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Why Do I Need An Author Website? Other Questions Answered By Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn In Our Member Q&A Podcast

Why Do I Need an Author Website? Other Questions Answered by Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn in our Member Q&A Podcast

Why do I need an author website? 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:

  • Will IngramSpark promotion for ALLi members continue in 2021
  • Do I need liability insurance as an author?
  • Is it worth translating my print books?
  • What are the benefits of establishing a publishing company?

And more!

Listen to the Podcast: Do I Need an Author Website and More

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Watch the Q&A: Do I Need an Author Website and More

Why do I need an author website? This and other #selfpublishing questions answered on the #AskALLi Member Q&A, hosted by @MichaelLaRonn and ALLi Director @OrnaRoss. Share on X

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: Do I Need an Author Website and More

Orna Ross: Hello everyone. Hello, and welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors' Member Q&A with me, Orna Ross. I'm here with Michael La Ronn. Hi, Michael.

Michael La Ronn: Hi, Orna. Happy February.

Orna Ross: Thank you very much, and you too. It's snowy in London, is it snowy. where you are?

Michael La Ronn: Yes, it is. We have two feet of snow on the ground in Iowa right now.

Orna Ross: Wow. You're used to it though. It doesn't stop you, right? We've got two inches and we're completely ground to a halt.

Michael La Ronn: Oh really? Wow. Yeah, we've got two feet and we're on our fourth blizzard of the year.

Orna Ross: Oh crikey! I don't know how people live in places like that. But you get a proper summer, which we don't.

Anyway, we are here to talk self-publishing questions. Our members send in questions once, if they want to share publicly and hear publicly aired, and perhaps some of our questioners are here and will join in on the chat. Or if you have questions of your own that have not been forward in, and you're a member of ALLi, do pop them into the chat and we'll see if we can get to them by the end of the show. And if you have any follow-on questions, arising out of the questions that we're covering here, again, please feel free to enter them into the chat. Tell us where you're coming in from and okay, let's go.

Do I need an author website and which service should I use?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Our first question is from Deborah and she says, I have four novels to market. Which website should I use and how do I blog?

Orna Ross: Okay. So, it sounds like she's talking about content marketing for her novels, it sounds like that’s the line she's going to take. So, if she's going to start to blog. Now before, kind of, jumping into the blogging question, and how to blog, and where to blog, and services and so on, I think it's important to ask whether content marketing is actually the route you definitely want to go as a novelist because, while content marketing, blogging and so on, works very well for nonfiction, it can be trickier to make it work for fiction. So, just be sure that you have a very good strategy for your blog.

So, it's not just a matter of blogging about your writing, you see lots of authors doing blogs that don't really have any definite feel to them. Unless, sometimes authors use their blog to get words, and if it's serving a very good function for you, that's great.

But if you're looking at it purely, which this question seems to imply, from a marketing perspective, then blogging is quite time consuming and you need to have a very clear strategy for the actual blog in order for it to sell books.

Anything to add to that, Michael, before we get into the nitty gritties of services and things like that?

Michael La Ronn: No, that's, that's, that's accurate.

My general rule of thumb is, come up with a list of content ideas for the next year, if you can't figure out what your content is going to be for the next year, it's probably not a good idea for you. Because that's the hard part about fiction, anyone can start blogging about their books, but then how do you sustain it? What usually happens is they start, they've got a couple of ideas and then it just fizzles out, and then you've got that blog that's never been updated in two years. So, you don't want that either. That just looks bad on your website.

Orna Ross: And it feels bad. It doesn't feel good to have that situation out there. And it doesn't feel good to have a blog that is all over the place, which sometimes author blogs are; lots of different thoughts and ideas. Again, if you're using it as your scrapbook, and this is your creative intention, that's 100% great, I'm not talking about that. But from a marketing perspective, if you're looking at it from a marketing perspective, then not so good. So, yeah. Have a think about that.

