In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the Selfies Awards winners announced at London Book Fair.
In our brand new podcast, Howard and I talk about ALLi’s Indie Author Income Survey. We look at what the figures mean and what story they might tell over the coming years.
Selfies Awards Winners Announced
Last week I looked at one of the self-publishing highlights of London Book Fair. ALLi’s Indie Author Income survey demonstrated the financial success of indie authors. This week, I want to lead with what, for me, has become the highlight of London Book Fair. The Selfies Awards celebrate the artistic achievements of indie authors. They have taken place since 2019 and now include three categories: adult fiction, children’s fiction, and autobiography/memoir. That last always seems a very specific form of non-fiction that I would be fascinated to find out the rationale for!
It’s that last category I want to start with when it comes to the winners. Huge congratulations to ALLi member Sarah Ziegel, whose Marching to a Different Beat: A family's Journey with Autism won the memoir/autobiography award. Highly commended in that category was Moira Dennis’ The Register.
The winner in adult fiction was The Secret Diary of a Bengali Newlywed by Halima Khatun. In children’s fiction When I Grow Up by Rich Smith was the winner with Mystery in the Palace of Westminster by Sarah Lustig highly commended.
The judges commented in particular on, “The publishing professionalism displayed by the winners” describing it as, “truly impressive.” It's great to see indies recognised in this way on such a large stage. I was particularly interested to note the judges’ comments about the adult fiction winner, that the author made “effective use of TikTok to market the book.” TikTok was not as overtly centre stage at London Book Fair as it was at Frankfurt last year. But it was still a major feature of the social media discussion at Author HQ.
Melissa Addey, ALLi's Campaigns Manager was thrilled at the announcement:
“It's wonderful to see the professionalism of indie authors remarked on by judges of book awards and to see that professionalism being rewarded by growing indie author incomes, as our Indie Author Income Survey clearly demonstrated.
It shows why ALLi's mission of ethics and excellence is so important: that authors can be informed and make good choices for their writing and self-publishing businesses. As new issues continue to arise, such as the current ones around AI and copyright, we recommend that authors not only revisit core information on their IP and rights, for example in our book How Authors Sell Publishing Rights (Orna A. Ross) but keep up to date as ALLi continues to report and discuss on these issues. Being informed is the key to making good choices, now and in the future.”
What TikTok ban Might Mean for Publishing's Favourite Platform
Which brings us to the next story. TikTok has been one of publishing’s great hopes in recent years. The platform’s BookTok community is incredibly engaged in sharing the books readers are passionate about. TikTok has started working with publishers to create links between book producers and the biggest influencers. And it has opened its own store to allow in-app purchases of books its influencers recommend.
TikTok has had its detractors for some time, of course. And by detractors, I don’t mean people who think it gives a poor experience or is a waste of time. I mean people, even more institutions, who see it as a serious security threat. The main reason for these concerns are TikTok’s origins in China.
This is not a new concern, of course. In the UK, the involvement of Huawei in the building of the 5G network sparked huge controversy. The UK government has issued legal notices requiring all of Huawei’s tech to be removed from 5G networks by 2027. But targeting an infrastructure and hardware provider is one step removed from providing the actual digital interface billions of people use. This month, Montana has become the first US state to make such a formal intervention. Legislation that comes into force in January next year will fine anyone accessing or abetting the access of TikTok $10,000. That latter statement means that, in effect, this is legislation aimed at app stores.
At a practical level, this feels like another example for legislators not understanding the Internet. Anyone with a VPN, for example, could in theory get around this. But as Mark Williams suggests, the direction of travel is clear. And while this is clumsy legislation, what follows will increasingly squeeze people's access. For marketers, influencers, creators, not forgetting readers, investing time and other resources into TikTok, this doesn't feel as though it will end well. Of course, something will fill any void. But that will take time. And sunk costs are already, well, sunk.
Copyright concerns at London Book Fair
Another hot topic at London Book Fair was copyright. This was inevitable given the number of stories I’ve reported on in this area of late. Publishing Perspectives has an interesting summary of the areas of discussion. The title is to the point: Copyright under attack. No one issue dominated this discussion. But the discussion became dominant as a result of just how many different issues are swirling around copyright right now. The relationship between creators and libraries is one area with many issues.
Should we be paid for our “output” in an age of AI?
But the hottest topic in copyright at the moment is, of course, AI (just last week, Drake x the Weeknd's viral release Heart on my Sleeve turned out to be totally AI-generated. More worryingly for many creators, fans didn't seem to notice or care). And that brings me to a really interesting take on how AI will impact copyright. Or rather, how it will impact our relation to outputs more generally. One of the things that interests me about the recent debates is the way they have focused our minds on what copyright really is. Specifically, what is it about some productions of words that mean they warrant payment? This is especially interesting as it is the use of content to train AI that has led to discussion of paying creators – for example, in the debate over the UK's proposed data mining law change.
This week, the godfather of tech philosophy Jaron Lanier intervened with a fascinating suggestion. While recognising technical difficulties in implementation, Lanier calls for everyone to be paid for the use of their outputs in training AI as part of a way of rethinking how people will be able to keep a roof over their heads in this new age.Self-publishing News: Selfies Awards Winners Announced at London Book Fair Click To Tweet