. For example, while there will be an expanding base of customers for companies that want to publish electronically, one of the challenges will be to determine which formats will most likely to be favored by the largest groups of readers.

Data and analysis in the report can help publishers understand how the rise of e-media will affect the purchase of hard-copy publications, what types of media are read most frequently on e-readers, the perceived shortcomings of the e-reading devices, and plans for new purchases of e-readers and multi-purpose devices.

Press Release: Reading E-Media: The End-User Perspective

Association of American Publishers

In the February 2011 sales report issued by The Association of American Publishers (AAP), e-books ranked as the number-one format among all categories of trade publishing (adult hardcover, adult paperback, adult mass market, children’s/young adult hardcover, children’s/young adult paperback).

Sales of e-books in February 2011 were $90.3 million, which is 202% higher than in Febuary 2010. The association attributes this surge primarily to a high level of buying by consumers who had received e-readers as gifts. Other factors contributing to the growth include the expanded selection of e-readers introduced for the holidays and the availability of more titles as e-books.

Some publishers who contributed to the study said e-books are generating fresh consumer interest in “backlist” titles (e.g. books that have been in print for at least a year).  Many publishers noted that e-book readers who enjoy a newly released book will frequently buy an author’s full backlist.

According to Tom Allen, president and CEO of AAP, “The February results reflect two core facts: People love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are. The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made e-books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print-format books.”

The AAP monthly sales data represents data provided by 84 U.S. publishing houses representing major commercial, education, professional, scholarly, and independents. Data on e-books comes from 16 houses.

For the months of January and February, 2011, the sales of print books fell to $441.7 million, down 24.8% from the amount of print books sold in January and February, 2010. By comparison, the sale of e-books for January and February 2011 totaled $164.1 million, up 169% over the same two-month period in 2010.

Press Release:  E-Books Ranks as No. 1 Format Among All Trade Categories for February 2011

How The Transformation of Publishing Might Affect The Careers of Creatives

WRITERS. DESIGNERS. At the inaugural Publishing Xchange Conference held in Washington, DC this week, some of the best and brightest analysts of the printing and publishing industries discussed some of the technologies that are totally transforming how content is delivered and consumed.  Their advice was intended primarily to help owners of traditional printing and publishing companies figure out how to revamp their business models.

Publishing Xchange ConferenceA lot of the advice given at the conference can also apply to creative professionals who sell writing, design, or photography services to publishers. You may want to adjust your own career objectives and business plans once you consider what the publishing landscape might look like two or three years from now.

A Quick Overview
Here’s what I learned in three different sessions: The consumer is king. Content is king. Data is king.

So which is it? Publishing’s future will probably be ruled by all three. Feedback and data supplied by consumers will dictate the type and quality of content that gets produced and delivered.

Most speakers agreed that the iPad is a real game-changer. Its full effects on printing and publishing are only beginning to be understood. For one thing, media tablets such as the iPad open up whole new ways for publishers and advertisers to engage with readers, measure their behavior, and deliver targeted advertising. Here are some of the other themes that emerged from the discussions.

The publishing universe is expanding very rapidly and in unpredictable directions. Today, anyone and everyone can publish, distribute, and monetize content. New groups of publishers include corporations (who once supplied most of the advertising revenue to magazine publishers) and authors (who supply the content from which book publishers earn their revenues).

The demand for content is growing. Smartphones and iPads have made the Internet portable. Because we are connected all the time everywhere we go, we expect instant and constant access to entertainment, news, educational material, social networks, product information, and advice that can help us make more informed choices.

 Print is not dead, but it will be regarded differently in the future. Books and magazines will be printed in shorter runs, with more visual content and higher quality paper. Printed pieces will be viewed as more permanent, physical objects. In cross-media marketing, various forms of printed communications will be used in coordination with digital tools.

More businesses are adopting data-driven cross-media marketing. Every individual has their own preference about how and when they want to be reached.  Cross-media marketing helps ensure that the right message reaches the right person through the right medium at the right moment when they’re ready to make a buying decision.

Data is becoming increasingly important. The quality and freshness of the data collected and stored will determine the cost-effectiveness of cross-media marketing. With the right data, marketers can reduce the overall volume of marketing materials that must be produced and distributed.

Magazine publishers and advertisers will use more sophisticated data analytics. Instead of simply measuring how many people are reading content, they will want data that tells them more about each individual who clicks on the content.

Businesses now realize that people visit sites for different reasons. The key is to determine which 10 to 15% of site visitors can be converted into paying customers.

