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Time Management Tips For Authors, Other Questions Answered By Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn; Plus, News With Dan Holloway: Member Q&A & Self-Publishing News Podcast

Time Management Tips for Authors, Other Questions Answered by Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn; Plus, News with Dan Holloway: Member Q&A & Self-Publishing News Podcast

What are the best time management tips for authors? Our Member Q&A is hosted by Michael La Ronn and ALLi Director Orna Ross.

Other questions this month include:

  • What are resources to help publish a children's book?
  • Will KDP ever distribute books to libraries?
  • What's the best way to market a translation?
  • How do I find the right literary agent?

And more!

Also, News Editor Dan Holloway updates us on expansion at Ingram and NetGalley, and what the continued growth of audio means for indie authors.

Listen to the Q&A: Time Management Tips

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Watch the Q&A: Time Management Tips

What are the best time management tips for authors? @OrnaRoss and @MichaelLaRonn have answers to this and other #selfpublishing questions. Also, @agnieszkasshoes has a news update. #indieauthors Click To Tweet

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-publishing Author Advice Center: https://selfpublishingadvice.org, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

About the Hosts

Michael La Ronn is the author of over 30 books of science fiction & fantasy and authors self-help books. His books include the Galaxy Mavericks series and Modern Necromancy series. You can now find his new writing course on Teachable.

Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com

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

Read the Transcript: Time Management Tips

Orna Ross: Hello everyone and welcome again to our latest Alliance of Independent Authors Member Q&A, where our members send in their most pressing self-publishing questions, and we do our best to answer the questions here live so that other people, other authors can get the benefit of the reply. I'm here, as ever, for Q&A with the wonderful Michael La Ronn.

Hi, Michael.

Michael La Ronn: Hi, Orna. Happy July.

Orna Ross: Happy July, happy middle of July, what on earth is happening? Are you unlocking where you are?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, we're doing the best we can. We're trying to get out of the house, but it's still, you know, with numbers and stuff going up, we're always concerned, but just hanging in there.

Orna Ross: Yeah, you guys are having a tough time over there, and with little ones, they still have to be careful, so yeah, I get it. Yeah. Okay. Well, we have lots of questions this week, as ever, and we have people coming in. So, hi folks, do say hello and tell us where you've come from. And if you have any follow-on questions from the questions that we're discussing here, if we have time, we'll pick up on those as well.

So, do feel free to add your questions and comments. But shall we go?

150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered, Launch Date

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, and just really quick, a public service announcement. The book, 150 Self-Publishing Questions, if anyone doesn't know, we've been working on a book and it's 150 Self-Publishing Questions, ALLi’s guide to writing publishing, and book marketing, book marketing tips that every indie author and poet should know, that's coming out Monday, July 27th.

So, those of you who signed up for review copies, thank you, that's fantastic. For those of you who didn't, I realize that I gave out a wrong link last month, totally embarrassing for me. So, just reach out to me at authorlevelup.com/contact, fill out the contact form if you would like a review copy. I will be happy to send that to anyone in eBook and audio.

And yeah, it comes out July 27th and we would love it if a bunch of people could leave a review on day one, because then that would tell Amazon that, Hey, this is a great book, we need to recommend this to more self-published writers and spread the word for ALLi members and, of course, ALLi members will get the book for free.

Orna Ross: As always, and, thank you, Michael, for your generosity in that, and for doing the book. It really is a great book and it brings together, so, you know, everyone who's here is here today because you like hearing our Member Q&A, you like hearing these questions answered. Well, what Michael has done is bring together the 150 most important, I would say, and most popular, most pressing, you know, the things that come up for us again and again on this show. And it's all done in order of the seven stages of the publishing process. So, you can jump in wherever you are, get simple, clear, concise but comprehensive answers to each question.

And, yeah, it's a great service. So, we would love if you could support us indeed, by reviewing and by telling other people about it. Alright.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, absolutely, and if you love this podcast, you’re really going to love this book. Let's just put it that way. And, Meredith Bond asks, can you put the link to that in the comments?

I don't know if I can, Meredith, but I'll repeat the link again. It's authorlevelup.com/contact. Just reach out to me, I'd be happy to help you out.

Orna Ross: I'm putting it in as we speak.

Michael La Ronn: Okay, thank you Orna, I appreciate it.

Orna Ross: So, I'm not good at doing two things at once, so, you can read the first question, while I do this.

How do I manage my time as an author?

Michael La Ronn: I will, and our first question comes from member, Marin and the question is, how do I manage my time as an author?

Marin reached out and said that there's just so many things to do as an author, writing a book, marketing that book, formatting, social media, what is an author to do?

