What can ALLi members do to prepare for coronavirus? That’s among the questions answered in this month’s 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.
Other questions this month include:
- Where can I find ALLi’s Watchdog list of service providers?
- How do I vet a service provider that may not be listed in the directory?
- Does ALLi offer discounts for various worldwide conferences?
- If I translate my book into a foreign language, who owns the copyright?
- What numbers matter the most to rights buyers when authors sell subsidiary rights?
Also, News Editor Dan Holloway updates us on Audible Captions, IngramSpark’s new terms, and Amazon’s crackdown on Coronavirus scams.
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Watch the #AskALLi Members Q&A: Prepare for CoronavirusWhat can ALLi members do to prepare for coronavirus? Members' Q&A with @MichaelLaRonn and @OrnaRoss. Also, @agnieszkasshoes warns of Amazon #coronavirus scams. Click To Tweet
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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: Hello and welcome to the member Q&A. This month’s member Q&A, The Alliance of Independent Authors. We’re running a little late this morning. I’m Orna Ross here with you to answer our members questions about self publishing, writing, editing, producing, distributing, marketing promoting books and with us ever, the wonderful, Michael La Ronn who has been working on your questions with me this month. Hi Michael!
Michael: Hi Orna. Happy March.
Orna: Happy March. How are we here? We are in the middle of a self-publishing conference and prep of course, there is the conference tomorrow, hence the kind of slightly late appearance and how are you?
Michael: I’m great, plugging along as ever.
Orna: You’re looking nice and calm over there. We’re in preconference foolery. But anyway, let us get to our members’ questions as well. We’ve got some real good questions. I think that a lot of people are going to find very relevant.
Preparing for COVID-19
Michael: We do, and I’d like to insert a question of my own. This is kind of a show first order. I know that with all of this COVID-19 stuff going on. I know that there’s some uncertainty and people are a little nervous about that about how that’s going to impact publishing. What are your thoughts on things that writers can our ALLi members specifically, can do to prepare themselves for whatever might be coming?
Orna: Wow, that’s a big one to throw at me Michael wasn’t expecting this one and well, yeah, I mean, these are anxious times for a lot of people and I think we are very lucky to be writers in the sense that we are able to express our anxiety. We have ways to show that everything in research shows that expression is hugely important when it comes to things like this. So, it’s, it’s not so much the fear itself, that can be damaging, personally and psychologically for people. So much as pent up on expressed rumination, airy fairy is a kind of go round and round and go nowhere.
So, the first thing is just the first thing to say is I think that if you are feeling anxious to give that expression in your writing. Secondly, I think it makes a lot of sense to work with the people who are trying to limit the spread of this. There is no containing this fire. SSRS is out there, it’s going to spread boss. Our governments are attempting to and in different ways around the world are attempting to we won’t get into that but are attempting to contain the virus by essentially staying home and minimizing your contact with other people.
So of course, that’s great for writers. So I would say use the time not to watch endless sort of TV programs about what the virus is doing and where what’s happening or anything else, but to actually use the time to get on with the writing, get on with the publishing and doing what we do, because actually, it’s the best antidote. Compared to other people. This could be a good time for everyone involved in digital, because with people not doing as much live, they’re going to be online more. We’ve just got good news here in the UK. A little bit of good news in the middle of all the bad stuff. About VAT on digital products and eBooks is being lifted. So yeah, yeah. So I think digital, being online and a good online life, chatting to your allies and other authors online. And getting on with our work is probably the best thing we can do. And he told me no.
Michael: I appreciate that comment, because I’ve gotten a few comments about it on my own personal platform and about people asking, Is this going to impact my book sales is it you know, and I just want people to be calm, and I want people to know that, regardless of what goes our way, you the same things are always true. Keep your head down, keep riding, stay consistent and I think we’re going to be okay.
So yeah, I thought it was a good, good, good first question, because I know its kind of the elephant in the room. So, our next question is from Maryland and Maryland asks; Where can I find ALLi’s Watchdog List of Service Providers? How do I vet a service provider that may not be listed in the directory?
Orna: Okay, so the straightforward answer is selfpublishingadvice.org/watchdog. Will take you to the Watchdog Desk and there are a few different services there onto the Watchdog. So, there is the listing of all the companies or all the ALLi members that have been approved and rated by the Watchdog Desk. There are other recommended services who are not actually members either yet or for various reasons. And then there are the mixed sorts of services, the ones to approach with caution and then there’s watchdog advisory, which are the people to kind of stay away from.
