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
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?
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.
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
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]