Should I self-publish or traditionally publish? That's among the questions answered in this month's Members' Q&A and Self-Publishing News Salon with Orna Ross, followed by Dan Holloway's news roundup.
Other questions this month include:
- I am now published. Do I need to change my membership?
- I want to write a biographical story that exposes racism I experienced, but I don't want to be sued for libel. How do I avoid that?
- How do I preserve reviews if I publish a second edition of my book?
- What website service does ALLi recommend to create my e-commerce website?
- Where can I find the IngramSpark promo code for ALLi Members?
Also, News Editor Dan Holloway updates us on changes in e-book sales taxes and platform updates at Apple and IngramSpark.
Listen to the Podcast: Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?
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About the Hosts
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: Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish?
Orna Ross: Hello everyone and welcome to ALLi Members’ Q&A. Our monthly session where we answer our members’ self-publishing questions as part of our AskALLi program.
I'm Orna Ross, for those of you who have not met me before, I'm director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, normally here with the wonderful Michael La Ronn, but, unfortunately, Michael can't make it today. So, I'm here all alone and also, I'm trying out a new technology, so hopefully all will stay well.
We have lots of questions from our members, and just to fill you in, in case you have not attended the Members Q&A before, these are submitted to us by members. They are questions that our members want to take out of the private email/helpdesk situation and put out into the public arena. Both in terms of getting Michael's perspective and mine and airing it so that anybody can hear these problems and other authors can learn from them.
So, while only members can actually submit their question, the session is listened to outside of the member arena by the wider indie author community, and it goes out also as a podcast.
Should I Self-Publish or Traditionally Publish My Book?
So, with no further ado, let me get on with the questions this week. The first one is from Judy.
I'm on the fence about indie publishing or traditional publishing, Judy says. My book will have many high definition photographs in it. I'm worried about the quality of printing with Ingram and if the pages will look warped, I don't think I would have to worry about this with a traditional publisher. My initial reason for going indie was to choose my cover and avoid the long waiting game. Although, the editors I’ve contacted are booked way out, so here I am waiting anyway. It would also save me some money to go traditional. What are your thoughts? I also wondered if I should use an editor before contacting literary agents, since this is my first book and probably full of errors despite using Grammarly. Thank you for your advice.
Loads of great stuff there. Judy, you're obviously somebody who's thinking quite seriously about what is needed to create a professional book and make it market worthy. And that's actually the most important thing, regardless of which route you decide to take. But which route you decide to take is actually something I'd like to unpick a little bit.
Because it isn't a binary choice, and in some cases, it is an illusory choice. So, let me talk a little bit about what I mean by that. In the old days, there was traditional publishing and that was essentially almost the only way you could reach enough readers. And then we got digital and eBooks and audiobooks that authors can self-publish ourselves and print through Ingram and through KDP Print, and now we have these other options. And what that has done is more than provided one option or another option. It has actually blown the whole thing wide open. So that, in fact, you don't so much choose one or another as you have an author business and you do whatever is best for a book at a particular point in time.
So, you are talking about, should you do this way, and should you do that way? The first thing to say is, you don't actually have a choice if you don't have a publisher lined up with an offer. So, you say you would save some money with a traditional publisher and presumably get an advance on royalties and so on, and that is true. And so that is a way of getting a publisher to invest in your book, but that investment comes at a price. So, while you might seem to save money in the short term, you could actually end up paying a lot more in the long term because the royalty system that a publisher uses to pay you means that they actually license your rights, so you lose your rights as a publisher.
You license them to the publisher who takes them on your behalf, and they pay you a royalty payment. If you self-publish, you don't just go with your print book with Ingram, you have an eBook which you distribute all over the world yourself, you have an audiobook which you distribute all over the world yourself, if you decide to make one.
And so, you now are in business and you can then selectively license some rights to an individual publisher in an individual territory if you choose. So, it isn't an either/or choice, it's a complete change in how you think about yourself as the owner of an author business, and that only became possible through digital.
And it is not something that a lot of authors are even aware of as yet, that whole change in mindset and perspective that comes along with the choice.
