Self-publishing trends are moving fast for indie authors, with new advances in voice first technology, artificial intelligence, and other tools, together with a growing sense of author empowerment. Orna and Joanna discuss their predictions about what indie authors can expect, the trends to watch out for in the year to come—and across the 2020s.
Orna and Joanna discuss:
- Growth in Global Reading
- Publishing Networks Decentralize and Distribute
- Author Business Models Diversify
- Growing Adoption of Technology by authors and publishers
- Audio Becomes Integral to Author Business
- Growth in Personal Publishing
- Author Empowerment
The Advanced Self-Publishing salon is brought to you by Specialist Sponsor Ingram Spark. IngramSpark is the award-winning indie publishing platform that offers authors like you a way to publish your book and share it with over 39,000 bookstores and libraries worldwide.
Find more author advice, tips and tools at our self-publishing advice center, https://selfpublishingadvice.org. And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.
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About the Hosts
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as writing non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. She spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporations across the globe before becoming a full-time author-entrepreneur in September 2011. For more information about Joanna, visit her website: http://thecreativepenn.com
Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com
Read the Transcript
Joanna Penn: Ah, we’re here.
Orna Ross: We are, I think.
Joanna Penn: We are. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors, Advanced Self Publishing Salon in January 2020. I’m Joanna Penn, here with Orna Ross. Hi Orna.
Orna Ross: Hi, Joanna, and hello everyone. Welcome.
Joanna Penn: Yes, welcome to 2020 and the next decade, which is very exciting. We, of course, in our last show before Christmas, um we looked back at a decade of self publishing. And that was a pretty major show. So, we’re promising you a major show today, as well looking forward into, the next decade. Of course, this won’t be so accurate, because hindsight is a beautiful thing.
Orna Ross: Absolutely, and anyone who makes predictions about self publishing, is asking to get things wrong, because it keeps surprising us doesn’t it?
Joanna Penn: It does. So, we’re going to say, this is more of a trends discussion, um, because we can, follow trends into the future and kind of make some assumptions about where those trends might go. But before we get into it, as ever, we are writers first and we always like to give you a bit of an update. So Orna, what’s been happening with the Alliance and also with you?
Orna Ross: Yeah, well holidays. We had, which was nice.
Joanna Penn: I’ve forgotten them already.
Orna Ross: Therefore, closing down my brain and but yeah, our tasks at the moment are very much special grading. January’s always for us, back over our guides because you know what we’re talking about their self publishing keeps changing, and things that you think are kind of set for some time. You find when you read back the guide books that are not so, we’re still upgrading our website team and books will will be what January is all about. And me personally then I am getting ready for February Valentine’s Day with a book of love poetry, which is With the extraordinary moment so.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic, well I failed. I failed on two deadlines, which is not like me at all. I had — I was going to get my book audio for authors, which is about audio books, podcasting and voice technologies, to my proof-reader slash, you know, comments and beta readers and stuff. Before Christmas I failed miserably, promised before, between Christmas and New Year, failed miserably, but managed it this weekend as we as we speak. So, and mainly because the book turned into something far more than I expected, and I’m really, I’m really proud of, actually that you’ve got an early copy. You haven’t read it yet, so you don’t have to comment, but I’m really proud of it.
Orna Ross: I was just saying how much I’m looking forward to your book, because well obviously, audio is the thing of the moment for indies, which we’re going to be talking a bit more about as we discuss the trends, but also obviously you are the audio queen. So and what’s exciting about the book, I can, I haven’t read it in full but I do know that it’s bringing everything together because there are, there are few books out there about how to do an audio book, or few books out there about how to podcast and how to do marketing through audio. But You’re bringing it all together, right?
Joanna Penn: Yes, I am. That’s my goal. So we’ll probably do another audio focus show on that, if maybe you have questions and stuff we can go through. So that’ll be probably April, April’s show, Yes. Orna disappeared. So if it happens again, I will carry on talking, if we, if we’re Orna drops out. Okay, so also, I did my roundup for the year, and also my goals for this year; one of which was to carry on looking at the tech changes to come. So, I’m looking forward to sharing that again this year. So, let’s get into the self publishing trends for 2020, and the next decade. So, let’s start Orna. You did a great post, which went out on the Alliance blog last week, self publishing predictions for 2020, which is kind of just for the year. And so tell us like, what was your, what is the overarching feeling, before we get into the individual things?
Orna Ross: I suppose. The thing that I’ve always wanted to say in that post on that, I kind of most like to say, as we look now forward at a whole new decade, is that we don’t just kind of passively accept the future and particularly the situation that we’re in right now. We’ve had 10 years of growing empowerment, and so we have more power to reinforce and replicate, but also actually create what’s coming down the track and to encourage authors, I guess, to remember that, and to create the change that we want to see by actually taking the actions that, will help it to happen, so not feeling that we don’t have power, because now, we actually do.
