Over 1 million self-published books in 2017!

Image: Pixabay

Did you know that the number of self-published books in the United States grew to over 1 million in 2017? That’s a 28% rise. I’m not surprised, are you? Publishers Weekly posted an article this week with all the numbers. Click here to read the full article, but here’s a rundown of the report, compiled by Bowker.

But first, I didn’t know what Bowker was, so I had to look it up. The company is the exclusive U.S. agent for issuing International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs). They also compile a lot of data, including bibliographic information on published books. Their statistical reports which include publishing trends are free and you can download them here.

Here’s where the data is a little tricky to understand. The increase was mostly due to rise in the number of print books issued ISBNs. The number of ISBNs for e-books decreased, but that is likely because authors are switching to Amazon’s KDP self-publishing platform. KDP doesn’t use ISBNs, so Bowker’s data doesn’t include this segment of e-books and Amazon does not make these numbers public.

Amazon’s Create Space is going strong too, with a 50% rise in title output of print books in 2017. These numbers are part of Bowker’s data. Smashwords and Lulu are still in the e-book game, but their numbers fell in 2017.

What’s interesting is that the number of print ISBNs issued by Author Solutions dropped 19% in 2017. Their numbers have fallen every year since 2012. Author Solutions is the parent company of a bunch of self-publishing companies, including AuthorHouse. They also have partnerships with several traditional publishing houses.

Numbers a year ago, showing only an 8% gain in self-published books, suggested that maybe the self-published market was reaching maturity. Maybe not now!

Image: Pixabay

So those are a lot of numbers to digest, but the story behind the data is that the self-publishing segment is a significant player in the publishing market.

Are you a self-published author? Do these numbers confirm what you already know? How did you get your book out there?

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Who’s That Indie Author? Annika Perry


Author name:  Annika Perry

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction / Short Stories

Book:  The Storyteller Speaks

Bio:  Although writing has been a lifetime passion for Annika, her route to full-time writing has been circuitous. She formerly worked within journalism and the timber trade before severe illness followed by motherhood gave her an opportunity to pursue her dream. The Storyteller Speaks, a collection of short stories, flash fiction and poetry, is Annika’s debut book. She has also written a novel, Island Girl, which is in its final editing stages as well as two, as yet unpublished, books for younger children. Annika is an avid reader (a world without books is unimaginable to her), a keen gardener, walker and she enjoys travel (in spite of her well-documented fear of flying!)

Favorite thing about being a writer:  The very act of writing, of losing myself in the story and gradually letting itself unravel to me. It is pure magic when the characters almost come to life, speak to me and lead me along unexpected paths to surprise endings. Finally it is a richness to be able to share my work and know it reaches people’s hearts.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Never having enough time in a day! Whilst publishing my book I realised the writing element was the easy part! The time and work involved in self-publishing is immense, even with excellent support, and consumes the hours in the day. On top of this, my blog, promotion and publishing problems (I’m currently sorting out an issue with Amazon) eats into a day.

Favorite books:  Here are just a few! The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce; If This Is a Man by Primo Levi; An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan; Illusions by Richard Bach; The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein; All the Light We Cannot See by Alexander Doer; The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

Contact Information:
Blog: annikaperry.com
Twitter:  @AnnikaPerry68
Amazon: Annika Perry

Goodreads: Annika Perry 

Awards/special recognition:  First Prize in Writing Magazine Short Story competition in 2014; Short-listed in InkTears Short Story competition in 2015.

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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On retirement and writing careers…

Fred Rohn shares a page from A Fortunate Life. Image: Christine Lee

Are you thinking of starting a writing career? Do you think it’s too late? It’s not! Many retired seniors are embarking on second and third careers as writers.

Last year I helped my father, Fred Rohn, publish his memoir, A Fortunate Life. Now 91, he retired from busy careers in public accounting and venture capital investing and began his third career as a full-time writer.

We got our feet wet with A Fortunate Life and are ready to submit a manuscript for a new book, this one a collection of short fiction. It’s called Encounters and depicts conflict in the human relationship. In some stories, the conflict is resolved. In others, the characters move on. His stories show how individual perceptions can drive relationships in either direction. Encounters will be published this spring.

My father has done his job, now it’s my turn to edit, proofread and handle the details, including marketing and promotion. Meanwhile, he is busy with a new book idea. He describes his next book in this recent interview with the Madison Eagle.

Now I’ve started a book on aging and how aging seniors, particularly those who are 85 or older, relate to society as they have to confront and meet it today and how they would hope that people would react to them…

Video by Christine Lee


You can watch the entire interview here, proof that it’s never too late to embark on a writing career!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Shirani Rajapakse


Author name:  Shirani Rajapakse

Genre:  Poetry and Short Stories

Books:  Chant of a Million Women (self published August 2017) Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011)

Bio:  Shirani Rajapakse is an internationally published, award winning poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013 and was a finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013. Her collection of short stories Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Rajapakse’s work appears in publications around the world including, Flash Magazine, Litro, Dove Tales, Mascara, Skylight 47, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Moving Worlds, Deep Water, Kitaab, New Verse News and many others.                                 