You also asked the question about quality and mentioned Ingram and assumed that you would get better quality with a traditional publisher.
That is not necessarily true at all. In fact, the majority of small indie publishers are using Ingram for their printing. So, you should get good quality from both the print services, KDP Print Amazon and Ingram, and you should use both together. KDP Print for the Amazon ecosystem, Ingram for the expanded distribution that you get in the rest of the world.
And indeed, Amazon uses KDP for its expanded distribution. So, Ingram is actually at the heart of print-on-demand book publishing for the entire publishing world, both the self-publishing and the trade-publishing sector. There are of course books that are not print-on-demand, and a lot of the larger publishers use those.
That is how they maximize their economies of scale. But if you're going with a smaller indie publisher, then it's likely that they will also be using Ingram. They may use Lightning Source rather than Ingram Spark, which is the part of Ingram, which is devoted to the micro-publishers, of which author-publishers are now the largest and most vibrant sector.
But it will be Ingram, it will be the same machines and so on. If you don't get good quality from either Ingram or Amazon, that is something you take up and you rectify and change. Now, I do understand if books are being sent out directly and you don't have the control over that, that’s quite worrying for a publisher, but that is true for all publishers and for all of us.
So, it's not something that you can kind of get beyond. Yes, a trade publisher that you work with, small or large, will work on those quality issues for you. Yes, as the author-publisher, you have to take those quality issues on board yourself. So, that's a very long answer to your very simple question, but I hope it helped in some way.
The final part of your question was, if you are deciding that you're going to seek a literary agent to get you a trade publisher, is it a good idea to get an edit done before that. Yes, a lot of people are doing that, and a lot of authors are doing that because it is so difficult now to actually get picked up and published.
Trade-publishing is shrinking and, you mentioned a lot of photographs, so I'm assuming this is not a novel or memoir, but novels and memoirs are particularly difficult at the moment in terms of getting somebody who will trade-publish you.
So, at ALLi we talk about selective rights licensing, and we work with Ethan Ellenberg agency now as literary agent who is willing to give advice in terms of whether a book is ready for publication and submission to literary agents. Also to give advice on contracts and any other issues arising for anybody who wants to go the route of licensing rights, and if you just look at the rights section of the members zone, you'll see that covered off.
So, hopefully Judy, I’ve probably given you more food for thought than actually answered your question, but hopefully useful thoughts.
Great. Hi, Dale has popped in to say hello. Great to have you here, Dale as ever. No Michael this month, he wasn't able to make it. So, I'm here all on my own. So, please do jump in with some of your great advice. Some of you may be familiar with Mr. Dale Roberts there in the comments. He runs a fantastic YouTube channel for self-publishers and is full of great advice himself. So, yeah, don't be shy, Dale.
I am now published. Do I need to change my membership?
Okay, our next question from Alex.
I'm now published, do I need to change my membership?
This is a short answer you’ll be pleased to hear, after the very long one on the last one. Yes, you do. You are now going to move from associate membership into full author membership with a range of benefits that were not available to you as an associate member. The person to contact about that is Philip.
It's [email protected].
How do I avoid being sued for libel when writing a biographical story exposing racism?
Madhun has a question, first time indie author.
My proposed book is about my experience of and witnessing of all forms of racism in the NHS, UK. My worry is that I may be charged with libel by a higher education institution where I worked. My story starts in 1971 and ends in 2013. How do I ensure that I am not sued for libel? All that I have written is true.
Well, first of all, congratulations and well done for going and facing into what has clearly been a very difficult and tough time in your life. Writing is a huge transformer of that sort of experience and a really important thing to do.
So, it's wonderful that you're writing this, and it sounds like it's a proposed book. So, it sounds like you're maybe at the start of the journey in terms of writing it, but I may be wrong about that. Correct me if you're listening in, Madhun.
So, in terms of the actual and substantive issue of your question about libel, libel is very, very tricky, and it's particularly tricky in the UK. We have terrible libel laws and, when I say terrible, in terms of siding with the establishment. So, you need to be very, very careful, there is no doubt about that. Truth is not a defense. So, the question of libel is too complex for me to get into here and we are not lawyers and we don't give legal advice.
