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Reporting back on new directions in self-publishing: A summary of challenges, opportunities and resources
Editors Toronto paired with PWAC Toronto Chapter to present a panel on self-publishing. The following post is from the PWAC Toronto Chapter blog, Networds. Thanks to editor Suzanne Bowness for giving BoldFace permission to share the post.
by Suzanne Bowness
If you’re one of the unfortunate PWAC members who couldn’t make it to the self-publishing panel held on March 27, which was co-organized by PWAC Toronto Chapter and Editors Toronto, you’re in luck: I took notes for you. It’s not quite the same as being there, but here are a few tips and images to give you a flavour of the event.
If there were a quote to summarize the evening, perhaps it was one of the first to be projected on the big screen in the University of Toronto (U of T) lecture hall, where we all gathered:
“Self-publishing used to be a scar; now it’s a tattoo.”
That’s from Greg Cope White, author of The Pink Marine: One Boy’s Journey through Boot Camp to Manhood. I forgot to take a picture, but the quote still sticks in my mind days later.
If the evening had a theme, it was how much has changed in the world of self-publishing, even in the last five years. Seriously, most panellists said those exact words or similar.
Hosted by the Creative Writing program at the School of Continuing Studies, U of T, the panel consisted of four industry pros, who all did a great job of dividing this big topic into digestible sections, providing a helpful mix of new information and personal anecdotes, which allowed their talks to flow together nicely. You can read the panellists’ biographies here, in our original post advertising the event. (more…)
By Nina Munteanu
I’m a writer and an editor. I’ve written and published novels, short stories, and non-fiction books with traditional publishing houses and indie publishers. I’ve also self-published. As editor, I serve as the in-house copy editor for a publishing house in the United States and have acted as acquisition editor for several anthologies put out by a local indie publisher. I also coach novice writers to publication and edit in that capacity. You could say I know the industry from many angles and perspectives. That’s been good for me, because this industry is a moving target, and it’s good to triangulate on a moving object. The entire publishing industry is evolving, and it’s a slippery evolution.
Even the words we use are slippery. Indie. Hybrid. Publisher.
Many people, like award-winning author Kristine Kathryn Rusch, when they use the terms indie writer and indie publishing, include what some call self-publishing in their definitions of indie, “because so many [professional] writers who are not with traditional publishers have started their own presses. It’s not accurate to lump all writers who are not following the traditional route into the self-publishing basket any longer.” According to Rusch, an indie publisher is anyone who is not a traditional publisher. For this article, I’ve adopted Rusch’s definition to provide the full range of expectations for editors working with writers in the indie field. I define a traditional publisher as an established and often larger publishing house or press that (1) follows traditional submission criteria; (2) does not charge writers; (3) pays out royalties; and (4) employs in-house editors.
Indie writing and publishing can then be described in several ways depending on where the writer submits and by what mechanism and what model they use. All of these will affect a writer’s needs and perceptions for an editor and, in turn, an editor’s expectations as well. (more…)
By Denyse O’Leary
If you Google “editing for self-published authors,” you will see immediately that it is a growing business area. Forbes noted in 2012 that, in the United States, the number of self-published books with ISBNs had increased 287 per cent since 2006 (and had increased from 148,424 books to 235,000 in 2011). The Toronto Star Books page informally deemed 2013 the year of self-publishing. Some self-published books in Canada and the United States make bestseller lists, especially Kindle’s.
At one time, in order to get a contract with a royalty publisher, the author needed to demonstrate that a certain number of copies would be sold at a profit. But most authors do not write a book simply to make a profit, or at any rate not in the immediate term.
Other reasons for writing a book include boosting one’s career (think Fifty Ways to Raise Your Condo’s Resale Value, written by a top real estate agent) and writing one’s memoirs (think Nay!: My Years in Opposition at Queen’s Park). Such authors usually have a clear idea why they are writing and who might want to read their books. They can probably reach their target markets without a royalty publisher’s help. The agent’s book might be a freebie for his or her potential clients, or the retired politician might sell only 500 copies but still meet identified goals.
By Denyse O’Leary
University of Toronto demographer David Foot argues, “Demographics can explain two-thirds of everything.” Exaggerated? Maybe, but demographics can shed light on growth or decline areas for editorial services.
The key demographic fact is that a certain number of children are born each year and no one can go back and change that number. Most of them will probably grow up in Canada. Some new Canadians will arrive with children and some families will leave, but these changes won’t greatly alter the picture.
In general, the declining birth rate has reduced the number of children entering school. Over 5.11 million students were enrolled in public schools in the academic year 2007–08, a 4.5 per cent decrease from 2001–02. This continued a downward trend which has seen declines every year since 2002–03. The trend should be kept in mind if you find children’s media a sluggish market. Maybe you are not making a mistake in marketing, but rather experiencing the results of a trend. On the other hand, the total number of educators (full-time equivalent) steadily increased. Statistics Canada says that in 2007–08, there were just under 333,000 educators, up 1.1 per cent from 2006–07 and up 5.2 per cent from 2001–02. So more teacher training materials may be needed anyway.
One outcome is that the Canadian population is aging. In 2011, the median age in Canada was 39.9 years, meaning that half of the population was older than that and half was younger. In 1971, the median age was only 26.2 years. Thus—just for example—if you edit for sports media, you may see a shift in client focus from downhill skiing to cross-country skiing. Again, it’s not you, it’s the market.