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Self-Publishing 3.0 & Other Important Issues for Indie Authors: May 2018 AskALLi Advanced Self-Publishing Salon

askalli-podcast-squares3In this month’s Advanced Self-Publishing Salon from the Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross and Joanna Penn discuss Self-publishing 3.0.

Topics discussed this week include

  • An update from Orna on the London Book Fair – the most author-friendly book fairs – and other associated live events..
  • The launch of ALLi’s new member magazine called The Indie Author, which will be released quarterly.
  • The launch of ALLi’s White Paper on Blockchain for Books, to start the conversation about the future of indie publishing.
  • Joanna’s massive post rounding up her time at LBF at https://www.thecreativepenn.com/
  • Replays of live LBF events, to be found at http://selfpublishingadviceconference.com.
  • Orna’s plans for a number of self-published book projects.
  • Amazon’s new Great on Kindle program, with features that include a 50% royalty plan. (Joanna isn’t crazy about the branding.)
  • Orna’s outline of  Self-Publishing 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.
  • How going through giant “siren servers” like Amazon is preventing authors from thinking more creatively about how to reach readers.
  • How blockchain and other 3.0 technology will make it easier to reach readers directly (but we need to start thinking about it now).
  • The exponential growth of author confidence.
  • Nonfiction authors doing direct and bulk sales for a long time.
  • The continuing digital divide – not everybody has access to digital publishing and payments.

Above all, their key message is: be you in your writing. What is your unique take on the world?

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Author 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 AskALLi Advanced Self-Publishing Salon

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Watch the AskALLi 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 for This Episode

Joanna Penn: Hi everyone, welcome to the May 2018 Alliance Of Independent Authors’ Advanced Self-Publishing Salon with me, Joanna Penn, and Orna Ross. Hi Orna!

Orna Ross: Hi Joanna. Hi everyone.

Joanna Penn: And we’re back.

Orna Ross: Here we are again

Joanna Penn: Time Just flies by. I can’t believe we’re like what a third of the year through already. It’s crazy.

Orna Ross: It is crazy.

Joanna Penn: It is. Today’s theme is, Are We Moving Towards Self-Publishing 3.0. And we’re going to talk about what is that anyway and what does it mean. But first of all, some updates. First of all, the Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna what’s been going on with ALLi.

Orna Ross: Oh, we had a busy April. It was amazing. April and October are set to be our busy months of the year. busiest because that’s when we do our live events and April was of course the London Book Fair for anybody who was asleep through April in the publishing world. And I think London Book Fair goes from strength to strength as affair is really has a very clear idea of its own identity and I think it is the most also friendly all the book fairs without a doubt. So, for the first time we took an actual stand at the fair, and that was amazing. It was wonderful. Three days of meeting face to face with lots of authors and talking to everybody from people who were just considering and starting out, people who came to the trade for, to find an agent who went away saying no and I don’t want to sell, I want to self-publish and so on. So yeah, it was really great. We launched also our new member magazine, The Indie author, and a 32 page magazine, which we will now be doing quarterly. We used to do a monthly update for our members and we do a weekly roundup of our self-publishing advice, blog but. We felt we needed something meatier that people could kind of get our teeth into. And were also circulating that magazine through author associations to writers all over the world. So that was exciting. That was the first issue was released and I don’t even have a print copy left. They all went .

Joanna Penn: I’m just looking to see if I’ve got one.

Orna Ross: Somebody took my copy. So, I can’t show it to you, but yes.

Joanna Penn: Yes! I have one here!

Orna Ross: You have yours.

Joanna Penn: So there it is.

Orna Ross: There it is. So that will go to our members actually tomorrow, and we also launched our Blockchain for Books campaign, which has been,

Joanna Penn: I have everything I’m so prepared,

Orna Ross: You’re so prepared. And so that went really, really well also in terms of starting a conversation about something that is quite in the future, as I said before here at the alliance could just kind of sit back and watch and see, but we have decided to advocate partly because, not for any particular company or any particular way of doing it because it’s very, very early days and nothing is mature enough yet to say jump on and do that. So some members have. And one of our members became number one on the blockchain. Sukhi Jutla wrote a book about becoming an entrepreneur. I am, which in a way was a bit of a show kind of thing by the service Publica but. I mean, it is also true that history was made and the first blockchain for books, a best seller was born. So well done Sukhi for that. so yeah, it was all round a very exciting fair. You had a good time too. I think.

