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Help! Someone Is Pirating My Book; More Questions Answered; AskALLi Member’s Q&A With Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn; News With Daniel Holloway

Help! Someone is Pirating My Book; More Questions Answered; AskALLi Member’s Q&A with Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn; News with Daniel Holloway

Help! Someone is pirating my book. This is among the questions answered and concerns addressed in this week’s AskALLi, the Self-Publishing Advice Podcast from the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Other questions answered this month include:

  • My publisher went out of business and took my book with them. What do I do?
  • How do I get an editor to read my fantasy book?
  • I’m writing a children’s book and looking for an illustrator. What are the most important questions I should be asking the illustrator
  • Should I create a coloring book as a companion to my children’s book?

And More!

Also, News Editor Dan Holloway and Howard Lovy bring you the latest self-publishing news. Today, they discuss the war between publishers, authors, and libraries. Libraries? Yes, libraries! Also, Audible proposes subtitles, and publishers freak out. All this, by the way, can be great for indies.

Here are some highlights:

Michael La Ronn on Book Pirating

A lot of times, it’s bad guys trying to phish people to get their credit card information. Your time is better spent writing, your time is better spent marketing, and chances are the people that pirate your book, or the people that download your book on a torrent site, or if they have to go through all that work to get your book were they probably going to buy it anyway? Probably not.

Orna Ross on Paying Artists

You need to think about clearly, what do you want in terms of how you’re going to pay the illustrator for their work and what you want going forward because it can really make a difference. Especially if the book does well.

Dan Holloway on Libraries

Everyone loves libraries, and taking a side against libraries just feels like a really, you don’t like using the phrase, “The wrong side of history”, but it really feels like something you would do if you’re on the wrong side of history.

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 Members Q&A

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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

I forgot.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, you usually start it.

Orna Ross

Hello, everybody we’re trying to remember who usually says hello first. Today it’s me anyway. So hello, we are back after our August, sorry our July break while we got our new podcast organized but of course we’re not changing this particular session because this is one of the most popular sessions of our podcast, our monthly ALLi member Q & A where members of the Alliance of Independent Authors send in their questions for public discussion between myself and Michael and indeed, anybody else who happens to be here for this Facebook Live session is welcome to hop in with questions or comments on the issues that are arising or indeed if you have something yourself; if we have time, we will cover that for you today. How are you Michael?

Michael La Ronn

I am fantastic. I’m excited to be back.

Orna Ross

It’s great to be back. Actually, I missed you.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, I missed you too. It’s kind of weird, because it’s like it’s part of my monthly routine. And I went the whole summer without doing the podcast. So it’s awesome to be back.

Orna Ross

It’s great to be back.

Michael La Ronn

How are you doing?

Orna Ross

I don’t think we need to do it again. But we were just making so many changes the podcast, so many new speakers and presenters, I should say, new topics that we just needed to do all that kind of work in the background. And so we will be running now week on week and great to see some people here to hear the questions. So you are the man who holds the list of questions. What’s our first one of the day?

Getting it Right the First Time

Michael La Ronn

I do. Alright, so we have a question extravaganza. So huge thank you to everyone who submitted your questions while we were on break. We’re going to get to as many of them as we can today, but just know that your question will not be forgotten. Alright, so the first question is from Christina. And she writes, “I am told no one makes” Actually, sorry. Minor tech issue.

Orna Ross

That’s okay. I can’t wait to hear the end of that sentence.

Michael La Ronn

Let’s see here.

Orna Ross

No one makes…..a book well the first time?

Paying an Illustrator

Michael La Ronn

Well, the funny part was we actually answered that in April. So, my fault. The first question, just kidding, is from Maureen and she writes, I’m currently publishing a children’s book, and would like to know what questions to ask a potential illustrator, and some things that I might need to know. So essentially, what questions should I be thinking about asking a potential illustrator?

Orna Ross

Yeah, really important question, because we’re here now in the land of rights and income from work and so on. So in trade publishing, the general rule thing is that an illustrator get paid for the job. And then the copyright, the rights, the license rights in about those illustrations, essentially, the publisher can do as they need to do within reason, and so on with the illustration, so if they need to use them in PR, or publicity or anything like that, that’s kind of covered off by the one off payment that an illustrator gets. In indie publishing loans, people have followed the same model, but there are authors who are kind of saying, “Well, you’re a creative, I’m a creative, we’re in this together.” And in something like a children’s book, where the illustrations and the words are so intertwined, and you know, it’s almost a creative hold to put the two together, sometimes, and they’re splitting the rights, and the income and you know, both are taking the risk maybe, putting in the time and effort towards the beginning, and there is no direct payment. So the whole issue of payment is one thing, in other words, that you need to think about clearly, what do you want in terms of how you’re going to pay the illustrator for their work and what you want going forward because it can really make a difference. Especially if the book does well.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think it’s such a thoughtful question. Because really, you also want to make sure that this artist is going to be someone who’s going to follow through with what they say they’re going to do, right? Because that’s another common issue is you come up with illustrators, and, you know, life gets busy for them, or it’s not their full time gig, and they just fall off the face of the earth, you know, something you might consider doing is actually having an interview with your potential illustrators and actually just talk to them, and figure out if you’ve got that social chemistry, I think it’s so easy in today’s age to just do it all over the internet, you know, but maybe having an interview process could actually help you in this regard, because then that will help you get a sense of is this person actually going to carry through what they say they’re going to do?

Orna Ross

I couldn’t agree more, I think you need to choose an illustrator, like you choose an editor: very carefully. And there may be a bit of sort of trial and error, you should certainly ask for samples, that’s a number one thing, and it’s very common. And if your illustrator is not willing to do that without payments, then I think that’s, you know, a measure of something as well. And you should think about not just this project but ongoing projects, perhaps this is somebody that you might, you know, you may be planning a series and you know, more than this book at stake. So we are currently doing a lot of agreements between authors and the various freelancers and services that they would use, sort of ideal agreements, within which the different clauses in the agreement, really tease out all the different things that you need to be talking about and thinking about. Because to be honest, this question could take up this whole show. And we still wouldn’t have covered everything that could come up. So as the agreement between the author and the illustrator, and if it’s not there already, it’s coming very, very soon. So do login to the members zone and find all sorts of new goodies there. Because we’ve had our website revamped, and lots more coming over the summer. So summer here in the UK. So yeah, there are lots of different things to think about. But hopefully, we’ve given you a few to kind of be going on with and then check out the member zone for the author illustrator agreement and that should guide you on the way.

Looking For An Experienced Designer

Michael La Ronn

Alright, our next question is from Hans. And he says that “I am looking for an experienced designer to remake my existing Dutch book for the American/English market. So the question is, where can I find a cover designer to design a cover for a specific target market?”

Orna Ross

Okay, well, a good place to start is the ALLi directory, services directory. So there are lots of formatters and designers in the directory, and it will be a matter of having to ask them with such a specific requirement. And I’m not sure what the, you know, what is the design difference? Because you think the market needs a different sort of design? Or is it because it’s just in a different language and the person you’ve worked with already is not available to you, Hans, I’m not sure which it is. But the directory is a really good place to start Allianceindependentauthors.org/directory. And then you’re going to have to actually reach out and contact people that you like the look and sound of. So in the directory, you get the websites addresses, and so go onto the website address, take a look at some of the work that’s there, there should be samples on the site, if not, write off and get some samples. In other words, these things take time, both this question and the previous question. I think one of the things that happens here is we want to shortcut the process. And in actual fact hiring a designer, hiring an illustrator, hiring an editor is not something that happens at the drop of a hat, it’s the more time and effort you put in up front, the more time and effort you are going to save yourself in the long run, if you just go with, unless you’re supremely lucky, but we don’t kind of plan for that in ALLI, we plan for what tends to happen. Unless you’re supremely lucky if you don’t put time, effort, energy, research, and gut feeling and you know, just stick with it. Take your time, usually you kind of lose a day afterwards. And also, we see now a lot of services reaching out to indie authors, particularly those who have had a bit of success. And when you are approached in that way by a service, a designer or anybody else, take the same amount of time, even more, probably, time and attention to make sure that you are very, very comfortable. If you feel any sort of hesitation, move on keep on researching to get the right person.

How to Get an Editor

Michael La Ronn

Oh, I love that you brought that up. That’s such a great point. You know. Sometimes when you when you’re when you’re not familiar with the process or things don’t feel like they’re going your way it’s easy to get down. Right. And that’s when the bad guys come, you know, and then they prey on that. So yeah, absolutely. I echo everything Orna said and with the cover design too, you know, I question a little bit why you would want to do a separate cover for the US market. But you know, everybody has their reasons. And I think that makes sense. And finding finding that designer, I would definitely start with the ALLi partner directory. Right. All right. Next question is from Roberta. And she asks, “How do I go about getting an editor to read my book. It is a fantasy type children’s book.”

Orna Ross

Now, when I saw this question, I wasn’t sure, is the somebody who’s seeking, when they say editor, do they mean a trade publishing editor?

Michael La Ronn

I believe so.

