Session: How to Self-Publish the Creative Way
Orna Ross chairs a panel live at the London Book Fair with Adam Croft speaking about mindset, Amy Collins discussing marketing and Camille Mofidi discussing Kobo and global distribution.
Audience: All Levels
This post is part of London Book Fair Self-Publishing Advice Conference (#SelfPubCon2019), an online author conference that showcases the best self-publishing advice and education for authors across the world — harnessing the global reach of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ network. Our self-publishing conference features well-known indie authors and advisors, for 24 sessions over 24-hours, in a one-day extravaganza of self-publishing expertise straight to your email inbox. We hope you enjoy this session. Let us know if you have any questions or input on this self-publishing topic. Visit our Facebook Group and join in the conversation there, or leave your questions and feedback in the comments section below.
Orna: Hello and you are very welcome. I’m Orna Ross. I am the director of the Alliance of Independent Authors. I am also, like you, a writer. I write poetry, nonfiction and fiction. And our theme today is we’re going to be talking about how to self publish a book. And you can’t do that actually in three quarters of an hour. Surprisingly, we cannot tell you everything. So we’ve picked out the most important things you need to know and we’ve got the three of the best people in the world to come and talk to about it. And I’m not exaggerating. And on my right here we have Adam Croft who is one of the most successful independent authors in the world. Here in the middle we have Amy Collins who runs one of the best marketing services in the world and she’s going to be talking to you about how to sell the book and here, who will be talking in the middle about the detail of putting the book together and getting it out to the world is Camille Mofidi.
Orna: Yes. Yeah. I don’t have it written in front of me, but she is European manager for Kobo Writing Life, a fantastic platform for putting an ebook together and getting it out to the world. So Adam will kick us off. He is going to talk about mindset. Can I have a show of hands? How many of you have already self published a book? So we are about half and half. Adam’s talk is really important. Even if you are just beginning to think about self publishing or whether you might self publish or maybe you might even take a different routes to publication. He’s going to talk to you about why you need to start getting into the right mindset right from the very start. Self publishing is different. He’s going to tell you why and how.
Adam: Thank you. I’m going to take a moment to get the laptop to work. Okay, I’m going to try and struggle to get mindset into 10 minutes. It’s a huge topic, but I’m going to have a go. So first of all, we should probably cover what mindset actually is. It sounds a little bit new age and all, but actually it’s very, very simple. It’s a way of thinking. It’s about looking at your writing career from a different angle. It’s about using logic to give you the Aha moments about things you might not have considered.
Adam: It’s about long term strategy and it’s about making sense of what can seem like a very confusing and daunting world when you first come into it. Indie publishing gets more and more confusing and daunting as the industry gets more mature. And that’s why mindset gets more and more important every day. But once you’ve got the right mindset, everything else falls into place. It’s the foundations on which your career will be built.
Adam: I’m not sure why that wants to come up like that. But I’ll carry on. In the sixties and seventies was an American psychologist called Walter Mischel who worked at Stanford University. He did some studies into the subjects of delayed gratification. He got some kids in a room. He gave them the option of either having one small treat now or waiting and having a lot more later on. Of course anyone who’s got kids will know that the young ones went “Yeah, I’ll have it now.” And some of the older ones waited so they’d get more later. What was really interesting was that they carried on looking at these kids as they grew up and as they became adults, they looked at the careers they went into, they looked at their exam results, they look at their earnings, their health, every kind of marker you can have of a successful life. And they found that the kids who waited to get more later tended to do a lot better in life.
Adam: So it’s a science fact that long term thinking will benefit you in the long run. And this all links into your author career cause you’re indie author career is a long term plan. , I didn’t start making decent money from my books until I was nine books in. There’s not a very gradual curve when you’re an indie author. It tends to be that you kind of go along a level for a long time and all of a sudden something will just peak and spike and that will be your tipping point and it’s all about laying those foundations early on. One book is probably not going to make you a full time author. So the most critical plan for long term self publishing success is to accept that each book might only make a small amount of money. You might be very lucky and have a couple of big breakout books.
