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Should You Create Your Own Author Imprint? Other Questions Answered By Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn In Our Member Q&A Podcast

Should You Create Your Own Author Imprint? Other Questions Answered by Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn in our Member Q&A Podcast

Should you create your own author imprint? Our #AskALLi Member Q&A is hosted by Michael La Ronn and ALLi Director, Orna Ross, and this month they’ll be answering this question and more.

Other questions include:

  • What is ALLi’s stance on licensing and collecting societies?
  • What is ALLi’s recommended pricing strategy for IngramSpark books for full-length fiction paperbacks?
  • I uploaded an ebook to IngramSpark but am not happy how it turned out. Can I unpublish it, publish the ebook through KDP Select and still distribute the paperback through Ingram?
  • What are some “easy wins” I can make in promoting my book since I don’t have a lot of time to promote?

Listen to the Podcast: Author Imprint and More

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Watch the Q&A: Author Imprint and More

Should you create your own author imprint? @OrnaRoss and @MichaelLaRonn answer this question and more on the #AskALLi Member Q&A #podcast. Click To Tweet

Show Notes

What are the Best Low-Cost Marketing Tactics for Authors?

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-publishing Author Advice Center: https://selfpublishingadvice.org, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

About the Hosts

Michael La Ronn is the author of over 30 books of science fiction & fantasy and authors self-help books. His books include the Galaxy Mavericks series and Modern Necromancy series. You can now find his new writing course on Teachable.

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. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com

Read the Q&A Transcript: Author Imprint and More

Orna Ross: Hello everyone. Yes, we are live. Hi everyone, it’s Orna Ross here from the Alliance of Independent Authors with Michael La Ronn. Hi, Michael.

Michael La Ronn: Hi, Orna. Happy December.

Orna Ross: Yes, indeed. Here we are at the end of the year, and we are here, of course, for our Member Q&A, where our members send in questions that they would like us to cover in this public forum so that they can be of help to other members as well. And, yeah, last Member Q&A of the year, and we have a lot of questions to get through, right?

Michael La Ronn: Yes, we do. So, it’s going to be quite a few, but we’ll manage it.

Orna Ross: Okay, let’s leap on in then, you are the man with the questions.

What is the ALLi view on licensing and collecting societies?

Michael La Ronn: Yep. So, our first question comes from Steven and he asks, what is the ALLi view on licensing and collecting societies like the ALCS and PLS, they were just kind of curious about it and wanted to know what the ALLi’s stance was on it.

Orna Ross: Yes, absolutely. They are a good thing. Set up by author activists many years ago, in most cases.

They don’t make you rich. It’s not a lot of money, it’s more a recognition of copyright and an acknowledgement that the author does deserve something if a book is borrowed or licensed in a particular way. So yeah, we would say, definitely sign yourself up for it, no harm done, and it’s a nice little bonus that comes along once a year.

What is ALLi’s recommended pricing strategy for print-on-demand?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. All right. So, next question comes from Jilly, and she has a bit of a long question, so I’m going to summarize it and I hope I’m doing it justice Jilly, but essentially, Jilly has some fiction that she is self-publishing and she’s publishing it everywhere. One of those places is at Ingram Spark, and so she wants to know, what is ALLi’s recommended pricing strategy for IngramSpark books for full-length fiction, because she doesn’t want to charge too little, but she doesn’t want to charge so much that it prices herself out of the market just with the printing costs. What do you think, Orna?

Orna Ross: Well, it’s a challenge with print-on-demand, there’s no doubt about it. So, if a book is mass produced by consignment printing, then you get a cheaper cost per book and you get your profit. Now, a lot more people, if you’re going through a bookstore sort of arrangement, a lot more people are taking a cut out of that payment so that when you come along with a pod book, the production costs are higher, because the book is printed as a single book. It’s not printed, you know, you don’t have thousands in your garage, kind of, gathering mold, so you’re paying for that privilege. And so, this is a challenge that comes up for authors a lot. How can I, kind of, be competitive? Well, the straight answer is, you know, dollar for dollar, you can’t be. It’s not possible really to do pod and compete with huge corporations that have massive economies of scale, you know, you just can’t compete at that level. The question is, do you need to? And, of course, fiction is highly competitive, particularly in genre area, you know, print fiction is very competitive. The thing is, you need to work out what is your strategy with IngramSpark, why are you there? If you’re just there because you want to provide print book, should your readers want one, then just be there, don’t worry about trying to be competitive. Just make sure that you get a royalty that keeps you happy if somebody does buy.