Joanna Penn: Yeah. And I think that’s so important and that we don’t just go oh, no, this is happening, but actually get engaged with it. Which is why I’m so passionate about this technology stuff, because only if we’re engaged with it, can we actually have a voice in what’s going on, rather than just going, oh know; like with the blockchain stuff, which we’ll talk a little bit more about. But you know, you really got into that and did the blockchain for authors paper and giving us a voice in that space, which is going to become more important. So, let’s get into the list. So, number one trend, global reading grows.
Orna Ross: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we’re already seeing that trend, of, over the past number of years and it is picking up. People who are concentrating on the growth that’s happening outside of the US and UK are doing well. And that over Christmas, Amazon has just in, it’s in, its advertising and dashboard now more countries outside of US and UK. But this is much, much, bigger than Amazon and there are a number of people in the space, and I think it’s worth remembering that people outside of US and UK, read quite differently. And you know, there’s a whole stage in the self publishing process, that a lot of self publishing writers who didn’t get it; they missed the intermediary base with the readers. They just went straight into mobile reading, and as a result, you know, I think it’s important for us to get outside our own mindset and how we read ourselves. It’s important for us to experience digital reading as a reader, and as a user, both then to expand our thinking about that. And I know you have some interesting thoughts about Android and, and, are over, you know, we as creators, tend to love our max.
Joanna Penn: Well, we as creatives, in a certain number of countries, love our max, but this is an interesting thing. I haven’t written it down here, but it’s something like 76% of the US is on iOS. So, Apple mobile devices, but the same percentage in the rest of the world is, is Android because of the cheaper devices. So if you think that the majority of the world is on Android, and for example, Google podcast, is now a default app on many Android devices, you know, types, Google Books, which we know will talk a bit about, hopefully is going to have a renaissance. You know, there are some really interesting things happening with the Google ecosystem. I did want to add that I have now sold books in English, in 136 countries, which is very, very, quickly really because that was 86 this time last year. That’s a lot more countries in one year, and that’s all in English. And also the stat, that by 2025, we’re going to have another 1 billion internet users, you know, middle class and if people know Hans Rosling work “Factfullness” that’s a book recommendation for how, good the world is now, basically, you know, the majority of the world is, you know, moving into the middle class. So, we’ve got people who are able to buy, buy books and so that is pretty, pretty exciting. I think global reading grows. And if you, if your books, are not available on the Google Android ecosystem, especially with voice search as well, then maybe this decade, is time to think about it.
Orna Ross: Yeah, want to put it up the priority list, if it, if it isn’t there, put it on the priority list.
Joanna Penn: Absolutely. Okay, second one, number two, publishing networks. decentralize, and distribute.
Orna Ross: Yeah. So, at the moment, we have a situation where the vast majority of Self Publishers are on, one self publishing platform, and that’s definitely going to change, I think, in the next 10 years. And again, this is one of the ones that I think we’re authors going to have a real influence in terms of switching readers from where they think about buying their books and bringing them across basically to their own websites. We talked a little bit more about selling directly in a minute, but also that we will see more and platforms which will make it possible to distribute and I think understanding the value of our copyrights and understanding the value of non exclusivity and I was interested there are two kind of works out at the moment very quickly, Dracula, those new series on on TV, but I’m reading and I’ve just finished reading Joel Connors book about Bram Stoker who’s who’s the author of Dracula and it was his wife, who actually fought a copyright battle for the rights to Dracula to that. That’s how her family and the estate made money from Dracula. And because she essentially took to court her rights to have that, and in those days, you had to produce it as a play to get your copyright and the fact that we don’t have to do that anymore, is done to her in no small measure. Also, I saw the new Little Women and there’s a scene at the end that stands out for they put it into the movie where Louise stands up to her publisher and keeps the copyright which he tried very hard to buy out for $500 at the time. So the understanding and knowing the value of copyright and the fact that you know, we’re not really truly independent if all of our options are tied up in one place and I think there are moves in all sorts of ways. blockchain, which we’re going to talk about in a minute, takes that one step further moves it from being a, a district into being a distributed network. So I think the message is to start thinking about the ways in which you read your reader and how you bring your readers to you. So for example, if you’re paying for Facebook ads, to bring your readership which you have invested into somebody else, I’m not getting an email, and address and not building your own assets. That may be again, it might be a priority this year to turn that around and to begin to think about each reader as being an asset for your business rather than an asset for somebody else’s.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, we’re going to come on to diversifying business models in a minute, but just just to stay on the publishing network. So we’ve seen just before Christmas, we’re not going to do like newsy stuff, but Overdrive the library system was sold by Rakuten, who also owns Kobo, and it was sold to a, like a hedge fund type investment company which puzzled me greatly that Barnes and Noble also and Waterstone’s owned by hedge fund different one. And like one of these investment companies doing buying the book, which book businesses now we should be encouraged by that, I presume because they assume they’re going to make money from them. But equally these types of companies do not run book businesses for the long term. They generally in it to make money in other ways. So this is a fascinating news and you actually put in your article that you think Kobo might also go that way. Any thoughts on thinking a decade ahead, like who might be people like standing?