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I love the freedom to write what I want. I’ve worked in journalism and research and although they too involve telling compelling stories, they are based on fact. In fiction or poetry you can risks, creating total worlds out of mere pieces of facts. I also think it’s an effective way of telling a story that might otherwise not be told, like a narrative about a rape victim or a woman who has been murdered. In fiction we can create her world and tell it from her point of view.

Biggest challenge as an indie authorBreaking News my first publication, was through a small press in Sri Lanka. When I decided to self publish my poetry collection Chant of a Million Women, I had to work twice or even thrice as hard on the book. Because I was doing it on my own I had to learn everything from start. It felt like going to school, trying to learn about self publishing, how to format a book, do covers (although I got someone to design it for me), and marketing and promoting. I thought writing the book was hard, but turns out that was the easy part. The biggest challenge is in marketing and promoting.

Favorite booksTonight No Poetry Will Serve – Adrienne Rich, Snow – Orhan Pamuk, Midnight’s Children –Salman Rushdie, An Equal Music – Vikram Seth, Stags Leap –Sharon Olds, For the Most Beautiful – Emily Hauser.

Contact Information:
Blog:   Shirani Rajapakse – Poet. Author.
Facebook:  @shiranirajapakseauthor
Twitter:  @shiraniraj

Click here to learn more about Shirani Rajapakse’s books on Amazon.

Awards/special recognition:
Winner, Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013
Finalist, Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013.
Shortlisted, Gratiaen Award for Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) (short stories)

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Willie Handler


Author name:  Willie Handler

Genre:  Humor

Book:  The Road Ahead

Bio:  Willie Handler grew up in Toronto and did his undergraduate work at the University of Toronto. He also has graduate degrees from the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto and the Fox School of Business at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent over thirty years in various positions in the Ontario public service. before leaving in 2011. He has a number of humorous short stories published online on CommuterLit and Show Me the Funny, as well as many articles published in professional trade journals. THE ROAD AHEAD is his first novel. Willie is currently working on funny story about a chef stranded on Mars who is rescued by two Martians.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I was a technical writer for much of my work career. Three years ago, I decided to try creative writing and have been loving it. I enjoy storytelling, creating humor and using my imagination. Writing has been a wonderful opportunity to develop skills.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  The publishing industry has changed a lot over the years and authors are expected to actively market their books. Indie authors have to carry the ball largely on their own. I have no background in marketing and was not very active on social media. This aspect of writing has been challenging but I’m getting better at it.

Favorite books:
Cider House Rules – John Irving
Goodbye, Columbus – Philip Roth
The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Contact Information:
Blog: williehandler.com
Twitter – @WillieHandler
Facebook – @willietheauthor

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? by Claire McKinney

Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?
A Guide for Creating Your Own Campaigns
Claire McKinney


Writing a book is a big job and getting it published is an even bigger one. But even then, there is more work ahead. Did you know that there were over 700,000 books published in 2015? If you are a self-published author, promoting your book is the only way to get people to read it. Many self-published authors are unsure about how to do that. Their craft is writing, not publicity and marketing is a daunting task.

That’s where Claire McKinney’s guide to creating a book publicity campaign comes in. Even if you have a publisher, you need to understand how campaigns work. McKinney knows that having a plan takes the anxiety out of the job. Her book outlines how to pitch a book, develop contacts, write press materials and create a timeline.

In traditional publishing houses, the plan is in place months before the release. For self-publishers, it should be no different. McKinney’s guide is a great place to start. She explains how book publicity works and what you can do to get in there. Specifically, she offers advice on how to prepare a press kit and a bio, how to pitch your “story” and where to pitch it. She details how to set up and manage a media contact list, how to ask for and get reviews and when to pay for them.

Social media plays a big role in book publicity and McKinney offers advice on reaching readers through Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. You can download her free social media guide here. In addition, she explains advanced media strategies including how to work bookstore events, library programs and conferences. One strategy I think is the most interesting is how to insert your book and into a news story, thereby adding reader interest.

The book’s format is simple and readable and presented in a non-intimidating style. I highly recommend this guide and I will be sure to keep it handy as I help promote my father’s new book of short fiction.

I read Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a do-it-yourself book.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Linda Smolkin


Author name:  Linda Smolkin

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

BookAmong the Branded (May 2017)

Bio:  Linda Smolkin always wanted to be a writer—ever since she saw her first TV commercial and wondered how to pen those clever ads. She got her degree in journalism and became a copywriter. Linda landed a job at an ad agency, where she worked for several years before joining the nonprofit world. When not in front of the computer, she’s behind the drums (slightly) annoying her husband, son, and their 70-pound dog.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Letting my imagination go wild. Oh, and writing dialogue!

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Finding enough time to do everything. I have a full-time job, so all of the writing and business aspects of being an indie author have to be done on the side. But, meeting my goal of becoming a published novelist has been really great—except for the dark circles!

