Category Archives: self-publishing

Does Being a Man Sell More Books?

BAIPA Board member Joel Blackwell sends this thought-provoking article:

From the blog of Kayci Morgan, a romance writer, which you can read here:

What I enjoy most about self-publishing is experimenting. Figuring out
what works and what doesn’t. It’s like piecing together a big puzzle.
One of the things I attempted was to publish under a male pen name. I
did this with the two books below and they took off. Record sales.
Both books ended up in the top ten of Amazon’s best sellers list for
their genre.

I can’t be sure if it was the name or the timing or some other factor.
But I was worried what if the stories were just that good, then my
real pen name would suffer from using the faux one. So I switched them
over to this name and sales plummeted within days of the name change.

Like I said, nothing conclusive one way or the other because of other
untested factors but I might try this experiment again in the future.
I’m excited to see how it turns out.

What’s an Independent Publisher?


By David Kudler

What’s an Independent Publisher?

So, I was astonished earlier this month to find myself elected president of BAIPA — the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.

You may call me Mr. President.

Born in the early, heady days of the desktop publishing revolution, BAIPA is a wonderful collection of folks involved in various parts of the non-corporate end of the publishing industry who get together to swap knowledge and offer services and listen to expert speakers give information about the esoterica of the publishing craft. We’ve got authors, editors, designers, publicists — if it’s got to do with the creation of books (in whatever form) and their sale, there’s someone there who can help. The collective is capable of creating books that are every bit as polished and attractive as those put out by the Big Five publishers. (Is it still five, by the way?)

I’ve learned a lot at BAIPA meetings. I’d like to think I’ve also managed to share some helpful information.

Meetings always start off with a free-form Q&A session. It gives people the chance to ask whatever burning question they may have up front; the BAIPA hivemind then sets about answering the question.

A few weeks ago, at the first meeting that I ran as president, no one had any questions to ask up front. This sometimes happens, so I threw out a question that I hoped would spark some interesting conversation: What exactly is an independent publisher?

Members gave a number of very interesting, insightful responses, but in every case it was clear that their actual answer to my question was someone who publishes his or her own books. Self-publishers, that is.

Well, that didn’t quite sit right with me, but I didn’t want to make a big deal about it — a large percentage of our members are in fact self-publishers. Self-publishing has become a huge industry in recent years, accounting for a large and growing percentage of the new books produced and sold.

These folks are all indeed independent publishers. But that’s not the whole answer.

I’m an independent publisher — or rather Stillpoint Digital Press, which I own, is one, though we publish books by nearly twenty authors in addition to a couple of titles of mine.

The Joseph Campbell Foundation, the small not-for-profit with which I’ve worked for the past decade and a half, is an independent publisher as part of its mission, putting out ebooks and recordings of lectures by the late mythologist.

So is New World Library, who publish all of the Campbell print books that I’ve worked on, and whose offices are about a mile from BAIPA’s meeting space, though NWL put out over thirty books a year, have a budget in the millions, and have a building full of (very nice) staff.

So what the heck is an independent publisher, anyway?

It’s a publisher not affiliated with any large corporation or conglomerate. That’s it.

What makes independent publishers special — what makes them the life blood of the publishing industry — is that independent publishers are independent. They make their own decisions. When it comes to publishing, that’s very important, both as a matter of freedom of the press, and as a matter of insuring that tastes can’t be defined solely by small groups of decision makers whose only concern is maximizing profits.

As several BAIPA members pointed out, they are publishing out of a passion — whether that’s a passion for a particular subject, or a particular story, or even a particular style.

Now, as we discuss regularly at BAIPA meetings, that passion must be tempered with a good sense of the business of publishing. Creating books is hard; selling them is even harder.

But still, the current marketplace allows independent publishers the same access to sell their books internationally as the subsidiaries of huge multinationals. With the ebook explosion and the proliferation of lower-risk printing options, anyone with a passion and a book can join the swelling ranks.

Come on in, the water’s fine!

* * *

* Cf. from the website of the Independent Publishers Assocation:

Writing by Voice

By Joseph T. Sinclair

About ten years ago I investigated voice recognition software, which I found to be surprisingly accurate but not accurate enough to be useful for writing a book by voice (dictating). Nonetheless, I wrote a short book by voice as I was hiking in Colorado (eBay Inventory the Smart Way, published by Amacom). It took about five long hikes (about 25 hours) to complete. And because I hike almost daily for exercise, this was a way to make productive use of my hiking time.

Writing by voice worked out well for me. It was superior to typing and cut my original writing time, as well as my rewrites, in half. Instead of using the software, however, I hired a transcriber; the cost of transcription is high even when the transcriber is very efficient.

