In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at Tumblr's Posts Plus feature and a new metadata project.
In this month’s self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I ask why there are so few young indie authors entering prestigious awards for which they are eligible, and what we can do to change that.
Tumblr Posts Plus: Part of an Increasing Move to Monetize Social
Different ways of going wide has been a real theme this summer. One of the less mentioned trends has been the increasing ability to monetize social media. If the newsletter is all about getting long-term reward for providing consistently high quality content, then this is about getting instant rewards for making people stop scrolling. You might think of it as clickbait – or you could think of it as a reward for people who craft a gripping opening line and a hell of a cliffhanger but can’t be doing with what comes in between. Twitter is tinkering with introducing a tip jar.
But this week we saw new tools from the most imaginative content creators’ favourite social media platform: Tumblr. Posts Plus is a feature currently in beta. It allows bloggers to charge a subscription of between $3.99 and $9.99 per month for readers to access paywalled content. Like Twitter’s super follows, and Medium’s paid content, this will not stop creators posting some content for free.
The reaction has been exactly what you’d expect from Tumblr users. Many of them consider it decidedly uncool to go down this route. At the heart of the issue is a break from the platform’s lack of hierarchy. Users who post with Posts Plus will have a blue circled plus sign next to their name. Yes, something that looks rather like Twitter’s blue ticks. For a platform where everyone has always appeared equal and content not cult has driven the success of posts, this doesn’t sit well.
Does Monetizing Social Make Sense?
In many ways, this illustrates the pitfalls and the potential of monetizing social media. On the plus side, each platform is different, and people with different styles will find their natural home and audience. And it’s great that their talent is able to be recognized in a way that will contribute to their income. On the other hand, while Substack is clearly designed for journalists who want to make money from their hard work, there is a deep-seated sense that social media is not FOR making money. It’s not even inherently freemium, it’s inherently free. And that makes content created there different from other content in a way that the suits don’t always comprehend. For us as writers, it’s a fine line to tread. If consumers overcome the mental hurdle of paying for social content, it would radically transform the opportunities available to us. But at what cost?
Amazon A+ Content Allows makes for Better Amazon Pages
Amazon has just launched A+ Content. The new feature allows you to add images and tables to your details through KDP. The information will appear in the product details of your books, in the space where manufacturers and suppliers give the extra details that make the products they're selling on Amazon really “pop” and which give the feel of a fully-formed storefront to your books. I will be spending a few hours playing over the coming week!
Is Scribd going public?
I was surprised to read there is talk about Scribd’s potential IPO (initial public offering – the moment at which companies decide to raise funds by floating on the world’s markets and selling shares). I’ve been aware of Scribd for so long I suppose I assumed it had already happened years ago. It turns out not. A couple of years ago, Scribd raised $48m funding at a valuation of $450m. The rumoured IPO would see a valuation of $1bn. Mark Williams has a very interesting take on this. He points to the differential with Storytel. The company, which just hit 1 million subscribers in the Nordic countries alone, is worth considerably more already.
Williams points out one key difference between the Scandinavian successes and Scribd – the focus on many individual markets, and markets that are not just English language. This feels like a very important message to us as we consider our own potential markets – there are so many opportunities that we may not be considering at all. And failure to consider them may cost us dear!
A New Metadata Project Offers a Glimpse Behind the Curtain
We know metadata matters. But discovering how metadata drive discoverability can be a bit of a trial and error process. Amazon categories and keywords are a classic example of this. A new initiative from the Book Industry Communication (BIC) in the UK seeks to offer its members a look inside the black box. The Metadata Capabilities Directory will be a database of every user’s metadata. It will give users access to everyone else’s metadata in return for providing their own.
Of course, big datasets are not exactly new in the hunt for better metadata. They are an integral part of the ecosystem that drives the machine learning tools that drive discovery. What’s always interesting, though, is the thought of looking inside the black box.
While access is limited to BIC members, I can’t see anything stopping indies from joining. The proof of the value will come in the first case studies from people who use the information the database contains to target their discoverability campaigns more effectively.
The more we can see what’s happening…the better, and quicker, we can sharpen our own metadata.Tumblr Posts Plus offers creators the chance to monetise social media 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