Favorite book:  So many wonderful books to choose from, but if I could only choose one, it would be: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Contact Information:
Twitter: @lindasmoklin
Website:  lindasmolkin.com
Goodreads Author:  Linda Smolkin
Among the Branded on Amazon

Awards/special recognition:  San Francisco Book Review rated Among the Branded 4.5 out of 5 stars, and in their review wrote, “This is a beautiful and fascinating novel that will keep readers hooked.”

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Deanna Altomara


Author name:  Deanna Altomara

Genre:  Middle Grade Fantasy/Science Fiction

Books: Ageless, Pi


Bio:  Fascinated by reading and writing from a young age, Deanna Altomara has dreamed of publishing her own novel since the fourth grade. She is the published author of two middle-grade fantasy novels, Ageless and Pi. While she is working on a sequel to Pi, she takes frequent breaks to try new foods, go hiking, and embroider.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  I love being able to create worlds and journey through them. I long to live all the lives I never got the chance to, and writing allows me to do that.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  The most difficult thing about self-publishing is self-promotion. Besides being slightly awkward, it’s very time-consuming. It’s very hard to balance a steady stream of advertising and outreach with work and daily life.

Favorite books:  I honestly have to pick Harry Potter! Those books filled my life with new color and potential, and that’s something I want to replicate in my own work. I also love the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus books, as well as a few classics like Gone With the Wind and Dracula.

Contact Information:
Twitter: @DeannaAltomara
Instagram @deannaaltomara
Facebook: Deanna Altomara @authordeannaaltomara
Goodreads Author Deanna Altomara
Website: deannaaltomara.biz.ly

Awards/special recognition:  Future Problem Solving International, Best On-site Writer Award;

Future Problem Solving International, 2nd Place Scenario; Ayn Rand Anthem Essay Finalist; Outdoor Writers of America, 2nd Place Poem

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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How one life fits into fabric of family – A Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn

Family memoir about growing up during the Depression shares how circumstances and personal decisions have led to A Fortunate Life.

image0-jpgAuthor Fred H. Rohn grew up on Hurden Street in Hillside, New Jersey, a place that played a pivotal role in his upbringing.

From bike rides and street games in Hillside, to marriage and children in the town of Madison, Rohn shares his experiences of growing up during the Depression, attending college, serving in the Navy, embarking on a business career, and marrying his best friend and high school sweetheart.

Offering an important historical perspective on growing up in the twentieth century, this memoir shares what Rohn considers to be the factors of a fortunate life. Interspersed with photographs from past and present, he shows how one small life fits, as a microcosm, into the fabric of family, friends, and an ever-changing world environment.

Hey indie authors!  Are you getting ready to publish your book?  We had a great experience with Archway Publishing.  They have a terrific team of coordinators, editors, layout and design professionals, marketing experts and customer service reps.  Their website offers many helpful online resources to help you through the process.  Knowing we were in competent hands from start to finish made a big difference!

Get your copy of A Fortunate Life here!

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Book publicity and marketing, what’s an indie author to do?

Image: Pixabay

Wouldn’t it be great you could just write and not worry about the business of selling books?  The explosion of self-publishing has made book publishing possible to new and creative talent, but a big question for indie authors remains.  What’s the best way to market and publicize a self-published book?  Top on the list are building a presence on social media, implementing ad campaigns, and obtaining reviews.  To some extent, a self-published writer’s time and budget will determine the plan, but learning what to focus on and deciding whether to buy marketing and promotion services can be hard.

For writers who are making these decisions for the first time, I’m wondering what experiences other indie authors can share.  So I’m starting a discussion about some specific marketing services listed below.  What has worked best for you?  What would you do differently?

  1. Social Media – do it yourself or hire a publicist? We all know how time-consuming social media is and let’s face it – you either like doing it or you hate it.  But for writers who do enjoy being on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., is it still better to have someone else do it?  Many indie authors wear a lot of different hats and time is a limited resource.
  2. Advertising on Facebook – do people read and engage with these ads? I know a lot of people who use ad blockers.  Do you?
  3. Creating a Facebook Page for Your Book – seems like a good idea, despite my frustration with Facebook. Can you create a page that is not connected to your personal account?
  4. Advertising in Publishers Weekly – Does advertising here help give your book a push in the right direction?
  5. Obtaining Reviews – as a book blogger, I’m sensitive to the need for indie authors to get reviews. Asking someone to review your book is hard to do!  What are your strategies?
  6. Buying Reviews – you can purchase reviews from Kirkus but they are expensive. It’s great if you get a positive review, but is it worth the risk of getting a bad one?
  7. Book Stubs – these little plastic cards display your book cover on the front and offer a free copy of an e-book on the back– they sound fun but unless you’re on a book tour, how helpful are they?
  8. BookGrabbr – this online tool invites your social media followers to share your book with potential readers by offering a preview as a reward or the whole book (a “grabb”) to certain followers. Sounds clever.  Has anyone tried this?

How many hats do you wear?  Do you like social media?  What other marketing methods have helped you sell books?

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