I have spent much of the past week talking about the future of storytelling. It is an incredibly exciting time to be a writer, with new technology offering a myriad new avenues to explore. You will know that I am a huge fan of virtual and augmented reality, for this reason. I love the thought of being ale to embed stories everywhere in the world around me. But the most exciting thing of all that I've discovered this week is a new paper from the people at e Ink. You can put it anywhere, use it just like wallpaper or flipchhart paper. Except it is digitally responsive. My head is spinning with ideas!
Futurebook As it Happened
I intimated last week that after many disappointing years, 2018’s Futurebook looked like a do not miss event. Looking back, there were certainly plenty of highlights, and much for indies to learn. There are some great summaries online which make a good place to start. This is the organisers’ recap. And ALLi’s very own Sukhi Jutla, who was speaking with Publica, has a fascinating account here. It was great to see innovative publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove of Dialogue Books (whose passion and vision were clear when I met her in Oxford) win Person of the Year.
It was a massive coup to get a keynote from Seth Godin & his message was absolutely on point. His main takeaway was addressed to retailers, but it is essential for writers too. The way to thrive is by focusing on the smallest viable market. Go for the niche. It’s something great indies get really right. And what many who struggle fail to grasp. We can’t please everyone. But we can REALLY please a few. It's a message we too often lose. Especially coming on the back of Cyber Monday, the biggest shopping day in Amazon's history.
Troubled Times for Author Solutions
I know, I can hear the sound of sympathetic violins already. Very encouraging news from Nate at The Digital Reader. He has tracked the publications (paper and digital) of Author Solutions imprints from 2012 to 2017. What he has found across the board is a 40-50% drop-off in registered ISBNs. Obviously it is worrying that even a reduced number of authors are being drawn into AS’ reach. But seeing such a dramatic drop is incredibly encouraging.
The Selfies: A New Prize for Indie Fiction
As the co-author of ALLi’s Opening Up to Indie Authors, one of my biggest gripes is the way prize organisers exclude indies. Any move that acknowledges the quality of writing we produce is welcome. And this week sees a new prize announcement. The Selfies will reward the best self-published fiction of 2017. It’s a new prize for indies rather than one that pits us against our traditionally published peers. And I have concerns about the criteria, which include sales, marketing campaigns and formatting, hardly the concerns of, say, the Man Booker. But the prize, run by Bookbrunch and held in conjunction with London Book Fair, is still a great opportunity.
From YouTube to PublishDrive – New from Platforms
Perhaps one of the reasons for the decline of the likes of Author Solutions is the rise in platforms offering authors a simple, highly effective way of reaching wide audiences. One such is the ever-innovative PublishDrive. The latest raft of offerings from PublishDrive includes an option to send advanced copies to reviewers. The copies are locked down so they cannot be shared, and would be available 28 days before publication. The service, which is free, is a very handy low budget alternative to NetGalley.
Meanwhile YouTube has expanded its YouTube stories programme. The offering, which allows podcasters to create “instant” content that lasts for a week then disappears, was initially launched in beta to select channels with more than 70,000 subscribers. It has now been extended to all channels with 10,000 or more subscribers.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
San Miguel Writers’ Conference, 13-19 Feb [Mexico] San Francisco Writers’ Conference, Feb 14-18 [San Francisco]
London Book Fair, 12-14 Mar [London]
Self-publishing Conference, 27 Apr [Leicester, UK] Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, 27 April [Gloucestershire, UK] Sydney Writers’ Festival, Apr 29 – May 5 [Sydney]
Book Expo, 29-31 May [New York]
Dublin Writers Conference, 21-23 Jun [Dublin] Historical Novel Society, 20-22 June [Maryland]
Thanks for sharing the latest news with us, Dan! May the creativity be with you as you channel ideas into this new medium!
I happen to be a UK-based author who had a qualifying title out this year, so I guess I’m a guinea pig for this award now 😀
My first reaction is that it’s a great way to boost subscriber numbers, since in order to apply for the contest you have to take out a 6-month subscription to BookBrunch at the “discounted” price of £30 (inc. VAT). The quote marks are there because according to their subscription page you can also get a discount via various professional bodies, so I’m not sure what real value the “savings” of £35 has. As I’ve never come across Bookbrunch before I also have no idea what I’m getting bar the entry to the competition. I had to create an account to proceed to the subscription page, too, so now I’m committed to a trade publication that seems far more focused on trad than indie…
There’s really only one prize, btw, which is £1,000 to the winner (easily covered by 40 new subscriptions). The rest is smoke and mirrors…”All authors submitting work will receive six month’s subscription to BookBrunch [covered by the entry fee, see above]. Shortlisted authors (up to 10) will receive free entry to the London Book Fair on the 12th March, and entry to the LBF Writer’s HQ [ALLi members can get free entry anyway]. The winner will receive £1,000.”
Apparently they’ll be sending me a link to enter the competition in return for my subscription. So far I haven’t received it. Their website seems a bit cobbled together so I suspect that getting to the contest might be a bit of a runaround. I’ll give them till tomorrow morning.
Being a cynical old bat, I find myself wondering why this contest has been launched. Apart from being a lovely little subscription sales booster, what’s the agenda? I too was intrigued by the focus on launch and marketing, which suggests that they’re looking for a newsworthy UK indie success story. Since I write books that entertain readers rather than appeal to literary award judges, I’m quite happy to see a prize that isn’t necessarily focused on literary merit. It’s worth a punt.
Sadly, the BookBrunch prize is only open to UK-based authors. 🙁