I should point out that this is primarily an opportunity for indie-authors to gain exposure in the UK to potential retail channels and general publishing trade folk. Remember, The Bookseller is a well-respected UK trade magazine—its target audience is the publishing industry, not necessarily book readers, though I know avid book readers and authors who do subscribe to it.Rooney is correct about that, and of course many self-publishing authors might be pleased to gain some visibility among industry figures this way. In addition, it's expected that there will be promotional potential through The Bookseller's consumer-facing magazine, We Love This Book, which would mean reader exposure, of course. Rooney also had foreseen one line of questioning we would hear during #FutureChat and that has to do with the Nook Press-only element of the programme. The Bookseller editor Philip Jones offered Rooney this comment, concurring that the eventual goal is to see wide access to coverage for independent authors, as well as publishers. Jones wrote:
We already preview titles from independent publishers, of course, and we wanted to extend that to indie authors. This is the start of that, and after six months we'll look to extend to other vendors [beyond Nook Press], or figure out a way of allow authors to send to us direct. It's a discoverability process, and hopefully a positive one for all sides.In short, the advent of The Bookseller's Independent Author Preview is a work in progress, one expected to move beyond its initial parameters and constraints with, as Jones has said, the goal being, as we'd covered in our walkup, "to discover the best new books published independently and made available to customers in the UK. And there's more news today on the independent front: Lisa Campbell, my colleague at The Bookseller, in Self-published authors in favour with indies, writes:
“The tide is turning” on bookshops’ attitudes towards stocking self-published titles, new developments suggest. The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) founder Orna Ross agreed there had been “movement” as a result of ALLi’s #OpenUpToIndies campaign earlier in the year. The initiative called on bookshops, libraries, literary event organisers and reviewers to “open up” to self-published authors.And since Jones was able to join us for #FutureChat on Friday, the most coherent use of the recap here might be to start with some of the practical questions folks had for him, and his answers. I opened the session asking what our chatters thought of the new programme. "Good?' I asked. Or "bad?"
.@Porter_Anderson @thebookseller @TheFutureBook #FutureChat Good :-) — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014And there you have it, all quandaries put to rest. Actually, a bit more convo ensued, of course, and one of the first good questions -- like Rooney's, about the Nook Press element -- came from London author Roz Morris:
#Futurechat @Porter_Anderson A welcome development. Does it have to be limited to Nook releases only? It won't be a comprehensive picture — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) September 19, 2014
.@Roz_Morris @Porter_Anderson #FutureChat After six months with Nook, we'll look to extend it beyond Nook Press titles — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014ALLi founding director Orna Ross raised the very good question of how books featured in the Independent Author Preview are to be chosen:
@Porter_Anderson Big interest in how the books are selected. Curation? Or just top sellers? @TheBookseller #FutureChat — Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014
.@Porter_Anderson @OrnaRoss Nook will send us a 100 titles, selected differently (i.e sales, quality, package, genre) so we get a balance — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014
.@Porter_Anderson @OrnaRoss #FutureChat Our previewer @CaroSanderson will then Preview those she thinks have the most potential — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014Criteria, of course, will be part of the exploration:
.@Porter_Anderson @OrnaRoss That will be a developing science! #FutureChat But it needs to be useful both the authors and our audience — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014Ross, like many others, was glad to know the criterion isn't market performance:
.@philipdsjones Sounds great! Delighted it's not just sales driven. @Porter_Anderson #FutureChat — Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014And Jones pointed out the subtle but important distinction: the programme is not about reviews (which might, it could be imagined, have had something to do with sales):
