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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid