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London Book Fair—Lessons Learned and Key Takeaways for Indie Authors: AskALLi Advanced Self-Publishing Salon with Joanna Penn and Orna Ross

In this month’s Advanced Self-Publishing Salon from the Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross and Joanna Penn talk about the lessons learned and key takeaways for indie authors from The London Book Fair and ALLi’s online Self-publishing Advice Conference, including the most up-to-date advice on making and selling books and running a successful indie author business.

The AskALLi podcasts are sponsored by Damonza: Books Made Awesome.

Topics discussed this week include:

  • New staff additions at ALLi
  • Orna read her poetry at London Book Fair
  • Lots of buzz about audiobooks at the LBF
  • “Going wide” as an indie author.

And more!

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our self-publishing advice center, http://selfpublishingadvice.org. 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!

Listen to the Advanced Self-Publishing Salon

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Watch the Advanced Self-Publishing Salon

About the Hosts

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as writing non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013. She spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporations across the globe before becoming a full-time author-entrepreneur in September 2011. For more information about Joanna, visit her website: http://thecreativepenn.com

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 Transcripts

Joanna: Hello everyone. Welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors Advanced Self Publishing Salon with me, Joanna Penn and Orna Ross. Hi Orna.

Orna: Hi Joanna. Hello everybody.

Joanna: Hello. This is our April show. It’s a bit early, our dates when a little bit mad, but hey, whatever. We are back from London Book Fair and we’re both exhausted. I have lots of makeup under my eyes to get rid of the bags and, you know, Orna, how are you doing after the Fair?

Orna: I would need Polyfiller. Yeah. Every year I say-

Joanna: It’s all a little bit mad, isn’t it?

Orna: No matter what you do. I mean, we were very well prepared this year, I think both of us. And, you know, no matter what you do, it’s busier every year. More people into self publishing, more indie authors wanting information. So yeah, it’s a good complaint though, hey?

Joanna: Yeah, definitely. And today’s show is actually going to be all about what our thoughts are coming out of London Book Fair. But,to get started as ever, we’re authors too, and we like to give you an update on what we’re doing but before we do, what are the Alliance updates, Orna?

Orna: Well, London Book Fair’s always significant for us. It’s an important time of the year because we launched there. So every year when we go back, it’s our birthday, which is lovely. So it’s our seventh birthday this year. I can’t believe it. It’s a time where we kind of look back over what we’ve been doing over the previous year. And, well, I guess our biggest update is that we’ve expanded our team, we have a new team member on member care, Kaylee and we have a new communications manager, Bonnie Wagner-Stafford. So, this is allowing us to expand our member offering but also look after members in more detail, shall we say? We have our new member magazine, our new issue came out, our first issue of this year and first quarter of the year we just released our partner directory for 2019 as well. And of course, if it’s London Book Fair time, it’s also Self Publishing Conference time. So we had our 24 hour conference over the weekend. Anybody who hasn’t been over to see that yet, you can take a look at selfpublishingadviceconference.com. So yeah, it’s always a busy time of the year for us and always a lovely time. What about you? What are you up to?

Joanna: Oh well yeah. Also busy as we talk today, in fact, another reason I’m so tired I put out my 10th anniversary, like, which is really showing how old we are. Like someone even called me a fairy godmother of indie.

Orna: I saw that.

Joanna: I was like, seriously?

Orna: I remember when you wear the bright young thing.

Joanna: But yeah, once I was the new kid and I’m the fairy Godmother, but today being my 10th anniversary of the Creative Penn podcast, which is quite big because, you know, back in the day, 2009 podcasting was not big. And I’m taking heart from this because I’m generally super early. I think I’m four or five years early on most things. And that’s why the Creative Penn has been around so long cause I got into Indy before it was trendy and I got into podcasting before it was trendy, so I hope that means people can take my word for other things around like audio books, which we’ll come back to you in a minute, but along with my 10th anniversary show and I’ve kind of reflected, it’s useful, the show I did, I reflect on the last 10 years and the growth of, basically, my business. So it might help anyone who wants to see the progression from doing everything yourself to hiring out some of the work and outsourcing and that’s a natural progression in the indie space as well.

