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Self-publishing News: Amazon’s Latest Sledgehammer

Self-publishing News: Amazon’s Latest Sledgehammer

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

Every summer a group of 500 or so people dress in white shorts and a white shirt and run up and down the sands on the coast of St Andrews, the Scottish seaside town most famous as the birthplace of golf. This week, my wife and I were two of them. It was a 920-mile round trip and, even for someone as slow as I am, the two- mile race lasted just twenty minutes. This is not, of course, some random happening, it’s a recreation – on location – of the famous beach run from the film Chariots of Fire. That we so willingly travelled so far for so short a time is (among other things of course!) a tribute to the power storytellers have to inspire fans. It’s the power you have, waiting to be used.

Amazon’s New Content Rules

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Sometimes I feel sorry for Amazon (not very often, I’ll admit). It must feel at times that they truly are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. This is never more the case than when it comes to the unscrupulous few who game Kindle for all they can. All too often, Amazon’s desire to be tough on the tricksters has led to chunks of the legitimate author populus being punished by a blunt algorithm. I fear that may be about to be the case again. Book stuffing is a well known problem affecting Kindle Unlimited. Amazon has just introduced rules aimed at curtailing the practice by limiting the amount of “bonus material” you can include with an ebook to 10% (bogus bonus material, often clicked on by in a single link, is a classic stuffing scam).

That’s great, surely. Well, stuffing the scammers is great. But note Amazon’s “helpful advice” to authors: “If you would like to include multiple stories within your book, consider creating a collection of works.” Yeah, thanks for the advice, but am I the only one who thinks something might be a little amiss in Amazon telling me what artistic choices are valid? As I pointed out on twitter, Amazon’s new rules would make one of the most widely-loved and bestselling books around the globe, Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, fall foul of the rules because of the book’s structure. Do better, Amazon.

Cockygate’s Temporary Conclusion

I told you last week legal action was imminent. Well, the Authors’ Guild and Romance Writers of America have won an initial ruling that suggests Faleena Hopkins is unlikely to win her trademark case, and are advising authors to carry on using “cocky” in their titles if they wish. Interestingly, and most important at a practical level at this stage, Amazon seem to be reinstating removed titles.

Book Expo: What Happened?

Photo by not brittany shh pls on Unsplash

Photo by not brittany shh pls on Unsplash

Last week was Book Expo week, and the overwhelming sense one gets trawling through the coverage is of an industry that is keeping its head above water but is increasingly uncomfortable in its own skin as it does so. At BookCon, the author-focused(ish) event that runs parallel, We Need Diverse Books made the eponymous case that’s increasingly hard for the industry to ignore. And at the other bit of BookExpo, the decreasing fortunes of authors within the industry was noted as the future of copyright was discussed (without any interesting conclusions, it seems), while publishers themselves may finally listen to the approaching hoofbeats of Netflix and Amazon Prime as they try to figure out what it means to get great stories to audiences. As indies, we might be able often to see these issues more clearly than publishers seem to, and have the flexibility to respond they lack, but that’s only worth anything if we actually act.

IndieLab

Photo by Lucas Vasques on Unsplash

Photo by Lucas Vasques on Unsplash

Talking of conferences, Indie Lab is a new event put together later this year in Cincinnati by Writers’ Digest and targeted directly at indies. What particularly excites me, aside from the great team behind the event, is the focus on inclusion and diversity, and the fact they are currently calling for panel/speaker proposals. So get submitting, get your travel costs paid, and get to shape the agenda for tomorrow’s indies!

Top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes Click To Tweet

Upcoming Conferences and Events

JUNE 2018

Indie Author Week, June 9-16 [online] Dublin Writers’ Conference, June 22-24 [Dublin}

SEPTEMBER 2017

Gothenberg Book Fair, 27-30 Sep [Gothenberg] Indie Lab, 29-30 Sep [Cincinnati]

OCTOBER 2018

Digital Book World, Oct 2-4 [Nashville] Ness Book Fest, Oct 4-7 [Scotland] Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct 10-14 [Frankfurt] Helsinki Book Fair, 25-28 Oct [Helsinki] Croydon Litfest, 27 October [Croydon, UK]

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Thank you for the recent updates, Dan. I was heartened in particular to hear the latest news on the Cocky battle. As someone who uses a lot of common words in her titles, there could be some unpleasant consequences for me if this copyright stands. (wry grin)

  2. Hi Dan–

    Are you going to write about what we need to do given the July 1st deadline when Amazon will no longer ship to Australia? Does that mean our books will not be sold there, not be accessible? Or does it mean we need to get a special license so readers can find us?

    Keen to know…

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Regina,

      Yes – absolutely. I didn’t include that this week because my information is still in flux and I don’t like to put half a story out but it is very much at the top of my list for nest week when I hope things will be clearer and I can give the facts and what they mean rather than potentially causing a panic (Nate Hofelder’s piece on this issue has been updated at least twice as information became out of date swiftly)

      1. Thanks so much for looking into this for us Dan. I’m also (along with many others) a little nervous that my US-store bought ebooks will disappear from my devices when they kick me off and force me onto the Australian store, with an Australian account. Selling our ebooks from our own websites is definitely looking like a better and better idea – I’m so glad Orna is looking into this too… Thank you for all your information!

        1. Yes, so many of us have taken the indie route because we wanted to have control over what happened with our books and how, and it seems we spend a lot of our time now trying to hang onto that control in the face of constantly shifting attempts to take it away

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Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40

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