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Do I Need A Developmental Editor? How Do I Launch A Kickstarter? More Questions Answered By Michael La Ronn And Sacha Black In Our Member Q&A Podcast

Do I Need a Developmental Editor? How Do I Launch a Kickstarter? More Questions Answered by Michael La Ronn and Sacha Black in our Member Q&A Podcast

Do I need a developmental editor? How do I launch a Kickstarter? These are among the questions answered in this month's AskALLi Member Q&A with Michael La Ronn and Sacha Black.

Other questions include:

  • What is the best tool to research categories for my book?
  • Are Amazon Ads a good place to start marketing my book?
  • How do I get the rights back to my book?

And more!

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Find more author advice, tips, and tools at our self-publishing advice center. And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

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Watch the Video: Do I Need a Developmental Editor?

Do I need a developmental editor? How do I launch a Kickstarter? These are among the questions answered in this month's #AskALLi Member Q&A with @MichaelLaRonn and @sacha_black. Click To Tweet

Show Notes

About the Hosts

Michael La Ronn is ALLi’s Outreach Manager. He is the author of over 80 science fiction & fantasy books and self-help books for writers. He writes from the great plains of Iowa and has managed to write while raising a family, working a full-time job, and even attending law school classes in the evenings (now graduated!). You can find his fiction at www.michaellaronn.com and his videos and books for writers at www.authorlevelup.com.

Sacha Black is a bestselling and competition winning author, rebel podcaster, speaker and casual rule breaker. She writes fiction under a secret pen name and other books about the art of writing. When Sacha isn't writing, she runs ALLi's blog. She lives in England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son. You can find her on her website, her podcast, and on Instagram.

Read the Transcripts: Do I Need a Developmental Editor?

Michael La Ronn: Hello and welcome to the November 2022 Self-Publishing Advice and Inspiration podcast. This is our Member Q&A podcast where we answer all of our member questions, your most burning self-publishing questions, related to craft, business, marketing, and anything else in between. My name is Michael La Ronn, and I am joined by Sacha Black. How are you, Sacha?

Sacha Black: Hello, hello. I'm good, thank you. How are you?

Michael La Ronn: I'm fantastic even though, listeners can't see it, but my room behind me is completely blank. I had some water in my basement, so I have the empty wall behind me, but hopefully next time we're back I will be back to my regular look and sound.

So, Sacha, this is our third show together.

Sacha Black: I literally can't believe it. I was saying off-air that I actually cannot believe that we are here again, it feels like last week that we did one. I do have an addition for the show today, which is a kitten, and I'm just hoping that the kitten isn't going to cause any issues.

Hopefully we can get through lots of questions with no cat drama, but I'm just warning listeners.

Michael La Ronn: So, for our listeners who are listening and can't see, describe your kitten, so if they hear anything they can see the image.

Sacha Black: Okay, so I have two, but only one is on the desk. I'm not sure where the other one is, but they're rag dolls, which is this sort of very floppy, relaxed, chilled out cat. These are long haired, and they're kind of colour points, so they have gray ears, gray tail, and a white body. This is the boy cat, and then the girl cat is a creamy colour with black ears, blackish brown ears, three brown paws and one white paw, it's very cute, and a brown tail.

So, they look like they've been dipped in paint.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I saw the aerial view a minute ago and it looked like a rug, like a fluffy rug. Yeah. So, if you hear like a noise, that's what it is folks.

Sacha Black: Or me going, “no, no, stop it.”

Michael La Ronn: Exactly, yeah. Although Howard tries to edit some of that stuff out.

It doesn't always happen, but it's all good; cats are always welcome on the show. I've got a dog as well, so sometimes you hear her.

All right. Well, let's get to the questions. We have a lot of questions this month, Sacha, so this is going to be fun, and they're a pretty diverse group of questions.

When is it worth hiring a developmental editor?

Michael La Ronn: So, the first one is from Michael, and Michael is a teacher and first-time author, and is ready to move into the paid editor phase, and Michael would love to hire a developmental editor. He works on middle grade books in particular and wants to know if it's worth hiring a developmental editor.