Orna Ross: I think we’re just going to see a complete networking office business and it it’ll go where we will have a few big players which may be broken up legally, that may happen. But we were going to have a massive network and what we need to do is make sure that the author is at the heart of that of the network for their own work. So I just think you’re going to see, you know, at the moment, we have big, big players big kind of siren servers like Google and Facebook, and so on. And they’re very clever, and they do what they do extremely well. And they have definitely facilitated freedom for the health community were much freer than when we were tethered to the physical system, but it’s going to fragment it’s going to break up. It’s going to your reader the day of being a world famous author, where everybody kind of knew you is going to go the same way as when everybody sat down to watch the same TV program. It’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be far more networked and distributed. That’s my prediction.
Joanna Penn: Yes. And sadly, because of course, all of us would love to make that multibillion dollar thing, but Lee Child said a few years ago at Thriller Fest, no one can have this career anymore because things have changed so much and but we should embrace that, because it’s changed our lives. So, let’s go on to the next one, which is …
Orna Ross: Just before we leave, we do have a question from Julie and it’s a good question about Google Play. Just is it easier to go direct to them now? I think it is easier, it will get progressively easier. And she mentioned that one of the aggregators drafter digital has dropped. Going to Google Play, it is still possible to go through some of the others publish drive, and is one board. If you can have the time to go direct, do go direct, because there are advantages to doing that on Google as on all.
Joanna Penn: Yes. And they are they are going to do another push in in early 2020 on getting authors direct. So watch this space to be to be talked about at some point. Okay, so number three author business models diversify. So I’ll start on this before you get into blockchain one The biggest trends that is being talked about everywhere is experiences and how people want to go off, you know, and actually do things together. And so it’s conferences, its author events, it’s doing not just readings, we’re not talking about readings, we’re talking about experiences. So at the licensing thing I went to you in Las Vegas, they’re talking about Could you do a one of those locked room? things with your mystery? Or could you do something more interactive? And one of the things will come up with technology, but the augmented reality potential of experiences? And you know, I think this I’m certainly thinking of going back to doing some more in person events around nonfiction books, it’s really easy because you can just do teaching or or that type of thing, but even with fiction, for example, I could do a walk along Southbank following the path of some of my characters and talk about what London means in that perspective. Things like that. But experiences are definitely going to be a theme. Even things like Live podcast taping, it has become a thing where podcasters are selling tickets to attend a taping of interviews stuff like this. So I think that’s really interesting. What are the other business models that you think that coming?
Orna Ross: Well, I, we have a list of 10 business models that kind of are pretty all encompassing of what you can do now. And I suppose what I was thinking about was that as new technology comes, comes on board, as we get into this kind of more networked and personal which is another trend to talk live in a few moments economy that the models we’re seeing will change and will diversify and will reshape exactly how that will be. I’m not sure but I think you’re absolutely right with the new with the experiences idea and those experiences don’t have to be live especially as a or and virtual reality technology becomes more of a, you know, a reality for authors, I think we’d be able to think about experiences and and the whole thing is about understanding, again, your power with the reader and how much the reader if a reader loves your book, how much they want to actually engage with you, and then what you would like them to do with you. So it becomes a sort of them, you know, a mutually satisfying sort of an experience. So, I mean, we can we’ve seen poets and in the last year to fill stadium sized audiences, you know, this is new, this has never happened before. And that came out of relationships that were built one by one on Instagram through just putting poetry out there. So through content marketing, essentially, if you want to call it that or through doing your thing, and just being the maker, the creator that you are, you can now if you get it right and you have you know How to Build your readership. And that’s the real scale. You know, that is a skill every bit as much. It’s a craft and an art every bit as much as putting a book together. But if you get that, right, all sorts of doors open up to you. So, I yeah, I think we will see some very new and interesting things.