So, what a lot of our members do is add $2 on to whatever price that Ingram comes up with, and that’s your price. No, it won’t be competitive, but if somebody really wants your print book, then they will pay that. And you focus on your eBooks and your audiobooks, where your share is much more significant and, you know, they’re easier for you to sell and so on.

So, print is sort of like a number three format for indie authors, whereas in the traditional way of doing things, it was the number one format. And then along came eBooks and then along came audiobooks, which used to be outsourced and now are not so much. So yeah, that would be it really, add $2 on or £2, or whatever makes you comfortable, add £4 if you want to, add less if you prefer, and don’t think too much about the pricing.

Should I Create My Own Author Imprint?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Next question comes from Richard, and Richard is early in his self-publishing journey it sounds like, and he says, I’ve heard that authors who are self-publishing should create their own publishing imprint. Is this sound advice, and can you address some of the advantages or disadvantages for doing so?

Orna Ross: Okay, I know you have some thoughts on this too.

So, you don’t need to. It’s fine if you just want to be yourself and go out there, you don’t have to do this, but a lot of authors like to do it. It’s a publishing tradition.

So, in traditional publishing, it was used to separate out different imprints within one publishing house. So, their fiction imprint would have one name and their non-fiction another, or their chic-lit would have one and their literary fiction would have another, whatever.

People within the business, but not readers, readers don’t notice this at all, but people within the business would know that there’s a difference between a Viking book and a Pan Macmillan book, and what those differences are. But as far as readers are concerned, they don’t even see most of that stuff. For the reader, the author is the brand. And so, it’s not important that you do this.

Unless again, depending, you know, if you have a strategy where you’re trying to break in at a traditional level and you’re trying to, you know, maybe go down the literary fiction route, nomination for prizes and all that kind of thing, people say that it may have a slight advantage.

I personally don’t really believe that it does. I think people understand that it is a self-published book and the idea that putting it under an imprint in some way removes that stigma, if it’s a stigma for somebody, or removes that benefit, if somebody considers it a benefit. I think people see through it very easily now and know to look for that. So, it’s really down to you. Do you want to have an imprint? There are no great advantages, it doesn’t have a legal standing. It’s not your company name, it doesn’t make any difference to anybody else, really, whether it is there or not. I have one because it has personal meaning for me, it has a kind of metaphorical meaning that I like, and that’s why I have it, but there really aren’t any great advantages or disadvantages, would be my opinion.

What do you think, Michael?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, and I think we have to distinguish, as well, between an imprint and an entity, like a publishing entity. So, you can start a publishing entity, like a sole proprietorship or sole trader or an LLC, an imprint would be a division within that, is what we’re trying to say.

So, for me, I have a sole proprietorship, and then I’m converting into an LLC next year. So, if I wanted to, I could have one imprint for my writing books and then have another imprint for my fiction. But to Orna’s point, it really doesn’t make any sense because at the end of the day, from a tax perspective, you’re still going to publish, it’s all going to come to the same place. So, if you’re going to do that, I think branding is everything, you know, making sure that you’ve got a very clear brand on what your imprints are. But if you’re just a self-publisher, it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, unless you’re writing a lot of books.

Orna Ross: Yeah, and the thing is that on Amazon, and on most of the online retailers, it’s the author name that is a significant thing. So, you might want to change your author name and have a different author name, I know you do that, Michael, I just started doing that this year. I’m Orna A. Ross, now for nonfiction and Orna Ross for fiction and poetry, because the online retailers do distinguish between, but the piece of metadata that they look at is not the imprint name. It is the author name and so, if I was going to kind of be thinking about something, that’s the one I would be thinking about, if you write across multiple genre. And then, as Michael says, the important thing to realize is that your publishing entity, your LLC or private company, your sole trader, your partnership, whatever your actual financial governmental entity, that does have legal standing, and the second you sell an e-book, the smallest eBook on an online retailer, you are in business and you are obliged to have an actual business entity.

So, it’s a different thing to the imprint. So, hopefully we’ve helped and not muddled you more.

