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Writing Questions Answered With Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn And News With Daniel Holloway: Member Q&A & Self-Publishing News Podcast January 2020

Writing Questions Answered with Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn and News with Daniel Holloway: Member Q&A & Self-Publishing News Podcast January 2020

This week it’s the return of our Members Q&A and Self-Publishing News Salon with Michael LaRonn in the co-presenter seat with Orna Ross, ALLi director, followed by Dan Holloway’s news roundup.

Our questions this month include:

  • Do I need a different copyright page for each country my book is published in?
  • Where can I find information on starting my author business?
  • How aggressive should I be in pursuing speaking events?
  • Should I put the ALLi logo on my book cover?
  • How can I get more exposure for my books and increase book sales?
  • When is the best time to hire an illustrator?
  • How do I avoid paying sales tax when selling my books at events?

Also ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway joins Multimedia Manager Howard Lovy in an update on the latest news from the indie author-publishing world. They discuss Overdrive’s new owners, good news in library downloads, and the trouble in Romance.

Listen to the #AskALLi Members Q&A for January 2020

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Watch the #AskALLi Members Q&A for January 2020

It's the return of our Members Q&A with @MichaelLaRonn in the co-presenter seat with @OrnaRoss, ALLi director, followed by @agnieszkasshoes's news roundup with @howard_lovy. Click To Tweet

Show Notes

Learn how to Start an Online Business with the Hawthorn Law YouTube Channel

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

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines Earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcript

Orna Ross: Hello, everyone and welcome to our monthly member Q&A at the Alliance of Independent Authors, Question and Answer Forum where each month we get our questions in from our members and we answer them here as best we can. And I am with Michael La Ronn as ever. Hi, Michael.

Michael La Ronn:  Hi Orna. How are you? Happy 2020

Orna Ross: Happy 2020 here we are. Yes. New year, new decade. Yeah. Are you all fresh?

Michael La Ronn:   I am, I am super fresh. I’m, I’m super excited. I think 2020 is going to be a good year for a lot of writers. So, yeah, I got nothing but optimism today.

Orna Ross:  That’s great. Yeah, no, I agree with you. I think we’re really coming into our own now as people kind of get it and more and more authors are understanding of what it means to publish and, and so on. Well it’s not easy and there are always little challenges along the way. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today. So, you have been sifting through the questions. We have lots of questions from last time because we, we didn’t have a session in December. So yeah, let’s get straight to it. Eh.

Michael La Ronn:   Yes, absolutely. So, for those of you whose questions we are answering today, just, just remember that we go on the break in December. So, certainly apologies that we weren’t able to get to your questions until now, but we’re going to we’re gonna have a clean out episode today. So, we’re gonna, we’re gonna power through all the questions we got left over in 2019. Here we go. Alright, so Cheryl asks, What’s the best way to format a loose-leaf notebook? So, it appears that she is in the process of, I think she’s using WordPerfect I’m not that necessarily matters, but it’s basically a nonfiction book, I believe for notaries and she wants it to be a useful resource for them. And so, she wants to format a loose-leaf notebook that she can sell.

Orna Ross:  Okay, so we’re into the area here of specialism. So, this is not your typical self publishing project. And so, this is a matter of finding the right person to work with, somebody who has experience in working with this kind of notebook. So just to back up a little bit, and I would ask, first of all the question as to why it needs to be loose leaf anytime that you step outside standard printing conventions, you’re giving yourself a headache, you’re giving yourself expense. And, you know, it’s, of course not saying you shouldn’t do this, it’s a great thing to do special projects. I’ve done them myself and they can be super interesting, super rewarding. But if your notebook doesn’t need to be loose-leaf, if it could be done in binding that can be handled by Amazon KDP or Ingram Spark, then you will be making life a lot easier for yourself you will be able to make it available as a print on demand title as a workbook you and therefore you your distribution options will become much wider if you get a loose-leaf notebook done, you will be largely responsible for the distribution, you will have the notebooks at home in your garage or your attic or whatever and you will be distributing from there. So unless you have some distribution outlet already set up which you may do given that it is so specialist, I’d say maybe just have a small think about, about whether this is the format you want to do. If it is, you’re going to need find somebody who, who does it. And it is so specialists that we don’t actually I don’t know offhand have any Alli partner member who handles this kind of notebook. But if you are determined on this is the way you want to go then do come back to us and we will help you and do some research and see who might be able to but you know, looking at loose-leaf notebooks in the stores and finding out who prints those. I’m kind of working backwards, you may be able to get somebody who can help you to close it together.