Joanna Penn: I also think this is important because with the rise and rise of more subscription models, I do think authors will have to do other things if they are doing this full time. Many of us know that already. It’s like 95% of authors do other things. But I think it will become more of something you have to do as part of making a living as a creative will be this, you know, these other business models. So the other thing is the obviously we’ve mentioned blockchain, which is going to enable direct sales in a completely different way, and more global sales more interesting smart contracts that will potentially reward various people in the chain of making a book or a product, or it will just make it easier. You know, like you and I have talked about doing stuff together. And we have done live things together. But you know, if you’re doing co writing a book, for example, it’s still you can use all the different tools. But if there was a smart contract, where forever, these these micro payments went out without the hassle of having to deal with royalties every month, that would be amazing. So, I think we’re moving in that I can, I’m going to say it, we are going to have a solution for blockchain sales and smart contracts that is usable in the 2020s. What do you reckon?
Orna Ross: I think so. I do I’m the challenge is getting the readers over. So and I think we’re going to see a milestone on that this coming year if Facebook gets their cryptocurrency and up and running, that’s going to introduce people to the concept of cryptocurrency, which is the big barrier, you know, it’s like what We started selling books online, and people have forgotten this but there was huge resistance to getting your credit card details. So, we’ve got to get a …
Joanna Penn: Or before PayPal.
Orna Ross: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the reasons that so many readers are on Amazon is because at the beginning, you gave your card to Amazon because you’re buying something else there as well as your books and whatever. And you know, it’s just easier to go there to buy your books because they have your details and you don’t have to go through the whole hassle of sitting but you know, as e commerce gets easier, and as people trust more and use it, more readers are much more prepared now to buy directly from an author than ever before. And we’re going to see the same thing here. So I think Facebook getting their cryptocurrency going is going to melt that barrier for a lot of readers. And that’s the point at which it will begin to happen. And like all of these trends, what we’ve seen is it’s you know, people are kind of talking about it for a year or two, and then it begins to happen. And then suddenly it really picks up speed if it gets going. So, yeah, I’ll stick my neck out with you. And I say yes,
Joanna Penn: Yes, that’s what Oh, that’s a prediction. And now we’re going to have to make sure we’re in the first wave to make that happen. Okay, so let’s move into technology. And just keeping an eye on that on the time because this is a pretty big one. The number for growing uptake of technology by authors, creatives and trade publishers. Now I’m going to recommend a book and I’m on the ark team. So, I’m actually reading it right now. It’s out at the end of January. It’s called “The Future is Faster Than You Think”. How converging technologies are transforming business industries and our lives by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler. So, the future is faster than you think. And you know, if you listen to us regularly on my show, you’ll know I’m pretty well is, you know, into this tech industry, and I’m learning something new on You know, pretty much every chapter I’m like, Wow, I didn’t actually realize we were that far ahead with this or that or the other. And that hence the title of the book of the, you know, the future is faster than you think. Because so many of the things that feel futurist are actually here now. So I wanted to just pick up on one of the big trends that they’re talking about. And I believe, again, I’ll put my finger in and say, Yep, this is going to happen is 5g technology is going to dramatically change lots of things. It’s going to be a bit like, you know, you we just talked about mobile. 5g is just the latest iteration of mobile, which is so much better that it’s going to enable things like alternate reality, or augmented reality, self driving cars, lots of technologies that we’ve been waiting for this to appear. So when they roll out 5g, it’s going to have a big impact. And that’s going to change lots of other things. For example, if you think that people Going to use much more self driving technology and won’t be actively driving too much, that’s going to expand the amount of content that they can potentially consume, which will hopefully impact us in a positive way. So 5g is going to be one of these big deals, according to all the people who know what that means.
Orna Ross: Good. I love the the teaching potential. I mean, a lot of authors are also have an educational bent to kind of goals with the territory. And I think, you know, 5g is going to be very useful in that regard and making things that have been, you know, pretty tech heavy and kind of daunting to make happen, I think should I think, be a lot easier.
Joanna Penn: Yeah. So for example, if I do my experience of come to bath and come to one of my workshops, I could also have people who can watch in real time that’s much much better than the current webinar type stuff because of the low latency of 5g. So I think it’s it’s going to be very interesting. So let’s The next thing everybody knows that I love a bit of AI. But this is fascinating because and I just shared with you on AI trends, the US Patent and Trademark Office is actually seeking comment and it closes this week as we record this. They’re already closing their comments on this. Some of their questions around AI include should a work produced by an AI algorithm or process without the involvement of a natural person qualify as a work of authorship protectable under US copyright law, which is canon AI have copyright in a work. And the other question I thought was interesting, because it really relates to us is, to the extent an AI algorithm learns its function by ingesting large volumes of copyrighted material does basically the law address this should authors be recognized and I actually address both of these things in my podcasts in July and we talked about this when I said, Okay, what if I made? What if I wanted 50%? Stephen King 30%, Dan Brown and 20% JF pen, I could do that by reading those words into an AI and having generate something. And this is what these questions are about. So the reason they’re doing this and this is the US patent, you know, copyright and patent trademark office, this is a government department. This is not a future Technology Institute. So, the government is thinking about these things, which means it is imminent. What are your thoughts on that Orna?
