As this goes to press, I will be standing in front of a class of 30 or so Masters students on a publishing module in one of the UK's leading universities in the area. And I will be talking about self-publishing. For three hours. Well, I hope I won't be talking for three hours – there's only so much time you can spend demonstrating the delights of the Tingle Title Generator – but you get the idea. I find this massively exciting. And not just because the one thing I love more than writing is public speaking, but because this means a whole generation of students of publishing will graduate realising that self-publishing is an integral part of their landscape.
For me the very best thing about being an indie is the freedom it gives me to experiment. In particular, to experiment with the most fundamental questions – just what *is* literature? How far can we take ourselves from the notion of the written word and still have something with a claim to be literature. And technology occasionally offers us the possibilities and constraints that help to push us in those new and exciting directions. Texting gave us the cellphone novel. The internet gave us the image macro. And now the ever-inventive people at Wattpad bring us Tap, an app providing a reading experience that mimics an unfolding message conversation. The writing side of the app hasn't yet rolled out to all Wattpaders, but that is promised soon. I have spent years thinking I ought to join Wattpad. Maybe this is the final push I needed.
Indie Author Fringe
It's under three weeks to the next Indie Author Fringe, and as ever this online extravaganza, accompanying the London Book Fair, has a whole host of fabulousness for you to explore. Do head over to the dedicated Indie Author Fringe page for full information of the sessions and speakers as well as this fringe's fantastic competition.
The latest players to enter the all you can eat subscription game are Kobo, who have just launched Kobo Plus, a 9.99 Euro/month service that is currently available only in the Netherlands and Belgium, though other region are sure to follow. Distribution to the service will be available not only through Kobo Writing Life, but also through Draft to Digital, though as yet not through Smashwords.
More Good News From Libraries
Good news for those of you seeking to exploit the expanding opportunities offered by libraries. The UK government has just announced that it will be expanding the Public Lending Rights scheme, which pays a small commission every time an author's books are borrowed from a library, to ebooks and audiobooks (around 7p/9 cents per loan). Though if I were being jaded enough to find the negative in the story, it is that the Bookseller's go-to commentariat remains stuck at the Society of Authors – obviously important, but it would be great to see journalists breaking stories that obviously have such a big effect in Indieland come to indie mouthpieces for comment as well.
Surprise Surprise – ebook Sales Down, Print Sales Up
While on the subject of audiobooks, the Association of American Publishers has released the latest set of figures to reveal a now-familiar trend. Sales of ebooks were down year on year in the first three quarters of 2016 by 18.7%. Meanwhile sales grew in all other sectors, with paperbakcs up 7.5%, hardbacks up 4.1% and audio download sales increasing by a stoking 29.6%. As always, these figures should be taken with a big enough pinch of salt to pay a Roman legion for several months, and it is worth reading the Data Guy's very detailed comment on The Passive Voice's reporting of the story – in short the AAP reports on just 27% of ebook sales.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Thrillerfest, Jul 11-15 [New York]
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