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Self-publishing News: Spotify Launches Audiobooks. Join In Through Findaway Voices

Self-publishing News: Spotify Launches Audiobooks. Join in through Findaway Voices

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at Spotify's audiobook launch.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

This week's #indieauthorchat is back on its usual Wednesday slot, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be talking with us about building non-book income.

Audiobooks Latest: Reach Spotify Listeners through Findaway Voices

Following up on the recent news about Spotify's audiobooks trial comes the big announcement on the Findaway Voices blog. You can now get your audiobooks in front of Spotify's 433 million listeners through the audiobook platform Findaway Voices. Very interestingly, the announcement contains a link to a letter that authors can use to get out of ACX exclusivity. More as this develops, but this is the news we've been waiting for!

Cover Designers Call Out Images Trained on Their Work

This is a story that has been brewing for several weeks now. It started with DALL-E’s expanded offering. It continued with Jason Allen’s success in an art contest with an AI-generated image. I have consistently talked about the potential concerns this raises for the future careers of creative artists.

Art Groups Say No To AI-generated Images

Concern in art groups has now reached the point where some have introduced a “no AI” policy. Many of us will enjoy seeing the results of our friends’ tinkering with platforms like Midjourney. Some of us will tinker ourselves. But AI images are starting to overwhelm art sites and some, like Fur Affinity, are saying no. And the reason is often the ethics of how platforms generate those images.

Cover Designers Voice Concerns

This technology is already affecting cover designers. And they are also expressing concern over image generation. One designer, Mihaela Voicu, drew attention to the site “HaveIBeenTrained” which provides an insight into the database of images used to train AI art. Her searches, and those of other artists on her discussion thread, revealed pretty much their whole portfolio in the databases that train the images people are creating and using.

This is a clear example of artists’ labour being used for commercial purposes from which they will not benefit. It is one of the reasons I have always been nervous of the reassurances from tech firms. At Futurebook last year, AI-generated narration was centre stage. Companies reassured us that they were filling a gap in the market and not taking people’s work. But datasets that AI uses are already taking people’s work without consent or pay.

Voicu puts designers’ position very succinctly:

Our artwork is the core of the AI generators, and they would not work without it. This is more than an ethical issue and it should be regulated by law.” 

Forbes last week had a fascinating interview with David Holz (thanks again to Mihaela for the link). Holz is the CEO of Midjourney, whose software Jason Allen used. It’s also the platform many of the people I know online use regularly. Holz’s responses to questions of concern reveal a lot. Much of that “lot” is a naivete (real or feigned) typical of the industry. Artists can’t opt out of having their images used, he says. Nor can they opt out of having people use their name in prompts. In tech-optimism mode he explains that’s just the way the internet works, but he doesn’t think it will replace real human creativity.

The tie-in with the way governments are treating artificial intelligence is striking. I reported a month ago on the data mining exception the UK government introduced. Writers expressed concern that this would lead to loss of revenue because tech companies would not need to pay a license fee to access our words. We would do well to remember that this is already happening to those with whom we partner to create our books.

Children's Literature Award Fee Scholarships – calling all ALLi authors who write for under 18s

A reminder that it is not too late to apply for to hugely generous scholarships from Children’s Lit. Each is worth $100 and will cover fees for awards of your choice, depending on what suits your book best. In order to apply, you need to make the case for your book, explain the awards you would like to enter, and tell Children's Lit what impact this will have on you as a writer. Entries are due by October 1 and winners will be announced at ALLi's Autumn/Fall conference. You can find the entry form here.

AUS$345,000 NSW Premier's Prizes Now Open (and open to indies)

It's always fantastic to update you with awards that are open to indies. And the 2023 NSW Premier's Prizes fit that bill. The 13 categories are each open to self-published works. Each comes with a prize fund of $5,000 to $40,000. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said. “We’re thrilled to be increasing the prize money from $20,000 to $30,000 for the Multicultural NSW Award and making the Indigenous Prize a permanent fixture of our annual awards. This reinforces the Government’s commitment to supporting literature that reflects the stories and experiences of our diverse communities.” Entries are open to all Australian citizens or those who hold permanent residency.

Print costs are literally changing books

Print books have been at the centre of supply chain issues for a long time now. Whether it’s the Ever Given blocking Suez, difficulties with paper milling, or the realisation of the impact of returns on the environment, change is both inevitable and overdue. An article in The Economist highlights the impact this has started to have on the physical structure of books. Some publishers are using slightly lower quality paper stock. And print on the page is getting smaller and closer together.


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Upcoming Conferences and Events

Free ALLi & IBPA joint webinars on best practices in self-publishing

Sep 21 Northern Hemisphere

Sep 22 Southern Hemisphere

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month

Author: 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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