You would have to, if you are going to go all the way and publish this, you would need to get advice in terms of what you can and can’t say. There are certainly ways around libel, and you can read up everything that you can learn about it, and we do have some advice on the blog, which you can find by just keying in the word libel on the Self-Publishing Advice Blog, selfpublishingadvice.org and you will get some helpful general guidelines there.
But in terms of the specifics, you will need, at the end, to have it looked over by somebody who specializes in publishing libel law. Book publishing is different again to everyday publishing. Anything that's in the public domain already, and proven is allowable. But in terms of your own personal experience, disguising names is not enough.
If anybody feels that their reputation has been impugned, they will be in a position where they can take a case against you. So, as I said, proceed with caution. Read as much as you can, especially if you're at the early stages of writing it. There are ways of writing things that make the issue under discussion, much less likely to be libelous.
And, of course, there is a responsibility, you know, we have a responsibility as writers to make sure that we don't libel people and that we are fair. We have our personal experience; other people have theirs and so the law is there to balance out those two rights.
So, do come back on specifics. If you have any particular things you want to run past us.
Hello everybody. Great to see you here. Hi Ros. Istanbul, Boston Cheltenham, people from all over. Margaret up in Scotland. Hi everyone. If you have questions, follow on questions from anything that we're discussing here, or if you have questions of your own, if there's time at the end, I'll hope to get to them. The session runs for about 30 minutes, so we'll see how we go. Quite a few questions today.
How do I preserve reviews if I self-publish a second edition of my book?
Our next question. I'm 90% certain you've answered this before, says Andrew.
Very likely, but that's not a problem, we're very happy to answer it again.
I'm about to publish the second edition of a non-fiction book. I've added a significant amount, updated some existing parts, so it makes sense to use a new ISPN for the new edition.
For the first edition, I published first with KDP using my own ISBN, and then IngramSpark, what is the best way to proceed? Is there a way to preserve my existing reviews, are there ways to link the second edition to the first edition?
Yes, this is a very common experience. We are all updating our books all the time.
And the general rule of thumb is, if it's more than 10%, it's a new addition on deserves a new ISBN and the treatment. All of the services are really well set up to do this. So, yes, you can transfer your reviews. It's just a matter of asking for that to be done on KDP. So, proceed, just carry on.
There is a debate as to which way around is the best way to do it. Amazon first, Ingram second, Ingram first, Amazon second. The current leaning is towards Ingram first and then Amazon second but aiming for simultaneous release as much as you can. It takes time for the Ingram one to show up and, obviously, if you only publish on IngramSpark, you're getting a notice on Amazon, which says the book is not available, or is out of print, or you know, will take three and a half years to be delivered or whatever. So, aim for as simultaneous a release as you can do.
You may on Ingram do hardback and large print editions, and these will have that downside on Amazon, but it's still worth well worth doing them to have them in your mix. So, hopefully that answers your question, Andrew.
Larry is in here from Hong Kong. Hi, Larry.
What website service does ALLi recommend to create my e-commerce website?
Okay, so next question comes from Judith.
I've listened to the advice regarding the benefits for having an e-commerce author domain website, and I'm in the process of researching that. Can you tell me whether Wix is a good web service to use? Are there other one's more appropriate for fiction authors? Also, I've written two. Let's just answer that one first because the second part of the quest is quite different.
So, Wix is improving all the time, and I have heard a lot of people recommend it. It definitely is easy to use.
Our main recommendation is WordPress. That is for reasons of flexibility and mainly because, for Google search engine juice, particularly if you add some of the free plugins that are available for WordPress, like Yoast and so on, it makes it very easy to do good SEO, which gets you to the top of search terms. This is more important if you're a nonfiction author, it's not necessarily so important if you are a fiction author and a lot depends on your plan for bringing people over. So, you know, how are you actually reaching your readers? You are going to set up a transactional website, then how are you going to get them to that till as it were, how are you going to actually bring them to your website? So, it does depend. I'm not familiar with Wix, myself personally, and so I couldn't comment on it. I know Foursquare's also popular for similar convenience reasons. I'm a WordPress user. ALLi is run on the WordPress platform. Self-Publishing Advice Center is run on the WordPress platform. Self-Publishing Advice Conference is run on the WordPress platform and my own personal author website also. And I definitely feel that while there is a little bit more tech to get your head around, for now, I think it is the best option available to indie authors, but it is one that people have a variety of opinions on.
