It was a week that it would be easy to label “the sublime to the ridiculous”, but I won't. Instead, I will pass over the fact that we saw the latest release from Mr Bestseller himself (spoiler alert – Dan Brown is my not-so-guilty pleasure, and Origin is really good) with the simple musing how long it is before the hype around an indie release reaches the levels Brown and Rowling (and, later this month, Pullman) can achieve – it feels like one of the last boundaries. And one of the others is the award of a major prize such as the Nobel, which after the Academy dipped their toes in the waters of controversy last year returned to the safest possible pair of hands with Kazuo Ishiguro. Any takers for when we'll see the first indie winner?
Goodbye, Amazon Forum; Hello, French Amazon Stores
It's a stark, simple announcement, titled “This Amazon forum is retiring October 13, 2017” and directing people to Goodreads and Spark. In fairness, it has been a long time coming, and the days when authors jostled cheek by jowl with readers on discussion boards have been gone for fiverr or more years now. But back when many of us were starting out on Kindle, they were places we made many a wonderful friend, and had many a, erm, lively debate into the early hours, so there will be more than a few misty eyes come Friday.
While Amazon is simplifying its online discussions, it is now full steam ahead with its offline activities. With expansions ranging from stores in the US to warehouses in Australia, Amazon's latest step is to be on the lookout for potential bricks and mortar premises in France.
Indies in Frankfurt
You will have noticed by now that this Saturday is ALLi's Indie Author Fringe, circling Frankfurt Book Fair with all kinds of indie goodness. But the day before the IAF, Frankfurt is putting on an Indie Author Programme, moderated by Porter Anderson and featuring our own Orna Ross, Robin Cutler of Ingram Spark, and Kinga Jentetics of PublishDrive.
Blockchain for Writers Continues to Generate Interest
It will not have passed you by that ALLi has been running a group looking at the possible uses of Blockchain for writers, especially indies. If that has got you thinking, as I hope it has, this week IPR's Tom Cox produced a fascinating green paper on Blockchain that you must read. As you might expect from IPR, who specialise in rights management, the piece looks at how blockchain might be used for coordinating the many strands that can so often get lost and tangled in the post-publication process. For indies, the thought of tracking rights can be one of the big mental barriers to saying goodbye to an agent. Even more interesting to me is the call to look at smart contracts, which offer a way of indelibly sealing the various royalty-splits we might enter into with, say, translators, illustrators, and narrators, into an uncontestable record, at the same time as automating payments to each party.
Wattpad's Latest Partnership
I really love Wattpad, so it's always great to see a new announcement from them. This week saw them announce a new partnership with Entertainment One (eOne, the company behind The Walking Dead). On their blog, Wattpad put it “The content partnership will see eOne source original television, feature film and virtual reality projects from the more than 400 million story uploads on Wattpad.”
And finally…poetry – where indies thrive
We rarely hear about self-published poetry, which owes a lot to the fact that poetry sells notoriously few books (trust me, as a poet, I can vouch for this). Yet its short form and visual style make poetry incredibly suited to self-publishing online, and sites like instagram and tumblr are positively teeming with poetic indie life. So it's nice to be able to end with this week's news about the most famous online poet of all, Rupi Kaur. Kaur may not have self-published her book (though she is published by Andrews McMeel, also the publishers of Amanda Lovelace, subject of this fascinating interview on starting as an indie), Milk and Honey, but her poetry is originally self-published on Instagram where she has 1.6 million followers. For those of us who always carp that followers don't equate to sales, it is interesting to note that this week saw the news that Milk and Honey had surpassed 700,000 sales. Food for thought.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct 11-15 [Frankfurt] Indie Author Fringe, Oct 14 [Online] BuCon, Oct 14 [Germany]
Bookbaby Independent Authors Conference, Nov 3-5 [Philadelphia] 20 Books Vegas, Nov 3-5 [Las Vegas] The Author Business Conference, 4 November [Manchester] W3C Publishing Summit, Nov 9-10 [San Francisco] WriteCon, Nov 11 [Zurich, Switzerland]
20 Books London, Feb 3-4 [London]
Self-publishing Conference, Apr 28, [Leicester]
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Thanks for sharing the news with us, Dan. You’re the second person this week I’ve communicated with who’s spoken warmly of wattpad.
What I love about Wattpad is they are not afraid to keep trying lots of really interesting ideas. Some won’t take off, but a lot do. And because of their size and the fact so much of their output is in screen-friendly genres, they really are able to give authors the inside track to the attention of producers. The other great thing about them is that their readers are really evangelical about the site – they love it and they really love the things they read there – so if you want to make real fans, the kind who will spread the word to anyone who cares to listen about the books they love, it’s a great place to be.