Michael La Ronn:   Yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny you mentioned that because I’m gonna hold this up on the screen. So apologies to the listeners, but I just got this book by Evan Carmichael. He’s a big YouTuber, and it’s a three point landing journal. And it’s a really cool journal because it helps you like write down some of the learnings from his videos. The big downside is that it’s print on demand. So it’s kind of difficult to write in and so it would benefit from a loose leaf. But as I was thinking about it, I was like wow, that would probably be very difficult and very laborious to do. So, if Amazon is listening, if KDP print is listening, who really nice to have like a journal or a loose-leaf notebook feature but yeah, air my grievances out in public now.

Orna Ross: Yeah, exactly. We talked Ingram Spark as well. We talked to both Amazon and Ingram Spark and see if they have any plans because it’s something that we’re seeing a lot more with and our nonfiction authors that they want to give workbooks to go alongside their non fiction books. It’s definitely something that there is a big demand for. I do, have I got one yes I do actually. Haha, I do a little showing to, I do this free writing notebook. Do my creative flow practice will be very familiar with my passion for free writing for authors and everyone. And it is a print on demand notebook and available in softback and hardback, it does the job. It’s not —  Is it the most perfect no book of all time? No, the paperweight is quite light. It’s difficult to fold it flat. The hardback is better than the paperback for that. It’s not the very best notebook in the world. However, people have been able to buy it in Australia and all over the world, which is not something I would have been able to handle myself if it wasn’t available on and through Ingram Spark and through Amazon. So yeah, have a think about it, and then maybe come back to us and we get a little bit more into it then.

Michael La Ronn:   Sounds good. All right. Marcy asks. And so, I’m just going to read her question because I think that’ll help tee up the context. So, I’m just finishing with my editor. I have an illustrator working on drawings. I also have a family tree and a map. That I need to have designed. Who does what? and in what order? Do I need a graphic designer? Do I need to pick a publisher first? Or are requirements for illustrations similar? Can you walk me through the process? I don’t want to spend money on services and then find out that I need it done differently. So, to summarize this question, when is the best time to hire an editor or not editor but an illustrator? And what is the process of doing it?

Orna Ross: Yeah, very good. And very wise, great question. So, the order in which we do things, you know, how a book goes through the publishing process can vary a bit? Well, there are certain things that have to happen in a certain order. And you’re absolutely right, getting, getting this one right very important. So essentially, you would commission the illustrations at the same time as you’re putting together the text and the entire and manuscript with illustrations would then go across to whoever is going to format and put the book together for you. So that’s the order in which it happens. Finding the right illustrator and commissioning them clearly, getting illustrations that you’re happy with, all of this is a little job a little project in and of itself, and may even be the start of a long term relationship perhaps because a lot of people who, who do this go on to do, to do it again and again. So, it’s not something to be taken lightly. We have a number of articles in the supporting advice center about this very topic, how to hire an illustrator, how to find the right person. We also have a sample contract in the members zone and which you can get a sample agreement which you can use to make sure that everything is very clear between you and your Illustrator. I should say that all our sample agreements are currently being remade, and with the help of Ethan Ellenberg, who is a New York literary agent who is working with us to put together user friendly contracts. So, a lot of things tracks that are circulating in the publishing arena, are overly legalistic really for authors uses and this will be a perfect example. So, two creatives getting together hopefully, into a very nice creative partnership need a simple agreement where both clearly understand the parameters of the work, costs and so on. So and yeah, there is an agreement there and there will be a better one there in the little while. Do you have thoughts on illustrators and the order of events?

Michael La Ronn:   No, I think you covered it perfectly. We know we got this question last year. And one of the things that we’d also talked about was making sure that you’re planning out in advance,everything. So making sure you’re doing the illustrations with the text. And the reason you do that is because illustrators can be pretty busy people. And so the last thing you want to do is finish your text and then find out that your illustrator is not going to be available for a certain amount of time and that’s going to delay your project. So if anything, it helps if you’re going to have illustrations to have a really good idea. What they’re going to be going into it, and in Marcy’s question sounds like there’s a family tree. So it sounds like that you have that information already. So I, I would definitely, if you haven’t already, get the illustrator, get that squared away, because it’s going to take them some time to create the illustration. And it’s gonna have to go back to you, and there’s going to be probably a couple back and forths. And so we always advise that the sooner the better with any kind of graphics and illustrations.

Orna Ross: Absolutely. It’s very like with an editor, you know, if once somebody is good at their job, Illustrator, editor, designer, whatever, and they get booked up well in advance, so anyone who’s available at the drop of a hat is probably not somebody you want to be working with. Of course, there are exceptions to that and things happen all the time. Things fall off schedules and stuff. But generally speaking good people are booked well in advance. And these things take time and Indie authors can be impatient and can kind of feel Oh, well focused on now. I need an illustration and I need to tomorrow I will kind of work with anybody and that isn’t a recipe for success on this. So, yeah, get going as soon as you can, take your time, work slowly and fairly together with the illustrator. And yeah, I’m sure it’ll all go really well.