Orna Ross

Okay, in that case, it’s not really a question for us. I mean, but essentially, the answer is pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, just keep sending it off, but we would say don’t pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch. Stay right where you are, and get your own editor and publish your book yourself. But I mean, there really is no shortcut in that process either of finding a trade publisher, which by the way, is getting harder and harder if you haven’t already got some sort of record in self publishing. Now, it’s kind of going against you in trade publishing, they want to see that you have the basics of knowing how to build a platform, how to put a book together, that you understand, you know, there was a time that if you self published a book that that was actually no-no to trade publishing. Now it’s really going in the other direction. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and there were exceptions before as well. But as a general trend, trade publishers now like to see that you have the initiative, and certainly that you have a platform, a website and some followers, some, you know, that you’re able to find your way around social media and all of that. Getting a trade publisher doesn’t stop any of that. So yeah, do try self publishing, every author should try it at least just to see what it’s all about.

My Publisher Went Out of Business

Michael La Ronn

Agree, and then you’ll never go back. Alright, so next question is from Kathy. So Kathy, it was having some issues with her publisher. So I’ll summarize kind of what she wrote into us. But essentially, she had a publishing contract with a smaller publisher and everything was going great when they first started. But then slowly, they stopped responding to her emails, and she wanted to just order some authors copies so that she could do a authors reading, but it turns out, they vanished, and they appear to have gone out of business. “So what should I do if my publisher goes out of business?” Is the question.

Orna Ross

Yeah, well, it’s a minefield, you know, and there is no again, we didn’t have a lot of questions here, here today already that there are no easy answers to. This, certainly, there’s no easy answers here. So find out first of all, as much as you possibly can go go on to the author, and Facebook groups, and so on and find out there, if you’re affected, it’s likely that there are some other authors out there, so google it, you know, see what the story is as much as you can. The chances of you getting any money back any money, that’s due to you if you haven’t been paid already, are slim. And even if you have been getting your royalties up to a certain point, as they are now gone, you will be on the long list of people to whom the company owes money, and you won’t to be at the top of that list. So it’s unlikely that you’re any royalties that you are you are going to be paid, your real concern is to get your rights back so that you can then publish yourself, and, or, you know, whatever else you want to do, we need to get those rights back in your hands.

So you need to make contact in some way with somebody. So your publisher went out of business, okay, fair enough, but the company but you knew somebody in there that you actually dealt with the person. So you need to find the person if you can and just say to them, “Look, I taking my rights back here, you know, you need to put that in writing in an email, send it off to somebody cc in yourself so you have a copy of it, at a minimum and that’s to start. So if they decided it’s highly, highly unlikely that they would decide to contest that. And I would also take a look at your contract and see what the contract says about the company going out of business. I know it’s awful that this happened to you and I’m sure has been very distressing but it is actually less complex than when the company sells itself off to another company, because then you can really get yourself into trouble. So essentially, make the claim for your rights to return them to yourself. And then you know, if this small publisher didn’t do a whole lot for you, and it doesn’t sound like they did, and then they’re gone out of business, you know, this a warning to all the people.

So I’m really glad that you sent us this question because a lot of people are signing up with inverted commas, publishers, who are not really able to do any more for you than you are able to do for yourself. And then they’re gone. And all the work you’ve done with them is gone down the drain. If you had done this yourself, at that point, you would still able to build step by step on what you’re doing. So I know that there are reasons to to take a trade publishing contract, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying nobody ever should at all but I am saying do think carefully before you give your rights to somebody else, because we’re seeing this happen all the time. I mean, every week now we’re getting and Michael, you were writing in, you’re also getting loads of questions all the time.

And this is just becoming super common, because people think, “Oh, there’s lots of money to be made in publishing authors now.” They’re jumping in, they don’t know what they’re doing. And you know, very often you know more and trust your own ability to do things for yourself. And unless a company can make it very clear to you what they’re bringing to the table around the marketing end things, you’re going to end up having to do all of that anyway, the production end of things really gets very simple after a little while once you’ve been self publishing for a while. So think long and hard before you give your rights away.

Michael La Ronn

Oh, absolutely. And, yeah, a couple things that I would add to that is sometimes doing things via post or postal mail sometimes can get you a response. So at least here in the States certified mail would ensure that you could get a receipt when someone got your piece of mail if you’re having trouble getting in touch with someone. But I think the big thing to think about and it’s probably not as much help to Kathy asking the question, but for everyone else listening is that if you can’t get an easy rights reversion clause in your publishing contract, that would probably be a deal breaker for me. Right?

