Plunging In: The Bookseller's first Independent Author Preview

Image - iStockphoto: PaulPrescott72
Image – iStockphoto: PaulPrescott72

Here’s the good news: 

I do think that pretty much all the books I’ve included are good enough to be traditionally published, and by that I mean, well enough written.

That should be music to any weary stigma-fighter’s ears. My colleague Caroline Sanderson is filling me in here on her experiences in choosing the very first round of The Bookseller’sIndependent Author Preview, as we take the plunge in our Friday edition of the magazine on the stands (pages 42 and 43).

You now can see a version of the new Preview online, thanks to my colleague Josh Farrington’s good work.

Caroline Sanderson
Caroline Sanderson

And what we’re talking about here is the first round of results of that agreement with Nook Press, Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform, announced by The Bookseller in September and widely welcomed by many who would like to see more mainstream media coverage of independent publishing. Sanderson’s choices include these categories:  Crime & Thrillers, Travel & Reportage, Romantic & Erotic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Memoir, History & Current Affairs, and Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

Not unlike the new YA Book Prize, the shortlist of which has kept @TheBookseller Twitter handle red hot yesterday and today, the Independent Author Preview is an answer to a need. As Charlotte Eyre, our children’s editor, discusses in her commentary on the new YA prize programme, “Several publishers bemoaned the fact that there was no dedicated YA prize in the UK. Others complained that YA books published over here don’t get the same recognition as their American counterparts.”

Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

In parallel, there’s been plenty of understandable concern voiced by independent authors that the various channels of media attention standard for traditionally published books have rarely been available to self-published efforts. The author Hugh Howey, in welcoming the news of the new preview programme wrote:

Discoverability, of course, is still the greatest struggle any new writer faces, and this is true of all authors, however they publish. I’ve watched brilliant debut works languish as a bookseller and more recently as a reader and industry observer. But Nook Press and The Bookseller are showing a commitment to coming up with more ways to hook up great books with great readers, to get authors discovered, and to give more writers a chance of breaking out. Which is more of what this industry needs.

Mick Rooney
Mick Rooney

Mick Rooney at The Independent Publishing Magazine wrote:

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 pointed out, without rancor, that while apparently “a positive and concerted drive by Nook Press in the UK,” the arrangement is, for now, limited to that platform’s output.  Bookseller editor Philip Jones was in touch with Rooney to confirm that the idea is, in time, to widen the program to “indie titles from authors as well as small independent publishing presses in the UK.” Quoting Jones’ message to Rooney:

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, or figure out a way of allowing authors to send to us direct. It’s a discoverability process, and hopefully a positive one for all sides.

And so here we are with what Jones noted is “a new spin on what we have been doing for more than a 100 years.” The preview goes about “recognising that some of the best new writing now comes through non-traditional channels.”

Philip Jones
Philip Jones

Jones’ perspective is important here, in that a medium like The Bookseller serves its readers first. In such major trade press settings as this one, it’s true that readership and key players can at times be the same. The mission, however, is unchanged, as Jones clarifies:

The Bookseller’s job remains the same…to shout about these books and bring them to the attention of our audience.

So those whoops going up are ours, and congratulations to every author whose title appears on this inaugural round of independently published picks, it’s good to see this happening.

And because “enquiring minds want to know,” as the long-running National Enquirer tabloid slogan went in the 1980s, I’ve asked Sanderson what she’d seen in making the selection contained in the new preview.

Before getting to that, let’s review the process.

 Read More

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

The FutureBook: Plunging In: The Bookseller’s First Indie Author Preview

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