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Ask ALLi September Self-Publishing Q&A Video & Podcast

Ask ALLi September Self-Publishing Q&A Video & Podcast

Ask ALLi Square Logo with Pen and URLEach 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.

What are Orna and Joanna working on?

Go Creative How to Create anything with Orna RossOrna has just launched her Go Creative series and new Go Creative weekly broadcast, in which she'll explore her take on creative writing, creative publishing, and creative living, and her ideas about creativity and what she calles “creativism”, how to apply the creative process to everything in your life. She’ll also be talking to experts in the exploding field of creativity studies who’ll share news from the creative front.

Joanna Penn Author Profile

Joanna set herself a goal to hit the US Today bestseller list, and achieved slot #121 with a 3-book box set. This was achieved with the help of paid Bookbub activity and Ad stacking. Find out what techniques she used to meet her goal, as well as the measures for success, advertising cost, and return on investment for this case study.

September 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:

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Ask ALLi Self-Publishing Questions

Here’s a summary of the questions and a brief synopsis of the answers in this month’s Ask ALLi with Orna and Joanna (for more in-depth answers – you should watch the video or listen to the podcast):

Q: I'm investing in editors for my first book, do I send to multiple editors one at a time?

Joanna did multiple rounds of story and line editing with different editors on her first book, and then sent it to a proofreader. A couple of years later she also did another round of editing.  But now that she has a library of books under her belt, she uses a combination story and line editor, and then a proofreader.

Additional Resources are available on our Editorial Home page on this blog:


Q: What's the difference between trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks?

Unless you have a bookstores asking for mass market paperback .. just ignore this dilemma. Books sizes are decided by it's content. So if you're releasing plain text or non-fiction books, just opt for the standard sizes. You can find more information about these sizes on CreateSpace and Ingram Spark‘s website.

Q: What are the different book cover design considerations when you're planning an ebook and print book launch?

The thumbnail is the most important image considerations, and greatly affects you cover design decisions. Any book designer worth their salt will be able to steer you in the right direction. But before you engage with them, do some research on other cover designs in your book's genre. Designing within your genre is one of the most important cover considerations to attract readers.

Other important cover elements are your Title and Author name, but that's where your cover designer will shine, and should provide you with some interesting design options.

Additional Resources are available on our Book Design Home page on this blog:


Q: Are Amazon getting rid of the Table of Contents in their books, and when I upload my book, what should I choose for the DRM (Digital Rights Management) setting?

There's doubts that Amazon will get rid of the Table of Contents, and as far as implementing DRM on your book:

Respect your reader's choice, and select NO to DRM.

Q: I've been offered a contribution-based publishing contract – what are your thoughts on these types of agreements?

How to Choose a Self-publishing service by ALLiWarning bells are ringing!

There are many great assisted publishing services out there, and also a growing number of shared publishing sets ups – quite often run by other authors. But tread carefully in this arena.

Our ALLi guidebook How to Choose a Self-Publishing Service gives all the criteria you need to evaluate a self-publishing service for yourself.

We're also launching a new Service Rating page on this blog using our Code of Standards as guidelines, read more about this new ALLi feature here.

Q: I'm trying to avoid losing money with my book launch, and am considering a Book Launch service to help me learn the process.

There are lots of experienced authors that offer training courses to help other authors learn the skills to implement their own marketing and promotional strategies, and Joanna and Orna highlighted some of the reputable ones during their discussion.

Indie authors need to learn the basics of marketing, and this can be done through an online course, or reading books on the topic. It's all part of being a good indie publisher. At some point you may want to outsource your marketing activity, but it's important that you have an understanding of what it takes to reach readers before you go down that route.

Q: How to I go about finding an agent that will represent my subsidiary rights?

How Authors Sell Publishing Rights by ALLiLots of agents won’t touch subsidiary rights – they want the whole pie for themselves. But this trade publishing arena mindset is changing slowly. If you have a publishing offer, that's the time to approach and agent, and they'll be able to help you negotiate a better deal.

We have an agent who represents our professional ALLi members, and we also have an ALLi guidebook that covers the topic of How Authors Sell Publishing Rights that walks you through the process.

Q: At what point does an author's social media following grow organically?

It's important that you have a social presence and there are lots of scheduling tools available to help you manage your content and time. But there isn't a point where you no longer have to make an effort to reach readers – it's an ongoing activity.

Q: I have 1 book out / 10 books out. How should I adjust my marketing activity for these two different approaches?

For one book, Joanna recommends opting for KDP select to get free promotional days and countdown deals. Orna suggests there's an option to ignore marketing completely, and just focus on getting your next two books written, so that you have more content available to entice readers with.
For ten books, Joanna recommends offering a free or perma-free book to build your email list, and use the list to help guide readers through your books via email. Orna recommends making sure that your sales funnel is set up right, and check that your brand is presented attractively to entice readers in.

Q: Has ALLi got an insider contact at Amazon, like Andy for Ingram Spark?

We're lucky to have Andy's presence in our Members' Facebook Forum, but we don't have a contact to help you circumvent the Amazon customer care team. But ALLi does regularly meet with self-publishing service providers, and met with Amazon last week to discuss concerns from authors about CreateSpace.

Q: Can you upload to KDP and make your book available to pre-order?

Yes it's an easy process, but if you miss the date you'll be banned from the pre-order functionality for a year. So it's recommended that beginning authors don't leverage the pre-order process until they get a better understanding of the path to market, to ensure they can meet the publishing deadlines.

Q: I used a free ISBN when I released via Createspace. Can I release via Ingram Spark with a different ISBN? And should I even bother with Ingram Spark?

The first step is to define your Print Strategy. If you want to get into brick and mortar bookstores, you should go with Ingram Spark, and use your own ISBN. Joanna and Orna approach print strategies differently, and you can hear more about them in the Q&A.

Q: What are the most important decisions an indie author has to make to transition from writing as a hobby to an authorpreneur?

It all begins with a mindset shift, and one of the most effective ways to take this decision seriously is to open a business bank account so that everything to do with your author-business goes through this account. Orna recommends evaluating the profit and loss scenario, and assess what you're giving up to make this transition.

Joanna will be co-hosting a Session with CJ Lyons on this Authorpreneur topic at our upcoming Indie Author Fringe event on October 22nd

And on November 19th, Joanna and Orna are co-hosting a live event in London called “How to Make a Living (and a Life) from Writing” which will help authors make that transition.


How to make a living (and a life) form writing Orna Ross Joanna Penn

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.

If you are an ALLi member, click here to submit your questions

Our September Ask ALLi will be recorded on Tuesday September 27th 2016

Where can I watch or listen to more Ask ALLi?

Interested in Joining ALLi? Besides being able to submit questions to this monthly Q&A, there are lots of other benefits of being an ALLi Member. Click this banner to find out more.

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Meet the Ask ALLi Hosts

Joanna Penn Author Profile

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 @thecreativepenn

Orna Ross Author ProfileOrna 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 @OrnaRoss


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