Joanna Penn: Yes, I did two days and I’ve just done a massive roundup on my podcast, the creative Penn podcast so people can listen to that. It took me about 10 days to kind of think through everything I’d learned, and I went to some fantastic sessions, mobile storytelling with China literature and what pad, which is very, very exciting. and really just, it’s always good to, I think it makes me feel both tiny because you feel like this tiny, tiny fish in this huge pond. And the other thing I think is really important is you realize that most of publishing book sales are not on Amazon, like we don’t even see the bulk of what goes on in publishing. As you know, these, these wholesaling things that go on bulk sales and so many things going on around the fair that make you realize that you’re in this huge industry and you know, so your art is everything but your art is nothing. It’s one of those moments where you have to juggle in your brain. And that’s, I think that’s very good for us. It’s good to look at the scale sometimes. but the other thing that happened is we did have a conference that was on at the same time, didn’t we? So, just tell people about that because they can still get the replays.

Orna Ross: Yes. Replays are still available at selfpublishingadviceconference.com. We always after our live events and one of the things we do at the fair and kind of wherever we go is do a recording so we can make it available to everybody who can’t be there in person. Of course, that’s one of the joys of digital. So yeah, we had live sessions from the fair. And on the conference, we did our usual 24 sessions over 24 hours, lots of stuff on marketing a book, particularly lots of lots of different and diverse topics from all sorts of great people. so yeah, do check that out because in a sense we bring the fair to everybody else. And also bring the sort of education and research and stuff that isn’t yet at the fair because self-publishing, even though London is more author centric than any other book fair. Authors’ presence there is tiny and in an annex on the back, you know, far away from the main action on the main floor. It doesn’t matter in the same way that, you know, we are not exactly where we are located within the industry. But for a reader buying a book, it doesn’t care what end of the industry, you came out of it, as long as you’ve written a good book and they’ve enjoyed it. So, and none of, I don’t see any of that as, as particularly important. So yeah.

Joanna Penn: So, and of course that was the book fair and that was busy industry self, but we are still writers and we are still writing, and publishing and I am about an hour away because we have this call scheduled at a specific time. I’m about an hour away once we’re done for finishing my line edits on how to write nonfiction, which. So I’m going to finish that, this evening.

Orna Ross: Oh you must have loved taking this call Jo.

Joanna Penn: No I really needed to break. I’ve been going so hard on it. I mean, you know, it’s a bit like renovating a house. Line Edits can take a lot longer than you expect. And I thought, oh, it’s nonfiction. It won’t take any. Oh my goodness. It’s, it’s been a lot of work. and it’s another, these are those books that I write and I think, oh, you know, I just write down everything we know and it’s ended up like 70,000 words again. So, it’s a big book and, but I’m very pleased with it and I’m trying to release all formats together on the 31st of May, eBook, print, audio book, and a multimedia course. So there you go. That’s, that’s my plans. so what about you? What have you been writing and publishing this month?