Michael La Ronn:   Alright, so our next question is from Yet Here. I’m not going to go into his specific issue, but the general question is he’s having or he or she’s having issues with Ingram Spark, what do you do if you are having some technical issues? Or if there’s just something you can’t figure out? What do you do and is there a good way to contact them?

Orna Ross: Okay, yes, I mean, go straight to their support desk. That’s your first port of call with any self publishing service. Don’t just sit there banging your head off the wall. And some of these things can be extremely frustrating. And generally speaking, the support desk people are very helpful. So that’s your first port call, having said that sometimes support desk people are having a bad day or not very helpful, don’t understand you, you don’t understand them or whatever. Alli has very good relationships with all of the major self publishing platforms, Ingram Spark included. They’re very welcome sponsor of our conference and all the various projects that Alli is involved in and few of their people, more senior people are actually members of our author forum. So you can ask your questions in the author forum. However, we would ask that you do that after you’ve pursued the normal support desk option. So in other words, that’s a sort of a second port of call. They’re all busy people. And they’re helping out Alli members out of the goodness of their heart and we don’t want to strain ahead of their goodwill. So yeah, you can, you can pose the question in in the forum and you can also ask the forum. You know, other authors were probably have experienced what you’ve experienced. So if you’re not a member of our Facebook forum do hop into the forum. It’s extremely useful resource and lots of advisors. Michael is there often I’m there often. other team members are there too. You know, all there lots of other author members who are very happy to help you’ve probably been through what you’ve been through. So yeah, ask for help is the short answer.

Michael La Ronn:   So we have another question. And this is a question we haven’t gotten in a long time. So it makes me excited. So question from Hailey, I’d like advice as to what and when to get for an author business, like a website, email, whether or not to set up a limited liability company or sole proprietor or what is there a place on the Alli website with this kind of information?

Orna Ross: So the question if I’m getting it right, what sort of business entity should she be? Is that is that the question? Yes.

Michael La Ronn:   That and more generally, where can I find? Or where can I find information on starting my author business? So,what sort of things should we be thinking about?

Orna Ross: Okay, so there is a page on the website, which is called Starting Self Publishing, which will give you short answers to those questions in the members zone. So, you have to be logged in to have access to that. And it’s open to associate members as well as author members. So and that should be there. But it’s, it’s really quite simple and at the start. We generally recommend that people take the sole trader option at first until you get yourself established and see how you’re doing and see that this is something that you want to continue doing. That entity protects you. It’s called sole trader here in the UK. It’s called different things around the world, about entity and protects you enough for you to kind of get going. When you’re up and running. It’s very possible that you’re going to want to become a limited company. Too often, to afford you all sorts of other protections. You may not. I mean, I, myself personally, I still use a sole trader, I have not become a limited company for my author  business and Alli is a community interest and type of nonprofit and company which is very similar to a limited company, but it’s for social enterprise and community based. So deciding on your entity, it really comes down to the needs, it’s more expensive to set up as limited. It depends on the kinds of books you’re writing, if you’re going to have issues around, you know, not legal or other legal issues, it can make sense to be a limited company from the get go because as a limited company, it affords you some protection in that way and Michael will be able to answer some of these legal questions better than me. But and I would say that for now for the general run of things sole trader is just fine. Don’t worry too much about that end of things until your,  you start seeing a money flow coming through.

Michael La Ronn:   Yeah, no I that’s, that’s great, great advice. I started off as a sole proprietor as well. And actually this just a couple weeks ago started my first LLC so.

Orna Ross: Congratulations!

Michael La Ronn:   So it took a few years for me to be able to get to that point because another thing that you have to really think about when you’re deciding on the entities, whether you’re sole proprietor, sole trader or LLC, is how much money you’re making. Because if you are an LLC, you really want to have a dedic. Any business you really want have a dedicated bank account to where the all the money that’s coming in, you’re not commingling or mixing your personal funds with your business funds, at least here in the United States that can get you audited. And you know, you don’t want that headache. So that’s one thing you want to consider. LLCs are going to give you a greater level of protection, but there are certain things that if you don’t do them It’s almost, it’s almost not even worth having an LLC. So a great resource, just based on the, based on the phrasing of your question, it sounds like you’re in the United States, but for the United States listeners, I actually when I was setting up my LLC, the Hawthorne Law Firm, he actually has a YouTube channel, Jim Hart has a YouTube channel, and he does tons of videos on setting up your LLC, taxes, and they’re really, really short videos, I would definitely recommend that you check those out. And if I can, if we can find maybe a UK equivalent, that would be awesome to share, but very, very helpful. And to answer the other part of her question, which was, what are some of the other things I need to be thinking about? The domain name, would be a number one thing so make sure you get a domain name. And then I would also make sure you purchase privacy protection on your domain name because sometimes there are stalkers out there and you don’t want people to know where you live. And I would also consider opening up a P.O. box, in the name of your business. So that you can put that on your email marketing, when you, when you take out an email newsletter, they often require you to put your address at this at the footer of your email, I would definitely do use the name of your business and your P O box. So those are some other things that you would want to consider as well in starting your business, but the great thing about author businesses is it’s incredibly cheap to start, you know, at least here in Iowa for an LLC, I had to pay like $85 every two years to, you know, renew my registration. And when you think about that, I mean, how many books do you have to sell to, you know, over two years to make up an $85 cost? Not terribly expensive domain names. It’s like, you know, 15/ $20 a year a PO box, you know, probably less than, you know, 50/60/70 bucks a year. It’s just a it’s one of the greatest businesses to start and it doesn’t cost very much to get up and running.

