Publishing Tales: Stories about Literature from across the Web (March 13 – 19)

Each week, we collect stories about self-publishing and authorship in the digital age. These are some of our favorites. If we’ve missed a good one, leave it in the comments. Or send us a note.

Don’t forget to sign up for The Geeky Press semi-regular newsletter. We’ll keep you up-to-date on the events we hold, the readings we have, classes we’re teaching, the podcast series, and cool stuff we see in the world.

Small Press + Self Publishing

  • Publishing With a Small Press: Straddling the Indie-Traditional Gap: Small presses are a mix of traditional and self-publishing that can bring a lot of good for authors, who can negotiate contract terms more than traditional publishers. Smaller publishers also run production and distribution processes for their authors, kickstart marketing, and are creative in their marketing.
  • Who’s afraid of self-publishing? #authorsay: The survey “Do You Love Your Publisher?” has had more than 630 traditionally authors respond, and some of the early data shows that 73 percent are neutral or horrified by the thought of self-publishing. But they believe that authors need to be treated with respect, lesser-known authors should be given more effort, and open communication would be preferred.
  • The Trouble with Indie Math: created an infographic that showed self-publishing as being potentially more profitable. The problem is that finding the 3,000 fans to buy the book used in the equation is hard for both mediums of publishing, and especially in self-publishing there is an amount of risk that should be heavily considered.


  • New Ebook Discovery Efforts Differ on Means: Some publishers, retailers and start-ups are trying to find how to get good recommendations for their books so that people will buy them, but that’s not the only option. Penguin Random House’s website Brightly focuses on creating conversations that lead parents to choosing relevant books and a start-up called i-Author takes reader ratings from iAuthor readers and sort recommendations based on that and specific themes chosen by the reader.
  • Kobo Inks Distribution Deal With Writing Community Widbook: Widbook and Kobo are partnering, which will let Widbook members sell their ebooks on Authors should still be conscious about editing, and the fact is that they can publish their work elsewhere by themselves.
  • Independent bookstores are on the rise despite digital competition: Independent bookstores are succeeding where the big box bookstores have failed: having staying power during the digital times. The bookstores are working on the experience for the customers, and creating a connection that makes them want to keep coming back.
  • The man who transformed bookshop chain Foyles: Foyles was failing until Sam Husain helped this family-run business into a success that remains successful even as online booksellers grow. He focussed on what the audience wants, making the employees happy, getting better terms with publishers, and making the stores a nice experience for customers.

Social + New Media

  • How NOT to Sell Books: Top 10 Social Media Marketing No-Nos for Authors: Authors need to market ethically, unintrusively, and with a hard-sell. Authors do a lot of things that can hurt their sales such as: putting people in a mailing list without them signing up, buying/trading reviews, pitching your book on someone else’s social media page, and having pop-ups on your website.
  • Should You Be Blogging? Eight Searching Questions to Help You Decide: Robin Houghton has some questions to answer before you start blogging such as: is it about selling your book, where are your priorities, how do you feel about technology, do you have time to blog and how good are you with deadlines?
  • To woo publishers, Medium offers them a place of their own: Medium is a publishing platform that’s working to be a preferred platform for writers. They’ve made updates, an inline editor, custom domains for select publishers, and are considering monetized options for publishers.
  • Reddit: can anyone clean up the mess behind ‘the front page of the internet’?: Ellen Pao’s work as CEO has changed Reddit into more of a mainstream hub  with a new privacy policy, but an actual clean up of the site would be hard to do. There are thousands of smaller communities and subreddits that make up the larger community, which makes it hard to police everything to make sure people are adhering to policies.

Authors + Writing

  • Lev Grossman, S.E. Hinton, and Other Authors on the Freedom of Writing Fanfiction: Crazed amaters and professional authors write fanfiction because they’re fans of some book or author. Fanfiction is fun and can help and hinder a writer by inspiring creativity, while also narrowing creativity by basing it on someone else’s work.
  • WRITING IS A PROFANE, IRRATIONAL, IMPERFECT ACT: Our writing takes our perfect thoughts and tries to replicate them on paper, but we fail because we are imperfect, human, and end up with our imperfect results. Success doesn’t mean perfection; set up realistic expectations for success and just remember that it’s better to go for it instead of never even trying.
  • ARTS: Neil Gaiman on getting hooked on handwriting: Neil Gaiman views handwriting as playing while typing is like work. His expensive pen collection may seem excessive, but compared to cheap disposable pens the expensive ones last longer.
  • There Are Only Six Basic Book Plots, According to Computers: Based on how the author reveals events to the reader, Matthew Jockers calculated that there are about six types of plots that are used 90 percent of the time and a seventh type that shows up 10 percent of the time.
  • The Bizarre, Unsolved Mystery of ‘My Immortal,’ the World’s Worst Fanfiction Story: “My Immortal” is a Harry Potter inspired fanfiction story that is full of things that people in this community dislike (bad spelling, not staying true to the author’s vision, poorly put together narrative, trope…), so much so that some believe it must have been written this way on purpose. No one knows who wrote it, or if it was a prank, but it has generated a lot of discussion and attention for something that is apparently the worst fanfiction story.