In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at the Writers' Guild's new self-publishing guide, and a new AI book discovery app that's partnered with Ingram.
Do listen to September's Self-publishing News podcast here. We talk about Spotify, of course, and took a deep dive into what the controversy over AI-generated art means for indie authors and the wider book business. This week's #indieauthorchat is in its usual Wednesday slot, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be talking with us about the damage a bad cover can do. And a reminder that you can take part in research on the traits of self-published writers at Kingston by taking the survey here.
Breaking: ALLi (and members) Shortlist Success
Congratulations to ALLi. We have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelist Association’s Indie Champion Category. The RNA has always been one of the most progressive writers’ groups when it comes to indie inclusion. The fact they have an indie champion award is illustrative of this. It’s absolutely thrilling that ALLi member Clare Flynn is also on the shortlist. Winners will be announced on November 11th.
And talking of shortlist success, congratulations to ALLi members Clare Lydon and Barry Hutchison, who have been shortlisted for the £20,000 Kindle Storyteller Award. The winner will be announced on October 24th. Fingers crossed for lots of good news in the coming weeks!
Different Responses and Solutions to Supply Chain Issues Across the Industry
The supply chain has been one of the book business’ weak points for quite some time. In recent months and years, we’ve seen scrutiny fall on the decrease in the distribution network, the cost and scarcity of paper, and the environmental damage of the vast numbers of returns for standard print runs.
This week the supply chain is in the news on three separate fronts.
Waterstones Warehouse Issues “Resolved”
The most recent high-profile problem fell on Waterstones. Since it partnered with Blue Yonder for its warehousing and distribution, it has struggled to fulfil orders from its stores. This has left shelves either empty or overly focused, not on what store managers wanted to stock but on what was available. Not a great move for the chain’s CEO, James Daunt, who has been evangelical about the value of local booksellers’ stock curation. The situation hit a low point when publishers were asked to pay for their own distribution if they wanted books on Waterstones shelves – something that priced many small presses out.
Waterstones are now saying that they have worked with Blue Yonder to resolve the issues. And a fix is now in place. They warn, though, that it will be some time before the order backlog lifts and things can run as they should.
Comics Bucking the Trend
Comics seem to be succeeding in the face of supply chain disruption according to ICv’s state of play report at New York’s Comic Con. The report highlights a 60% growth in sales during 2021. The main driver for this is the strength of manga sales. One thing that’s really interesting is that e-comic platform Webtoon, despite sales of $900m and 90 million users, is looking to turn its digital products into print. That will offer yet more options to indie comic writers.
Publishing 2030 Accelerator Manifesto
This month, the industry continued its attempt to take on the problem of its role in climate change and other environmental damage such as deforestation by launching the Publishing 2030 Accelerator Manifesto. It's not exactly concrete (the 5 manifesto points include such generalities as “take responsibility” and “accelerate action”) and it's hardly radical. But it is a step. And it is the first actual action from the movement that began with publishers getting together around COP26 and deciding that something had to be done. It will be very interesting to see what the next step is. It is also interesting to see how many steps many indies have taken down the path simply because we do things slightly differently, especially when it comes to print and supply chain.
Tertullia: AI for book discovery
Talking of supply chain, the next story marks an interesting development for Ingram.
Artificial intelligence has had a very bad press of late. Whether it’s speech production or art, the focus has been on the threat many creators face. It feels like a long time since we were talking about using AI to help with book discovery. But now that subject is back, thanks to an app called Tertullia. Tertullia aims to use AI to provide recommendations to readers based on what the internet, and social media in particular, is talking about. It works by scraping a snapshot of current chatter and analysing it to see what books people are excited about. Which requires it to do things like distinguish between book titles that sound like regular words and regular words that sound like book titles.
Once it's done that analysis, it will present its “trending” recommendations to readers who can make their purchases in-app. Which is where Ingram comes in, because if people choose a print book, Ingram will fulfil the order (where it can). Which could be very good news for indies.
Writers Guild Launches Self-publishing Guide
I recently reported that the Writers Guild was holding an event with our very own Orna to launch its Self-publishing Guide. I'm delighted to report this week that the guide has launched and you can download it here. The guide focuses on making the most of the opportunities that self-publishing brings. But it's also very keen to steer authors away from predatory services, following on from the recent publicity around hybrid publishers. I was delighted to see ALLi at the top of its useful resources links (admittedly it's arranged alphabetically!).
As Frankfurt fast approaches, that can mean only one thing. It’s also time for SelfPubCon. The online event, in association with ALLi, will bring you the usual fabulous mix of 24 sessions over 24 hours on October 29-30. You can sign up free to get access for 3 days. Or you can buy a 6 month (free to ALLi members) all areas pass, or lifetime pass giving you access to all the content forever.
And as part of SelfPubCon, you can enter a First Line Competition, sponsored by Kobo Writing Life (KWL) and other ALLi partner members. The overall grand-prize winner will win a Kobo Elipsa eReader pack, a 1-1 meeting with KWL and a magnificent “Get It Published” package of products and services provided by ALLi partner members.
Three other prizewinners will receive a 1-1 meeting with a member of the KWL team and a copy of Creative Self-Publishing by Orna Ross.
Your first line can be dialogue, action, description. It can be from fiction, poetry or memoir, but it must be a single line only to avoid disqualification.
Go here to enter but be quick. The deadline is tomorrow (October 13th)
Self-publishing News: Enter SelfPubCon's First Line Competition Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
October 29-30 SelfPubCon