Publishers who use Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite to produce magazines for the iPad and other tablet computers will be able to get a real-time picture of how readers are interacting with each story or ad in the publication. Advertising can be delivered based on the demographics and interests of the reader.

How publishers sell advertising will change. Publishers will no longer sell ad space. Instead, they might sell advertising based on the type of content that will be published.

Currently, ads must be reformatted from standard PDFs into a multitude of formats for tablets and smartphones. This is a challenge that Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite also helps address.

Over the next few years, publishers will continue to derive less of their income from print advertising. So, they will need to find supplementary or alternative sources of income. For example, the National Geographic Society produces TV programs, educational resources, DVDs, games, maps, travel guides, museum exhibits and much more.

Branding matters. Consumers will turn to the brands they trust to consistently provide the type of content they want. It doesn’t matter if the brand originated as a newspaper, magazine, book, or TV show, because the distinctions between media types are disappearing.

One dilemma that digital-content producers face is determining where to reset the boundaries between editorial content and advertising. To what extent can they integrate advertising into their content without losing the brand trust and loyalty of their readers?

The rules of the game are still being written. Technology is changing so quickly that printing and publishing may be in a permanent state of transition. Constant innovation will be required in terms of products, services, workflow, and business models. Consider this: Three of the most disruptive influences in the communications field (Facebook, Twitter, and the iPad) were all introduced within the last five years. We can’t even predict what new technologies might arise over the next five years.

New types of businesses will emerge from the chaos. Some publishers will continue to aggregate and distribute branded content. Others might set up systems that make it easier for individuals to publish and distribute their own content. Still other companies are making it easy for publishers in the U.S. to outsource routine digital-imaging and content-production tasks to companies in India or other nations.

Advice for Publishers and Print Providers
Here are some of the tips that were given to publishers and print-service providers. (And yes, some of it also applies to creative professionals who sell their services to publishers.)

  • Remain flexible.
  • Be willing to try new things.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail at some things.
  • Use data extensively (both for targeting your messaging and measuring what works).
  • If you find something that works, keep doing more of it.
  • Use your “artistic vision” to look for opportunities that others haven’t yet recognized.

Advice for Creatives
I’ll be following up with some of the outstanding, insightful analysts who spoke at the Publishing Xchange Conference to see if they have any tips to add to this list, but here are a few of my own thoughts:

Never stop learning. Printing and publishing companies will need staff employees and freelancers who are willing and able to continually learn new skills. Remain curious about the many different ways a new technology might be used.

Demonstrate your value to employers in a positive way. When creatives are perceived as being “difficult” or resistant to change, they risk being the first to be let go when a publisher decides to outsource more tasks to workers in other countries. The more you are viewed as a supportive and talented team player, the more likely it is that you will be reassigned to more challenging projects, or asked to help incorporate the next round of technological innovations.

Prepare to have your work more closely measured. If you don’t already publish a blog, start one. Blogging is a great way to learn the basics of analytics. You may experience an almost Pavlovian response after seeing those first encouraging spikes in traffic and favorable feedback to certain posts. Analytics can be weirdly motivating.

Devote chunks of your time to creating and marketing some personal projects. This can be a stress-relieving way to fulfill your need for self-expression and create work that reflects your vision and capabilities. But it can also make you appreciate some of the hard realities of developing a profitable business.

Where’s the Humanity?
At one point during an in-depth discussion of analytics, one brave soul stood up and asked: “Won’t all this emphasis on data inhibit creativity?”

Depending on the nature of your employer or client, an over-reliance on reader data might temporarily stifle some creativity (and limit the ability to reach out to new readers). But publishers and printers will constantly need to experiment with new ideas.

And, my well-honed editor’s “intuition” tells me that data analytics will only confirm what creatives already know: People want content that reflects and respects our humanity. Consumers will engage with content that inspires, surprises, delights, amuses, intrigues, tantalizes, entertains, persuades, clarifies, educates, or evokes joy or wonder.

If you can prove that you’re exceptionally good at storytelling, crafting powerful imagery, stirring emotional connections, or stimulating reader participation, then your talents will definitely be in demand.

Future posts on this blog will delve into these topics in more detail, calling attention to some of the remarkable speakers from organizations such as Outsell, InfoTrends, The Seybold Report, What They Think?, and the IDEAlliance + IPA.

Kudos to Publishing Xchange Chair David Zwang and Questex Media Group for pulling together such a thought-provoking conference.