Because, you know, if you really are thinking about this, I would think very long and hard about what the reversion clause rights and reversions clause looks like. Because if you read this and it looks like it’s going to be complicated, well, chances are, it’s probably going to be complicated. Now, that’s not to say that you can get one that possible to get those rights back, that will make it a lot easier. Because to Orna’s point, it’s something that we’re seeing very, very common right now. And it just, it just breaks my heart when I hear people talk about not being able to get their rights back or the publisher going out of business. So definitely be careful.

Orna Ross

Brilliant point on the reversion clause, most important clause in the contract, more important than the money, more important than the royalties is the reversion. Those rights are very valuable and as authors, generally we give them away too easily.

Editor for Historical Fiction

Michael La Ronn

Very true. Alright, our next question is from Stephen. And Stephen asks, “Can anyone recommend an editor who is up to date with historical fiction?” So he’s looking for someone who can edit a novel set in France and Germany between 1935 in 1942. So the broader question is, how do you find an editor who specializes in your genre?

Orna Ross

Yeah, very good. So again, as an ALLi member, you’re kind of ahead of the posse here because we have a searchable database of our editors and other services, and you can search under genre, so you can specifically look for people who specialize in that. So again, your starting point would be the ALLi directory, which you can download as a member for free in the members zone. So start there, but also talk to historical fiction authors, particularly those who are writing in your time period. And it’s good for you to know these people anyway. Because, you know, knowing people who write in your genre has all sorts of benefits in all sorts of ways, not just at the communication level. But you can do cross promotions together, you can, you know, and by observing what they’re doing, you can learn a lot, and so on. So you kind of should be in touch with other people who are who are writing what you are. And then you can talk to them about, you know, who their editor is, and who’s good and whose bad and have those conversations. So I think those those two things are probably your best source, what do you think, Michael?

Somebody is Pirating My Book!

Michael La Ronn

Oh, I agree completely. So our next question is from Beatrice, and Beatrice unfortunately found copies of her book available on a pirate site. So what do you do if someone is pirating your book?

Orna Ross

Yes. This is something that we’re kind of working on at the moment, this is so common. So first of all, there, they’re a wide variety of indie opinion in around this. And I’m going to start with two ends of the spectrum. There are indie artists who spend a lot of time chasing this down and are kind of furious about it and they’re constantly sending DMCA notices. I’ll explain what that means in a minute. And then the other end of the spectrum, there are those people who are who say, “I don’t care, you know, I don’t have time or energy to chase this. And anyway, there is some evidence that says, being pirated is actually good for your book.” Because the problem that most authors face these days is discoverability, anybody knowing that you’re there, because we’re working in in such a world of abundance, where, you know, while we’ve been talking, more books have been published, and more books coming out all the time that the real challenge for an author these days is obscurity, more than anything else. And piracy can actually elevate you a little bit. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, and I’m not going to tell you what to think about it. And we feel that the Alliance needs to kind of address this issue at some level. So first thing to say is that because you have seen your book in inverted commas on a site, it doesn’t actually necessarily mean that the book has been pirated. There are a lot of what’s called phishing sites, which use books as bait to get clicks. So it might be a phishing site, don’t click. And then in the situation where there are infringements, there are pirates. We’re currently looking at an arrangement with the UK Publishers Association, they have an infringement portal, whereby they send out notices to infringers of copyright, requesting takedown. So the DMCA ruling in the US has been taken by the rest of the world, as well as the standard on this is, if you just Google us, you read all of ours, and it’s just as essentially a takedown notice that is sent to pirate sites requesting takedown, some comply, so do not comply, and it appears elsewhere. So you could actually spend your whole week just chasing this around the place, it’s whack a mole, as soon as you get rid of one another one pops up. It is really quite a serious issue. But we’re doing what we can to address us. So I’m sure you have stuff to add, Michael.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, it’s just not worth your time. That’s my opinion. You, like Orna said, it’s a game of whack a mole. A lot of times, it’s bad guys trying to phish people to get their credit card information. It’s just not, you know, your time is better spent writing, you know, your time is better spent marketing, and chances are the people that pirate your book, or the people that download your book on a torrent site, or if they have to go through all that work to get your book were they probably going to buy it anyway? Probably not, you know. And I just like I said, I think copyright infringement is a big deal. And I think there’s something we should do about it collectively as a community.

But I think that the best way to ensure that you’re going to get the most readers as possible is to one, make sure your book is available. Because if your book is not available, then people will pirate it. And two, make sure that it’s available to as many people as possible. Three, make sure you have the right price, right? I mean, I almost bought a book the other day, and I came on the Amazon page, and it was like $17 for like a 200 page book, I’m not going to buy that. That increases the chance that someone’s probably going to pirate it. So as long as you’ve got those three sweet spots together, I think you’ve really done all you can and your time is just better spent doing other things that are going to make you money.