Michael La Ronn: Yep, and I would also throw in there, I would not recommend starting a separate business entity for a separate publishing endeavor. So, I would do two pen names, I would not do two LLCs.

Orna Ross: You’d drown in complexity.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, you would just go crazy with taxes too, and it’s not fun.

Can I unpublish my eBook with IngramSpark and move it to KDP?

Michael La Ronn: So, okay. Next question is from Becky, and Becky says that, I uploaded an eBook to Ingram Spark, but I’m not happy with how it turned out. Can I unpublish it, publish the eBook through KDP Select, and still distribute the paperback through Ingram?

Orna Ross: Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to do that. So, choosing your eBook publisher is a really important decision at the beginning, and then different suppliers are different in terms of their flexibility around how you kind of get, you know, it’s easy always to get into the arrangement, it’s not always easy to get out of it.

So yeah, we would recommend always going direct to Amazon, whether Select or not. Amazon does what it does so very well, and it’s a retailer, as well as KDP itself, it’s all there in one platform, and the publishing platform, serves the retailer so very well. You will do much better going directly through Amazon than coming in through any author aggregator, IngramSpark included. You also will lose royalties by going through an aggregator every time that you do that and, you know, for Amazon in particular, that doesn’t make a lot of sense when they make it so easy to just go direct. So, yeah, going direct.

You could ask Ingram if they will release you from your eBook distributorship, they may or may not, it may be a lesson to chalk up for the next book.

What are some quick, easy wins in book promotion?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Next question comes from Alex, and Alex said that he just joined ALLi. So, welcome Alex. He just published his first self-published novel, where it has been favorably received, but looking for some ways to grow and expand the readership. So, the question is what are some easy wins? Some quick, easy wins that I can make in promoting my books since I don’t have a lot of time to promote?

Orna Ross: Okay, if you don’t have time, it would help if you have money. If you don’t have either, then things get tricky.

So, what you’re talking about really is marketing, and without knowing what you’re doing already, it’s very hard to give advice off the top of the head. So, I think Michael will come up with some good, short, sharp tips.

I would like to just say, talk about the kind of marketing that goes on behind the scenes, really, so that setting yourself up for what I call access marketing, whereby you attract your readers, you captivate them, you send them regular communications, you build an email list from that by creating a reader magnet, all of that. If you haven’t got that in place, I consider that to be marketing ground zero, do that first of all.

Absolutely make sure that your book is on genre, and that it does fit in cover wise and the language that you’re using, the book description. So, these are all the things that you have to get right first of all, before you do you do anything else. I’m assuming that because, as you say, it’s been received pretty well, I’m assuming that you’ve got that right.

But maybe you haven’t, because a book can be praised but actually not sell because it’s not quite right in terms of titling and the look and feel of the actual book. So again, the thing that you would need to make sure is, who are your comparable authors? Who do you compare to? If somebody bought somebody else’s book, you know, whose lists do you want to turn up on, on the retail stores, in the also boughts, you should understand who your comparable authors are, and what your unique selling proposition is in comparison to them. So, that’s the basic sort of marketing stuff that I think everybody needs to have in place first of all.

Then, when you’ve got that in place, Michael, do you want to give some of your very good tips?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. So, another wrinkle with Richard’s question is that he says he doesn’t have time to set up a website or maintain it, and Richard, I have to push back on you a little bit on this, I think that that’s probably one of the easiest, quick wins that you can make, is to set up a website. Even if it’s like a one-page website, you know, because otherwise, people are going to look up your name and then they’re not going to see anything, and then they’re not going to know where to go or where to buy it. So, even if you just had a splash page on WordPress that said, “Hi, my name is Richard, and here’s my book, here’s a link to it.” That, to me, is probably the quickest win that you can make. It’s very difficult to have an author career without a website these days.

Orna Ross: Absolutely, and also your website’s your opportunity to guide the reader into how you want them to think. Saying you don’t have time, if you’ve got time to write a book, you’ve got time to create a website that works for you. It’s so essential, I forgot to mention it.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, you can do it in an hour. Do some research, figure out which website provider is the best for you, download a cheap or a free WordPress theme, you can get that right from your website provider, install it, there’s plenty of YouTube videos on how to do that, it’s not hard, and then design how you want it to look. I mean, WordPress is really easy to use. I think, to me, that’s a really quick win.

