Each month Orna Ross and Joanna Penn join forces to bring you The Advanced Self-Publishing Salon, a live online broadcast where they discuss what’s going on in the publishing industry, and provide an update on the latest tools and techniques that are helping them achieve their writing and publishing goals.
If you’re committed to being a successful indie author, this conversation between The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing” and one of the Guardian UKs “Top creative Professionals” shouldn’t be missed.
Advanced Self-Publishing Salon July 2017
Here are the YouTube video and Soundcloud podcast, and below I’ve summarized the Salon topics that resonated with me. Listen or watch the broadcast for the full conversation.
Self-Publishing Salon Video
Self-Publishing Salon Podcast
Subscribe to our Ask ALLi podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud of via our RSS feed:
New Weekly ALLi Podcast
Summer has rolled around again in the UK (albeit briefly), and this time of year the ALLi team are on their toes implementing a new AskALLi weekly podcast schedule. We're moving to a weekly podcast; changing the broadcasters for the Members' Self-Publishing Q&A; and introducing a new Salon aimed specifically at beginners.
Here's the podcast that Michael La Ronn and I did to introduce the new Beginners' Self-Publishing Salon, and to recap the changes to the schedule and show. We're starting our new schedule next week on the 4th of July.
You can also visit our Podcast page to meet our show presenters and listen to the playlists from past shows.
New ALLi Author Guide
Commissioning Editor Debbie Young is getting ready to wrap up the “How to get your self-published book into bookstores” ALLi guidebook. ALLi have been waiting for Ingram Spark to get iPage into place so that it could be included in the book.
What is iPage?:
Ingram's easy-to-use online search, order, and account management platform acts as your comprehensive source for complete title information, product images, stock status updates, ordering, publicity, the latest industry news, and much more.
How to Market a Book
Joanna has just published the print version of the 3rd edition of “How to Market a Book”. It’s a comprehensive collection of book marketing advice weighing in at about 70k words, and includes new chapters on marketing print books.
This summer Joanna is planning on mailing out postcards pitching 4 of her writing books to bookstores for inclusion in their writer's section. It's an affordable marketing technique that could have a big impact on sales – but only time will tell.
Joanna is also proofing the book for audio as her non-fiction audiobook income has been increasing, and she wants to keep the flow of a content going into this medium. Book length is so important for Non-Fiction, but for Fiction her fiction box sets outsell the individual books by 10/15X, so anything over the 8 hour mark can have a positive impact on sales. If you have audiobooks that aren't selling, maybe it time to bundle them up.
Non-fiction is also on Orna's mind. This is the Year of Non-Fiction for her, as she's been putting the finishing touches on her Go Creative! Series of books and workbooks. But this focus on non-fiction has been grating on her creative soul and she's introduced a fiction writing session into her week and is working with a writing coach to keep her accountable.
If your budget doesn't stretch to a private writing coach, you can get some tips from Alexa Bigwarfe who did a session on this same topic at our last Indie Author Fringe.
Check out our Broadcast to find out how Orna has been inspired by artist Keith Tyson, and Joanna by Thomas Hardy. They've both been moved by these artists to create to feed their own creative output. They're both experiencing and learning from the world around them .. and as an indie you will constantly find yourself in that learning-zone.
Finishing Energy vs. Starting Energy
How many you have struggled with finishing a project, when all you really want to do is leave in unfinished and start creating something new? Joanna and Orna talked about the finishing energy stage of being an author – the proofreading, editing, design, production and distribution.
Do what you're good at – and what bring you alive creatively. Joanna
There's lots more on this topic in the broadcast, and my summary couldn't do it justice – so listen to it/watch it instead.
Now that the Apple and Amazon exclusivity agreement around audible is coming to an end, the audiobook landscape is finally opening up.
Draft2Digital have partnered with Findaway Voices to provide an alternative to ACX starting 7/18/2017. Once you've converted your ebook via D2D, you can start creating your audiobook with Findaway Voices, with full support from the Voices team. You can determine your production budget, select a narrator, and have your book produced and distributed to a robust audiobook network. As the author or publisher, you keep 80% of all royalties Voices receives.
ACX opened up in Canada and Ireland. Now Canadian and Irish Rights Holders and Producers can list their audio samples and audiobook projects for auditions in the ACX marketplace.
Audiobooks should be the third content format indie authors look at, after ebooks and POD. But if you plan on building a successful author platform aimed at YOY sales increase, audiobooks need to be part of your business plan.
As part of their Indie Author Fringe sponsorship, ListenUp is also offering a discount off per finished hour for each audiobook until the end of the year.
If you already have audiobooks or are thinking of releasing your first one, check out our Indie Author Fringe session from David Markowitz from ALLi Partner Member ListenUp, to get tips about marketing your book.
Is Self-Publishing Vanity?
This topic caused quite a stir at the Byte The Book meet-up in London, where Joanna was on the hook defending being an indie author. Check out this article by Orna Ross that appeared on the blog earlier this week.
ALLi Professional Member Pilot Scheme
To be a Professional ALLi Member you need to have sold 50k books over the previous 18months to 2 years, and we're currently working with a pilot group of professional members pitching rights directly to rights buyers.
AI vs Human Translation
The New Scientist is reporting that by 2025, AI will be better than human translation, and Amazon is planning on launching a Machine Translation service to make their websites and apps available in multiple languages, and companies like Skype already have a Translator service whereby users converse in their native languages, and the speech is translated from one language to the other in “near real-time”. Suddenly, foreign language no longer seems like a barrier to reaching readers in other countries, and this is a massive deal for the publishing industry.
Getting your books into Google Play
ALLi Partner Member Publish Drive have launched their new Advanced Pricing feature, which is available now on the platform providing publishers with the option of easily setting the price for every currency. The system lets you to manually set all prices to your chosen value. They also have access to Google Play, so Joanna is switching to Publish Drive to get into Google Play and get broader access in Asian and European markets.