Adam: But having a large number of books out there is a good way to multiply that. That’s something that I’ll talk about in just a moment if I can get this to work. Oh, there’s the middle one, there we go. Now residuals are a very interesting thing, generally speaking, one of my early books, my second book, Guilty as Sin, earns me a very paltry six pounds a day at the moment. But I wrote that book eight years ago and if we assume it’s been earning about six pounds a day, every day since that comes up at coming up for 20,000 pounds is work I did eight years ago, bearing in mind. So it took me about two months to write that book. So if I look at the actual time that I put into writing it to date, that’s about 10,000 pounds a month, which is a lot better than the six pounds a day when you frame it that way.
Adam: So this is where we’re getting into a long term of things. I’ve got 20 odd books out. Most of them sell better than that one. But if you multiply that across a number of books, that’s where things get very interesting. So as always, the biggest tip I can give people is to write more books and get more work out there. It’s a big industry. There’s a lot of books out there, and that’s always a prime tip that I’ll give to people. Another very broad concept I’m going to try and rush my way through here is ownership and control and having the right mindset to know what you should be keeping ownership and control over. This is why we are indies at the end of the day. It’s a very broad concept. Your intellectual property is your books, your authors. A book, as a concept, is a multi platform product. So don’t just think about getting an ebook out there and that’s it. At the very least you should be having, an ebook, a paperback, a large print paperback and an audio book. You can go further than that. You look at TV adaptations, stage plays, audio translations, movie rights. This is all from one story. Don’t think about one book as being just one product, which is why holding on your intellectual property or at least regulating and limiting its usage is vital.
Adam: When you are on any other type of business and you are running a business as an indie author, you will know who your customers are. We don’t. Amazon knows who buys our books. Kobo knows who buys our books. The retailers know. We don’t have any direct link with them, which is why having a mailing list is absolutely key. And having that direct link with your readers who are, in effect, your customers.
Adam: And you should never be beholden to a third party. Be In control at all times. You should always make sure you’re free to publish wherever you want to, which means avoiding exclusivity deals and making sure all readers are able to get your books easily in the format they prefer from the vendor they prefer. Now it’s very tempting, very tempting to jump onto every new fad in indie publishing, but that’s quite a short sighted way of looking at things. Whereas if you base your strategy on mindset and long term proven actions, you’d be much better equipped to adapt to the changing landscape. And it often does change, which is why I believe going wide is a far better business strategy than Kindle Unlimited. I’ll say that quietly, Amazon are over there.I love the idea of KU, subscription models are a brilliant thing.
Adam: It’s the way things are coming. But the one massive flaw is exclusivity. Now, Netflix do not say to Steven Spielberg “you can’t put your movies out in movie theaters and you can’t release them on DVD. You can only have them here.” Spotify do not say to Ed Sheeran, “You can’t do live gigs.” They don’t say you can’t have your songs on the radio, but essentially that’s what Amazon does with KDP Select. And the second they drop the exclusivity clause I’m the first one in. Okay, so that is for me, the big flaw is exclusivity. Building and curating your mailing list is more crucial than ever. I touched on this a moment ago. But this is the way to future proof your indie author career. Yeah, there are horror stories of people having dashboards shut down and their books suddenly being pulled. If you’ve got that direct control and you’ve got access to your readers, you could move elsewhere. You can get your books out to them in another way. And it’s good fun to talk to readers as well.
Adam: Sorry. I’ve got a different screen there. A book is not just a book. This is something I touched on a moment ago. It’s not simply one product. You need to be thinking very, very carefully about what else you can do with your books. If you write nonfiction, for example, you can be looking at workbooks. You could be looking at online webinars and different ways of getting that content across. But I would say for fiction writers, you should at least have an ebook, paperback, audiobook, and a large print paperback which is something I could talk about more, but I am getting the look. In summary, I would say think long term and think realistic. This is a long journey. You’re laying the foundations for the future. You’re always laying foundations. It’s like building a house. You can build it quicker, but without the foundation’s first gust of wind, it will fall down. Residuals are key. More books will earn you more money. It doesn’t matter if each one nine years, a few pounds a day. If you’ve got 20 bucks out, then you’re looking at over a hundred pounds a day there from fairly poor selling books.
Adam: You need to treat your writing career with the respect it deserves. There’s an old saying that says dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Be professional. This isn’t a hobby or a gimmick. This either is your career or you want it to be your career. So treating it with the respect it deserves is key.