Orna Ross: Well, this is a question now for Michael La Ronn, I have to say, because people often say to me, I don't know how you do what you do, or, how do you do what you do? And I say, you know, I just look at Michael La Ronn and then I get on and do with the next thing I have to do. Because Michael is the person I know who fits in, you know, just to give people a quick flash through all the things that you do, and then you can give your time management tips, and then if there are any leftover, I'll give mine.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, you bet. Just CliffsNotes, first and foremost, I'm a father, so I have a beautiful five-year-old daughter, beautiful wife, puppy, rabbit, and I work full-time at a Fortune 100 insurance company as a consultant. So, it's a pretty demanding job. I also teach insurance classes as kind of like an adjunct faculty member. You know, it's something I do

Orna Ross: I didn’t even know about that one.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. Yeah. I do that and I'm also ALLi’s outreach manager. So, helping drive membership and bring new members in. I have a YouTube channel; I have three podcasts and I'm in law school. So, I'm finishing up law school.

So, I've kind of figured out how to build a writing career while doing all of those things, somehow managed to still be here and continue doing what I’m doing on a daily basis.

Orna Ross: And tell people, who don't know, how many books you’ve managed to write in the middle of all that.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, I've written over 50 books at this point. So, it's like 1.5 million words published. So, you know, it's not too shabby, and I've learned, over the years, that there are certain things that I can do that help me out a lot. One of those things is making sure that I'm really clear on what it is that I should be doing every day. What are the most important things that I should be doing every day? Because there's any number of things that you could be doing every day, right? I mean, you get 365 days of the year. What is the most important thing that you can be doing today that will move your writing business forward? And sometimes that's writing more words. Sometimes it is being on social media. Sometimes it's Amazon ads. Sometimes it's purchasing a course and stopping everything you're doing to learn a new skill. And so, I try to prioritize that. What are the one or two things that you should be doing every single day? And that adds up over a period of time.

And yeah, another thing that I've done, I mean, I know that writing is a huge focus for many of you listening, right? I mean, the big focus is writing that next book. So, one thing I've done, it's not for everybody, but one thing I've done is I've learned how to write books on my phone.

So, you know, I'm always on the go, I'm always, or at least before the world shut down, I was always on the go. So, I learned how to write books on my phone using Scrivener iOS. So, I was able to write books while I was at the doctor's office, write books while I was in the backseat of an Uber, and it was really more of a necessity thing, not because I wanted to do it. It was because I really had no choice if I was going to continue writing. And dictation, I learned how to do that.

All those things save you time. And if, when you get to a point where you can start affording a little bit more expenses, then consider outsourcing. You know, outsourcing things that maybe just aren't a good value add for you but would be valuable if someone else could do them.

You know, I mean, maybe that's email, maybe it's some of your marketing. All that is time management, but I think it's also equally important to start to look at everything you're doing today and figure out what you shouldn't be doing. So, are there things that are wasting your time? Like, for example, very, very easy example, if you're spending a lot of time fixing page breaks in Microsoft Word, switch to Scrivener or Ulysses or another writing app, because your time is too valuable when you're writing. You know, it's hard enough to find time to write, the last thing any of us wants to do is spend time in Microsoft Word, trying to troubleshoot, right?

So, imagine if you've spent 15-minutes every single day, or 20-minutes, trying to piddle around in Word, and you can eliminate that, and you can save that 15-20 minutes. Then that adds up over time. You know, you don't have to spend and hours and hours a day, every day, writing. You can develop a writing business, a great writing business, and a book that you're really proud of with only 30-minutes a day.

It's just a mindset shift. What do you think, Orna?

Orna Ross: Absolutely, mindset is core here, and it's something that, like you say, it becomes priority, it has to be done if you're going to get, you know, get up on your legs as an indie author. You have to find the process that suits you and the way in which you manage your time.

Every single author has different conditions in terms of, you know, where you live, what you work at, who you share your life with, you know, all of these things are big factors. So, first of all, it's really important to recognize that this is a top priority for you in your life, and to make sure that it gets the time and the space.

So, for me, yeah, it's key to begin each week with a plan. And so, I have a plan for what I want to make happen in different parts of the business, be that writing, be that publishing, be it whatever it might be. But I also have a time-based plan where I roughly know what's happening each day. And built into that plan, and this is really important, and a lot of authors resist it, but actually you get far more done when you do this, building in creative rest and creative play into that plan so that you know when you you're going to start working, be that grabbing it in between, in the cracks, or you have a dedicated time bucket set aside for work.