Orna Ross

Yeah. And one thing I would add to that, and all brilliant advice, I think, though we collectively as Michael said, I think we also have a responsibility to face the fact that it’s there and to do what we can about it. At the moment, there isn’t a huge amount we can do about it, being completely honest. We can can help those initiatives that we’re going to take in certain quarters, it will be helpful in other quarters, the worst actors if you like, it won’t help at all, because they’re not people who are going to comply with a notice to take them. By definition, legalities don’t mean a whole lot to them. So they’re just going to ignore it. DRM comes in here as well, I think, you know, worth mentioning.

Michael La Ronn

For sure.

Orna Ross

So adding in, you know, following, you know, what Michael has just said, the other thing to do is as you go through and you’re publishing your book, you will be given the option to put digital rights management on the title or not, to not, because to Michael’s point, it makes the book available. DRM limits the book to that particular platform. So that platform is gone, then your book is gone with. So leave it open. And also it restricts the reader in terms of how, you know, their access to the book, and they can get fed up. So you know, they can go, “I can’t check it out, this book,” you know, and that can lead them onto a pirate site where they can get it for nothing. So make it as easy as possible for the reader. Don’t take digital rights management, you might think you’re protecting your book by by choosing DRM. But actually any hacker who wants to get beyond DRM will find it very, very easy to do that. And it really doesn’t protect your boat. It just really irritates the reader.

Michael La Ronn

Yep. And then another thing to think about, people think that it’s just somebody that downloads a book and then is spending their time uploading it to all these different piracy sites. It’s probably an AI, it’s probably a bot that’s just crawling Amazon, getting the data for your book and then trying to make it appear that it’s available. So if you think *inaudible*

…and Margaret is considering purchasing a grammar/spell checker app such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid, and she would like to know which of these apps might be the best. So I guess the first question is are spell checking apps like Grammarly and ProWritingAid worth it? And are there any that ALLi particularly would recommend?

Orna Ross

I would say that they are worth it and no matter how good you think you are on the grammar and spelling front, you’re probably not as good as you think you are. And if you’re in doubt at all that they really are very useful. And our preference is ProWritingAid who is a partner member and the reason being Grammarly is a very, it’s not that it’s not good software, it is good software, but ProWritingAid is geared for writers. So it’s just you know, it’s just got those extra bells and whistles and just thinks like we do as well. And I would argue possibly doesn’t introduce, Grammarly can be very, very pedantic in a way that introduces error sometimes.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, yeah.

Orna Ross

So with any software that’s going to happen to some degree but I would think Prowritingaid has the edge on that as well. So that’s the one that we recommend.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, absolutely. And shameless self plug here. So I actually did a YouTube video on this. I did a Grammarly vs Prowritingaid app battle. And so I basically compared both apps feature by feature and I came to that same conclusion and you can find that on my YouTube channel. it’s at authorlevelup.com and or you can go to YouTube and search for AuthorLevelUp and it’s one of the most popular videos on my channel of all time. I think it’s helped a lot of people so if you’re on the fence about it or if you want some more justification of why Prowritingaid is probably a better fit for you I would definitely look at that video.

Orna Ross

That’s fantastic. There you go. We came to that conclusion separately,so I think that’s a ringing endorsement of ProWritingAid there. Yeah,

Do I Need Separate ISPs?

Michael La Ronn

Absolutely. All right. So we have another question from Terry and it is the question that always keeps coming back. So it is on ISBNs. So Terry asks, “Do I need separate ISP ends for paperbacks when I want to publish on Ingramspark and Amazon?”

Orna Ross

Our recommendation is no, but you separate your ISBNs out around its format not its platform? So you know, if another print on demand company was to pop up tomorrow would you get another one and then another one and so on? No. So what you do is your ISBN relates to ebook, print book, the different formats in print. So if you go the whole hog in Ingram Spark, you can have hardback, large print, soft back and so each of those will require a separate ISBN. Your audio book will also require a separate one. So the ISBN is linked to the format. If you just think about what an ISBN is for, I think it makes it clear what you should do.

So essentially, the ISBN is your particular book’s identifier to the marketplace, say librarians of booksellers people like that who want to purchase a book that would please their customers or clients. They want to know “Am I getting a softback? Am I getting a hardback? Am I getting an audiobook? Am I getting a…?”

You know, they don’t care who distributed the book as long as they can get it themselves and it’s available to them? What they care about is what does it look like? What’s it feel like? What am I actually getting? And so that’s what we recommend you set it up around? And similarly, you don’t need a different one for your Mobi and your epub. Any form of ebook, we would argue, is an ebook.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, and ISBNs are expensive, at least in the States. So save your money wherever you can. So alright, so the next question-

Orna Ross

Michael hates buying those ISBNs.