Orna Ross: So absolutely and in terms of money, your time by come by a huge amount. The other thing that I would encourage and starting off is to think about having a transactional website. So this is something that we’re kind of promoting through the self publishing three point O campaign. So when you’ve purchased your domain as Michael has so wisely advised to have an author website so that if somebody Google’s your author name, you come up top of Google for that list, not your Amazon listing, or some blog he did for somebody five years ago, or whatever, you want your website to surface up the top. And we would encourage you that to have a transactional website so that you can actually, if somebody wants to buy a book on your websites, they’re able to do that. And of course, you can’t do that if you’re an exclusive with Amazon KDP. But in the, you know, in the hopes that you will have more than one book and more than one project going forth to start as you need to continue and your own website  but also allow you to sell other things that are book related. So yeah, a lot of authors, trade published authors can get by just fine with a, what we call a brochure site, which just essentially tells people what they do and guides them over to a, an online bookstore or their publisher or whatever. But for an Indie author, it just makes total sense that if somebody wants to buy your book, they can buy it from you. So yeah, if you get all of that in place, and as Michael said, for very little money, you’re in business, which is amazing.

Michael La Ronn:   Which is good stuff. Yeah. All right. Yeah. So member Jonas asks, and this is kind of a broad question. So we can just maybe hit it really fast, is how can I get more exposure for my books and increase my book sales?

Orna Ross: Oh, Michael, hit that one really fast. We can do all week.

Michael La Ronn:   We get this question a lot. So we get the question a lot. So what do you what are your like top two tips on this? Because this could be a Pandora’s box. I mean, we could talk about this for hours, right?

Orna Ross: Exactly. So we can’t, we don’t we don’t have hours to talk about this. So I’m going to give my number one tip, which is, you must find out who your readers are, and find out where they are online and set up some sort of communication channel between you and them. And you must also have on your website or facility whereby people can sign up to give you their email address so that you are able to contact them yourself about your books, when you you know, as you bring more books on stream. And thirdly, you need to decide, you know, it’s back to that first thing of the channel between you and the reader. How are you going to reach them? Is it going to be social media, if not, social media is going to be something else. Do you have a budget, are you going to advertise? These are the things you need to think about. But primarily, you need to think about that relationship between you and the reader. What is your value? What are you offering? And it’s not a matter of I’ve got books to sell. And you know, how do I just kind of scattered on the reading world with, you know, and somehow, by some magic trick, bring in readers, it’s actually something that you have to think it’s a core part of your publishing will to the made a good book, you now need to think about what is the value in that book, who’s interested? Why should they be interested? And how you going to let them know about your book and how you going to encourage them to buy it. So that sounds woolly but actually, it’s very, very practical. And it’s the first step for everybody. So that’s what I’m going to offer. What about you?

Michael La Ronn:   All right now it’s is very similar to what I asked. So, the interest of time, we’ll move on to the next question. So Julie asks, how aggressive should I be in pursuing speaking opportunities so looks like she’s wanting to visit, visit venues and conferences potentially. And and it’s she’s may be running into some roadblocks because she doesn’t want to feel like she’s begging for speaking events. So what’s what’s, what’s that comfort level? What, What does that look like for you Orna?

