In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at Inkitt's $59m investment to take successful self-published stories from its platform to the screen.
You can now catch up with the latest Self-publishing news podcast in which Howard and I discuss, among other things, the paper shortage affecting our ability to get books into print. On tonight's #indieauthorchat at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time, we will be tackling a subject close to all our heart's – how authors can save money.
$59m Funding for Inkitt is Just Part of a New Ecosystem of End to End Platforms
One of the surprising things about Amazon is that it has never shown much interest in the end to end journey of a book. By the end to end journey, I mean following a story from the first draft of a first chapter to the development of a book into a finished screen production. Amazon has always focused on the middle bit, taking a manuscript and selling it in several formats. Even when it has used the data it gets about which self-published books do well, it only uses the information to grab authors for its own imprints.
This feels increasingly like an anomaly. In the traditional part of the industry, this week Bloomsbury acquired video streaming service Artfilms. And this year’s Frankfurt puts film rights front and centre.
From Draft to Screen
But indie giant Wattpad has been leading the way when it comes to the end to end process. This week, Inkitt laid out its own end to end ambitions with a $59m investment that it intends to use to develop its most promising stories for the screen. Like Wattpad, Inkitt is a platform for self-publishing serial works. Like Wattpad it uses AI to assess which of those works is most likely, based on its content, to attract readers. And like Wattpad, it can reach eyeballs in large numbers (it has 7 million active readers). It is further down the road than Wattpad when it comes to monetising those eyeballs. Its Galatea is a paid subscription streaming app for readers. AI decides which manuscripts make it onto the app, and apparently many of those that make the cut earn their authors six figures.
Where it has lagged behind Wattpad thus far is the final stage of the end to end journey – screen rights. This is the area the new investment will focus on.
Working Without Amazon?
This week has reminded us of some of the dangers of tech monopolies. Last night (as I write this) Facebook went down for 6 hours. Because it owns them, meaning they are vulnerable to its technical difficulties, it took Whatsapp and Instagram with it.
Facebook’s outage will have affected many of us directly in some way. Though when it comes to life with our writers’ hats on, it is of course another giant monopoly that potentially has us at its mercy.
This is not the main reason many of us “go wide.” But it would serve all of us well to remember just how vulnerable we are if we put all our eggs in a single basket – no matter how big that basket is.
This week, Forbes has weighed in with a fascinating piece on how indie booksellers have successfully “taken on Amazon.” There’s not that much new, to be fair. Curation and Community are at the heart of it. But it does coincide with a high profile publicity stunt from Dave Eggers, the author best known for incredibly long and staggeringly artsy book titles and as the founder of indie writing bible McSweeney’s. Eggers will be restricting hardback sales of his new book, The Every, to indie bookstores. Of course, he is a darling of the indie scene and will find readers whatever. But it’s a reminder to keep our options open.
Tackling an Industry’s Climate Problems
The publishing industry has had environmental issues for a long time. It is notorious for its practice of returns, which sees millions of unsold books pulped every year. Paper shortages have also long dogged the industry, something Howard and I talk about in the most recent ALLi self-publishing news podcast. This has further driven eye watering transportation as printers first get and then distribute and finally receive returns of books. And now the rise of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) threatens all kinds of environmental catastrophe. It has sometimes felt as though the industry hasn't even noticed its problems, let alone begun to tackle them.
Now, though, in advance of COP26 (the UN Climate Conference 2021) it has finally taken the bull by the horns. A joint statement from many industry bodies has acknowledged that we need to do something to address bad practice. What that is will emerge from a series of conversations which will begin in Frankfurt. But the International Publishers Association has already launched a website where industry bodies can explore concrete ways to address the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.Inkitt raises $59m investment to take successful self-published stories from its platform to the screen and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes… Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers' conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.