Today is International Translation Day. And that seemed like a good opportunity to start by reminding everyone who comes here of Orna Ross’s continual refrain that for indie writers, rights are everything. It’s so important to think beyond just ebook, print book, maybe an audiobook, and to explore every possible place where readers might love our books. So many of ALLi’s authors have experience of getting their work translated and selling it in markets that may not, at first, seem obvious – which is just another reason it’s great to be part of the community.
Where Is Publishing Going? Exciting Places!
This sounds like a big topic. And it is, encompassing three of the big stories of the week. The first, which is the perfect storm for anyone who like me loves both futurology and figures, is the publication of the Publishing Trend Report, which you can download free from Digital Book World. The accompanying post has some headline points from the report and frankly just reading the titles of those headlines gave me goosebumps thinking of the possibilities – some of it (augmented reality, podcasts are far from dead, algorithmically generated content) is fairly familiar, especially for those of you who always read my “and finally”s; other bits (the Internet of X, intentional rabbit-holes) is the kind of stuff that makes anyone with a creative bone in their bodies (and if that’s publishing in general then how much more so is it us?!) jump up and down with the excitement of what we could be doing next.
If the future looks fabulous, and especially so for those of us with the freedom to make our own ways through it, then this week saw a very interesting reflection on the recent past of self-publishing from Merilyn Simonds, former chief of the Writers’ Union of Canada, which she opened to indies. It’s a refreshingly positive piece. Meanwhile, amidst the positivity, the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers shows, surprise!, paperback and audiobook revenues are up while ebook and hardback revenues are down. As ever, pass the salt – aside from the absence of indie figures, the fall in hardback and ebook revenues (as opposed to unit sales) clearly reflects downward pressures on pricing.
The biggest story of the week by far was the exposing of catfish scammer Valeriy Sershnyov, who used fake customer accounts to download and review multiple free copies of fake books he had written under fake names in order to raise the profile of those books so when he suddenly put a price tag on them they appeared in people’s recommended streams. The opportunities opened up by digital publishing will inevitably bring the potential for misuse – indeed, when something new comes along, often the first thing we think is “that’s going to be scammed” – take subscription services. As indies, we are often the first to benefit from new technologies, but we can often be the first hit when they go wrong, and because we’re at the leading edge we can suffer disproportionate reputational blame for others’ malfeasance, which is one reason ALLi’s Watchdog and ethical author streams are so valuable.
Free Pricing on Nook
Nook Press has finally offered the option of permanent free pricing to authors publishing direct with them. The Digital reader’s analysis of the news – “Given that the Nook Store now accounts for only a tiny fraction of ebook sales, this won’t prove very useful, but it is still a feature which Amazon does not offer” – is a little harshly worded. But probably about right.
Some writers have been getting very hot under the collar over Google’s latest forays into creativity and AI. A database of 11,000 novels has been fed into the system in an effort to make AI-generated conversation more naturalistic (coming back to our very first story about AI-produced content). You can read the paper about what they did here, but what has got some authors upset is the fact they weren’t asked, and haven’t been acknowledged by name. The database consists of books compiled through a free download grab. The Authors’ Guild, who have longstanding beef with Google, look as if they may pursue Google’s use of these books, which will inevitably throw up some interesting questions.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
RomCon, Sept. 30–Oct. 1 [Denver]
Indie Author Day, Oct.8 [libraries across the USA] New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference, Oct. 15-17 [Baltimore] Vancouver Writers Fest, Oct. 18-23 [Vancouver] Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct. 19–23 [Frankfurt, Germany] Frankfurt Indie Author Fringe Oct. 22 [online] Surrey International Writers Conference, Oct. 20-23 [Surrey, BC, Canada]
Building Inclusivity in Publishing, Nov 15 [London]
Futurebook, Dec 2 [London]
Digital Book World, Jan 17-19 [New York]