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Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow: Ten Years Of ALLi Team Members

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Ten Years of ALLi Team Members

We've been celebrating ten years of the Alliance of Independent Authors. So far, we've looked at how members create a sustainable business, the history of self-publishing and a celebration of ALLi itself. But today, we're finishing the ten year celebrations with a look at the ALLi team members. We've whipped up a special podcast, partially live from London Book Fair and other recordings in-between. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, this is ten years of the ALLi team.

For more celebration posts, you can read:

Podcast Transcript: Ten Years of ALLi Team Members

Sacha Black: Hello ALLi podcast listeners and blog readers, this is Sacha Black. You are listening, or reading, a special episode where we are looking at 10 years of the ALLi team. We've been celebrating ALLi's 10th birthday over the last few weeks, and we will link to some of those special celebration posts in the show notes. (See links above).

But today, we wanted to take a moment to look at the ALLi team specifically. There's a big team behind ALLi, although you tend to see some faces more regularly than others. There's a huge team of us making sure that we bring you content. We bring you warnings, and advice, and guidance, and we're championing all things important to indie authors in the industry.

So, this mini episode, and this mini blog post, is going to look at where the team members were 10 years ago, where they are today, and where they might be in 10 years’ time. Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoy getting to know the team a little better.

This is Robin Phillips. Robin is an established indie author who understands the daily challenges writers face when publishing their own books. They have been publishing books in various formats since 2011 and have built up a wealth of knowledge and experience that they now use to help other writers succeed. Robin is ALLi's webmaster and tech support.

Robin Phillips head shot

Robin Phillips, ALLi Webmaster and Tech Support

Robin Phillips: 10 years ago, I was working a day job in IT, reasonably happy there. We had a new house that we'd moved into the year before, and we had a new baby, and four-and-a-half-year-old kid. In writing terms, I had three eBooks released, but I hadn't done any print books or audiobooks at that point. And in business terms, I was making some money from the books, and liked the idea of leaving the day job, but wasn't really expecting to.

Now, in life terms, the changes are that I left the day job, and we've got a dog. In writing, I've now got 13 books released and one about to release. They're in various formats, I've got four audiobooks, all of them are in print and eBook, and some of them are in hardback as well as paperback. In business terms, I started Author Help four years ago, and earlier this year my wife joined the company, and we turned it into a limited company.

In 10 years’ time, as far as life is concerned, the kids will be adults. In writing, I'm hoping to get into speaking, it's something I've wanted to do, so hopefully in 10 years’ time, I'll be doing that as part of the writing business. And in terms of business in Author Help, we're hoping to expand the services we offer, and who knows what will be around, and what sort of thing will be going on in 10 years. Hopefully we'll be able to keep helping people.

Sacha Black: This is Kayleigh Brindley. Kayleigh is a virtual assistant specializing in customer support and social media. She started Admin Angels UK in 2013, with the aim of helping small business owners and authors achieve a better work-life balance. When she's not working or spending time with her family, Kayleigh spends most of her time reading and reviewing books, and working on her first novel. Kayleigh is ALLi's social media administrator, and she also helps to run the SelfPubCon conference.

Kayleigh Brindley

Kayleigh Brindley, ALLi Conference Manager

Kayleigh Brindley: 10 years ago, I had just started working for myself as a virtual assistant. So, it will be my 10-year anniversary next February, actually, which is really exciting.

Sacha Black: Congratulations.

Kayleigh Brindley: Thank you. So yeah, that was pretty much it. I'd just started out for myself, I was trying to get to grips with things, hadn't got a clue what I was doing, trying to make sure I didn't flop. In terms of writing, I had ideas mulling. I'd always wanted to write, I've written since high school, and there were ideas, but I'd never actually sat down and put pen to paper and actually done anything; that was just a back burner and a dream.

Sacha Black: And so where are you now in life and business and writing?

Kayleigh Brindley: As I said, 10 years next year in business. I'm working with my ideal clients now, which are authors, and working with ALLi which is just fantastic. And in writing, I'm hoping to get my first book out in December, this year.

Sacha Black: That's so exciting!

Kayleigh Brindley: Yeah. So, we're getting there, if I can get over the fear, the publishing fear, which no one else seems to have at ALLi, because they've done so many.

Sacha Black: Oh no, no. Trust me, I poo my pants every single time.

Kayleigh Brindley: I listen to all of your podcasts, and I'm just like, I don't know how to do this.

I'm learning slowly, but it's just getting there and it's getting over that fear of just doing the first one, and then I can move on to the others.

