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Self-publishing News: Breakthrough Indie Success

Self-publishing News: Breakthrough Indie Success

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at a breakthrough success for indie authors in Australia's Miles Franklin Award.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

This week's #indieauthorchat is tonight, Wednesday 22 June, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be asking whether we should use beta readers. Please do also catch up with the latest self-publishing news podcast, which you can listen to here. In it, Howard and I look in depth at the recent controversies around the role of librarians in curating content among many other things.

Great News for Indies With Success at Awards and New Fellowships

Having worked on ALLi’s Opening Up to Indie Authors campaign from its very start, when Debbie Young and I authored its first book, it delights me that in the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to talk about some really significant breakthroughs in “opening up.”

Royal Literary Society Fellowships

First, is the announcement of a new open call for Fellowship nominations from the Royal Literary Society in the UK. The Society is looking to select 30 new Fellows from under-represented backgrounds. And it is welcoming recommendations through this form here. The eligibility criteria say that authors must have had two substantial works published. After asking for clarification, they have confirmed that this includes self-published works. It would be fantastic to see indie authors in the initial list. I hope that’s a story I can report on later this year. In the meanwhile, you have until 17 July to make recommendations. Please note that the Society, with probably a wise prescience, has made it very clear that campaigning will be frowned upon – they are interested in individual recommendations.

Michael Franklin Longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award

The second story comes from Australia. Michael Winkler’s Grimmish has become the first book to be longlisted for the country’s leading prize, the Miles Franklin Award.

This is a story that means a huge amount to me because it ticks so many of the boxes I’ve been looking to see ticked in vain. The Miles Franklin is unashamedly an award for literary merit rather than popularity. So the recognition of a self-published title is a massive breakthrough for those of us who have been making the case for many years that self-publishing is the natural home of the dazzling and the experimental as well as the best-selling. It feels like a similar moment in terms of educating those who give out awards to when the Arthur C Clarke Award opened to indies in response to Becky Chambers’ book The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

I'm particularly delighted to see this story starting to appear in the mainstream book media. The Guardian Books has dedicated a full length splash to the story. What's so exciting is that Grimmish, a fictionalised account of a boxer's year touring Australia at the start of the 20th century, is the kind of literary tour de force I have been banging the drum about for years. It was rejected by publishers for being too experimental, too risky. So Winkler self-published. And the critical response has shown publishers their folly. It's the kind of story so we so nearly had to write about Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing before Galley Beggar Press spotted its genius.

The shortlist is out tomorrow. I know what I want next week's headline to be!

Spotify Completes the Acquisition of Findaway

Last week, I spent a lot of time talking about Spotify. In particular I looked at the implications of their acquisition of AI narration firm Sonantic. They also announced they would be introducing an a la carte sales store for audiobooks. These are key moves in Spotify's strategy to dominate the audiobook market. Another fundamental building block in that strategy is the acquisition of Findaway. I first reported on that last November. But although we could see what was coming down the line at that point, the deal was far from done. As I noted, there were still some hoops to jump through.

Those hoops have now all been jumped. The acquisition was finalised last week. Spotify's press release is really bullish about what that means.

Findaway’s technology infrastructure will enable Spotify to quickly scale its audiobook catalog and innovate on the experience for consumers, simultaneously providing new avenues for publishers and authors to reach audiences around the globe.

There's a lot to unpack there. But the highlights are easy to spot. Spotify are going to go big, and do it quickly. They are going global. And (“new avenues for publishers and authors”) indies are clearly part of the landscape they are building.

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Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and 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 for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40

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