But you also know when you're going to rest and recuperate, which is every bit as important to the creative process as work. And also, when you’re going to get some play, and if you don't do that, you end up feeling either overwhelmed all the time, or even all the way into burnout. So, it's really key to have some practices that kind of settle the mind, it's a very mentally intensive job that we do. So, we need to do something that kind of balances that physically and also that calms the mind and settles things down, so that we can see actually, we're wasting a lot of time and a lot of creative energy fretting and worrying and feeling not on top  of things, and so on.

The second thing is, I think it's important to realize that when you're learning, there's a whole different time scale than when you actually have learned something. And very often at the beginning, especially, or when you’re trying something new, some new tools, some new technique, we can get those two things mixed up, and so we think, Oh, this takes absolutely ages. Something like, you know, formatting say or any task we think, this takes so long, because we're thinking about it first time out. And first time out, it does take a long time, but the second time you do it, less so, and a lot of these things get easier and easier.

It's about sticking around. And so, that's where the creative rest and play comes in as well, because it's about setting a long-term objective. If you're trying to do everything in the next six weeks, then you're going to feel constantly stressed and harassed and you don't produce very well.

You can produce far more fluidly and fluently if you get the balance right, and that's the way in which good creative work proceeds, whether that's the writing, or the publishing work, or the business work.

So, the other important thing for me, in terms of planning, is that I plan, not just the making, as I think of it, you know, the work where we're making the words, making the book, making the ads and things, or the social media updates, or whatever it might be.

There's the managing of the process of our business, you know, how things move through us and get made. And then there is the promotional side of it. And each of those need, you know, at the beginning of the week, we need to be thinking about ourselves wearing each of those hats, and each of them requires a different kind of energy.

And I think that's why sometimes a lot of time can go in a bit of a fight between the maker, creative side and the promotional, commercial side, you know, integrating those together into a plan that you enjoy saves you an awful lot of time. So, they're not really kind of practical, here's how you save 10 minutes kind of things, but I think they are key to good time management across a week.

Michael La Ronn: No, that's great. It's great, and I would also add to that, don't beat yourself up. If you set a plan and it doesn't succeed, or it takes you longer to use something than maybe you want, that's just par for the course. That's how things go. And I love your comment on how the timescale changes if you're learning something, it's kind of like running a mile for the first time, you know, it feels like you're going to die, you know, when you run your first mile, but then slowly, over time, you start to shave off time off of the mile and you can run a mile without even thinking about it.

But the first time you run a mile and you've never run a mile before, it's going to be really painful, and you're probably going to have to stop a few times and double over and pant, and that's just how it goes. Yeah.

So, we have a comment from Shari Decter Hirst, I'm making a real effort to track how long the various stages of writing, drafting, outlining and editing take so that I can have a realistic sense of workflow for future planning. I was always scrambling to meet deadlines, and I'm looking for those bottlenecks. That's a great point. Yeah, look for the bottlenecks, look for the things that you shouldn't be doing, look for the things that are taking you more time than they should. And when you're learning, you don't know how much time things should take. So, it's okay if things take you awhile, I mean, it's all about the journey, it's about the learning process and that's the great thing about it.

And, Dale Roberts is watching. Dale, thank you for watching. He says Michael La Ronn is my hero. I love his undying work ethic and enthusiasm. Thank you!

Orna Ross: You too, you're so cute.

Michael La Ronn: That’s very kind. All right. So, any other thoughts to add on time management, Orna?

Orna Ross: You know, there's so much-

Michael La Ronn: There is, there's a lot, we could do the whole episode.

Orna Ross: We could, and maybe we will, actually, sometime, let's do a special on time management because I think it really does go to the core of things. But the only thing I would add is that, you touched off it, and I'd like to kind of highlight it, that you will have to let things go. You're not going to be able to fit in everything you think you want to do.

Time management is a choice. It's a process of choice through which you find out what is most important to you in terms of what you're going to publish, how you're going to publish. And not everything has to be done at once. I think this is a mistake that I see a lot of indies make, and I've made myself, trying to do too many things at the same time. Much better to do, and you're good at this, Michael, to do one thing at a time. Go all the way through, get it finished, then do the next thing and not to open too many boxes all at once. It inevitably takes longer, I think, because you've just got that journeying from one thing to another going on.

And, yeah, I mean, we could go on and on, but we can't. We've got other questions.

Will KDP ever distribute books to libraries?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. Yep, yep. And, Marie, we'll get to your question here, maybe at the end. I see your question on writing apps. So, member Steven asks, he reached out to KDP and was wondering when they would distribute books to libraries.

What's your take, Orna, do you think KDP will ever distribute books to libraries?