Michael La Ronn

Oh, no, they’re expensive. You can buy a computer for the cost of, you know, ISBNs.

Orna Ross

They add up, that’s the thing, once you write a lot of books, it really does add up. But it is important not to have and we have had authors who have just put the same ISBN on every format of one title. And that is just a nightmare for everybody. There’s almost no point in having it if you do that.

Michael La Ronn

Yeah, agree. Alright, so our next question was, actually segues into that perfectly. It was “Do I need an ISBN for each separate edition of my book?” And the answer was a resounding yes. So thank you, Catherine, for that question. That was our next question. But then we have another ISBN question and that is where is the best place to buy an ISBN in the UK? That’s from our listener, Bev.

Orna Ross

Great. Well, it’s not a choice. You know, in most places, there is a sort of an ISBN, in most territories, there is an ISBN provider. So for example, in Canada, it’s an agency and it’s free. In France it’s also free through the National Library. In the UK, it’s Neilsen. In the US it’s Bowker. That’s where you gotta go. We don’t say “Oh, well, you know, shop around for cheaper ISBNs because they’ve been given the gig and they ain’t given it away so yeah, short answer.

Michael La Ronn

All right, we have some comments. So Bonnie Wagner-Stafford, hi, Bonnie says ISBNs are free in Canada, smiley face. Canadians just rub it in.

All right. And Rebecca Wood says “Very useful. Thank you. Going to go watch Dan Holloway’s live edit.” So all right. Definitely support support Dan. And Kristin Julia says “Always such worthwhile information shared here. Thank you very much.”

Orna Ross

That’s great. Happy to be of service. So yeah, that’s us all wrapped up for another month. If you have a question about ISBN or any other aspect of self publishing, from marketing, rights, production, reaching more readers, anything at all, and you can just send it through to us, you’ll find the form on the ALLi website in the members zone again, we will do our very best to get to the question, and if we can’t answer it publicly, we will answer it privately. So I think that’s it from us this time, Michael?

Michael La Ronn

Yes. So, thank you all for listening. And we really appreciate it and we’ll see you next month.

Orna Ross

See you next time, happy writing and publishing until then!

Michael La Ronn

Take care, everyone.

Orna Ross

Bye bye.

News Update with Dan Holloway

Howard Lovy
And now for the news from the self publishing world with ALLi news editor Dan Holloway. Hi, Dan, it’s good to talk to you again.

Dan Holloway
Hi. It’s lovely to talk to you and happy summer.

Howard Lovy
Oh, thank you. Yeah, happy almost end of summer now. So what have you been up to? I understand that you’re about to do some live sporting events, at least sporting events that have to do with the mind and of editing. Tell us about that.

Dan Holloway
Yes, next week is the Mind Sports Olympiad, which is the mind sports equivalent of the Olympics. And the thing that will be of most interest to listeners is, that’s where I’ll be defending my European speed reading championship title. So that will involve sitting in a room with an unpublished novel or an about to be published novel and reading it as quickly as I possibly can and then answering questions about it. So that’s always, it’s always really good fun because you get to read things no one else has read yet.

Howard Lovy
So you are right now literally the fastest reader in Europe.

Dan Holloway
Apparently so, yes.

Howard Lovy
Is that pretty much?

Dan Holloway
Yes.

Howard Lovy
That’s very impressive. I am probably the slowest reader in the world. So you’ve got two opposites here. And also, tell me about this live edit event that you’re going to do.

Dan Holloway
Yes, Novel London is being held in Foyles this weekend. So there are still tickets available, I would encourage anyone to come along. It’s all day on Saturday. And Foyles, obviously, London’s most iconic bookstore. And one of the things that I’ll be doing is, like you said, a live edit. So someone will read out the first chapter of their book, and then I will literally be editing it for them in front of an audience. So we’ll have the kind of discussion that I’d have with a new client. And we’ll talk about the motivation, what they want to get out of a book. I’ll talk about things like pacing, characterization, structure of the books they might read that might help them to clarify what they’re trying to do, and hopefully not make them cry.

Howard Lovy
Yeah, you have to develop a tough shell to not only have an editor look at your book, but in front of a live audience.

Dan Holloway
Yes, that’s definitely brave.

Howard Lovy
And writers are not sensitive people at all.

Dan Holloway
No, not at all. So you’re still editing as well.