Orna Ross: Okay? So assuming that you have a book that benefits from speaking opportunities, and so I’m going to go on that basis and that it isn’t just the two kind of like speaking I want to kind of go out there and talk about your book is a book not all books lend themselves that well, to speaking opportunities, speaking opportunities, or is that you know, doing events, doing live speaking events is actually a pretty inefficient way to reach readers in the May. So it needs to be something that you want to do for its own sake. If you’re doing it just to sell books, I would say that there are much easier ways to sell books without ever leaving home. So just to put that caveat in there first, assuming that you are somebody who’s able to command a sizable audience and was able to benefit from book sales at the back of the room from that audience. The thing is that to establish your self as a speaker is as difficult as it is to establish yourself as an author, there are more speakers then there are opportunities available and the more and lucrative speaking opportunities go to those who have a proven track record who generally have an a speaking agent and so on. So speaking is its own world as it were, in terms of how aggressive you should be by that I assume you you’re saying how you know, how much follow up should you do? How much pitching should you do? I would say you need to be very consistent. Don’t expect an answer straight. away, you will always need probably to follow up, follow up three times. If you haven’t had an answer, you might want to make a phone call if you’re really keen and say, you know, I’ve been emailing you haven’t heard from you. And then if you’re not getting a response, I would take that as a no, and then move on to the next opportunity. So it’s you kind of putting yourself back into that world of, you know, where you pitch publishers and agents in trade publishing. So your bath is the world that you’re entering into a world of scarcity in the sense that there are fewer opportunities and there are people who are looking for them, whereas self publishing kind of turns it outwards. And it’s a world of abundance. He got, you know, oodles of opportunities and oodles of readers. Yes, you have the challenge of of honing that in and finding your niche and giving value and pleasing the reader or the buyer, but it kind of opens it I wish and so I would say that speaking online even doing something like Michael and I are doing here now you’re you’re likely to reach far more potential readers and and so on fan you are by by seeking speaking opportunities. So yeah, that’s my kind of take on us. Do you have any?

Michael La Ronn:   Yeah, that was that was my take that was my first answer was either consider a YouTube channel or a podcast, and then find some way to make that a call to action on your website, you know, have a speaking page on your website, demo some of your, your talks either on YouTube or on the podcast. When you do get your first speaking event, make sure that you get permission to record so that you can use that and upload it so that you can use that as a calling card. I think all that is critically important in today’s age. And that would be the way that I would establish my speaking career.

Orna Ross: That’s really good. And yeah, make sure you have that speaker page as a separate page on your website. So that anybody who is seeking a speaker, you know, going on to your website will see immediately up this where I go to find the speaker stuff. And if you don’t have is this, you know, these days if you don’t have an actual video that shows them that you can speak well, chances are it’s not going to go any further. So yeah, exactly. advice there, Michael.

Michael La Ronn:   All right. Marilyn asks, should I put the Alli logo on my book cover? Or can I put the Alli logo on my book cover?

Orna Ross: You certainly can. And we have had members who do and you’re, you’re most welcome to do that. And I assume the reason you’re doing it is as a sort of stamp that says, you know, I’m a member of a professional organization. And you know, that is a very reasonable thing to do. However, I will say as much as I love Alli, for for obvious reasons, and that, it probably won’t mean all that much the average reader, I would have to say in all honesty, so you’re more than welcome to do it. We’re delighted that you feel that sense of pride and in in being a member. But yeah, think about who who’s it for. And if it makes you feel good, then that’s a very valid reason to do it. But But if you think it’s going to actually attract more readers to you, I’m not sure that it would.

Michael La Ronn:   I agree. I, I love the sentiment I in terms of putting it on your cover, something that I’ve done that’s been pretty effective is I actually put a little blurb about Alli in the copyright page of my books. So I say that I’m a proud member of Alli, which is an ethical organization for self published writers. And then I put a link, you know, and I and I put my Alli affiliate link in there, so that’s a way to potentially make some money, right. I also put it on the sidebar of my website. So that it’s, it’s they’re pretty prominent. So those are a few things that maybe you could consider, you know, putting it there that might be more effective than then putting the Alli logo on your cover.

Orna Ross: Fantastic. And we are actually it’s reminding me to say that we are in the process of for the self publishing three point O campaign we’ve just commissioned some nice badges which encourage readers to buy directly from you on your website. So that again, might be something that would have more relevance and beneficial for you than just the straight logo. And as Michael says, do use your affiliate key. Yes. So many members who you know who promote or some tell, tell people about us and forget to use the affiliate key. Yeah. It’s a nice little earning opportunity. 30% on anybody who that you bring in so don’t forget.

Michael La Ronn:   Yep, that’s another hidden benefit. Good stuff. All right, Richie asks, If I want to sell my books at a seminar and do not want to deal with sales tax, what is the best way to do that?

Orna Ross: Um, sales tax is something you got to pay, I’m afraid death and tax.

Michael La Ronn:   I didn’t imagine that would be your answer Orna.

Orna Ross: No?

Michael La Ronn:   Yeah, I would say you don’t want to go the Wesley Snipes method, I would just pay your taxes. And, you know, don’t think, don’t think about it.