Listen to the broadcast to get the details about opting in and opting out of the different retailers in order to use multiple aggregators in tandem. So if you an use Draft2Digital and Publish Drive together, and also sell directly on Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks – you'll have most of the world covered.
What's in store for Orna and Joanna?
July is all about writing for Orna, and she's focused on all the ALLi upgrades to the weekly podcast, launching the new ALLi guidebooks.
Joanna is going to New York next week for the International Thriller Writers Award's, as a finalist in the Best e-Book Original Novel category. Wish her well and send good vibes for an indie win!
Scroll down this page to read the full transcript of this Advanced Self-Publishing Salon.
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Our next Self-Publishing Salon is on Tuesday July 25th
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- You can catch up on all of our videos on ALLi’s YouTube Channel
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Meet the Ask ALLi Hosts
Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as writing non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.
She spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporations across the globe before becoming a full-time author-entrepreneur in September 2011.
Connect with Joanna on Twitter @
Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”.
She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing.
Connect with Orna on Twitter @
More Advanced Self-Publishing Salon
Advanced Self-Publishing Salon Transcript
Joanna: Hello everyone. We are here for the Alliance of Independent Authors Advanced Self-Publishing Salon or something like that, with me, Joanna Penn and Orna Ross. Hi Orna!
Orna: Exactly like that, the Ask ALLi, Self-Publishing Salon.
Joanna: Basically where Orna and I chat about things going on in publishing and Orna might rant this evening, which might be quite fun. And I occasionally drink too much gin, not tonight though! Tonight I have peppermint tea, so, no ranting for me [laugh]. But we have a lot going on. Orna’s update here on our notes is massive. So, Orna, why don’t you start by giving us a bit of an update on the Alliance stuff and you and everything?
Orna: Yeah, well the big thing is lots of reading going on for me at the moment because I’m a judge on the Amazon Storyteller competition and that has been super interesting. The judges lunch is tomorrow so, been reading frantically, all these indie books and it is always a really interesting experience, when you’re judging a competition. It is like being in a book club. You end up reading stuff that you wouldn’t choose to read when you’re left to your own devices. So, it has been fantastically interesting as well. I used to work as a reviewer of books and, you know, you look at books in a certain way and you write about certain things but this has been very much about the story. So, our instruction is what is, you know, which book is telling the best story and which book is telling the story best. So, yeah, there are lots of werewolves [laugh] and lesbian romance [wow] and yeah, a guy sailing around Britain and all sorts of things, as I said, that I wouldn’t normally read.
Joanna: Wow, a werewolf, lesbian romance on a beach.
Orna: Not all of them …
Joanna: That is a new genre [laugh].
Orna: I’m sure there will be a genre that just writes about that soon, but, yeah, not quite yet. So, yeah, it has been really difficult to compare them as well but Amazon has worked out an interesting strategy, so, yeah, we meet up tomorrow. So, that has been really, really interesting, yeah. In terms of ALLi news, we are in our kind of upgrade season, every summer when Fringe finishes and the busiest things are over for the year, we kind of do an upgrade around the track. So, we’re particularly focusing on our, what has been a very sporadic sort of broadcast/podcast thing going on, you know? You and I do this and I have been doing the member Q&A with a guest person but now we’re going to actually have a weekly podcast which will also include a beginners salon and Debbie and David are going to start doing the member Q&A. J and Michael Leron will be presenting a beginners salon and the other week or two weeks of the month will be filled in with highlights from the Fringe. So, we’ll have something every Friday morning, going out, that will be of value to indie’s. So, it takes quite a bit to get a podcast completely up and running, everything from the artwork to the transcripts and so on but we’re almost there. And J and Michael have done the first one, and that will go out next Friday I think.
Joanna: Yeah, that is awesome, I mean, I think having, I mean that was the big leap for my podcast, was when I went from sporadic to weekly and then you become like a habit for people and then they’re like, wait, it is Monday, where is my podcast? And I have that with other ones. And also it is great having the Fringe stuff on there because I don’t watch videos and I like to have the audio. So, I’ll be listening on that one.
Orna: Yeah, it is great and also because Fringe is a bit of an onslaught and people intend to go back and maybe don’t get to it. So, I think it is great to be able to bring what we would think of as the highlights or more like the evergreen stuff, you know? Like everything, some of it dates quickly and then some of it is evergreen stuff and that’s what we’ll be focusing on, on the podcast. So, yeah, and we’ve a new book coming, we’re also upgrading …
Joanna: Now, talk about that because that’s important.
Orna: Which is?
Joanna: The book.
Orna: Yeah, the book, well all our books actually have been upgraded and we have a new book, How To Get Your Book Into Bookstores, [yay] which Debbie Young has been working on for a long time. We were waiting for Ingram Ipage to be in place because that was a very significant development for bookstores globally and that is now in place and ready to rock. And in some places it that works better than others but it definitely was a missing link for a lot of indie’s. So, that’s there now. And you gave us an impetus to kind of get it through and out which is always good. So, yes …
Joanna: I’ll interrupt your news with my news which is here is the third edition of How To Market a Book In Print, and it’s actually really, it’s so funny because, you know, don’t follow my own advice and what you should do is write several smaller books and I’ve got a 70,000 word tomb on marketing. But, hey, I think it’s quite comprehensive and I like it, and yes, I wanted to mention how to get your self-published book into bookstores. And what’s interesting is there’s a new chapter on marketing print books, which is, you know, obviously for me, a bit of a turn around. And I am also actually doing a mail out, an actual physical mail out of postcards to bookstores this summer. Which is kind of crazy and an experiment but it worked out not to be that expensive, so.
Orna: That will be really interesting to see how that goes.
Joanna: Exactly, it might just be a complete, you know, whatever but you know, it’s worth doing. It’s basically, I did a postcard with four books, you know, aimed at, do you have writers associated with your bookstore, which most bookstores do. Here are some books for writers, type of thing. Because most bookstores have a shelf with books for writers in, don’t they.