Orna Ross: Well, it’s huge. And then there are, you know, there are no easy answers to these questions. Obviously, as an author’s organization, we would want authors to be recognized for this type of use of their work and, and we would want to like to keep copyright for the humans and but it’s not easy, you know, it’s not easy to separate these things out. I think it’s really interesting how fast this is moving, because we were kind of engaging with these questions and bringing them up for our copyright bill, which we did in the middle of last year. Here we are already, you know, six months later. And as you say, the major government is already making moves. So it’s going to be really, really interesting to see what happens from this. Anyone who has an interest please do comment will be putting in a comment or not in the US, but and those of you who are and please do, you know, let your voice be heard on this if you have an opinion, and if you don’t have an opinion, and you don’t really know what it means, what the implications are, please do educate yourself around this because it’s it’s really important to know about it. Yeah it’s the first step isn’t it.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, and I’ve again, we’ll link it in the show notes, but I mean, Automated content generation is, is here I just a company launched just before Christmas publishes high quality content in 100 languages within minutes in every vertical and category with natural language generation. And my thought with this, and, you know, we have both really positive people and I’m engaged with this because I want to be part of the change. I always talk about surfing the change rather than drowning in the tsunami, but I’m on a business, you know, I’m a businesswoman. I have a business head. And I also see money here for on both sides. But what I do see is publishers potentially dis intermediating authors by let’s take a well known romance imprint that has had people writing for them for many, many years, who could potentially read in every single one of those books into an algorithm to then generate more romance novels. Why would a publisher not Do that. And they probably, They do own all the copyright to all that material. So there and I know this is also already starting to happen in other places like China, which is well ahead. So what does that mean for us? And we can’t look at this with a sort of, Oh, no, the sky is falling, let’s just ignore it. What we have to do is advocate for our rights, but also build a personal brand, which is what we harp on about regularly. We need people to care about us. And about us as an author name, not as this x publisher, or unnamed author.
Orna Ross: Yes, absolutely. I mean, that is the key at the business level. And then at the level of law, it’s all about copyrights, which is becoming more and more important, and it’s important to realize we’re talking about global publishing, but in lots of countries, copyrights not respected at all. It doesn’t exist perhaps or …
But also authors have assigned the rights to a publisher.
Orna Ross: There’s nothing we can Absolutely Don’t do that. Don’t do that. You know limit your term limit your territory limits limits limits that’s your job when you’re having a conversation with the rights buyer And so yeah, there’s a lot to think about here but focusing in on, on copy copyright, I think is is the important thing to do at the legal level and …
Joanna Penn: personal brand
Orna Ross: and personal brand at the business level absolutely all about that.
Joanna Penn: All about those things.. And then just one more thing on technology because I think this is fascinating is neuro technology. So both face Facebook has bought a and we’ve seen the headlines on this Facebook, you know, writing with your brain, and also Elon Musk with the neural link, which they launched in July 2019. Now there are already neuro tools for people to use prosthetics and things. But this is a really interesting I was reading about this again in this book and they were basically talking about why Do you have to speak your dictation? Why can’t you just think your dictation with your week word you know, think your week word. And this is interesting to me because one of the things that stops me dictating is the fact that I write in a cafe so I I struggle with that because you know, there are people around me, but I think this is I’m going to put myself out there and say that we will not be using neural technology to write our books in the 2020s I’m just going to go with definitely not what do you think?
Orna Ross: No writer is going to want people to overhear all their thoughts let’s face it. The reason we write is because we put down something and then we get a chance to edit it and everything before we put it out there. We don’t even like talking very often. Nevermind having our thoughts out there sorry. So yeah, I agree with you. But again, it’s super interesting.
Joanna Penn: And who knows. I mean, seriously.
Orna Ross: I could definitely be used for good plot, good plotline in a book, you know, at minimum …
Joanna Penn: At minimum. Well, I mean, you can say look, we It was only what, 10 11,12 years ago, we couldn’t even do this. Like we’re talking over the internet, you will not hear in my room. I mean, that’s crazy. That is amazing. So anyway, that is a future technology. So is that have you got anything else on the growing uptake of technology?
Orna Ross: No, I think that’s enough to keep us going for the next 10 years. Definitely.
Joanna Penn: Okay. Next one, number five, audio becomes integral to the author business. Do you want to start on that before I come back?