Orna Ross: Well, nobody ever knows what KDP is going to do, for sure. But my guess would be, no. KDP is very much Amazon, is very much about getting the whole world into their system, rather than distributing out to other systems.

So, my guess would be no. There are plenty of other services that do feed libraries. Kobo has just, and OverDrive have just got a very good arrangement now. There are lots of ways now for Indies to get into libraries. OverDrive is the company you need to be thinking about, and they'll take you most places worldwide, but yeah, I wouldn't be waiting around for KDP. Who knows, you know, maybe, but I don't think so. What do you think?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. I mean, unless KDP acquires OverDrive, I don't see it. There's just too much division, I think, in the publishing industry against Amazon for that to happen. But you know, long-term definitely, possibly, you know, we could see it happen.

How do I get a manuscript’s legality checked?

Michael La Ronn: So, all right. Our next question is from Brian. Brian asks, how do I get a manuscript's legality checked? So, I'm not sure what the context is here, but I'm just going to kind of go out on a limb and say, maybe there's some things in the manuscript that could cause some legal trouble. What is the best way to make sure that before you publish a book, you're not going to have those legal troubles?

Orna Ross: We can help to a degree, we're not lawyers and we certainly wouldn't be able to give you the service that a lawyer, an attorney, would be able to give you, but what we can do is do an overview for you and give you some general legal advice. So, I'm not sure whether the question refers to libel or, you know, what sort of legality you’re thinking about, but if you want to send it through, we will take a look.

Ethan Ellenberg is the agency that we work with around most contractual and legal sorts of issues, but we have access to other people who have legal expertise and, of course, you Michael have legal expertise as well.

Michael La Ronn: I would say, most authors are probably going to be okay unless you're writing about real people, or if your genre is memoir, true crime, autobiography, or something where you're writing about people that are alive and who could be angry at you for what you write. If you write in any of those genres, then I think your risk is heightened, or if you're writing about real people.

But, definitely reach out to ALLi and all the services that they offer. That's a great thing. I mean, how many organizations will say, we'll try to help you out and give you some advice as much as you can. So, very cool.

What is the best way to market a translated book?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. So, next question is from James and a long story short, James has published a book in eBook and audio, and it's done pretty well, and he wants to pursue Spanish translation. He's just gotten the book back from his translator and he's getting ready to publish. And he's wondering, what is the best way to market a translation in general?

Orna Ross: Yes. So, increasingly what's happening with indie authors is that they are, if they're taking this route, so just to kind of set the context, there are really two routes to take as an indie if you want to see your book in translation, you can either license the right to a Spanish language publisher, or an agent who has contacts with Spanish language publishers, and license the rights to them for a period of time to publish it in Spanish, or you can take the route that this member has taken, which is to actually get the book translated yourself and upload it directly onto Spanish-speaking services. Either route, we are seeing members have success with both of these routes.

So, you know, one is not necessarily better than the other, they're quite different. If you're taking this route, it's advisable that your translator could also be your marketer so that your translator would actually set you up on a social medium in Spanish language, and get you, you know, tweeted and/or Facebook updates or whatever your social medium of choice might be.

In other words that they would help you do the promotion in the Spanish language. It's very difficult for you, unless you're bilingual, of course, and I'm assuming not, because of the question. It's very difficult for you to do any marketing, and we have seen a lot of Indies who have translated their books, put them up and, you know, then just don't know what to do next.

So, it's either about hiring a marketing service on the ground in those places and, unfortunately, we, as yet, anyway, are not able to recommend any services outside of the English language. So, we wouldn't be able to say, you know, that's an approved service or not, as we do in English-language speaking services.

You are a pioneer, as yet this area is not fully developed and so that means both opportunities, but quite significant challenges. So, everybody who solves this for themselves helps somebody else to solve it the next time. So, do let us know what you decide to do and how you decide to approach it.

What tips are there to help first-time authors find the right literary agent?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, no, I think you answered the question perfectly. So, our next question comes from member Tina and she asks, what are some helpful tips for first-time authors on how to find the right literary agent?

Orna Ross: Okay. It's interesting. It's not really our approach. A first-time author is very unlikely to be able to find a literary agent now. These days it gets harder and harder, and the reason for that is it's getting harder and harder for first time authors to find a publisher and, you know. So, agents are looking for authors who have a body of work behind them and to clearly demonstrate that they are writers.

There's a thing in the publishing industry where the first book, for a while, became a big deal because, for various reasons within trade and corporate publishing that I'm not going to go into because it would take too long, and it's not really that important. But for a while, the debut author became very central to publishing and you got a lot of first time authors making big deals and then either succeeding and going on, in small minority, or not doing well, and being dropped. And that was a, sort of, a trend that came in the late 2000s, like around 2009 to 2010, and has continued a bit since. But, in general now, there's less and less interest in the first-time author.

