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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

PWAC Toronto chapter president Karen Luttrell introduces the panel

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.

Helpful slide of panellists’ names!

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…)

Notes on New Directions in Self-Publishing

Editors Toronto paired with PWAC Toronto Chapter to present a panel on self-publishing. The following post is from freelance editor Michelle MacAlees’s blog Many thanks to Michelle for giving BoldFace permission to cross-post this post.

by Michelle MacAleese

“Self-publishing [used to be] a scar; now it’s a tattoo.”— Greg White

Last night [Tuesday, March 27, 2018]  four of Canada’s most savvy publishing professionals addressed the subject of new directions in self-publishing together with Editors Canada (Toronto branch)PWAC Toronto Chapter, and the U of T School of Continuing Education.

This morning I am reviewing my notes, and I share them here:

  • Many in the biz draw a distinction between self-published authors and hybrid-published authors; both are “independent,” but the self-published authors are a special breed, who understand art and business and (usually) gladly develop proficiency in all the technical and administrative details of the process.
  • Not surprisingly, options for authors continue to change rapidly. What worked best in 2011 is irrelevant today. Many quality companies offer publishing services and hybrid publishing deals. (Many companies will pretty much just steal your money. One must read up before signing up.)
  • The best publishing option for e-only genre fiction won’t be the same as for a debut hardcover business book. It’s a wide world of independent publishing.
  • Authors: If you don’t love technical things (formatting ebooks, working Amazon’s categories, tweaking descriptive copy), you probably won’t enjoy starting a publishing house of one.
  • Editors: Working with self-published authors is a specialty and those editors who are good at taking on that relationship and guiding the process are worth their weight in gold. (Isn’t it about time we begin to mentor each other in why this kind of author-editor relationship is unique, and how it borders on the agent role at times?)
  • Editors who already specialize in working with self-published authors: Let’s talk about how to partner with reputable publishing services companies as well as with other independent designers and book marketing professionals to launch great self-published books that sell!

Thanks to panelists Stephanie FyshMeghan BehseMark Leslie LefebvreNina Munteanu, and to my audience buddy Bronwyn Kienapple. Let’s keep sharing!

Video: Watch the panel discussion on editing self-published authors at our April meeting

At the April 2016 meeting of Editors Canada’s Toronto branch, Sharon A. Crawford, Ali Cunliffe, and Susan Viets spoke with editors about their considerable experience and knowledge on self-publishing from both the editor and the writer perspectives.

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The moving target of indie publishing: What every editor (and writer) needs to know

By Nina Munteanuindependent

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…)

Tips for finding work editing self-published authors

FreelanceBy Valerie Borden

The growth of self-publishing has created an exciting opportunity for freelance editors. To take advantage of this trend, it’s important to be aware of the many ways to market your editorial services and connect with self-publishing authors.

Recently, I spoke with three editors who have experience in self-publishing, who gave me useful information for the freelance editor.

Beth McAuley, senior editor of The Editing Company in Toronto, advises making your website inviting to authors, since many do not see the need to have a professional editor working on their manuscript. To allow potential clients to search for you, she recommends listing your services in the Editors’ Association of Canada’s directory. You can also write blogs and put up flyers where writers meet. In other words, “Go where writers go.”

Beth emphasizes, “Do not agree to anything unless you have read the entire manuscript.” By assessing the whole manuscript, the type of editing required can then be determined. From there, a contract or letter of agreement is negotiated, which defines tasks, fees, and timelines. It’s important to educate the novice author about the process of editing. It takes time to produce a good book and a lot of reading, assessing, editing, rereading, reassessing, and copy editing.

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Making the growth in self-publishing work for your editing business

LaptopBy 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.

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What difference do population trends make to your editing business?

By Denyse O’Leary 

demographicsUniversity 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.

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