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This Week’s Self-publishing News

Valerie Shanley

Valerie Shanley

This week’s news on all things self-publishing-related includes the announcement of a new inclusive book prize aiming to address diversity; a snapshot of some of the huge book festivals now underway round the globe; the ongoing issue of authors not being paid; why  independent bookstores could have more beneficial relationships with indie authors; and how choosing key words can make your book zoom top of the ‘Zon search. Phew! Valerie Shanley gets the lowdown from ALLi partners and friends.

BAME authors now get a glimpse in too ‘posh and white’ publishing culture

Criticism at the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominees has been well publicised, but a similar lack of under-representation of BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) authors in UK publishing has also been subject to scrutiny over the past few months.

Now a new annual book prize has been announced to address the imbalance, open to British or British-resident authors of colour, including self-published as well as trade. Such developments are  welcomed by ALLi and the wider self-publishing community as part of the democratic nature of self-publishing lies in its openness to all.

Hands up for diversity (Image: LinkedIn)

Hands up for diversity
(Image: LinkedIn)

The Jhalak (a Hindi word meaning ‘glimpse’) Prize is created by novelists Sunny Singh and Nikesh Shukla, along with non-profit organisation Media Diversified, and supported by the Authors’ Club and an anonymous benefactor, reports The Guardian. The award is part of a growing momentum for change in UK publishing and the industry’s “old monoculture” or what some described as “so posh and white”.

(For the full report, please click here – and thanks to ALLi Dan Holloway for alerting us to the story)

Writing for free – is it worth it?

No cheque in the Post

No cheque in the (H) Post

Should you write or blog for free to the big commercial publications to get your name out there? Especially if you are like most indies and still holding down the day job, while hoping to increase discoverability and eventually make a living from writing?

The age-old dilemma of writers and authors not being paid for their work in exchange for the promise of exposure in mainstream papers is undoubtedly exacerbated in the digital/social media age when so much content is free. (And it’s not just writers – working for free is the lot of many musicians, photographers and others in creative sectors).

Porter Anderson addresses this issue in his provocative piece on the Writer Unboxed site, giving the example of the Huff Post where a “reputed 100,000” contributors are unpaid. (And it’s not the only publication.) One one level, who wouldn’t like to see their name on such a widely distributed site as the HP? But the thing is, it’s a commercial newspaper, it has the money (owned by AOL), and presumably pays everyone else involved.

Ultimately, the work of writers is further under-valued when it’s done for free, argues Porter.  Agree? (Read the full post here)

Keeping an indie author e-eye on the main events

Cuba's digital journey about to start?

Cuba’s digital journey about to start? (Image: Lonely Planet)

With the 2016 literary book fair season now in full swing around the globe, (check out our upcoming listing below) there is the promise of potential new markets for indie authors publishing digitally. Here’s an interesting one: with more international exhibitors and the groundwork laid for future co-operation with the US, last week’s Havana Book Fair 2016 gave an indication of what opportunities could lay in store if and when the long-running embargo is lifted.

As with any new potential market, there are conflicting stats: the Instituto Cubano del Libro claims that 70 percent of Cubans read on digital devices, and yet last year it was reported that the vast majority of Cuba’s 11.3m residents are unable to get online.

Of all the book fairs in all the world ....

Of all the book fairs in all the world ….

Publishing Perspectives quotes Dominique Raccah, Publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, who spoke at the seminar about digital development in the U.S. while “ Cubans (who) have less than 5 percent connectivity. Cubans are a highly literate people (97 percent literacy). It was fascinating to hear their hopes for their country and their vision for the development of digital and print.” (Here’s the full report)

Elsewhere on the literary festival circuit, here’s looking at you, Casablanca (as Bogey almost said).  The Casablanca Book Fair 2016 hosted a special two-day rights hub highlighting a gateway to more extensive publishing in Africa and the Middle East in what is a vast market. (Africa’s population is estimated at 1.1bn and is also the world’s youngest). The event was  addressed by invitees from several countries throughout the continent and with publishers on the lookout for new authors . (More on this here.)

The killing of a Chinese book e-market?

China: End of the (on) line?

China: End of the (on) line?

