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Inkitt Inks $39M Deal To Bring Books To Big Screen; ALLi Member Wins Kindle Storyteller Award: Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway And Howard Lovy

Inkitt Inks $39M Deal to Bring Books to Big Screen; ALLi Member Wins Kindle Storyteller Award: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway and Howard Lovy

With the rise in streaming services, many authors have visions of their stories tapping in to the books-to-big-screen pipeline. So far, Wattpad has come through on this promise to take stories from young writers and sell them to services such as Netflix. Now, there’s another company, called Inkitt, and they just got a new round of investment to make that happen.

Also, Amazon opens up new 4-Star brick-and-mortar stores and an ALLi author wins the Kindle Storyteller Award.

These are among the topics discussed on Self-Publishing News with Alli News Editor Dan Holloway and book editor Howard Lovy. Together, they will bring you the latest in indie publishing news.

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-Publishing Author Advice Center, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Listen to Self-Publishing News: Books to Big Screen, Kindle Storyteller Awards, and More

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About the Hosts

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines 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 on Kindle.

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and has spent the last eight years amplifying the voices of independent publishers and authors. He works with authors as a book editor to prepare their work to be published. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn and Twitter.

Read the Transcripts: Books to Big Screen, Kindle Storyteller Awards, and More

Howard Lovy: Hello and welcome to the October 2021 edition of Self-Publishing News from the Alliance of Independent Authors.

I’m Howard Lovy, in Traverse City, Michigan, and joining me from Oxford University is ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway. Hello, Dan, how are you?

Dan Holloway: Hi, Howard. How are you?

Howard Lovy: Oh, just fine. I’m excited to learn that I’ll be going to London in April to help ALLi celebrate its 10th birthday, which means I’ll finally get to meet you in person, Dan.

Dan Holloway: Yes, and you’ll get to see what an interesting event London Book Fair is.

Howard Lovy: Interesting event, and interesting people as well. Finally meet all these characters that I know virtually from ALLi.

Dan Holloway: Yes, I was there 10 years ago at the very first one. So, it will be interesting. I was on the panel when ALLi launched, and we were stuck in the press gallery, miles away from everywhere, and we’ve sort of moved slowly further and further towards the centre of events.

Howard Lovy: Well, I think that’s the story of indie publishing itself, right? And I’ll also bring some podcast equipment and maybe we can do a show from the event.

Who are Inkitt and what can they do for indie authors?

So, let’s talk about the news now. There’s a company, well, I guess with the rise in streaming services, many authors have visions of their stories being adapted for TV or the movies, and so far, Wattpad has come through on this promise to take stories from promising young writers and sell them to services like Netflix, but there’s another company called Inkitt promising to do the same thing, and they’ve just got a new round of investment to make that happen. So, Dan, tell us what Inkitt is, and what they can do for authors.

Dan Holloway: Inkitt’s really interesting because it’s got quite a checkered history. If you go on the ALLi watchdog at the moment, you’ll see it still actually has a caution, because it started out life quite small and basically, from what John says on there, it’s basically spammy.

So, it would spam everyone everywhere, but it seems to have evolved, and I have to say some of the figures that it claims are for its readership and for the kind of sums of money it makes for authors are a little bit eye-watering. So, it claims 7 million readers, which is fine. That’s good.

But its paid subscription program claims to be making most of the authors who are on there six figures, which is interesting. And some of them, I think the leading person on there is earning seven and a half million dollars or something like that, from a 7 million readership subscription, which, I mean, one of the things I can do is maths, my maths tells me that, that’s interesting. Either they don’t have very many authors on there, in which case, why are people paying a subscription fee, or something strange is happening and bumping up.

Howard Lovy: Well, some investor liked their numbers enough to give them $59 million.

Dan Holloway: So yes, this is why they’re in the news this week, or this month, is they’ve just been given $59 million, which they are going to use to take stories from their author program and put on the screen. So, they’re quite like Wattpad in that they have a self-publishing serial platform, which is free. Anyone can use it. Anyone can read there, and they gather the most promising stories from there and put them on paid platforms. So, that’s where these figures of seven and a half million-dollar revenue come from. And they’re going to be doing the same with screen.

So, I’m not quite sure how they’re going to do it. Obviously, Wattpad do this with artificial intelligence. They use AI to determine which stories best fit a commercially successful television series or film, in terms of their structure and their emotional arcs, which is quite interesting. I’m not sure quite how Inkitt are going to do it, but that their plan is to do the same thing.

