Well, that was a week. Apologies if any of this is incoherent at all – just as I was sitting down to write this, the building where I do my day job decided to burn down. Well, it didn’t decide, there was an electrical thing. But the upshot is I spent my afternoon coordinating emergency plans and assisting salvage crews, largely trying to rescue fire and water damaged books. It did make me think though, about the transience or permanence of knowledge and culture, about how paper books and electronic books are each susceptible to their own weaknesses, about whether the sum of our knowledge and culture is now more secure for the future, or more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of all kinds of erosion.
Walmart is an unusual company to feature so prominently here, but this week they have been all over the place. More and more indies have been noticing that their books have appeared for sale on the Walmart website, as this thread on kboards shows. This is particularly interesting alongside the announcement that Walmart has this week paid $3bn for ecommerce company jet.com. The two companies will continue to function separately but Walmart will be plonking (that’s a technical term) Jet’s pricing software right in the middle of its online checkout procedure. It’s clearly building e-infrastructure, and it’s well worth keeping an eye on what it’s going to be doing with it.
Social Media for Writers
Two interesting developments in social media this week. This announcement that Facebook has devised at least a partial get around for adblocker software will be a mixed blessing for writers. It’s interesting how we all hate Facebook ads in our timeline but are all enthusiastic contributors to discussions on the efficacy and how-to of those ads for our books. And an interesting development in the relationship between Amazon and Goodreads is the news that the facility to share Kindle notes via Goodreads is now in beta, making further literary inroads into the world of social discussion.
You might think I’m obsessed with copyright, and you probably wouldn’t be far off the mark, but the truth is it affects us in so many ways – not just when it comes to our own words but when it comes to the way we handle the creative outputs of others. This week brought us this great post on a question that comes up more than any other in author forums – what do I do if I want to use song lyrics in my book? The answer (although the article goes into a lot of really great detail on the how and why) is what you probably knew when you posted the question but were hoping you could get around – probably what happens is you pay something.
Self-publishing in the Netherlands and VAT!
Last week we looked at self-publishing in Europe through the lens of the current European Union consultation on VAT on ebooks (go and take part if you haven’t!! Here’s why). This week, there was a very interesting piece in Publishing Perspectives about the rise of self-publishing in the Netherlands, which you might read with interest if you are considering targeting particular markets (especially, for those of you writing in English, in light of the widespread nature of fluent English spoken and read there).
If there is one thing we can do is indies that no one else can do, it’s flex our creative muscles with absolute freedom. And it’s always worth being reminded just how freeing that can be. Forget “ooh, look, I’m mashing up two unmashable genres” – this fabulous Kickstarter project that’s been doing the rounds this week features a wooden book that is also a puzzle, whose cliffhangers you can only resolve by solving the puzzle to open the next chapter. The bar is set – who’s going to go and jump it!?
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Upcoming conferences and events
Historical Novel Society Sept 2-4 [Oxford, UK]
Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Sept. 16–17 [Lexington]
Triskele Lit Fest, Sept 17 [London]
Word on the Street, Sept. 25 [Toronto, Canada]
RomCon, Sept. 30–Oct. 1 [Denver]
Chicago Writers Conference, Sept. 23-25 [Chicago]
Frankfurt Book Fair Indie Author Fringe, Oct. 12 [Online Conference]
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference, Oct. 15-17 [Baltimore]
Vancouver Writers Fest, Oct. 18-23 [Vancouver]
Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct. 19–23 [Frankfurt, Germany]
Frankfurt Indie Author Fringe Oct. 22 [online]
Surrey International Writers Conference, Oct. 20-23 [Surrey, BC, Canada]