Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Writer BewareThe Taleist 2012 Self-Publishing Survey

The recent mega-success of self-epublishing authors such as Amanda Hocking, John Locke, Darcie Chan, and Kerry Wilkinson has generated a lot of media attention over the past year or so. But the mega-successes aren’t the only ones who are doing well: all over the Internet (notably at Joe Konrath’s blog) you can find testimony from authors who cite substantial sales and earnings from self-published books. It’s clear that something extraordinary is happening around electronic self-publishing (print self-publishing, by contrast, seems to be unaffected by the boom).

But how common is that kind of success, really? How representative are these authors of all self-publishers? The traditional dynamic of self-publishing is that success is the exception; has electronic self-publishing really changed that, or does it just look that way? What techniques or traits do successful self-publishers share?

The truth is that we just don’t know–not only because most of the data is self-reported, but because no one has really correlated it, or surveyed the self-pub industry as a whole.

That’s something that writer Steven Lewis aims to address. Via his blog, Taleist, he’s conducting a survey of self-publishers:

How are you doing as a self-publisher? It’s a hard question to answer isn’t it? What are you measuring against?

There are self-publishing authors like JA Konrath, Amanda Hocking,  John Locke and (on a smaller but perfectly formed scale) Joanna Penn who are generous with their figures but they’re selling books from the tens of thousands to the millions. So does that mean you’re a failure if your figures are more modest? Or are you actually doing better than most? What is the average royalty earning for self-publishing authors? How long does it take for a self-published book to reach peak sales? What are the most successful authors doing to market their books?

The Taleist 2012 Self-Publishing Survey will have the answers. We’re taking a professional snapshot of the self-publishing industry.

Lewis’s goal is to reach 1,000 authors. As of this past Wednesday, over 800 authors had responded.

If you’re a self-publisher, please take the time to fill out the survey. It’s very detailed–there are 61 questions–and will take some time, but it’s well worth it to generate a really solid database that will hopefully educate us all about the new face of self-publishing.

More Fine Print Stuff

If you’re considering contributing to a website or blog that requests submissions from the public, be on the lookout for disclaimers like this:

By submitting information to [website or blog], you grant [website or blog] a perpetual, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, distribute, and otherwise exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to that information at its sole discretion, including storing it on [website or blog] servers and incorporating it in other works in any media now known or later developed including without limitation published books.

What this means: the website or blog can not only host your entry, but can use it to create derivative works, such as anthologies, books, presentations, films, etc., without compensation or credit to you. For short personal testimonials or essays, you may not object to these provisions–or you may. What’s important is that you read the fine print (even if it’s hard to find) and understand what rights you’re giving away.

Here’s another example of this kind of rights claim: a call last year for poetry submissions for O, Oprah Winfrey’s magazine.

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