.@Porter_Anderson @OrnaRoss #FutureChat Worth remembering these are Previews, so no about erecting barriers: about broadcast and information — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014Our colleague Caroline Sanderson, in charge of the previewing process, noted that a great deal of range is available, too:
@philipdsjones @Porter_Anderson @OrnaRoss I think it's going to be fascinating. And could easily cover a variety of genres — Caroline Sanderson (@CaroSanderson) September 19, 2014More questions, including one from Reedsy's Ricardo Fayet in London:
Is there anything authors will be able to do to increase their chances to be featured outside having their book on Nook? #futurechat — Ricardo Fayet (@RicardoFayet) September 19, 2014
.@RicardoFayet .@Porter_Anderson #FutureChat Good question: I'll have to ask Nook about that. — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @philipdsjones Coming from a business perspective, what's your business model to remunerate your curation? #futurechat — Ricardo Fayet (@RicardoFayet) September 19, 2014
.@RicardoFayet @Porter_Anderson #futurechat Lots to work out there, but the key thing for me is not to charge authors for the previews — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014
.@philipdsjones A noble aim when so many seem to see #indieauthors as a financial target. @RicardoFayet #FutureChat — Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014As had been touched on by Rooney, the ALLi membership wanted to know:
.@philipdsjones Who do you consider to be the audience for this initiative? #FutureChat — IndieAuthorsAlliance (@IndieAuthorALLI) September 19, 2014And, of course, as Jones noted, The Bookseller is an industry publication:
.@IndieAuthorALLI #futurechat It is a trade audience - booksellers, publishers, agents, journalists etc, plus some authors @Porter_Anderson — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014This seemed to land as a surprise for author and ALLi member Dan Holloway:
@philipdsjones @IndieAuthorALLI @Porter_Anderson ?! I think I'm on the wrong thread. I assumed the answer was a simple "readers" #futurechat — Dan Holloway (@agnieszkasshoes) September 19, 2014Jones pointed out, in response, that our industry is, indeed, quite a readership in itself (not to mention a potentially enabling one):
.@agnieszkasshoes @IndieAuthorALLI @Porter_Anderson #futurechat Accepted. They are all readers too, of course. Big ones! — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014Plus, as mentioned, there's a possibility of some consumer-facing play:
.@IndieAuthorALLI #futurechat And some consumer through @welovethisbook, but essentially it's about the beginning of the book's journey — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014Morris asked about whether existing books might be eligible for consideration:
Only new books? Many indies have great books already & can't churn new books out quickly RT @philipdsjones #FutureChat We'll look to extend — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) September 19, 2014Again, that bit of nuance: these are to be previews, not reviews:
.@Roz_Morris #futurechat They are previews. But we'll be flexible. It's a different type of market, and we need to work through that — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014Holloway reiterated what he sees as the prime directive:
@Porter_Anderson @camillelaguire @philipdsjones @IndieAuthorALLI yes :) I just like "IT'S ABOUT THE READER" at all stages #futurechat — Dan Holloway (@agnieszkasshoes) September 19, 2014Jones, for his part, managed to resist the caps-lock key:
.@agnieszkasshoes @Porter_Anderson #futurechat The books we take seriously are the books others take seriously, it's about seeding them — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) September 19, 2014From Toronto, plenty of understanding for that goal of seeding new work through exposure to The Bookseller's industry channels:
@philipdsjones @agnieszkasshoes @Porter_Anderson Agree. Word of mouth still matters -- welcome new channels for recommending #FutureChat — Carla Douglas (@CarlaJDouglas) September 19, 2014
Ah reading! @Roz_Morris Remember when people in #publishing had time for that. @agnieszkasshoes @RicardoFayet @Porter_Anderson #futurechat — Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014I almost brought things to a halt with my confession that I do my best reading on the elliptical machines at the gym.