If there is a particular service that you’re interested in and it’s not listed and that’s very possible because there are new services coming on board all the time. Also, it’s a big wide world out there. We can’t be all over everything all at once. Please do, be in touch with us and let us know whether you’ve had, we always ask people to get in touch if they’ve had exceptionally good or exceptionally bad dealings with any service. But we also have our book choosing self publishing service, it’s being renamed actually choosing the best self publishing service for you. And that gives you a whole few chapter on how to assess any service yourself so that you actually get the skills whereby you can look at Services website, you know what to look for very offer authors. It’s not so much even what’s there that’s not there that you need to be aware of. So, all of that is available in John Doppler’s brilliant book in choosing a self publishing service.
London Bookfair Showcase
Michael: Alright, great. Our next question is Graham, and Graham asked a really great question, but it’s just maybe unfortunate timing on our part, but we still want to answer it. Maybe it’ll be good for next year. His question is, is it worth entering my book for the London Book Fair showcase?
Orna: And yeah, let’s expand it out into other fairs. We’ve got a book Expo coming up and Frankfurt Book Fair at the end of the year and then they’re all the book fairs all around the world. So, there’s always basically a book fair on the go and there are always services offering to bring your book to the fairs.
So, we bring just specifically on love the book fair ALLi generally takes a stand and we showcase our members book books at the fair, we do not charge for that service. The member just has to either send us the book and or come along and bring their books and display them. And we do that because there are rights buyers there who take an interest in our, and our members on both they’re up to and you know that members of ALLi are concerned with excellence in their publishing and our ethical authors and so on. But we don’t charge for it and other services do and why don’t why don’t we well we don’t charge for services generally but because really writes buyers, the chances of actually getting a an agent or a publisher, a rights buyer at a fair to pick up your book and go from there and take it on publishers is very, very, very slim. It is so slim as to be almost nonexistent, really most preferred rights professionals who are attending the fair have pre-booked meetings with people. Most of the deals that are done at the fair are actually done weeks or months in advance. They’re only announced at the fairs.
So, it’s a very, very low chance for people companies charging 234 hundred dollars to showcase a book. I would say no, it’s not a good use of your money, there are things you could do that are a lot more valuable.
Does ALLi offer discounts for various worldwide conferences?
Michael: All right, we have another conference related question. Samantha asks, Does ALLi offer discounts for various worldwide conferences? Her question specifically was referring to the one day self publishing conference at the University of Lancaster in April. But I think it’s a broader question that we asked we answered from a worldwide perspective.
Orna: Generally, we have so that is the way decisions but like the answer to the question on the services, we can’t be all over everything at all times. So, if when we appear, we have an ambassador, and they are in touch with the conference that’s going on locally in those territories. We often do get discounts and actually that University of Lancaster it’s how you pronounce it. I know English town names are impossible. You wouldn’t think it was, it was so real. That’s how it’s pronounced. And that’s run by partner member Matador books. And so, I’m sure we could organize a discount there that we haven’t. But we will take a look at that now. So, if it’s brought to our attention, we’re very happy to see if we can make that happen. And very often we can do, but we’re not actively going out chasing every conference around the world to get discounts because well, yeah, for obvious reasons.
If I translate my book into a foreign language, who owns the copyright?
Michael: Yep. Perfect. All right. So, Sarah asks a written question. So, she’s got a very specific situation. So, I’m going to read this. A strange and hypothetical question that came to me while listening to your Q&A. If you sold translation rights for your book, let’s say in German, and after a set time those rights reverted back to you, and you decided to publish that book in German yourself as the author. Could you essentially copy and paste the German translation that the previous writes, by did for your book and reformat it and publish it under your own name? Or would that lead to trouble? So that’s a very specific question that she has. But I think the broader question is if I translate my book into a foreign language, who owns the copyright?
Orna: Yeah. So tricky. Indeed, you know, and I think the first thing to start with here is fairness. And a, somebody another writing professional like yourself, a translator has done work to translate this book, and the publisher has tried and in all good faith, you know, put the book out and for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked out. So, you’re right, so come back to you.
