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ALLi Self-Publishing Salon With Orna Ross And Joanna Penn

ALLi Self-Publishing Salon with Orna Ross and Joanna Penn

The Self-Publishing Salon

This month we welcomed the launch of our Self-Publishing Salon with Orna and Joanna. Up to now, this duo has hosted our month Ask ALLi Q&A event, answering members' self-publishing questions. This Salon has a new format and instead of answering Member questions, Orna and Joanna discuss what's going on in the publishing industry, latest tips and tools and about their own writing and publishing.

Our monthly Ask ALLi Q&A continues, covering all questions. The topics discussed in our Salon will be skewed towards more experienced authors who have already mastered industry terms and are familiar with the basics of self-publishing.

That's not to say that a lot of the topics aren't still relevant for emerging authors. Based on what I saw in the first Salon broadcast, it's a must-watch for anyone who's committed to being a successful indie author.

Self Publish Salon Broadcast

Here are the YouTube video and Soundcloud podcast, and below I've summarized the Salon topics that resonated with me. Listen to the broadcast for the full conversation.

Self-Publishing Salon Podcast

Digital Book World

Orna was at Digital Book World in NYC last week. The highlight of the event for her was The Data Guy's statistics (catch the presentation over at his Author Earnings website). And that's coming from a person who doesn't do numbers. So you know it must have been riveting.

Digital Book World had two events this year, one focussed on trade publishing and one geared towards indies, curated by Porter Anderson and Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet fame. Data Guy presented at both events and, Orna said, the indie authors would have liked a longer presentation.

69% of all U.S. book purchases in 2016 were done online (a combination of ebook print and audio)

Of the 71% of digital Adult fiction sold – 30% are by self-published authors

Assuming that America is two years ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the world, imagine what the UK book market will look like in two years time? What about India and China?

Books are a 1.25 billion dollar industry in the US, and in this competitive marketplace it's less about trade vs. indie, or ebook vs. print. It's actually more about the shift towards buying books, any book, any formats, online.

Niche Markets

Indies are growing the entire publishing market. They're colonizing areas by finding their niche and focusing all their energies on growing it. An example of this approach is evident in this quoted statistic:

70% African American fiction is written by Indies

When it comes to writing, Orna's advice is that the approach should be: Go small, go narrow, go where your niche in. But when it comes to the publishing part of the job, indie authors should go wide.

The Romantic genre is overwhelmingly indie, but the thriller genre is dominated by established authors like James Patterson. So in order to get more indie authors in the thriller niche, writers should look at paving the way for niches with a huge potential market – something like Latino Thrillers could be massive. Even though there's no category for that genre on Amazon at the moment, it doesn't mean that it can't be developed into something hugely popular by indie authors.

Whereas 2016 seemed to be a year of following trends, 2017 should be more about identifying unexplored territory and exploiting it.

Wattpad is a hotbed of new ideas, and the place lots of new niches get discovered.


It wouldn't be an authentic Orna and Joanna conversation without the mention of ISBNs. Here's an interesting statistic:

24% all the $550M ebook industry in the U.S. is published without an ISBN.

So when you see trends and data heralding the death of the ebook, and slumping sales, don't forget that those assumptions are made on books that are trackable with an ISBN.


In audio book news, the headlines are that Amazon and Apple are ending an exclusivity agreement, which means that iTunes will be able to open up to new audio book suppliers.

Joanna has been more focused on audio books since the rise of Alexa and the in-car functionality of being able to stream your audio books. If you're considering releasing an audio book, don't go exclusive on ACX. There will be more opportunities of audio book distribution later in the year, and these will help you achieve a wider audience reach. I'm sure Joanna will be bring us updates on this topic as they arise.

Box Sets – single author bundle

Joanna shared the sales success of her London Psychology box set trilogy during the 2016 holiday period. This box set made up 49% of her sales income for November and December, and was 70% of her Kobo sales. If you have 3 or more books, have you considered bundling them together and offering as a single author box set?

Amazon Ads

Now that Amazon ads is open to everyone, not just those enrolled in Amazon KDP, this is a low cost advertising option and should be part of your advertising strategy. You can spend 20c a day, and the information you get from your activity is fascinating. These ads feature below the “also bought's” section.

For a small budget, you can discover what other books your readers are browsing. It uses the book cover for an ad image, and you only have to create an attention grabbing one-liner.

Author Platform Sidekick – Twitter Service

Orna was one of the beta testers for Ian Sutherland's Author Platform Sidekick service. He's brought together a successful Twitter Building philosophy (S.H.A.R.P.) with various apps, to create an author platform that dramatically increases your Twitter following.

Ian is the author of Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors (and also an ALLi Partner Member), and he used the tried and tested techniques from his book to create a platform for those authors who don't have the time or expertise to build their Twitter following or retweet relevant content to their followers themselves.

Ian offers multiple service levels and all of them include the Build your Following service to attract more than 1,000 new followers a month. You can also add-on his Email List Builder service, where Ian sets up a Twitter website card to offer each new follower a free book in return for joining your email list.

@OrnaRoss – Sidekick attracted 6,401 new Twitter followers and 661 new email subscribers in just 4 months on the Builder Plan with Emailer Option.

Building the email list not a new thing, it's fundamental for authors. But the ways that you can get more sign ups is continually changing and evolving. As you can see from the quote featured on Ian's Author Platform Sidekick website his service worked really well for Orna's Literary Fiction Author niche.

Self-Publishing News Flash

  • Microsoft News has leaked about a new ebook store in Windows 10 mobile.
  • Kobo has been announced as the new Tech Partner for Tolino. They've also taken over South Africa's Exclusive books. Slowly Kobo are accumulating these smaller players in the global marketplace. Watch this space.
  • All Romance ebooks is going out of business.
  • Pronoun have made the news for offering more money to authors than the distributors are offering. So how can this be sustainable in the long term? It seems like a loss-leader to get authors signed up. Pronoun have a fantastic keyword tool that's available for anyone to use.

What's Orna working on?

Focused on rolling out her Go Creative! Series and ebooks and workbooks. She's also attending the San Francisco Writer's Conference, and will be hosting a FREE Writing event with Joel Friedlander.

What's Joanna working on?

End of Day is launching next week, and Joanna is working on her concept for her next trilogy. She is also working on a Sweet Romance with a co-writer. All this, as well as launching a small press Curl Up Press, and looking at premium print ideas.

The landscape is constantly changing, and new avenues and opportunities are emerging all the time. The best way to keep an eye on what's going on is to tune in every month to our Self-Publishing Salon.

Watch, Listen or Read about our first #selfpub Salon with @OrnaRoss & @TheCreativePenn #indieauthor Click To Tweet

Our next Self-Publishing Salon is on March 7th

Where can I watch or listen to more Ask ALLi?

Interested in Joining ALLi? Besides being able to submit questions to this monthly Q&A, there are lots of other benefits of being an ALLi Member. Click this banner to find out more.

ALLi Banner Reasons to Join us

Meet the Ask ALLi Hosts

Joanna Penn Author Profile

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as writing non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.

She spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporations across the globe before becoming a full-time author-entrepreneur in September 2011.

Connect with Joanna on Twitter @thecreativepenn

Orna Ross Headshot Black and White

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.

Connect with Orna on Twitter @OrnaRoss


This Post Has 5 Comments
    1. Hello Helen .. due to the February schedules for Orna and Joanna the next Salon will be on March 7th, and thereafter it will be on the last Tuesday of the month starting in April.

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