Orna: Yeah, no, absolutely and it’s a growing section, the creative writing section and now with some self-publishing. But not as much as there should be. Good call. There are also a couple of services that can actually represent your book into bookstores, Matadore does a paid service, I know, in the UK and Ingram has a paid service in the US. Now, you need to be very careful about these because, you know, you really need to cost it.
Joanna: They can cost a lot.
Orna: They can cost a lot of money and you can loose money on it and you need to, I don’t think I would recommend it for a fiction writer unless it was somebody, you know, who really knew what they were doing marketing wise. But for non-fiction books, who have a very clearly defined audience and where that audience is still largely found through bookstores, and not so much online, it could be worth thinking about and investigating. But, yeah, well done on the marketing book. It’s been a while.
Joanna: It’s been so much more, because the last edition was in 2014 and we talked a bit about this last month, about how much has changed. But, I’ve also been proofing the audio book, so, the main reason I did this, just so people understand, is that my audio book income for my non-fiction has just been getting bigger and bigger. So, I got $700 this month which, for audio books only, for me, that’s the like the biggest month I’ve had for audio, you know? I’m not a massive audio book seller. But that’s really big money for a very small, like, what hasn’t been very big. And that’s mainly down to my non-fiction and my fiction box sets. So, here’s a big deal, and in fact I have the, because now I’m doing everything in print, here’s my, look how fat this is. This is my London crime thriller box set in print. This in audio, outsells the individual books by 10, 15 times. So, big tip for audio, non-fiction, doesn’t matter how long it is. People will buy it but fiction has to be over that 8 hour mark. So, if that means you’ve just, you only do the bundles then that’s the way it is. I mean, my fiction was just selling nothing until I did the bundling, so, there you go.
Orna: Yeah, good tip and there’s lots of news around audio this month.
Joanna: There is, have you got anymore updates before we?
Orna: Ok, I have other updates I think. Well, yeah, my own writing, I’ve been, I was at the Dublin Writers Conference at the weekend, which was a really interesting conference, lots of ALLi’s there and lots of different things all brought into one. Screenwriting, the craft, everything, Laurence O’Brien organizes it, an ALLi partner member. And I think it’s a model for how conferences can and should work because, I think I mentioned this last month, but there’s too much division between types of conferences and so, that was really good. In terms of my own work, I’m in the middle of my year of non-fiction, right in the heart of it and sorely in need of fiction [laugh]. It’s all getting a bit much for me. I do like writing non-fiction but I was missing stories. So, I’ve actually put in a session, and the reason I’m mentioning it, just one session a week because I really do need to get this non-fiction finished but just one session a week, it just keeps me feeling …
Orna: Yeah, happy and productive also, I think. I actually does make me more productive. I’m doing it with a writing coach which is doubling up on it’s value really, if I was doing it by myself. That’s why I’m mentioning it, that, sometimes when you’re really busy with other things, having a bit of support there makes all the difference. So, every week I need to deliver to her, you know, what she’s given me to do for the following week and I don’t always need that kind of support but I am finding it invaluable at this busy time. So, I would advise people to think about that particularly if you, you know, if you have a productive series, a lucrative series that’s doing well for you, it could be well worth your while investigating in that sort of help. Especially if things are slowing down. I’m also trying to incorporate story into the non-fiction and to use as many creative non-fiction kind of techniques as I can because I find that too makes it more enjoyable. But also that it’s much more powerful, so, the, you know, the story and craft techniques that we normally associate with fiction, I’m bringing those in as much as possible. It’s a criticism that I would have of a lot of the non-fiction, that I’m seeing around the track, for example, in other competitions that I’ve judged and stuff like that, that there isn’t enough crafting of the non-fiction in terms, particularly if you’re telling, and speaking in a not about how to so much as memoir and, you know, life story or struggle against the odds kind of stories that, you know, using the craft of fiction can give a lot more punch and a lot less time. Yeah. And I suppose I would just mention as well, I also had an incredible experience, you were talking last month about your experience at Venice with Damian Hurst. I have had, for the last six months, there has been, almost as long as I have been here in Hastings, and I’m going back to London tomorrow but there has been an exhibition by an artist called Keith Tyson whom I wasn’t at all familiar with until I went to this exhibition for the first time, back in February. I was completely overawed by it. It’s, headline of the day he calls it and he does a painting or it could be a sketch, a drawing, a watercolor, often with words, usually with the universe as some kind of inspiration but it also may be politics or just something that’s going on in his own life. And they filled this enormous great room with them and so, I’ve been going back and back again and as soon as I kind have moved house, I’m going, inspired by him, I’m going to actually start putting out just one short poem every morning because if he can do these incredible, amazing [laugh] pieces, every morning before he settles down to work, I can definitely do a small poem. So, I’m mentioning that, just to say how I was really, you know, taken by what you were saying last month, how we can be inspired by artists in other disciplines and, you know, how we can take inspiration wherever we find it and should. Because I think it is actually the measure of a great artist, is when they move you. And a great artist for you is one that moves you, you know, when they move you to create your own something. And Tyson has definitely done that for me.
Joanna: I think that’s so important and I also think it’s important to note a couple of things there, you know, you getting a writing coach when you are, to many people, a writing coach. And, you know, like this last weekend, I’ve done a couple of things. I did an advanced tax course online, cause I’m just so hard [laugh], I know, but I needed a self-development day so I did an advanced tax course and then I did Shonda Rhimes, she did a master class on screen writing and story. And if people don’t know her, she’s a woman of color, as they say in the States, you know, one of the, I guess, most powerful, along with Oprah, sort of black women in television in America and she did Grey’s Anatomy. She’s most famous for Grey’s Anatomy. So, I did her course on Sunday and then I went yesterday to the Hardy Tree, I don’t know if you know the Hardy Tree, it’s amazing.
Joanna: So, Thomas Hardy, and if people don’t know Thomas Hardy, one of our great English literature heroes, Far From the Maddening Crowds, Tess of the D'urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, [my favorite] mine too! That book is why I went to Oxford, the Christ Minster, yeah, the view of the Christ Minster.