Then, in terms of the services that you use, like many authors, I'm a big fan of WordPress, and it's the only one I'm familiar with actually. So, I'm not really qualified to talk about anything else, but a simple free WordPress blog will do you absolutely fine, especially until you see, do you, you know, get those deep roots in and do you create the habit of blogging regularly?

I wouldn't recommend investing a lot of money in a service, you should just go for something that's simple, easy, cheap, fast.

Michael La Ronn: I agree. WordPress is definitely the best. It has a learning curve. I think some people are surprised at how long it takes to learn WordPress, especially if you're not tech savvy.

So, just know that that's something that you have to work over. But there's lots of resources out there, lots of YouTube videos. So, it's not hard. Squarespace is another competitor for WordPress. I've never used Squarespace, but I've heard good things about it. Wix is another competitor, and then the fourth option, I mean, there's other ones out there, but the fourth option is to have a designer do it for you. Most designers will want to use WordPress. So, even if you hire a designer it's going to be WordPress, and if you hire a designer and it's not WordPress or Wix or Squarespace, I really wonder if you're probably going to overspend your money.

Because like I said, if you've never done a website before, you don't know what you don't know, and you don't know what you need. Like me, if I were to do it again, I probably would hire a developer to create me something specific, but that's because I know over the last eight years, what would work best on my website?

If you're just starting off, just get a baseline and that'll help you.

Orna Ross: I agree, and the other thing, we do have a fantastic partner member, actually, who provides websites for authors, specializes in authors, and that’s called pubsite.com.

But I will note the sound of caution that, in addition to everything that Michael has just said, very often, when you hire a developer, you lose control. So, every time you want to do an update, every time you want to make a change, you've got to go back to the developer, and that can really get expensive over time. And if you're only using it to blog, it's particularly difficult.

Michael La Ronn: Or if you've only got one book.

Orna Ross: Definitely.

Michael La Ronn: It just doesn't make sense. I have 55, so it's a pain to update everything for me, but-

Orna Ross: It's worth it. Once you have that many books, it becomes worth it. But at the beginning, just tread cautiously, I guess, is what we're saying.

But we're not trying to put you off because blogging can be a really terrific thing to do both creatively and commercially.

So, just know what you're doing and why you're doing it and discipline yourself to keep your blog to the purpose that you actually intend for it. Know your goal and, as Michael said, know your content on and off you go.

Is it worth translating my print books?

Michael La Ronn: Yep, I agree. Okay. Next question is from David. Now, David's got a couple of questions, Orna.

The first question he has is, he's going to be a unique situation, the majority of his sales are print books and he's got a few books that are translated into a couple of different languages. And his first question is, are there countries on the Amazon platform where print books can be delivered at reasonable cost, and is it worth getting a book translated for those markets?

That's the first question.

Orna Ross: Yes, again, if you have marketing questions, so often, the answer is, if you have a marketing plan. So, the challenge with translated books is, who's going to do the marketing and what kind of marketing are you going to do? So, if you're using auto ads on Amazon, that may work. We have seen that work for some authors and fail spectacularly for others. So, it depends.

If you're not going to use Amazon ads, then what are you going to use? So, there isn't an easy and instant answer on this one. It's certainly not difficult to set up and not difficult to experiment. It's very easy to find out. If you understand Amazon ads, if you're already using them on your home platform, then using them on an overseas platform is not difficult. However, if you're not familiar with Amazon ads, there is a learning curve there as well.

And if not, Amazon ads then how will you market these books in a country where, presumably, you don't have a presence. Will you use a marketing assistant who can help you or whatever? And that would have to be built in then to the cost of the books and Amazon print on demand is not cheap. So again, this comes down to the kind of books that you write and the kind of price that you can set as to whether it's going to be worth your while or not. Any thoughts on that one, Michael?

How should I advertise my translated books?

Michael La Ronn: No, you answered it, and you answered the second part of his question as well, which was, how should I start thinking about advertising for these books too?

