This week has provided me with yet another reminder of the awesome things we can do with books if we pursue a path we believe in. I spent the last two days speaking and performing at the Mental Wealth Festival in London, which was co-hosted by a remarkable project called Books Beyond Words, which creates books whose stories are told wholly in pictures for people who struggle reading words. It's a great project, doing something completely different, making an impact on the world for the good. And for me that's a huge part of what being indie is about – the freedom to make the world a better place without a marketing board peering over your shoulder.
Ebooks are Books
This is an incredibly exciting week for me because I bring you news about not one but both of my favourite subjects. To start, some real progress. I have asked you, repeatedly, to give your author, and especially indie author, opinions in consultations. Thank you to everyone who does so. I don’t know if your opinions were instrumental, but, following the closure of the recent consultation on the issue, the European Union has ruled that for tax purposes ebooks are essentially the same as books. That won’t affect us yet, but it means that those governments within Europe that subject books to a reduced or zero rate of VAT can now, should they wish, do the same for ebooks – let the lobbying begin! Oh, and next time we mention a consultation you might want to take part in (and let's face it, there will probably be a next time) – remember, it might just be worth it!
Pursuing Copyright Claims
And still on a roll, a while back I brought you news of forthcoming US legislation that would allow copyright owners to pursue infringement cases in small claims rather than federal courts. I can now update that news with details of a new grassroots movement, led by the Professional Photographers of America, who are campaigning on the issue. Photographers are often at the forefront of these issues, so maybe you’d like to check them out and consider joining in – after all, not only does copyright affect us all directly, but we are pretty reliant on the amazing people who bring us the images that ultimately form the covers that will tempt in our readers.
Indie Author Day
October 8th is Indie Author Day, a great initiative taking place across the USA, and including a live online session at 2pm Eastern Time. Backed by a lot of the big names in the field like Ingram Spark, Indie Readers, and Self-e, this is a great initiative in which a whole slew of libraries will be pairing with indie authors to provide in-house events for people to pitch up at. If you're interested in taking part, there's a form here.
Kickstarter: One of the Big Four!
It’s not often that the mainstream media looks beyond the surface of the sales figures of self-publishing, so I wanted to share this very interesting piece from the Guardian, which outlines the recent success of Kickstarter for launching books – and which emphasises that by number of titles, Kickstarter would figure among the “big Four” publishing houses. Now compare Kickstarter’s 2,967 titles last year with Createspace’s 10 times that (as we saw last week), and you start to see just how big of a deal we indies are in print, let alone ebooks.
Audible Channels, the short content audiobook streaming service is now out of beta and available to all Amazon Prime customers. As I mentioned when this scheme was in beta, this is pretty much a perfect storm of two things that appear to be on an inexorable rise – the short form and the audiobook. Seriously bear it in mind when thinking about how to release your material.
You know how some things are just a closed book? Well, now there's an answer to that. MIT researchers are developing a camera that can read closed books through their covers. So maybe soon when you're on the Tube and you spot that studious person with the really impressive volume of James Joyce – you can check out if that's what they're really reading.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Sept. 16–17 [Lexington] Triskele Lit Fest, Sept 17 [London] Word on the Street, Sept. 25 [Toronto, Canada] RomCon, Sept. 30–Oct. 1 [Denver] Chicago Writers Conference, Sept. 23-25 [Chicago]
Indie Author Day, Oct.8 [libraries across the USA] Frankfurt Book Fair Indie Author Fringe, Oct. 12 [Online Conference] New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference, Oct. 15-17 [Baltimore] Vancouver Writers Fest, Oct. 18-23 [Vancouver] Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct. 19–23 [Frankfurt, Germany] Frankfurt Indie Author Fringe Oct. 22 [online] Surrey International Writers Conference, Oct. 20-23 [Surrey, BC, Canada]
Building Inclusivity in Publishing, Nov 15 [London]