“Using rules of the print age to govern the internet does not work.” So says one native commentator on proposed new rules effectively banning foreign-invested companies from publishing anything online in China. According to digital news outlet Quartz,if the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s new rules were to be enforced on March 10th as stated, they would shut down China as a market for foreign news outlets, publishers, gaming companies, information providers, and entertainment companies.

As Ying Chan, the director of the journalism programme at the University of Hong Kong, and quoted above, adds: “How do you license media in an age when everyone could become a writer and publisher? With these set of regulations, the government is fighting both market forces and technology.”

Whether the rule will be enforced and the authorities gain a tighter grip on the market (and dissent ) is unclear. But even a country with a population of 700m can’t fight city hall – or in this case, the internet.

(For the full Quartz report, click here)

Independent bookstores and self-published books – could be a great story

Indie books and indie stores - lets work together

Indie books and indie stores – lets work together

A caustic reply to his newsletter from an independent bookstore owner has prompted author Joe Konrath to re-publish a post from 2011 with suggestions to stores on how they can work with self-published authors to mutual benefit.

As a hybrid author (his print books are published in Create Space and Thomas & Mercer) Konrath is also well known for his blog with its topical and frank posts on the industry.  Bookstores refusing to stock books by authors signed to Amazon is a stance that only drives customers to buy those titles online, says Konrath.  Those customers are missing out on reading new authors, and the store is missing out on those sales, he writes, indicating the massive growth in self-publishing and rumours of Amazon’s bookstores’ expansion.

“There is a tremendous opportunity here, but it starts with taking the emotion out of how you view self-published authors and looking at it with an eye to what customers want,” he says.  As for that original post four years back?

“Not a single bookstore has taken me up on my offer.  But they’re more than happy to email me about my lack of marketing savvy.”   (For the full post, click here)

Choose your  words carefully

One thing many self-publishers don’t realize is that Amazon, like Google, uses a search engine to find, and list its books, says ‘Kindlepreneur’ Dave Chesson.

Kindle talk with Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson wants a word with you

In a guest post on The Book Designer blog, he details how one of the most powerful marketing tactics for authors is to ensure their book reaches the top of that search list. An example is the Kindle book description offering 4000 characters.

“This is a prime opportunity to discuss some of your targeted keywords in a natural way without being obnoxious,” says Chesson. Citing other authors in the same genre in your book blurb reaps rewards, he adds.

“In the fiction book Terms of Enlistment, Marko Kloos added at the bottom of his description the following:

The debut novel from Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment is a new addition to the great military sci-fi tradition of Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, and John Scalzi.

It just so happens that now, his book shows up for anyone searching for books like Starship Troopers, Forever War, and Old Mans War which are all books that the above writers have written, “ says Chesson.  (Read the full post here.)

Upcoming Author Conferences & Event

EBRUARY 2016
Sleuthfest: 25 – 28 Feb [Florida, USA]
Vilnius Book Fair: Feb 25 – 28 [Vilnius, Lithuania]
Adelaide Writers Week 2016: 27 Feb – 3 Mar [Adelaide, Australia]

MARCH 2016

Emirate Airlines Festival of Literature: Mar 1 – 12 [Dubai]
Readers & Writers Down Under: Mar 4 – 5 [Queensland, Australia]
New Zealand Writers Week: 8 – 13 Mar [Wellington, New Zealand]
Mountains to Sea – dlr Book Festival: Mar 9 – 13 [Dublin, Ireland]
Love is Murder Conference, mainly for mystery and romance writers: Mar 11 – 13 [Chicago, Ill.]
The Tucson Festival of Books: Mar 12 – 16 [University of Arizona campus, Tucson, AZ, USA]
Noted Festival: Mar 16 – 20 [Canberra, Australia]
Paris Book Fair: Mar 17 – 20 [Paris, France]
2020: A Publishing Odyssey (SYP): Mar 18 [Edinburgh, Scotland]
Alexandrina International Book Fair: Mar 24 – Apr 5 [Alexandria, Egypt]
Tampa Writers Conference, Mar 25 [ Tampa, FL ]
Fort Lauderdale Conference for Writers: Mar 26  [Ft. Lauderdale, FL]