Sacha Black: What's that very famous quote? “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” It's one of my favourite quotes.

Okay. So, in an ideal world, where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Kayleigh Brindley: See, that's a tricky one. I would love to have an author career. I have plans for series, and multiple books, and lots of things. But I would also very much still like to be doing the business that I do, working with ALLi.

I really, really love working with SelfPubCon, and trying to make that bigger. We've added a mini-con this year, and just really expanding that and seeing how far we can push it, and how far I can push myself to sort of take on these new challenges and just create new things.

Sacha Black: Amazing. Okay, and last question. Over the last 10 years, what do you think has been one of the biggest or most important or life-changing lessons that you've learned?

Kayleigh Brindley: Oh, okay. Well, I gave birth to my daughter seven, nearly eight, years ago, and I think my biggest life lesson is that you will never be prepared for anything, because everything will go the way that you didn't expect it to go. So, just be prepared to be unprepared, I suppose.

Sacha Black: I love that. Having an eight-year-old, as well, I can definitely sympathize with that. Amazing. And where can people find out more about you?

Kayleigh Brindley: If you go to adminangelsuk.co.uk

Sacha Black: Lovely, thank you.

This is Michael La Ronn. Michael is the author of over 30 science fiction and fantasy novels, and author of self-help books. To date, he has published over 1.5 million words of fiction and non-fiction. Since publishing his first book in 2014, he has produced a prolific writing portfolio while raising a family and working full-time in the insurance industry. Michael is ALLi's member Q&A podcast co-host and outreach manager.

Michael LaRonn, Author and ALLi Outreach Manager

Michael La Ronn: First question, where was I 10 years ago?

10 years ago, I hadn't yet had my near-death experience that forced me to jump into self-publishing with every inch of my being. I didn't know what was possible in this new world of publishing. I very much was looking for a traditional publisher and I didn't think that self-publishing was going to be viable, and I was very anti self-publishing, believe it or not. And it's funny how things change over the years when you get a new perspective. I was trying to find a literary agent, I was writing poetry, and I thought I would be lucky if I wrote more than five books in my entire career as a writer. And at the time I was only 24.

Question number two, where are you now?

I am a successful indie author with over 80 books to my name. I am frequently in demand as a public speaker. I have a YouTube channel that has over 40,000 subscribers and counting. I am a happy member of the ALLi team, and doing everything I can to spread and promote the promise of self-publishing to anyone around the globe who will hear it, who wants to take their writing career into their own hands. And I continue to be amazed at just how far I've come in just the last five years, let alone the last 10, and I'm really hopeful for the future and what that holds for me and indie authors in general.

Third question, where do you want to be in 10 years?

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything over the last few years, it's that you can't plan for anything anymore. You just can't plan like you used to, but if I could look forward and design my own dream of where I would be in the next 10 years, I would like to be on the cutting edge of the indie author space, whatever that looks like. Whether it be using artificial intelligence to enhance the way that I work, or mine my sales for new insights, or discover new readers, or whether it means using some other sort of technology that is yet unnamed that will help me continue to stay relevant. That's where I want to be in 10 years.

It's easy to get complacent and easy to think that the way things are today for indie authors will continue to be that way forever. I'm always challenging myself to think differently, and I hope that doing that will continue to keep me relevant for new generations of readers in the next 10 years, and even longer.

Sacha Black: This is Dan Parsons. Dan writes The Creative Business Series for authors, best-selling fantasy and horror novels under Daniel Parsons, and a weekly blog for the Self-Publishing Formula. While pursuing his author career, he has worked for three traditional publishers, managed two bookstores, and listened to an unhealthy number of podcasts.

Now, he manages ALLi's book production schedule. Dan is ALLi's publishing production manager.

So, I would love to know where were you in life, writing, and business 10 years ago?

Dan Parsons, ALLi Book Production Manager

Dan Parsons: I was actually, I was in the first year of university, and yeah, I'd yet to publish a book. I think I'd been working on my first book for about two years at that point, and got some interest from agents, but I hadn't actually published anything.

Sacha Black: Okay, and where are you right now in business, life, and writing?

Dan Parsons: Okay. So, I'm nine books in, I've got another two coming out now. All of them are in paperback, eBook, and audiobook, and I'm full-time with freelance work and book sales. So yeah, it's been a huge growth in the last 10 years.

Sacha Black: And where would you like to be, in an ideal world, in 10 years’ time?

