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Weekly Write-Up: 19th September 2018

by Tom Ashford
Welcome to the SPF Weekly Write-Up, where each Wednesday we’ll be collecting together the self-publishing news of the week so you don’t have to.

This week: French bookshops get livid about a self-published novel being nominated for one of their country’s most prestigious fiction awards, the Kindle Storyteller shortlist is revealed, and a viral video boosts the sales of a children’s book about a wonky donkey.


The French (Self-Pub) Revolution

The French are not happy. Well their booksellers aren’t, at least.

The Prix Renaudot is one of France’s most prestigious literary awards, and one of this year’s nominees is – cue shocked gasps – self-published through CreateSpace! The sacrilege. At least the backlash isn’t because of the usual argument – that self-published books aren’t good enough (or even eligible) for traditional publishing deals, let alone awards – but because the brick-and-mortar shops won’t be able to stock what might very well become a highly sought-after book.

The book in question is Bande de Francais by Marco Koskas, by the way – a French-Israeli author who has more than a dozen books published the traditional way, but who ‘settled’ for self-publishing through Amazon when no publisher wanted to pick it up. “Otherwise I might have gone into some sort of literary hiding,” he said.

Syndicat, which represents French booksellers, argues that Amazon wants to not only become “a major player in the book market, it wants to become the market itself by eliminating its competitors,” going on to say that including Koskas’ book on the longlist “does a disservice to the author himself, as well as to booksellers”.

Sounds a bit bitter to me, and Koskas agrees. He considers Syndicat’s call for his book to be de-listed “a great lack of fair play, not to say blackmail,” and went on to say that bookshops should be angry not with him, nor with the prize’s jury, but with the publishers who passed on his book in the first place.

It will be interesting to see whether Bande de Francais progresses any further in the awards process, or how the French literary community will react should it win.

Kindle Storyteller UK Shortlist

For those who might not know, the Kindle Storyteller competition ran from May 1st until August 31st on Amazon’s UK store. Any book published in English and in both eBook and paperback form during that window was eligible (with the right keyword), and now, as of September 17th, the shortlist has been announced.

My own book is not amongst them. I shall try to hide my bitter, bitter disappointment.

(Congratulations, should any of the nominees read this!)

The shortlist reads as follows:

Lord Livesey’s Bluestocking: A Regency Romance by Audrey Harrison
Hit and Done (The DI Stella Cole Thrillers Book 3) by Andy Maslen
Just Another Drummer: Thirty Years as an Orchestral Musician by Martin G. Willis
The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah Lynn
Box of Frogs (The Fractured Faery Book 1) by Helen Harper

The winner receives £20,000 and is recognised at a central London award ceremony. Good luck!

And Finally… The Wonky Donkey

Some of you may have seen a video (it does have sixty million videos, after all) in which a woman can’t stop cracking up trying to read The Wonky Donkey to her four-month-old grandson.

You can watch it here, if you haven’t already.

Well there’s nothing quite like free advertising, is there?

Unsurprisingly, sales of Craig Smith’s book have skyrocketed since the video went viral (the book, incidentally, is based on his song of the same name). He sold 2500 books in three days, and his publisher has plans to print tens of thousands more copies. Amazon UK and US both ran out of copies.

It’s been a “huge boost” for him financially, apparently. That’s great… but imagine if he’d been self-published and earning 70% of royalties instead of the industry standard of about 10%, eh?

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford is a professional copywriter, author of numerous dark fantasy and sci-fi novels, and the Head of Content at the Self Publishing Formula Blog. His books include the Blackwater trilogy and the Checking Out series.

He lives in London with his wife, in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Find out more about Tom here.