Joanna: I also launched my new website and podcast and booksandtravel.page and that might be interesting in a couple of ways for people. First of all, the .page suffix, if you want a new url .page is awesome, so you can go and buy that from your domain hosts. Also Books And Travel is basically, I’ve built a business on content marketing over the last 10 years. Podcasting and blogging has built my business. I never paid for traffic to the Creative Penn and have built this business and so my goal is to do the same thing around my fiction and also my JF Penn brand. So I will write nonfiction under JF Penn, but it will be aimed at that travel type audience. So I’m writing a travel memoir live, I guess, on the podcast and also interviewing people like yourself on the places that inspire their writing. So you can check that out Books And Travel on the usual podcast type places. But these things have been a while in the making, so busy on that. Also have written about 30,000 words on Map of Plagues, my next novel, so busy month.

Orna: Fantastic. I loved the piece on the 10 years of the podcast. I love the story that, you know, you started off holding the phone holding. I don’t, I can’t even remember the-

Joanna: On speaker phone holding up the speaker phone and-

Orna: recording the two together. I think this is so important that people realize this because people come along, they see you where you are now and they think, “Oh, you know, you’re just born that way. You just popped in, you know, fully formed” and it never is like that. And it’s really great to go back and look back and see the twists and turns and you’re great at record keeping. So I think you do us all a real favour by showing us the progression, it’s brilliant. Yeah.

Joanna: Well, and talking of progression, I came to see you at London Book Fair Reading your poetry and I was surprised to hear you say that you’d never done a reading like that before. So tell us about that poetry reading and what did you learn? Because I saw your hand shaking.

Orna: Yeah. Yeah. I wasn’t prepared for the emotion. I have to say. So I’m in London Book Fair every year. My hands don’t shake when I’m doing seminars for authors or passing on education, information, advice, any of that is absolutely fine. But I was honoured, privileged to be asked to read my poetry in Poet’s Corner at London Book Fair of which is, well, pretty spectacular because the authors who are reading at London Book Fair are the, are generally, are always, in fact the authors that a particular trade publisher wants to kind of wheel out to meet the industry. And so it was a real honour for an Indie author to be asked and I jumped at it and said “Yes!” And then I just was completely unprepared. I have never read from a poetry book before. I’ve obviously done a spoken word and done an individual poem or two but never an hour’s reading of poems and poetry is different. I think it was something to do with doing it there in the middle of the business environment. My mind just couldn’t quite get around it all. But I mean, I think it was fine. The atmosphere in Poet’s Corner is absolutely lovely. And the emotion that I was feeling, I know also people who were feeling, cause I could see them kind of being quite emotional. I didn’t, I learned a lot about poetry and reading from, you know, reading a lot of poems in a row like that. I think it needs to be broken up more. You pointed out I needed to trigger warning for one particular close to the bone poem and so on. But it was, it was a great experience. I’d like to do it again for sure. Yeah.

Joanna: Yeah. And I think that there are a couple of things there. We are multifaceted people. This is so important, like, you said. And I’m the same, you know, very confident on stage doing, speaking about this type of stuff. Like we don’t have any issues doing this. We might have once upon a time, but we have developed to where that’s more normal. But you were super nervous in the same way that you know, I’m saying that, you know, I haven’t read my fiction and that just makes me so scared. So just to people listening: you don’t have to be one thing. The wonderful thing about being indie is you can write what the hell you like. You can write poetry and you can write nonfiction, creativity, books and novels and do whatever you like and we can put it out there. So I think I love, I wrote in my journal when I was watching you and I wrote down this is being, this is like being really creative and not necessarily asking for a massive reward. I know you have the prosperous poet, but it was a very pure sense of, I wrote that poem when you wrote that poem in that moment. You weren’t thinking about that poetry reading however many years later.

Orna: No.

Joanna: And that’s we know so often now we hear people, I’ve never liked the write to market idea, but your poetry reading to me was the total opposite of that.

Orna: Yeah. I think poetry is by definition, you know, and I think this is why it is so challenging in terms of thinking about earning money from it. Some people are even offended at very idea. They want poetry to be free of that. They want to pretend the poetry is something pure and extraordinary and at one level it definitely is, but so is fiction. And so too can nonfiction can also be, so, you know, it comes back to your, I don’t think you could sit down to write a poem in order to make money. I would not recommend that as a strategy for either poetry or prosperity. But I do think that the tools and techniques that we have been given in this time that we’re living in allow us to balance our passion and our productivity and our commercial intentions in a very individual way that works for us.