Orna Ross: Yeah. So there may be some depends. You see, tax advice is very specific to specific territories and different things happen in different in different parts of the world. So that’s a question for an accountant to see, is there some kind of clever way that you can, you can legally not do that which there might be, you know, depending on where your seminars are and where your businesses located? It might be possible, but it’s certainly not something that we could give you a blanket piece of advice on. So maybe ask ask your accountant

Michael La Ronn:   Or call your local tax assessor to mean there might be a threshold. I mean, if you only sell one or two books, maybe the state doesn’t care. But yeah, I would, I would definitely not,not avoid paying your sales tax or sales tax that that that could be a recipe for disaster. All right. Maddie asks, Is pub match worth pursuing for subsidiary rights?

Orna Ross: Interesting, very timely question. I had an arrangement with pub match some years ago. And this wasn’t really working. So it kind of been by mutual consent. We just kind of stopped doing it for a while. However, last September, we began to really get serious about this whole idea of selective rights licensing. We are seeing many of our members being approached now by rights buyers, all over the world for translation rights in particular, but also for other subsidiary rights. And we wanted to kind of take hold of that and find ways that we can help to facilitate that. So we’ve got a few things going on. And one of them is Pub match so and if you actually login to the members zone, you will see an option there to take out a Pub match account at a discount. And it’s the discount is a time thing. So rather than we’re getting five years, I think for the price of one, and we are working with Pub match, they’re making a number of changes to the platform to make it more author friendly. And we have been working with six authors since last September on developing an Indie author rights program, which will culminate at London Book Fair, we will be launching it there. And Pub match will be one service that we will be using among a few which will help help our authors to sell their rights. So stay tuned. Keep an eye on the IP and rights section of the website. And you’ll see lots of things popping up there over the next while. The other thing we’re doing is working with Ethan Ellenberg and he is a literary agent based out of New York. And he is also representing some Alli  members who have received offers from rights buyers and who don’t really know what to do. We’re also putting together contracts, which will help people to negotiate their rights there as well. So lots going on in that arena, I would say hold off for maybe until after the launch at London Book Fair, at which point everything will be perfectly in place, both on the pub match platform and in the members zone as well.

Michael La Ronn:   Okay, all right. And our final question, final question of 2019. So, after today, or no, we are officially kind of maybe caught up depending when the last questions came. in the trenches.

Orna Ross: In the trenches.

Michael La Ronn:   Exactly. So this is from Stephen and I think this is a very thoughtful question is do I need a different copyright page for each country my book is published in?

Orna Ross: No, and no is the short answer you, you, you’ve set your copyright in the territory in which you live. Copyright is out of date it’s not working very well. Is is the sort of short and un satisfactory answer having said that it is working very well in loads of different ways. So what you do is your copyright is governed by the law in your jurisdiction. And so if you ever came to the point where you’re asserting your copyright in some way defending a case or or pursuing a case, I want to say first of all, highly, highly unlikely that that will ever happen because it’s hugely expensive. I doubt you have the money to do it. And there will be no guarantee of a good outcome at the end of it. The real value of copyright is that it exists and that you assert it. And you are the rights owner. And so if it ever comes to a dispute, you say, you know, you’re able to show people that you are the rights owner and then it doesn’t get to court it does get you are the rights owner. That’s the beginning. And that’s the end of that. And that’s the beauty of copyright. So it just needs to be searched at once. And copyright your little seed symbol, if you will, all rights reserved. If you want to reserve all rights, you can also do Creative Commons if you want to release some rights and your author name and that’s all you need to do and copyright and then is sorted I think in the US. It also makes sense to and you’ve got to kind of legally register it if in case it ever does come to some kind of court dispute isn’t that right?

Michael La Ronn:   Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately. The US has an oddball when it comes to copyright but yeah, It’s highly advised to that you register your work in the United States, if you are a United States citizen. It allows you to pursue certain damages if you ever were to file a lawsuit, and it just affords you an additional layer of protection, it’s not required, but it is certainly recommended. But yeah Orna’s question or answer was spot on, you only need one. Notice. Copyright is governed by the jurors to jurisdiction in which you live. But you also have to remember that all the countries, most of the countries in the world reciprocate. So your copyright in the United States or in the United Kingdom is valid in Germany, and in Australia, because they’re all members, I think it was the Berne Convention, which basically indicates that So, yeah, your copyright is valid anywhere in the world, mostly anywhere in the world. The only thing I think that people sometimes confuse, copyright and trademark. So just because we have a trademark in the United States, for example, does not necessarily mean that your trademark is also going to be recognized in the United Kingdom. So, if you if you were ever get into a situation where you had a trademark, that’s where you would want to be more careful, because I made this mistake super early on in my career, I owned a trademark. And you know, I don’t want to say, I was not thinking, I was not thinking and I didn’t realize that my trademark was only valid in the United States at under advisement of my attorney. So I had to upload one book with my trademark on it. And then I had to upload another book that didn’t have the trademark on it, and it was just kind of administrative nightmare.

