News / USA

More New Authors Turn to Self-Publishing

Self-published books outnumber those released by traditional publishers

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

More and more authors are taking control of their future by self-publishing their work. In fact, more books are self-published than are issued by traditional publishers, according to Bowker, which compiles publishing statistics.

Patricia Ruth, author of 'Holly Heights,' found marketing her self-published book more challenging than writing it.
Patricia Ruth, author of 'Holly Heights,' found marketing her self-published book more challenging than writing it.

Self-publishing means you not only write the book but take on production and sales as well. In earlier centuries, most publications were self-published, but over time the role of author and publisher became separate.

However, in the last few years, given the difficulty of finding a traditional publisher, a growing number of new authors have chosen to bypass traditional publishing and do it on their own.

"Holly Heights" is Patricia Ruth's first novel. “It’s a slice of suburban life and a story everyone can relate to,” she says.

After she finished writing and editing her novel, she was eager to see it in print. “I did try to go the traditional publishing route by sending inquiries to agents and publishers.”

It was a long, frustrating and, ultimately, unsuccessful process.

“I’m a member of a very popular club of authors that get rejected by agents and publishers," she says. "I’d get rejections from agents. It would come on a strip of paper, maybe two inches long, not even the courtesy of a full page letter. It’s outrageous the stuff you get back."

However, despite the setbacks, she was still determined to be published and a visit to a book fair inspired Ruth to do it on her own.

“I saw that there was so much going on with self-publishing and empowering authors," Ruth recalls."You know I felt it was very doable.”

The first step was to discover how to go about it.

”It’s as easy to start as just Googling the word ‘self-publishing’ and you’ll see that there is quite a number of companies that do provide self-publishing services," she says. "It's really very simple.”

CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, is one company which provides self-publishing services.

"One of the key challenges for authors is coming up with their cover," says Libby Johnson McKee, managing director of CreateSpace. "We’ve created a tool called ‘a cover creator,' which allows you to use some of our preformatted templates to create your own cover. Once your title is finished and ready for production, we then produce that book, print on demand."

However, marketing a book is often more challenging than writing it.

“My recommendation is to start local," Ruth says. "In my community, my local bookstore has a table for local authors. So it’s a matter of getting them to pick your book, maybe do a book signing. I did one. You want to write a press announcement and send it to local radio, TV and newspapers."  

Self-publishing has its limitations, according to Lorin Rees of Rees Literary Agency. He represents authors to traditional publishers.

Margaret Hollister's memoir, 'Inheriting China,' was self-published rather than being released by a traditional publisher.
Margaret Hollister's memoir, 'Inheriting China,' was self-published rather than being released by a traditional publisher.

“Obviously self-publishing gives a lot of control to authors and allows them to fulfill their goals without having to go through a pretty difficult, tiresome and lengthy process and rejections," he says. "However, there are limitations to self-publishing particularly distribution, packaging, editorial support and credibility."

Margaret Hollister, who self-published "Inheriting China," a memoir about growing up as the daughter of missionaries in China in the 1920s and 1930s, agrees.

“It’s impossible, very, very stressful, so much work and so expensive," she says. “Maybe you write naturally. Maybe that’s a natural thing for you. Publishing and formatting a book and trying to find a market, all that, that is not natural. You need to learn that just as you would learn a profession.”

Editor David Minckler helped Hollister publish her memoir and warns others who want to follow her example to be prepared.

“I’d say they would have to learn some software and be pretty good at it," he says. "They should know enough to be able to scan pictures, organize a text and proofread.”

Digital technology has made it easier for authors, especially younger ones, to self-publish. However, Minckler believes writers will continue to prefer traditional publishers.

“A lot of self-published books seem to be pretty trivial and really not of much interest to a wide audience," he says. "So if you're talking about a wide audience, I think established publishers will continue.”

CreateSpace managing director Johnson McKee agrees that the traditional publishing industry will always be there. However, she believes self- publishing is here to stay.

“Since 2002, the growth of independent published books is over 8,000 percent," Johnson Mckee says. "So there is really a movement in the industry because anyone who wants to tell their story can be out there. I think that trend of democratization of the publishing process will continue.”

As more writers learn the process, Johnson McKee says it will become more affordable which, in turn, could attract more people to self-publishing.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More