I was out on the trails again yesterday, and on almost the same day as last year I ended up making the mistake of running hard in woodland decorated with dappled sunlight, and reacquainted myself with the forest floor. Miles from anywhere, I used my hydration bladder to clean out my wounds, went through a mental checklist of body parts to check for weight-bearing capacity, and patched up my cuts with makeshift bandages. I was rather pleased that I was able to look after my needs quite so efficiently, but out on the trails that's both what you need and what you end up doing, at which point it struck me just how similar that approach was to the all-around self-sufficiency we have to develop (at least to some extent) as indies.
The Lack of Diversity in Literature
This week’s news has been about the release of figures. Some of them illustrate the ever-expanding opportunities open to indies as the industry as a whole grows in exciting directions.
Others illustrate the opportunity that indies have to do better. And nowhere is that more the case than the release of this year’s VIDA count. ALLi hasn’t been backward in making the case for greater diversity in the literary world, and few figures support that case as well as VIDA’s annual release of the percentage of books by women reviewed in major media outlets, and the percentage of those reviews written by women. This year again, figures for the likes of the London Review of Books (26% of reviews by women) show how inadequate gender representation is in the mainstream literary world. Of course it is essential to try to reform this scene, however recalcitrant it is. But there is also a need to build our own scene, truly reflective of the vibrant world we all inhabit.
The Continuing Growth of ebook Borrowing and Audiobooks
More positive figures that represent opportunities for indies come from sectors we are used to seeing on these pages – libraries and audiobooks. Overdrive, which recently reported its first billion borrowed books, is reporting a 30% month on month increase in the use of its Libby app, which gives access to library copies of ebooks and audiobooks.
And the Audiobook Publishers Association, the sector group that runs the Audies, has reported a 22.7% growth in the audiobook revenue in 2017, which means the rise in audiobooks that seems to have been a feature of the news for a long time now, shows little sign of slowing. These figures show yet again how important it is for indies to look at all the avenues open to us for getting our books to readers.
More Opportunities for Writers: Paywalls and Merch
If you're like me, you probably spend much of your browsing time muttering under your breath at the seemingly endless expansion of paywalls and subscriptions (looking at you, Bookseller). It might be an irksome trend, but it is a trend nonetheless, and now WordPress, who make the software that powers many of our websites, have bought up Atavist, with plans to integrate the platform into its own content management system, it is highly likely that many of us will be able to create paywalls or subscription websites of our own from our dashboards. As more and more of us embrace microfunding sites like Patreon this is an obvious way to move some of that monetising in-house. Another opportunity to explore different revenue streams comes as YouTube offers its leading content contributors (100,000 subscribers plus, but we already looked at the boom of the literary podcast last week) the opportunity to provide paid-for content and merchandise to loyal fans.
Legal Round-up: Copyright and Tax
It's been a busy week or so in legal matters relating to my two favourite topics. The European Union has taken the next step to passing copyright legislation that will require all platform and site owners to screen uploaded content for copyright violation by placing the onus for violation policing on platforms not the content creators who use them. This sounds to me very like SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that was thwarted in the USA after a massive campaign uniting parties concerned about internet freedom, and the likes of Tim Berners-Lee are again campaigning hard. This is a battle that affects many of us from both sides. On the one hand, we care about our copyright. On the other hand, many of us are small businesses and offer a platform to other people – do you have the time to run every guest post on your blog through an analytic tool to make sure it's fully original?
And to round things out in the “creating more work for us” department, the US Supreme Court has ruled that small businesses must collect sales tax at the appropriate local state rate for online sales. Yet another thing that seems destined to send those of us without time into the arms of those who do have it (and that means the likes of Amazon), continuing the slow squeeze on indie freedom.
Top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes Click To Tweet
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