So, you will essentially have, it’ll be like a studio. You’ll go from uploading your first chapter to having your work appearing on the big screen. All in one place.

Howard Lovy: Well, that sounds great. Where do I sign up?

Although I was reading, you linked to an article in your column, to Tech Crunch, and it sounds like their founder, Ali Albazaz, is prone to exaggeration a little bit. I don’t know, he’s got all these plans. He’s got audiobooks. Okay, that’s fine. Films, TV shows, merchandising, games, and maybe a theme park. What he calls, the Disney of the 21st century. So, it sounds like he’s got big dreams anyway.

Dan Holloway: One of the things that’s really interesting is just how much a lot of these companies, who are able to spin these stories, seem to attract investment. That has come across again this week. So, in this week’s news, a company called Copper has attracted two and a half million dollars of funding, very early-stage funding, to provide social media for authors.

Howard Lovy: Social media for authors was already Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, so why do we need something else?

Dan Holloway: That’s a good question. The founder of this company is someone who came up with the idea while they were on an MBA. Sad to say, someone who was on an MBA here in Oxford, and apparently their MBA professor told them that no one has disrupted the publishing industry yet, so why not go for it?

So, sad to say, that really shows you where we are with investment in this kind of thing, is that you have an investment sector that is basically clueless and knows nothing about publishing, and you have all these people entering this sphere who have these great ideas, and they seem to attract huge amounts of money.

So, as always, the money isn’t to be made from writing, it’s to be made from coming up with an idea about how to attract authors.

Howard Lovy: Right. Exactly. Well, in one way this is wonderful because there’s money out there to be invested in publishing, somebody at least believes that there’s a future in publishing in some way.

Dan Holloway: Yeah. That’s very true. There was also a really interesting article in Tech Crunch, just a couple of days ago, on that subject, talking about WordPress, and how WordPress have bucked the trend of companies relying on the written word who have not had the best time of it, and WordPress seem to be still growing and growing, and making money, and they’ve been there from the start and they seem to be still solid, which is very interesting and very encouraging, because they are the, I think, probably the website hosts that most of us use still.

Howard Lovy: Yeah. Well, I hope they’re solid, they host my website.

Maybe some of this is vapourware, maybe some of this will end up being something, we’ll have to see. What does Inkitt have that Wattpad doesn’t have?

Dan Holloway: $59 million.

Howard Lovy: Aside from $59 million.

Dan Holloway: It’s aimed at a different audience, I think. It seems to be largely a romance audience, so it’s a more adult audience. Whereas Wattpad is very much a young adult market, and there’s lots of science fiction, a lot of fantasy, a lot of young adult. So, it’s a slightly different audience. But I struggle to see what they really have that…Wattpad are just really exceptionally good at what they do.

Howard Lovy: Well, as a connoisseur of streaming services, I know that there are a lot of great stories out there that deserve to be on Netflix and HBO and Amazon Prime that aren’t up there right now. So, I hope more authors find their way onto the big screen.

Dan Holloway: Yes, absolutely, including you.

Howard Lovy: Well, including my clients. Maybe someday me, as well. So, we’ll see, I have to decide who’s going to play me, you know, George Clooney possibly.

Are Amazon’s four-star store’s relevant to indie authors?

So, let’s move on to, I guess, the 800-pound gorilla that is always in the background, and that’s Amazon.

They have been trying brick and mortar retail stores for a little while now, and there’s a relatively new concept called the four-star store. So, tell me what those are and what’s happening with them.

Dan Holloway: They are literally what you would imagine, the four-star store is a store that sells products that have a four-star, or higher, rating on Amazon. And they’ve just announced the first is going to be, I think they have four in the US, and they’ve just announced their first to open in the UK.

Howard Lovy: Now, is that like an average of four stars, and doesn’t that change daily? So, are they switching out their merchandise every day or every hour?

Dan Holloway: That’s absolutely. Yes, and this is exactly what people have said about it is that it’s not a store you can go in, look at something and go away and think about it, and come back and buy it next week, because next week probably things will have changed. So, to that extent, it’s a little bit like, I don’t know if you have them in the states, stores like {inaudible}.

This kind of store that-

Howard Lovy: I don’t think so.