Adam: Maintain ownership and control of your intellectual property, your mailing list and your publishing actions and keep your options open. Explore multiple income streams. The gold rush is not sustainable. One book is not one product, so it could be many products. It’s something I’ve said about three times today but it’s absolutely key that you take that away. I think that is about as quickly as I can cover mindset. I do have two books out. You should absolutely go and buy them immediately and if you need or have any other questions, the Indie Author Mindset Facebook group is a great free resource. But ask any questions you have on Indie publishing in general.
Orna: Thank you, Adam. And I would like to just say that most all of what Adam has said there is policy really of the Alliance of Independent Authors. The going wide, the making sure you have control. You are in business when you’re an indie author. When you are a trade published author you cannot be in business, they are in business and you are a content provider for another business. The first day you begin to sell your ebooks, you go into business and you need to begin to think like that. And our Self Publishing 3.0 campaign talks a lot more about that and about many of the issues that Adam has raised. So how do you get your fabulous books out to the world? This wonderful platform will do it for you and Camille is going to explain how and why.
Camille: Thank you, Orma. So I’d like to talk to you about publishing your book, self-publishing your book with Kobo and what are the features we provide? So Kobo is a Toronto-based company. We’re a Canadian company, owned by Rakuten and we are focusing on ereading. We sell Ereaders, we sell ebooks now, audio books and we have a self publishing platform. So we are really talking to book lovers about the books they like to read and to write and to publish. And our specificity is that we are, we launched very quickly in 190 countries. And the way we’ve been able to manage that starting like a small startup, 10 years ago was that we partner with, the most important book retailer in each country. So, we work with W.H. Smith’s in the UK, with NAC imprint with Indigo in Canada. And that was really a way to show the synergy between print and print and Ebook, brick and mortar and online.
Speaker 6: So about Kobo Writing Life. This is our self publishing platform and what can you do with a Kobo Writing Life, you can basically publish for free, with no exclusivity and you just need four steps, very easy to publish your book. I’ll get to that right after. And we publish the books in epub format, starting from a word document. So that is very easy. The convention can be done on the platform and Kobo Writing Life, the catalog is as important today, that is, we are ranking as one of the big five publishers for the whole Kobo catalog. And we are a team of seven people located in Toronto and in Europe. I’m based in Paris. And I’m handling the other European countries, including UK. And we are in touch with our authors on a daily basis just to be able to connect with them and to bring them to the best of the support.
Camille: So how do you publish an Ebook? You just need to create an account and then those four steps. The first one is describing your book. So this is what we call the metadata of the book. This is the word to describe the title, subtitle, the author name and name, that’s where you will load your cover, as a jpeg file. And that’s where also you will pick the category of the book and the synopsis of the book. So that’s the first step, very easy, the second step is the content. You should have an epub file, but if you don’t have an epub file, the platform will convert for you from a word, from an OpenOffice Word, even from a Mobi, the only thing that is not accepted is pdf just because pdf conversion is very bad and you should really avoid that.
Camille: Then the third step, you will set the rights for your book. So obviously you will go for worldwide rights because you own your rights and you want to take advantage of ebook and with ebook there is no current year. You can reach English readers anywhere in the world and we will see later with a map that you can find readers even in places you wouldn’t think about. And the last step, the most important is the price. You set the price and you can also decide to schedule price promotions on that step. And then you hit publish and your book will be available and you should think about making it available on pre orders so that you can start your campaign and your promotion right in advance. And not just the date that your book is out obviously. So very briefly, I really want to emphasize 10 Kobo features that all authors should know about and that they should really think about leveraging.
Camille: The first one is the price promotion that I was talking about. And you can price your ebook, not just in GBP obviously, but in multiple currencies. And when you are doing so, always try to think global and think of your readers being anywhere in the world. So just think that, if you are pricing an Ebook, let’s say 4.99 GBP and if you let the price get converted automatically, this will not look like a very professional or fancy price for a US or French readers, let’s say. So the platform gives you some tips so that to have an optimized conversion and you should really try to get this mindset, when you are pricing. Then we are talking about ebooks. We’re also now talking about audio books. Kobo launched it’s audio book catalog almost two years ago now.
Camille: And of course English is the main language we are selling, but not only we have English audiobooks, French audiobooks, Spanish audiobooks. We are just developing this catalog and we are currently working, this is our main priority at the moment. We are working to let authors upload directly their mp3 files on the platform. So very soon authors will be able to distribute not only their ebooks but also their audio books through the Kobo Writing Life platform in 190 countries. Walmart is our big partner in the US. We launched last year and it’s the first retailer in all the US. So they have a presence, physical presence everywhere and now we are powering their ebook platform for them. So any book that you will publish with US rights will be available, not only on Kobo but also on a Walmart.
