One of the most popular genres on YouTube these days features “unboxing” videos. That is, literally, videos of people taking a thing out of the box in which it arrived. I was reminded of this by one of the articles that has been doing the rounds this week, linking the resurgence of print books and the rise of the “shelfie”, as people show off the contents of their bookshelves. As indies, these are the things that set the juices going. When it comes to trends we have the freedom to respond and to innovate at will, and in this case potential pops out from every angle – books as things of beauty, the challenge of creating a digital product that people consider as beautiful, and the wider challenge of making something literary that people are desperate to unbox – so many ideas and so much freedom to pursue them!
Indies in China
It's been a while since we talked about China, which is most remiss. Mark Williams of International Indie Author is constantly reminding us just how big the potential of the Chinese market is, and this week that really came home with the news that Tencent's online publisher China Literature just filed for an IPO with the hope of raising $800m (for half the company). Those figures are a reminder just how huge the Chinese market is ($1.3bn/year and growing at 20% per year). It's time to think seriously about how to get onboard.
Gifting one's work on Amazon is a controversial topic. Recent history has seen furore around both box sets and audiobooks, but gifting one's books to reviewers remains something many indies would like to be able to do with as little friction as possible. So this how-to post on gifting from one's Amazon account pages, courtesy of Nate Hoffelder, is most welcome.
It's also been a week or two since we heard from perennial favourites Wattpad. But the platform behemoth has just announced a partnership with Hachette Romans that will offer French language uploads (currently half a million a year) a direct route to market.
The European Union copyright reform's implications continue to trickle out. This week, the story is around the way aggregation sites present their features. It seems to be the case that the preview snippets that are used to introduce stories will now require licensing from the content publisher. This clearly has implications for those producing content as well as those aggregating it. YMMV obviously but the message I take home is that if we want our material shared and seen as widely as possible, if aggregators are going to be extra cautious we need to display Creative Commons license extra prominently.
It's been a fascinating week for those little (and not so little) things that make our lives easier. It can't have escaped anyone's notice that the promising Italian platform StreetLib has been on a big push this week. And WordPress, which provides the bedrock for many of our websites, have just announced that they are making their .com themes compatible with third party plugins. That will be a source of cheer for all of us. The fact it's only available under their $25/month business plan might not. And many thanks to Porter Anderson for highlighting a useful free report from Apex Covantage that details the workflows of mainstream publishers – it provides a very useful checklist of all the balls we need to juggle by ourselves. Mike Shatzkin has a fascinating look at the opportunities offered by Open Road Integrated Media, with some very interesting things about growing mailing lists. And it's also goodbye to a much-loved tool that has maybe not always got hard core DIYers the greatest press as Microsoft says goodbye to its Paint software after 32 years.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Sewanee Writers' Conference, Jul 18-30, [Sewanee USA]
Worldcon, Aug 9-13 [Helsinki] Definitive Hands-on Guide for Indie Authors, Aug 20-25 [various UK]
Self-publishing Conference, Apr 28, [Leicester]