Long, hard, slogging practice has been on my mind a lot this week. Tomorrow, I will be running the 100 kilometre Race To The Stones ultramarathon for the second year. Running that kind of distance is a wonderful experience for many reasons. The more prosaic include the fact that every 10 kilometres you are greeted by mountains of all the foods you were always told were bad for you and now you have the excuse to scoff, while the more poetic include the sense of transcendence you get from being so absolutely in the middle of an endlessly repetitive task. But none of these benefits comes without doing a lot of training. Which is where ultramarathon running is like writing. Or is it? Because whilst running, at most levels, is one of those rare things you will improve at simply by doing it, the hours you put in practising writing need to be a lot more focused. Which is why Jane Friedman’s fascinating moderation (here) of the famous 10,000 hour rule that has been doing the rounds this week is such important reading.
It is easy to spend so much of one’s time campaigning for the literary world to open up to indies that it would be easy to miss places where not only does that happen but where indies take full advantage. So it is a real pleasure to be able to open this week’s column with this news of a major indie win in prize land. Alice Jolly’s Dead Babies and Seaside Towns has won the £3000 PEN Ackerley Prize, awarded to an autobiographical work of outstanding excellence. Jolly’s memoir was brought out through the crowd-funding platform Unbound, who continue to go from success to success.
All About Infrastructure
We recently brought you news that Barnes and Noble would be selling self-published books in their stores. This post from Galleycat very helpfully has contact details for writers to contact Nook Press to get information on how to submit your title for consideration in the programme. It seems that barely a week goes by without news of one of the big platforms moving into bricks and mortar in order to gain infrastructure traction for click and collect or other reasons. So it’s rather nice this week to share this. Near Street, which can be downloaded as an app, offers a one hour delivery service, or click and collect, from participating bookstores, giving readers direct access to their specialist inventories. At the moment this is limited to London, but with plans to roll the service out next year – and many of the first bookstores on board are indie friendly – very interesting possibilities for indie writers to explore how to warehouse stock as well as supporting indie stores.
Last week we brought news of Audible’s new Channels service that would deliver shortform fiction in audio form. This week it seems that they might be developing an audiobook unlimited streaming service. In many ways this is an inevitable next step for the digital book industry but it’s something worth keeping an eye on, especially for indies who are spending a lot of money creating audiobooks with royalties already taking a bit of a hit ( full story here).
Interesting figures in the ongoing “are ebook sales up or down?” conversation. According to figures here, US publishers’ 2015 take of $2.8bn is down 10% on the previous year. What’s interesting is the header to the article, “But growing sales of self-published e-books may offset the drop.” Which many of us have been saying for quite some time now. Maybe the message is getting across at last.
And finally…from the sublime to…
Do you get freaked out writing in absolute silence? I know I do. For me, nothing beats the bustle of a coffee shop or on a sunny day the sound of the street as I plonk myself discretely on a pavement in the nook of a shop wall. If you’re like me, then news of this ambient noise generator will be most welcome. And while we’re on the subject of “ambient”, more details emerge here of the fascinating Ambient Literature Project, a major research undertaking at the University of the West of England whose outcome will no doubt inspire indies to push some very exciting boundaries. The project aims to bridge the gap between digital storytelling and the environment in which we read, with stories that adapt to a reader’s location. This news comes in the week that saw the release of Pokemon Go. Just Saying.
Upcoming conferences and events
Writer’s Digest Conference, Aug. 12–14 [ New York City]
Historical Novelists’ Association Annual Conference Sept 2-4 [Oxford, UK]
Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Sept. 16–17 [Lexington]
Word on the Street, Sept. 25 [Toronto, Canada]
RomCon, Sept. 30–Oct. 1 [Denver]
Chicago Writers Conference, Sept. 23-25 [Chicago]
(The above list may not include all the major events; please feel free to email us with any important ones we’ve missed out, or include in comments below.)All the week's top news for indie & #selfpub authors Click To Tweet