So, in terms of being fair to that translator, if you’re going to go out there again, with their work, you would, I think, owe them a conversation to start and just say what your intentions are. If they’ve been paid and paid outright, an outright fee. By the publisher, which is very likely, they may not expect further payment, but I think it would, it would do you well to cover that off because in different countries, different territories, translators own copyright in some territories they do and in some territories they don’t and to my memory, Germany is one where they do. So you specifically raised German rights, but I think you perhaps were asking about any rights in some countries, so in some countries, you would be free in the sense you don’t own the copyright to the translation, though, really.
It’s possibly owned by the publisher, and it may be owned by the translator. It’s not owned by you and in terms of you going out to put out what is essentially a new publication, then you have people that you are going to need to negotiate with having said that, we have lots of cases where the translator has said, I got paid for that. You’re an author I’m so You’re so welcome off you go. There are other cases where they’ve asked for an additional fee and not a huge one because they felt they’re already paid. There have been cases where publishers have said no, you can’t do that and go get your own translation. So, there is no one answer to this.
Michael: Yeah, and then you know, if I think you hit it perfectly on the head and I think if you’re dealing with Europe, there’s also the snake in the grass of moral rights that you have to deal with as well. So, there’s even if you even if you get permission at one point it could be revoked at any time if they own the copyright
Orna: Do explain for those who may not know that, you know, meta have an understanding of moral rights due to our lawyer and explained.
Michael: Essentially more rights or another bundle of rights that you have. With your work, one of those is the right of attribution. You have a right to be able to say what can and can’t be done with the work. It’s really almost non-existent in the United States, but in the UK and continental Europe, in my understanding, it’s far more prevalent. And so, if you have a translator that owns a copyright to that they’re also going to have moral rights in the book. So, they’re going to be able to have more dictation and more say, on what you can and can’t do with the translation.
Orna: And I think if you know, I think because we are creative as all of us together and because we, you know, we understand what it’s like to put a lot of work and time into something and then for somebody else to just kind of walk away with it. We understand, I think and hope the concept of moral rights and that person’s right to some sort of attribution, payment and so on. If you’re going to make money from us. They have some sort of rights there and, you know, of the extent of those rights to be negotiated, I think it is fair.
What numbers matter most to rights buyers when the author sells subsidiary rights?
Michael: Yep. All right, Buddy asks, what numbers matter most to rights buyers when the author sells subsidiary rights? So, like a movie or a television show or a video game, what should your sales be?
Orna: Yeah, you know, it’s a really good question and we actually set our entrepreneur membership around this very issue. So, we spoke to a number of different rights buyers when we were deciding that we would have a separate membership for people who had reached a certain level and as an indie author. And yeah, so when we were deciding that we would have a separate membership for those authors who were making a living from writing and who were succeeding As indie authors, and it’s now called our entrepreneur membership, which used to be the professional membership, when we were deciding around that we thought about the issue of rights as being important, and that these authors will be people that rights buyers would want to have a conversation with.
So we spoke to lots of different people about what sort of number gets you excited at what point you are interested in, in kind of hearing from the author and I think the other important thing to say here is it doesn’t just come down to sales figures. What you need for a rights buyer is some kind of story. So, sales figures is one story that gets them interested. There may be another kind of story like a you know, major prize is something that rights buyers are also interested in or whatever, but on the sales figure Anyway, it was roughly 50,000 books sold in the previous two years.
So, one of the things that’s important to rights buyers is that it’s current success. They don’t really get that excited about a book that did well five years ago. Why? I mean, you could argue that that’s not very sensible. But anyway, that’s just the way it is. So, 50,000 over the previous two years, that’s what we’ve set as our entrepreneur member, figure and 50,000 or equivalent. So obviously your reads can count if you, in addition to actual book sales, sales and in different ways there might be other ways that your book has reached. So, if they I don’t know if there’s a course or something built around it or if there might be something as it says they’re interested in different kinds of stories and if another rights buyer has been interested, so if it has sold in translation that can also be of interest to a TV buyer, it shows that the book has reached and interest from other people So yeah.
What are ALLi’s best book launch tips?
Michael La Ronn : Okay. And then now we have the question that probably everybody came here for. And that is what are ALLi’s best book launch tips. This comes from member Daksha. Who says I would like to know more about the process and steps involved in organizing a book launch.
Orna: Okay. And Anna actually, in our we have a few questions which we will get to in the comment box here. And Anna has also asked because she has had her events canceled this week because of Coronavirus and the ideas for online launch events. So, I think we will share this one because I know we both have ideas around launching but the first thing that I would want to say about launches for indies is that it’s slightly different.
