As a New Year cranks into gear, many of the live literary events I love have returned from their Christmas hiatus. Tonight I will be going to my favourite short story reading, and next week poetry is back. How wonderful that this coincides with both those genres featuring in the news, reminding us just how broad our indie world is.
Is Poetry the Next Big Thing?
As a poet, I love it when I have a chance to talk about the form I love. I wish those opportunities came along more often. After all, poetry is in many ways the original indie literature. We sat around the campfires and we rolled pamphlets of Xerox machines. Yet poetry is still seen as, somehow, different. Our own little world. Some of that ambivalence is reflected in new figures that show poetry is one of the fastest growing genres. Nielsen says poetry sales were up 13% to £12m last year. That's fabulous. Of course, while it reflects the growing following of poets like Rupi Kaur, it misses so much. Such as the fact that so many poetry books are self-published with no ISBN and sold solely at live shows. Which is a REALLY big, and unmeasurable part of he poetry business.
Fabulous news also that our very own Orna Ross is launching a great new venture, the Prosperous Poet. It's an online open mic poetry event held on Facebook live. It will also feature, fittingly, advice for poets wanting to make a living from poetry. The perfect meeting of form and technology.
What Is Publishing?
We thought we'd had this debate, didn't we? We are all published writers together. We just bring our work to readers in different ways. And no one is more keen to welcome self-publishers than Amazon. Right? Yet it seems self-publishing still doesn't count. At least according to Audible, who are involved with the UK's National Short Story Award. This has long been notorious for not accepting self-published authors, and ruffled feathers again earlier this year. But one might have thought Audible's involvement would help. Clearly not.
Diminishing or Increasing Returns for Writers?
As a writer in the UK, the Public Lending Rights (PLR) scheme is something I grew up with. Authors make a maximum of £6600 from it, but as last week's author earnings news showed, for most of us anything extra is invaluable. And the news last year that ebooks would be added to the scheme was rightly applauded. Especially now indies can get our ebooks into libraries more easily. Now the Authors Guild has called for American libraries to do likewise.
That's just one more example of the ways that “going wide” can add up to make an income. For those who still rely on Amazon, the news might not be so good. Last month the payout per page read in Kindle Select dipped below half a cent.
Blockchain and Personalisation: Tech That Matters
A new player has entered the blockchain market. Prescient is a project from Canadian Access Copyright. Its focus is on rights, specifically authenticating copyright and ownership of individual copies of books. Another fascinating project is the partnership of children's publisher Kabook with Prisma Labs. They are the people who make the popular apps that turn photos into paintings. You can now turn pictures of your children into painting-style illustrations inside customized books. The possibilities are fascinating!
And on the subject of science and technology, a fascinating meta-analysis has been published on a subject that matters to us all. It seems that when it comes to screen time, contrary to popular opinion the science is far from clear. There is no significant body of evidence that increased screen time is either particularly good or particularly bad for people.
Copyright: Controlled Digital Lending
The Internet Archive's Open Library has always had an iffy relationship with copyright. A key part of the open access movement, the Open Library aims to have a copy of every book available for digital lending, just one at a time. Authors have always had concerns, but now the Society of Authors and the Authors Guild have joined up to accuse the organization of copyright infringement. The spur seems to have been a slowing or cessation of responses to takedown notices. The move will challenge the notion of controlled digital lending (that libraries can lend a single copy of books they have in hard copy). But it could also challenge the notion of what a library is – most libraries operate in this way because they have local, defined constituencies. The Open Library is global. Does that make it still a library?Top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
San Antonio Book Festival, 6 Apr [San Antonio] Self-publishing Conference, 27 Apr [Leicester, UK] Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, 27 Apr [Gloucestershire, UK] Sydney Writers’ Festival, Apr 29 – May 5 [Sydney]
Book Expo, 29-31 May [New York]