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Self-publishing News: AI And The Indie Author

Self-publishing News: AI and the Indie Author

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

In this week’s Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway fills us in on the latest with research showing the book world isn’t yet ready for artificial intelligence and the end of Kindle Matchbook. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about artificial intelligence this week. As a writer, I’m fascinated by pretty much anything new – I’m a classic magpie. But artificial intelligence isn’t just something new to learn about. It is something many creators in other areas of the arts have found can teach us about ourselves. And what it is we do when we create. And that is incredibly exciting.

Afraid of Amazon?

Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

I spent half of last week at the Futures Thinking conference in Oxford. The topic was “The Future of Reading”. We had Marcus Du Sautoy explain to us why artificial intelligence may one day be writing novels (and is already great at poetry). We had Professor Kirsten Shepherd-Barr talk about the role of curation and extract-based subscription services.

The real eye opener, though, was a set of presentations on new research from Anglia Ruskin University. Abbie Smith presented research into the publishing industry’s attitudes towards artificial intelligence. What she found was fascinating – all bar one of the publishing editors she spoke to admitted major gaps in their knowledge in relation to artificial intelligence. At a time when Wattpad and PublishDrive are already integrating artificial itelligence into what they do, there is a real danger of people falling behind. As Emma Barnes put it in her 5 minute manifesto – there is a technical skills gap in the literary world we really need to fill.

Professor Laura Dietz researches the public’s attitudes to digital platforms. What she found was a fascinating insight into the worldview of readers that all writers would benefit from. In short, she found the following. Readers worry about privacy. They worry most when they read on Kindle. And they worry more about corporations learning what they read than what they buy (they really on’t like Kindle tracking them). This is fascinating for those of us who have assumed people worried about non-anonymous payment.  Most interesting of all was where readers directed their concerns. People who read on Kobo or Nook didn’t really worry much about what the parent companies were tracking. Worry was reserved for Amazon.

Kindle: Kids and the End of Matchbook

That is an interesting way of introducing the latest product form Amazon. Kindle Kids is their first ereader aimed at the children’s market. It comes with a year’s subscription to Amazon’s child-friendly Kindle store.

Even the most successful companies launch many products that die a death. In fact you might argue one of the things that makes a company successful is a willingness to try lots of things, many of which will fail. Though Barnes & Noble show you need to do something that succeeds as well. This week sees Amazon pulling the plug on Kindle Matchbook. Matchbook allowed you to offer your ebooks free or reduced to people who bought a print copy. It is disappearing because very few readers used it. Strange how Amazon should be so keen to show offering alternative formats for free doesn’t lower sales numbers just when Audible Captions is about to launch.

Amazon-free Audiobooks

Possibilities for audiobook distribution outside of Audible continue to grow. Last week saw news that you can now upload direct through Kobo. This week sees the further expansion of Findaway, themselves a Kobo partner. Expanding their reach in global markets. This post from The New Publishing Standard provides a very good outline of the options now available to indies who want to steer clear of Amazon.

Daisie: creative collaboration

Meanwhile, let’s talk celebs. We know that celebrity book clubs (from Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg; Emma Watson to Richard and Judy) are popular. But Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) is the driving force behind content platform Daisie. Daisie is a social media site for creatives. It is part linked in, part creative arts school, part Instagram – away of helping creatives find each other. And Daisie now has $2.5m to help those creators find an audience.

The book world isn't ready for artificial intelligence, the end of Kindle Matchbook & other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet

Over to You

Are you ready for artificial intelligence? And does it worry or excite you? Let us know in the comments below.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

OCTOBER 2019

Frankfurt Book Fair, 16-19 Oct [Frankfurt] Historical Novel Society Australasia, 25-27 Oct [Parramatta]

NOVEMBER 2019

Independent Self-publishing Authors Fair, 17 Nov [Henley-in-Arden] Writerfest, 22-23 Nov [Nashville] – Early bird until 31 August!
Futurebook, 25 Nov [London]

APRIL 2020

London Book Fair, 16-18 Apr [London] Self-publishing Conference, 25 Apr [University of Leicester]

Sacha Black

Sacha Black is a bestselling and competition-winning author. She writes the popular YA Fantasy Eden East novels and a series of non-fiction books that are designed to help writers develop their craft. Sacha has been a long-time resident writing coach for website Writers Helping Writers. She is also a developmental editor, wife and mum. Wesbite: www.sachablack.com

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