So, in the traditional publishing world, the launch of the book, the day the book comes out is a very big deal because you’ve only got a few weeks, so that book is going to be on the shelf and proving itself. And if it doesn’t prove itself within those first weeks, then it’s very quickly going to be out of the shop and new books coming in.
For the indie selling directly who’s the other thing in traditional publishing is of course, your book is then gone and the next author’s book is coming into the schedule. So, you only get that kind of few weeks. We are not like that where we can launch in inverted commas and promote a book at any time in a book’s cycle, and I think it’s very important to recognize that for a reader, the day they meet your book is the day of launches for them. So, it could be five years after you’ve written and published 10 years. It doesn’t matter, particularly for books, obviously, I’m talking about books, fiction and stuff like that. That’s evergreen. I’m not talking about something that has topical relevance.
So, there are a few aspects to launch first thing is that everything is in place. So you have to have all your sort of ducks in a row to have an effective launch in the first place you need obviously to have really good book cover good book description, you need documents to go around the book has sort of a press release type thing that tells you that you get a one sheet that explains what the book is about what genre it falls into its sub genre, its niche, who’s going to be interested, any previous sort of books related to it, if it’s in a series or your qualifications as an author to write this particular book, all that sorts of stuff you need to have that present underwear, in place and then you need to decide what your launch strategy is going to be. Is it going to be around pay promotions, maybe eBook discovery sites in liking BookBub or and free book co bargain books era those kinds of sites or is it going? Are you going to do ads? You know, you’re going to do an email promotion, your own personal email promotion? How well are you situated for that in terms of the following that you have, and the email list that you have, and so on. So, you need a launch plan and a checklist, and then you kind of work through it over a space of about, usually six to 12 weeks before the book is actually going to go out there. And there are lots and lots of different ways. And I’m going to invite Michael now to talk a little bit about some of the ways in which you can get attention for the book for a launch period.
Michael: Yeah, there’s some ways you can get attention. Certainly, some things that have worked for me have been to talk about it on social media, talk about the process that you’re following to create the book. You know, something that I’ve done with my own platform is that I have a podcast. And at first, I thought it would do nothing., but I have a podcast where I just talk about what’s on my mind every week. So, I did that and that was a great way to start building buzz for some of my books. But yeah, I mean, figure out what your medium is, like, do you? Do you do better behind the microphone? Or do you do better behind a camera? Or do you do better? You know, writing a blog, I think those are the top three areas that you can use to be consistent. But the key is consistency.
So, you can’t just talk about your book, and then don’t talk about it. But you don’t want to talk about your book too much. Right. So that’s kind of like a Goldilocks thing. You have to be a little careful with that. But in the very beginning, if this is your first book, you’re probably not going to get any attention. I think it’s actually far more important to lay some of the groundwork post launch, so Do you have a mailing list that’s catching email addresses? Is the copy on that page? Good. So when, when the couple people that do finally sign up for your list, do they get a good experience so that they’ll buy your next book? So, it’s important to think about your current book, because that’s super important, right? So, are you going to run Amazon ads or, you know, all the typical launch questions that you have? I think all that’s critically important. But also, don’t forget about that groundwork to help you with the next book, because all of that stuff starts here, too.
How do I navigate the directory services after finishing and printing it as an actual book?
Orna: Yeah, I think Robert, I’ve just noticed Robert’s question is also related to launches, also launches the question of the month here, clearly and he says, I have just finished my first book and had it printed and bound. It’s all ready to go to market as an actual physical book. I need a professional service to launch it.
How do I navigate the directory services? So yes, we have a directory of services and it’s simply a matter of going to the marketing place, and you will find people there who will offer to launch your physical book for you at a price. But to be honest, Robert, I wouldn’t recommend you to do that. At this point. I don’t think it’s going unless you want to do it as a party, which you are absolutely 100% entitled to do. And if you want to do it, in terms of enjoying that physical experience, getting friends and family together, and selling books to them, and you have a budget to do that, but that’s a different thing entirely. But if you’re doing it because you think that by having a physical book launch, you’re going to kind of get your book out into the world and get readers for us. That’s not how it works. If you think about it from a reader’s perspective, people who come to that launch will buy a book because they love you. But what you’re actually looking to do is build up over time a bank of readers who will love us because they love what you write, unless you’ve had the opportunity to do yet, probably on your first book.