So, let's answer this question from two, two angles, Sacha. If you're a middle grade fiction or a children's author, does it make sense to hire a developmental editor? And then if you write adult fiction, does it make sense to hire a developmental editor? What do you think?

Sacha Black: So, I think this comes down to each individual person's individual preferences, and possibly how much experience you have. So, as a middle grade author, the chances are that your books are shorter than an adult author. Middle grade, often the upper end is around 50k, and “most”, and I say that with air quotes, “most” editors will price depending on the length of the book. So, on one hand, although a developmental editor is the most expensive end of editing, it is actually likely to be cheaper for a middle grade author.

Now, in terms of whether or not you need one, I mean, how much experience do you have? If this is your first book that you've ever written and you came to this not having written short stories or not having studied writing, or not having been a journalist, or not having done literally anything in the writing world before, then you probably are going to find that there are some benefits to having a developmental editor, purely because you don't know what you don't know.

Do you need a developmental editor for every single book you ever write? I don't necessarily think that you do, necessarily. If you've written 30 books and you're selling loads of books, you're obviously delivering what the reader wants. So, I always think it's very difficult because I do think there are benefits.

For me personally, I had my first two books developmental edited, and then I found that I wasn't gaining as much, I wasn't growing as much, and so I didn't get a developmental edit on the third book. Part of that was around costs and part of that was around, I'd already reached a sort of plateau.

So, at that point you can do one of two things; you can change to a different developmental editor, and you'll get different things. But yeah, I mean, I think there is no right answer. I do think there are some benefits for a real newbie, beginner author for your first book. But again, what is your budget? What can you afford to do? Could you have five different authors read your book and get developmental edit kind of feedback?

So, yeah, I don't know if that answers the question.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, it does. Developmental editing is the most expensive editing you can buy, and if you do it for every single book, you're going to end up in the poor house. It's expensive. I don't do developmental editing for my books. I'm just a big believer that I can take that money that I would've spent and put it toward other books, and by writing more books, I feel like I'll get more experience. So, if you want to use beta readers, a copy editor that maybe does two passes of your story. Some copy editors will do that where they'll do one pass, send it to you, and then you can send it back to them. That's often helpful.

So, yeah, there's like you said, Sacha, there's no right or wrong answer, but I think cost is a major consideration and a developmental editor is just one opinion. It's just one person's opinion and their opinion may not be good for your book. So, you also have to hire the right person and make sure that they're going to be a good fit for your book, because if not, I've heard from authors where developmental editors have done a lot of damage to their manuscripts. We never talk about that. So, if you're going to pick one, you've got to pick a good one, one who's going to give you constructive feedback, one who's going to give you value for your money, and then one that you can afford.

And like you said, Sacha, I don't do it anymore. I found that the diminishment of returns is true, and I think that the money can be better spent elsewhere. But, if you're new and you want someone to help you, that is certainly one way to do it.

Sacha Black: Yeah. For me, it was definitely a shortcut to improving my writing, for that first book, but I definitely thought, oh, I could see how many fewer comments there were in the second book. So, I was like, okay, this is definitely diminishing returns.

Just the other point that I wanted to make was making sure you get a good one. One of the good ways you can do that is by using, well, if you are an ALLi member, you can use the partner provider list and the directory to have a look, because all of the editors have been vetted by the watchdog, so they are legitimate well-behaving good editors. So, that is one way to make sure that you can find a good editor, and you find them by logging into the allianceindependentauthors.org and navigating to services, I believe, and looking in the services menu.

How can I get back the rights to my book from the publisher?

Michael La Ronn: Yes. All right. Next question is from Michelle. I'll paraphrase her question. She is published right now through a traditional publisher, and they did a poor job marketing the book, and she would like to get the rights to the book back. Unfortunately, the agent tried, and they were told no, but she would like to try again and would like to know how. So, how do you get the rights back to your book?