Orna: And I think in many ways this is the missed opportunity of Indie that, you know, people are not taking advantage of enough yet. I think it’s a matter of confidence. I think also because Kindle was the first in the market and that particular way of publishing is quite dominant still in people’s minds, if not in everybody’s behavior. People think about that as self publishing but In actual fact what’s revolutionary about self publishing is that you get to decide what suits you and you have all these different possible ways of earning income or balancing your commercial and creative side in a way that the commercial feeds the creative, the creative feeds the commercial. And I mean you and I have lots of conversations about that because I tend to enter in on the creative side and you tend to enter in on the commercial side, but we are completely in the same place always. We’re always meeting in the middle and different projects as well will have different intentions going in and, but I think if you don’t, if you don’t actually work out for yourself what really delights you and how how your creative commercial balance can be worked to your best advantage. You’re missing out on the revolutionary potential of this movement that we’re all engaged in together.

Joanna: Yeah. And it’s interesting you say that because there’s different projects and I’ve bought your poetry books, but I have heard you speak more poems than I have read in your books. And it’s reminded me of, I wrote in my 10 year thing, words do not have to be written. Words can be spoken. And the Creative Penn podcast, 3.2 million downloads in 215 countries, I have not sold 3.2 million books and I have not had my book sold in 215 countries. And it really brought home to me the fact that we can reach potentially more people with our spoken word than with our written word. And like you’re saying, the possibilities are that we open our mind to more than just one format or one vendor or even one way of expressing yourself. So I had a number of people at the Fair said to me, “Why are you?” They were implying that I was wasting my time with audio when I should be writing. And what’s so fascinating, the new podcast, I’ve already written 10,000 words on a travel memoir through speaking, through putting it on a podcast. So I really want you guys listening to open your mind to what the possibility of creativity is and what “being a writer” is in this kind of new world because there’s so many possibilities. And I think that’s a nice segue into-

Orna: Going wide-

Joanna: Into the fair. Shall we talk about audio at the fair?

Orna: Yes. You talk about audio at the Fair. It’s also a segue into a theme that came up at the Fair all the time around going wide and what that is and so we can talk about that too. But audio first-

Joanna: We’ll come back to, yeah, wide. So I’ve actually, I’ve written some notes here. So just going back over, cause there was audio, audio, audio everywhere at the Fair. It was a huge thing. And I went to a number of seminars. I wanted to read this. 54% of listeners to audiobooks are aged 18 to 44, which is a very difficult group to reach with books. And in fact, an age group that the publishing industry often kind of just can’t get because they’re doing other things. So that’s really interesting. And also 83% of audiobook listeners had also “read” a book, because of course listening is still reading but actually bought and read a physical book or an Ebook, also podcast listeners listen to twice as many audio books as non podcast listeners. So podcasting is a great way to market audio even so much that I was there with, I think it was Penguin Random House.

Joanna: Lots of audio producers starting podcasts in order to market their narrators because they also found that narrators brought an audience to the books, which I think we already knew that. Also, 30% of audiobooks sales are non correlated with ebook sales. So as in they are people buying specifically audio and not the ebook. It doesn’t say correlated with print because I personally will often buy a print as well as an audio. What are the other stats? There was a few notes on the audio books don’t have a piracy problem, which makes everyone very happy because of course ebooks a huge piracy problem and print, you know, in some way. And then also a real discussion of the fragmentation of the audio industry. Find A Way voices was talked about, also the subscription model is like Storytell, Scribd, High Books and a big stress on going wide with audio, which I thought was fascinating. It’s the first time I’d heard the emphasis on wide, especially with library borrowing, which you don’t get if you are exclusive on Acx. I have a few other things, but what do you think of that so far Orna?

Orna: Well, I think it’s super, super interesting. Of course you are madly into audio. You, again, got there ahead of the pack, but everybody is talking about, because I mean the scale is just going, it reminds me of when ebook started and there was the graph that choose to kind of go like a wall up, up, up and audio is doing that and there’s so many different reasons why you might want to do an audio book and you’re listing them really superbly well. So do you want to finish off the rest of it is just as interesting. Yeah.

