Having already cornered the market in sales of print books, e-books, and numerous formats as yet uninvented, probably, rumours abound this week that Amazon is currently sitting in a car with tinted windows outside the houses of libraries the world over, screwing on a silencer, and waiting patiently for a clear shot. By which I mean it’s maybe, possibly, potentially putting together plans to launch an e-book lending system.
How do we organize our bi-monthly BookMachine tweetups alongside full time jobs? Well, doing this has only become possible in the last few years, and all thanks to social media. We spend just two to three hours a week on promoting our events. Here are the top five free tools that help us out: (this post was originally published on www.publishingtalk.eu on August 10, 2011)
I run the independent publishing house Punked Books, which has just achieved the distinction of having one of its authors, Chris Morton, shortlisted for the Not the Booker Prize with his debut novel English Slacker.
The shortlisting was very much an unexpected bonus for me, since Punked Books is so small that it rarely ever gets a mention in the national media. Indeed (if you don’t count the authors) Punked Books has only one employee: me. And while I’m okay at typesetting, creating covers, editing, and formatting ebooks, one area where I’ve really struggled is publicity, since even local newspapers don’t appear interested in novels written by authors in their community, and as for the nationals? Well, I always send them copies of Punked Books titles, but my books are never mentioned, let alone reviewed. This is understandable really when you consider how many novels are published yearly, so it’s not surprising that beleaguered literary reviewers will only tend to look at books produced by the big trade publishers.
For those who have never been, what exactly is a literary nightclub?
It’s an event that celebrates live storytelling in all its forms: from authors, poets, songwriters and comedians – and, most importantly, in a bar serving a wide range of beers, wines and spirits. We’ve been described as ‘clubbing for grown-ups’, which I think sums us up.
The standout news this week is that Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Is Very Real. I’ve Seen It, Played With It. Hmm.
Keeping up with industry trends is a tricky business these days. To help out, here’s 15 People You Should Follow (and Why). There’s also The three-headed Hydra of Publishing that’s consuming itself to be aware of, but leaving that aside for now, here’s The Article Everyone Who Loves Books Should Read.
Meanwhile, as Huffington Post Starts Publishing E-Books, Red Lemonade explain, “Why We’re DRM-Free (and it’s not because we trust you…)“.
As some would have it this week, we’re Turning the Page on the Book Industry, and Publishers Are Squandering Their Cachet On Imprints. Nevertheless, It’s still good to have gatekeepers.
And finally, Book publishing: Let me tell you a story…
In news that will come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t been on the internet, read a paper or engaged with the outside world so far this year, this summer hasn’t been great for print books, with Nielsen Soundscan reporting that sales for August 2011 hit a seven year low. Things got so bad, shops literally couldn’t give books away/have them taken from them by force (maybe the riots had something to do with the lack of empathy engendered by not reading fiction).
Yesterday afternoon, Canongate quietly made public an innovation so head-slappingly simple that suddenly, the slow demise of the print media that hadn’t thought of this already began to make a lot more sense. Fittingly, it made the announcement via Twitter – unless you had already rushed out and bought a hardback copy of A.S. Byatt’s Ragnarok within seven hours of its going on sale, in which case you may have noticed it before then. But for everyone who didn’t (for shame! We’re living in a society here!), this was the news that graced their timelines: ‘Now printing hashtags on our jacket flaps. Look out for them and join or create a conversation around a book. First up: #ragnarokbyatt‘.
A few months ago we were invited to speak at a Futurebook conference organised by the Bookseller. The event was split into two parts. The first half included speakers from traditional publishers sharing their ideas of how publishing could and should change, and the second was billed as talks by people from outside the established publishing world. Therein lies the problem traditional publishers face. The number of ‘outsiders’ are growing, intent on their own kind of change.
Lisa Goll claims that ‘BookMachine is the most fun you can have in publishing with your clothes on’. How great is that? Here she reports from her first party.
There are a lot of things you expect from publishing events, BookMachine delivers only the best bits. New to this event, I anticipated a low-key affair. I got the shock of my life when I arrived to see the venue swamped by their popularity, with scores of their loyal devotees talking, laughing and drinking like it was doomsday’s last orders.
I can’t lie; as a newcomer, it was a little daunting, but everyone was so kind that it wasn’t that way for long. With a couple of nods here and smiles there, I was happily enveloped by a nearby group where conversation was fascinatingly eclectic. It makes a refreshing change from similar events where it’s all so cliquey, insular or socially corrupt that you leg it after the first glass.
Lively crowd, great venue and seamless organisation, by Laura and Gavin, go into making this one of the best publishing events I’ve attended in an age. In fact, I believe BookMachine is the most fun you can have in publishing with your clothes on.”
Lisa Goll (@LisasShare), host of London Writers’ Café