Also considering selling direct, I think, is another quick win. It’s something that a lot of people don’t do. It’s something I didn’t, I did it early in my career and then I stopped, and then I did it again and I wish I had done it all along. I think that’s a quick win. I think just finding ways to make it easy for people to find the book and get it if they want it, is the easiest thing.

So, distribution, you know, where are you distributing the book? Draft2Digital, use some aggregators to get into places that you can’t get to before, I think that is smart. But I also think, if you don’t have a whole lot of time, I think Amazon ads is also a pretty smart strategy. The learning curve is tough in the beginning, and you are going to have to spend some time, but once you figure it out, then you don’t have to spend very much time at all on them, they can just kind of maintain themselves. Brian Cohen has a great course on it, and there’s other people that have great courses that, that has worked very well for me, as well.

Orna Ross: Yeah, and I think there’s a more fundamental issue in the question in, sort of, the mindset that wrote the question, and it’s a mindset that we see a lot in the author community, and essentially what you are saying there, Richard, is that you don’t want to be a publisher. You don’t have time to be a publisher, you are a self-publisher who is not putting in the time to actually publish. So, you’re still thinking like a writer, which is completely understandable and which most of us do as we start off, but when you self-publish your own books, it’s there in the term, you are a publisher now and you need to become a competent one if not a brilliant one. You need to do the basics. So, they are some of the basics. Do look up Michael’s book 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered as well, because there’s a whole marketing section there. Very short, sharp, punchy. There are promotional sites you can use, for example, where again, if you have some money to spend, you can get some traction, you can apply for a BookBub deal, that’s something that gives a lot of people a whoosh up, and if you have a strategy around that, you can actually, for not a huge amount of time, really get yourself a lot more readers, very quickly.

But the real thing with marketing and with all aspects of publishing is it’s slow, it’s steady and it’s consistent. So, you need to do something every week and, Michael, I know you have a thing, I do, to do something every day to help your book along, to get your book out there. It won’t sell if people don’t know that it’s there, and it’s your job as a publisher to make sure that they do.

What is the best way to distribute a poetry and art book?

Michael La Ronn: All right, next question. I know this question is going to be after your heart, Orna, this comes from Matthew, and Matthew asks, what is the best way to distribute a poetry and art book to the widest audience possible?

Orna Ross: It’s no different to any other book, and this is the first thing to address, I think, poets think that their genre is different and when it comes to self-publishing, it actually isn’t, it’s the same. You need to do all of the things that we just spoke about there a moment ago, in terms of understanding.

Poetry is what we call one of the macro genres, so it is like fiction, and nonfiction, and poetry are the three macro genre that then break down into subgenre within. So, you need to understand what sub-genre are you in as a poet, and how are your readers best reached, and who are your comparable poets? And all the things that we just spoke about a few moments ago, having your own website, building up your own email, all of these things are really important.

And the good thing to say is that a lot of poets are not publishing well, so at this point in time, it is probably easier to get attention as a self-publishing poet than it is as a self-publishing novelist or nonfiction writer now, there are lots of poets writing, but they’re not publishing well. So, the books, you know, they put them together and put them out there, but they don’t actually put any marketing behind them. So, you market a poetry book in just the same way as you market a fiction book and a non-fiction book.

Michael La Ronn: You’re so right about that Orna. I actually have two poetry collections that I’m actually advertising right now. I’m finding some success on Amazon ads, ironically. See, it sounds like I’m all in on Amazon, I’m not, I promise, but I am focusing on Amazon ads right now. And what I’ve noticed about poetry, and you talk about publishing well, you’re so right, because even the traditional publishers right now that are publishing a lot of poetry, are trying to imitate self-published covers, but the covers don’t look very good. I mean, they look awful. I mean, they look like somebody did them in Photoshop. They’re very low-fi and I happened to click on one book the other day, and it was by some really big publisher in the poetry space, and I was like, really? So, the bar is very, very low right now.

So, it’s kind of your opportunity to choose your own destiny. I think branding is really important. So, if you can develop a strong brand that’s consistent from book to book, and write really good poems too, that’s important, but a strong brand, I think you can really write your own ticket.

Orna Ross: I agree, and there are certain genre in poetry that is doing extremely well. So, all the motivational, spiritual kind of stuff, and love poetry is perennially popular.

