In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway celebrates the Crime Writers Association's vote to welcome indie authors after 68 years.
This month’s self-publishing news podcast is just out. In it, Howard and I talk about new features being launched on social media platforms that enable users to monetise their feeds. And with the Kindle e-reader in the news this week, today's #indieauthorchat at 8pm UK and 3pm Eastern Time takes a timely look at how best to use KDP.
Crime Writers Association to Admit Indie Authors
Sometimes positive change happens, and when it does it’s something to celebrate. So I am over the moon to share the news that the UK’s Crime Writers Association has finally opened its membership to indies. It’s taken 68 years, but a staggering 84% of members voted for the move, which will take effect from September 13. From then indies will need to fill in a form to demonstrate their commitment to professionalism.
The Crime Writers Association is home to the world famous Dagger Awards, and is one of the highest profile organisations for writers whose work occupies a common genre. As a crime-writing indie I have to say I am over the moon.
Readers Continue to Love Print
We know different people like to read in different ways. And sometimes the same person likes to read in different ways according to the circumstance. Two stories this week look at precisely this. And while one illustrates the differences, the other gives one possible reason for those preferences. As indie authors it’s really important that we understand these reasons. It’s very easy to make assumptions about the direction of travel of technology, or about what others do based on our experience. It can also be easy to focus on the areas we find easiest to publish in. But that is missing a trick.
People like reading paper books. We occasionally see headlines to this effect. But while it may surprise some, the figures tell a remarkably consistent story. And a new study commissioned by Oxfam shows that readers really do love print. Just 18% prefer digital. As so often there are caveats. Oxfam owns a huge network of secondhand book stores. But that in itself has some interesting knock-ons because the survey looks at attitudes to buying books secondhand. It suggests half of us may regularly do so, and more than half of us believe it's as good as buying new. And that matters for us as authors because, of course, the royalty system is not the same when people don't buy new. Which is why developments like AuthorSHARE, which enables just that, are so exciting.
3G Kindle Devices To Lose Functionality While Amazon Offers Compensation
One of the reasons people can prefer paper to digital reading is its relative permanence as a format. There’s a cool infographic that demonstrates the decreasing life expectancy of various archival materials, from stone and vellum through paper to digital. This week Amazon announced that early 3G (I remember when 3G was the upgrade!). Kindle e-readers would no longer be able to update wirelessly or download new ebooks from December.
The Drawbacks of Digital
This development illustrates two problems I have been fairly vocal about over the years.
The first is that what we may think of as something entirely virtual – an ebook, or an audiobook for that matter – really isn’t. Software is reliant on hardware. And hardware evolves, as does the infrastructure that enables it. And as it does, devices become obsolete. This is a problem in many ways – from affordability to environmental impact. It is very interesting that a story about the obsolescence of hardware should break the same week as a story about people's preference for secondhand items. I have said it before and will say it many times again – the book world has an environmental problem that it hasn't scratched the surface of tackling – though customers are desperate for it to do do.
And second, it highlights the problem with proprietary software – that is, a file type that can only be read within an environment provided by a certain company, like Amazon. Proprietary software is very much at the mercy of circumstance. What's in your library today might not be tomorrow – unlike an actual bookshelf. And very much not like software that's not proprietary. W3c, the group that ensures the World Wide Web continues to function, commits to supporting the ePub format. That means that unlike .mobi files, so long as there's a web, you'll be able to read your ePub files there.
The good news for owners of older Kindles is that Amazon have offered them $50 towards a new Paperwhite, and $15 of ebooks to compensate.
Pinterest and Twitter: More Chances to Monetise Social
Making money directly from social media is a real theme at the moment. In recent weeks we’ve seen Tumblr Posts Plus and Twitter’s Super Followers. This week Pinterest enters the fray. It will allow people to tag the products they pin. And readers will be able to click through and buy direct. For those authors who create cover or mood boards, this has big potential.
Meanwhile, Twitter has announced a similar option that looks far more attractive than its super followers. In the US it is piloting an e-commerce feature. This will allow users to sell direct from their profiles. For anyone who gets lots of profile views but struggles to get people to click through and buy stuff from elsewhere, this could be a really great way of capitalising on people's interest in their books before their attention drifts.Crime Writers Association welcomes indie authors after 68 years and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup 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.
Plan Your Series Workshops, 2-4 Aug