Orna Ross: Yeah, that’s brilliant. Because I’m also thinking about this bringing it together thing. So I have, I’m doing a proper launch period where I’m actually going to do some press. I also want to bring out audio, print and eBook together and I’m also going to bring out three separate books and a book, a box set at the same time. So that’s the plan and that will be at the beginning of October. And it’s interesting, I’ve spoken to a few people, we’re going to be talking about self-publishing 3.0 and the whole thing of direct selling and so on. And I’m talking to a few selected people about some bulk sales as well, which is something I’ve never considered before. So really for the first time in a long time, taking publishing very, very seriously and it’s a whole, it’s almost like because things, because I think confidence has changed and people’s view of self-publishing has changed, my own ability to think about myself as a product has improved from the last time that I kind of went out there in this way. It’s, it’s interesting and it’s very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to kind of reporting back more as well than I have had time to really in the past five years. I feel like I have time now to concentrate more on my own process and helping other people to kind of just shining a light on that for whatever value it might have for authors. So, yeah, that’s interesting. And to balance that, I’m also, and I, I probably this will come to anything or, or I probably will say no, like you, I get a lot of offers from publishing publishers of various kinds to, to publish the work and usually it’s usually just to kind of a straight no, but I am talking to a very interesting, very small digital publisher, fiction Only, about maybe doing a contract with them to publish my fiction. Some of it. I wouldn’t go for it all to me, as I said, ended up going for nothing, but when it came to looking up what I’m doing on one side and then what is happening and your ability to reach across all your books at all times. And this publisher, because they’re small, new niche and very interesting. Their contract, it’s very much more flexible than the usual. And it would actually make a lot of. It could make a lot of sense for both of us because they will put the time and energy and effort into marketing that, you know, there’s only so much time to go around. So the reason I’m bringing it up because, as I said, it may not even come to anything is because I think it’s important. It was a conversation I had at the fair being an indie author and what that meant and it’s an alliance with self-publishing and of course it means self-publishing, but it also means making any contract, any deal that’s good for your books, as long as you retain the level of control that you. create, a freedom that is essential to you, nothing’s off the table. So, it just, it doesn’t mean that you only self-publish at all times on every project, you know, you consider each project on its merits. I, so I just wanted to bring it up to what we’re going to be talking about.

Joanna Penn: Yeah. Well I think that’s interesting. And, you know, a lot of indie authors here, who have some success are approached by various people and I think the, the empowerment side of it is the most important thing. It’s that really weighing it up and seeing the pros and cons and also not just for now because it’s interesting you say that and you know, obviously when you go with any kind of publishing contract you are, you will get a smaller percentage, but you hope that they will do more marketing and I think that’s probably true for a certain amount of time. But if you fast forward five years, 10 years, 20 years, are they still going to care about your book? So, what I’d like to see as more of the same as the foreign rights, which is a term of license, and you know, because I think that a publisher could care for your book for maybe five years or seven years. But I just can’t see them like caring unless you’re a mega bestseller.

Orna Ross: Absolutely. You always have to limit the term. I mean, you go into the negotiation trying to make the term as short as possible that they go and trying to make this as long as possible. Problem is that authors have not, have not acted in their own interest and it just take and publish your contracts and selling them without doing the negotiation that a publisher expects. So yes. And that’s one of the reasons this, I would even be considering this is because the contract is so flexible around term and conditions on and everything. Yeah.

Joanna Penn: Yeah. Cool. Okay. So, quick news before we move into the today’s topic. So, there was an amusingly, back in January, I think it was this leak of the 50 percent royalty which came up and I said at the time, that is not a mistake. That is a piece of code that they released too early. You can’t just have a mistake in programming. It just the mistake was letting it go live and a few people saw this 50 percent and there was much discussion of what it is. And now we know because Amazon has released, and this is invite only, it’s called great on kindle and it is a nonfiction only program at the moment with 50 percent royalty, but with the positive side of no, delivery cost, which for many nonfiction writers, oh, and also no cap on the upper limit. So you could price a book 19.99 for example, and it could be full of images and you would still get 9.98 or whatever it is, 50 percent. So this is very interesting. My two feelings are, I think this is a great idea for those types of books. And that’s my first feeling. My second feeling is why the hell can’t they do this for more stuff? And my third feeling is I don’t like the branding. I don’t like great on kindle. I think that to me says these are the good books and these are the great books and everything else is not great, which is wrong. And what I can see is that the great on Kindle will become a new brand for 50 percent royalty. This is my prediction completely. My prediction, my thoughts, no, nothing to back that up, but I, I great on Kindle is not a nonfiction thing. So that’s, that’s my thoughts. What are your thoughts?

Orna Ross: Well, it’s interesting that that’s your prediction because I think that it the direction. I think the what was interesting to me was the reason for starting there with nonfiction and I, I think as long as research is showing very much the nonfiction readers are still fiction, has moved primarily to eBook, but nonfiction readers still really like print and there are still some things you can do with a print book or you know, a nonfiction book that does make it feel more comfortable. So, I think that’s a big part of why this has started there. and the greater kindle thing, I mean, yeah, you’re back to the gatekeeper, back to the curator, you know, it’s exactly what Amazon, it seems to go against everything that Amazon stands for in terms of the reader being the decider but yeah. There you are they’re not going to change now, I don’t think.

