In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks ahead to London Book Fair, and Zestworld offers indie comics creators a tailor made distribution platform.
The new Self-publishing News Podcast is out in which Howard and I discuss, among other things, why Amazon removed indie authors' books without warning or explanation earlier this year. I very much look forward to seeing many of you on tonight's #indieauthorchat at 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time when Tim will be leading a discussion about how writing can be therapeutic. Please note the UK and US times are now back in sync!
Zestworld: A New Platform for Indie Comics
Comics have long been one of those areas with massive potential for indie creators. Yet they have remained, for the large part, really badly served in terms of platforms for creators to distribute their work in a way that really works for readers. Amazon's bungled takeover of Comixology didn't help. A $9.3m investment in comics-as-newsletter platform Zestworld aims to remedy this. Zestworld allows indie comics creators to sell comics to subscribers in the form of a newsletter designed to fit the medium perfectly.
Zestworld will also allow creators to manage NFTs and host metaverse events. It’s easy to roll one’s eyes at the thought. Indeed that’s exactly the flex of the TechCrunch report on the move. But it’s also important to recognise that different markets have different ways of bringing readers and creators together. And if any literary art form is likely to be suitable for such things it would likely be comics, where events and special editions are part of the fabric of the landscape already.
It's interesting that this announcement should come as Bologna Book Fair discusses the growth of the comics market. A new Comics Corner at the Fair was dedicated to the place of comics in the children's publishing landscape.
Going Wide is the Key Trend of Book Fair Season
Fair season is well and truly upon us. At ALLi, our attention is focused firmly on London Book Fair. For us it’s a truly historic occasion as we celebrate our 10th birthday in the place where it all started. I had the privilege of being part of the panel that day as Orna gave the most fabulous tub-thumping speech declaring in no uncertain terms that the indies were coming. 10 years on, Orna is still leading the way and ALLi is still beating down barriers wherever we find them in the name of greater opportunity for indie authors everywhere.
ALLi have published a detailed guide to what to look out for at London Book Fair, so I direct you to that. My personal must-visits are both on the first morning. First up there's Orna and Joanna Penn will be talking about the wider creator economy in what looks set to offer a fascinating deep dive into self-publishing 3.0 and the new technologies that have taken up so many of my column inches the past year or so. Then there's a session on TikTok which will be fascinating.
The final call has also gone out for exhibitors for the curtain closer on the season at Frankfurt. This year’s theme is “Translate, Transfer, Transform.” The whole programme will be built around different parts of the process of making the most of your intellectual property, whether that’s selling in different languages or selling the rights to use your work as a basis for a different medium.
Kolkata and Bologna
Meanwhile, Mark Williams' report from Kolkata Literature Festival is a real eye opener. Despite India being home to 755 million internet users, digital reading is still something some of the country's leading publishing figures seem to be coming to terms with very slowly. And with Bologna, the first Book Fair cancelled by Covid 2 years ago, revealing some of the problems facing local book markets, the theme of this year's Fair season really is “going wide.” In every sense. There will be a lot for us to learn about how to make the most of a truly global market. I'll make sure to bring it all to you.
Shortlists Announced for This Year's Selfies Awards
London Book Fair also means the Selfies Awards are upon us. The Selfies are the highest profile awards dedicated to indie books. One of the things that's so refreshing is the real focus on quality not marketability. These have always been, I am delighted to say, a happy hunting ground for ALLi, going back to Jane Davis' Smash All the Windows, successful at the inaugural 2019 Awards.
It's great to see how the awards have grown. This year's shortlists have 25 books between the three categories (adult fiction/children's fiction/memoir). And ALLi is very well represented. The very best to everyone listed.
Librarians: Custodians, Curators, or Censors?
I spent a lot of my childhood in libraries. Then I went to university and spent even more time in them. I was used to them being hallowed places in which you rarely if ever spoke. And when I started reporting on the literary world, it felt like I took up where I left off. Libraries were hallowed places about which I rarely, if ever, spoke.
But libraries have been in the news a lot more in the past couple of years. First there was the battle with publishers. Now they are at the front line of a battle over censorship. Librarians, especially school librarians, in the US have felt under such pressure to remove some books from their shelves that the American Librarians' Association launched a public poll on the subject. They found that, contrary to some of the loudest voices, most people do not want librarians acting as censors. 9 out of 10 people polled thought libraries were important. 7 out of 10 – and a majority across party lines – opposed attempts to control what librarians put on their shelves.Self-publishing News: From Comics to Translation, Book Fair Season Focuses on the Many Opportunities For Finding Readers Click To Tweet