Independent Author Previews and a "tide turning": #FutureChat recap

Independent Author Previews and a "tide turning": #FutureChat recap

The Bookseller's announcement that it will begin next month previewing self-published work from the Nook Press platform prompted our #FutureChat focus on efforts to "open up to indies," as the Alliance of Independent Authors' campaign (ALLi) has it. While most of the reception of the news has seemed positive, the new programme's outlines are still coming into focus for many. Perhaps the most important part of this particular #FutureChat was a chance for The FutureBook.net community to ask some questions. Mick Rooney of the Independent Publishing Magazine already had raised a key clarification in the fact that The Bookseller is an industry-facing publication:
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?" And 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: ALLi founding director Orna Ross raised the very good question of how books featured in the Independent Author Preview are to be chosen: Criteria, of course, will be part of the exploration: Ross, like many others, was glad to know the criterion isn't market performance: And 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): Our colleague Caroline Sanderson, in charge of the previewing process, noted that a great deal of range is available, too: More questions, including one from Reedsy's Ricardo Fayet in London: As had been touched on by Rooney, the ALLi membership wanted to know: And, of course, as Jones noted, The Bookseller is an industry publication: This seemed to land as a surprise for author and ALLi member Dan Holloway: Jones pointed out, in response, that our industry is, indeed, quite a readership in itself (not to mention a potentially enabling one): Plus, as mentioned, there's a possibility of some consumer-facing play: Morris asked about whether existing books might be eligible for consideration: Again, that bit of nuance: these are to be previews, not reviews: Holloway reiterated what he sees as the prime directive: Jones, for his part, managed to resist the caps-lock key: From Toronto, plenty of understanding for that goal of seeding new work through exposure to The Bookseller's industry channels: I almost brought things to a halt with my confession that I do my best reading on the elliptical machines at the gym. — 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: But 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. Of 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: Lewis saw a broader-market advantage in The Bookseller's new, coming programme: Morris, Ross, and Carol Buchanan were talking about the time required to create a good novel. And 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. To which the ever-vigilent Joe Konrath added: And we left #FutureChat generally optimistic for the new Independent Author Preview programme from The Bookseller: We'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.

The FutureBook basicRegistration now is open for The FutureBook Conference 2014 -- 14th November at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster. (#FutureBook14)

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