Orna: Absolutely, the view inspires, absolutely.
Joanna: That’s so funny. So, basically, when Thomas Hardy, we’ve known each other for years and we didn’t know that, but no, it gives me Goosebumps because that book, it meant so much to me, it still does. So, anyway, when Thomas Hardy was a young man, he was part of the railway when they built St. Pancreas in London and he was in charge of moving the dead bodies from the churchyard out of the way of the railway. And there’s a tree that he planted with gravestones all around it, in like concentric circles, to do something with these dead bodies and buried them. And I’ve had this idea in my head for ages and I’m just, you know, it’s an idea people, you can steal away. But I had this idea, like, what did he put under there, under these, under this tree. So, I went there yesterday and it was an amazing graveyard …
Orna: Where is it?
Joanna: St. Pancreas Old Church, it’s literally behind St. Pancreas station, where they moved all the bodies. And it’s like, it’s what you’re saying, and I’ve had that thought for ages and I lived in London for five years and I never went to the damn tree [laugh] and yesterday I was like, I’m going to the tree. And so this, I think the bigger thing here is noticing, it’s noticing what you, like you’ve been back to that artist and you’re like what is it that gets me about that idea and then whatever happens, who knows what will happen, I may never write that story but, you know, that inspiration is so important. And also the fact that we’re both learning, so me doing the courses that I did and you working with a teacher, we’re all learning. So, whenever, whatever place people listening are at in their author creative life, one of the reasons we do this is so that we’re always learning. That’s why this is the best job in the world [laugh].
Orna: Absolutely [laugh].
Joanna: So, there you go, just to warn everything, if you do read Jude the Obscure, it’s a very depressing book [laugh].
Orna: Filled with truth.
Joanna: Amazing, I love Thomas Hardy. Ok, so moving on, what else? Oh yes, kind of carrying on from what you said, so I’ve also been going a bit nuts because I’ve been in this finishing energy stage. And you know, we’ve talked about this before, like, finishing energy is the final proof reading edits which are so boring, they’re just like little finicky things and you’re just like oh, I just can’t be bothered putting that extra common in but you have to do that and it can take ages and it’s a real pain. And then things like the formatting and the loading and doing the, you know, all these finishing energy things and I’m like, I’m done with this! And I’ve done two books this week, finishing them, the Second Sweet Romance, and How To Market a Book and proofing things and I am desperate to get back to my novel and that starting energy. And I think it’s very important for everyone to work out what they’re good and what brings them alive and that’s what, you’re in that too, you have to finish these damn books but you also need that starting energy because otherwise you end up hating your job, right?
Orna: Yeah, it’s balance isn’t it? I’m really delighted to be in the finishing stage of this work and, you know, it’s nice when you see the finishing line, that’s the good thing about finishing is you know you will finish. But a lot of people get stuck in this place, you know? And there is this whole thing of, as soon as I finish I have to put it out there so people can get quite scared without even realizing that that’s what’s going on and move into this kind of perfectionism thing. But then sometimes, work just takes a long time. So, it’s always the balance isn’t it, it’s always trying to work out that balance. But certainly I was finding non stop non-fiction, at that stage, because I’m finishing off about seven books at once [laugh], that have been hanging around forever, a bad plan, people never do this. So, I just needed, and just getting that session of fiction in each week has just made all the difference in terms of, everything feels great now, I’m enjoying the finishing now and enjoying the fact that I am where I am and there are always parts of the job you don’t like. I’m getting better at realizing what I’m not good at in the sense it can be handed over. And what I don’t feel like I’m good at but actually you need to sit on there and work on through it a lot kind, and not kind of give into yourself. Working that out sometimes can be a bit tricky but yeah, each of the seven stages of the process have a different energy, have a different mindset, have a different set of challenges and if you know which stage you’re in, it’s really, really useful in terms of realizing no, what I’m supposed to be doing here is, you know, what I’m supposed to be doing here.
Joanna: Yeah, and I think that’s important too, like, there are parts of this that are not as exciting as the, you know, where I am with this new novel is 15000 words in. I’m just really making stuff up and it’s a new series, new characters, new world and I’m like, I’m even still at the point of, oh, what does this character look like [laugh]. If people have been watching American Gods, the actor Ricky Whittle, if people don’t know him, like Google him. I had to put him in [laugh], so he’s in the book now and it’s just, you know, that’s really fun, like there’s a fun part of casting your characters and doing, you know, finding I’ve got these books of abandoned places, and just, you know, that’s so much fun. It’s so much more fun than proof reading but hey, you’ve got to get that book into the world, so, you know, balance it out. Ok, what else are we talking about? Oh yes, I have also been, I did a podcast with Scott Baker who does the Training your Dragon stuff, and I have been dictating again which has been great. So, but what I’ve just given up with Dragon for now, I’m just dictating into a Dictaphone and using a transcription service, just to get myself over, you know, all the blocks I have around transcription. So, that’s been helping, yeah.
Orna: And again, that’s the thing of, you know, here’s a problem, how can I solve it and you know, the solution may not be the ultimate solution but whatever gets you to the next stage or next step. I think it’s very, very difficult for an indie author to survive without speech to text. It just makes all the difference, to be able to do that, just in terms of saving yourself on RSI and stuff, you know? To be able to get rough draft at least, down, by just speaking it is very helpful. Now, I know not everybody can do that for fiction, or we think we can’t, you know? We learn a way to do it and we get very attached to it. But, I think it is, and you know, everybody is different and people are going to be doing things that are way off course but I think it’s always worth asking yourself the question, does this particular way of doing things serve me well? Is there an easier well and you know, am I doing it just because I’m used to it, because it’s what I learned, you know, 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even longer [laugh] in some of our cases. Or am I doing it because it is actually the best way to do it? And speech to text changed everything for me. I definitely couldn’t do what I do without it. I wouldn’t have a hope and I would be, you know, I would have just frozen up.