Michael: I was going to say I agree, I, it’s hard to recommend any kind of service that helps you put your book together like that, with all the information out there, and with all the stuff that ally offers, you can very easily find out how to do that yourself, you know, and 9 times out of 10 you’re going to retain ownership in what you do. And it’s really only in those very specific situations where someone maybe doesn’t have any other publishing aspirations outside of one single book.
When you know I would recommend that you use a service like that. That’s Michael La Ronn’s opinion only. Everybody is different and has their own circumstances. But you know, you’re going to be a self-published author, learn how to do some of this stuff yourself because you’re going to be better off for it in the long run.
Orna Ross : Yeah, absolutely. We always say and this is kind of ALLi policy as well as Michael La Ronn’s opinion and order Ross’s opinion, we always say don’t hire any marketing service until you’ve learned how to do that service yourself. Because marketing promotion and publishing are unique. If you go to an editor, you know what you’re going to guess. And you know, if you’ve got a new pay if you’ve got a good service, and you won’t, if you haven’t.
Similarly, a book cover design, similar production, distribution, anything like that. Marketing and promotion is the only service in the world that I know all for people that say, Okay, give me four or $5,000. I’ll do my best. But if we don’t get any bites here, I’m sorry, I’ve done my job. You have to pay me anyway and so it’s really rife with danger for authors, particularly those who are budget constrained.
So it’s, with a four or $5,000 kept to carefully nurture a readership over time, you can get an awful lot more value and that’s what I was saying at the beginning of Don’t get too hung up on the launch as an indie, think more about long term consistent day by day, week by week, month by month promotion if what you’re thinking about is book sales. How Yeah, if you want to have a party, but no, that’s what you’re doing.
Michael: I love your long term comment and just to put some context to this, you know, if you had published a book seven years ago, let’s just say that beyond seven years ago, if you published a book on a thriller novel about an epidemic or pandemic, now is a great time to start getting new covers and start remarketing that book right because people are constantly probably consuming books on pandemics now with all the Coronavirus stuff, so it’s all cyclical. There could be a time in the future where, maybe your novels are not relevant now, but it could become more cultural, culturally relevant. Now like, now is a really great time to be a post apocalypse fiction out there. I think a few years ago people thought,
Okay, well, it’s kind of declining, it’s kind of waning, I think we’re probably going to start to see that go up. So long term, it just goes to show you that even if you have some things with your launch that aren’t successful today, it’s not like traditional publishing where your book is like produce, you know, your book, your book can and will reach readers in the future, you just have to position it to do that.
Orna: Exactly. And we’re so lucky as the Indies. So I think a lot of how we think about the launch and cons from traditional publishing, and also comes from that human need, when we’ve done something massive, like writing a book in the need to celebrate and not to get those things kind of confused.
So, we’re really lucky now as the Indies, as Michael said, you can repackage and launch a book at any time. So, to think about things, think about lots and lots of little launches, and each thing being, you know, constantly having some sort of promotion on the goal. I’ve seen how important that is the Indies who are having success are people who are constantly promoting, not kind of having a big launch and going back to write the next book, which is the rhythm of a traditionally published author. For the indie. It’s very different. It’s little and often little and often a little and often.
Okay, Russell has a question. He’s off to a writing retreat in April, lucky you Russell good time to be retreating and wants to know how to make the most of those. So, any thoughts there, Michael?
Michael: Yeah. First things first, you know, stay safe and stay healthy. That’s the first thing and try to prevent the spread of any viruses. The second thing I would say, with conferences, I like to figure out who’s going to be there in advance and then figure out the people that you potentially want to network with. And then I would go there with a very specific reason. One of the mistakes I’ve made in the past with writing events is I’ve just kind of gone. And I didn’t really have any reason to be there. I was just kind of there for the information, which is usually the wrong reason to be at a conference because usually and this just, again, Michael arounds, opinion only most conferences in person, you’re going to get the one on one stuff that you hear on podcasts all the time, right? Like you’re not going to get, you might get a few golden nuggets here. What you really are going to be going there for is the connections that you make with people. And so, if you know who’s going to be there in advance, maybe see if you can connect with them in advance just so that they know you’re coming. And you can figure out some sort of a meeting. I think, personally, it’s all about networking. And if I could go back to some of the conferences I’ve been to, I would have done them totally differently.