Dan Parsons: Netflix deals. Big awards, hundreds of thousands of sales, if not millions, and judging by the trajectory now, you know, give it a few years and we may get there.

Sacha Black: And thinking back over the last 10 years, what do you feel has either been the biggest lesson you've learned or the thing that's had the biggest impact?

Dan Parsons: The biggest lesson I've learned is that I should have listened to people who were more experienced than I was in the industry, because I made all of the mistakes and ignored people who told me that they knew better. And then, when I actually did the thing that was wrong, I realized that they were right from the beginning.

Sacha Black: Amazing, and where can everyone find out more about you?

Dan Parsons: So, there's danielparsonsbooks.com, or you can search @dkparsonswriter on Twitter.

Sacha Black: Thank you so much.

This is Debbie Young. Debbie Young writes witty British mystery novels and short stories. She is also co-author of ALLi's guidebook series. From 2013 to 2018, she was editor of ALLi's Self-Publishing Advice blog. In 2020, she returned to manage special projects, including the ambassador program and the organization partner member program. Debbie is ALLi's special projects and UK ambassador.

Okay, and where were you in life and business 10 years ago?

Debbie Young

Debbie Young, ALLi Special Projects & UK Ambassador Debbie Young

Debbie Young: Well, it's interesting to look back, because it was quite critical time for me. 12 years ago, I'd just made a slightly midlife crisis decision that I was going to give up my full-time day job to concentrate more on writing. I'd taken instead a part-time job at a children's reading charity, writing in my spare time.

So, 10 years ago, not long after Orna had started up ALLi, I'd written a couple of blog posts for the ALLi blog, and Orna asked me if I would like to be editor of the blog, which I couldn't say no to, because when Orna asks you things, you want to do them, and I wanted to be a part of this fantastic community.

With my own writing, so while writing blog posts and editing blog posts and so forth for ALLI, I was also writing short stories. I wasn't sure I had it in me to write a novel.

Fast forward 10 years, I now have two successful novel series, one of seven books, I'm writing the third for the second series, and I'm going to be continuing with those series. I've got ideas for another series, lots of ideas for shorter novellas and novelettes. I published a successful novella last year. I've just been on a research trip down to {inaudible} Cornwall to write a new standalone book. So, it's busy, busy, busy, really. Lots of writing going on.

Sacha Black: And where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Debbie Young: More of the same, really. I think my biggest fear is that I will run out of life to write all the stories in my head. So, I've got masses of notebooks of ideas, and I just want to keep writing, keep finding my audience, keep publishing books, continuing the series that I'm enjoying writing now, but also going into new areas as well.

I'm interested in romantic comedy, magical realism blends, and also some sort of office comedy I would like to write, taking advantage of the decades of experience in “proper jobs” before I decided to become a writer.

Sacha Black: As you know, we are celebrating 10 years of ALLi. So, over the last 10 years, what do you feel is one of the biggest lessons that you've learned, perhaps in business and writing?

Debbie Young: I think in writing it's to, well, first of all, don't give up, keep going, just write, just do it. But also, experiment with different ways of writing to discover what works best for you.

Are you the kind of person who works best getting the first draft out without stopping, or does it work better for you to edit as you go along? Experiment. There's no absolute truth. There's no absolute rights or wrongs. Just keep going, keep experimenting, always be ready to learn, because things change so much all the time. 10 years is a very long time in self-publishing, even in a year there's a lot of changes. So, it's important to keep up with everything, but just keep writing.

Sacha Black: And where can everybody find out more about you?

Debbie Young: I have my author website, www.authordebbieyoung.com. You can find out all about my books, links to everything else, 12 years’ worth of blog posts, because that's one of the first things I started doing 12 years ago to make myself write, I committed to writing a blog. It's now grown into an author website with an ever-growing number of books on it.

Sacha Black: Thank you so much.

This is Melissa Addey. Author Melissa Addey mainly writes historical fiction. Her PhD in creative writing explored the importance of fiction as well as fact in the genre. She's been the Leverhulme Trust Writer in Residence for the British Library, where she still runs workshops for writers and other creatives who want to develop those entrepreneurial skills. Melissa is ALLi's organization member manager.

Where were you in business, writing, and life 10 years ago?

Melissa Addey, ALLi Organization Member Manager

Melissa Addey: I was halfway through trying to get into traditional publishing. I spent seven years doing that, wrote two and a half books, got through two agents, and didn't get a publishing deal. And then the seven years since then, I've been a full-time author, done a creative writing PhD, and written 13 and a half books. That's the difference.