There are all sorts of reasons for that. It's difficult for an agent to make money on one book and therefore, to take a punt on an author, what agents are actually doing now is they're taking an interest in self-publishing authors who have already put their work out there and who have demonstrated that they can sell books, and so on.

So, you have to make a decision if you're going to spend your time submitting and pitching agents around your one book, or if you're going to spend your time getting on and writing the next book. We would highly recommend it to get on and write the next book, rather than looking, and wait for the time when an agent comes to you, or at least for the time when you have a story to tell that agent. So, you know, agents look for records in terms of awards and prizes, or sales, or something that tells them you've got what it takes fewer and fewer agents are going just on the basis of a good book, because to be Frank, there are too many good books out there. There are so many people writing so well now, the whole industry has just raised its game hugely in the last decade. So, our advice, I know Michael will agree with me, would be to get on, write the next book, probably publish it yourself. Get stuck in with getting a relationship with your readers, understanding your niche, understanding what you do, and then an agent or a publisher will come looking for you, and if you have publisher interest, you'll have no trouble getting agent interest.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. Another reason I agree with that is because first time authors are frequently scammed by unscrupulous agents, as well. Now, that that's not to say that literary agents are bad, but there are some bad actors out there, and if you're a first-time author, you are particularly a target. So, it's far better to be more successful to attract an agent because then you know you're going to attract more reputable people than to go off and find someone who may not have your best interests at heart.

So, there are lots of resources out there to help you identify good actors and bad actors, but that's just something else that you need to be aware of.

Orna Ross: Yeah, very good point, and publishers too. You know, every single week we get people coming on to the forum saying, you know, I just got an email from ABC publisher saying my manuscript is fantastic, send it over. And then you realize they're not a publisher at all, they're a service and they're going to charge you for the privilege. And you're much better off to learn how to publish yourself at this stage. It's a great skill for every writer to have, even if you don't always use it and you don't go on to be fully indie for the rest of your life, every author  should self- publish, at least once, because you learn so much from doing it.

What are the best apps to help with time management?

Michael La Ronn: Yep, I agree. All right. So, maybe get back to Marie's question. Marie Nicholson asks, back to our time management, do you use any particular apps to help you with time management? How about you Orna? What do you use?

Orna Ross: The only thing I use, I use pen and paper. I have my own planning system. I tried everything over the years and anything on a computer doesn't work for me, it just feels too harsh and like a big, bald, bad boss or something, it doesn't work. So, I have my own, my very own planning system, which I share with other people, which is very old fashioned and very, very analog, pen and paper based. The one app that I do use, if things are crazy and, you know, they get crazy every so often around here is Freedom, or no social, where I just make sure I shut down the internet because I'm, you know, I'm tempted, because the emails are coming in and there's so much going on or whatever.

So, then I just get into that focus zone. I don't have to do that all the time, but I go through periods where it becomes necessary. So, that's the only app, which is really about just blocking out the time and the space and the focus to do the deep work, and it's not an app at all, but it is a habit that I would encourage everybody, is to do the most important thing in the day first; the thing that nobody is calling for, the thing that there is no deadline for, that nobody cares about you doing it, except you. And that's your next book. Try and get that done as early as possible in the day as you can, you know, the concept of putting first things first is kind of important.

But, yeah, no, I'm not really an app person when it comes to time management, are you?

Michael La Ronn: Oh, yeah.

Orna Ross: I thought you might be.

Michael La Ronn: I’m definitely that person. Yeah, I love your comment on getting the most important thing done. Mark Twain always said, if you can eat a frog before breakfast, then everything else is much easier. So, eat that frog in the morning and everything is good.

You know, I don't necessarily say that there is like a dedicated time management app, but I have found that there are two things in particular that have been a game changer for me. The first is the right writing app. If you get the right writing app that fits you like a glove, then it makes your writing session so much better because you produce more words, you don't spend time troubleshooting. So, Scrivener and Ulysses for me are apps that, I guess, I feel like I know how to use them. I spent some time to learn how they work and so, when I show up to the page, I don't have any problems because I can focus on the writing and there's so much to be said for that, especially people that are using like Microsoft Word or Open Office products, you know, where you end up. I mean, bless their hearts, but they're just not meant for writers. So, having the right tool will save you a lot of time. Also, having the right email client also will save you a lot of time.

Now, I don't know about everybody else's situation, but I drown in email sometimes and being able to have an email client that I can get through emails really quickly, is really, really helpful. So, like Inbox by Gmail, when they had that out, that was a great tool for me because I could fly through my emails a lot faster.