Joanna Penn: No, I think it will only be expanded and someone asked me if I would go in into it. I, I definitely would consider it, but I don’t have any. I would, I would love the 50 percent royalty to be about, getting into kindle unlimited. So I would take a 50 percent royalty for some books, you know, you’d made the choice per book, Blah, Blah Blah. But to get into a kindle unlimited and not have to be exclusive, that would be brilliant because there are a lot of readers there I’d like to reach. But there you go. okay. So, the other interesting piece of news is that Kobo and French partners for Knack who are, you know, the biggest bookstore really in, in France, right? Are partnering with a Telco Orange to distribute audio books and more eBooks. So this is really interesting because this is a mobile telecom mobile service, right? So this, I don’t think it is this, but this could open it up to mobile payments where there’s no, there’s no difference between what people are just doing on their phone and buying stuff without even noticing, which is what China literature we’re talking about. So That’s interesting. But any thoughts on this one?

Orna Ross: Well, I think it’s great and Kobo is fantastic, you know, the way in such a small company managers to punch way. And by that I mean Kobo writing life manages to punch way above its weight by making these very strategic partnerships. It does that exceedingly well. And Yeah, I think what you’re talking about, that convergence, it’s not there in this deal, but I think that’s where we’re heading, and I think that will be a very good thing for self-publishing authors and they will get people used to that direct purchase for books that is all important. Yeah.

Joanna Penn: Fascinating. Okay. So, today’s topic, are we moving towards self-publishing 3.0? and I know some people listening are going, but what was 1.0 and 2.0, So on. This is your, your kind of phraseology. So explain what was 1.0 and 2.0 and what do we see with 3.0?

Orna Ross: yeah, 1.0 is simple. It was the end of the 1990s. It was desktop publishing. It was the first time that you didn’t need a massive big enormous printing press to produce books. And it was revolutionary at the time. Lots of authors jumped in and fill their car boots up with books and it went off around the country. Just became affordable and to publish more books in small quantities. And it became possible for us to do. And so publishers did, you know, had lots of very successful mail order businesses and there was a whole load of activity that wasn’t very well documented at the time. It wasn’t really considered self-publishing because it was Dan pointer, I think, who coined the self-publishing phrase and. But it only began to be used much later. So self-publishing 2.0 was that much later in 2008, 10 years ago now when we got Kindle. So with the first ereader technology with Sony reader was the first one. But it was bringing it together with an online store. Those two things together gave a self-publishing 2.0. And of course also to in huge numbers. As we know I’m self-publishing three point zero is essentially about office thinking of themselves as the main event rather than thinking of other services as the main event in their business. I’m thinking about how can I actually get more readers directly for I, I get the email and you know, the problem with publishing through the services, obviously you get discoverability that you wouldn’t get out on your own but You lose an awful lot and you lose control. You have no data whatsoever about your readers. All of that remains in their hands. And it also, I think because of its, it’s because some of the attention goes to the services, it stops writers from thinking more creatively and more directly about their readers and how to reach them. And so I think, you know, blockchain coming, but not just that, all of these like mobile pay and all of the this becoming possible through technology means that it is easier and it’s going to be easier and easier for us to reach people in that way, but only if we start thinking about what does an option. And so it’s very much, I think about us realizing that this is important, but no other service or website should be getting more of our time and effort than our own. And it isn’t about, I’m giving up all the services and I’m just going to publish direct, of course not. But it is about, are you set up, do you even have that option on your website? Do you even think about that? If not, why not? You know, beginning to ask those kinds of questions I think is really important.

Joanna Penn: And it’s interesting because I’ve been selling direct, you know, courses and audios and books and things really as soon as I went online in 2008 when I built the creative penn. And, you know, later on there were some issues in terms of sales tax with the EU 2014 that came in, became a bit of an issue and attacks is definitely one of these things that can be an issue unless you use some of these intermediaries and there are plenty of options for helping people deal with that. But the, even just to mention the word tax means that people have to have a business mindset. You have to be taking control and understand your publishing world as a business. And you and I talk about this a lot, you know, banging it, I’ve been banging the drum for years. but interestingly you put in in the blockchain, white paper, this line which I quoted in my blog as well from orna ross. Many authors crave attention more than money and overvalue their work emotionally while undervaluing it commercially. And that I think is brilliant and it totally nails why authors struggle with things like selling direct because there is no recognition, no ranking, no nobody saying, oh, look your number one, whatever. So how do you think we can deal with this, this issue?