Joanna: And I think that kind of brings us on to the audio books because I would have said to you, like, two, three years ago, I don’t listen to audio books, you know? I don’t learn through audio and yeah, I’m crazily meant to be doing another 100K this weekend. I’ll probably only do 50k on one day but in training for this, I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books while I’ve been walking and there’s a book called Sapiens, what an amazing book, and Homo Deus, which is the second book. And these are, these are dense books and I’m actually just listening to them on repeat, like, because they’re so full of ideas that it’s actually great to do that. So, that brings us on to the kind of audio and audio book news. So, Draft to Digital has partnered with Find a Way Voices to bring audio books to all indie’s, open to all global authors with no exclusivity. Now, this is pretty big deal. So what is the, has ALLi got an official view? It seems pretty amazing to me but what do you think?
Orna: Yes, ALLi’s official view is, yay [laugh]! And also great that audio is opening up finally, you know? This is a big year for audio because the agreement between Apple and Amazon and Audible is now coming to an end and all of these new players are coming into the market. And of course Draft to Digital is probably the most author centric of all the aggregators, or indie-centric I should say, in the sense that it really gets indie in a really good way. And they’re a great partner member and what they’ve managed to do here with Find a Way, and both companies are really determined to make this work and make it work well and the fact that it’s all over the world straight away, you know, means that it’s instantly a game changer. But we’ve also got ACX are now opening up in more places, Canada and Ireland. I just think audio, it went up 29% last year and it’s only the start, you know? It is going to have it’s moment and I think that’s why it’s good if you are somebody who is interested in audio books, you know, it’s good to think about podcasts and other ways in which people might, you know, your people might get used to consuming audio.
Joanna: Yeah, I think it’s huge and there was another announcement. I’ve mentioned before the $5 smart phone in India and in fact, Amazon just launched a new smart phone in India and I was reading, it’s also preloaded with the Kindle app and so, and also, you know, with faster streaming, people will be listening to more and more audio. And I always find it amazing how, I think it’s 55 different countries listen to my podcast, including 15% in China? So, I mean you just don’t know how, I mean people, you know, are consuming audio on their commute a lot more than I think we’ve realized, you know, with reading and stuff. Or they’re tired and like, when Jonathan, my husband, is tired, he listens to audio books or he listens to podcasts because it’s less tiring on his eyes. So, I agree with you, I think this is huge news. And I guess I didn’t finish my thing before about How to Market a Book, the reason I put out a new addition of How to Market a Book is to get an audio book of it. So, that’s basically why I did it, because I was like, I’ve got to keep building my audio products. Because if people like them, then they listen to them all. It’s fantastic.
Orna: Great, and I think, you know, the big question for indie’s at the moment is how to market audio. It isn’t marketed in quite the same way I think, every format has it’s own particular quirks and there have been, you know, lots of thinking about ways in which to do that. We have a downloadable, in the members zone, of bloggers who specifically blog on audio books and there is a session in last month’s Fringe with another good partner member, Listen Up, based in Nashville. And they’re name now escapes me, it’s late in the evening here in London but he has spoken in that interview, specifically, how to market an audio book. And yeah, it is a good idea, if you can, to first of all, start listening [laugh]. Because the worse thing that happens with indie’s, I want to sell my audio books, blah, blah, blah, get the audio books done, start selling them but actually you’ve never listened to how, yeah but, you don’t know how people consume it. So, first thing is always, if you want to move into a format, or if you want to move on to a platform, start using it first and find out how it feels to receive it and think about how you like to get things and what makes a difference to you. And the more personal you can keep it, like everything, the better it generally is.
Joanna: And also, like I really, when I was doing the rewrite, I was doing it for audio. So, all the, you know, you can’t put too many URL’s in, you can’t use so many bullet points, you can’t, you know, there’s ways that you write when you know it’s going to be read that’s quite different to how you would do it otherwise. And you only learn this from listening and you know, being part of it, so. But it’s funny, us talking about this, because three people in the last week, at various events have come up to me and said oh, you know, great to meet you, I’ve been following your stuff for more than three years but my books aren’t selling. Can you maybe give me some advice? So, I’m like yeah, sure, tell me, so, and my first question always is, so, do you have an e-book? And all three people this week have said no [laugh]. And I’ve said ok then, well, seriously you’ve been listening to me for three years and you don’t have an e-book? I was [laugh], I was just shocked. I didn’t realize, and that was my first question for a reason because this is happening more and more often. And it’s like, oh, but I heard that e-books are dying and [no] [laugh] I’m just [laugh], I know! But I was so shocked because, and if anyone is listening and hasn’t sorted out their e-book, like, we’re talking about audio books but they are the third thing you do. You do e-book, you do print on demand and then you consider audio book, unless you are doing an audio specific product. But, you generally won’t be if you haven’t even done an e-book, so, but is this something you’re seeing? Like this, is that still happening?
Orna: Oh, it’s still happening, you see, I think, well I’m surprised it’s still happening to somebody who has been listening to you for three years [laugh]. That’s hard to understand. But certainly new members, you know, who present ALLi every week, are in the same place that most people were when they started and it can be difficult to remember how it was. And so, a lot of people when they arrive first, not everybody by any means, but, are still thinking book stores and print books. And the first sort of step in indie author education is to think digital and understand then, the constraints of POD in bookstores and indie books in bookstores and to start with what is easiest, which is an e-book. And so that sort of advice, this is one of the reasons we’re doing now the beginners podcast and also why we’re going to be having sort of just beginner PDF’s that people can download one specific topic and just get a step by step checklist on what they should do, just to start on a particular thing. So yeah, people still, lots of people, when they say books, they don’t mean books, they still mean print book [laugh] and when you’ve been doing what we’ve been doing for as long as we’ve been doing it, of course, when we talk about books, we’ve got three different formats in the back of our minds but people don’t, so …
Joanna: It surprised me but it shouldn’t surprise me because a couple of those people were at an event that you and I went to this week, which was [laugh], which was set up as a debate on, you know, Self-Publishing, Vanity or Opportunity? And it was me up against, supposedly up against a literary agent who was very charming and a guy from Type and Tell, who are sort of a self-publishing services company, set up by Bonnier who are a big publisher, so, yeah, so, actually a self-publishing service run by a publisher, we’ve seen that before. But, what, you wrote an article on the ALLi blog about this event, do you want to, you know, report on it?