So, if you're one of those people that your life is driven by email, also having the right email client would be helpful because the more successful you get, the more email becomes a problem.

Orna Ross: It's interesting what you're saying.

Michael La Ronn: It’s a big problem.

Orna Ross: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with every word you're saying, and it's interesting because I was thinking very linearly in terms of just time management apps, per se.

If we're talking in that wider context of tools that help you to save time, that you use very consciously, for me, the number one has to be dictation. And I use the Dragon app because I do find it the best. There are lots of different dictation apps, and indeed, your computer comes now with a pretty good one, and your phone comes with an excellent one. So, you may not need it, but Dragon does give you the length and all sorts of things, and where you can do your writing across different devices. And again, it just makes everything extremely convenient, and I like it, it suits me. So, it just made all the difference in the world.

So, like you, I fly through emails when I do them through dictation. I don't fly through emails when I find myself ploddingly typing back to somebody, you know, which does happen every so often that you just find yourself thinking, why am I typing this? I should be, speaking this. So yeah, dictation is my number one time-saver and productivity app, without a doubt.

Does ALLi have resources for publishing a children’s book?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome. Oh, we have another comment here from Tanah, what happened to the question about resources for publishing a children's book? Well, I don't think we talked about it this week. We may have mentioned it last month.

Orna, what resources do we have for that?

Orna Ross: We actually have a children's adviser, Karen Inglis, who is marvelous, and she's really super helpful. Children's books are like, say poetry or fiction, children's books are what we call a macro genre. So, without knowing the specifics of what age group you're talking about, the type of book, is it a picture book, is it just a textbook? You know, the resources and the information that we would give would vary greatly depending on that.

So, perhaps there was a submission about a general question about resources for publishing children's books, which we may not have included in the mix because, as I say, it's impossible to give. It's like saying, resources for publishing a novel, it's huge.

We need to know a little bit more about the type of book, but it's on the list for today picture. Okay, it may have got dropped, Tanah, for that reason. So, apologies for that if you were expecting it, but if you come straight back to us by email or any other way, the many ways that you can contact us, we'll be able to go into more of the specifics, and put you in touch with, if you go to the ALLi team page,  you'll see Karen Inglis's contact details there. She has an amazing record as a children's book publisher herself, but she's also incredibly giving and has fabulous information to impart to every indie who asks, essentially.

She's just wonderful. She also has a book about how to self-publish a children's book well. So, I definitely would recommend you taking a look at that.

Michael La Ronn: All right, in looking at-

Orna Ross: Ah, Kate Woodward, Karen Inglis has a great book on Amazon. Exactly. And we will put all the links and all the details of everything that we've referred to here into the show notes in the podcast post, which will appear on the ALLi blog next Friday.

So, watch out for that if you're looking for any of the links and things to the things we've talked about today.

Michael La Ronn: Yes, this episode will come out next Friday, or Friday when you're listening to this, and don't forget, July 27th, 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered launch date. It's exciting times.

Orna Ross: Keep an eye out for it, folks. So, yeah, there is a preorder available. You can preorder it on Amazon. You can preorder it through ALLi, there's a form for that, which again, we will be including in the show notes and yeah, Michael has left the contact, do you want to say it one more time for people who weren't here at the beginning?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, if you would like a review copy, I’m not sure when people in the future will be listening to this, but happy to give it out anytime, even if it's after the launch, it's authorlevelup.com/contact. Great. That’s authorlevelup.com/contact.

Orna Ross: Okay, fantastic. All right then. So, thank you, Michael.

Thank you everybody for your questions. Keep the questions coming. We really like to receive your questions, and every question that gets answered here helps, not just you, but also everybody who listens in and who has a similar question. So, yeah, keep them coming and keep on writing and publishing. Till next time. Bye, bye.

Thanks, Orna. Take care everybody.

Self-Publishing News

Howard Lovy: And now for self-publishing news with ALLi news editor, Dan Holloway, who I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley or get on his bad side, because his latest book is about power lifting and strength training. But he uses his superpowers for good and not evil, and it's the subject of his latest book coming out in August.

Hi, Dan, what's new? And tell me about your new book.

Dan Holloway: Yes. Yes. I decided to follow up writing about creativity by writing about another thing that I'm passionate about, which is lifting and strength training. So, it's a short guide, about 25,000 words, I guess it's the history, the philosophy of weight training.

But people who know my work know it will be a, sort of, a series of random thoughts that takes in everything from parkour to the open access movement, to Icelandic strength stones, and everything in between.

Howard Lovy: That sounds great. That sounds like a signature Dan Holloway project. So, I would say, even if you're not a powerlifter yourself, you would get something out of this book, right?