So, you can ask around other authors and perhaps pop the question into the member forum, and I know you will get some Wix users who’ll be able to tell you about the latest upgrades on Wix, which makes it more search friendly than it used to be, I believe.
The second part of Judith's question is, I have written two novels in different genre. One medieval fantasy and the other historical fiction. Is it desirable to have separate websites for separate genre if I want to target specific interested audiences? I also have a literary fiction romantic comedy novel in the works.
Okay, great. Great you're so busy. Great you're writing so many books and across so many genres, that is fantastic.
It does make life a lot easier if we could all just hop into one genre and stay there but, we don't, we can’t for most of us, and that's absolutely fine. You do not need separate websites and I really advise you not to do that because each website is a headache and has a whole load of stuff attached to it, including maintenance and so on.
But also, you know, from the important point that a reader wants to see everything that you're doing. They won't necessarily cross over though, you know, your medieval fantasy and historical fiction are not a million miles away and you could well get crossover readers from those two. And indeed, your lit fic romantic comedy even. You know, readers have diverse tastes, just as writers are diverse.
But what you will do, is you will target in your marketing the niche area that you're trying to reach for a particular book, and you’ll bring them to pages. So, yes, you've got an author website, but when it comes to the actual promotion, the author website is part of the general marketing, which every author must do to establish their platform and let readers know the book exists and get a sense of what the books promise.
But promotion is specific drives, and, in your promotion, you will bring them to individual landing pages, which will attempt to bring them across the line and get them to buy a book. There are very few readers who land on an author website that they've never heard of before, take a browse and buy a book.
It doesn't tend to happen. It can happen, but it doesn't tend to happen like that in any great numbers. What you will be doing is promoting your books, and instead of bringing the landing page to Amazons retail page, you'll be bringing it to your own retail page or your own landing page that you specially devised to get them across the purchasing line.
So, one website that last includes everything you do, and that will mean also finding the link between those different genres. Even though they seem quite different, genres are bookstore categories, really, they're not author creative categories.
So, there will be a link somewhere between the different kinds of books that you write. If you find that link, you then reflect that in your author website. Good luck Judith, with it all. Let us know how it goes.
Okay. Yes, Dale is agreeing with the WordPress recommendation. Thank you, Dale. He finds it user friendly. I'm very bad at tech, as Dale well knows, and everybody who knows me knows. I would say that I found it moderately user-friendly at the beginning.
I know there are easier ways, but definitely once you kind of stay with it, it all makes logical sense. Okay.
Where can I find the IngramSpark promo code for ALLi Members?
So, we're onto Carlin now, please advise where I can find the promo code to waive the fee on IngramSpark.
Okay. Another very practical one, which won't take long to answer. So, for those of you who don't know, IngramSpark very generously gives all our members free set up fees and also free revision fees. So, for those of you who are advising your books and needing or wanting to make changes, every time you revise Ingram charges a fee normally, but not to ALLi members. And we're really grateful to Ingram for their support of our members in that way. So, the code is in the Discounts and Deals area on the member website.
So, you have to log into the member zone and just go to Discounts and Deals and you'll see it there and you just get the promo code.
You add it at the end. So, don't worry, as you see the costs mounting, just know that when you pop in your promo code at the end, that you'll get your freebies.
So, enjoy that Carlin and make good use of it.
Okay, Dog Ear again. So, Dog Ear, for those of you who don't know, a number of authors are having difficulties with them. We have a question from Earl. Speaking of libel, I can't actually read out your question, Earl, we will be in touch with you about that directly. The Watchdog is very aware of the Dog Ear situation and we're doing what we can, which is, to be frank, not an awful lot, but we are gathering in the stories and, you know, we're thinking, observing and watching what is happening. So, yeah, we will be in touch with you directly about that.
