In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway fills us in on the latest with annual reports on the state of publishing in the US and the UK – which don't include self-publishing, Scribd's new feature, snapshots, and a turning point for self-publishingsnapshots.
This morning I has the pleasure of teaching a group of entrepreneurs about storytelling. It always amazes me how few people realise just how all-present storytelling is in our lives. It is the one thing that connects us not just to products but to ideas, ideals, the future full stop. Seeing people realise that importance over teh course of a workshop is remarkable. And it's humbling for us as writers to realise just how many doors this amazing key we have can unlock.
Self-publishing at a Turning Point
There’s obviously something in the air, because this week two of the biggest names in self-publishing, Joanna Penn and Kris Kathryn Rusch, have taken major stock of the business. Both clearly feel that self-publishing is at a tipping point. Joanna Penn explicitly states we are witnessing the first key shift in technology since the Kindle. For her, that technology is artificial intelligence. Everyone should familiarise themselves with Joanna Penn's list of ways AI will bring us threats and opportunities.
Kris’ take differs but captures something equally important. The rise of the license, and the importance of licensing rights. The writing business is no longer just about how we write. Nor even how we market what we wrote. It is, instead, about how we license what we write across many different media, platforms, and territories. And the way she encourages us to think reminds me more of the emerging software-as-a-service model than the traditional publishing rights model.
As if to recognise this turning point, ALLi itself has, of course, rebranded one of its membership categories. Following on the back of Orna’s fascinating outline of 10 business models for indie authors comes the authorpreneur membership, for those whose writing provides the basis of a successful business.
This week has seen key annual reports from both the US and UK publishing industries. They tell a mixed story, with elements of surprise and elements of business as usual. Least surprising is the continued rise of audio. Audio sales rose 27% in the US and 43% in the UK. But that is still a small fraction of overall sales (in the UK £69m of £6bn).
The fall in overall revenue in the US, from $27.2bn to $26.7bn, continues the trend of recent years. The fall in UK print sales, meanwhile, from £3.11bn to £2.95bn, is more surprising. Of course the real news is, as always, that official publishing figures do not include self-publishing. And as we grow, they get less and less accurate!
Scribd constantly surprises us. It has been around as long as I’ve been in self-publishing. Or at least it feels like that. And all the time we wonder quite how it keeps going. One of the earliest adopters of subscription, it somehow managed to make that work, despite the flaws in its model. Now it is trying something else interesting. Scribd snapshots are short key point summaries of non-fiction books. They work differently from the standard bite-size approach providers offer. These are not single chapters, or extracts, or accompanying essays.
Instead, the intention is for snapshots to act as teasers to excite readers to devour the whole thing. And they are penned by Scribd writers. It’s an interesting idea, and one with potential for indies to develop – not necessarily within scribd, but within their own environment. To that extent it has similarities to fiction publishers Dead Ink, who recently launched a high quality “readers’ guide” catalogue.
Digital tax and Prime Day
It’s that time of year again. Amazon Prime Day (July 14-17) is a fascinating event. It is the moment in the year designed to encourage readers to subscribe to one retailer and one alone. As we increasingly look to go wide, we should be following the opposing trend to narrow.
Talking of going wide, it is about to get easier to sell into new markets. Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic are the latest European Economic Area countries to lower sales tax on digital products.Scribd snapshots, publishing reports that omit self-publishing, and a turning point for self-publishing & other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes… Click To Tweet
Over to You
Do you feel that artificial intelligence might create major changes in self-publishing? Do you think this is a good thing for introducing your work to readers or a bad thing for reducing revenue? Or on Twitter? Let us know in the comments below.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Novel London Literary Festival, 17 Aug [London]
DigitalBookWorld, 10-12 Sep [Nashville]
Independent Self-publishing Authors Fair, 17 Nov [Henley-in-Arden]
Self-publishing Conference, 25 Apr [University of Leicester]