Orna Ross: I think, you know, we’ve seen a massive increase in author confidence in the last particularly two years on general and it’s one of those things that seems to me to be growing exponentially. so, it’s one of the reasons I love the London book fair trip is because we, we launched those six years ago and every year you go, you get a different sort of temperature and in the author community, and I think we weren’t ready for this before. I, you know, the very idea that you could even choose yourself, you know, decide to publish yourself, is still brand new to so many people. But There is an awful author now who are in a position where they can and are beginning and alters who would never have thought of themselves as business people, myself included, you know, are coming around to understanding that actually the first day you sell a book, you become a business person by default. Whether you like it or not, you are now embroiled in things like tax and so on. But it’s, it’s taking time. And that’s understandable, you don’t reverse five centuries of conditioning in a decade, but I think the second decade, this decade we’re coming into now, I think with the rise in, in author competence, it’s time for us to start thinking about some of this stuff because if you, you know, if you’re dependent on a trade publisher or if you’re a dependent or more self-publishing outlet, you are not independent in either of those scenarios really and true independence is built by having a, a diversity of the different income streams. But it also surely begins with your own self and your reader and at least having that thought. So at the moment those authors who go direct it wouldn’t be a major part of their income, generally speaking, in most cases. And only a minority have even got around to thinking about direct and indirect. I don’t just mean I sell a book directly on my website. I, I’m also thinking about things like patronage and membership sites and you know, all the various ways in which you can actually just move closer to your reader and become more central. And there are other services that you need to bring in as well, but I suppose what while I’m talking about is not just assuming that there is only one way to self-publish, there are lots and lots of ways to self-publish.

Joanna Penn: I agree. And I think the. so, you mentioned a couple of ways there, but let’s just go through what ways are authors already selling direct? and it’s interesting you mentioned Dan pointer who I met before he died, right. And just a lovely man and it’s, and I met him at a speakers’ event because nonfiction authors who are mainly speakers and then do a book as part of their speaking platform they have done back of the room sales and basically selling direct for years. I mean, you know, really the, I would say that speakers, all probably done this originally. so that’s sort of the back of the room individually, but also the bulk sales, again, generally nonfiction authors. selling books in bulk. Maybe two companies. The one I was when I was researching how to write nonfiction as I’m looking at some of the famous books around this and Who Moved My Cheese was a really big one that basically got licensed all over American companies and just sold, you know, who knew, who even knows how many copies that book sold and it’s still a best seller but would have made so much more money with the direct sales to like, you know, these big companies. So, these are two really big things. you mentioned subscription and patrion. What are your thoughts on these? Any examples?

Orna Ross: Yeah, gosh, examples I’m hopeless at it off the top of my head, but I think it is. I’ve often

Joanna Penn: It’s in the notes.

Orna Ross: Sorry?

Joanna Penn: It’s in the notes.

Orna Ross: Then I’d have to move my notes over a bit. [inaudible] just come to mind. There are people who, who I have just decided to have a look at part three. And so I’m really interested in. I’ve been going around just looking at all the different people, not just writers. I think this is a really important thing to note. A thought we can learn more, I think from people in other creative fields and in tech fields and so on, then we can learn from, from authors who are more traditionally minded and to start meeting those who have the conventional business model of selling to an old to a trade publisher. So, you know, it’s really interesting to go around and patron and look at the different ways in which people offer what they do and the different things that they’re offering and to succeeds and who doesn’t and all of that. I think that’s a really inspiring and interesting thing that everybody. I should’ve done it years ago and so I’m all about right Now. you can just sell your books. You can just put a PayPal button on your website, you know, of course you then have to bring people to that landing page. It’s not going. Doing that in and of itself is not enough, but not doing that At all is also a decision and if you’re not, why not? Okay. if you’re amazon exclusive, you can’t, but you know, if, if you’re not, why happened to kind of thought about that and what

