In this month’s Influencer Spotlight, we’re talking to Dog Ear Publishing, a great self-publishing resource for writers from all walks of life! The self-publishing industry is rapidly growing, and it’s important to know what self-publishers are all about. We’ve found Dog Ear to be a trustworthy and committed company, and we’d love to share what we’ve learned about them with you.
Dog Ear took a moment to answer some of our questions and set the record straight about the ever-changing publishing industry, the realistic expectations for a self-publisher, their own predictions for the future of self-publishing, and their adorable mascot! Enjoy!
First things first: Tell us a little about Dog Ear Publishing.
My partners and I started Dog Ear Publishing in 2004. Each came from the traditional publishing world. Our goal was to create a self-publishing company that we’d be proud of and offered authors a home where they could receive honest information. Additionally, we wanted to offer authors a publishing experience that we felt was missing in the self-publishing world. Lastly, we desired to create a company that offered an enjoyable and economical publishing experience and sell books profitably.
Dog Ear Publishing is and will always be a work in progress. We spend a lot of time exchanging ideas, communicating with each other to find ways that’ll benefit authors. The goal is not to simply sell more “stuff” to authors. The goal is always to find solutions for authors and to offer services that’ll help them reach their goals—whatever those goals may be.
The self-publishing industry isn’t an easy place to call home. It’s fast-moving and dominated by Goliaths. We’re definitely the small guys. I see Dog Ear Publishing as a boutique company surrounded by big belching factories. Each author is important to us. Each book is still unique. We appreciate each author’s passion and understand that our role is to make each book, his/her baby, perfect.
What’s the deal with your mascot? Is that a terrier? He’s adorable!
His name is Chooch, and he is our partner Alan’s dog. He is a smooth fox terrier, and he’s been part of the family since the beginning. Not only is he our mascot, our logo is also modeled after him. Not seen on the site is Chooch’s counterpoint—we also have an office cat named Oscar. We like diversity of opinion here at Dog Ear—apparently, too, in our choice of non-human office mates.
How has the self-publishing industry changed in recent years?
Self-publishing has seen several dramatic shifts in the past couple of years. The most important and dominant one is the increasing acceptance of self-publishing as a viable, professional, and respectable method of delivering an author’s book to the marketplace. Self-publishing went through a Wild West phase, where almost anything was acceptable and where publishers were held largely unaccountable for their actions. The advent of companies like Dog Ear (where costs and services are very clearly explained right on the website—BEFORE an author spends even a nickel) and more established methods of comparing self-publishing companies (direct apples-to-apples comparisons like on our site, or books like The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, or Top Self-Publishing Firms) has enabled authors to make informed decisions on choosing a publishing company.
The acceptance of self-publishing for all types of product—and especially nonfiction—has been important in creating a strong market for books that aren’t going to ever carry a “big publisher” logo. Books are now evaluated for the content value, and the design and development quality of the final product—instead of whether or not a certain publisher’s logo is on the spine. Certainly, plenty of worthless product is published by traditional publishers every year–it is great to see that the excellent books produced by many self-published authors are now being given their chance to succeed.
Some authors expect that self-publishing their book will lead to instant success (and they’re right!). But what do you think is a realistic projection for self-publishing?
In our off-the-cuff analysis, the chances of a self-published author are just slightly HIGHER than the chance of success of a traditionally published author. MOST traditionally published books don’t succeed—it’s the dirty little secret of the traditional publishing industry. However, authors never really see that part of the business—they are paid an advance, and their book just disappears.
In self-publishing, authors have instant feedback on the success (or lack thereof) of their books—and that success is often predicated by the efforts of the author and publisher to create awareness. In self-publishing it is truly a partnership between the author and publisher—with the publisher providing the core tools for the author to create success and the author providing the passion and “sweat equity” of creating awareness.
We believe ALL high quality self-published books have a chance to succeed—it is defining success that is challenging. Success in self-publishing is not “Over 1 Million Sold”—it might just be “Over 2,500 Sold!” In the world of self-publishing, in most cases an author can be successful (as in profitable) by only selling a couple hundred books. It is up to the author and the publisher to define success and truly and honestly evaluate what can be achieved.
What one thing (other than having a great manuscript) is critical to self-publishing success?
Creating awareness. Websites, blogs, social media marketing, SEO, PPC, radio interviews, being an essential influencer in the market the author is trying to reach—all of these things come down to creating awareness.
The one thing that is NOT critical to self-publishing success? Brick-and-mortar inventory on bookstore shelves. As much as we all love the traditional bookstore, it is the dot-com sales that truly enable self-published authors to be successful. And that doesn’t mean just Amazon—there are hundreds of other dot com outlets that support self-published authors. B&N is nearly as important as Amazon, and all the niche sites can add up (for targeted product) to be an even greater force for success.
What are your predictions for the self-publishing industry?
We believe that self-publishing will continue to mature and that the number of publishers will continue to consolidate. This is a good thing—as design and production quality standards still need to improve at many publishers. As authors become more sophisticated, the value of good self-publishing companies will increase and the number of…marginal…self-publishing companies should decline. Educating authors to make good self-publishing decisions is critical to the success of our industry.
Thanks to Dog Ear Publishing for answering our questions! For rates and information on what Dog Ear can do for you, click here.