Orna Ross: Interesting Yeah, that’s a very good point about the trademark. And I don’t think you were foolish at all, because I think, you know, we don’t tend to think outside our own jurisdiction, particularly for in a big jurisdiction like the US, you know, Were a lot of states are governed by the same law. And, yeah, it’s a very good distinction that you make the Berne Convention means that everywhere our copyright is recognized, and they’re cooperating together trademark goal is not the same. So yeah, excellent point.

Michael La Ronn:   Yeah. And I would say the reason that that was a silly mistake for me is because I trademarked a series title of my first book that only sold like 10 copies. I thought it was going to be the hot thing that was going to be the next biggest thing since sliced bread. And boom, it didn’t do anything.

Orna Ross: New indie author, if we didn’t think that way, we’d never do this thing.

Michael La Ronn:   Some of that is healthy, but it’s not healthy when you spend several thousands of dollars and trademark, trademark attorney fees.

Orna Ross: Thank you for letting us learn from your painful experience.

Michael La Ronn:   We live and we learn exactly. Well that is it. That’s our questions for this this month.

Orna Ross: Okay, that’s it and that’s what it’s all about learning from each other. So Between now and the next show if you have a question do also think about the Facebook forum. If you don’t love Facebook, you can just send your questions into us at [email protected]allianceindependentauthors.org/ And, yeah, we look forward to answering 2020 questions next month in February. Thanks, everyone.

Michael La Ronn:   Thank you have a great month.

Orna Ross: Thanks, Michael. Bye bye.

Howard Lovy: And now for self publishing news with Dan Holloway, who in addition to being a poet, and a writer and an editor is a world renowned speed reader and now an ambassador of speed reading to Germany. Hi, Dan, and Happy New Year.

Dan Holloway: Hi, Happy New Year. Yes, so, so next weekend, I’m going to be talking to the German speed reading Association, which is seems quite a quite a big thing. There are several research units in Germany looking into speed reading techniques. What works what’s basically peddling pseudoscience but they have some some quite promising early results. And so there’s going to be academics, there’s going to be speed readers and they’re going to be all sorts of people from the mind sports world there.

Howard Lovy: I can imagine speed reading might be a little difficult in German with all the the extremely long words.

Dan Holloway: Yes, yes, it certainly something smart small words help very much.

Howard Lovy: Meanwhile, as slow readers like me who savor every word, and if I come across a sentence I like I’ll reread the sentence just for the sheer joy of it. I hope we’re not losing that.

Dan Holloway: I will I will do that as well. I’ll just do it. So,so yes, so I gather you’ve been you’ve been editing and have some some exciting news.

Howard Lovy: Yeah, I’m excited about some news for my editing business. So last year, just the backstory I last year, a Jewish publisher had rejected a manuscript and referred the author a rabbi to me to see if I can and improve it. So we worked with it, change the plot a little bit, rewrote some of the scenes and submitted it back to the publisher who rejected it again. And, and so that’s what I told the author about self publishing. And so he joined Alli and I even interviewed him on the inspirational indie authors podcast. And I just found out this week that the book is a finalist for best debut novel from the Jewish book Council. It’s a it’s called Nick Bones Underground. And it’s a Jewish themed dark dystopian comedy, written by Rabbi Phil Cohen. And I’m very happy to have played a part in this this book’s creation.

Dan Holloway: Excellent. Excellent.

Howard Lovy: Personal victory.

Dan Holloway: Yes. And the victory for Alli.

Howard Lovy: And a victory for Alli in self publishing in general. You don’t need to wait by the phone. So just publish. So let’s let’s shift gears, and talk a little bit about Overdrive. We’ve talked about Overdrive in the past and what a great service they provide for indie authors and getting their ebooks into libraries. And now I understand Overdrive has been sold. So tell me about the new owners and what changes they may bring.

Dan Holloway: So they’ve been bought by an equity company called KKR. Who interestingly, also bought RB media, which is another an audiobook platform. So they seem to be making a move towards doing something to integrate digital platforms, which is interesting. I know there’s also been some speculation what this means for Rakuten and for Kobo, because obviously overdrive like Kobo were owned by Rakuten, which is a giant Japanese platform. So it’s not 100% clear whether that means they’re going to be divesting themselves of all everything to do with digital ebooks. So I guess we have to watch that because Kobo obviously is a massive player in the sort of the don’t go 100% down Amazon route. But it looks and looks for the moment as though Overdrive is is going to continue to be providing fabulous service to libraries. And in fact, there are a couple of really interesting stories that have come up in the last week with Overdrive Since then, the first is around Sora. S-O-R-A. Which is it’s, it’s, it’s the textbook reading app. And this is something that is used in America to enable school, school kids basically to be able to borrow textbooks from their local library using Overdrive. The figures that Mark Williams has, has quoted is that SORA is now available in 23,000 schools worldwide.