Joanna: Yes. So bundling for audio was discussed, which was interesting because, of course, we used to have bundling for audio. Remember when you would buy a textbook and you’d get a CD rom in it, remember CD roms?

Orna: Yes, I do.

Joanna: And so that was interesting. So the idea of giving away, say an Ebook with a code that you can use on an app, like Authors Direct or other other apps for audio was interesting. Oh, also we did forget to say, Bookbub just launched Chirp, which is their own audio book promotion mechanism. It’s only in Beta. It’s only for the US but I found out they’re actually going to have their own audio app. So I had thought it was something else. But you will get the Chirp app and then if you buy an audiobook, through a Bookbub deal on audio, you will listen to it on Chirp.

Joanna: Now, that’s fascinating because there really is no good mechanism for audiobook promotions right now. So that’s another big thing that wasn’t discussed cause it’s US only for now, but no doubt they’ll expand. Audio growth, very much linked to screen fatigue so people not wanting to be on their screens but still using the smartphone to listen to audio. And in discussion with Jiacomo from Street Live, we were talking about the 5 billion people who are coming online with 4G streaming on their phones over the next five years. So Street Live are all into that emerging market. One thing also audio at launch is something that lots of people talked about and is a challenge for all of us. I certainly have never managed it. So that’s, audio at launch means people will buy that format just as they would have bought another format, so it’s just an accepted format now, it’s not an extra. Wiley I heard say that they were looking at their last 80 years of Ip. So all the nonfiction books that Wiley do and putting hundreds, probably thousands of books into audio. And again, like you said, like five years ago when everyone did their backlist in an ebook and then finally mentioned the future of listening, they talked about connected home, connected car, self driving, how the everyone is expecting audio growth to continue massively. So there we go.

Orna: Fantastic. And of course indies do have the advantage while publishers are still thinking about audio as a subsidiary right. And in, in many cases trying to get rights back from audio book deals that they have done so that they can now start to put their own stuff into audio, the Wiley thing is interesting until they do that Indies have an advantage as we had an ebook for some years and no longer have really, in certain territories, anyway, so-

Joanna: Talking of territories, that’s actually, I talked to someone from StoryTell and they said and StoryTeller are kind of the other side of Audible. They’re taking over the territories that Audible doesn’t have. And they said they’re having big problems with licensing content for all of their territories because publishers don’t have rights for the territories they want to distribute in. So another opportunity for indies is if you have global rights to your audio, you can use services like Find A Way, Storytell all the places you can distribute to. And then your audio books will appear in these markets ahead of traditional publishers who are not necessarily getting their books out there. And one other thing I wanted to note is a several people said to me, “Oh, sorry, I’m locked into ACX for seven years.” But actually that’s only true if you have done a royalty split deal you’re locked in for seven years. If you’ve gone, if you’ve gone exclusive, but you’ve paid for it upfront then you can come out after one year. So I just wanted to tell people that, because that’s what I’ve been doing, pulling out my books and going wide with audio through Find A Way.

Orna: Yeah, Fantastic. We have a question here from Heather and asking, “Do you think there’s value in doing audio as well as printed book or do you think it should be instead of?” No, Heather, it should be as well as definitely. And that’s what Joanna’s talking about there. Audio book at launch is essentially getting your Ebook, your print book and your audio all out at the same time. It’s something that trade publishers don’t do because they sell audio as a subsidiary right. They don’t publish, they don’t have the facility in house, generally speaking. Wiley maybe an exception, I’m not sure, but the vast majority of trade publishers sell audio book producers as a subsidiary right and the author gets a percentage accordingly. So, it’s definitely not instead of though there are some people who, I think, it’s pretty new but are going into audio first, you know, voice first is becoming a, it is a Hashtag and it’s becoming a bit of a movement and it’s certainly something that people are thinking about.

Orna: So if you have a nice voice, if you’re thinking of narrating your own stuff, you know, there are certain conditions under which audio first might make sense for you. For the general indie, I think it’s still ebook makes most sense of beginning and the idea of having the, you know, all of them together, all formats, I think that’s probably when you’ve done book three. I think if you’re just setting out-

Joanna: Or book 29.