Dan Holloway: You would, yes. So, what are you up to?

Howard Lovy: Well, for me, if you hear a little bit of an echo now it's because my house is largely empty. I’m moving, which means I'll need to find the best room in my new house to record in, probably a clothes closet, which, you know, believe it or not, makes for the best sound acoustically.

So, that's taking up most of my time, and also I've been taking it easy on social media, decided to write more for actual money instead of for that endorphin rush you get when somebody likes your tweet. So, I've been using the COVID-19 lockdown to reevaluate how I spend my time, and I realized that probably too much time in social media has been taking away from my actual, real writing. So, I'm going to have kind of more of a low profile and then see what happens with my writing after that.

Let's talk about the news for the month. You wanted to discuss, first of all, Ingram and how their distribution situation affects print sales. So, first explain to us what Ingram is and what they do, and how changes over there are impacting indies?

Dan Holloway: Ingram is part of the overall, sort of, distribution and warehousing network in the UK. There's been quite a lot of, I don't want to use the word action, because that makes it sound like it's a really dynamic, happening sector.

But the whole distribution and warehousing sector has undergone a lot of change in the last couple of months. We saw Bertram’s, which was one of the three big distributors, went into administration, and interestingly last week they had the assets, so their warehousing assets, bought up by Gardeners who are another of the three big players, who have been sort of quiet, but ticking over. So, they clearly think it's worth expanding what they're doing. But Ingram has actively, they've been expanding their capacity to print and distribute paperback, or paper copies of books, in the UK, in America, and in Australia. So, their whole global network they've been expanding over the last few weeks, they opened a whole new warehouse in America, and they've been adding double digits worth of capacity to their network in the UK and Australia. We're increasingly moving to a duopoly, I guess, in warehousing distributing.

So, it's interesting for a number of reasons. The first is that, although it's clearly an area where some people are struggling, it's nonetheless, there seem to be people who think that printing and distributing paper copies of books is a growth area, and that's something that's interesting. Print copies haven't-

Howard Lovy: Print is not dead, right?

Dan Holloway: Print is absolutely not dead, and it seems not to have suffered too badly during lockdown. So-

Howard Lovy: No, in fact, I've heard just the opposite, that print sales are up.

Dan Holloway: Yeah, no, print sales are doing well and, interestingly, in particular, graphic novels are doing particularly well. So, they’re the big growth sector. But also, young adult and children's books in print are doing exceptionally well. So, it's a sector that's not-

Howard Lovy: All those kids are stuck at home and they need something to read.

Dan Holloway: Yeah, and they’re reading print, which is really interesting. And also, Ingram, of course, is associated with Ingram Spark, which most indies use for their print on demand books. So, that's really interesting. So, the increased capacity is going to help indies who are trying to increase their print.

And the thing that has interested me over the last month, I don't like talking about my own books.

Howard Lovy: Oh, you can go ahead and talk about your own books, that’s fine.

Dan Holloway: I've never really sold paperbacks other than where I've dealt directly with the bookshops before. So, I've usually been able to work with my local bookshops to sell paperbacks, but never really sold them online.

But this book, it's been interesting, I've been selling quite a lot of paperbacks. So, there clearly is a demand still for print. So, that surprised me.

Howard Lovy: That’s good. Well, there's clearly a demand for your book as well, so that's also good news.

Dan Holloway: Yeah. So yeah, Ingram expanding is going to affect us.

I'm always slightly worried when things become monopolies Ingram, and IngramSpark in particular, at the moment offer a really good service. They sponsor a lot of ALLi events, they’re one of our partner members, and they do great things, but the more we move to a monopoly position, the more we need to watch out to make sure that what they do is still keeping that value there for indies.

And that sort of leads me onto the next thing that we were going to talk about, when we're talking about monopolies and diminishing returns, but in particular, to look at our subscription and audio subscription, and I've been writing about it a lot in the news.

It's one of those things that's clearly growing, and we clearly now can’t get away from. Subscription in everything has increased during the last few months, understandably. As, in particular, obviously, people you hear of, everyone's watching Netflix, they're listening to Spotify, but they're also turning to services like Audible, Storytell,  (inaudible) , BookBeat, to get hold of subscription-based books, whether it's audiobooks or eBooks.

Howard Lovy: So, that has translated into more subscription for audiobooks, other than Audible?