Orna Ross: Yeah, we kind of I think we’re in the same place but maybe using different language but
yeah, the written word is one thing and the spoken word is another and we’ve seen more and more authors getting involved in audio books, and now it looks like that’s going to become much cheaper to do so I think audiobooks are going to become the second format. So, it will be ebooks, audio books, print books very soon because AI technology is going to make it so much cheaper. to create a book and audio also in and I mentioned audio I didn’t actually speak about video because I think fewer authors like video and a lot of authors are too shy for video but there are those who are using it to great effect so I think we’ve got kind of two things to think about we’ve got the audio books and video books and on the one hand and then on the other how we use audio and how we use video in our book marketing for that personal brand of ours to reach those readers that we you know, we most want to reach and are segmented and our new segmented on networked world.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, and my, my feeling with this and I’m very engaged in voice tech and I just uploaded I’ve got a page now on my website the creativepenn.com forward slash voice double you can actually listen to the two iterations of my voice double which is an AI voice since like a deep fake using my voice they To train an AI and it’s not available to purchase as yet, but it will be at some point. And in fact, I’m going to say that I will license my voice in the 2020s and this is why I think audio will be ubiquitous. So what I mean by that is every single thing that is in text will be enabled for audio, you will just be able to pick a voice and it will read it I mean, there are things like natural leaders which you know, already can read any text. Obviously people for accessibility can already do this, but this will be it will just be everywhere so and I think the costs for audio books are coming down so much with potential of AI voices that I would I think I’m pretty much gonna wait myself. For books I’m not narrating because I really I’m, I’m so confident that we’re going to have much cheaper audio production in the next couple of years. This is not the and this is to say as a narrator and if you’re a narrator Listening, I think, again, this is about voice brand. This is about personal brand and making sure your voice is not, you know, licensed by the people who own the recordings of your voice, and actually making sure that you can profit from this change in the environment. Because obviously, again, it’s a bit like ebooks, we didn’t have any. And then we got lots of them and they’re everywhere. And every single book print book should have these other formats. But and this is what I think is going to happen to audio, but we need to make sure that people can still make money from it. So that again, this is the cutting edge of the kind of add knife edge of, yes, we want more audio, but how do we pay the creators or the other people and I’m very excited about this because it means we can also play with audio much more. So I’m listening to World War Z at the moment by Max Brooks, which is in each chapter as a different voice, which is so expensive to do, hugely expensive to produce. But if we can do that with AI voices We can produce creative projects in a much easier way. So I’m quite excited about that.
Orna Ross: I really like it too. I mean, I love the idea that there will be a voice like mine better probably than mine and that can read my stuff without me having to sit in a sound room and an narrate it because I don’t enjoy that process at all. I like it as an editing process. But aside from that, I don’t I don’t enjoy it. So I really love the idea that that that will become possible. And yeah, I’m kind of gonna sit on it now on audio just for a while and just see how soon that sort of stuff becomes available because I think it’s progressing again really super fast. I loved your voice. And I thought it was amazingly good, you know, not 100% but really not far off. I could listen to it, I think No problem,
Joanna Penn: Yeah exactly. And it does sound like me and China again as a head. Baidu has a voice since that only needs 3.7 seconds of Audio to synth a voice. So this is this one this is now before like, this is what I mean, this is not very futurist at all. What again, we’ll have to check. This is what I mean possibly the biggest upheaval in copyright and licensing law is coming in the next decade because of all this stuff. Because at the moment, there is no audio rights. For example, one of the things I posit in the book is I don’t want to have to listen to American white male always narrate the business books I listen to, why can’t I listen to Irish female or Nigerian, you know, young person or whatever to listen to them? Why can’t I choose the voice per book? And I think that’s coming to it has to I can do that for Netflix, I can choose all these different languages, you know, all of that. So I think we’re that would be another pick. You didn’t quite put that down, but it’s involved. You know, this will be a huge upheaval and copyright and rights licensing.
Orna Ross: Absolutely.
Joanna Penn: Okay, six growth in personal publishing. So what do you mean by that?
Orna Ross: Well, I mean, we’ve, we’ve been alluding to it the whole way through, and we’re always kind of talking about it at some level. So there’s there is the personal branding thing, you know, which is where the marketeers kind of begin the conversation, but actually, it begins further back in terms of, you know, for the creative, I think we begin to think as we are creating our, our stuff. About who’s going to buy it what our unique selling proposition is, you know, Why us? Why would a reader buy what we’re offering what is our very particular thing that is going to be attractive to them. And, you know, I think, in the past, and I think people still do and sometimes you do it because you have to do to just sit down and write what you need to express. But once you become a self publisher, I think that changes to some degree or totally, where you You begin to think much more about what people need and what people want from you, and what you can provide and how you can provide it. And there is a whole growing, in that that never stops. So that’s what I’m talking about beginning with the whole thing of Where are my readers? How do I connect with them? What is my value to them? How can they help me to grow? You know, how can I grow my readership? And I think, you know, it’s part of it. It’s an essential skill for us to grasp now. And you can see, as you look around you that the people who have who are doing well and who are selling well, and we’re building this kind of sustainable author, enterprise stuff, we talk about something that’s long term and you own people who are doing that have nailed this, they’ve worked it out, and the only way you can work it out is by actually doing it by publishing by putting it out there by getting the responses by refining, experimenting exploring So it’s a process that goes on and on. It doesn’t stop it. But it is really important. And I think this is a trend that has already started. But we’re going, it’s going to become the situation that if you don’t nail this scale, if you don’t actually understand this, you’re not going to succeed. It’s going to the people who get this and do it well, who are the people who are going to get that readership, and that keeps them going for life.
