Valerie Shanley has the latest indie author news from ALLi's partners and friends.
The change in the law by the European Union (EU) in January this year to fix the issue of VAT on ebooks continues to have the expected detrimental effect. That is, not on the big boys as the EU thought, but on indie authors and other micro-businesses which they overlooked in drafting the legislation. Watch ALLi Director Orna Ross discussing the issue earlier this year. Mick Rooney at The Independent Publishing Magazine reports this week that for small businesses faced with the job of calculating myriad tax rates, the new regime has turned out to be an administrative nightmare, citing author Cory Doctorow who said he was “forced to spend £700 on software and accountancy fees.” Many of our members have stopped direct selling altogether.
Join the Bookshop Crawl
Independent Booksellers Week has launched a dedicated site for the UK and Ireland event and is encouraging people across the trade to tweet using the #giveabook and #bookaday hashtags. Also, this year’s IBW Bookshop Crawl on Saturday 27th June invites publishers and book trade organisations to take part for the first time by blogging or vlogging about their visit to an independent bookshop. Australia’s National Bookstore Day is scheduled for Saturday 8th August, while plans are already underway for the 2016 Independent Boookstore Day in the US. Find out more on how you can support your local bookstores wherever you are through ALLi’s #Authors4Bookstores campaign.
Chasing Awards, Or Getting On With Your Writing?
ALLi’s Watchdog Victoria Strauss guests on the Writers Beware blog on why she is not a big fan of writing contests and awards.
“Partly this is because so many are a waste of time, with minimal prizes, negligible prestige, and zero cachet on your writing resumé. Why not spend your energy on something that can get you closer to building a readership – submitting for publication, or publishing on your own?”
Check out her argument on what she describes as “the hidden agenda of so many awards which are really about making money for the sponsor. Such awards aren't really about honouring writers at all.”
Reviewed by Parasites and Bullies?
The Writers Circle highlights again the story that 1,100 authors have taken Amazon to task over spiteful and nasty reviews on the site. The Horror Writers Association (HWA), a non-profit organization for writers and publishing professionals promoting horror literature, wrote an open letter to Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos asking for a review of the policies around Amazon's review system. The report includes comments from author Anne Rice, apparently no stranger to online bullies, and who has named these “reviewers” on Amazon as “parasites, posting largely under pseudonyms, lecturing, bullying and seeking to discipline authors whom they see as their special prey.” Vampires, the lot of them.
2018: The Year of No Men?
The big pow-wow in publishing over the past week is over Kamila Shamsie’s provocative suggestion, reported in The Guardian, to make 2018 the Year of Publishing Women. That’s as in, no titles by men. Kamila is exercised by the gender-skewed situation existing currently in terms of reviews, top positions in publishing houses, literary prizes etc. Gender is very much a topic just now, as we reported in last week’s self-publishing news blog. Why 2018? It is the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote in the UK, so no better time in highlighting inequality. ALLi's Jill Marsh has the less-combative idea of a Women’s Literary Festival .”I believe the way forward is not by excluding, discriminating or preventing any group of people from publishing their work. When faced with a wall, you have more options than knocking it down,” says Jill, adding, “Kamila Shamsie – how do you fancy being keynote speaker?”
Get With The Plan, Whiny Author!
Have you checked out IndieReader’s entertaining feature on marketing? Rachel Thompson’s post is worth a read – she also references ALLi’s Joanna Penn whose marketing plan forms part of the feature. You will then no longer be, as Rachel says, one of those “whiny authors who claim they’ve done all they can do to market their books and still aren’t seeing any sales.” Right, so, Rachel.This week's #publishing industry news round-up for #selfpub authors Click To Tweet
Hallelujah Victoria Strauss!!! It is outside the realm of possibility for me to agree with you more than I do. And I extend this beyond awards and contests to my blog, twitter, Facebook, all of that distracting crap that pulls me away from my manuscript. Thank you SO much for pointing that out.
Every time I see Anne Rice quoted abut bullies, I want to throw up. She has aligned herself with some of the worst trolls on the literary internet (doxxing, gaslighting, dogpiling, you name it) and takes as gospel truth the flagrant nonsense posted by STGRB (now mostly posted by a 20-something unemployed Gamer who’s been kicked off Goodreads and Wattpad (you know how hard it is to get kicked off Wattpad?)
Hi Clare and Kathryn, really appreciate your taking time to respond as we love to get an insight into how members feel about all of the posts on this blog. And yes, Rachel’s comments are provocative – which is why they are quoted here and obviously valid from her perspective. Kathryn, thanks for sharing your experience (and frustrations!) with this whole marketing issue. And as Clare asks the rest of us, how was it for you?
Oh dear God, can someone please tell Rachel Thompson to fix the typo in her blog, which is in the VERY FIRST SENTENCE?! Makes me crazy! “Author are assholes” See what’s wrong? Doesn’t it matter? I’m certainly not going to tell her because I’m afraid to. Clare, I didn’t get too fussed about the “whiny” comment, which after all, isn’t even as bad as “Authors are assholes” (see what I did there?) I think she’s just trying to be provocative to get more clicks.
Speaking personally, and only personally, I did have a marketing plan when I launched my first book, which was in the fairly popular thriller genre. The marketing plan included a media strategy, social media, website updates, paid promotions and ads, and exhaustive appeals for reviews from bloggers, Amazon’s top reviewers, and Goodreads members. I did my best to understand “meta data”. I joined marketing clubs and listened to podcasts. I bought all the top marketing books that we’ve all heard about, I read them and acted on them.
I don’t regret all that work because I learned a lot, but when you boil it all down, I find there were really only 4 pieces of advice that actually helped my sales: 1. Write more books (it aggravated me every time I heard or read it, but it’s true); 2. BookBub is by far the best paid promotion and you should work on meeting their guidelines for acceptance (which mostly means giving away a lot of books to get your review numbers up) 3. Build your mailing list by putting the sign-up link in all your ebooks 4. Experiment with your Amazon keywords. I sold very very little after one book. I did a little better once I had two, I’m doing even better now that I have three. I’m an anecdote, but that’s my story.
Kathryn, thank you so much for sharing your own experience, condensing what’s worked best for you into four succinct and easy-to-take-away points. I think the best that any author can do is to become as informed as possible about all aspects of book marketing, and then define and focus on what works best for them and their books, because each of us, and each of our books will be different – although I can’t think of a single author for which your first point would not hold true! (And now I’m off to play again with my own books’ Amazon keywords – thanks for the reminder, I never seem to do this often enough!)
Let me be the first to object to the ‘whiny author’ comment: I have worked hard on publicity and it is not the case that I have few sales because I make no efforts along the lines suggested. Neither do I ‘whine’ about this, (despite the many people who mis-pronounce the surname – please note it is pronounced as a European ‘W’ not a British one!)
It’s just a tough market, so get real: those of us who don’t write such popular subjects as crime, mystery, SF/fantasy, YA, and, increasingly, noir and erotica are stuck with lower likelihood of sales.
How do others feel?
Clare Weiner, you are definitely not whiny!
I think the authors that Rachel Thompson is targeting in her piece are more the kind that just hit the “publish” button on a shoddy manuscript without any real thoughts about marketing – and then feel aggrieved when it doesn’t magically fly off the virtual shelves.
It’s easy for those of us who take a more professional, thoughtful and considered approach (e.g. anyone who is a member of ALLi, for a start!) to forget that there are still way too many people who do that. You are very clearly not one of them!