Howard Lovy
Yeah, well, right now I’m experiencing a kind of a wide breadth of the publishing world aside from my now weekly Inspirational Indie Authors podcast where I interview an author, I’ve also taken on a ghost writing project, which I may reveal after it’s finished, because I’m learning many new things. And but right now, it’s a ghost writing project. So I can’t say who the client is. And also a couple of editing gigs. So one is a parenting book and another is a first person memoir about the Arab Spring in Egypt. So two very different books are, are keeping me busy, I’m also producing two audiobooks. And whenever I can, interviewing authors for Publishers Weekly, so I’m doing a little bit of everything, jack of all trades and Master of None, as they say.

Dan Holloway
Yeah. One of the fascinating things about editing is you do just get to learn loads by reading fascinating books that you’d never otherwise read.

Howard Lovy
Right. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I learned a lot. And part of the joy of editing is you get to take on the role of the average reader too and that’s sort of my philosophy of editing. And back when I was editing a book review magazine, one of the big criticisms that an author would say, “Well, clearly, the book reviewer didn’t read the book, I said on page 206, paragraph five that do XY and Z.” Well, maybe you did say that, but it didn’t come across to the reader. And so that’s, yeah, that’s what is it editor. That’s what I usually tell my clients. Okay, so let’s talk about the news. Right now we have something, just a big mess over at your local library, something that’s pitting libraries versus authors versus publishers.Tell us about that.

Dan Holloway
Yeah, this has been going on for a little while. It started last year, when Macmillan, that one of their smaller, well, not that small an imprint at all,, which is one of the largest science fiction publishers decided that they were going to embargo ebooks from libraries for the first six months as an experiment to see what happened. And that caused a big fuss, but recently that has started to expand. And the big five publishers have started taking measures to, in general, restrict the access that libraries have to new ebooks. They’ve started using what they call metered usage. So they will restrict the number of borrows that a library can make of a new ebook. And then this week, Macmillan, who are the people who own it, or have made it an imprint wide as sort of an embargo, they are limiting libraries to one copy of every new ebook for the first six months, so that one copy can only be learned that to one person at a time. So that’s a way and then after that six month period, if you want to carry on licensing the book or get additional copies, you have to pay a really, really high price. It’s caused a little bit of aggravation between the American Library Association and the Authors Guild of America and the American Publishers Association, both of whom think that this is essential, the reasoning being that they think that sales are being cannibalized by library lends.

Howard Lovy
Is that really true, though? I don’t know.

Dan Holloway
It’s, it’s a controversial complicated thing. Well, this is one of the things in today’s news column, there’s a very interesting little snippet that I had, which is a library in Wichita is publishing receipts for their readers to show their readers how much they have saved by borrowing books, as opposed to buying them, and one reader has saved over $100,000. And this is, obviously readers think this is fabulous. It’s showing how great it is to use libraries. But authors have started commenting, saying, “Well, what if the receipt showed how much authors have lost in royalties?” So it’s sparking all sorts of debates. And obviously, the one thing that is really lacking at the moment is proper figures, because proper figures are always lacking in these things.

Howard Lovy
There’s always some kind of intangible benefit of going to a library.

Dan Holloway
Yeah.

Howard Lovy
You know, exposing people to your work who otherwise would not have been exposed.

Dan Holloway
Yes.

Howard Lovy
It’s interesting. I read the American Library Association’s statement. And it’s a pretty strong statement for an organization. And basically, what they’re saying is, “Well, customers are going to end up blaming us.”

Dan Holloway
Yeah.

Howard Lovy
When we tell them that we have an E version of these books that we just can’t lend out for various reasons. From the point of view of the consumer, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. If it’s an E book, there should be an infinite number that you can lend out in theory, right?

Dan Holloway
Yes, customer, I think this is something that publishers still haven’t understood is that the customers don’t think of ebooks the way they think of physical books. And we saw it with the pricing debate about five years ago. Also, when people were saying, “Why is my ebook as expensive as the hardback, it makes no sense.” And publishers try very hard to make the case that the behind the scenes costs are obviously the same. There’s the same cost for editors, it’s the same cost for cover designers, and so on, and so on. But like you were saying about as an editor, it’s your job to express the view of the average reader. The thing that publishers don’t seem to understand is what the average reader thinks, which is that they don’t see that all they see is, “Well, this is an electronic thing. That’s a physical thing. They’re different.” So I think publishers still, if they want to keep up with that, they’ve got a lot of work to do on hearts and minds. Also, it just doesn’t sound good trying, libraries are good things. Everyone loves libraries, and taking a side against libraries just feels like a really, you don’t like using the phrase, “The wrong side of history”, but it really feels like something you would do if you’re on the wrong side of history.