Joanna Penn: And what I, I kind of take this as a different angle, which is the global trend in self expression. And that kind of life. We talked earlier about the rise of a middle class. And when people are just, you know, scrambling to get food and look after their kids or whatever. They’re not going to be sitting down reading some fiction or writing their memoirs. But what we’re seeing is a rise in the time and the ability to to create more and we’re going to see this again with an extra billion on the internet. Who knows what this extra billion is going to create? I think it’s amazing. And, you know, I talked about this with Mark Dawson last year, we were like, it’s so easy to feel like the self publishing movement is so far on. But for most people, it has not even started yet. And so I think that is also part of the growth in personal publishing, we were probably not even seen 1% of the potential of creatives and authors in this new world, aided by technology. But also what that means is, you might just do it for personal reasons. And that’s okay. You can create your memoir just for the fun of it. It doesn’t have to make any money. So I think we’re going to see more of that.
Orna Ross: Yes, absolutely. And as a result, we’re going to see more diversity in publishing, I think, which is something that you know, white middle class publishing has been talking about for 14 years now and want to fix from the top down by you know, it just doesn’t work. I think Just give people the tools to express themselves and that, yes, it includes all the education and you know what Virginia Woolf called a room of your own, and the income to be able to sit down and do this. But as it grows, we grow together authors and readers, we are the same sort of body, we are an eco, an eco system that is completely dependent one on the other and lots of people who write nobody reads more than writers read. And so of course, there will always be readers who don’t rise but as expression in the written word grows, so and does readership, I think, inevitably, so it’s all of that I find very exciting. And you can see now that corporations are doing the same businesses are doing the same. They’re taking over their own publishing, they’re setting up publishing programs. They’re getting involved in social media. So publishing the written word is becoming ubiquitous as well as the. Spoken Word. So all good positive trends for those of us who have managed to get skills together.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. And then number seven author empowerment.
Orna Ross: Woohoo
Joanna Penn: Yes. So, tell me we talked a bit about this, I think at the end of 2019. But yeah, what do you see this? Where do you see this going? I guess?
Orna Ross: Well, I think it’s kind of why it’s important. I think, you know, writers can suffer from a lack of self esteem. It’s you know, that whole exposure thing and sometimes you know, you wonder where this drive to create comes from, but actually, we’re far more powerful than most groups of people and we can really make change happen. And we’re part of this kind of global Maker Movement. Independent creators are becoming a force in every industry. People want the personal touch, they want the small, the real, the authentic. The personal touch. And so that’s really great for us I think we’re part of a trend that is growing. And what makes our business unique is that we’re not just every creative business, the creator is not just concerned with profits, they, we want to balance sure we want profit as we have to have it to keep going. But we balance that always with, you know, a sense of passion, a sense of mission, a sense of purpose, and balancing those two things is exactly what our world needs. The reason we’re in such trouble as a planet, and politically, socially, is we’ve got completely out of balance around this whole thing of profit. And so I think, if creators, can and authosrs particularly who work you know, putting out the ideas out there, as a truly empowered, creative class with us kind of sense of our own significance so that we don’t throw away our copyrights so that we’re not on our knees saying Publish me please. I think, we can really, we could make a serious shift in how business operates. And that would make a shift in how everything operates. So I know it’s possibly sounds utopian or idealistic. But I really do believe that, you know, grasping is something that we our community needs to be thinking about at least.
Joanna Penn: Hmm. And I think they’re the education is so important. We see a lot of authors still not understanding, you know, even the basics of copyright. And, in fact, it’s funny I listened to your interview with Rebecca Giblin about which was an ally basics podcast last year, and it was not I didn’t think it was basic at all. But this is the thing. Authors tend not to know these things as basics and to be empowered to be empowered authors. We have now the value of copyright, and also understand that that value doesn’t just get expressed by one ebook sale on Amazon, that that’s where we’re talking about this whole ecosystem of products and multiple streams of income. And I agree with you on the one hand about the profit thing, but we also in order to talk to people in the area, we have to understand the profit motive and why to also like I’m seeing about the disintermediation of some authors with some niche publishers, and what the profit margin will do. If we don’t engage with discussions around that so that everyone can make a living without screwing over someone else.