Sacha Black: My next question is, where are you now in business? Where do you feel you are?

Melissa Addey: So, now I'm a full-time author. I have 15 books altogether, and this year I wanted to add in something that got me a wider industry view, hence doing some work with ALLi.

Sacha Black: In the last 10 years, what do you think has been the biggest lesson?

Melissa Addey: I think the change in how self-publishing is viewed is huge, because when I started, which was nearly eight years ago now, I was so careful never to say I was self-published. I mean, if you asked me, I would answer with the truth, but I was so careful never to say it myself, and to make sure the books didn't look in any way self-published.

And now I'm like, hi, I'm self-published. And I think that has been such a big shift that I see.

Sacha Black: And where do you think you'll be in 10 years’ time?

Melissa Addey: I don't know. One of my life goals is to, this is a really silly life goal, this is to sit at a table with Joanna Penn and feel like, oh, we are not so horrendously far apart. She's not the distant, lofty mentor, she's like, one of me, that would be cool. Not that I have pretensions over The Creative Penn side of things, but the amount of expertise and the cool stuff she's done has been amazing. Because when I started in self-publishing, I just sat there and read her whole website for six months to try and catch up.

Sacha Black: And do you think you'll still be writing in 10 years?

Melissa Addey: Oh yeah. I will write till I die. There will be many more books on the table.

Sacha Black: This is Sara Begley. Sarah provides business support services to small business owners worldwide. Diligent, smart, and proactive, it's her job to make the life of hard-working business owners easier. When Sarah is not supporting business owners, she's traveling the globe and working on her passion – Eat Wag Play – a resource to provide nutrition and wellbeing advice to dog owners, ensuring fur babies everywhere lead a vibrant, healthy life.

Sarah is ALLi's member care and publishing assistant.

So, where were you 10 years ago in life, writing, and business?

Sarah Begley

Sarah Begley, Member Care Manager

Sarah Begley: 10 years ago, we were just making the move to mainland Europe, to France, and I was setting my own business up as a virtual assistant actually, after coming out of the marketing and advertising world in the UK.

Sacha Black: And where are you right now in business?

Sarah Begley: I run my successful virtual assistant business, but I'm also a canine nutritionist now, and I am working on a book about holistic care for dog ownership, dog owners, and I have a blog. So, that's really the extent of my writing in terms of the blog, the book is an ongoing process that's taking a long time.

Sacha Black: Don't they all? I love that! I had no idea about that, I think that's amazing.

Okay. So, then taking both those things into account, where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Sarah Begley: Well, I'd love to be running a holistic retreat for dogs.

Sacha Black: I love that! That's amazing.

Sarah Begley: I would literally love to do that, and have a few books out actually, just so that dog owners properly care for their dogs nutritionally, and also just from an entire wellbeing approach to it. Particularly with everything that's gone on over the last few years, I think people just think that they can get a dog and that's it, that it makes their life happy, and they've just got to take it for a walk or two, but there's so much more to it now. And that's why so many are getting returned to shelters and rescue centers, and I find it very sad. So, I'm trying to raise more awareness of how the importance of dog ownership and what owners really need to do, before, during, and after.

Sacha Black: Amazing, and where can everyone find out more about you?

Sarah Begley: Eatwagplay.com.

Sacha Black: Thank you so much!

This is Dan Holloway. Dan is a poet, novelist, journalist, editor, and performer. Dan loves the writing and research process, but comes into his own when given a microphone. He is the rabble rouser in chief of the New Libertines who have been touring the UKs festivals and fringes since 2011. In 2010, he won the international spoken prose show, Literary Deathmatch, and competed at the 2016 UK National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall.

He also runs the editing and copywriting business, Rogue Interrobang, working with academics and nonfiction writers. When Dan's not doing writing things, he runs ultra-marathons and appears on cheesy TV game shows.

Dan is ALLi's self-publishing news editor

ALLi News Editor, Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway: Hi, I'm Dan Holloway. I'm the ALLi news editor. I bring together all the most important news stories that might affect indie writers, and publish them every Wednesday on the ALLi website. And once a month, I talk to Howard in a little more depth, about the things that really catch my eye, on the Self-Publishing News podcast.

10 years ago, I had the privilege of being part of the panel that launched ALLi at the London Book Fair. At the time I wrote thrillers and avant-garde fiction, and was beginning to do more performance poetry.

I'd started self-publishing back in 2008, and felt like I was part of the first wave of something really exciting. Being part of ALLi from the start felt like the moment that wave really broke the surface and became tangible.