Orna: Well, at least, have at least three ebooks behind you before you start thinking about doing that because it’s such a learning curve to just do an ebook. It’s another whole can of worms to do a print book. And then audio has its own, each of the formats has its own particular ways of doing things formatting, setting up and so on. So to try and do everything. I think at the beginning you’d just never get a book out at all. So yeah. But once, I think if you have three books behind you is probably, for example, I’m only really starting to take audio seriously now and I have been publishing for seven years, so eight years, really. So, yeah-

Joanna: Yeah. But of course this is the advanced salon, so we’re talking advance topics. But that’s, the other thing I guess with audio is nonfiction is often a lot easier and easier to sell and cheaper because the books are shorter. So if you have short nonfiction books, that may be the way to start. I certainly make probably 80% at the moment of my audio book sales are nonfiction. It’s just so much easier. But I also have a nonfiction podcast, so I’m hoping that I can, sorry, my podcast stuff is falling apart, but I can get into, you know, see if I can shift more audio through my new podcast as well. But Orna, what else did you notice at the Fair?

Orna: Yeah. So just finally before leaving that topic. what you just said there about the short books talking to Diane Lasek from Listen Up and she was emphasizing on nonfiction, one hour audio books are doing extremely well for them at the moment and so authors are actually breaking down their books into shorter audio books. And so that might be something that some of you might want to think about. So yeah, gosh, there was so much around that topic actually of nonfiction. There was a lot of talk about, you know, fiction, nonfiction being a rising genre was how it was being described by trade publishing and you know, we were thinking about that and wondering if it’s really to do with fiction becoming more and more challenging as there are more and more and as there’s more and more fiction coming into the market.

Orna: Also that nonfiction is so much easier to market than fiction for everybody, for indies and for trade publishing as well. And you can do well with a nonfiction book in a way that you can’t quite with fiction because the fiction market is based on the breakout books. So a novel that does well surpasses, in general, we’re generalizing here and there are no rules as we all know. But in general a novel that does well it does better than a nonfiction book that does well. So fiction because it is sort of evergreen and it travel betters, story reaches, you know, cross cultural borders, crosses time board, crosses age group borders, often nonfiction tends to be more micro-niched and audience specific. So you can do quite well with nonfiction in the mid list, whereas fiction is becoming more and more polarized, I think.

Orna: You’ve got these people who are doing extremely well. And we were talking about this just before we came on air and I was remembering a statistic that I had heard from many years ago, which is that in trade publishing it’s kind of 19 failures to one success. So trade publishing is based on having those successful books that break out and they don’t mind if 19 authors fail because they have another 19 coming along kind of thing. But for us as the one person whose books we are considering, we think about as much in a different sort of way. And so, but I think for both, Indie and trade, nonfiction is definitely easier to market. So perhaps that’s why it’s being called a rising genre. I’m not sure. Do you have any thoughts of that?

Joanna: I also have heard from various people that things like supermarket sales make a big difference to fiction. Like they’ll do a bulk sale of this the latest crime novel into a supermarket and the supermarkets have stopped necessarily stocking some books or only stocking a few books with really big names on the front. And also a lot of people, you know, people supermarket shopping, moving online so people not necessarily putting books in their virtual trolley. But also bookstores in the UK and remember, people listening, London Book Fair is UK market. Obviously it’s a global rights fair, but there’s a lot about the UK focus, UK and Europe. And the other thing is we’ve had, you know, mergers, so Foyles and Waterstones, right? And also Waterstones last year was bought by a venture capital company. So, you know, you’d be seeing margin squeezed, I know this for sure, but venture capital company buys something you’re going to squeeze margins and also fewer buyers means, again, less competition.

Joanna: So if you’ve got a business model that is starting not to work, or for example, as I said last year, the changes to the algorithm that we’ve seen with Amazon means that if you’re not doing paid ads, you’re going to be struggling. And they’re not doing paid ads for anyone, but they’re big names. You see this kind of spiral. And I did say last year, it was like, you’re going to see lower fiction sales in the UK and probably the US because of this. And then I think it’s being spun in a different way, which is, “Ih, hey, nonfiction is selling really well” because we know how to do that. And as you say, it’s got a more of a niche and I certainly find that myself, like my nonfiction sales just carry on and you know, none of them are like ever going to be, you know, front of the New York Times or something, but they make a living. So again, I hope that encourages people to think, do these different things in different genres. Don’t pigeonhole yourself to one thing when the business models are changing.

