In this week’s Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at a new prize from the RWA and an expanded service from Scribd.
Remember, ALLi publishes a summary of the questions and answers from its weekly #IndieAuthorChat Twitter chat on the ALLi blog. This will be published on the Tuesday after the chat. Tonight’s chat will be about publishing with Ingram Spark, with Robin Cutler. And a reminder that ALLi has created a resource that seeks to answer any questions you may have about Covid-19, from concerns about the impact on events to ideas and news about how the services we rely on are responding. And as we look at online events in the news, do read this fabulous ALLi post on how to host online events as an author. You can also catch up with all last month’s self-publishing news and more in our latest podcast from Howard Lovy.
RWA Launches the Vivian
It’s hard to remember what the world was like all the way back in January. But if you can cast your minds back to that different time, you might remember the controversy engulfing the Romance Writers of America (RWA). Allegations of institutional racism had torn the organization seemingly irreparably apart after Courtney Milan was removed from its ethics panel. Milan, a long-term campaigner on diversity issues, had called out what she saw as racism in the books of a fellow member and fireworks ensued. One of the results was the cancellation of the Ritas, the RWA nearly 40 year-old awards of the RWA.
Well now the RWA has a new award. The Vivian is named for Vivian Stephens, the black editor who founded the group. There has been a cautious welcome for the new award, but it remains to see whether the damage already caused can be healed or not.
New from Scribd
I seem to write about Scribd a lot these days. So much that I’m almost at the point of no longer reminding people of the time we all thought Scribd would struggle to survive.
Scribd matters because it is seemingly very successful at finding people willing to pay for a subscription service. At $8.99 per month its premium service is on a par with Netflix but shows no sign of slowing. A big reason for that is the use of bundling. Scribd already offered bundles with Hulu, The New York Times, and Spotify. This week it launched Scribd Perks which bundles in even more. Possibly most interesting of those is Pandora, the podcast app. We are almost moving to a point where an indie might create their own multimedia presence wholly within Scribd, which is an interesting development. More worrying is the expanded bundle and unexpanded price. This may well bring more subscribers but at some point there has to be pressure on payments. We need to watch that literature doesn’t go the same micropayment route as music.
Rise of Podcasting
Talking about podcast, we can’t not mention the biggest news story in the history of the format. For anyone doubting the potential of podcasting for creating an income, our own Joanna Penn and might be example enough. But this week the format has hit the big time. Podcasting has been in the news a lot recently. First there was the ban from YouTube and other platforms of a London Real podcast featuring David Icke. But this week saw the announcement of an eye-watering $100m deal between Spotify and the biggest name in podcasting, Joe Rogan. Rogan makes more than $50m per year from advertising on his podcast.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Publishers
Other figures this week have been eye-watering in the opposite direction as publishers start to count the cost of Covid-19. In France, 57% of publishers have said they had cashflow problems as a result of the virus. This is despite a 30% rise in digital sales, and reflects how few of them have digital products. There is a lesson to us there. Meanwhile the Association of American Publishers is reporting an 8.4% drop in sales in March compared to 2019 and is bracing for April to be far far worse. And in Canada, there are worries of a rush of returns as bookstores start to reopen and confront piles of unshiftable stock.
In many ways the virus has accelerated already-occurring trends. Traditional publishers were already struggling with while those who embraced new models did better. As indies, we had the potential to fall on the right side of the divide, but a lot will depend how far along we were when disaster struck.RWA launches a new prize in the hope of repairing damaged reputation, Scribd expands its bundle, and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet
Over to You
Let us know about great online events of interest to indies, and novel ways of moving what you do online in the comments below.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
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BAIPA, 13 June