In this week’s Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at a record year for comics on Kickstarter and a plea on behalf of libraries.
This is a week when the literary world marked the death of one of its greats, John Le Carré. Sadly, the self-publishing world also said goodbye to one of its pioneers. Danny Gillan, author of Scratch, and the award-winning Will You Love Me Tomorrow, was one of the first wave of indies to carve out a presence on Kindle and help convince a sceptical world of the quality of self-published work. He was just 50 and will be missed desperately by many of us.
Kickstarter’s Record Year for Comics
There was a time when writers talked a lot about Kickstarter. It was seen as a great way to raise funds for ambitious or luxury products for which an author had a readymade fan base. This made it particularly popular for graphic novels and comics. Kickstarter has had a tough year with the pandemic. But it is great to read that it is not only recovering but thriving. 2020 has seen $23m raised for comics projects, up from a then-record $16.9m in 2019.
It’s the biggest story of this year. And many other years. So it would be remiss not to give an update on Audiblegate. On the other hand, ALLi’s ever-vigilant and scrupulously fair watchdog, John Doppler, has given a full lowdown already this week. So I will link you to that and ask you go and read in full. His title “How Audible and ACX Betrayed Authors” gives a flavour of what he has to say. One sub heading, “burying the evidence”, is also telling. The lack of transparency over returns has been one of the very worst parts of all of this. As I’ve said before, for indies as for any publishers, information is our lifeblood. We can’t operate a successful business without it. And ACX/Audible are not letting us have it. If they don’t come round soon, many of us will go to places that do.
Don’t Leave Libraries Behind
We started the year with libraries in the news. And that’s how we’ll end it. Howard and I spent several of our podcasts earlier in the year talking about the dispute over ebook lending. We concluded on many occasions that we couldn’t imagine that taking a stand against libraries could ever put you on the right side of history. Now, the urgency of standing behind our libraries is being brought home.
A campaign in the US highlights the danger of libraries being left behind as Covid relief packages are put in place. We have seen in the UK the way the arts, and literature have missed out on a lot of Covid funding. The American Libraries Association have made an impassioned plea for funding targeted directly to libraries.
UK’s Online Harms Bill: What Does it Mean for You?
I haven’t talked about internet regulation for a while. But it remains an issue that has implications for us. In general, the issues I’ve reported on tend to surround responsibilities placed on platforms to check the content on their sites. It’s something that has become an increasing concern in relation to social media, especially since lockdown as people have been locked away with only their screens for company, immersing themselves in goodness knows what. This new urgency has fed into the re-emergence of the Online Harms Bill in the UK, which now looks set to pass into law next year. The Bill seeks to make platforms responsible for harmful content that appears on their platforms. This is a source of major worry, as documentaries like The Social Dilemma have highlighted.
At a time when free speech is also at the centre of political debate, this feels like a ratcheting of tensions. Recently, I reported on the controversy when Joe Rogan hosted Alex Jones on his podcast. This is despite his signing an exclusive deal for 2021 with Spotify, and Spotify having banned Alex Jones’ own podcasts. This was a conundrum for Spotify’s staff. But it could be about to become a question for the legals more than the PR people. Spotify, YouTube and TikTok are one thing. But your blog, the guest posts and the links and the podcasts and asides from your co-contributors are all part of the same parcel. The only exceptions will be the comments and review sections, it would appear.
And you probably don’t have access to a whole team of people who can do due diligence. This is just a part of the overall net neutrality nexus of issues. It’s easy to think it’s part of another world. But it’s also our world. And we need to keep a very watchful eye on what developments like this mean. Especially as the fines are potentially the greater of 10% of revenue or £18m. Meanwhile, the European Union is introducing its own tech regulation rules. The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act appear to have more protection for small businesses. But more on this in the coming weeks.Kickstarter celebrates a record year for comics and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
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