Orna: Definitely. And this comes back to this whole question of of going wide and one of the things that we both found at London Book Fair was that people didn’t really understand what going wide is. I actually think a better way to think about going wide is to think about exclusivity and non exclusivity and you know, whether that’s ACX or KDP or whoever it might be. But anyway, going wide is the accepted term in the industry. And so just to say that going wide is talking about not just using different distributors and different platforms but it’s also about different markets and yeah, one comment here, :I thought I’d try wide with a standalone that’s not selling well on Amazon. I leave my best selling series in select. If the standalone does well then I’ll do wide but this, you know, this was a comment from somebody at the ALLi desk, I think.

Orna: That sort of common shows that somebody who doesn’t get how one goes wide. So it isn’t just something you try and apply your Amazon strategy to different platforms. It doesn’t work that way. It’s very, it’s completely different. And we actually have two talks on self publishing advice conference at the weekend, which address this very issue. And if you are thinking of going wide or if you’re already going wide and have your books on lots of platforms but they’re not selling, I would encourage you to listen to one is by Marco Lefebvre, Mark Leslie who used to work with Kobo, who’s now with Draft to Digital. And the other is by Kinga from Publish Drive and they’re talking if, for example, I met a few people at London Book Fair who’s held going wide meant you couldn’t be with Amazon. So do kind of go in there and understand what we’re talking about.

Orna: It definitely does include being with Amazon but not necessarily not with Amazon KDP select, which is their exclusivity program. So there is a difference and to be aware of that difference. And then to, there are also tips around how using international markets make your books more visible, about using subscription and library services to extend your reach. But the main point, I think, is about avoiding exclusivity and exclusivity is really quite risky because you’re putting all your publishing eggs in one basket and if that basket kind of falls apart then so do you, so, yeah, do you have any thoughts on wide? I’m sure you do.

Joanna: Yeah. I mean, I, yeah, I mean, I’m at this point, yeah, poster girl for wide, I think. But I, you know, I think it’s, there’s a positive choice. It’s a bit like the time when you know, you still hear people who say, “Oh, I couldn’t get a book deal so I self published.” But for us it’s a positive choice where Indie is a positive choice. We are pro Indie, it’s not like the last in the basket. And I feel the same about going wide in that it’s a positive choice for independence, which is what I think we stand for. And that’s what I was actually loving. I was big loving the traditional publishers because they were, they would not have bar of it where every talk I heard was all about all the different places that they were getting their books.

Joanna: And the thing is, I completely understand, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be in Select, especially if you’re just starting out and there’s lots to learn. But select, yeah, sorry. Exclusivity is not just ebooks. So even if you do go KDP Select for your ebook and decide you don’t want that to be on other platforms for print, that’s when, and you know, Orna was the one on this show who basically convinced me to really take print seriously as a wide distribution in print and libraries are the thing I’m talking about at the moment. If you are not wide with print, if you are only on KDP print, your books are not in libraries, they can’t be ordered by libraries. You have to be on Ingramspark. And we’re readers. We love libraries. So, and the other thing is audiobooks, if you’re just on ACX, your audio book is not in a library.

Joanna: So if you go through Find A Way they can be in libraries and this is the best marketing tip ever. So you say to people, “Hey, you can get my audio book for free or your Ebook if you’ve gone wide with Ebook, you can get my audio book for Free If you order it through your local library.” And they go, “Oh, that’s awesome.” So it’s free to them. And what’s so awesome about Find A Way is they have a pay per check out model for some libraries. So you get paid over and over again, recurring income for libraries. So this is the thing about wide, there are so many opportunities that people who just think, “Oh, it’s just ebooks, just select.” So to me it’s become much bigger. You know, and now we’re moving into hardbacks and large print and all kinds of things like that, which make, someone emailed me and said, “Why didn’t you do hardback large print?” And I’m like, “Oh no, not another one.” But this is the thing, I think really thinking about long term sustainability of your business and what I also love, I’m not in this to sit there watching sales. I’m in this to create, put stuff out there as far as possible, as wide as possible into every market possible and then get on with creating the next thing. That’s what I love about this.

