In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at Kindle Storyteller UK with its £20,000 2022 award and the Society of Authors’ report into publishing services companies.
This week's #indieauthorchat is tonight, Wednesday 11 May, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be leading us in a discussion of common book marketing failures. Please do listen to a special London Book Fair Self-Publishing News podcast here. Howard takes in all the fun of the Fair. He also speaks to everyone about ALLi's 10 year story so far.
Kindle Storyteller UK is Open with £20,000 First Prize
Kindle Storyteller offers one of the richest prize funds going, with a £20,000 award, and it's open now. That’s one of the richest not just for indie authors, but full stop. Even better, there’s no upfront entry fee. I say “upfront” because the terms of the competition require you to enrol the book in KDP Select for the competition’s duration. You might miss out on sales on other platforms, but that’s the perennial debate! To be eligible, you need to publish your book through KDP between May 1st and August 31st. You need to use the keyword “StorytellerUK2022” in the metadata. And you also need to make sure your book is available as both ebook and paperback.
Last year’s winner was ALLi member Rachel McLean for her novel The Corfe Castle Murders. Anyone thinking seriously about how to maximise their chances in this year’s award (or looking to plan a campaign in advance of next year’s!) would be very well advised to pick her brains on how to proceed. Fortunately, Howard interviewed her for the Inspirational Indies podcast. You can listen here, and pick up a wealth of tips on how to give yourself the best chance of being in the running. And if you follow her advice but don’t win the award, your book will nonetheless be better for having done so!
Habits in Digital Reading
This week saw the release of a fascinating report into the digital habits of French readers. One thing which always strikes about this kind of report is the narrowness in reported habits between audio and ebooks. In this case, 12% listened to digital audiobooks while 25% read ebooks. That is at odds with the relative sizes of the respective market share. What explains it, of course, is the fact that people who read ebooks can get through so many more of them than the two a month that’s the stable average for audiobook consumption. 22% of ebook readers describe themselves as “avid.”
Concern Over Predatory Publishing Services in Society of Authors Report
Last week, I highlighted a new campaign from the UK’s Society of Authors into what they call ‘hybrid’, ‘partnership’ or ‘contributory’ publishers. I want to look more closely now. “Hybrid” is a slightly confusing term here as many of us use the term “hybrid” to refer to authors who use traditional publishers in some circumstances, and self-publish in others. It’s fairly clear that what they mean are publishing services companies. People you pay as part of your self-publishing enterprise to do some of the things that you need to do in order to self-publish. Typically, what characterises these companies is that you pay for the convenience of having them do some project management. That is to say, rather than you employing an editor, and a formatter, and a cover designer, you pay someone to arrange those things for you.
You can download the report here. The Society of Authors gave it the title “Is it a Steal?”. In doing so, it’s fairly clear they believe that there is an issue with bad actors. And that’s something our Watchdog would seem to confirm. What’s particularly frustrating is the potential of such bad actors to give the whole indie endeavour a bad name. The figures they report seem reminiscent of the worst days of vanity publishing. Companies charge prices in the thousands. Almost all authors struggle to make sales in the hundreds. Of course, that doesn’t in itself mean predatory practice – many books by traditional publishers also sell very few copies and make a loss. The worry is the implication that’s there, that if people part with thousands, their books will automatically be more likely to make a profit regardless of the quality or value of what they’re buying.
It was great to see this report picked up by Jane Friedman. She has published an interesting response to it by Brooke Warner, who runs She Writes Press – a publishing services company (interestingly, She Writes Press has a “mixed” rating from ALLi’s Watchdog). Warner is sympathetic to the report’s desire to protect writers. But she makes the valid point that a bad actor won’t really care about standards. So calling for standards isn’t necessarily going to help. What will help is knowing where to go for trusted advice – which of course is where we come in.
Instagram Adds NFTs and Facebook Drops Podcasts
There are a couple of interesting stories this week from social media that affect us. First up is Facebook’s withdrawal from the audio sphere. The biggest part of this is the end of their podcast service. Many people’s reaction will, I am sure, be “oh, Facebook did podcasting?” Which I imagine is why they have pulled out.
Something that caught my eye is a move by Instagram to make it easier for creators to share their NFTs. Of course every platform is going to be dipping a toe, or considerably more, into the NFT market. Most of them will probably last as long as Facebook’s adventures in podcasting. But for anyone looking to experiment with NFT ebooks or special editions, highly visible spaces where they can do so will help them test the market.Self-publishing News: Kindle Storyteller UK 2022 Open to Entrants Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Wild Words Festival, 3-5 June (Cuffley End UK) – click the link for an ALLi discount (adult tickets £100 from £120, 5-12 years tickets £40 from £60)
Indie Unconference, 9-12 June, Matera