There’s also a real huge market for suffering poetry, for want of a better word, you know, pain and angst, which is where most of us start writing poetry, as teenagers, in that place where we’re brokenhearted. So, all of all of that is there. And if you could get a cohesive, as Michael says, brand, where the look of your book reflects the words and you understand, it’s the very same as a novel or a non-fiction book, you need to understand what is your value to the reader? What kind of experience is the reader getting from your poems, because one poem is very unlike another, and not all poetry readers are the same. So, poetry isn’t this thing that exists in one loop, you really have to break it down into niche and micro-niche and think about the value in the same way.

Michael La Ronn: And I’ll give a shameless plug. So, I wrote a book five years ago that predicted all of this that’s happening right now with poetry. It’s called Indie Poet Rock Star, and I wrote it five years ago, but it’s still relevant today. You can check that out, it’s got some strategies that I think poets can follow. I think poetry right now is where self-publishing fiction was in 2012.

Orna Ross: I completely agree with you.

Michael La Ronn: So, I hope that gives you an idea.

Orna Ross: Yeah, I absolutely second that, and we weren’t talking about this before we came on or anything like that. In fact, I’m going to tell you, Michael, something that you may not know, which is that, that book brought you to my attention.

Michael La Ronn: Oh, really?

Orna Ross: Yeah, that was the book, because nobody was talking about self-publishing poetry back then, except you.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I was the only one. I was the only one, and I don’t want to toot my own horn, but almost everything that I said would happen in that book is happening now.

It’s happened a little slower than I thought, but-

Orna Ross: -it’s happened slower, which is very interesting. I think there are reasons for that, which we haven’t done it time to go into here but, allow me to toot your horn and tell anybody, any poet who is thinking about self-publishing, or already engaged in self-publishing, to buy the book, it’s well worth the read.

Can ALLi review or assess my poetry collection?

Michael La Ronn: Well, thank you, and all right, next question here is from Tuneday, I hope I’m saying that correctly. Another poetry question. Can ALLi review or assess my poetry collection?

Orna Ross: No, that’s not what we do, but we do have a directory of partner members who work with poets, and I did a recent podcast, I think it’s two episodes ago, if you listen to the Self-Publishing Advice podcast. John, whose second name escapes me now for a moment, and I know him as well as I know you, Michael, but me and names, John is an editor who actually does that, and he does that on the podcast, and he is available to do that sort of assessment, as are many other editors, and book coaches, and poetry coaches, and so on.

ALLi doesn’t do anything like that. We are an association of self-publishing writers, so it’s quite a different brief.

Michael La Ronn: All right. Oh, and we have some comments here. Andy, this goes back to the imprint question, says that one advantage or perceived advantage of an imprint, I presume, is the brand in the feed. So, a good example of this is the Folio Society. The brand conveys a certain level of quality both to readers and retailers, which is a good point. Yeah, I agree with that.

Orna Ross: Yes, that is true, but I’m not sure that an author can get that sort of branding with their imprint. I think, again, it will be the author name that carries the branding.

Michael La Ronn: Yep, and Scott Weaver also says, we were talking about websites, says that Brzy Cloud is easier and cheaper than WordPress. So, I’ve never heard of that, but thanks for recommending it.

Orna Ross: Nor have I, and this is the thing, there are so many services now.

Michael La Ronn: Brzy Cloud, Wix, WordPress, Squarespace. Pick your poison, really.

Orna Ross: Absolutely, but if you’re not interested in doing all that research, WordPress is great, I can highly recommend it, and it’s straightforward. A lot of authors use it and have been very happy with it.

Is it possible to format my book using an iPad?

Michael La Ronn: Agree. All right. So, next question, to get a few more in, Deborah asks, is it possible to format my book using an iPad pro?

I can take this one, if you want. I’m not familiar with any ways to format your book using an iPad. I’ve heard of people doing a lot of things on their iPads, that is not one of them. That said, I could be wrong, and if folks in the comments know, let us know, if you’re listening to this after the fact, drop us an email, let us know, I just don’t think it’s there yet. Even if you could, I don’t know that you would get the level of quality that you wanted.

Orna Ross: Yeah, it seems like a desktop job. What about Scrivener on iPad? I’ve never used it for the that, but I’m just wondering, is it possible?