Orna: Yeah, I went along to the event, it was organized by Byte to the Book, which is a networking organization here in London run by Justine Solomon’s, it’s a great event, very gregarious, very social. And different topics are discussed every week, weekly, no, monthly. It’s a monthly meet up, where different topics related to publishing are discussed and yeah, so this one was [laugh], as you say, Self-Publishing, Opportunity or Vanity? And it, Type and Tell is an ALLi partner member and seems to be offering a reasonable service to those kinds of self-publishes who, we’re talking about those who actually want a print book distributed and perhaps into bookstores, I think that would be where they would find most of their market. And as I said, run by Justine. I’ve been at Byte to the Book many times. And have spoken there too. But went along to your event, saw what happened, you spoke very, you know, very knowledgably about self-publishing and the fact that no, it isn’t vanity and you know, why are you even asking this? And it was fine, you know, I think we both went along with a kind of view that, used to, in a way, having to explain what self-publishing is and isn’t. But as the week went on I just became more and more, sort of, uncomfortable and uneasy with the very fact that this had even happened and so yes, I had one of my little rants on the ALLi blog [laugh] yesterday, which is opinion day, Monday is opinion day. And just essentially saying, I cannot think of any other profession where this would happen, you know? You were brought along to say whether your job, your vocation, your work is vanity and you had to stand up and kind of say no, I’m not vain, I’m a New York Times bestseller …
Joanna: I had to justify myself [laugh].
Orna: I have books in 83 countries, you know, I have half a million hits on my website every month and so on and so forth, yeah, you’re standing up kind of justifying yourself to a room full of colleagues and I’m just thinking would a musician ever, who is successful at what they do, ever be asked to stand up by colleagues and say I’m not vain, you know, and self-publishing is an opportunity. It would never, ever happen. And so, where is that mindset coming from? I’m really still, I don’t have an answer to that and essentially we’re all supposed to say, you know, what’s going on here? And I don’t think it’s explained by saying that publishing is in some way feeling threatened or under siege? I think, actually, I am at a bit of a loss so yeah, if anybody wants to read my rant, it’s getting a few comments on the actual blog post and on our Facebook forums as well and people are feeling quite strongly about it. And that’s interesting. I will never write about it again. I had written about it before, about three years ago when ALLi started and I really thought the argument had been answered by, not by having a big argument but by the achievements, not just of yourself but of so many indie authors who are doing so many wonderful things. And yeah, please let’s never have another indie author have to explain that no, they’re not vain, they’re just doing their job.
Joanna: And it’s funny because I think I’ve been thinking, it’s a bit like you were saying that there is a journey of, and I actually said this that evening, you know, talking about the maturation of the indie movement, you know? When I first started, I did my own covers, I didn’t get an editor, I printed books and put them in the garage and things were different then. I was still trying to help people but I didn’t do it in a professional manner and now I pay freelances, I, you know, I have budgets and, you know, and that’s the same but, what you were talking about then is authors coming in, starting from where we were at the beginning and you can only learn by doing. And I almost feel that the industry has not caught up with where we are. So, you know, we’re like yeah, how can you look at us and say this and some of them still haven’t caught up, like some of those authors who haven’t necessarily progressed through. So, I think that’s maybe more what the thing is. What was crazy is this week, I’ve got a blog post coming up on the Creative Penn, from an agent! An agent pitched me to write on my blog. And I emailed him back and I’m like, I’m just letting you know that my blog is for indie authors. And he’s like yeah, cause I want to reach out to new clients who might be indie authors and I’m like ok then, here’s some questions, see how this goes. But it’s interesting because I think there is this mismatch between where we know we are, like, I was having an argument before I was speaking, about, you know, this guy, whose name I won’t mention, was saying, you know, well, you can’t do audio books, you can’t do print in bookstores, you can’t get film deals. So, I had to, you know, rattle off all the same types of things we all know about and he’s like oh, well I didn’t know that, I didn’t know that, I didn’t know that. So, I guess this in encouragement to everybody, you know, that we, I don’t want to say we’re fighting this sort of, you know, ignorance but we are in a way. We’re trying to prove, or should we have to prove our viability, we just get on with it and we are viable, we are successful.
Orna: I think that’s it, in the same way that, you know, we were talking about learning by doing a while ago? We are teaching by doing, you now? By showing that this can be done. My disappointment is not with what indie’s are doing but it is with the industry because we are seven years on now in London, you know, of a very vibrant and active indie movement and there is this sense of, kind of, of the parting of the ways and nobody is looking. And I think it is such a great shame because I think there are huge opportunities on both sides that are not being realized because of this. So, it really would make sense for some trade publishers to be working with some indie’s and, you know, lightening some of the load, investing in people who are clearly reaching a readership and perhaps, you know, print only deals and other subsidiary rights deals which could be very lucrative on both sides that are not even being discussed and it’s because this mindset is in place. And there’s an attitude about self-publishing, as if it’s this great big monolith, you know? Because there are, lots, I’m not minimizing it in anyway, you know, books that are not to professional standards, because they exist, that in some way, ‘that’, and this word was used, taints, everybody who self-publishes. Well, it doesn’t, at all. Each writer is an individual and people have so many different motivations and reasons for writing and for self-publishing and, you know, each person needs to be sort of addressed on their merits. But it is extremely easy to find out what people are doing and, you know, what successful indie’s are doing and we’re up against this problem with agencies. We have a growing, professional wing to ALLi, you know, professional members and these are people who are doing very well right now. So, in order to be a professional member, they have to have sold 50,000 plus books in the last 18 months to 2 years or KU equivalent. So, these are people who are really reaching a readership and we have been trying to help them to sell their rights and we’ve, you know, worked with a couple of agents on that and investigated other ways of doing it and really coming to the conclusion that there isn’t an agency out there that can cope with self-publishers and that rights buyers are not being helped and educated. It’s like there’s this great big [00:38:28] and blind spot, that people are, you know. So, anyway we’re going to try a completely different way of doing it now, whereby we’re going to have a pilot group of professional members who, and we will work with an assistant who will pitch directly to rights buyers and see does that work? Because I suspect it possibly will, if you’ve got somebody who is actually energized and excited about the books and the potential therein.