Orna: Absolutely. And of course, everything that Joanna said about libraries also applies to bookstores. And again, just to speak about the conference, there are two different talks about getting your book into bookstores, one live from London Book Fair headed up by Robin Cutler of Ingramspark and another one by Dart Frog, an Alli partner member who actively works with authors to get their books into bookstores and also has an access into a book club, which is not sort of your book club down the road meeting over a glass of wine, actually a commercial book club which buys huge amounts of books at any one time from a particular author. Discounted but very, very worthwhile. And I suppose the whole thing is really, you know, what’s very clear to me, having spoken over the last week to probably, I don’t know, you know, I would think thousands, probably four figures of authors, it certainly felt like that, hundreds each day, really, of different people and coming through was that you really have to stop listening to other people telling you that what they do is the way that it’s done.

Orna: You have to go back to first principles, no matter how advanced to feel you are along the trail, every so often you need to return to your own definition of success here. What do you want to do? And as you grow and as you develop, you know, that changes but that learning, that growth, that exploration, that experiment is the very heart of independence. And there is no such thing as independence without being able to earn your own money is actually core to independence. So, you know, bringing again as we were saying, the commercial and the creative together in that way and it’s just a huge, huge opportunity for us to grow as possible for ourselves as an individual author and each one of us that does that then grows what is possible for the whole community, for other authors as well. So just to encourage you to, don’t kind of take anybody’s word for it until you’ve explored and experimented a bit for yourself because we’re all different and there are opportunities for us to be much more different than we are at this point in our development.

Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that it does kind of circle back to what I was saying about my 10 years show as well because the other sense you get at the Fair is you get people who you’ve just discovered Indie and it’s like, “Oh hey, so what do you do here? Who are you, the Alliance of independent Authors? What does independent author mean?” And you just suddenly realize that. I thought we all knew that by now but no are we still on day one as Jeff Bezos says?

Orna: I believe so. I absolutely believe so. I think we’re just, we are just starting. This is a revolution that’s going to turn everything around, completely but it’s going to take time and still lots of authors who are resisting and who don’t quite understand how it all works. A lot of smoke and mirrors around publishing, a lot of people not being all that honest and it’s great. I mean that’s been one of the fantastic things about platforms like this where authors can talk to each other where we can actually say “This is what happened to me. This is the truth of what happened to me, not the PR job but actually what it has been like.” So yeah, I definitely think we’re just on day one. Day One hasn’t even finished yet. Woohoo!

Joanna: Woohoo! As ever, we are just enthusiastic still. And I think that’s the other thing. Like, I’m still enthusiastic about this. I’m still here and I still think this is brilliant. And I mean, I’ve, somewhat, that’s the other thing I noticed. Anyone who published after 2015, you know, this discussion of exclusivity was not even a thing before they introduced KDP Select. That wasn’t how it used to be. So it’s so interesting hearing from people who’ve arrived into this at a time where there is a supposedly dominant business model, that, you know, works for some people but not others. So it’s really interesting. And just to remind everyone, we’re all on this journey. We’re all learning new things all the time. So again, if some of the things we say seem a little further on or, or maybe you think were basic around some things, then cool, we are all learning. So yeah, very exciting. So what, what are we looking forward to in the next month, Orna?

Orna: I’m going on holiday. Day after tomorrow I will be on a Florida beach.

Joanna: Fair enough.

Orna: I’m not thinking beyond that. I have to say. That’s why we’re doing this session so early this month because I’m not going to be around at the end of the month. Yeah, I’m going to be away. What about you? What are you doing?

Joanna: Well, I guess I’ll carry on writing my novel then.

Orna: Yeah, you go work on our behalf, Jo.

Joanna: Yeah, I’ll just keep on, keep on trucking, but when you get back it’ll be your turn.

Orna: Definitely. Okay, fair enough.

Joanna: Yes, we will be back for the May show and we’ll be sharing lots of exciting things with you then. Definitely go and check out the conference just to give you the link one more time, selfpublishingadviceconference.com and you can learn tons of stuff there about all kinds of different things. So please go check that out. Anything else?

Orna: That’s it for now, I think, yeah.

Joanna: Happy writing. Happy Publishing.

Orna: And happy creating. Bye.

Joanna: Bye.

 

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