In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at Book Award Pro’s new free award matching service, Kindle’s move to support ePub formats, and a new phase of poetry NFTs.
This week's #indieauthorchat is back on a Wednesday this week, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be leading us in a discussion of whether we should format our own books. 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 to Support ePub
It was just 2 weeks ago that I wrote about the possible consequences of the Digital Services Act. Those consequences included the possibility of Amazon making other people’s ebooks available in its Kindle store. I’m not suggesting that this week’s story is a direct consequence of that. But it’s certainly interesting timing. Kindles will now support ePub files. They will also, interestingly, stop supporting mobi files. EPub is, of course, the general standard for ebooks. It is the format that W3C works on, ensuring that it will always be compatible with web browsers. And that means people turn to it because they know they’ll be able to read it in lots of different places for the foreseeable future. And now one of those places will be on their Kindle devices.
This throws an interesting light on the Digital Services Act. The act is designed to ensure interoperability, and to stop tech companies using their size to lock you into proprietary formats. But critics have pointed out that forcing companies like Apple and Amazon to sell more formats might see them become even more dominant. I can certainly see a situation in which people get used to reading ePubs on their Kindles. And then when months down the line Amazon starts offering ePub files for sale in its stores. Well, it’ll be interesting to see how Daunt and his relaunch of Nook will cope with that. Thanks to Nate Hoffelder for the tip.
Google Play Books and AI Narration
Another tech giant to expand its literary offering is Google. Google Play Books has been reported as increasing its AI narration offering. Mark Williams astutely points out that this has already been offered in beta for a while. But it is still being reported by Publishers Weekly. So it’s worth considering what it means. First, this is a clear differentiation from Audible. Audible still refuses to accept artificially narrated audiobooks.
Second, this is an in-house feature. You can’t sell a book you’ve had AI-narrated by a platform like Speechki or DeepZen. Instead, you need to choose one of 35 “voices” that Google offers.
Book Award Pro Launches Free Tier for its Award Matching Programme
One of the areas I’ve worked on most since I’ve been involved with ALLi has been awards. Prizes were a big part of the Open Up to Indie Authors that Debbie Young and I wrote the book for. And I have reported in this column every time a major award opens its doors to us. I also try to report whenever there’s an indie success.
What I’ve covered less, is the importance of awards as part of the marketing strategy for indies. But winning awards can play a major role in getting our books seen. And can act as powerful social proof. So finding the right awards for our books is incredibly valuable. But it can be a minefield. Many awards cost a small fortune. Others aren’t, to be honest, worth the paper they aren’t even printed on. And others still can be nice to have but of little commercial value.
ALLi’s Watchdog tries to steer you away from the most dangerous waters. But there are so many we just don’t know about. And “not being a rip off” is very different from being useful. This space is exactly what Book Award Pro sets out to help you steer through. The long and short of it is they tell you which awards you could, or should, enter your books for. And they have just launched a free tier to their service. The pitch is that they match your book with the prizes for which it is most suitable. And they claim to have a database of more than 6000 awards.
Society of Authors Launches Report into Hybrid Services
Hybrid publishing services come in many forms. ALLi of course has its own watchdog to alert you to the dodgy ones we spot and help you find the good ones. The Society of Authors in the UK has just launched its own report that aims to highlight some of the most parlous practices. You can download a full copy here.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are not going to be out of the news any time soon. And Elon Musk’s (so far) successful bid to buy Twitter is likely to mean more mainstream news stories. But the literary world has so far taken only faltering steps into this world since the first $100 ebook sale last June. And some of those steps have been faltering.
I found this story about a new NFT poetry project really fascinating. It involves an NFT poetry gallery. And it seems to be based around Instagram poetry. As a poet, it's easy for me to say that poetry is often at the forefront of innovation. Or at the very least in the indie vanguard. But there's a lot of truth to the idea. Poetry is the hottest print on demand genre. And Instapoets have, of course, hit paydirt while bringing literature to a whole new audience. It remains to be seen whether NFTs are another example of poets leading the charge. But poetry, and Instapoetry in particular, feels like it's as good a fit for the NFT as literature has.Self-Publishing News: Now you can Read ePub on Kindle Click To Tweet
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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