Michael La Ronn: It does have a compile feature, now that I think about it, it’s very stripped down and streamlined. I don’t know if Ulysses, because Ulysses is a competitor to Scrivener, I don’t know if they would allow you to use the different styles and stuff that they have, you may try to check that out, but that comes with a learning curve too. Ulysses compile is not for the faint of heart, so I don’t know of any easy way to do it.

Orna Ross: Yeah, I do think it’s a desktop job really, you know, even in terms of the size of the screen to work with. So, if you can, I think, grab yourself a desktop somewhere just for your formatting,

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, and if you can’t, then maybe you can hire someone to do it for you, and check our ALLi services rating directory, self-publishingadvice.org/ratings to find a good format.

KDP rejected my book for referring to COVID-19, what can I do?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. Kermit asks, this is a very timely question, KDP rejected my book for referring to COVID-19, what can I do?

So, Kermit has a book, it’s hard to know what’s in the book, Kermit, so I certainly apologize, but there was something in the book that flagged it, it was either in the metadata or the book itself that they flagged it, and he was just trying to write a book that, you know, utilized COVID-19.

I don’t know if it’s for the marketing or if it was actually for something related to it, but have you seen this, Orna?

Orna Ross: It’s not something I’ve come across, what I would say, and there are a lot of books out there already, I mean, I think the first COVID book was out nearly before people knew about COVID around the world, before the first lockdown happened, almost; we were seeing COVID books and pandemic books appearing. So, certainly it’s in and of itself, having that as a topic or in the description, I don’t believe is an actual stopper, but what I think, and I could be wrong about that, I haven’t looked at it in detail as to whether it is an actual stop, but it seems to me it will be something in the specific way in which you used it.

The thing to do with anything like this, with KDP, is to realize that it has been flagged by a bot. It’s been flagged by a machine. So, there is very possibly a way around it. So, I’m not sure, but your first point of reference would be to write to them and, you know, ask exactly why it was stopped and ask for an investigation, ask for them to look and say, you know, explain why it happened and say that you don’t believe it should have happened, and explain why.

And you may well get satisfaction straight away from that. Often things are flagged by the machine, then let through by a human person in KDP. So, your first stop for KDP always is the support desk. If you run into further trouble, and if you feel that this isn’t right, and you’re a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, drop us a line and we’ll take it up on your behalf, once you’ve gone through the first point of call and not had satisfaction. But hopefully you would find that they will clear it for you.

Michael La Ronn: Yep. Now, I’ve seen a number of COVID-19 books that were flagged because of some other reasons, there are some folks out there that are doing a little bit more dubious stuff, so you want to make sure you’re not in that group, or that you don’t give the perception of that.

Maybe there’s a few things that you could fix on your end, but yeah, just, you know, persistence and certainly drop us a line if you need some help.

Where can I find print book templates to help format my book?

Michael La Ronn: All right, next question is from Linda, and Linda asks, where can I find print book templates for formatting my book. I’m trying to format a book and just want some help with some of the headers and footers.

Orna Ross: I’m assuming you’re formatting in Word, from the question, and the person we always recommend for print templates is our advisor, Joel Friedlander. He has lots of good templates on his website, thebookdesigner.com, if it’s Word that you’re after, which I presume it is.

Michael La Ronn: Yup, his templates are fantastic. Derek Murphy also had some templates at one point, I’m not sure if he still sells them, but those were really good.

Can I find a new publisher if I’m unhappy with how they’re handling my books?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Next question is from Ralph, and Ralph says, help! I’m unhappy with how my publisher has handled books one through two in my trilogy. What are my options, and can I find a new publisher?

Orna Ross: Well, we’re all about self-publishing here, so we would say, publish yourself and then you’ll be happy with your publisher, hopefully, once you’ve become a good publisher yourself. So, if you’re not happy with books one and two, it very much depends on your contract, your reversion clause, and your ability to take your book back, and that will be in your publishing contract, if you had a contract, which hopefully you had, and if you had a good reversion clause, which hopefully you do have. I will say that a lot of traditional publishing reversion clauses are not good, I mean, not pro-author, so you may find that you have to engage in a conversation. But the first thing to do would be to tell them; tell them you’re not happy, tell them why you’re not happy and tell them that you want your rights back. It may be simple. If the book is not selling at all, it becomes very simple, because they don’t particularly want to hold the property under those conditions and you want it back, and that’s easy. If the book is selling, then they’re going to be more reluctant to give it back to you, and if your difference with them is creative, you don’t like the cover or something like that, there’s not a lot you can do if the contract doesn’t allow for reversion within the time period of the contract.

