Each month Joanna and Orna answer Member’s self-publishing questions. Before we dive into a summary of the Q&A segment, here's a review of the self-publishing and indie author projects that have been absorbing their time.
Orna ushered two exciting ALLi projects into the spotlight:
Launch of “How to Choose a Self-Publishing Service
Exciting news from ALLi! Our “How to Choose a Self-Publishing Service” is being updated.
This is the only regularly updated guide for the self-publishing sector that includes insights and evaluations of services available to indie authors.
The main players offering direct and assisted services have strengthened their footholds, and a summary of the options available to indie authors have been summarized in the latest edition of ALLi's “How to Choose a Self-Publishing Service“.
As well as covering established self-publishing services, this year's guide also includes newer services like Publish Drive. It's these self-publishing insights that make this ALLi service guide an invaluable resource for experienced as well as newbie authors.
ALLi continues to sift out the good self-publishing services from the bad in order to help all indie authors make informed decisions about their individual publishing path.
New Author-Rights Partnership with Literary Agent Toby Mundy
Starting in 2016, ALLi and Toby Mundy will partner to create a twice-yearly publication to be circulated prior to the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Toby will be representing member’s books and taking them out to potential rights buyers. This service is aimed at professional ALLi members who have achieved self-publishing success.
(For more information about this service, look out for our ALLi Insights blog post Summary, or visit our YouTube Channel to watch the video of Orna and Toby Mundy discussing this Rights Service)
Joanna has not only recently published her co-written “Risen Gods” e-book, but in tandem she published “Co-writing a book: Collaboration and Co-creation for Authors“, which documents the co-writing process with J. Thorn.
She has also set herself a deadline by putting up an asset-less pre-order for “Destroyer of Worlds” the next book in her Arkane series.
According to Dan from Draft2Digital and Mark for Smashwords, the asset-less preorder is a way to rack up a double sales count, and is a strategy used for best sellers.
November Ask ALLi Q&A Video via YouTube
Here's the YouTube and Podcast recording that goes into more detail of the above activities and features the Self-Publishing Q&A with Orna and Joanna.
See below for a summary of the questions posed in this month's Ask ALLi.
November Ask ALLi Q&A Podcast via SoundCloud
Q: If I get a Bookbub, what other promotional activity should I be doing?
The best way to optimize your Bookbub activity is to extend the life of your promotional window by arranging other activities before or after your scheduled Bookbub.
Joanna provided recommendations for other free and bargain books sites that are ideal for this promotional activity, and discussed how she is levering her own Bookbub to bolster her marketing efforts.
Q: Has anyone had experience with Kirkus Reviews or other paid review sites?
If you're looking for a commercial return on your paid review investment, you will be disappointed. Joanna drew from personal experience about the value of a Kirkus review, and the consensus of option is that your money would be better spent on making your next book better with some professional editing.
The more books you have, the less you worry about reviews.
Q: Are 2 books enough for a box set?
It's optimal to have 3 or more books in a box set, and while multi-author box sets offer valuable marketing opportunities, single-author box sets are better as income generators.
Orna and Joanna both shared their experience with multi-author box sets. Although they may not have been a commercial success they were deemed a creative success, and also provided an opportunity to introduce books to an extended audience.
If you're considering creating your own box set or collaborating with other authors on a multi-author box set, this segment provides insights and first-hand knowledge of some of the elements that are critical for the success of your project.
Q: “Translating is the new black” but how do you assess the final work?
Translations are a massive amount of work, and authors are encouraged to tread carefully before investing heavily in this arena. Joanna shared her recent personal experience with book translation, and stressed the importance of having a well thought out marketing plan to support these versions.
A cautionary tale peppered with “Writers Beware”, should be enough to get authors to consider the cost and pitfalls before going down this publishing route. The e-book market is still very small in other territories, and a viable alternative to translating your books into other languages is to make them available in English in as many territories as possible.
Q: How can I copyright protect the short stories that I'm selling directly from my website?
Encouraging insights from Orna and Joanna about copyright protection, and the recommendation is to not lose sleep over the thought that your content can be passed around if unprotected (the same happens with physical books). Just focus on your writing, and be happy that you're reaching readers.
Q: Where should I start with publishing a printed illustrated children's book?
Rather than jumping headfirst into a printed book option, it would be wise to consider the better option of an e-book. Karen Inglis is our ALLi Children's Book Advisor, and her website has a wealth of information about this niche market.
Q: How do you make your characters seem unique?
Orna and Joanna offered recommendations and suggestions for how they personally develop their characters. So if you're looking for tips and advice on character development, they share techniques that are easy to adopt to hone your writing skills.
Q: What's the best way to get Amazon Reviews, and how many reviews should I aim for?
Reader reviews seem to play a more important role on Amazon, than they do on iBooks, Kobo or Barnes & Noble. Adopting free or perm-free promotional strategy is a good way to encourage reviews, and Joanna detailed how she uses her “Penn-friends” strategy to build advance reader reviews
Impatience spoils the Indie Author journey more than any other characteristic
This is just a taster of the topics and discussions in this month's Ask ALLi. The complete event is available via YouTube and as a podcast on SoundCloud.
Ask ALLi is wrapping up for 2015, but Orna and Joanna will be back in January 2016 with the next installment of Ask ALLi, where all Members' Self-Publishing questions are answered.
Monthly Ask ALLi
Our monthly Member Q&A is part of our “Ask ALLi” Campaign: in which ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) commits to answering any question about self-publishing.
Where can I watch or listen to more Ask ALLi?
- You can catch up on all of our videos on ALLi’s YouTube Channel
- You can listen to all of our podcast recordings at ALLi’s SoundCloud Channel
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Meet the Ask ALLi Hosts
Joanna Penn is a London-based 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 @
She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing.
Connect with Orna on Twitter @