Is there a joint membership for husband and wife, partner teams?
So, next question comes from Wilkie, hello. Have you considered joint category of membership for husband and wife, partner teams?
Not really. It's kind of one member or, you know, one author, one membership. I mean, technically there's nothing to stop a husband or a wife or anybody else availing of some of the benefits, many of the benefits of membership. But it's not something that we have really considered and it's not likely to be something that we will consider, I don't think in the near future, anyway.
What we do have, which is useful and that not everybody is aware of is, if you are an author who offers a service of any kind i.e. editorial design, anything where you advise authors, you can avail of a joint author and partner membership. For the cost of one partner membership, you can also get all your author benefits included as well. So, if that's you and you and you do that, you could get the joint benefits of partner and author.
But, husbands and wives, no, not as yet.
Should I wait until my manuscript returns from my editor to send it for review?
Here is another Judy with another question, should I wait until my manuscript returns from my editor to send it to friends for a review? What can I expect for the turnaround time for a review? I will want this printed in my book.
The reviews, I presume she means. Okay, so essentially, should I wait until my manuscript returns from the editor to send it to friends for review?
First of all, I would say, as well as sending it to friends for review, send it to people who actually have experience in the publishing business.
And by that, I mean other authors who have published successfully, an editor, and anybody who kind of knows what book publishing entails and what should be in a book. Our friends and family are not the best sources of reviews. I'm not saying don't send it to them, please do. But they love you, you know, so how they look at your book is going to be influenced by that personal relationship. What you want from somebody who's doing a review for you is some kind of analysis of where you're at. I'm assuming when you say for review, by the way, that you mean for beta review or editorial review, in order for you to go back in there and improve the book. It's not actually advisable to get reviews from your family and friends for inclusion in your book, it's best to keep that in the professional domain. In terms of turnaround for a review, a month is plenty of time with a reminder in week two.
So, three weeks to a month is plenty of time for somebody to read the book and produce a review for you. And that's a reasonable time.
And then the general, and main part of your question, which I've kind of kept until the last, should I wait until the manuscript returns from the editor to send it out for review?
Yes. Yes, you should. Send the best version of your book out for review. Yeah, so I'm thinking that you are actually talking about getting actual reviews for your book from your family and friends, and I would urge you to go beyond that, as I said, and extended it into getting reviews from professionals and it’s reviews from professionals that will count if they are seen in your book.
A review from your family and friends does not have a lot of weight for the prospective reader. So yeah, have a think about that.
Can I change the name and details of my member profile?
So now we have a question from Anne, and Anne wants to know…
Yes, this is our last question. Sorry, just checking in on the time there. This will be our last question for today unless we have somebody in-house who has a question.
So, Anne wants to know, I've changed my account name by incorporating into a group service. I would like to change the name and details of my profile.
Okay, that's a membership question. Yes, you are fine to change the name and details, on your profile, anything that you want. We want your profile to be your showcase to the world.
Our member listing gets viewed by a lot of people who are looking for good indie authors. So, we definitely wanted to represent you the way that you want to be represented. If you're having any trouble upgrading your profile or changing anything. Again, the person to contact is [email protected]
So, that was a short one time.
Do I need a cover designer when I Self-Publish?
Then for just one more, would you recommend a designer for the cover of my book, or will a photo downloaded from Shutterstock still look professional enough? Do you offer discounts to use particular providers for marketing and design? So, do I need a cover designer? Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes, you do.
Definitely get a professional, qualified book designer to do your book. Really important, and I say book designer because there are lots of great graphic designers out there who don't understand what is necessary in terms of putting together a book. Not only a designer who is accustomed to book publishing, but a designer who is accustomed to your actual genre, who knows what's popular and current in the stores at the moment, what's selling well, what the tropes are that readers are looking out for. Readers aren't always aware that they're doing this, but they are very influenced by what's, kind of, going and current and looking good at the moment. So, yes is the short answer, you do need a designer and yes, it does need to be somebody who's really homed in on the kind of books that you are doing.
