I find this time of year incredibly exciting. It's not that I expect Book Fair season to turn the world on its head. I've been around the block too many times for that. Instead it's the fact that this is a time when it feels as though writers come together and reflect, and renew. A time to remind ourselves we're not actually in this alone but as part of a really rather lovely community.
Live From London Book Fair
As I write this I am hoping that I will have sufficient wi-fi to be able to update you this afternoon with the winner of the very first Selfies award (BREAKING – congratulations ALLi's Jane Davis [and runner-up, ALLi's Jane Steen!] – full story next week). That is the main story for indies from this week’s London Book Fair. But I can certainly tell you the highlights of the pre-conference. Quantum is the high fee “exclusive” conference about the business of publishing. It is out of price range for many of us, and consciously deals with big blue sky questions. Just in case we were starting to feel welcome at the main table.
Topics are an interesting mix of “what, again?”, “oh, you’re catching up with other industries”, and “that’s really interesting.” The Bookseller has a great summary of the keynote from Faber’s Stephen Page. In the first category is the obligatory focus on audio. Though an interesting twist was Nielsen’s finding that 11% of audio content was delivered by digital assistant in 2018. Something for us to think about.
Publishing seems finally to have caught on to the importance of niche. That said, several astute tweeters pointed out that the key breeding ground for niche success – global markets – is systemically held back by publishing’s handling of international rights. Also catching on is the connected idea of small influencer marketers who really understand a niche.
On the really interesting front was BookBub’s session on the growth of non-fiction. This fits with the finding by Nielsen that self-help book sales in the UK rose by 20% last year. Equally fascinating was the session on the role of artificial intelligence in the publishing industry. Though it seems people still haven’t caught up with the fascinating & wide-ranging possibilities for machine learning to help with the actual business of creativity.
Don't forget, you can find out what ALLi is up to at LBF here, and there's a taste of our weekend Self-publishing Advice 24 hour online festival here.
New from BookBub & PublishDrive
Talking of BookBub, their latest development means it is now possible to promote offers on digital audio content. Meanwhile, PublishDrive have updated their offering of in-dashboard Amazon ads. This feature allows you to create and modify Amazon campaigns, and receive metrics on them, from within your PublishDrive dashboard. Many of us still find the iterative process of honing our ads a complicated and often confusing process. If you go through PublishDrive, you can use their AI, Savant, to help you find your target audience more quickly.
Pay per Page
We have spent a lot of the early part of 2019 talking about the vulnerability of Kindle Unlimited to manipulation. We have also talked a lot about Amazon’s struggles getting to grips with this. This could play either way for companies adopting a similar model. Either they stand to learn a lesson from Amazon, or fall into the same traps. In France, Numilog has launched a very interesting variation. Rather than paying authors for each page read (and charging a flat subscription rate), it charges readers for each page read. As Mark Williams points out, that is a risky model. If it is vulnerable to the same page-stuffing abuse as Kindle Unlimited, readers will take the hit.
Free Speech & Fake News
Self-publishing on Amazon is simple. And anyone can do it. That's what makes the indie revolution so exciting. But it is also creating a massive headache. We are used to the fact that there is a fake news problem on social media. We also know the World Health Organisation listed “vaccine hesitancy” as one of 2019's greatest threats to global health. This week, Wired has done a great job of joining those dots. First they outlined the way in which Amazon is a breeding ground for health misinformation. Then they carried out their own self-publishing experiment. It took them a matter of hours to scrape and publish, and also to promote via AMS, their own anti-vax propaganda. This really does pose serious questions as to where the line comes on freedom of speech in non-fiction. It's also something for PublishDrive‘s new in-dashboard ad service to think about and take the lead in tackling.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] Bogota Book Fair, 25 Apr – 6 May [Columbia] Self-publishing Conference, 27 Apr [Leicester, UK] Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, 27 Apr [Gloucestershire, UK] Sydney Writers’ Festival, Apr 29 – May 5 [Sydney]
Independent Self-publishing Authors Fair, 17 Nov [Henley-in-Arden]