The self-publishing circuit always has rich pickings for those looking for an alternative perspective on the publishing scene, and the blogs of the aggregators (distributors) can often be instructive.
Here’s three enticing posts from the aggregator circuit this past week.

What Does It Mean to Be a Successful Self-Published Author?

Over at The Verbs, the blog of the US-based distributor Pronoun, owned by Macmillan, Nicole Dieker asks, What Does It Mean to Be a Successful Self-Published Author?
“Is it just sales numbers? Or can we include other factors?”
Dieker reveals that in the four months since she self-published one particular title it had sold just 222 ebooks and 135 paperbacks.
By any measure that isn’t going to have “Big Pub” quaking in its boots, and Dieker won’t be buying a luxury yacht on those numbers, but does that means the book has failed?
Not a bit of it.
True, by mainstream publishing standards the sales are not going to come close to covering the overheads, let alone sending the publisher’s share price soaring.
But we need to understand mainstream publishing and self-publishing often follow very different tracks.
As Dieker says, “By all other metrics, I feel successful. I’ve gotten excellent editorial reviews and lovely reader reviews, the type of response that proves readers understand what I was trying to do with this book and—more importantly—that they’re emotionally connecting with my characters.”
No, pleasing reviews and accolades won’t pay the bills at Penguin Random House, and that makes a book like this unviable for a big publisher. But for an indie…
And no, this is not one of those unedited NaNoWriMo first drafts that some self-publishers sadly do churn out and that give self-publishing a bad name.
In fact Dieker was actually in profit before the book was even written. She funded the initial drafts of her book trough , where she explained readers pledged a total $6,909 over 18 months to support the writing and get access to her draft chapters.
Read the full story here.

The price is right

Elsewhere the team behind the Hungary-based aggregator PublishDrive have been running a series of posts on how to best price ebooks in the global markets.
This week Zsofia Macho put Europe in the spotlight.
“It is always exciting to read and write about faraway lands and cultures. But our ebook pricing tour has finally reached my home market: Europe. Is there more to the Eurozone than just — Euro? What and who decides ebook prices?”
As Macho notes, across Europe there is the thorny problem of VAT applied to both printed books and digital books, that varies from country to country, and fixed book pricing laws that also vary from country to country, and that together make effective pricing a nightmare.
Macho has previously looked at pricing issues in SE Asia, India and elsewhere (PublishDrive is a very globally-focussed distributor), but being east European I was particularly looking forward to this overview, and wasn’t disappointed.
As Macho notes, while Amazon tends to dominate in the handful of west European countries where there are Kindle stores, elsewhere it isn’t such a powerhouse. Macho also notes the popularity of ebook subscription services like Bookmate and Scribd in Europe. To which I would add mention of 24Symbols, Skoobe and Storytel.
Check out the full post for more, including some percentages based on PublishDrive’s sales numbers.

Social Media Influencers and the publishing industry

US-based Draft2Digital has a guest post this week from Matt Aird, CMO at Koru House Media looking at the way social media has replaced traditional media like TV and books  in our daily lives.
Aird asks, “If I was to offer you the choice between a book review on the leading prime time news show in America or the chance for a review from the top bookstagramer in your genre which would you choose?”
Aird later explains why the TV prime time option might, counter intuitively, not be the best bet.
“Let’s say 1,000,000 people, tune into prime time news. Of those 1,000,000 people 45% of them will read more than five books per year according to Pew Research.
Let’s say you write Romance and 20% of that 45% actually read your genre.
That leaves a total viewership that could potentially be considered your target audience at 90,000 people.
Therefore the impact influencers can have on book sales, and an author’s platform is immense.”
Read more over at Draft2Digital.