Orna: Yeah, and I think you learn from my friend every one that you do, I’m not entirely sure what exactly and maybe Russell, I see you’re still Larry could pop it into the comment box to tell us exactly what kind of events are going on. But he’s just saying he’s aware that it may get cancelled. And indeed it may. But if you have planned a week to kind of, you mentioned retreat. So it’s, it’s probably a writing thing that you’re going to do, keep us keep it in place. And don’t do it just because you’re not traveling. And essentially, as Michael says, I think the key to anything like that is the work you do in advance to prepare for it. So, you’re very wise to be thinking about it now. And I guess the thing to do is set a goal for us. What do you want at the end of there’s only so much we can achieve in a week? What do you want to actually come out with at the end of that week? And to begin to, there may be things that you can do now, to prepare in advance. For that ultimate end goal so if for example it was a productivity goal you want at the end of that period oh here, we are it’s a week long retreat not choosers we could add destruction to rice.
Okay, so it’s completely it’s called time yeah so yeah go anyway also go somewhere and take out writing week. So I guess it is probably a productivity goal you work on a specific chapter or maybe you’re coming towards the end of the book maybe it’s you’re starting a book, you’ve got to without knowing exactly what your goals are. It’s very difficult to say exactly what you should do. But I think back to Michael’s point, the whole idea and he requested the whole idea of prepping for it now and of setting a very clear outcome for us and then dividing it up sometimes we can think especially for a busy that I’ve got a week off and got to do ah this afternoon. And I know I do anyway, I think I’m going to do a year’s work in a week. So just be careful so you’re not disappointed at the end of the week to carefully kind of consider what is your normal rate of production? What is reasonable for you to expect to get out of that week? And, you know, last plug actually physically can be done in a week and then just practice on plan.
Michael: Yeah, if it were me, I would be thinking if it was a writing retreat, you know, I’d be thinking about just trying to clear everything before and after the retreat.
So, like, I know this sounds silly, but like I would be cleaning my house obsessively, so that I could come home to a clean house so that I’m not worried about that. I don’t know if that person does that. But I mean, just trying to figure out all my other all the things that are going to take my headspace away from the writing while I’m at the retreat, I would be trying to focus on taking care of that before I left.
Orna: That’s great. I think you’ve kind of made me think as well about the week you come back. So very often, the benefits from a retreat is actually felt a little while afterwards. So, clearing the decks a little bit so that you have some time on the far side of it, so that you can actually take whatever arises up the time and then just enjoy it. It’s just such a precious gift, get away for a week and just be able to devote yourself completely to writing.
Michael: And I agree, have fun Russel.
Orna: Okay, folks, that is it for this month and please do keep your questions coming to us. You can write to us anytime at [email protected] There is also in the members zone, a form you can fill with your question. We love to get your questions and they are helpful, not just to you, I hope our responses are helpful to you, but also to other authors who are out there and who have similar questions, which is why we do it in this public forum. So, thank you for other questions? Thank you, Michael.
Michael: All right, thanks. Orna, we’ll talk to you next month.
Orna: We’ll see you next month. Happy writing everyone, happy publishing. Bye Bye.
SELF PUBLISHING NEWS
Dan Holloway: Hello, welcome to this month Self-Publishing News for the ALLi podcast. It’s slightly strange this month I normally speak to Howard, and very much enjoy our monthly conversations, but I assume you enjoy them as well. This month obviously, it’s slightly different. I am currently recording this dashing between virtual meetings in the office as we like everyone else try and work out how to carry on at least some semblance of life under these slightly strange conditions we find ourselves in and that brings me obviously to the first subject for this month’s news, which is the impact of Coronavirus on the book fair season. Most book fairs for the foreseeable future will obviously not be going ahead. One of the things this has meant is that events that go ahead digitally, such as ALLi’s self publishing conferences, obviously provide little oasis of information and socializing and a sense of community for us.
So I very much hope that one of the things that will come out of this is that the publishing industry as a whole will catch up with what we’ve been doing for a long time and start to realize that a lot of its practices aren’t actually necessary. And that actually you can do a lot of things remotely, you can do a lot of things online. You can build a fabulous sense of community online, which is one of the things We have managed to do here.