Sacha Black: Okay, well, this is probably an answer you're not necessarily going to like, but the only thing that you can do is look at your contract to see what the terms and conditions say in your contract. What are the clauses?

If the clauses are that you have signed away your rights for a set period of time or, and I hope you haven't done this, but for the lifetime of copyright. If you've given away your rights for the lifetime of copyright, then there is no way you can get your rights back. That's it. You just need to let go {inaudible} fallacy.

If you have given them away for a set period of time, then you do have an opportunity to get your rights back. However, you will have to wait until that time period has elapsed, and usually there's also some kind of clause in there in amongst the time that says you need to sell less than, I think it's like 200 or 250 copies per year, and at that point, if you are fulfilling or breaking, I suppose, all of those clauses, you're out of your time period and you're not selling that amount of books, then you can then apply to have your rights back.

But unless you've got some kind of magical unicorn break clause in your contract, I think ultimately, it's probably unlikely that you're going to be able to get those back until the contract period has elapsed.

One good book I would recommend is, Take Back Your Book by Caitlin Duncan. She has written a fantastic book on this very topic, which is about getting your rights back, but like I say, the only answer is to go back to your contract and read the terms and conditions and see what they say. That will give you the answer.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, and I would also recommend talking to an intellectual property attorney, because they'll be able to give you some advice, particularly someone who has worked with authors. That's something that unfortunately you're going to have to go down that route and spend that expense, and you may not like the answer. Here in the United States, we've got a weird loophole, it's called copyright termination, where even if you sign a bad contract, you can get the rights back, but you have to wait 35 years. So, within 35 years there is a specific process you have to follow to begin that process of getting the rights back. But 35 years is a long time.

Sacha Black: Yeah, we're 35, so it's like a whole lifetime away.

Michael La Ronn: Exactly. So, depending on if you live in the United States, that is maybe an option, but I don't know if any other countries have that as well. But yeah, it's an unfortunate situation, but hopefully you get the answer and the resolution that you want.

What should I have completed before I run a Kickstarter?

Michael La Ronn: Okay, next question is, what should I have completed before I run a Kickstarter? This is from Michael.

Well, it's funny because I actually was just a part of a Kickstarter that got funded last week.

Sacha Black: Oh congratulations.

Michael La Ronn: Thank you. I didn't run it, so I can't take any credit for it, but I have a story that's in the anthology. It's a short story anthology that got funded by it, and so I can share a few things that the organizers did that basically allowed them to fund within 24 hours.

The first thing is to make sure you have a finished book. Don’t be one of those authors that goes up on Kickstarter and says, hey, fund this book and it's not written yet. That is a real easy way to just get readers to be like, no, I'm not going to do this because everybody's been burned. So, just don't do that. Make sure the book's finished first, because all the stories in this anthology were all edited, the cover was done. I mean, everything was done before we went ahead and published it. So, that's, I think, Public Enemy number one.

The second thing that they had done before all of that was the marketing. So, if you study the Kickstarter pages of a lot of pages that fund, they've got a lot of good marketing materials on there. So, there's images, there are videos, there's other sorts of things that make the sales copy pop. So, they had all that done before it was funded.

Then the third thing they had done was they knew exactly what the stretch goals were going to be. So, they just went in with the mindset that, okay, this is going to fund, when it funds here is what we're going to do for the people that fund it. So, if we get to $3,000, here's what we're going to do. If we get to $3,500, here's what we're going to do. If we get to $4,000, here's what we're going to do. So, they had all that planned out, because what happens a lot of time is you put up a project, it funds, and you're like, oh crap, I need to come up with stretch goals, and it doesn't go as well. So, they were extremely organized, and I think everyone was surprised that it funded so quickly, because I think this was one of their first Kickstarters.

So, that's what I would have in place at a minimum. But then you also have to have a plan in place of how you're going to spread the word about the Kickstarter, because Kickstarter sometimes will monitor the projects and then they'll say, this is a project we love, and you'll get a little bit more visibility, but you can't really count on that. So, you've got to think about other ways to get it in front of people. Have you ever done a Kickstarter, Sacha?

Sacha Black: Nope. I am in awe of everybody that does Kickstarters, and I look at it and I have ideas about Kickstarters that I could do, and it is in my “not right now” bucket. I don't have the capacity. I need to focus on what I can do, and Kickstarter is not one of those things.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. Well, there's something to be said about focusing, maybe one day. I think a lot more people are doing it.

Sacha Black: Yeah. It's not a never, it's just that I've got so much on, I just can't right now.

Michael La Ronn: Yep, I'm planning on dipping my toe into these next year. So, I'm curious on how it's going to go, but it's pretty cool to be a part of one that's funded. So, I learned a lot by studying what they did.

Okay, next question is from Daryl, where would I find proofreading and editing resources on the ALLi website?

Sacha Black: Oh, that's a nice and easy one. Okay, so navigate your way to allianceindependentauthors.org, and sign in. That is the member website, and then you need to navigate to the approved services menu where you will find the partner directory for 2022, which lists a lot of our partner members.

But then you can also navigate around places like the discounts and deals section, because there may be a discount or deal, especially given that we've got Black Friday coming up, and then you could also have a look on the search for a service section, which is under the same menu, and that will bring up a list of all our approved partners and you can search using whatever search term you need, copy edits, or proof, or whatever. Nice and easy.

Michael La Ronn: Excellent. All right. Yeah, definitely stop at us first if you want to find a proofreader or editor because we've got a lot of great people that work with us, that are in that directory. So, great information.

What should I include in a contract with my audiobook narrator?

Michael La Ronn: Next question is from Anthony. Do you have a suggestion for a sample contract when agreeing to work with an audiobook narrator?

I actually don't, but I actually just did a contract with a narrator last week, so I figured Sacha, if you don't mind, I'll pull it, and I'll go through some of the highlights. So, this is not a sample, it's not legal advice, but it's fresh on my mind because it's something that I just signed, and I did have to write this myself with the narrator.

So, essentially when you think about a contract with a narrator, Anthony put this in the question, and I think it's an important one, you don't want to do a royalty share. You're not going to pay for a royalty share, so that's nice because you can get the book done, but royalty shares are generally in perpetuity, or for a very long time. So, if you later change your mind, you're going to have to buy out your narrator. So, the best thing to do is to pay the narrator up front, usually a flat fee and that way you own the rights to everything. So, I just want to make sure I set the table on that.

But some things that are in my contract, again, it's not legal advice, you'll have to draft your own language and figure it out, but what is your rate per finished hour that you're going to pay the narrator? That's something you want to put in writing.

You also want to talk about the workflow. So, I just followed ACX's work workflow. So, my narrator and I are working outside of ACX, we're just working by email, and basically, he provided me a five-minute sample. I reviewed that sample, approved it, and then upon doing that, he recorded the rest of the audiobook and then, if there's any edits, he'll make those edits in a reasonable manner. I won't be unreasonable with the number of suggestions I give him, that sort of thing. Then, once all of the files are ready, we will submit those to ACX and Findaway. If there's any issues with quality control, the narrator will correct those as soon as possible.

You also want to think about your payment terms. So, how much are you going to pay the narrator? How do you calculate that? So, the way I did it is, ACX recommends that 9,300 words are per finished hour. So, take your word count, divide it by 9,300, and that gives you an estimate of what your finished hours are going to be, and that's usually what my narrator and I agree on.

Then usually what I'll do is I'll pay him 50% upfront, and then once he's done and the files have been approved by ACX and all that, then I'll pay the remaining 50%, and then sometimes when you estimate those finished hours, they don't always line-up. So, what I've agreed to do with my narrator is that if the finished hours end up being more than we agreed, then I'll pay him the difference. If they end up being less than we agreed, I don't pay him any less, but we still agree to what the estimate amount was, it just keeps things a little bit cleaner.

I also asked for an invoice up front, that's just good for taxes. Then I also have a waiver of rights, so in exchange for payment for the audiobook, the narrator agrees to wave all royalties, claim title and interest, and blah, blah, blah, to the audiobook; that's important. Then also the narrator signs that they agree that all copyrights to the audiobook and the sound recordings belong to me.

So, the last things are no different than what you would sign if you signed with ACX. ACX says that the sound recordings belong to you, and it says that the narrator's not entitled to any royalties if you do a flat fee, but you just want to put that in writing so that everybody's on the same.

So, those are some of the things that I hit in my contract. My contract was only two pages long, don't go overboard. I think a lot of people could probably do it in one page. So, just keep it simple, keep it in plain English so that both parties are on the same page about exactly what needs to be done and when, and I think you'll be fine.

So, Sacha, have you done any audiobooks lately?

Sacha Black: I have narrated one of my non-fiction books and I am four sections away from finishing my second audiobook. I haven't done my fiction at the moment, but I think the next lot of fiction, maybe. The first lot, I'm not going to do, but maybe the second lot.

Michael La Ronn: That's awesome. So, how long did it take you to narrate?

Sacha Black: {Laughter.}

Michael La Ronn: Did I open a can of worms?

Sacha Black: So, I actually have a whole hour episode on my own podcast all about the lessons I learned from my first attempt at narrating. So, the funny thing is I was trained as a voiceover artist, as teenager.

Michael La Ronn: Really?

Sacha Black: Yeah. So, I already had a basis for it. What I didn't have was the technical skill. So, even though the narration was good, I made a lot of mistakes in the first one. I corrected it all, and I love the audiobook, but this one has gone a lot smoother. So, I would say that, well, I don't know. I've done it over a long period of time, but it's probably taken me two or three weeks, I would say, of full-time to do it. But that's because I'm editing it myself, I'm narrating it myself. The only thing I'm not doing is I outsource the proofing, I give that to my VA because I've listened to it so many times at that point, I can't see the wood for the trees. So, she proofs it for me and then I go and do the pickups, and then I send it to someone to master because I can't be dealing with playing with the levels and stuff like that. Then they do the levels for me and then I upload it. So, I haven't had to do the contract thing, but I probably will because I don't know if I would do my fiction. I don't know if I could do my fiction.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I think there's that, at least for me, I don't think I could ever do my fiction. I hear that voice in my head and I'm like, I would sound so amateurish. I don't think it would sound good.

Sacha Black: Yeah, but the non-fiction is that first person non-fiction. I write in my voice, so it'd be very odd for somebody else to narrate it. So, that's why I do that non-fiction.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. So, that's two contrasting ways to do it, folks. That's good stuff. So, maybe you can get the link to your podcast episode where people could listen to that, because that's often a next question is, I can't afford audio, so I would like to do my own. So, we'll put that in the show notes.

Sacha Black: Yeah, definitely. My wife built me an audio booth, so that was pretty cool.

Michael La Ronn: Oh, nice. So, you got the whole burrito there. It's cool.

Sacha Black: Oh yeah. No, it's a seriously, professional setup. My master was like, where did you record? And I was like, in my garage. And he was like, you have like professional levels. And I was like, why thank you.

Michael La Ronn: So, we're going to hear some velvet tongue. When you listen to that, you're just going to put it in your ears and it's going to be like ear candy.

Sacha Black: Hello, darling. Yeah, no, let's move on.

Michael La Ronn: All right. Starting to get M rated here on the show.

How do I set the correct categories for my books on Amazon?

Michael La Ronn: Okay, next question is from Barbara. How do I go about getting the correct categories for Amazon on my books?

Sacha Black: So, I'm assuming you have some categories and that you mean you want to change them.

So, Amazon doesn't really put this anywhere, but you can have up to 10 categories. All you have to do is log into the KDP portal and then click through to the help desk, and then there's a section of options on the left-hand side, and if you click through until you find categories and keywords. I think that is all one section, I can't remember without looking, but then click on that and then it'll give you the option to identify the book by ASIN or link, and then you need to give them the full, what's the word called, the full string.

Michael La Ronn: The full string. The full path.

Sacha Black: Yeah, the full pathway. Thank you. So, books, for example, then science fiction, then science fiction fantasy, science fiction fantasy teen and YA, or whatever the pathway is. So, you need to give them that entire pathway.

So, you can do that by going to Amazon and then clicking through and seeing the pathway down into the sub-niches.

Then one thing that I don't know whether people will realize is that the Amazon store, all of the stores are different. So, you have to give the amazon.com pathways, and then you have to do it again for the UK pathways, and so on and so forth in all of the different country stores. So, don't just go onto that, give your amazon.com link, and think that's done. You do have to do the pathways, and the pathways are not always identical in the different stores. I don't know why that is the case, but it is the case. So, you have to check each site. But it is that simple. It's literally an email to Amazon and of course, making sure you've clicked the right categories in your metadata.

So, when you have loaded a book in your metadata section, just go through the page before content, I think it is, and it will tell you what categories you've picked. Just make sure you've picked the right ones, and if not, delete it and put in the right one.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, it's a great tip. I mean, it doesn't cost you anything to do, other than your time. People are always talking about what are some low cost or free marketing strategies, and this is one I don't think a lot of people take advantage of. That said, don't put your book in every category under the sun.

If your book is not a Vampire romance, don't abuse this system, but if there are multiple categories that you can get your book into, take advantage of that.

If you need a little bit of help determining what those categories are, you can use a tool like Publisher Rocket by Dave Chesson. That's a great tool and that'll help you with the category research, help you with anything you need in terms of, what are the different categories that are available in the eBook store versus the paperback store, and in different countries. That would be my first port of call, and we'll throw a link to Publisher Rocket in the description, or in the show notes.

Should I email bookstores with information about my book?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. Let's see, our next question is from Ethel. When initially contacting a bookshop buyer by email, should I include my A4 information sheet, or wait until I get a reply?

Ethel, this is a really good question. I think it's going to depend on each individual bookseller's whims. If you're conducting any kind of business by email and you're wanting to do some cold calls, I think you have to be cognizant of spam filters and junk mail. So, some people have their email set up to where, if you send them an attachment, it can be very easy for the email to go into their spam filter, and they may never see it.

So, what a lot of people do, and this is not just for book buying, but this is just in general, what a lot of people will do is send an email and then if they reply like you hinted, then send them the A4. To me, if I was doing that, that probably would be the answer.

But I would also highly recommend that you check out our book, Getting Your Book into Bookstores. I don't think I got the exact title correct, but it's by Debbie Young. So, we'll throw the exact name of the book. This is one of our ALLi member guides. So, if you're an ALLi member, you can get this for free by logging into your dashboard and just going to guidebooks and you'll be able to get it. You can also purchase it on our website as well, if you're not ALLi member or wherever you buy your books, because they're available there as well, if you want to support ALLi.

But Sacha, do you have any advice?

Sacha Black: No, I don't think so. I have not spent a huge amount of time doing this. I've got my books in one bookstore locally, but it was quite a lot of work and hassle. I have got a local Waterstones that want to stock my upcoming pen name, but they've had some issues finding the books, even though they're on Ingram. So, that's something that needs sorting. But again, it is one of these very long, time-consuming things and ultimately, unless you've got a good distribution deal, I don't find it that worthwhile for me to spend time on it.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I mean, it depends on, as with all things, it depends on your goals, and it depends on how much work you're willing to put in into it. This is certainly a rabbit hole that you can go down, and the name of that book is, Your Book in Bookstores by Debbie Young, for anyone who wants to look that up.

So again, ALLi members get that free, just log into your dashboard. It's under our guidebook section, but you can look it up if you're interested.

Sacha Black: To actually answer the question, the way I got my book into that bookstore. Sorry, I realize I went off on a tangent, is I actually printed the sell sheet and handed a physical copy, what's it called, an ARC copy, a physical ARC copy with the sell sheet, rather than emailing it, the information sheet, I just handed it to them, and that was how I did it.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I've never gone down that route, so that's interesting for me. I feel like I want to do it at some point next year, but it's just the time benefit.

Sacha Black: Honestly, the easiest way is to just tell your readers to ask your local bookstores to order the books, because that is how I've had people send me pictures of my books in bookstores across America and I'm like, I don't know how that happened, but thank you. That's actually the easiest way to do it.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, it is.

I’m having problems with my Amazon links, what should I do?

Michael La Ronn: Okay, next question is from Aurora, and the question is, Amazon has given me links to my author page and website, which do not work. People who tried to access these links cannot access my books or leave reviews. This is preventing me from selling my books. How do I resolve this?

Well, first thing first, I mean, definitely reach out to Amazon. I'm sure that you've done that. I don't know how they would resolve that. I mean, if they gave you a link that doesn't work, certainly that's on them to figure out and resolve. So, that would be my first answer.

Sacha Black: And in your email, continue to ask for it to be escalated. It's very key that you ask for the escalation. Please escalate this to a manager, or words to that effect, because often you will get automated responses that don't necessarily help. So, I don't know if you've already got a human responding, but if you haven't, put in your emails, please escalate this, and that should get you a person at that point. Or call them, because quite often you can go into your KDP dashboard and call, and they will deal with it there and then, as opposed to having to wait for the email responses. So, that is another way to work it.

What’s the best ad-free thesaurus?

Michael La Ronn: Yep, very well said. All right, our next question is from Caroline. I'm looking for the best ad-free thesaurus. Do you use a thesaurus, Sacha?

Sacha Black: All the time, but I just use thesaurus.com.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I have too. I mean, at one point I had a subscription to Merriam-Webster, and I think that it was like $6 a year or something, it was some super cheap thing, and I think that was ad-free.

Sacha Black: Or buy a physical one.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, you could buy a physical one. I'm sure there's probably thesaurus apps too that you could install.

Sacha Black: Oh, yeah, I use a dictionary app. I have a dictionary app, and that has a thesaurus built in it. I'm not sure if it has ads, though. I'm not sure.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, so I mean, we have never gotten that question on this show before. So, that gets a gold star. I mean, yeah that's what I would probably do. I think if you want an ad-free thesaurus, you're either going to have to pay for it or you're going to have to use a physical one. Unfortunately, that's just the way that things are going; you don't want ads, you have to pay for it.

But yeah, there's plenty of good ones out there. I mean, any of the brand names, if you wanted to use those, I bet they would be probably pretty cheap. Like I said, I didn't pay that much for Merriam-Webster.

Okay. Next question.

Where can I find the ALLi Member Forum?

Sacha Black: I think they had a part B to that question though.

Michael La Ronn: Oh, there was a part B. I'm looking for the place on the website where the member forum is. Where's the best place to find the member forum, Sacha?

Sacha Black: So, that's on Facebook, and if you email into the customer services desk, which I'm hoping that you have the email address for that, then they will be able to point you in the direction of the member forum. Or you can go onto Facebook and search, Alliance of Independent Authors, and that will bring up the page and the author forum.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, just go to selfpublishingadvice.org/contact and fill out the form and we can get you a link.

Sacha Black: I knew there was an easy link somewhere.

Michael La Ronn: Yep, I could give out the email, but it's just easier to go to the contact form.

Where can I find the IngramSpark discount code?

Michael La Ronn: Okay, so here is the perennial question we get often, at least once a month. Can you please tell me if there is still a discount code for IngramSpark and how to get it?

Sacha Black: Yes, there is always an IngramSpark Code. Well, there has been for quite some time. Hopefully, we shall have it for the long term, but yes, we do have it. The thing that changes is the code. So, the code will change every single month, and you will find it in your ALLi dashboard.

So, once again, you go to allianceindependentauthors.org and navigate to approved services, discounts and deals, and then you can have a hunt in there for the IngramSpark code. You get five uses per month and the code changes monthly, so you just need to go in and double check that code.

Michael La Ronn: Yes, don't forget to check monthly if it's been a while since you've done your last book. So, sometimes people get confused by that.

Are Amazon ads a good starting point when marketing a children’s book?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. Next question. This is quite a few questions in one, so we'll tackle it rapid fire, Sacha. This is from Janice, and the first question is, are Amazon ads a good place to start with marketing?

Sacha Black: It depends.

Michael La Ronn: Okay. So, maybe we can narrow this down a little bit. So, Janice publishes children's books on health and wellness.

Sacha Black: Oh, okay, possibly not then. So, we have a children's book advisor called Karen Inglis who has done an ALLi guidebook. I don't know if it's a full guidebook or a mini guidebook, but we have content on children's book marketing.

There are also a ton of blog posts on children's book marketing on selfpublishingadvice.org. So please do go to the website and search. And Karen also has her own book on children's book marketing.

The difficulty with children's book marketing is that the people you are selling to are not the people reading. So, you are actually marketing to the parents. A lot of children's book authors spend a lot of time marketing to schools and doing wholesale, bulk, and author talks in schools.

So, before you spend any money on marketing, I would advise that you go and read Karen's book, the ALLi guide, and search the website, because my gut says that Amazon ads are probably not going to be that worthwhile.

We did a recent case study as well, and I will find the link and put the link in the show notes, because that was very interesting about how they had marketed their children's books. So, I will find that and put it in the show notes.

Michael La Ronn: Okay, and that was a case study on marketing children's books?

Sacha Black: Yes.

Michael La Ronn: Okay, I'm just typing this so we can put it in the show notes. I have to do it in the moment because otherwise I forget.

Okay. So, the next part of Janice's question has to do with Ingram. Is there another avenue for IngramSpark? What's the best way to advertise your books that are distributed through IngramSpark?

I can take this one. I would just start with Debbie Young's book, Your Book in Bookstores. Start there. I know Ingram Spark has done some webinars and stuff on ways that authors can maximize their distribution and their reach. I would start with some of the resources that they offer and use the two of those resources together to give you some ideas.

If you're wanting to focus on Ingram, I mean, naturally, you've got children's books, I mean, you're going to want to think about that, and then add in Karen's resource to that as well.

So, you've got three things. Look at what IngramSpark has to say about this, Karen Inglis's book and then Debbie Young's book on getting your book into bookstores, and I think that will help you form a map of where you need.

Okay. Well, Sacha, I think that is all of our questions for the month.

Sacha Black: I can't believe we've done. We've smashed another month, look at us.

Michael La Ronn: We have, another month. We'll be back next month as well, it'll be December 13th is when we're going live, and then the following Friday, so that'll be the 16th. That'll be our last show of the year. So, Christmas, holidays, everything. It's hard to believe that it'll be the end of the year next time we talk.

Sacha Black: Oh, I don't even, I can't, that's horrendous.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. So, for all our friends who are working on NaNoWriMo, good luck. Then just know, next time we're in your ear, it's going to be the end of the year.

Sacha Black: Holy moly.

Michael La Ronn: All right. Well Sacha, I hope you have a good month and thank you everybody for listening, and we will be back. Remember that if you would like to ask your questions, if you're an ALLi member, just visit us at selfpublishingadvice.org, and we'll put a link in the show notes to the form where you can ask the questions and we would love to talk about it on air.

Have a great month and we'll talk to you next month.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an independent author, developmental editor, and journalist who specializes in Jewish issues. He is also the news and podcast producer for the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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This Post Has One Comment
  1. With regards to getting rights back to a traditionally published book, sometimes you can just ask. I did that with my publisher – sent them a registered letter, said I’d like to buy the rights back, and asked whether they’d go along with it. They said I could have the rights back if I bought up all the remaining copies of the original print run. To be honest, I didn’t care about print books – I really wanted the rights back so I could republish the ebook at a reasonable price that readers might actually buy, and so I could write sequels, however, the price they quoted me for all the print books was affordable, so I said, “OK.” I ended up with the erights I wanted, plus I now use all those print copies I bought back for marketing purposes – for giveaways, or as “bargain books” to sell at a low price to attract potential new readers.

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