Right now, I'm spending a lot more time writing non-fiction. In the last 10 years, I've won the Creative Thinking World Championships three times, and I write a lot about the techniques I use to be more creative. I've also just turned 50 and marked the occasion by starting to push myself more physically, running ultra-marathons and doing power lifting. So, more of my writing is focused on training. I still perform.

I very much hope that in 10 years I'll still be doing what I do now for ALLi, but I hope the stories I report on will feature much more critical success for indies.

In terms of writing, I celebrated turning 50 by launching a project to see how far I could push the limits of a 60-year-old body and mind. So, I'll just be wrapping that up and starting project 70, and I imagine it will have produced a lot of material, and I hope I will be delivering a lot of that as lectures and motivational talks. I can't imagine not performing in front of a crowd.

Sacha Black: This is Tim Lewis. Tim is the author of six fiction books under his full name, Timothy Michael Lewis, who is now switching to writing about his passions in the non-fiction world, namely social media, and the modern world. For over 40 years, he worked in the normal corporate life, until deciding to follow the path less trodden into working for himself.

Failing to master social media for selling books, he quickly discovered that its power was not in sales, but in connections. He podcasts about self-publishing and blogs about social media and other things on his website, Stoneham Press.

Tim is ALLi's host of the weekly Twitter chat.

headshot of Tim Lewis

Tim Lewis, ALLi Author Member and Twitter chat host

Tim Lewis: So, the first question is, where were you in life, and writing, and business 10 years ago?

Well, 10 years ago, I was still working in IT. My wife had died in 2011, so a year previously. So, I was kind of in this situation where I knew things needed to change, but I hadn't done anything yet.

In terms of my writing, I had written lots of incomplete novels and stories, and because I didn't really plan anything, nothing ever really got finished. So, that was my situation in 2012.

In terms of where I am now in those three. Well, I haven't actually written a book for a while, but I have written seven books since 2014, when I started writing. I think the biggest change that made me actually complete books was learning how to plan books, and then writing them as quickly as possible. That works really well for me as a way of actually completing projects. Not so much recently, but that is kind of the biggest takeaway I've had, and I've been working semi-full time on writing, and things related to writing, since about 2014.

Where would I like to be in 10 years’ time?

Well, I would like to go back to writing a bit. I've long ago worked out that I'm not going to be one of these people who writes 15 books a year and just does writing. I have to do other things. But I do think that having books is very much a way to push forward whatever other thing you want to do.

A book is like the marquee thing that you need when you're trying to create and push an idea. So, I'd like to become more one of these people who writes books, which are significant, and then does all this stuff around that book. I might also go back to writing fiction again a little bit, but fiction has always been very much a self-entertainment thing, as much as a profitable endeavour.

So, that's where I hope to be in 10 years’ time, back to writing more regularly, but not every month or anything, more like a book a year, about some worthy topic or just a really good fiction book.

Sacha Black, ALLi Blog Manager

Sacha Black: This is me, Sacha Black. I joined ALLi in 2017 and became a member of the team in May 2019. I edit the advice blog, and I also write non-fiction writing craft books and young adult novels.

When I'm not writing, I'm usually traveling, spending time with family, binge reading everything I can get my hands on, or digging up new conspiracy theories for inspiration. I also have a habit of climbing into derelict buildings and grabbing photos for inspiration, too.

Sacha is ALLi's Self-Publishing Advice Center blog manager.

10 years ago, was the year that I got married. So, I was mostly preoccupied with that, although I did have the first inkling that writing may be something that I enjoy.

I had recently created a blog under a pen name, because I was mostly ranting about how much I didn't like my corporate day job, and it was shortly after that, that I realized that, oh, this ranting or this writing, albeit a rant, was actually rather enjoyable.

So, I fell into flash fiction communities and slowly but surely realized that writing was where I wanted to be.

So, roll on 10 years to today, and I'm still married, and I am now full-time writing. I've been writing for three years, full-time that is, and I've been published for a few more than that, maybe five years, I think. And I am doing freelance work for ALLi, I manage their blog. And I run a podcast, called the Rebel Author Podcast. I have, I don't know, like maybe 12 or 13 books and a few box sets as well, and I am incredibly happy to be writing full time.

Where would I like to be in 10 years?

Well, look, I'm not going to lie. I would love to have the Netflix deals or a film deal, or something. I think we all want to be there. I would still like to be writing. I would like to be traveling more. And I would also like to have made an impact in the young adult LGBT community, with the stories and books that I am writing and working on right now.

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