Joanna Penn: I mean just on that? I do, I do have an issue with just the PayPal button because of sales tax in different places. So I would recommend looking at services. I use sclz.com. There’s also pay hip. You can do shopify, which also does physical products. there are lots of third-party sales platforms for enabling direct sales that will help you either manage the sales tax. So, for example, you can opt out even if you’re British, you can opt out of selling to the EU and thus avoid digital Vance, which is,

Orna Ross: you’re going to do that with PayPal now as well. They have upped their game a lot and they have two or three different options. It used to be a lot cruder. They, they, they can geoblock now as well and they can do various things. I haven’t tried any of the, the author services and have found PayPal sufficient to needs. But sometimes it, it takes a conversation. You need to talk to them about what your needs are and they can help you.

Joanna Penn: But I do, I do think like, just circling back to the distributors and we mentioned kobo, it’s really interesting. I have quite a few leaders in sub-Saharan Africa who they don’t even have access to amazon, they don’t, they can’t use PayPal. and yet they are able to get books on kobo, which is fascinating and I think this is a really good point because we are global, you know, where the alliance is, a global organization and many authors who are not, you know, in the big western digital sort of worlds, don’t actually can’t actually use these tools. They were, you know, even people in the alliance he published on amazon and still have to get paid by check, which is just crazy, or you know, they can’t have direct bank transfer. So it’s what’s. I think we kind of straddling this world where we can see this feature. Like I mentioned China literature where readers are paying micro payments per page on their cell phones and Google’s next billion internet users are mobile first. I mean, this is, this is happening, and then we’ve also got this kind of other side, which is a lot of people, a lot of authors haven’t even considered, you know, sort of the questions they’re asking at a basic level one. So, what I like about what you’re saying is, is trying to span this time in the middle. so, like I was delighted when cells came along. and also, now book funnel integrates with cells so you don’t, I used to have this awful problem where I would sell an eBook to someone and then they would have to side load it onto whatever device they were doing, and everyone had a different device and it was a nightmare. And then damon started bookfunnel.com. So now You can use cells which then integrates the book funnel and they get their eBook and seamlessly as if they had bought it on one of these other places. So these tools are becoming more available, just potentially not for everyone. So it definitely gives you more of a global perspective I think.

Orna Ross: Yes. and you know, they will spread. It’s, it’s a matter of time and of course it’s brilliant to have, services like Kobo and I’ll just mentioned published drive as well, which reaches into places that amazon doesn’t reach. we had an interesting presentation at London book fair from published drive who we’re looking at some particular authors and just how much of their revenue came from outside of amazon and when you move out of the UK in the US, that becomes really, really just noticeable, you know. So yeah,

Joanna Penn: just don’t, just coming back to Patrion, as you said, there are lots of different ideas. Lindsey, broker, you know, fantasy author I’m, actually releases her books as a Patrion on reward before she loads them up to kindle. And then she does do an exclusive period with kindle so she puts them on Patrion on, for her fans because she’s been wide for a long time, but now is doing these different release strategy. So I think that’s a really interesting method because you’re not going against their terms and conditions because you haven’t published it yet. So you’re actually putting it out as a reward to your fans. And then you’re publishing it so, and

Orna Ross: it is very clever

Joanna Penn: It is very clever and I think this early, like I support Christine Catherine Rush’s blog on Patrion and you just get it early. So I get her post a day or two early and then other people get it when it’s on the blog and you still feel like, oh, that’s cool. I got that early, you know, I have my Patrion for the podcast and i do extra q and a every, every month. So I think that’s really interesting. But that’s just one of the big sort of the big elephant in the room, I guess is the selling direct is you do have to drive the traffic, you have to concentrate on your personal brand, your website, and, and really take control as you said. And for some people that’s really scary. but again, mentioning China literature coming into the west with, they’re like 100 million new books. There’s a lot of content in the world. I think we’ve all noticed that. And to me, the only way of standing out is to be you and attract people based on what you’re sharing in your angle on the world. What are your thoughts on that?