Joanna: Yeah, I totally agree. And it is interesting, because I think the journey of the successful indie, you do get to a point, I mean I have the Creative Penn, we have a reason to talk about this stuff and you know, I’m like you, I’m in the movement [laugh]. But, some of the most successful indie’s are not out there talking about what they’re doing. They’re just getting on with it, you know? The seven figure, you know, some of the people we knew of, three or four years ago, are not very active in the indie scene anymore because they’re running eight figure businesses and they’re just doing their thing, you know? So, there’s this sort of journey and then people stop talking about it [laugh].
Orna: Yeah, I think that’s true and, you know, there was a lot of talk at the beginning because it really was a breaking of a whole ceiling and it was just so exciting that everybody who was doing it was talking about it and a lot of people have fallen away. In fact, the vast, vast majority don’t talk about it. Just you and I happen to be usually interested, not just in our own process, but in everybody else’s as well and also in the whole thing, you know, and how it is developing and how it looks like it might develop. Speaking of which, there is breaking news on an exciting development.
Joanna: Oh, I’ve forgotten already, what was that [laugh]?
Joanna: Oh yes, so, I had mentioned on my podcast but I’ll say it again, that the New Scientist reported that by 2025 AI translation services will be better than human translation and just before we came on, there was a piece on CNBC, that Amazon is launching a machine translation service and so, 2025 could even be late in terms of this type of translation. And Skype has a translator service, right, we could be talking and you could be hearing it in Spanish or whatever. And this stuff is not science fiction anymore. So, what I was thinking, you know, and I’m very much, obviously I’m always, I tend to be quite early in these things but let’s say 2025, which isn’t that far away, like 8 years. You could be reading, so, I’m reading on my phone and I want to read a Japanese book, I just go into my app, whatever it is, I can buy a book in Japanese and read it in English because the app itself will translate it. So, my feeling is that this is a huge, huge deal for the publishing industry. Now, what I think will happen is it will be a bit like, you know, there will be artisan translation in the same way as there will always be artisan-actor voices for audio books. But we’re also, with audio books, we’re seeing machine reading obviously, and we’re going to see with translation, we’ll see AI translated books being cheaper and then there will be, like, the literary fiction, poet version which was done by an artisan or possibly was done by an AI and somebody just, you know, called it and artisan because they’re already, if you Google this, they’re already, I was listening to one podcast about music, that they basically said people cannot tell a piece of music that is composed by an AI. And they put a whole load of, like, posh music people [laugh], well, that sounds terrible, people who love music [laugh] in a concert hall and played them three renditions of Bach, variations on Bach, one of which was an AI, one of which was this composer who said people will definitely tell and one of which was Bach. And they got it wrong. They thought the AI was done by the human and the AI version was done by the human. I think it’s going to be the same with books. I think we’re going to see that translation by 2025. And so, my kind of come back on the rights thing is yay, great, let’s get a $5000 deal for Polish or something. Or, hold up and wait because with the march of digital and mobile technologies, which also by 2025, they’re saying there will be 4G internet in the whole world, so all these people with smart phones, all over the world, will that mean there is no need for rights sales or will it be that the problem is the marketing as it is in so many other places? That’s my little futurist thing.
Orna: Yeah, I mean I think definitely it makes a huge difference and definitely it’s going to take costs out of things but as you say, you get your book translated into another language or into all the other languages but the real question is how is your book going to be discovered by readers who read in that language? And maybe agents should be thinking now about how they reinvent themselves, not, you know, in terms of selling the rights to a book to, a small time publisher, as you say, you know, to get themselves and an author £5000 or whatever. But actually, how do they help authors to grow in areas? So, an agent generally knows a territory very, very well in terms of readership habits and, you know, what people are looking for and it really does vary really widely from place to place, much more than you would realize. And so, perhaps that will be a role for them, where they could actually be bringing in, from outside, into their own territory, amazing indie’s who are successful in other countries and helping them to reach their readership. I’m not sure exactly how but I’m sure it’s something they could think about. So, it’s not exactly marketing, it’s more facilitating and oiling wheels kind of thing. I’m not sure though. It’s certainly interesting times ahead.
Joanna: Well, I see that they’re, as the indie movement, and you know, that evening I was, like, and it is a movement because I could see people’s faces, like, what, she’s talking politics now [laugh]? But as the movement spreads out across the world, which it is, you know? The forerunner obviously was America and it’s moving out across English speaking and now into foreign language speaking countries. I had a blog last week about France with the lovely Ceril Godefroy, who is a part of ALLi, and, you know, France has barley started, you know? But this movement, say it moves into Poland, as a great example, huge market, Poland, you know, readers? And you know, you think, well what about when the indie movement hits Poland and there are lots of Polish indie’s? You see, I always see that there is this parallel eco system that will grow up, as there are people like you and me and people like David, and people like, you know, like Michael Leron who pop up in Poland and then maybe we will work with them, like I’m working with Ceril in French. So, you know, maybe that is the future of the eco system, is actually matching, so, one of the other pieces of news is IPR license putting a rights, a buy rights button, like click here and you can buy Polish with a one click checkout [laugh].
Orna: Yeah, it’s gone transactional, you agree the transaction there and then. Yeah, absolutely, there are lots and lots of possibilities and that’s why we need to have the industry and people who are used to working and getting involved and thinking about this, you know? Opening up to what’s actually going on and yeah.