So much depends on the contract, and without seeing it, we can’t really advise any further. If you are an ALLi member, you can send the contract in to our help desk and we can analyze it for you and tell you what your options are.

If I buy a Bowker or Nielsen ISBN, do I forfeit the Amazon sales commission?

Michael La Ronn: All right, final question here. This is a pretty easy one, Orna. Brian asks, if I use a Bowker or Nielsen ISBN, do I forfeit the 70% Amazon sales commission?

Orna Ross: No, no, definitely not. So, you need our book that we’ve just done. Debbie Young has put together a fantastic guide to ISBNs, which, again, if you’re a member, you can download free in the member zone. You can also see the associated blog post, which gives an awful lot of information as well. The Ultimate Guide to ISBNs, if you just Google it, you’ll see our post on it. But essentially, very quickly, just to say, the ISBN that you purchase makes you the publisher of record and allows you to publish on KDP and everywhere else and be paid for your work. So, we recommend that you do own your ISBNs and you don’t get to choose between Bowker or Nielsen, it’s decided for you by the country that you live in. If you’re in the US you must get it through Bowker, if you’re in the UK you must get it through Nielsen. So, yeah, have a look. You need to know a bit more about ISBNs so you can understand a little bit better how they work.

How do I promote my book on a budget?

Michael La Ronn: Yes, and I lied, we’ve got one final question because it’s an easy one. This comes from Francoise and he asks, how to promote your book on a budget online. So, we kind of answered this one already. I did realize we have an old episode, it’s actually an old episode of this show, with myself and Dan Blank. So, we’re going back a little bit here, but we actually did a theme around this question, so you might find this helpful. I’ll put it in the show notes. Probably a lot of people would find it helpful as well. So, we did a whole episode on marketing on a budget, so folks might find that helpful.

Orna Ross: I’m sure they will. There was loads of very good evergreen advice in there. And again, there’s lots of very good advice in Michael’s own marketing books and in 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered. So, do take a look in there. It’s one of the things that you do very well, Michael, is always keeping the consciousness of the budget in the back of your mind, because there’s so much marketing advice that just assumes authors have big budgets and very, very few authors do, especially at the beginning.

So, we’ve put that in the show notes, and that is it, I think, for 2020. Do keep your questions coming in, it really helps. Even if you ask privately and then you want to submit it here for public discussion, it really helps other authors. Every time we answer a question here, it reaches so many more people than just the individual who has that question. So, thank you all so much for sending your questions through this past year.

Michael La Ronn: Orna, can I say something? We have a little bit of a backlog, so I know that there are some folks who have sent in a lot of questions and haven’t gotten a response yet. So, what I’m promising right now is that, if you sent your question in before December 13th, then you will get a personal response from me. I’m going to go through all the questions we have left through the end of the year, and then I’m going to write you a personal response. So, we’re still going to answer the question on the air, but just to make sure that your question doesn’t get lost, and we can start 2021 with a clean slate, we’ll make sure everybody gets answers to their questions by the end of the year.

Orna Ross: That’s great. That’s fantastic, and thank you for doing that, Michael, that’s brilliant. And do, people, understand that you can privately get an answer to your question by writing directly to [email protected] any time if you’re an ALLi member. You just write direct. This is not the only way, you can also, of course, join the forum and put your question out to all the other members on the forum. Very active, very dynamic Facebook forum, where you would get, not just ALLi’s ideas, because some questions have more than one answer, and the wisdom of the hive mind and all the different responses you get on the forum, can be really useful as well.

So, yeah, lots of ways to get your questions answered if you’re an ALLi member. All right, then.

So, thank you, as I was saying, thank you very much for sending your questions in, it really helps us to help other people.

Happy writing and happy publishing over the holiday season. We’ll see you again early in 2021 for another ALLi Member Q&A.

Michael La Ronn: Happy holidays, everyone. Take care.

 

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads.

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