In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at what Brandon Sanderson’s record-breaking Kickstarter means for those who inevitably attempt to follow.
The new Self-publishing News Podcast is out in which Howard and I discuss, among other things, why Amazon removed indie authors' books without warning or explanation earlier this year. I very much look forward to seeing many of you on tonight's #indieauthorchat at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time when Tim will be leading a discussion about why authors procrastinate (other than because there's a fascinating chat on Twitter).
What Brandon Sanderson's Record-Breaking Kickstarter Might Mean
I used to lament that indie authors only ever made the mainstream culture pages when they made vast amounts of money (as opposed to when they wrote outstanding books). This week’s standout news story feels as though it could have been written with that thought in mind. When it comes to writers making vast amounts of money, the amounts don’t come much vaster than the figure raised by Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter. It’s, literally, hard to put a figure on the total. Because the Kickstarter still has more than 3 weeks to run. When I started writing this piece, the total raised was £19,125,401 (Around $25.3m). Updating having finished just this one section, it now stands at £19,150,265. That’s £25,000. In under an hour. For a campaign that’s already well underway.
Unsurprisingly, this story has made headlines everywhere. And has sparked debate across the literary world. In many ways, the reactions are as much the story as the Kickstarter itself. You can find a summary in the informatively titled “How Angry Should Other Writers Be About Brandon Sanderson’s $22 Million Kickstarter?”
Sanderson, as every article that writes about him (including this one now) points out, is not your average indie. He is a massive bestselling author of several hugely popular fantasy series. He does the rounds of signings tirelessly. As a result he has an enormous following of devoted readers with a direct connection to him. That pretty much ticks every box for a successful Kickstarter campaign. And he has cashed out spectacularly after deciding to self-publish his latest 4 books through the platform.
This will, inevitably, lead to a lot of people wondering if they could do the same. Anticipate some reports on how many of them there are and how they fair in the months to come!!
PublishDrive Seals Series A Investment to Aid Print on Demand for its Authors
PublishDrive have always been committed to using technology to benefit authors. They are pioneers of the use of artificial intelligence in marketing. They are also pioneers in how we as authors pay for the platforms we use to distribute our books, with subscription packages that allow us to pay a fixed fee and then keep 100% of our royalties.
Yesterday, PublishDrive announced they have secured an undisclosed Series A investment from Lead Ventures. This will enable them to, as they put it, “digitalize how print books get distributed to readers worldwide.” The money will be used to expand print on demand publishing, which is an interesting development. There are few details on what the money will actually do in the release. I hope to find out more at London Book Fair. But the biggest clue is the use of the word “digitalize.” That suggests to me that PublishDrive will double down on their strengths. And that means smart marketing and audience discovery, rather than actually printing.
Amazon to Close its 4 Star Stores and Bookstores
Over the years I’ve reported fairly regularly on Amazon’s ventures into the world of bricks and mortar stores. These have included bookstores. And most recently “4 star” stores, which stocked only products that had an average review of 4 stars or higher. Including books. One of the things that’s always been noticeable is that these stores have only ever opened in drips and drops. And now, they are closing them all. It’ll interesting to see how the stores that have seen Amazon as an aggressive competitor in that market will make of this. It will also be interesting to see if this is a once and for all move away from bricks and mortar, or just a step back and reconsider strategy.
Indie Author Success as Mary Jane Wells Wins at the Audies
I was excited to report a few weeks ago that indie authors were repped at the Audie Awards. Mary Jane Wells was shortlisted for Heroine in the Best Original category. As far as I could see, this was the only indie title among the 125 books in 25 categories. I am absolutely delighted to report that Heroine won in that category at last week’s awards. Wells is a playwright and voice actor who combined her talents to produce the audiobook of her own play through the platform Author’s Republic.
There’s an indie connection to the Audiobook of the year as well. Project Hail Mary is the latest from Andy Weir, whose The Martian remains one of the most famous of all self-published titles.
Writers for Ukraine: The One Million Word Challenge
From Wed 9–Tues 15th March, Dan Willcocks of Activated Authors is running a global challenge for writers to hit a combined total of 1,000,000 words written, to raise a minimum of £10,000 for the Ukrainian crisis.
The process is simple: writers and authors of any level, genre, and experience can sign up for the challenge, make their donation, and get involved simply by heading over to www.activatedauthors.com/Ukraine. Total word counts from each author can be updated on the live sheet, with a tally totalling the overall amount as the challenge progresses.
All proceeds and profits will go directly to British-Ukrainian Aid, a charity with their feet on the ground, supporting those refugees who need it most, with donations made through a GoFundMe page.
- Join the challenge: You can sign up and get involved over our 7-day challenge, adding your word count totals to our sheet to help reach 1 million. Just sign up HERE
- Make a donation: Donate as much or as little as you can to the GoFundMe page and help reach the target of £10,000. You can find the donation page HERE
- Spread the word: By using #writersforukraine, you can share and amplify the support from the community. There's also a small package of artwork that you can download and use on your platforms, for your convenience. Find a Google Drive folder HERE. ,