Each month, Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn and Orna Ross, ALLi Director, answer ALLi Members’ self-publishing questions. If you missed our live Q&A session you can catch up with the video, listen to the podcast or read a summary of this month’s questions and answers below.
Orna and Joanna always begin the Ask ALLi discussion by sharing updates about their own creative work and challenges, before moving onto the members’ questions.
Orna is in full swing on her Go Creative!, which is a weekly broadcast. She's started already with the podcast, and is working with a videographer on the videos. Four episodes down, and the creative publishing, creative writing and creative living has found it's momentum.
We also have our Indie Author Fringe coming up on October 22nd, and our theme is running an Author Business.
We're also hosting a website competition where we’re asking people to nominate the best websites for Indie Authors and we will have a grand prize which is shortly to be revealed. If you have a website you use as a resource, and has really helped you out, pay them back by nominating them. There's prizes for the winning website and the person who nominates them.
Joanna on the other hand has lost the plot.
She's been working on End of Days, the eight book in her Arcane series – 40k words in and doesn't know how to finish. A tough situation to be in, but at least it's comforting to know it can happen to authors with a slew of books already under their belts.
October Ask ALLi Author Q&A
Watch the You Tube video to find out the answers to the self-publishing questions that were raised at this month’s Ask ALLi Author Q&A, or listen to the podcast here:
Listen to the Ask ALLi podcast
Subscribe to our Ask ALLi podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud of via our RSS feed:
Ask ALLi Questions
Here's a recap of the Questions and a brief summary of the responses. To hear the answers in full, watch or listen above.
We kick of today's Ask ALLi with three questions about IngramSpark and ISBN’s, which we often get and we always have to cover.
Is there an advantage to using both Create Space and IngramSpark, and why, does one offer something the other one doesn’t?
Optimal advice is that you would use both Create Space and IngramSpark. Listen to the podcast to hear the implications and benefit of going this route.
Should you purchase your own ISBN numbers, even if the first book is an e-book?
The official ALLi line is to buy an ISBN for each format that you issue. The ISBN tells people this is your e-book, this is your print on demand book, this is your hard book, you need a different one for each format.
And if someone submits a PDF to Ingram, do they generate an ePub, should you use IngramSpark for e-books?
PDF’s don’t make for good e-books. To get a properly formatted e-book you have to put it into .Mobi format for Kindle or .ePub for everybody else. So you need to separately format it, it won’t transfer well. So don’t use your PDF or your word document. It can be done with word but it generally leads to a fairly messy experience.
We have a list of formatters on the, you know, partner members who have been vetted in the member website as well. So you can get some people who will do it for you, really at quite low cost when you think of the amount of time that you’ll spend trying to do it.
I’m finding it hard to get any writing done with so many tasks. Any tips for that?
My number one productivity tip, it’s, as you would schedule a meeting, a dinner with your friends, as you would schedule a business meeting in your day job, schedule your writing and when you’re in that time, then just write. That’s Joanna's tip.
You don’t always know what the day is going to bring so Orna writes before she does anything else at the beginning of the day.
It doesn’t matter when you write, but you need to know when it is and you need to do it.
I write music based fiction or many books in my series follows series or songwriters and includes lyrics I’ve written. I want to bring other named titles and songwriters/singers into this story line. Is it legal to do this?
Helen Sedwick has the self-publishers legal handbook which is the number one thing everybody should be reading when they have questions about what is legal. Titles are fine, there are no copyright laws against titles. And you can use the name of a person along as you don't write anything that could land you with a libel suit.
But what about Germany? Listen to the broadcast to hear about the exception to the rule.
I’ve bitten a bullet, commissioned an audio version of my first book. What advice do you have about going wide or exclusive with Audible bearing in mind different royalty rates and contract terms?
Joanna has her fiction going through AXC.com. If you go exclusive you get a better royalty rate. However, with her non-fiction, she is recording it herself and selling direct from her own website. But from now on Joanna doesn't want to be exclusive to ACX. She would rather take a lower royalty rate and be non-exclusive and then also sell direct as well as selling on other platforms.
How long before you publish should you start your marketing plan?
Start your marketing plan as early as you like before you publish. But, don’t get stressed about rigorous marketing plans. Instead focus on getting your first three books written. Building your name, building your own process, building your routine, building your creative habit. All those things are much more important at that stage than marketing.
I don’t have time to write and schedule my own Facebook ads, can you recommend someone to do this for me?
I would basically say no, we can’t recommend anyone who can do your Facebook ads for you. Just spend a bit of time learning how to do it and do it yourself or don’t bother because you could end up spending a ton of money for very little return.
What is your advice to a first time author with one book hitting the market in the next few months, does KDP Select make sense as a strategy?
The recommendation is if you have three books or fewer, use KDP Select. It’s very hard to get noticed on any other platform without other tools and when you’re just starting out then KDP Select is going to get you the most bang for your buck.
What is the best way to make a review e-book copy of your book from a word document?
Vellum! Or Scriviner, or Calibre, there’s lots of options, or the Alliance of Independence Authors has a formatter list of people you can find out from. Joanna and Orna both personally recommend Book Funnel for delivering that document.
What are some of the innovative ways Indie authors of YA are attracting young readers? Are those authors also targeting adults and if so what is the strategy?
The vast majority of YA readers are adults, as we saw in Twighlight, Hunger Games cross over, even Harry Potter cross over so stick with marketing to adults who like books like Hunger Games or whatever. Or have a look at wattpad.com, which has a massive younger audience. If you do want a younger demographic, Instagram, Snapchat and Wattpad. Otherwise aim for adults on whatever you like marketing on.
I have an edited manuscript, I plan to self-publish, what is the next step to get me from computer to bookstore?
Joanna also has a free book, Successful Self Publishing, which is on all platforms, and it’s free.
Our next Ask ALLi is on Tuesday, October 25th.
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