Howard Lovy
We all have stories growing up how libraries literally saved our life. With me, it was a refuge. I went to the library all the time.

Dan Holloway
So it’s one of those ones that is going to run and run and what we lack are hard figures. We don’t even know if people who borrow from libraries, if they weren’t ordering from libraries, would they actually be buying books? And this is one of the questions that with the piracy debate, it’s very hard to get, it’s easy to see that people are downloading lots of copies of books. But it’s much harder to be able to put a finger on the sales that are actually being lost as a result of that.

Howard Lovy
Well, can I ask if you have a side you’d like to take?

Dan Holloway
Well, I try and be very neutral. But as I say, I think, I find it very hard to side against libraries. I think libraries are just wonderful places. And I would like to think that publishers can find a way to work with them.

Howard Lovy
Let’s go from ebooks to audiobooks. And I understand that there’s a controversial, not even a new feature in Audible but a new proposed feature. Tell us about that.

Dan Holloway
Yes, this is Audible captions, and it will enable, or it has proposed that it will enable readers to follow an audiobook on screen with captions. So it’s sort of like captioning and subtitling on TV. And this has caused an almighty uproar. In particular from publishers, publishers have said that this is Amazon doing a rights grab that they’re basically trying to grab the rights to ebooks without having paid for them.

Howard Lovy
I see.Right. So this is different from the whisper sync feature where I think you have to buy both the audio book and the ebook. And then you can go back and forth between the two.

Dan Holloway
Yes, this is, it’s purely a feature on audio books that means you can see what’s being read out.

Howard Lovy
So it’s not the text of the entire book. It’s certain snippets you can-

Dan Holloway
it is the text of the entire book. But that’s not necessarily how it was being used. So it would be used more if you, for example, in textbooks, if you want to see how something’s spelled, so when there are lots of names being referred to or theoretical terms being referred to it, it helps you to understand it if you can actually see it written down as well as being spoken.

Howard Lovy
Oh I see, right? Or if you’re reading you know, a long Russian novel, get all the character names straight.

Dan Holloway
Yes, exactly.

Howard Lovy
So right now, it’s a proposal by Audible. And so who has a problem with it?

Dan Holloway
Publishers have a problem with it. The American Publishers Association have a very big problem with it, and the Authors Guild, they have a problem with it. So they both put out very strong statements saying it was a rights grab. And it was a way of paying authors less. In theory, it means that it means that Amazon can sell your ebook without having to pay for your ebook is how the theory runs.

Howard Lovy
Right, right.

Dan Holloway
I’m not 100% convinced. It doesn’t work like an E book usually works. So for example, because Audible, you can only play things on a certain number of speeds. If I were speed reading an ebook, I can choose the speed I read it at. So the experience I’m getting from an ebook isn’t like the experience I’m getting from the captions on an audio book.

Howard Lovy
Right? And obviously, you being the fastest reader in all of Europe, this would not be good for you.

Dan Holloway
It would frustrate me. It would really really frustrate me.

Howard Lovy
As Indies, how should we feel about these things?

Dan Holloway
With libraries, I think and what the point I’ve made in my column each time I mentioned it is this could be a really big opportunity for us. If publishers are playing hardball with libraries, it’s getting easier and easier for us to get into libraries. In particular, with all the features, all the ways we can get into Overdrive.

Howard Lovy
Right.

Dan Holloway
And the ways that Overdrive are getting into libraries, things like partnering as well with, I think it’s Car Play. So libraries are partnering with Car Play through Overdrive. So your library books, you can now have played to you in the car. There are so many ways that we can get our books read through libraries, that it seems like a really good opportunity, an opportunity for us to make the case to libraries for including us.

Howard Lovy
Right. So while the big publisher making it a bit difficult, it’s easier.

Dan Holloway
Yeah.

Howard Lovy
To make the case. Well, we have a bunch of great books over here through Overdrive.

Dan Holloway
Yeah, exactly. So we’ll be really easy to deal with. And by the time the publishers come around, we’ll have already got our foot in the door. So I think it’s a great opportunity.

Howard Lovy
Okay, well, great. Sounds like we’ve covered just about every way you can consume a book from from audio to ebook to going to the library. Good luck on all your various reading and mind sports events. And I look forward to news that you have successfully defended your title.

Dan Holloway
And I will definitely tell you what it’s like doing a live edit.

Howard Lovy
Well. Oh, yes. I’d like to hear that. Yes. Okay. Great. Thank you, Dan, and I’ll talk to you next month.

Dan Holloway
Thank you very much indeed.

Howard Lovy
Thank you.

Dan Holloway
Thank you. I’ll speak to you next month. Bye.

Howard Lovy
Bye.

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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