So, obviously, I’ll keep you updated as things continue happening. But as I say, one of the things that I do hope to see happen eventually is that if we see that the industry doesn’t actually collapse over the next few months, we will see more events having, if not totally online programs, then at least maybe adjunct programs that are online or other events that happen so that people who can’t make it in person are able to participate and to gain the fullest opportunities out of events that after all, should be open to all of us. So that’s the coronavirus there. Obviously, there have been some, some really positive things happening over the last month. One thing that particularly struck me was the progression from deep zen, which is a company who produced digitally narrated audio books and their first available digitally integrated audio book has just been released. This is really exciting because one of the big barriers to us in creating our own audio books is the cost and the technical. The technical difficulty of doing it, either you have to have a facility for doing it on your own, or you need to pay someone quite a lot of money to do it for you.
But deep down is offering is, is the possibility of narrators who actually sound like a person rather than just sounding like basically sounding like computer reading words without any inflection. So, they aim to get the emotional cadence of the piece right then to get the inflection as it would be if you’re reading it yourself. It’s obviously not going to be perfect for a little while, but the more they do because it’s based on machine learning. I’m assuming the more they do, the better it will get. So I would encourage everyone to have a good look at that. Amazon has been in the news again this month. Here in the UK, there was a very big documentary, where we looked at, specifically what Amazon knows about you.
It turns out that Amazon knows an awful lot about us.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Laura Dietz, who’s part of the team at Anglia Ruskin working on the publishing industry in researching the publishing industry. She had some interesting findings about what people think about what Amazon knows about them. And it turns out that the thing that worries people most about Amazon is the fact that it knows what you’re doing inside your books. So it’s not the fact it’s not what you’re buying that worries people. It’s what you’re doing. Once you bought those books, so the fact that I think, one article that came out suggested that someone who put in a Freedom of Information request to Amazon found out that 83,000 interactions he’d had with his Kindle, over just a two year period had been logged. So, it’s that information, which is really quite hair raising. Obviously, Amazon says it helps make our experience better. And I’m sure there are ways in which it does make our experience a little bit better.
Maybe if Amazon didn’t have at 3000 interactions, it would make even worse recommendations than the standard thing which we all seem to see, which is that we’ll get our own books recommended to us. Who knows? But I think people in general are still quite scared by what it is that Amazon knows and what it is that they are doing with that information. And on the subject of Amazon and information and apparently underhanded practices, we’ve seen finally a resolution to the audible captions dispute. It seems that that’s now going to be an entirely opt in system. So we just like DRM, you can opt in to having captions made available on your books.
And that will make it happen but you don’t have to, the final piece of news this month comes from Ingram Spark. And obviously a lot of us are using spark to print our books. And they have realized that they’ve had a lot of the same problems that Amazon has gotten very used to, over people basically publishing dubious content. And by dubious meaning essentially scraped content. So books that are made up of nothing more than articles scraped off the internet, often just nonsense, and then selling them and either ripping off customers or possibly as in the case of Amazon, this has been part of a larger money laundering operation and ripping off people in general. So they’ve introduced a new set of guidelines on what isn’t acceptable in terms of its content.
John Doppler has as always, some fabulous guidance on this on the ally website. So, I would recommend going and checking out things that are of particular concern to indies or the fact that there will be limitations on producing journals. journals, notebooks or workbooks. These are things obviously a lot of us just use to come back to produce our own notebooks that suit us really well. And people have been worried that they won’t be able to do that. Slightly less controversial or books that are misleading or basically do all those things that you see on Amazon where people put great big long metadata after the title which basically runs through everything that books like in a hope to catch readers on the search function. comments back titles, or not titled that covers a slightly more worrying? I think we need some clarity about what it means for a cover to be a mimic, rather than just placing a book within a genre.
And other things again, slightly less controversial books that are basically just scams. And again, books that are similar Right off the internet. So, it’s good to see that they’re tackling this problem. It’s a problem that has come to a head again for Amazon recently with coronavirus to bring us back to our first story. Not surprisingly, Amazon has been absolutely inundated with titles of books purporting either to make spurious claims about cures for coronavirus or books which are essentially just scraped articles on the internet, all seeking to cash in on what is obviously something that people are very concerned about and Amazon have been taking it very seriously and taking a lot of books down. Inevitably some books will get caught in that so that’s something for us to watch out for. And make sure we are always vigilant to see that Amazon’s keeping the right balance between what it takes down and what it allows us to publish. That is a slightly unusual broadcast for this month. So, thank you very much. And I look forward to seeing you again next month or speaking to you again next month And in particular, make sure you do keep an eye out on our news column over the coming weeks, because there will be lots and lots happening very fast. Great. Thank you and stay safe.