This post is part of Frankfurt Book Fair Indie Author Fringe, an online author conference that showcases the best self-publishing advice and education for authors across the world — harnessing the global reach of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ network. Our self-publishing conference features well-known indie authors and advisors, for 24 sessions over 24-hours, in a one-day extravaganza of self-publishing expertise straight to your email inbox.
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If you’re a writer who wants to publish your first book one of the most important decisions you have to make is who to trust to produce and distribute it. Self-publishing is no longer the wild wild west frontier that it was five years ago, but for beginning and emerging authors it can still be a scary and overwhelming place. So who can you trust?
Who should you Trust?
A recent U.S. news report sent to us by ALLi Partner Member Thomson-Shore Inc. highlights that writers are still being duped by unscrupulous self-publishing services.
A local publishing company (Thomson-Shore Inc.) came to the rescue of a woman who was scammed by another company who said they would publish her book.
It’s very disheartening to hear about authors being ripped off by companies who just want to make a quick buck, but it’s equally fabulous to hear about companies like Thomson-Shore Inc. who came to this author’s rescue. This story had a happy ending but there are many more out there that don’t, and that’s why our ALLi Watchdog desk exists: To help root out unprofessional companies and help authors make informed decisions.
ALLi Watchdog Services: Spotlight on John Doppler
One of the main roles The Alliance of Independent Authors is most proud of is our Watchdog Desk, and the myriad of Watchdog services delivered by John Doppler and the rest of the ALLi Watchdog team. It’s a mammoth task to keep track of the good, the bad, and the ugly self-publishing services that are still rampant in our industry and it’s reassuring that John and his pioneering spirit keep our indie author dreams safe from harm by keeping us up to date with who to trust.
So if you’re at the point in your self-publishing journey where you’re choosing who to work with to take your first draft through to your first glowing review, take a look at all of the ways ALLi helps you make an informed decision.
ORNA SAYS: “Nobody in the world knows more about self-publishing services than John Doppler and nobody cares more about the welfare of authors. John brings decades of experience as an activist and legal campaigner to his role as Head of the ALLi Watchdog Desk.
Week in week out, he does tireless work behind the scenes: vetting services, patiently overseeing the service and competitions ratings pages at the Self-Publishing Advice Blog, and supporting authors in every way he can, while also managing a busy day job, the other people who feed into the Watchdog desk, and his own indie author business.
We are all in his debt.” Orna Ross, Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors
Find out the different ways our ALLi Watchdog team helps authors and service providers:
- Self-Publishing Services Rating and Reviews
- Monthly Watchdog Reports
- ALLi Partner Members and the Partner Member Directory
- Choosing The Best Self-Publishing Companies & Services: Self-Publishing Success Book 2
Our Alliance of Independent Author’s Watchdog Desk monitors the self-publishing industry in two ways.
- We have a Partner Membership for services which align with our Code of Standards and go through a vetting process.
- We identify rogue services which overcharge, over-promise, under-deliver, or in any way exploit authors.
The ratings are the opinion of the Watchdog Desk and are based on careful appraisals of multiple criteria, including pricing and value, quality of service, contract terms and rights, transparency, accountability, and customer satisfaction.
Here at ALLi we wholeheartedly support indie author empowerment, and in our ALLi guide Choosing The Best Self-Publishing Companies & Services you can learn how to appraise any self-publishing service for yourselves. As part of this Indie Author Fringe event we are publishing an excerpt of our 2018 version of this Self-Publishing Success book so that you have the guidance you need to evaluate self-publishing services before you use them.
John Doppler produces a monthly watchdog report that features warnings, insights, and spotlights on the self-publishing industry.
Here’s an example of some of this year’s reports:
- Reactions to the Amazon Clickfarming Scandal
- Watchdog Advisory: ProofProfessor
- 12 Self-Publishing Services Authors Should Beware
When an author sets out to self-publish, they can very quickly become overwhelmed by the choices they have to make. The self-publishing services sector is exciting, innovative and fast-growing, but it can also be idiosyncratic, illogical and incoherent.
Some services are run by people who are knowledgeable, dedicated, helpful and fair; others are clueless, greedy, callous or manipulative. In an unregulated marketplace, where the same service can cost $500 against $15,000, for pretty much the same thing, depending on where you shop; where useless services are sold at inflated prices; where one large operation with many imprints, and controversial practices dominates the information stream and where there’s so much to learn and to do, how do you find your way through? How do you know who to trust?
Our ALLi’s Partner Membership, is our way of offering a trustworthy guide to the global author services sector. Each service listed here has been vetted by our Watchdog team, adhering to ALLi’s Code of Standards. We have also included a range of articles, from our Self-Publishing Advice Centre and blog.
The aim of our partner directory is to connect indie authors with the best author services available, so they can select the perfect services for the particular project they’re currently working on.
JOHN SAYS: “After a company or individual signs up as a Partner Member, our Watchdog desk begins an assessment process, to ensure its approach, customer service and pricing complies with ALLi guidelines. If there are any questions or issues arising, we get in touch to discuss proposed adjustments to the service. Should the service fail to satisfy the assessment process, for whatever reason, fees are refunded and membership reversed.
Self-publishing service companies applying to join our alliance are vetted against a range of criteria, including customer service and value for money, and the decision to confirm Partner Membership is based on many factors, depending on the type of service offered. We rely on our own assessment, feedback from ALLi Advisors and the wider author community, Internet research and sometimes mystery shopping to make our evaluations.”
Become a Partner Member
ALLi commends good author-services through our Watchdog service, alerting writers to rogue providers and those who overcharge, under-deliver, or in any way exploit writers.
Publishing service providers (writing consultants and courses, editors, designers and formatters, printers, book distributors, marketing and promotion services) are invited to join ALLi as Partner Members, agreeing thereby to adhere to our Code of Standards and to being vetted by our watchdog service.
Show writers and authors that you run a reputable company or service by becoming a ALLi Partner Member.
New Edition for 2018
DIY or assisted? Amazon only or go wide? Createspace or Ingram Spark for print? Who can you get to help? How do you recognise a good or a rogue service?
This guide, compiled by John and the Watchdog team at ALLi, tells you all you need to know in order to choose the self-publishing pathway that’s right for you.
Drawing on recommendations from ALLi members, warnings from our Watchdog Services, other community word-of-mouth and in-depth research, the book compares the most significant self-publishing services, from single service suppliers to package providers; from large big brand names to smaller sole traders; from off-the shelf providers to bespoke services.
- Defines the questions you need to ask, whether you plan to go direct, use trade publishing as a service, or hire an full-package assisted service.
- Tells you the good and bad signs to look for
- Rates the most significant services, Amazon, Apple, IngramSpark, Kobo, Nook and other providers
- Offers ALLi’s Code of Standards against which all services are rated.
- Evaluates some of the emerging pathways to publication, including author co-operatives, crowdsourcing, agent assisted self-publishing, digital imprints and “hybrid” publishing models.
Join our ALLi mailing list and we’ll let you know as soon as this new edition of our most popular ALLi guidebook for authors is published
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