Howard Lovy: Wow that is amazing.

Dan Holloway: Which is, it’s a huge number. Yes. And it has it has doubled student reading time is what is what it said in 2019. Just through the availability of, of ebooks, right.

Howard Lovy: Is that college level or earlier?

Dan Holloway: It’s I think it’s high school level.

Howard Lovy: Okay. I The reason I’m asking is is college level as you know, college level textbooks are unbelievably expensive.

Dan Holloway: Yes, yes, this is I think this is something that came up a lot at various conferences last year is that the academic publishing industry and textbooks in particular, have to look at themselves and prices they they charge, although as we saw …

Howard Lovy: I’m thinking about  these things because I have two high school age boys right now who are about to get ready for to apply for college so.

Dan Holloway: So you you may have seen, we may not have spoken about it, but it’s been in the column. A few weeks ago, Amazon’s brought out a teaching resources self publishing platform. So we can now Self Publish teaching resources in multiple formats. So you can upload materials in in Word or PDF format.

Howard Lovy:  So I understand overdrive has been keeping track of library downloads and have some figures so do the figures on that.

Dan Holloway: Yes. The figures for 2019 we’re 326 million digital downloads that was made up of 211 million ebooks and the rest audio. So and Mark Williams has some an interesting column on this. Basically, as he sees it, this puts paid to the idea that people aren’t reading ebooks anymore. It’s an interesting figure given the speed between publishers and libraries, with publishers saying that libraries are eating into their market,

Howard Love: Which is why, we won’t get started me on that one again.

Dan Holloway: No we won’t get started on that one again. But it is it is great to see that libraries are clearly being used and they’re being used for ebooks. So that’s that’s exciting.

Howard Lovy: Right, which is good news for indies too.

Dan Holloway: Yes, very good news.

Howard Lovy: So let’s go from there to maybe some I don’t know about bad news but but strange news. Apparently there’s some some bad blood in the world of romance. Can you kind of break us down or break that down for us?

Dan Holloway: Yes, the romance Writers of America have basically seem to have imploded over the last few weeks. That’s probably a polite way of putting it. There are loads of places online and in the column to find the full, the full details of the story, the ethics committee has decided to suspend the membership of one of its most prominent, not only prominent authors, but prominent campaigners for equality and diversity in publishing. And this has caused and it’s caused a massive furory. It’s caused allegations of mismanagement, of lack of transparency, of racism in the industry of it’s basically about as bad as it can get. And it’s led also to the the canceling of the readers, which is the romance industry’s biggest Book Awards. So it seems like the whole thing is in absolute turmoil

Howard Lovy: It’s terrible and it’s bad news for indies to an awful lot of romance writers in the Indi world.

Dan Holloway: It’s absolutely is this the genre you think of when you think of indies is massively over represented by by us? I guess the obvious thing to say is if if you want an organization that represents you then come to Alli, but it will be interesting.

Howard Lovy: Excellent advice.

Dan Holloway: I think quite I think quite a few people are members of both. But it will be interesting to see what what replaces it, I think it’s, it’s increasingly clear that the damage is terminal. And that at some stage, they the romance Writers of America will just stop functioning altogether. They they have 9000 members, that’s, it’s now considerably less than that in just a few weeks. So I think it’s clear that something will come out of it. It will be really nice to see some indies step up to the plate and maybe be part of shaping whatever that is.

Howard Lovy: Okay, well, anything else we should know about in the indie world?

Dan Holloway: The other thing we haven’t really talked about is is again, the rise of audio and storytelling. It was obviously it was a massive year for them last year. They are in 20 countries. They are have over a million subscribers. They just keep growing and growing. And what’s interesting again, as we were saying with Kobo is they’re part of this widening landscape of opportunities for people who don’t want to just go with Amazon.

Howard Lovy: Right. Right.

Dan Holloway: So it’s, they have stores, the way they’re focusing on opening stores in lots of countries the same as companies like St. Liber doing presents an exciting opportunity for people to target very particular local markets.

Howard Lovy: It’s one thing to trash Amazon all the time. It’s another thing to do something about it.

Dan Holloway: Yeah, quite.

Howard Lovy: Well, hopefully we won’t get into you know, speed reading or audio books. Although I do I sometimes set mine to twice the speed so I can try to read more books. But any more than twice that it sound just sounds like a chipmunk to me. No speed reading speed reading audiobooks for me. Well, thank you, Dan. And good luck with your speed reading talk in Germany and and we’ll come back for more updates next month

Dan Holloway: Super. Thank you and happy February.

 

 

 

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

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