In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at ALLi's new indie author income survey and increased indie representation on the Audie Awards shortlist.
In this month's podcast, Howard and I discuss the implementation, at last, of Amazon's revised ebook returns policy. We also take a look at the Department of Justice's antitrust case against Goole and the overall state of journalism as a source of reliable income.
Indie Author Income Survey
ALLi has just launched a survey dedicated to filling the gap on indie author incomes. You can read more about the rationale behind the survey, and the larger piece of work of which it is a part here, in this post from Monday. And you can take part by filling in the survey here.
So far, over 500 authors have taken part just on our first day and you have until next Monday to take the survey. We'd like to have 2000 authors, so your voice really does count and some interesting data is already emerging… help us make this data as robust as possible!
ALLi wants to hear from indie authors who spend 50% or more of their working time on writing and publishing activities. As the detailed post explains, the survey has three primary aims:
- how much self-published authors are making in 2023
- whether indie author income is increasing or decreasing
- specifics about the publishing models used by high-earners
What is, if anything, even more important is that this will be an ongoing project. Regular updates to the survey will give all kinds of information that will be invaluable to anyone thinking about their indie author business. We'll be able to track, among other things, the impact AI really does have on the number of indies able to make a living. And whether that living keeps up with the actual cost of living. And we'll be able to see how trends change when it comes to how we are making money: which media, which genres, and which rights are growing and shrinking.
Audie Awards Shortlist Sees a Slow Increase in Indie Representation
The Audie Awards are the audiobook industry’s main event for recognising achievements in this still fast-growing field. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear but seem to have to do with Audible and other platforms being treated as audiobook publishers in the simplest way, indies have always been eligible for the awards. Last year, Mary Jean Wells was the sole indie shortlistee. She went on to win in the Best Original Work category for her book Heroine. Wells was a great example of the someone who was at home in audio, knew exactly what to do, and did it. Her first home is writing for the stage, and she is also a voice actor.
This year sees the indie representation double. Given there are well over 100 shortlisted works in more than 2 categories, we are still only a tiny fraction. But our numbers are growing. The best-selling self-publishing husband and wife team who write as Ilona Andrews get a nod for Clean Sweep in the Best Drama category. And Christine Mascott gets a nod in the Short Stories category for Marriage – From the Feminine Perspective: Ten Classic Short Stories.
I am delighted to see more indies entering for awards and being recognised for their hard work and high quality and, of course, always happy that an award is open to all authors. I think many indies assume an award may be closed to them when in fact that is not the case, with more and more awards opening up to indies: so authors, get entering! We've also noticed that some awards are opening up to indies on a case-by-case basis: those authors that query whether they can enter are being told they can: so always ask if you're not sure (and if they really are closed, let ALLi know!). Melissa Addey, ALLi's Campaigns Manager
The Inevitable ChatGPT Submission Spam Debacles Have Begun
Talking of awards and eligibility…
Remember when awards and other gate kept places refused to consider indie submissions because they (said they) worried about the numbers being unmanageable? And they talked about “tsunamis” of self-published work that they labelled as being of the poorest quality? Well, one magazine has now suspended submissions altogether because it has received too many stories. And it's no surprise that the culprit this time is ChatGPT. It surprises me it's taken so long for this to happen. Clarkesworld has temporarily suspended submissions. A graph the magazine posted shows that its short fiction submissions have increased more than tenfold.
Amazon's KDP Seeing More AI-written Uploads
Thanks to Nate Hoffelder’s Monday Morning Coffee for this addition. It will not be a surprise to anyone that Amazon is being spammed by AI-generated books. KDP has always had a problem. Content scraping and catfishing and content stuffing have all had their day in the news. It was inevitable AI would have its own.
It’s interesting that the “flood of poor quality” argument seems to be coming to the fore here, as with competitions. And it makes me equally nervous in this context as it does there. There are some very nuanced arguments to be had about the limits of freedom and democracy and who has the right to gatekeep. Arguments that affected us as indies not so long ago. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a straightforward “you can’t gatekeep us but you can gatekeep them” approach.
But beyond that, there is a simpler and more immediate issue. It’s one that artists are already dealing with. If AI has got to the stage where it’s churning out junk stories, then it’s already so far along the road that it’ll be the blink of an eye before it’s producing really good stuff.
Bookshop.org to Sell ebooks and Enter Publishing
It was only last week I reported that Bookshop.org was expanding its offering by launching a look inside feature. This week it became clear that this is part of a much larger expansion. Later this year, the platform designed to help indie bookstores stand up to Amazon in the online arena will start selling ebooks. It’s building its very own platform that will be active by the end of the year. Not only that, Bookshop.org will become a publisher too. Its first title will be Lydia Davis’ short story collection Our Strangers.Self-publishing News: ALLi Launches Indie Author Income Survey Click To Tweet