Joanna: It’s funny, because one guy said to me, I was one of the last to leave, yes, from the grouche club that evening, me and Emanuel, from Readsy, who is coming on my podcast, another partner member. This other guy who came up to me, an older guy and he’d been in publishing for a long time and he said, you know, I really admire what you’re talking about and I was like oh, tell me about you. And he was like, to be fair, you shouldn’t learn about publishing because if you learn you’ll stop questioning. And he said, you know, he said the problem is if you know how things are done, is, you know, you can’t change them. So, he’s kind of viewpoint was you have to kind of reinvent it.
Orna: Yeah, you do but you also have to keep reinventing yourself and, you know, that doesn’t just apply to indie authors. That’s just life. People who don’t, get stuck, you know? And we live in a fast changing world and yes that can be uncomfortable sometimes, and you don’t want to go with every single change that comes along, some are right for you, some are wrong. But it isn’t right that everybody is kind of looking over here when all the action is over there, it just doesn’t make sense.
Joanna: Ok, we’re coming up to the end but one interesting thing that also happened today, Published Drive, also a partner member, have announced multi-currency pricing which is what I have been waiting for. So, Published Drive, really interesting, they are, were based out of Hungary but they have a thing in Silicon Valley, they’re doing really, really well and they have an interesting stronghold in Asia. They are managing to pick up partnerships with Asian and Eastern European, because they’re from Hungary, countries and getting e-books into these places where some of the other people like Draft to Digital, Smashwords, who are American companies, can’t necessarily reach. So, but I, and they also have GooglePlay. So, I was going to go with them earlier this year but I was like no, I need multi-currency pricing. It doesn’t make sense to me to price in US dollars and screw up my Asian pricing. So, yeah, so they’ve basically launched that today. So, I will be going forwards with Published Drive, in order to get now into GooglePlay and into those Asian and Eastern European markets. Any thoughts on that?
Orna: Yeah, just to say I really like Published Drive and they are unique and well done, and [00:48:46] for this latest development again, and they’re always, kind, of pushing out the [00:48:51], like Draft to Digital. And I would say to realize that you can use both, Draft to Digital and Published Drive together and that’s what a lot of people are doing. And when you do that, you really have lots of e-books sorted, between Amazon, KoBo, Published Drive and iBooks and Kobo. Yeah, so, to say it again, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and then the aggregators, Draft to Digital, and Published Drive. With those five in place, you’ve got e-books sorted globally and as they grow and add more, more suppliers, but what you need to do is opt in and out. You can’t be on two aggregators for the same store. So, just to explain for those who might not know, aggregators essentially supply lots of different stores and say, 24 Signals is on both Published Drive and on Draft to Digital. If you decide to go with Draft to Digital to 24 Signals, you can’t also go onto Published Drive, it would need to be one or the other. So, you just opt in and out, but they have lots and lots of stores where they don’t overlap. And I think Published Drive has about 200 and something now, and lots of them are tiny and you won’t be getting sales from all of these, by any means. But what it does mean is that when things happen, you’re there, you actually have a way in and if you have a discovered outlook, particularly, in a different territory, then you’ll be in a position to actually move the books, they will be distributed into that territory or through that store.
Joanna: Yeah, and I met Kinga as well, at the London Book Fair and what I love, she’s late 20’s or something and already, like, was it Fortune or Forbes, like, top entrepreneur under 30 and I was, like, yeah, you know, that’s awesome. But also talking to Emanuel as well, from Readsy, what I love about the, and it sounds terrible but I am 42, you know, these are 20 something’s who are passionate about the future of publishing and who see a business opportunity in the future of publishing. So, by the time they are my age, they see this as a positive future and that’s so encouraging because so much of publishing is dominated by older people. So, that’s what I also love about it and I want to be involved with younger people in the industry so that we can, like I had, like, crypto currency, which we mentioned last time? I had a massive conversation with Emanuel about it and he’s been doing it for years and I’m like oh, I’m so late [laugh]. And you suddenly feel like, oh, I’m really old, you know? I only started using Uber, like, a month ago [laugh]. And it’s like no, I’ve got to keep in with the kids [laugh].
Orna: And the positive people because so much of publishing is doom and gloom, you know? It’s great to be, people are in this digital space who are, you know, feeling good about where things are going. So, it’s the place to be.
Joanna: Yeah, it is, awesome, so, exciting. So, what is ahead for you in July?
Orna: Head down, writing, writing, writing is always my July and then a holiday, yeah. So, of course, we will still be doing the upgrades in ALLi. We’re putting together, John Dopper’s doing a fantastic guide to all the awards and prizes because they’re a huge number of these springing up all over the place which are really, just money making opportunities for people but some awards and prizes are actually becoming quite significant and useful to indie’s. So, it’s to distinguish between the two. So, we’re putting that together. We’re refining our partnership in loads of ways, really pinning that down to make it more, and more useful around the services thing. And we’ll be bringing out the new addition of How To Choose A Self-Publishing Service, then, on the back of all that. So, that’s kind of July.
Joanna: Cool, well talking of prizes, I am going to New York [laugh] a week on Monday and will hopefully be reporting that I’ve won a prize, the ITW Awards are, you don’t have to pay to enter [laugh] so, and they are like proper industry awards, but I’ll be talking about that and I’ll also be trying to hammer on with the first draft of this new series. And launching How To Market a Book, which will also be on audio, and some other things, so, all busy. So, we’re back on, I’m just checking the date. We’ll be back on Tuesday, 25th of July. So, you can join us live or you can hang out in the podcast feed [laugh], where we will be. Anything else, what you want to tell people?
Orna: No, I think that’s it for this month. We are almost out of time.
Joanna: Yeah, so happy writing everyone! Happy publishing, happy marketing, happy creativity [laugh].
Orna: Happy, happy, happy!
Joanna: Happy, happy! No, it’s been great, great as usual, lots of fun. Alright. Well, thanks everyone, thanks Orna, and we’ll see you next month!
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