Do we have discounts? Of course, we do. Again, just visit the Discounts and Deals section of the website and you'll see lots of discounts there for designers.
Marketers, you ask about it as well, and marketing is trickier. It's difficult to get good marketers for books, and we would advise that an author does not hire a marketer until they fully understand their own marketing plan, who their reader is, how they're going to get them across to the buying line, how they're going to actually get them to buy. So, understanding if it's your first book, and I believe it is for this member, understanding your marketing, where you're positioned in the marketplace, what your readers like, who your ideal reader is. All of that takes time, so I wouldn't be rushing into any of that or hiring a marketer at this point in time. Generally speaking, for a first book, it's a waste of money. You need to have your second book, at least, under your belt, ideally three, before you can actually cover the cost of a marketer in terms of book sales. So, take your time. This is a long game. Writing your first book is the beginning of a very long journey of becoming a better writer, becoming a better publisher, and understanding more about the publishing business and how it works, and so on.
These are things you can only understand by doing them. You know, everybody can talk and tell you, but until you actually do it, because every single writer takes a unique journey and so every single writer has a unique relationship with their readers, with their material, and it takes time.
You don't discover that on the first book. You're learning so many things just about writing and putting the book together, but you begin to understand it on the second book and it really clicks on book number three. So, our strong advice would be, hold off on doing any paid marketing until you fully understand your place in the publishing world.
Okay. So, thank you everyone.
Is there a checklist for authors to vet self-publishing services?
Final question from Dale, I know ALLi gets a ton of requests to review services and products in the Watchdog service. Is there a checklist or a self-certifying form for us to use that will be a temporary replacement for services or companies?
I'm not sure that I understand the question, Dale.
We review a lot of services and you can find those reviews, they're made widely available, not just for our members, but for the wider author community on selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishing-services-watchdog. And in those ratings, our partner members get, obviously the highest rating, because they are all approved members that we have vetted carefully.
So, I'm not sure exactly what you mean about the self-certifying form, but how about you and I have a discussion about that offline and then if it's a good idea, we'll have a look at seeing if we can implement it.
So, that's it folks. If you want to submit a question for consideration for next month's show, you will find the form in the member zone. Just hop in there.
Oh, sorry. So, is there a checklist we can do ourselves for services?
Ah, like being our own watchdog. Yes, well, the best thing to do there is to take a look at your free copy of Choosing a Self-Publishing Service, which is written by the head of our Watchdog desk, John Doppler.
In there, John has done a job of talking about how an author chooses every kind of service, from the smallest freelancer to the largest company, you know, KDP and everything in between. And as well as talking about good services and bad services and what makes them and what not, he also has a whole chapter on how you can actually recognize a good service from a bad one, and there are 12 different points, as you say, a checklist that you can actually observe and see, are these likely to be good guys or likely not, so yeah, hopefully that helps.
All right then. Take care everyone. Until next time, happy writing. Happy publishing, and thanks for being with ALLi.
Take care now. Bye.
Howard Lovy: And now for self-publishing news with ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway, who literally just wrote the book on creativity, and we'll talk about that. But first, how are you doing under lockdown, Dan?
Dan Holloway: Hi, I'm getting by, you?
Howard Lovy: Yeah, getting by. It's just me and my wife and two kids and assorted pets and animals and we're so far all still alive and not killing each other, so that's good.
What can you tell me about this book you just finished?
Dan Holloway: It's a book about creativity. I hope it's a book that's not like other books about creativity. It's a guide, how to be more creative, obviously and that's all stuff I talk about, about my medieval monks and my brain scans of battle rappers.
But it mainly looks at what happens next. So, when you have a creative idea how you then get people to listen to you. So that something can come of it. So, there's all sorts of stuff based on various myths. So, it's about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and interesting stuff about skateboarding.
Howard Lovy: There's a little bit of everything. Now, you did say “evil monks and battle raptors?” Did I hear that correctly?
Dan Holloway: Medieval monks and battle rappers. But evil monks and battle raptors sounds a lot more interesting.
