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The Future Of Publishing: ALLi Out And About With Orna Ross

The Future of Publishing: ALLi Out and About with Orna Ross

London Book Fair 2024

ALLi‘s Orna Ross at London Book Fair 2024

Two recent publishing events took as their focus the changes currently happening in the publishing sector and how they will affect the future of publishing. A small, curated ‘Mastermind' organized by two authors, Monica Leonelle and Russell Nohelty, gathered US indie authors around the theme in New Orleans. Two weeks later saw the annual outing of the global publishing industry in the UK capital, The London Book Fair, this year themed ‘The Future of Creative Content'.

Today's post sees ALLi Founder and Director Orna Ross, who attended both events, share her views about the future of  publishing for authors. For those of you who couldn't be there, you can catch up on both events, using the links at the end of the post.

A busy time for self-publishing events across the US and UK

I've just settled back down from attending two publishing events around the same theme that couldn't have been more different. At the end of February, Writer MBA founders and bestselling authors Russell Nohelty and Monica Leonelle, ran a ‘Future of Publishing' Mastermind–a curated, intimate event designed for authors to dive deep into the business side of writing and publishing​​.

A week later, it was time for an event the other end of the spectrum, the London Book Fair (LBF), the colossal, global event managed by Reed Exhibitions that brings the international publishing community together for a rights fair, and showcase of all the publishing stakeholders, trade and academic and children's publishers, authors, literary agents, librarians, educational institutions and more.

Russell and Monica's Podcast

Russell and Monica's Podcast

Both events are focused on selling books and building sustainable businesses but there the comparison ends.

Two very different events

The LBF draws in participants from every corner of the globe and covers all aspects of the publishing industry, from print to digital, content creation to distribution, and beyond. The event emphasises business, with deals signed and publicised. Authors can feel quite lost and overwhelmed in this environment that is built on their work, but seems to find little place for them or their needs.

By contrast, the New Orleans event emphasized how personal growth and business growth are allied for authors. Monica and Russell, with their deep roots in authorship and publishing, both embody a passion for nurturing a supportive environment for others. They champion a tailored approach to combat the high burnout rates among authors by fostering a community where authors can learn, grow, and thrive together–very similar to the ethos that drives ​​ALLi.

Unsurprisingly, their mastermind provided a space where authors could candidly share their challenges and victories, it provided a space for personal interaction, targeted learning, and self-development. The days there were steeped in camaraderie and diversity, mutual support and learning from each other's experiences. Lasting connections were forged that will extend way beyond the confines of the event.

The London Book Fair 2024

ALLi launched at the fair, back in 2012, and attends each year to place independent authors at the heart of the publishing industry.

Over the years, we've seen attitudes change at the fair and this year were pleased to welcome an Author Lounge and Self-Publishing Zone to the fair, as well as an increased recognition of the work of independent authors.

ALLi members at the LBF stand

ALLi members at the LBF stand

In contrast to the riverside peaceful ambiance at the Mastermind, the visual and cognitive overstimulation from the myriad of book displays, promotional materials, and digital screens vying for attention at LBF can be overwhelming, particularly for anyone who is highly sensitive, neurodiverse, or introverted. As well as the intense, overly-bright, artificial lighting used to highlight the displays, there's the dry and stale air, and the challenge of finding seating to take a break from back-to-back meetings and presentations.

Long hours on your feet, navigating crowded aisles, and the strain of carrying promotional materials, books, and personal belongings can take a toll. The vibrant energy that makes LBF an exciting event can also make it an exhausting experience.

Despite these challenges (which we continue to bring to their attention), the London Book Fair remains a cornerstone event for the publishing industry, offering unparalleled opportunities for networking, learning, and discovering new trends and technologies.

The Future of Publishing: AI and Disruptive Technology

Where both events came together was in how they both centred discussions about the integration of AI and other disruptive technologies. The Future of Publishing Mastermind, addressed how authors can leverage AI for marketing, direct sales, and building reader communities.

The London Book Fair, with its wider lens, showcased how AI is transforming every aspect of the publishing chain, from content creation, slushpile reading, developmental and copyediting, to what they called “consumer engagement” (reaching readers).

Technology has been a pivotal force in the empowerment of indie authors, a shift marked by several key technological advancements, first in the development of print-on-demand, then ebooks, digital audio.

We can make an income from self-publishing today because technology fundamentally transformed how books are written, published and marketed in the last decade.  Each stage of technology's evolution has made it easier for authors to reach our audiences directly, offering tools and platforms that democratize the publishing process.

Artificial  Intelligence (AI) is the latest development and it's enhancing the writing and publishing process in several ways:

  • Writing Assistance: AI-driven writing tools can help authors with grammar, style, and even plot and character development, making the writing process more efficient.
  • Market Analysis: AI can analyze reading trends and preferences, helping authors and publishers make data-driven decisions about what genres or themes might be more successful.
  • Personalized Marketing: AI enables more sophisticated targeting and personalization in marketing campaigns, allowing authors to reach the most interested readers with precision.
  • Content Creation: Beyond traditional book formats, AI opens opportunities for creating interactive and multimedia content, expanding the ways in which stories can be told and experienced.

While there are concerns about AI, particularly around its use in generating content and the implications for creativity and copyright, ALLi encourages authors to recognize AI as a tool rather than a threat, offering opportunities to enhance creativity, streamline processes, and connect with readers in new and meaningful ways.

Indie authors, known for their adaptability and innovation, are well-positioned to leverage AI to their advantage. In the video below, The Rise and Rise of the Indie Author, Joanna Penn, Michael La Ronn and I explore the topic with the LBF audience.

The Future of Publishing: A Dual Challenge for the Indie Author

Attending the New Orleans Mastermind and the London Book Fair so close in time brought home to me the dual nature of the author's experience in modern publishing and underscored our potential to influence both the micro and macro aspects of our industry.

On one hand, the intimate setting of the Mastermind emphasized the importance of each author's individuality, focusing on personal growth and the mastery of business essential for publishing success. On the other, the global thrust of LBF could no longer ignore how authors are clearly shaping the current trends and future direction of the industry.

By participating in these events, we not only gain valuable insights and skills but ensure that authors, in all our diversity, contribute at every level to the ongoing dialogue about our industry. The ever-more pivotal role we play becomes ever more obvious.

More than any other player in the sector, indie authors are the ones creating the future of publishing.

Find out more:

Watch the LBF's ‘Rise and Rise of the Indie Author' panel session below. Joanna Penn, Michael La Ronn and Orna Ross discuss the rise of the indie author and what may be coming next, including the impact of AI.

On this podcast episode Russell and Monica outline the Five trends that are Shifting the Future of Publishing that drove their Mastermind. Next year's events in New Orleans will include a full conference schedule as well as the mastermind.

Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and inspirational poetry, and a creativity facilitator. As founder-director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, she has been named one of The Bookseller’s Top 100 people in publishing. 


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