Orna Ross: Absolutely. It comes back to valuing ourselves, you know, we can’t value our copyright if we don’t value ourselves. We can’t value ourselves and our work if we haven’t done the work, the work includes the knowing who the reader is and The ability to reach the reader find the reader, you know, that is a skill that is now part of what we do with the with the, you know, takes a long time to become a good writer. And it takes time to become a good publisher, which includes being a good marketer these things are, these are skills that are not kind of worn overnight. And I think our community does need more support from the creative industries and education generally on the literary and publishing establishments. But with those two skills in hand, and you know, when we value ourselves, then we really are empowered. So that’s the push that we will hopefully see in the next, 10 years.
Joanna Penn: Yeah, exactly. Okay, so the 2020s what will not change? I mean, obviously, what won’t change, is we still believe we’re going to be here. Orna and I still doing a podcast.. 2029, oh my god that would be kind of crazy. But I mean, I’ve been podcasting for over a decade. So why shouldn’t we still be podcasting in a decade, we might be in a virtual environment where you can all join us. That is definitely a possibility. In fact, why don’t we even say that, like, you know, into it in the, in the late 2020s, I think you’ll be able to join us in a virtual space and, you know, watch us our avatars,
Orna Ross: Just like a live event to ask your questions properly and all of that which would be amazing
Joanna Penn: and you can wear whatever virtual things you like. So, anything and obviously, you know, where we both intend to be around still writing, still telling stories, still teaching anything else that you think won’t change in the 2020’s.
Orna Ross: I do think it’s really important to say that the fundamentals of creativity wont change and you know, learning your own process, all of those kinds of things. They have been the same since people were telling stories around the fire. They have Changed remarkably little and won’t change in the next decade, or probably will change for the foreseeable until, you know, we get the chip in or whatever. And so I think, you know, learning our craft and in terms of reading, writing, learning, the craft of publishing, understanding that, you know, publishing will always be those seven processes, you’ll always need editing, design, all of the things that make a book and they’re not likely to change actually, technology has not changed those at all. And, and, and readers need for story, inspiration, information, all the things that we have to offer that’s not going to change. So, I think that’s really important that we hold on to that. It’s all about balancing, isn’t it? It’s like, you have to go there with the marketing stuff with the tech stuff and balances with the creative stuff. And, and it’s a very full life when you get that balance, right.
Joanna Penn: It is and the other thing I think is, you know, being curious and trying things out like, to me that is the only way forward. You know, there is no degree in this stuff because it changes all the time. What’s so funny is that with this book, The future is faster than you think I know it’s already out of date, because the moment you write it down, I already have to change something in the book that I sent to you, you know, because things change, so fast. So yes, we’re both positive about the 2020s. And we’re, you know, we’ll carry on we will be here next month, I guess we can’t promise 2029 but we will be here next month, we’re going to talk about we’re going to step back from the technology and talk about how to sustain a creative life for the long term meaning because I’ve been looking back at my website over 11 years and finding that a lot of people have moved on have have left the writing world have their websites have gone companies are gone. And it’s kind of made me think wow, okay, I’m still here, and water and you know, you’re still here and A lot of our friends are still here, but a lot of people have gone. So what are the things that we can do to sustain that creative life for the long term? And even if people want to leave, write writing books, you know, the creative life doesn’t stop. So, yeah. Any any final thoughts on that?
Orna Ross: Yeah. I mean, no, I’m looking forward to looking at that thing that doesn’t change. And, and because if we don’t get that balance, right, we’re in this kind of abundance environment, where there’s so much going on, and there’s so many opportunities and so many things you can do. The only way you can make the choices is to actually understand your own creative process and how it works and how to, you know, look after yourself so that you can keep on keeping on So yeah, that’s what we’ll talk about next month for a total change.
Joanna Penn:Yes,a total change. And, I’ll try not to mention anything technical,
Orna Ross: techie, or scary.
Joanna Penn: I’m not sure I’ll make it through Yeah, you know, but I’ll try Okay, so anything else Orna here for the Alliance or? I mean, I guess we’re coming up on London Book Fair really soon.
Orna Ross: Yes. So, the session after next will be London Book Fair probably yes, we have the indie author rights program running at the moment. So, we have lots of sort of interesting things to report back from on that. And just to say also, if you’re on the website and you see any funnies we are in the middle of an upgrade. So, we are not doing it kind of off scene. We’re doing it page by page. So, if you find anything strange, come back later, it’s probably gonna be fine.
Joanna Penn: Fantastic. All right, everyone. Well, thanks for joining us. Happy writing. Happy publishing.
Orna Ross: And see you next time. Bye. Bye.