Dan Holloway: -where you have a different line of products, so almost every day. So, you go in and you buy whatever’s there for the day and they’re the kind of products that you see on infomercials. So, I guess it’s an equivalent of a QVC-type store. The stock changes regularly. So, I guess what people do is, they pay to be in there, which I don’t think Amazon are doing, but it’s a similar principle. So, maybe it’s a European principle more than an American principle.

We have them in stores like Lidl and Aldi, the central aisles are always slightly random and made up of things, again promotions. So, it’s a similar idea, but I can certainly see that if products get in there then rivals are going to be on Amazon straight away giving them one-star reviews. Not that I would suggest that there are fake reviews on Amazon, ever.

Howard Lovy: Oh, right, exactly. Yeah. That’s interesting. There’s been a problem in the past of gaming the system, and like you wrote in your column, creating utter chaos.

Dan Holloway: So, books will be in the stores, and that’s one of the things that makes it interesting for us. So, there is an incentive. Reviews matter, but reviews are going to matter even more if you want to get in their store.

ALLi member Rachel McLean, wins at Amazon Storyteller awards

Howard Lovy: Now, Amazon has also, you know, we always have a love/hate thing with them, and indie authors really depend on them a lot, and they do recognize good writing, and recently one of our own, an ALLi member, won an Amazon Storyteller award. So, tell me what that is and then who the winner is.

Dan Holloway: First of all, you will, if you’re coming over to London next year, you will come to appreciate Amazon a lot more, if you like good food, well, if you like food, not necessarily good food, because Amazon pay, traditionally, for the ALLi afterparty for London Book Fair, and they’re always incredibly generous with their food provision. So, come with an empty stomach and an empty carrier bag.

Howard Lovy: Wonderful. Okay. Well, I’m trying to lose some weight, but I’ll make an exception for the London Book Fair.

Dan Holloway: Yes. So yes, it was in the Houses of Parliament, this Monday, the Kindle Storyteller Awards, and I guess it’s up there with the biggest prizes, in terms of money, in the literary calendar, it’s a £20,000 first prize, which is quite a lot, it’s worth having.

Howard Lovy: And it was awarded in the Houses of Parliament? That’s big!

Dan Holloway: It was, yes, with the former culture secretary on the judging panel. So, I’m not sure if that’s something that advertises them or not, but yes, it’s clearly a serious event, and yes, it was won by ALLi’s Rachel McLean, for the Corfe Castle Murders.

Howard Lovy: So, a murder mystery taking place in Great Britain. I noticed that our own Sacha Black was also one of the judges too.

Dan Holloway: Yes, and it’s good, we have our tentacles everywhere.

Howard Lovy: Wonderful.

Dan Holloway: But also, really good to see Sacha, who is, now I’m going to get this hideously wrong, I believe, a mainly science fiction author, sitting on a judging panel like this. It’s good to see.

Howard Lovy: She’s well-known for writing villains, too. She writes books about how to write proper villains.

Dan Holloway: That’s good, that’s the sort of person you want on a judging panel, someone who knows how to write baddies, because they’re always the most interesting characters.

A quick review of SelfPubCon: Writing Craft for Indie Authors

Howard Lovy: So, I haven’t caught up with SelfPubCon yet, but have you been able to watch many of the presentations?

Dan Holloway: I would particularly recommend, I mean, there is in fact, Sacha is on there. Is she writing about villains? Yes, she is indeed speaking about villains on the SelfPubCon, so yes, everyone should go and check out that session.

But yes, I would particularly recommend Michael La Ronn and Dale Roberts, talking about non-fiction, which is something I’m writing a lot more of at the moment.

Howard Lovy: Yeah, these are really wonderful presentations, and if any listeners haven’t checked them out, you really should. There’s something there for everybody, and a lot of work goes into it, and you never have to leave your home, you can watch it in your pyjamas.

Dan Holloway: Yes, quite. But yes, I would particularly recommend those, and Sacha’s session, if you haven’t already, writing great side characters who make the most out of your villains, as she puts it.

Howard Lovy: Well, that’s all we have for today. So, I will talk to you again next month, and I’m really looking forward to meeting you in April at the London Book Fair.

Dan Holloway: Yeah, absolutely. It will be very good to welcome you, and maybe one day we’ll also get to meet up at either Digital Book World, or Book Expo, or whichever conferences are still going in the states.

Howard Lovy: Right, exactly. Okay. Have a good month and I’ll talk to you later.

Dan Holloway: Super. Thank you.

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads.

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