@Porter_Anderson @OrnaRoss @Roz_Morris @agnieszkasshoes @RicardoFayet Ha. That is "actively reading," for sure! #FutureChat — Carla Douglas (@CarlaJDouglas) September 19, 2014— Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014 Holloway never did seem to forgive The Bookseller for not being a publication aimed at the non-industry readership:
@philipdsjones @Porter_Anderson I'd just love to see an initiative go "hey, look, this is something you haven't seen... #FutureChat — Dan Holloway (@agnieszkasshoes) September 19, 2014
@philipdsjones @Porter_Anderson ...before. It's amazing." Otherwise we're not adding to the cultural landscape #FutureChat — Dan Holloway (@agnieszkasshoes) September 19, 2014But many of us in #FutureChat on Friday did our best to add to the cultural landscape with a discussion that touched on several interesting topics. David Neal of New Zealand and Colorado (no mean feat) and some others engaged in a conversation about the desirability -- or not -- of a system that might surface first paragraphs of books in a Twitter-like stream.
@Porter_Anderson @WalrusWinks Worry with first paragraph streaming is that it will encourage stilted intros in books. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) September 19, 2014Of course, writing seems to have fared well enough so far with free first-chapter samples. But, as Carla Douglas pointed out, it's an interesting consideration -- how the commercial exigencies of wooing a reader might have to do with the writing, itself:
@StonehamPress @Porter_Anderson @WalrusWinks That's interesting. How discovery methods might influence writing. #FutureChat — Carla Douglas (@CarlaJDouglas) September 19, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @CarlaJDouglas @StonehamPress I think most writers are writing to be discovered to some extent. #FutureChat — David Neal (@WalrusWinks) September 19, 2014Lewis saw a broader-market advantage in The Bookseller's new, coming programme:
Indies are hoovering up the niches but this programme will help the more mainstream indie writers. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) September 19, 2014
Thinking of the old forum model for #fantasy – reading deeply together. Any central site for communal chapter-by-chapter reads? #futurechat — lancelot schaubert (@lanceschaubert) September 19, 2014
@lanceschaubert Isn't that Wattpad? #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) September 19, 2014Morris, Ross, and Carol Buchanan were talking about the time required to create a good novel.
My WIP has been ticking away for 20 years. RT @CarolBuchananMT: This one's going on 4 years, actually. @philipdsjones #futurechat — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) September 19, 2014
@Roz_Morris This one's going on 4 years, actually. @philipdsjones #futurechat — Carol Buchanan (@CarolBuchananMT) September 19, 2014
.@CarolBuchananMT My latest took 12 (from conception to completion) Did a few other things in between! @Roz_Morris — Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014
.@CarolBuchananMT @OrnaRoss You know what it's like! I like to have ideas that pester me. #futurechat — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) September 19, 2014And there was some talk of mid-listers as newbies, in a sense: If no longer carried by their publishers and starting "new" careers as self-publishers.
@Porter_Anderson Well @jakonrath certainly went that way. And he isn't alone. @thebookseller @TheFutureBook #FutureChat — lancelot schaubert (@lanceschaubert) September 19, 2014
Yes - experienced authors finding new lease of life MT @Porter_Anderson: Aren't #midlisters without contracts now independents? #FutureChat — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) September 19, 2014To which the ever-vigilent Joe Konrath added:
@Porter_Anderson @lanceschaubert @thebookseller @TheFutureBook Remember some authors fought to get our book rights back. It was our choice. — JA Konrath (@jakonrath) September 19, 2014And we left #FutureChat generally optimistic for the new Independent Author Preview programme from The Bookseller:
Bye @Porter_Anderson Thnks to all @thebookseller esp @philipdsjones for this initiative. Another forward step for #indieauthors #FutureChat — Orna Ross (@OrnaRoss) September 19, 2014We'll be back Friday with another #FutureChat. Do join us.
Our #FutureChat conversations with The FutureBook.net digital publishing community on Twitter are held Fridays: 4 p.m. London time; 11 a.m. New York time; 8 a.m. Los Angeles; 5 p.m. Berlin; 3 p.m. GMT.
Registration now is open for The FutureBook Conference 2014 -- 14th November at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster. (#FutureBook14)
Main photo - Shutterstock: imagIN.gr photography