APRIL 2016

Newcastle Writers Festival: Apr 1 – 3 [New South Wales, Australia]
Bologna Childrens Book Fair: Apr 4 – 7 [Bologna, Italy]
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books: 9 – 10 Apr [Los Angeles, USA]
Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival; 8 – 10 Apr [Penticton, BC, Canada]
London Book Fair: 12 – 14 Apr [London, UK]
Indie Author Fringe: Apr 15 [Online, Global] – brought to you by ALLi
Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference; Apr 15 – 17 [ Colorado Springs, Colorado]
Story Circle Network Women’s Writing Conference; Apr 15 – 17 [ Austin, TX]
Writer’s Institute; Apr 15 – 17 [Madison, Wisconsin]
Jane Austen Festival Australia: Apr 15 – 17 [Canberra, Australia]
23rd Annual Budapest International Book Festival: Apr 21 – 24 [Budapest, Hungary]
Buenos Aires Book Fair: Apr 21 – May 9 [Buenos Aires, Argentina]
Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival: Apr 23 {Gloucesterhire, England}
Abu Dhabi International Book Fair: Apr 27 – May 1 [Abu Dhabi, UAE]
Geneva Book & Press Fair: Apr 27 – May 1 [Geneva, Switzerland]
Las Vegas Writers Conference; Apr 28 – 30 [ Las Vegas, Nevada]

MAY 2016

Teheran International Book Fair: May 5 – 15 [Teheran, Iran]
The Self-publishing Conference: May 7 [Leicester, UK]
Auckland Writers Festival: May 10 – 15 [New Zealand]
Book Expo America: May 11 – 13 [Chicago, Illinois, USA]
Franschhoek Literary Festival: May 13 – 15 [South Africa]
Varena-Sydney Writers Festival: May 14 – 22 [New South Wales, Australia]
Sydney Writers Festival: May 16 – 22 [New South Wales, Australia]
Indie Author Fringe: May 14 [Online, Global] – brought to you by ALLi
Warsaw Book Fair: May 19 – 22 [Warsaw, Poland]
Kingsmead College Book Fair: May 21 [Johannesburg, SA]
International Literature Festival: May 21 – 29 [Dublin, Ireland]
Australian Booksellers Association Conference & Trade Exhibition: May 29 – 30 [Melbourne, Australia]

JUNE 2016

Dublin Writers Conference:  June 24 – 26 [Dublin, Ireland]
Seoul International Book Fair: June 15 – 19 [Seoul, Korea]

JULY 2016

Hong Kong Book Fair: July 20 – 26 [Hong Kong, China]
South African Book Fair: July 29 – 31 [Johannesburg, South Africa]

(The above list may not include all the major events; please feel free to email us with any important ones we’ve missed out, or include in comments below.)

(Quiet shout out here:  This my last ALLi news post, and want to say a special thanks to Debbie, Jay, David and team, and of course Orna, for their support and the chance to connect with you all each week.  Meanwhile, I will be watching out for all your literary success stories round the blogosphere!  Val xx)

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5 Responses to This Week’s Self-publishing News

  1. Dave Chesson February 27, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    Hey Valerie! Thank you so much for including my article on keywords.

  2. Mark Williams - the International Indie Author February 26, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

    Regarding using famous author names and titles as keywords I don’t doubt this works, but what happens when Amazon decides to enforce its own rules on metadata use in KDP?

    As per KDP metadata guidelines –

    https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A294SHSUYLKTA6

    “Examples of items that are prohibited as search keywords include but are not limited to:

    • Reference to other authors
    • Reference to books by other authors
    • Reference to sales rank (e.g., “bestselling”)
    • Reference to advertisements or promotions (e.g., “free”)
    • Reference to anything that is unrelated to your book’s content”

    • Dave Chesson February 27, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

      Yes, those are for the 7 keywords that you select. But the article is talking about the description. And the rules for the description are:

      We prohibit including any of the items below in your description:
      • Pornographic, obscene, or offensive content.
      • Phone numbers, physical mail addresses, email addresses, or website URLs.
      • Availability, price, alternative ordering information (such as links to other websites for placing orders)
      • Reviews, quotes or testimonials.
      • Solicitations for customer reviews.
      • Advertisements, watermarks on images or videos, or promotional material.
      • Time-sensitive information (e.g., dates of promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).

      As you can see, including an author, llike the example above does, is okay. 😉

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