Dan Holloway: It has, yes. Storytel continues to grow really, really strongly. Two things that are worth mentioning. The first that it’s still a very small market., when we compare it to music and games and films. So, Storytel has just over a million subscribers, as opposed to Netflix who have 167. Amazon prime has a hundred million plus, which is very interesting, and that's one of the things, when we talk about this sort of varied map of audio subscription, everything we're talking about is so much smaller than Amazon prime, as they are starting to expand. And most recently they've expanded into Sweden, which is particularly interesting because Sweden is the home of companies like Storytel and BookBeat, the companies that are carving out a niche for themselves. So, that makes me slightly worried again that we might be moving towards a monopoly situation.

Howard Lovy: As Amazon moves most into these other markets?

Dan Holloway: Yeah, and as I say, monopolies are never good, but also, as authors, we can't avoid the subscription market, but it's also true that subscription hasn't really been great for other creatives, in particular musicians.

Howard Lovy: Yeah, usually, the actual artists are at the absolute bottom of the totem pole.

Dan Holloway: Absolutely. Yes, and while, at the moment, we do really well out of subscription. It's not clear that that's a situation that's going to carry on. So, it's something to something to keep an eye on to make sure that, again, we keep getting the deals that will enable us to, not necessarily keep our heads above water, but at least to keep our feet on the sea bed.

Howard Lovy: Yeah, and one good way of doing that, obviously, is to follow your weekly news column online to get the latest on what's happening, you know, how all these changes are affecting indies.

Dan Holloway: Yes. Yes. I write in particular a lot that there's always something about subscription, because it's a landscape that’s changing constantly, and this week I'm sure will be no different.

Howard Lovy: Now, speaking of subscription, you also wanted to discuss NetGalley. Describe to us what NetGalley is, and then what some of the changes going on are.

Dan Holloway: NetGalley is a service that connects publishers with reviewers. So, a galley as you know is an advanced copy of a book. NetGalley is a way for publishers to get advanced copies of their books to reviewers, so that they can build up publicity and buzz ahead of launch date. And they deal directly with indies. It's something that, everyone got really excited about it when it came out. The pricing has turned out to be, for individual authors, somewhat prohibitive. It's several hundred dollars per book. So, that's meant that, a lot of indies, it's just out of our price league. And, in particular, when it comes to reviewers, it's not clear that the kind of reviews who review something, by getting a copy off NetGalley, are going to add that much value to our sales. But they've added an interesting new feature, which is that they will now allow you to upload an audiobook galley, so you can get advanced audio reviews.

Howard Lovy: Right. Right. I know there's been increased, at least curiosity, in the audio market among indies, and I'm sure a lot of people are wondering whether this is worth the price.

Dan Holloway: Yes. I mean, it's yet to be seen whether it's worth the price, but it's certainly an interesting offer. I think a lot of people are making audio books. I know you produce your own, is that right?

Howard Lovy: I've been producing audiobooks for other people. Now, what about you, Dan? Are you making audiobook versions of your books?

Dan Holloway: I'm not at the moment, it's something that I will do once I'm able to get properly back to the facilities where I can.

So, I work in a linguistics faculty. We have a phonetics laboratory, which is the ideal GDO for recording, because everything is set up with soundproofing to create perfect sound for audio.

Howard Lovy: Oh, that's good. Well, as you guys, maybe you can hear it, but I'm at home with my family and hear doors slamming and my kids getting ready to eat lunch.

So not the ideal conditions here at home.

Dan Holloway: No. So, our labs are likewise closed, but when we open again, yes, I would love to start making audiobooks. I'll just have to include fewer graphs in my books.

Howard Lovy: Right, right. So, are you going to hire a voice talent or are you going to record it yourself?

Dan Holloway: There is no way I could ever afford to hire someone to do that kind of thing. So, it would be something I would do. One of the reasons I'm indie is I like to do everything myself as well, and I hate listening to myself, but to certain other extent, I like talking and I like performing. Yeah,

Howard Lovy: That's right. That's right. All right. Well, we're getting off the subject a little bit, but you're talking about the prohibitive price and the conditions have to be just right to even record your own audiobook. But again, I don't think it's something that indies can ignore and that's how more and more people are getting their information.

Dan Holloway: Yes, and that's been increased over the last few months.  If we don't cash in on it, then it's a market that's going to pass us by, and likewise podcasts, there are more and more tools to help people to do podcasts and get podcasts out there. So, it's obviously something we already do, which is great.

Howard Lovy: And we're always looking to improve.

Dan Holloway: Yes.

Howard Lovy: All right. Well, I think that's all we have time for, for now and, as always, thank you for updating us with the news and stay safe. And, we're going to take the month of August off. So, next time I talk to you will be in September.

Dan Holloway: Good luck with the move.

Howard Lovy: Okay, thank you. Bye Dan.

Dan Holloway: Bye.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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