Self-publishing is a well-established part of the English-language book trade, but Spanish-language self-publishing is just starting to take off. El Conejito que quiere dormirse, the Spanish translation of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep (a bestseller in the U.S. that was originally self-published by a Swedish author), has been picked up for publication by Random House Children’s Books as well as Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial. Success stories like this have prompted companies such as Author Solutions and Amazon to offer their self-publishing services (including editing, cover design, printing, and e-book formatting) to more Spanish-language writers. Other companies, such as Spain-based Lantia, that began by providing services to authors who write in Spanish are now working with those who write in English.
Enrique Parrilla, founder and director of Lantia, estimates that around 6% of books self-published in the U.S. are written in Spanish. That is a significant share considering the challenges many indie authors face, including cost. Parrilla does not want cost to be an impediment to self-publishing, so he founded Pentian, a crowdfunding platform for indie authors (the company now has offices in New York City). Writers can use the platform to raise up to 80% of the costs of publishing their work from donors. Pentian was initially available only to Spanish-language writers, but it now works with authors publishing in English as well. Parrilla says, “Overall, we are having double-digit growth [in the number of people using the service] each year.”
Author Solutions, which is owned by Penguin Random House, is exploring ways to expand in Latin America through its imprint MeGustaEscribir. Although MeGustaEscribir has been part of Random House’s Spanish publishing division since 2008, it was relaunched in November 2014 as a self-publishing platform. Keith Ogorek, senior v-p of marketing at Author Solutions, says that more and more Spanish-language writers are aware of self-publishing. However, he notes that the company needs to do more to reach indie authors in Latin America. Currently, about 80% of Author Solution’s Spanish-language writers come from Spain and about 20% from Latin America. Most of the titles published are fiction, and most are publishing in print and digitally.
In another sign of the growth in Spanish-language self-publishing, Amazon said that its second annual Spanish-language self-published book contest, which ended last October, doubled the number of participants over the previous contest. In 2014, efforts for the contest were focused on Spain, but last year Amazon expanded into Latin America and the U.S. More than 1,200 authors from 37 countries participated in 2015, according to Rex Czuba, Kindle Direct Publishing manager for Spanish-language, who oversaw the contest. He says that of the global top 100 e-books in Spanish, 45 were self-published. Czuba also notes that the top genres in Spanish for KDP’s platform are fiction, romance, and science fiction, with mystery and thrillers not far behind. And, as with Author Solutions, most KDP authors publish their books in print and digital, Czuba says. He adds, “We have seen a surge in the number of authors from Latin America, with a significant number coming from Mexico.” Czuba says that many of KDP’s Spanish-language authors have published several books, and some are established writers who keep their rights for e-books and then self-publish.