MindStir Media Can Set You Up with a Virtual Book Tour

MindStir Media LogoWRITERS. If you’re not sure you have all of the skills needed to publish and promote a book, check out the wide range of services offered by MindStir Media. This self-publishing/book marketing company is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for all of the support services that a self-publishing author might need, including:

  • Ghost writing
  • Copy editing
  • Cover design
  • ISBN assignment
  • Copyright registration
  • On-demand printing
  • Ebook and Audiobook conversions
  • Distribution to major booksellers
  • Press release development and distribution
  • Website design
  • Online advertising assistance
  • Virtual book tours

The company even offers book-signing kits that contain 500 bookmarks, 500 postcards, 500 business cards, and 25 posters.

MindStir services can be purchased separately (a la carte) or in packages.

The company’s newest service is a Convenience Book Tour, in which MindStir will set up a month-long online/virtual promotional book tour for you. They will help you get exposure your book on 20 high-traffic blogs, including some that are syndicated into USA Today, Chicago Times, or the Wall Street Journal. While MediaStir handles all of the “bookings” for your promotional tour, you will write guest blog posts, take part in author interviews, and/or receive book reviews by bloggers.  You don’t even have to leave your home.

The book tour service includes:

  • a personalized tour page with your tour schedule, book cover, book cover, and ordering information.
  • a personalized tour banner graphic for your tour page, website, or blog.
  • a press release announcing your book tour.
  • advertising on social networks, e-groups, and blogs.


MindStir Media

Smashwords Makes It Easy to Publish Your E-Book

WRITERS. Last week, I attended a terrific 90-minute webinar entitled “Do Your E-Book Right (and Start Making Money).” Presented as part of the Writer’s Digest Webinar Series, this particular session was led by the former publisher and editorial director of Writer’s Digest, Jane Friedman.

She described how e-books are providing new opportunities for aspiring authors to publish their work electronically at little or no cost. Friedman also talked about some of the services that can help you convert your manuscript into book formats that can be read on media tablets, smartphones, and computers.

One free service Friedman highlighted was Smashwords, which allows you to become a published author in minutes. You can use Smashwords to publish full-length novels, short fiction, essays, poetry, personal memoirs, non-fiction, and screenplays.

Smashwords will convert your manuscript into multiple e-book formats, making your book readable on most e-reading devices, including: the Amazon Kindle; the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad; the Sony Reader; the Barnes & Noble nook; Android devices; and personal computers.

You can set your own price for the book and retain full control over sampling and marketing. You receive 85 percent of the net sales proceeds from your titles (70.5 percent for affiliate sales).

Based in Los Gatos, California, Smashwords was founded in 2007 by aspiring novelist Mark Coker. After he and his wife co-authored a book in 2002, they were unable to land a book deal even after two years of representation from one of the most respected literary agencies in New York City. Coker concluded that that in today’s digital age, authors should be able to publish whatever they want and readers should be able to decide for themselves what’s worth reading.

“Authors lucky enough to land a book deal rarely sell enough books to earn royalties beyond their initial $5,000 to $10,000 advance,” noted Coker. He learned that trade publishers were losing money on nearly 80 percent of the books they publish because of the high costs of production, warehousing, distribution, and marketing. Bookstores were often returning up to 50 percent of their inventory for a full refund.

With the launch of the iPad and other improved media tablets and e-reading devices, e-books are becoming increasingly important to the book-publishing industry.

Smashwords has already published more than 30,000 ebooks for more than 13,000 authors and independent publishers.

“By digitizing a book, authors and publishers can immortalize their works, making them permanently discoverable to new audiences,” explains Coker. “For authors and publishers of out-of-print books, e-books offer a great way to bring these works back to life.”

Smashwords Book Marketing Guide CoverPublishing e-books can be a great option for all sorts of entrepreneurial writers, including business professionals interested in publishing or test-marketing their content or ideas.

Of course once you publish your ebook, you will still need to promote it. To get started, download the free “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.” This marketing primer presents an overview of how Smashwords helps promote your book, and then provides 26 simple do-it-yourself marketing tips.

Smashwords Style Guide Book CoverIf you want Smashwords to distribute your book to major e-book retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobe, and Diesel, you will need to download and use the free Smashwords Style Guide. The guide provides step-by-step instructions for formatting the manuscript for your e-book.


Report Says Technology is Changing the Way We Read

Sideways LogoSideways, a software company that transforms books, magazines and other publications into immersive experiences on mobile devices, has released a white paper entitled “Turning the Page: How Digital Technology is Changing the Way We Read.”  