Howard Lovy: I want to make sure the transcriptionist gets this properly. Medieval monks, okay.
So, yeah, as for me, I'm using the lockdown and loss of business to force myself to think more creatively. And, when I'm not podcasting for ALLi, the other part of my career is writing about Jewish issues. So, now I'm working again on my Jewish-themed memoir, and I'm thinking of relaunching a Jewish podcast that I had going a couple of years ago. So, I'm trying to do everything that successful ALLi authors have advised, which is not to think of what I do as just a book, but people want to hear what I have to say in many types of media, I hope. It's nerve wracking, but I'm trying to do this while also putting food on the table, but it's all necessary.
So, let's turn to self-publishing news. You have a few things to say about the exciting subject of wholesaling and warehousing.
Dan Holloway: Well, it is exciting because that's where we get our books from, if we have physical copies of books, and warehousing has been affected by the virus, just like everything else. So, Amazon started to change the way it prioritized what it was warehousing, so that it was only warehousing essential goods a couple of months ago. But there's also been a knock-on effect to the book warehousing industry and the book wholesaling industry.
So, there are very few players in the field. One of them, Bertrams, has been in significant trouble and is now basically up for sale, and may or may not find a buyer. Gardners, likewise, has been putting its business on hold. And one of the parts of Bertrams, which is the online book selling bit, was sold to a company that most people wouldn't have heard of called Elliot Advisors.
The one wholesaling company that seems to have been unaffected is Ingram, which is obviously important for indie authors because many of us use them to get into bookshops through the IngramSpark.
Howard Lovy: And you also wanted to talk about new platform updates at Apple and IngramSpark.
Dan Holloway: Yes, so still on subject of Ingram, Ingram has introduced a new dashboard, and one of the things they've introduced through that is they've introduced free ISBNs for authors who self-publish through them.
Obviously, if you're self-publishing on a budget, that's great. Actually, on their own site they do have some warnings about what it means if you publish using a free ISBN. So, it does mean that you are not the publisher of record, they are, and that's similar to if you're going to publish through Amazon and use one of their free ISBNs.
And you are not the publisher of record, so you don't have quite the element of control that you would do if you were to use their paid ISBNs.
Howard Lovy: But I think free is probably attractive, in the short term anyway, for many indie authors.
Dan Holloway: Absolutely. If you find your budget has been cut, then this is something you can cut from your expenses.
The other thing that's happened in terms of platforms is Apple, Apple Books for authors has been introduced. What this means is that you can now publish direct to Apple, even if you're a PC user.
Howard Lovy: That's somewhat unusual for Apple. too. Usually they're their own closed ecosystem.
Dan Holloway: Yeah, exactly. It's very interesting. I'm not sure how many people actually sell many books through Apple Books but, if you think you might, this is now something you can do rather than having to go through one of the distribution platforms.
Howard Lovy: So, Apple is far behind in terms of numbers of indie publishers who use it?
Dan Holloway: I don't know about that. It's certainly not up there in terms of sales.
Howard Lovy: Well, anything else we should know for this month?
Dan Holloway: Yes, sales tax. Let’s add sales tax on, which is one of my favorite topics at the moment.
Howard Lovy: Oh, okay. Let's talk sales tax.
Dan Holloway: So, yes, sales tax on digital books has finally dropped in the UK. Sales tax can be a lot of hard work, and working out what to sell in what area, how to price things to account the sales tax can take a lot of time. So, this simplifies everything and obviously it’s really good news for readers. So, yes, it's nice to have updates on sales tax especially when we’re going in that direction.
Howard Lovy: Right. Well, thank you, Dan, for your regular monthly insight.
Stay well and feel free to Skype me, or Zoom me, or send up smoke signals, however you want to stay in touch, and I'll talk to you next month.
Dan Holloway: Super, and maybe next month we'll see more about what's happening in terms of online events as more events get canceled physically and start happening online.
Howard Lovy: Right, right. Exactly. Yes. And ALLi is already ahead of the curve when it comes to online events.
Dan Holloway: ALLi is always ahead of the curve and very much so with our Self-Publishing Advice Conference.