Orna Ross: The auto ads is definitely worth a try, and on a lot of the platforms outside of the US and the UK, there are fewer people doing ads, and it's easier to get traction. So, it's definitely worth it. If you already have a presence in that country, particularly, I would say it's definitely well worth trying that.

The other option, of course, for an indie author, and sometimes we don't think about it as much is, it is possible for you to license the rights in that country to a publisher in that country. What we, sort of, advocate at ALLi is selective rights licensing. So, you would very much limit the territory to just the territory you wanted to work in, limit the term to see, does this publisher work out for you?

But it might be worth going that route, particularly if you can already show that you have some sales there, you can get an advance, rather than an upfront cost and then you will get a small amount per copy, but you are in a traditional publishing deal. So, a very small amount per copy, and the publisher will be doing the marketing and so on for you. And you can work with somebody on the ground in that way.

So, lots of options and lots to think about, and maybe some follow up questions.

Do I need liability insurance as an author?

Michael La Ronn: Yep. Agree. All right. Our next question is a question we got four times last year.

Orna Ross: Wow.

Michael La Ronn: So, that tells you that this has got to be a pretty important question, and it's on people's minds. And that question is, do I need liability insurance as an author.

Orna Ross: Okay, interesting. Liability insurance is generally for live events. So, if you are running any sort of regular live event, and I know nobody's running any live events at the moment with the coronavirus fallout, but hopefully there is hope, vaccine related hope, so we may get back to live events later on this year or next year. So, liability insurance is an absolute must if you're in that sort of situation. I hear a lot of authors asking about liability insurance in relation to libel and defamation, and that's the wrong kind of insurance for that. You can actually get insurance against libel and defamation; we wouldn't really recommend it. We'd recommend more that you would tackle the issues in the book and not liable anyone and not defame anyone, particularly if you don't have to. So, in certain kinds of investigative non-fiction, of course you are going to have to, or if it's a campaigning non-fiction book, yes, you have to be very careful and it's well worth looking at.

Everything around the whole issue of libel and defamation, which will bring in a lot more law than just liability insurance. But if you're a novelist, who's just basing your story on something that happened, far better to radically change the surface bits that don't matter to you, hold on to the emotional truth, but let go of details where somebody might be able to come and say, you know, you've defamed me, that's me you're talking about, and threaten you with liable.

It's unlikely to go to actual court, but very unpleasant to receive anything like that in the mail.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, absolutely. Everything you said was great. I'll add a little bit more context to this. So, what you typically buy, when people think about liability insurance, which you said, they typically think of what's called a commercial general liability policy, also known as a CGL. What that does is it protects you from liability from a couple of different things, it protects you from liability at your premises. So, if somebody slips and falls at your author event, for example, and hurt themselves and they sue you, it would cover that. It covers products liability, it covers some other things related to advertising, but nothing that an author really could use. So, if you're thinking about going to your hometown insurance agent, they're going to be able to do next to nothing for you.

Now you can also purchase an umbrella policy to help protect your assets, but that's also going to give you no coverage for any kind of copyright infringement, because those are explicitly excluded in the GL policy, except if it's related to an advertisement that you're doing, that's really nitty gritty.

I actually teach insurance policy classes, so I'm very familiar with this policy. You're going to get next to nothing on your GL policy and your umbrella. So, your typical insurance needs, they're really not going to help you that much. What you would need is what's called a media liability policy, and that's what Orna was getting at, which is what can potentially provide that libel and slander coverage, but there's a little caveat that you have to know and that is, if, for example, you write true crime, or if you write autobiographies, or if you write something that has an investigative nature, the insurance carrier underwriters don't want to write your book, or they don't want to write you a policy.

So, if you have something that's really risky, that's going to need the liability insurance, you're probably not going to be able to get it. And if you can get it, you're going to pay for it, and you typically pay per book. I actually was doing some shopping around for this several years ago, and because I've got some connections and insurance, I was talking to talking to a couple of insurance agents who actually sell this and basically, I think that you're usually you're going to have a minimum premium, and I think one of the companies I was looking at, the minimum premium was $750.

So, you're going to pay at least that for your book, and you have to do it per book. So, if you want to write 54 books, like me, or if you want to write a book every year, or three or four books every year, you've got to factor that cost in, and then you've got to start asking yourself, are you actually going to have a situation where libel is going to come up?

You know, accidental libel, because no insurance policy is going to cover you if you do it on purpose. It's called an intentional act, and that's true in the United States, I don't know what the UK policies would say, but I can guarantee you they're not going to cover intentional acts.

So, insurance companies are not going to pay for things that you should already be doing your due diligence on, which is what Orna said before, and the chances of something like this coming up. I mean, unless you hit the big time and turn into George R.R. Martin, and then all of a sudden, you've got lawsuits coming at, you left and right, then that makes a lot of sense. But for most people, as long as you're not modeling your characters after somebody intentionally, and intentionally going after someone, you're probably going to be okay.

Orna Ross: Yeah, exactly. I think that's really well put, and I had no idea you taught this insurance course. That's marvelous now that we know that.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I teach insurance classes here in the United States on the general side of just typical hometown businesses and things like that.

Orna Ross: And I think what you're saying, though the terms might be different, is going to apply pretty widely across most of the ALLi territories, which is Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, not so sure of UK, certainly.

So yeah, it's all pretty good.

Michael La Ronn: They should all be pretty close.

Orna Ross: It's one of these questions that comes up a huge amount with authors, which isn't often relevant for their particular circumstances. So, we get this question a lot from people who are not writing anything that's even vaguely libelous and so, for most authors, I would say for nine out of 10 authors, the answer to the question, do I need liability insurance is no.

Michael La Ronn: Absolutely, and the only situation where you would need your typical liability insurance, just remember, businesses buy this because they have a place of business, where people come to visit them and sometimes those people slip and fall, sometimes things happen while they're at the premises, and businesses need that protection.

Authors work from home, and I don't know very many authors who have people come to their house to help conduct business. So, you're working from home. Therefore, you don't really need it because you don't have any exposure, so to speak.

Now, do you need insurance for your property and your contents? A hundred percent. But as far as liability goes, until you start getting into situations where, maybe you lease an office, and you go write there, maybe you're a little bit more successful down the road and you have a place where you can go, that's a different story.

Orna Ross: Or if your assistant, maybe, was coming to your home to help out. But most authors, again, use a VA rather than somebody who comes to their place of work.

Michael La Ronn: Well, exactly. I mean, you're typically not going to need it and, if you do, you'll know that you need it, because you're probably signing a lease agreement or an event agreement where they're going to require you to have it.

Orna Ross: Exactly.

Michael La Ronn: In which case you can get it very easily and affordably. So, that knocks out four questions that people had. So, I think, an important question that comes up, every now and again.

Orna Ross: Somebody must have done a podcast, I reckon, if everybody sent it in, in the same month, there must've been something about it in the community.

Where can I find the IngramSpark discount for ALLi members?

Michael La Ronn: Yep. Next question is from Anthony, and Anthony's question is, Anthony just signed up for ALLi. Welcome aboard Anthony, and he wants to know where to find that code that gets you the free uploads and the free revision for Ingram Spark. Where can he find that as an ALLi member?

Orna Ross: Very simple. Just log in, you have to be logged in to find it, and when you're in the member zone, if you navigate to discounts and deals, it's in there. Along with lots of other great offers from our partner members. So, it's just one of the many offers that you'll find there Anthony.

And while you're there download, there is a PDF on the home page, in the member zone, which is Making the Most of your Membership, and that will tell you how to get around and find everything, because the member zone can get a bit, well, there's a lot there. So, finding your way around, that's your kind of guide way through, and you can read it online, obviously, or download and print it off, and that could be useful in terms of finding your way around. Welcome to ALLi.

What are the benefits of establishing a publishing company?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, welcome aboard. All right. Next question is from Paul. Paul has two questions, it's two questions in one. So, the first question he has is, what are the benefits of establishing a publishing company? Why should you do it?

Orna Ross: Another legal question today. It's all about legal business today. So, again, for a lot of authors this doesn't arise, and it doesn't arise at the beginning very often. If you have a particular kind, again, similar kinds of businesses to the ones we were talking about earlier, non-fiction which, certainly if you're doing anything that might be libelous, or might involve you in any way, it can be advantageous to have a company, from the perspective that a company is a legal, and I'm going to let Michael pick up on this because he's our legal eagle, but a company is a legal entity, which is separate from you so that things that happen in your business are under the company name, and that gives you  protection in some cases.

It's perfectly possible to be a highly, and we have loads of authorpreneur members who do this, perfectly possible to be a highly successful author and not form any kind of incorporated company or limited company.

So, it's not something you have to do and there are advantages and disadvantages. So, you asked about the advantages. I would say one of the disadvantages is cost. There are costs to setting up in that way, but one of the major advantages is it can actually make you take yourself more seriously and really impress upon yourself that you are in business and that's what you're doing, because sometimes for authors, just really understanding that they are now in business, through self-publishing can take some time, and setting up in the proper way and getting an accountant and some other professional help and really taking yourself seriously, incorporation can be part of that, but it isn't necessary. Over to you, Michael, I'm sure you've loads to add.


Michael La Ronn: So, everything Orna just said, but then another reason you would want to consider a publishing company, setting up a company, is that when you publish books, say you don't do anything all right, you are what is called a sole proprietor or in the UK, a sole trader. That means there is no legal separation between you and your business, you are one and the same. Even though you might file a trade name with the state or the country that you live in, or a business name, there is no legal separation. That means if you do something and you get sued, they can come after you. They can come after your home. They can come after your personal assets. They can make your life miserable. They can garnish your wages, you name it. So, they can access your personal assets.

If you start a publishing company, such as a limited liability company in the United States, a limited company in the UK, and it's very similar in most countries, Most of what I'm saying is very similar, the names might be different in the country that you live in, but the concepts are similar because most countries are on the same page about this. If you have a limited liability company, essentially what that means is, there is a legal separation between you and the company, so that if you are acting in the capacity of the company creates some sort of liability issues such as libel, for example, then if you get sued, the only thing that they can access are the company assets, not your personal assets, unless you do something that allows them to pierce the corporate veil. That's what they call it. That's when you have a limited liability company or corporation and basically, they can still access your personal assets. That's the first reason you would do it, and that's a pretty big one, because especially as you become more successful, the possibility of getting involved into lawsuits can happen.

But another reason you would want to start a publishing company is the tax benefits. If you're a sole proprietor and you're not making much money, you probably don't care that much. At least here in the United States, it's probably not going to be a big deal. But the moment you start making money, you're going to get taxed to the max and so, having a publishing company allows you to deduct expenses, at least here in the States. I can't answer this about the UK, but you could start deducting expenses and save you money at tax time.

Orna Ross: That's super interesting to me because you're saying that as a sole proprietor, you can't deduct your expenses?

Michael La Ronn: You can, but you can't deduct as many in some cases. It's better to have to have an accountant who can work with you to help you develop a tax strategy than to just make a profit and then you just pay it, because what could happen is that you could be paying too much. So, as you start becoming more profitable, there are different entity types that can help you such as a corporation, because a corporation has all sorts of things that they can do from a tax perspective that can basically make your money disappear, you just have to know what they are, but that's not until you're further down the road.

In the meantime, just from a liability perspective, that's why I would recommend a publishing company.

What would make someone sue an author?

Michael La Ronn: There's a question that's pretty apropos to this from Angelina. She says, what would make someone sue an author?

Well, Angeline, libel or slander would be one of them. So, you write something in one of your books that hurt someone's reputation, they sue you. You go on a podcast interview and you say something about somebody, and it hurts their reputation, they sue you. You go to an author event and you say something and, you know, they sue you. You happen to throw an author event at a library or something and someone slips and falls, and they hurt themselves, that's a situation where they could sue you. You are a speaker at an author event, and you are walking up on stage and you accidentally trip somebody and they fall down and hurt themselves. Well, you just hurt that person in a business capacity, they can sue you for that. So, not only is it people coming to a place of business, it's also your activities as an author. That's why I tell people, keep their hands to themselves when they go to events, because if you accidentally hurt someone or do something to them, that can happen.

You can get into a car accident and you can get sued, and that could expose your author assets. So, it could be things that aren't even necessarily related to your writing that you can get sued for, where people can access your personal assets. That's why, like I said, it just makes a great deal of sense to have that publishing company, but I would talk to an attorney and an accountant to help you develop the right strategy on that, because you can do it wrong.

Orna Ross: Sure, and it sounds like the US might be particularly complex here. I know the US is a very litigious country in comparison to other countries. I will say that I have worked from a different perspective, and I'm not in it anyway advising people to be careless about this, I think it's really important to take onboard every single word of what Michael has said, but I will say that I have worked in publishing and media for a very long time and I cannot actually recall an author that I knew, personally, being sued. It's not something that happens. So, I don't want to you to go away feeding, oh my gosh, I have to do this, that or the other. We're talking about the things that can happen, do happen certainly, but do not happen to the vast majority of people. So, again, it very much depends on the arena that you're in.

So, if you're working from home and writing novels on your not intentionally slandering anybody, you're probably absolutely fine. If you're working on investigative journalist type books and you are out and about, and you're doing a lot of speaking, it's a different thing.

And the third thing I would say is, and I think Michael emphasize this point, but just to kind of double underline it is, a lot of this stuff doesn't be cover relevant until you actually have a business under you in some way. So, I do see sometimes authors doing a lot of worrying and thinking about stuff that isn't really all that relevant to them and it can be a kind of a delaying tactic from getting on with doing the work that needs to be done. Worrying about this stuff could be a sophisticated displacement activity, a kind of resistance activity. So, unless it feels relevant to you at this moment, don't worry too much about it, but keep it out there.

I operated as a sole trader for years before I actually set up a company. So, you know, it can be fine for you.

Michael La Ronn: Oh, absolutely. And I have to say this to scare people, because I found that's the only way that it gets through. I just say that personally, because I actually do know someone personally who was sued as an author. They were engaging in some egghead decisions.

So, understanding copyright, I think, is the critical thing. If you understand copyright, you're not going to commit copyright infringement. If you understand libel and slander, you're not going to commit libel and slander. That's going to eliminate problems for 99% of you. I just hope that some of the things I said got you to listen.

Orna Ross: Absolutely, and can we recommend, Helen Sedwick's wonderful book, The Publisher's Legal Handbook. Helen addresses all of these questions in a very clear, again, a US perspective, but again, the concepts are 100% applicable across the board. So, if you do have any legal questions that's a good resource.

And Natalie. Hi, Natalie, great to have you here from Sweden. She is talking about the union in their country, the writer's union who can help with the specifics in your territory, and that's a really great point. So, thank you for that. We can all avail of our local author organizations, it will be the society of authors here in the UK, who will specifically be dealing with the law and the insurance policies and so on, in the territories that we're in, and ALLi works closely with such territorial organizations, and your genre organization also might be a source of help. So, there's lots of advice available to you. So, when you come to research this, you're not as alone as you might feel when you start looking at it.

What do I enter for the TIN number on my Amazon account?

Michael La Ronn: Absolutely. Okay. We have, I guess, a couple more questions. I want to make sure we get to all the questions that we talked about in the description. The next question that Paul had was, what do I enter for the TIN number on my Amazon account?

So Paul, I believe, is from the UK, he wants to know, I guess he's on a publisher dashboard, he's either Amazon or somewhere else, and then they ask for this pesky little TIN number, what do you put there if you're not in the United States?

Orna Ross: So, that is your company number, essentially. If haven't incorporated, if you haven't got an actual limited company, if you are limited that's what you put in, if not, you put in your tax number, your number with HMRC, here in the UK, or your local tax, you would have been allocated a user number by your tax body and if you put that in that suffices. They just want to know that you are registered in some way as a business, that you are not just operating as an individual, taking money into your personal bank account.

Can ALLi recommend a publisher for all phases except editing?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. And then the next question is, gosh, I lost the name. Oh, the next question is from Dale.

Can you recommend a US publisher for all phases except editing? And more generally, can you recommend a publisher for all phases except editing?

Orna Ross: I guess what they mean by publisher is a self-publishing service. So, the best advice in terms of looking at self-publishing services is to look in the searchable database in the member zone.

So, if you just go in, it's broken down on under the various phases of publishing, the processes of publishing, so you can key in design, key in distribution, whichever one you're looking for at the time that you're looking for it. There's also the directory, which is a handy PDF of all the partner members and all the different services that they offer.

But I would say that it's an unusual one to want those particular phases and not editorial, very often the biggest value a self-publishing service brings is the editorial function and the design functions. So, if you have those covered off, then uploading your books is not a difficult part of the process and it's something you could get somebody to do, who isn't offering a package service as it were. And when it comes to marketing and promotion, as we have said so often on this show, and as we say all the time, you've got to be the core of your marketing and promotion. So, handing that over at the point where you haven't even published yet is probably not a great idea.

So, if you've got the editorial covered, a very important part of your mix is covered. So, rather than looking for a package solution for the rest of that, I would say, split the rest of them up and look for individual services for each of the different aspects, and DIY some of it yourself so that, you know, for example, how to manage your Amazon dashboard. Handing that over to somebody else for the amount of time it takes to learn how to do it, and then to upkeep it as you go forward, it's a really important skill to have yourself in terms of keeping control.

Michael La Ronn: Yep. So, that was the last question we had. And just as a reminder, as a quick short link for anyone who wants the link to our directory, our self-publishing ratings directory, it's selfpublishingadvice.org/ratings, that's a real easy way to get there.

Orna Ross: Thanks, Michael, that's brilliant. We have Paul Maitland here with a quick question before we leave. Paul hasn't published yet, his book is written, but he needs to get going on the publishing process of editing and design and so on, and he hasn't set up a platform.

His question is, should the website be first or last thing in your platform? Most avenues are free, by which I presume he means social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and a website is not free and needs some investment, certainly.

So, I would say first. I personally believe in the website as your hub on the internet. When somebody searches for your author name, you want them to find your website, which defines you, in your terms, your ideas, and so on.

Secondly, social media platforms can and do change all the time in terms of what they offer as services, and they don't reach everybody who's following you.

If you send a Facebook message on your Facebook page, it's only reaching a percentage of people. Your website gives you more control over how you place your books, how you position yourself as an author in terms of building your author platform online, in terms of building your searchability, your credibility. It allows you to bring everything together into one space as you grow. So, I would say, start as you mean to continue, your website should be your first tool.

Michael La Ronn: Yep. All right. Those are all of our questions.

Orna Ross: So, thank you everybody who sent in questions and who came along live today. This session will air as a podcast on Friday next on the blog, selfpublishingadvice.org.

You can get all the show notes there, and the links to the various things that we've mentioned will be there for you.

So, if you have further questions that you'd like to send in next time, please do.

Michael, do you have the link for the actual form?

Michael La Ronn: I do. We don't have a short link for it, so that'll be a takeaway we can get for next time.

Orna Ross: Okay, great, and we'll get it for the show notes for Friday. If you want to check in on the blog on Friday, we'll have it there then. Sorry for throwing you on the spot there.

Thanks everyone. We'll see you next time. Happy writing and happy publishing, bye-bye.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. There are times that I wonder whether I was imagining things, but then I see posts like this and I realize I truly was not welcome to participate in any aspect of ALLi’s activities.

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