“E-readers and tablets have changed reading habits more than any technology since the printing press,” said Eliza Wing, co-founder and COO of Sideways. “They are changing content and reading permanently, and for the better. While the space is moving too fast for anyone to predict its final form, we have every reason to believe that these devices will become the preferred medium for readers. That said, only the publishers and authors willing to evolve by experimenting with video and audio, animation, web links and other interactivity will survive and thrive.”

The white paper clarifies the difference between “book apps” and e-books: “Book apps offer a richer experience than e-books, which are limited to text, images and video. Book apps, by contrast, can incorporate audio, animation, video, interactive maps, slideshows, databases, linking, and other features in highly flexible layouts that literally redefine the idea of what a book can be.” As a result of some of these new possibilities, Sideways believes that:

  • Younger generations of readers will grow up with a new idea of books and magazines and will not accept reading as a passive experience.
  • Tablet and e-reader users are not only receptive to enhanced content, but will be expecting it in digital books and magazines.
  • Book apps will provide authors and publishers with control and flexibility. For example, they can set the price for books, have sales, and adjust prices to market conditions.
  • E-reading will increase as the number and variety of e-readers grows and prices for devices and content fall.
  • Digital reading could lead to an overall increase in reading as it becomes more widely available, easier and less expensive.

Some of these projections are based on the findings of recent surveys that how people are already using their iPads.

  • The vast majority of iPad users read books on the device.
  • iPad usage is shifting users away from reading content in their workspace to at home and at their leisure.
  • iPad users now prefer reading periodicals and books on the device as opposed to print, computer, mobile phone, or e-reader.
  • Readers of some of the most well respected, high-circulation monthly magazines spend more time with the digital versions of these publications than with the print copies.

Eventually, the report concludes, “ink on paper alone will be seen as lacking.” A younger generation of readers will not accept reading as a passive experience. Not only will they expect writers to write for this new digital medium, but they may also expect to be able to comment on and share the material.

Founded in 2010, Sideways is a Cleveland, Ohio-based company that makes apps for the Apple iOS and Android platforms. The company’s M3 digital publishing platform allows clients to use common file types to efficiently and elegantly produce multi-media, multi-touch and multi-user apps.  

The Sideways team of developers, designers, artists, and editors can help develop intuitive and immersive experiences that will enrich the user experience. Sideways can also consult on marketing, pricing strategies and other challenges that must be met to release a successful app.



White Paper
Turning the Page: How Digital Technology is Changing the Way We Read

Five Trends in E-Books

Tablet PC and booksWRITERS. The ongoing evolution of e-books may change how you think about the type of content you suggest when submitting a book proposal to publisher. For example, consider these five e-book trends that Philip Ruppel, the president of McGraw-Hill Professional, listed in a recent post on

Enhanced E-books

“The e-book of the not-too-distant future will be much more than text,” writes Ruppel. “Interactivity has arrived, and will change the nature of the e-book.” For example, he says an e-book could contain a video showing how to fix a leaky faucet or pronounce foreign-language words as you read them. A novel could provide a platform in which the author can have a live exchange with reading groups.  Thus, in your book proposal, you might want to suggest creative ways to make the content more interactive.

An End to the Device War

Ruppel believes that consumer confusion will lead to quick consolidation around a few winners in the market for e-readers. He says consumers will care less about which device they use and more about the experience provided by the software, the portability of titles, and accessibility to a full catalog of titles.

E-books Costing More than $9.99

Although the $9.99 price for established bestsellers might have sparked initial consumer interest in e-books, expect future e-books with unique interactive features to cost more.

An Upsell for Value-added Extra Features

With enhanced e-books, publishers can interact with their customers in new ways. For example, clicking a help button will point readers to the publisher’s site where they can pay extra to download a tutorial about a specific point in the book they don’t fully understand.

An Expanded Role for Publishers

Producing a conventional technical or reference book requires a team of editors, copy editors, proofreaders, and designers. Producing digitally enhanced e-books will require even greater technical expertise.

In addition, Ruppel believes that with the skyrocketing amount of content being posted on the web, customers will seek out and pay expert content providers that can aggregate and contextualize information. As he puts it: “Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality, vetted, edited content—which takes a staff of experts—will be worth a premium.”

This last prediction, of course, should boost the morale of dedicated, professional freelance writers who have been dismayed by the flood of poorly researched, sloppily written content being churned out by low-paying content mills.  

Link:  5 E-Book Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing