You know the term "four-hander" for a piano piece composed to be played by two pianists, right?
Our #FutureChat on Friday turned out to be the Twitteresque equivalent, and I was very glad to have my colleague Caroline Sanderson's hands along to help engage in the conversation.
The FutureBook community seemed energised and welcoming, maybe even heartened by the debut of The Bookseller's new Independent Author Preview, the arrangement with Nook Press that Sanderson is heading up.
Briefly, in case you've missed it, this monthly programme sees Sanderson selecting works of independently and self-published authors from a selection provided by Nook Press, the self-publishing platform of Barnes and Noble. While The Bookseller's service to the industry for more than a century has included "shouting about" good books, as our editor Philip Jones puts it, the "indie" element is the distinguishing factor -- this is the first time the magazine has created this sort of content for material outside the traditional publishing sector. And, if anything, industry readers may be among the most careful observers of this new showcase as it curates on a regular basis a collection of material that might not have been easily spotted otherwise.
Needless to say, some of the happiest folks who joined us Friday in #FutureChat were some of the authors whose work is included in this first preview. It was great to have them along, a chance to congratulate them on what Sanderson was careful to note is, in many cases, content "well edited, professionally presented and written with a flair equal to anything you might find on the list of a traditional publishing house."
Because of the speed and volume of tweets the new preview triggered in #FutureChat -- easily one of our busiest sessions yet -- I'll just grab key tweets from the discussion with a bit less effort at continuity this time, so I can give you a nice selection of reactions. We also had a negative response to the advent of the preview, lodged in a comment on our #FutureChat walkup (and this is good, we welcome comments as long as they arrive in a collegial and respectful tone). I thought that comment's intent merited a longer look at the issue of quality in much self-published work, with this new showcase, in fact, arriving as another reason for authors to aim for highest marketplace standards in what they're doing. So I produced a bit of a follow here at Thought Catalog on that specific subject.
Sanderson and I agreed on how glad we were that our #FutureChat turn into, in part, a discussion about quality and best practice, and with so much good input from so many folks.
On, then, to just a small number of the many tweets exchanged in #FutureChat, with gratitude to everyone who participated -- do come back and join us each Friday at 4 p.m. London time (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome, 11 a.m. New York, 8 a.m. Los Angeles.
We'll start with one of the first folks I heard from, the author J.J. Marsh, a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (several showcased authors are members) -- her honoured title (an editor's choice, special commendation) is Cold Pressed, which has my vote automatically because it's set on Santorini. Yassou!
@Porter_Anderson @thebookseller Thanks! I'll be ready for #FutureChat complete with ouzo. — JJ Marsh (@JJMarsh1) December 5, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @thebookseller I was just saying that it's great to part of something genuinely new #FutureChat — Caroline Sanderson (@CaroSanderson) December 5, 2014
FAB NEWS for ALLi members @alison_morton & @jjmarsh1, both Editor's Choices in @thebookseller #Indie #Author Preview. #FutureChat — IndieAuthorsAlliance (@IndieAuthorALLI) December 5, 2014Another Editor's Choice author here, Alison Morton, for Successio:
It’s all about the reader and we’re all readers as well as writers. Think about how we choose a book: cover, blurb, first para #FutureChat — Alison Morton (@alison_morton) December 5, 2014
#futurechat Would like to thank @CaroSanderson & @thebookseller for this initiative. Much welcomed @Porter_Anderson — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) December 5, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @thebookseller #futurechat I was quite selective. But then, I am for our traditionally published previews too — Caroline Sanderson (@CaroSanderson) December 5, 2014
'Having an editor is essential' #futurechat - the @Writers_Artists #selfpub conference last week made editing the number 1 consideration — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) December 5, 2014
@Roz_Morris #futurechat yes, quality matters. don't know how many people have said won't read indie b/c of bad quality experience — Melinda Primrose (@MMPrimrose) December 5, 2014
@CaroSanderson What defines your selection before you begin to look at books? @Porter_Anderson @thebookseller #FutureChat — Carol Buchanan (@CarolBuchananMT) December 5, 2014
@CarolBuchananMT @Porter_Anderson @thebookseller A good range of genres. And then just quality, as for all my previews #futurechat — Caroline Sanderson (@CaroSanderson) December 5, 2014Ricardo Fayet had the pleasure of surprising author Chele Cooke with the news that her Fight or Flight had been selected for the preview:
.@CheleCooke Amazing to see you there Chele!! I was about to start reading Fight or Flight! #futurechat http://t.co/oFuUNcBEtc — Ricardo Fayet (@RicardoFayet) December 5, 2014
Thank you to @RicardoFayet for just making me squeal in the middle of my office. I hadn't seen that article. — Chele Cooke (@CheleCooke) December 5, 2014
@RicardoFayet @CheleCooke Wow, that's amazing, CONGRATS!! Second person in the Writing Group to make it into The Bookseller? @ChrisBrosnahan — Claire Rousseau (@ClaireRousseau) December 5, 2014
@Roz_Morris Don't we all just want to produce books which are a great reading experience? Quality is critical to that. #FutureChat — Lucas Bale (@balespen) December 5, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller There are low quality published books out there as well you know... #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) December 5, 2014
.@StonehamPress Think I was counting down the seconds till someone said that @Porter_Anderson @TheBookseller #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) December 5, 2014
@janesteen @StonehamPress @Porter_Anderson @thebookseller ha, yes, that's square 1 on "self-publishing chat bingo" #futurechat — Dan Holloway (@agnieszkasshoes) December 5, 2014
The key to quality is specifying the best and investing in yourself to achieve that.#FutureChat — Alison Morton (@alison_morton) December 5, 2014
@janesteen @Roz_Morris @MMPrimrose @Victoria_Noe @CaroSanderson I threw a competition for my book cover. I think it's quite good!! — Christine Jordan (@CJGloucester) December 5, 2014
We're assuming trad published books are high quality. Not always the case. #FutureChat — Victoria Noe (@Victoria_Noe) December 5, 2014
Yep, but usually better produced RT @mmprimrose: @Victoria_Noe: We're assuming trad published books are high quality. Not always #FutureChat — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) December 5, 2014
#futurechat Surprised @CaroSanderson found so many submissions poor quality, but perhaps I'm used to a select corner of professional indies — Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) December 5, 2014
@Roz_Morris @CaroSanderson I'd be interested to hear from Nook about how they selected what went forward #futurechat — Dan Holloway (@agnieszkasshoes) December 5, 2014
#futurechat Trouble is some Indies don’t know what trad standards are and others just don’t care. — David Penny (@davidpenny_) December 5, 2014
Must hold up my hand and say editors are crucial. All my work has been improved by @TriskeleBooks #futurechat — JJ Marsh (@JJMarsh1) December 5, 2014
@Roz_Morris Thank you - respecting the reader is what it's about. Giving the best reading experience possible. #futurechat — Jane Steen (@janesteen) December 5, 2014
@Victoria_Noe Has any of us ever bought a book b/c St. Martins published it? No guarantee of quality. #Futurechat @Porter_Anderson — Carol Buchanan (@CarolBuchananMT) December 5, 2014
I would love to see a reader survey: "how important is the publisher in your decision to buy a book?" #FutureChat — Victoria Noe (@Victoria_Noe) December 5, 2014
Question: Is @thebookseller's IAP a reaction to Kindle Unlimited – will it draw indies away from being exclusive? #FutureChat — Lucas Bale (@balespen) December 5, 2014
.@balespen #FutureChat No, but one of the attractions of partnering with Nook is that the books are available outside of Nook. That is imp — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) December 5, 2014
@philipdsjones KU has been good for me. I had little success on other platforms. That's the attraction. I'd prefer it wasn't! #FutureChat — Lucas Bale (@balespen) December 5, 2014
The problem with Trad in my opinion is that the quality thing is often wrapped up with personal opinion - not objective. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) December 5, 2014
Late to the #FutureChat party today -- I don't think readers care who the publisher is, but they do sense when a book doesn't "look right." — Carla Douglas (@CarlaJDouglas) December 5, 2014
Author quality is the same as ever, only difference is the public defines what's good instead of publishers #futurechat @Porter_Anderson — AuthorRise (@AuthorRise) December 5, 2014
I review as well as write and go for the 'off-radar' This includes translation, indie and small press. So many treasures! #futurechat — JJ Marsh (@JJMarsh1) December 5, 2014
@alison_morton When considering my cover I thought about how I choose a book. As you say, we writers are also readers #FutureChat — E S Moxon (@word_seeker) December 5, 2014
@AuthorRise @StonehamPress Yes. I'm more often asked my qualifications and background than publisher name. #FutureChat — Victoria Noe (@Victoria_Noe) December 5, 2014
@alison_morton Formatting is important. Some self-pub books are let down by poor formatting. — Denise Barnes (@denisebarnesuk) December 5, 2014
@denisebarnesuk That's why it is vital we strive for quality in not just our writing but in presentation. #FutureChat @alison_morton — E S Moxon (@word_seeker) December 5, 2014
One important distinction is between paper and ebooks here. In Paper Indies WILL struggle to reach trad standards cheaply. #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) December 5, 2014
I have print as well as ebook. Fab to hand sell and send out as review copies, prizes. Still make a (small) profit. #FutureChat — Alison Morton (@alison_morton) December 5, 2014
@CaroSanderson @Roz_Morris @Porter_Anderson We're all waiting for the algorithm that will make all true cream rise to the top. #futurechat — Ricardo Fayet (@RicardoFayet) December 5, 2014
@CaroSanderson @RicardoFayet @Roz_Morris @Porter_Anderson That's already happening to some extent, w/ the "Also bought" #FutureChat — Birgitte Rasine (@birgitte_rasine) December 5, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @philipdsjones @balespen @NookPress Aren't they all EPUB3? Is that device independent? #futurechat — Carol Buchanan (@CarolBuchananMT) December 5, 2014
.@CarolBuchananMT @Porter_Anderson @balespen there's no exclusivity though, authors can make them available in all formats, including print — Philip Jones (@philipdsjones) December 5, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @thebookseller great to see something like this. Well done @CaroSanderson! Now about that fantasy list... ;) #FutureChat — Ben Galley (@BenGalley) December 5, 2014
@janesteen @CaroSanderson @Porter_Anderson @thebookseller we need to invest more in our little ones 2 appreciate good literature #FutureChat — Birgitte Rasine (@birgitte_rasine) December 5, 2014
@RicardoFayet @janesteen @CaroSanderson @Porter_Anderson Structural editing perhaps needs the most confident editors. #FutureChat — JJ Marsh (@JJMarsh1) December 5, 2014
@Porter_Anderson @BenGalley @JJMarsh1 @janesteen Great editors should still be the most famous people in publishing #futurechat — Caroline Sanderson (@CaroSanderson) December 5, 2014
@CaroSanderson @Porter_Anderson @JJMarsh1 @janesteen I try to make a point within the book how integral my editor has been #FutureChat — Ben Galley (@BenGalley) December 5, 2014
@birgitte_rasine Producing a cracking story, a well-designed book on which they’ve spent their taxed income. @StonehamPress @janesteen — Alison Morton (@alison_morton) December 5, 2014
@alison_morton @birgitte_rasine @StonehamPress @janesteen readers invest time as well as money. We owe them quality #futurechat — Carol Cooper (@DrCarolCooper) December 5, 2014
Being indie means you can write, fresh, cross-genre stuff, but production quality should never be sacrificed. #FutureChat — Alison Morton (@alison_morton) December 5, 2014
Decoupling great editors/designers from publishing houses is under way. It's a huge opp. for authors and new businesses alike #futurechat — AuthorRise (@AuthorRise) December 5, 2014
Authors need to master their skills. Really, writers need teachers, not editors. #futurechat — Camille LaGuire (@camillelaguire) December 5, 2014
@camillelaguire #FutureChat Yes, and most good editors will do that with a client -- provide coaching and detailed comments. — Carla Douglas (@CarlaJDouglas) December 5, 2014
@CarlaJDouglas Coaching has different goal than editing (I've done both). One is about author, the other about book. #futurechat — Camille LaGuire (@camillelaguire) December 5, 2014
RT @Roz_Morris: Self-editing is where the work is. Writing=rewriting RT@carosanderson:Writer needs to be own excellent editor #futurechat — Dana Britt (@Dana_Britt) December 5, 2014
@janesteen @alison_morton You face a far tougher crowd than a few publishing gate-keepers - Readers... #futurechat — Tim @ Stoneham Press (@StonehamPress) December 5, 2014
@StonehamPress Yep, readers are the ultimate judges and that’s who we must write for and be accountable to. @janesteen #FutureChat — Alison Morton (@alison_morton) December 5, 2014
Please join us for a live (and usually lively) #FutureChat with The FutureBook digital community, weekly on Fridays at 4 p.m. London (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome, 11 a.m. New York, 8 a.m. Los Angeles.
Main image - Shutterstock: Anton Watman