After an eight-year hiatus from writing, I recently decided to again pursue a writing and publishing career. Dragon (Nuance) had a sale on their latest software (Ver. 12.5) in April 2013. I thought, why not? So I bought it, and this time I found it to be accurate and indeed very useful for writing.

I had  dictated about 35,000 words by summer and have done much more since, with great success.  In fact, I have so much writing to do now that I’m running out of hiking time and may need to dictate directly into my computer while I’m sitting at my desk.

The software is about $200 (Dragon Naturally Speaking). But the equipment is now inexpensive. I use a highly rated $45 digital recorder (Phillips DVT1000) and a cell-phone headset with a mini-boom mic featuring a windshield (Plantronics MX500i, original price $70,  available for about $20 online).

A $20 cell-phone headset ( JBuds J6M) works almost as well. Of course if you’re at your computer, you don’t need the recorder, just a better-than-average mic. However, if you have professional equipment, you can certainly use it.

In lieu of using a separate recorder, use your smart phone. I’ve used my Samsung Galaxy 3 with both the Smart Voice Recorder app and the Easy Voice Recorder app. They work well. I use a separate recorder only because it’s easier to see the controls in sunlight.

Having experimented considerably with equipment, I can vouch for the items I’ve cited. There are many choices. The point is, you no longer need expensive or professional equipment to record adequate-quality sound for accurate transcription via software.

Go to the Nuance website (, the Speech Recognition Solutions website (, or the Speech Technology website ( for more information on proper equipment.

To make it easy to use the Dragon voice recognition software, I use only simple punctuation commands (comma, period, new paragraph, etc.). Dragon features a multitude of voice commands that I hope to learn someday, to control the equipment and the software. In the meantime, I find that the simple punctuation commands work just fine.

Writing by voice isn’t for everyone or for every book. But it’s worth a try. You may find, as I did, that writing by voice makes getting your writing down on paper, so to speak, quicker, smoother, and more coherently than if you use a word processor.


©2013 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.

What Business Are You In? (Hint: It’s not writing or publishing) – By Mike Larsen

If you think you’re just in the writing or the publishing business, prepare for poverty and obscurity. If you want to be a successful writer in the Digital Age, you have to be in six businesses:


1. The content business. You have to create content of different kinds and lengths for different media. More than ever, social media makes content  king, the king of hearts because it can make readers so passionate about your work they tell everyone they know to read it. So you’re only as good as your content. When you consistently produce effective content, you trump the king by being the ace, the ace of diamonds.


2. The entertainment business. Bestselling author John Naisbitt once said that communication is entertainment, and if you don’t understand that, you’re not going to communicate. Whether you want your work to be inspiring, enlightening, moving, or humorous, your work has to have maximum impact.


Your readers are voting with their eyes and fingertips, and every word you write is an audition for the next word. Only your community of  knowledgeable, representative readers can vouch for your judgment that every word is right, and that your work achieves your literary goals for it.


3. The communication business. Unless your work goes viral, assume it will take seven-to-ten mentions of it to convince readers who don’t know about you to try it. So you have to share your passion for the value of your work in as many ways and places, as often as you can, while you’re making fans who help you.


4. The technology business.  Technology gives you astonishing power to produce, publish, and promote your work. It also forces you to reinvent yourself as a technophile, a lifelong learner about using technology to make every aspect of your work more effective.


5. The business of business. You have to be an entrepreneur, CEO of your own multimedia, multinational conglomerate. You have to balance yin and yang; think like merchant as well as an artist, balancing what you want to do with what you need to do to ensure your livelihood.


You also have to be a contentpreneur by taking advantage of the growing opportunities you have for generating, promoting, and repurposing your work, and building your communities.


6. The community business. Other than writing, you don’t have to do any of this alone. In fact, you can’t run any of these businesses alone. You have to enlist the people you need to succeed: fans and professionals in these communities who will help you because they know, like, and trust you. You can maintain enduring win-win relationships with them by serving them as often and well as you can. Reciprocity is the queen of hearts.


Another community we’re part of is the human family. Gaia sustains the global village on this gorgeous orb. We have to help maintain this miracle by making the effects of our actions on people, the planet, and profit the criteria for how we live.


Filling the Screen


This is the most amazing time to be a writer. The greatest opportunity writers have is a blank screen. You will create your future with your fingertips. Writing and building relationships will be a great adventure. It will bring you fans who love your work, friendships with people around the world, and the fulfillment of your literary and publishing goals. And in case it isn’t obvious, you need these five communities no matter what business you’re in.



The goal of the blog is to help us both understand writing and publishing.

Questions and comments most welcome.