Orna Ross: Yeah. I think we talked about personal branding and in an earlier session, I think it was the month before last, but I think it’s key and, and have that sense of team and taking ownership and, and having to know how to attract traffic and you know, I think the day of discoverability through amazon and so on as more and more, more content comes in, discoverability is not something that’s really happening. People are attracting their readers to amazon and there are paying dearly and lots of cases with lots of advertising and stuff to bring people to their amazon page. And you know, if we were actually to put that same amount of time, effort, money, and so on, into attracting people to our own landing page, we would get so much more out of that. So, key to it is, as you say, getting over the fact that it’s scary.

Joanna Penn: It’s scary. This whole thing is scary.

Orna Ross: And fun! Scary and fun!

Joanna Penn: It’s scary. And fun,

Orna Ross: It wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t people and yes it is scary that level of, of kind of stepping up, you know, and taking, taking hold. There are two sides to every, author. There is the person who does that and then there’s the person who sits in the room and wants to be left alone and not to talk to anybody and integrating those two sides of ourselves is very much what an indie author has to do. And I think do it for ourselves. Again, it’s that idea of slowly over time building something, a real asset that has real value rather than, you know, as I said, spending loads of money to get your ranking this week and, but you’re not left with anything. Whereas sell less this week at, at, you know, at home on your own site. But you’re left with emails, direct connection and all sorts of other ways to sell other, you know, to sell your words and different sorts of ways than just the obvious. It’s about getting creative. It’s about really, I guess, embracing all the potential here or more of it anyway rather than just doing what everybody else is doing.

Joanna Penn: Yeah. And it’s funny because it just makes me think of, you know, I started, I’m coming up to my 10th anniversary on the creative penn and I, you know, when I wanted to leave my job, the whole thing I wanted to do was I was like, why am I spending my time and my energy and my life building someone else’s brand, building someone else’s business. And one of the main decisions for me choosing actively choosing to go indie and I think it’s really important. It was never a second choice for me. It was the first choice was freedom and freedom being the value that I hold most dear and circling back to you independence. And we are the alliance of independent authors and this is a mindset as well as actual practical things that we do every day. So I’m very excited. I think, we’re looking at, as you say, 3.1, but only just moving into it. We could say we’re at 2.9, right?

Orna Ross: Yeah. Okay.

Joanna Penn: We’re moving into this, but I definitely think like if we’re still having these conversations in 2028, things better be different.

Orna Ross: I think they will be different. I would love to as a, as a side note, if there are people out there, because the very nature of induced who work this way is, there could be somebody who is doing an amazing job that we just don’t know about it. So please identify yourself so that we can share your success with other people so that they can emulate what you’re doing. And so on. This is the world of coopetition, not competition together. We’re a stronger. I’m quite certain there are people just as in the old days, there were indies who run very successful mail order businesses that were completely anonymous. little ads in the paper and off they went. I’m quite certain there are people out there doing things that we don’t know about it. So please identify yourselves.

Joanna Penn: Fantastic. Right? So, we’ll be back for the June. Oh my goodness. The June session. In a month’s time. What are your, what’s your focus for the next month Orna?

Orna Ross: Me I’m on this publishing jag, you know, and I’m actually had to have something I think we’ll have us our theme next time the team, the assistants who help you to make things happen. So I’ve had to do a major rejig so I’m in a kind of a training period so that I can kind of really focusing in on publishing for the next little while. So, yeah, just doing, publishing differently but also documenting my own process because I didn’t have time to document the gross of the lines when it started. It just kind of took off. And so, I’m kind of going back now I’m working on the self-publishing advice, the successful self-publishing book one. We’ll finally finish because I think it has been waiting for this this time, this moment they’re self-publishing 3.0 to me completes the circle. It never felt complete before.

Joanna Penn: Ah, there we go. Fantastic. And I will be going hard on how to write nonfiction and so I hope to be announcing that and I have promised myself because I’m trying to be better at rewarding myself for achieving things this year I’ve promised myself a book, research trip to Madrid, so to tie into my next alkane novel. so I’m really excited about that. So I think this is important to you is we’re not always working, working, working. We do have to reward ourselves for a job well done. So thank you very much, Orna and thanks everyone. Happy writing. Happy publishing. We’ll see you next time.

Orna Ross: Thanks Jo.

 

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