Camille: So again, that’s very important to price your ebook also as USD. Then subscription, we have a Kobo plus program that has been launched as a pilot test in the Netherlands and in Belgium, at first. Why there? Because vogue.com is our partner there. They have more than 60% of the market there and they were pushing very hard for a subscription model. And we found out with our research that this helped. We’ve been watching it for two years now. This helps to grow the market. So the subscription model is not cannibalizing the a la carte, but readers are buying more and reading more. And obviously we know that the Dutch people are very savvy readers for English. So obviously if you are publishing in English, just think about opting in and you can, that’s just an option you can check and you just think about opting in your books for Kobo Plus just to make your books known to Dutch readers in English.
Camille: And maybe one day you will translate your books in Dutch and you already have a readership there. So the Kobo Writing Life map and that’s what you will see on your dashboard. I know that lot of our authors love this map just because it reminds you that English readers are anywhere in the world. Obviously there are a lot of English speaking and English reading countries, but even in some very far away countries in Asia or in Africa, or even in some islands in the middle of the ocean, people will buy your books. So that just to remind authors to keep this global mindset with ebooks is essentia. Pricing. I was talking about that earlier, it’s just to think about local currencies all the time, not just your own currency. And one important feature we have that authors love is the promotions tab.
Camille: Of course, when you are publishing, you also want to promote and to sell your books. And for this we developed a promotion tool in the dashboard. Basically, you will see all the upcoming promos that Kobo is running in all territories, English speaking, and you can submit the titles that you think fits best for each promo, romance, thriller, all genre. And then the team will pick the titles that fit and these will be featured in the US, in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand. Those are territories that are very important for Kobo and for authors. So just don’t forget about all those territories. Then we also have library readers. We have overdrive, which is a Rakuten sister company and they are very present in US libraries. So again, that’s a way for you to find new readers. We are working for, with Net Halley, to provide books for readers then to get to put their reviews on your books. And last we have this affiliation program. So, what I just want to stress is that there are a lot of opportunities out there. You just need to think about them and to give it time, think long term as Adam was stressing and be patient and you will see that this is where’s the game. This is just, I won’t go into that because this is basically about the mindset. Our top authors and Adam is a perfect example.
Camille: What they are doing to be successful is this mindset that they have, this is very important and that’s how you will be successful in the end of the day.
Camille: And well this is just what’s working well on Kobo right now. There are some things that are hot at the moment and the team is here just to let you know about all that at any moment. Just think global, think wide, think diversity, think of readers profile depending on each retailer and in the end joined the Kobo Life community. The team is here to help. The authors are here to help. We have some beautiful resources online, a podcast, a blog. We have a Facebook page that’s sometimes authors takeover like Adam for some Q and.A and yeah, we are just here to help you and it’s just a wonderful time to publish your book today and to make it, to put it in front of readers. Thank you.
Orna: Thank you, Camille. Thank you so much.
Camille: Thank you.
Orna: I know we are firing an incredible amount of information at you. So we have a booth inside in Writer’s Block down in the corner, the Alliance of Independent Authors, drop over during the day and there are writers there who can help answer your specific questions about where you are in your journey. Next up we have to talk to you, Amy Collins, Amy runs New Shelves, which is a very innovative and very interesting marketing company and this woman doesn’t pull the stoppers, she tells it as it is, which is not always the way it is in the marketing fraternity. So we really appreciate that. So take it away, Amy.
Amy: Good morning everyone. How are you? Good, good. Yes. I am here to talk about book sales, the part that nobody likes. You guys like to write, you love to connect with your readers, even ebooks. You would rather sit on your computer and figure out how to create an ebook than have to sell your book to a book shop or to a supermarket. Because I’m from the States. I spent quite a bit of time on Google this week trying to figure out what you called supermarkets over here. And I was just making sure I had the terms right and I don’t, but please forgive me what we’re going to cover in the next just a few minutes and then we’re going to get to the Q and. A because there’s so much going on is the mindset and the elements that you want to put when you’re actually getting involved in the sales aspect.
Amy: People tell me all the time, I want to be in libraries or I want to be in a major chain. I want to be in my local bookshop. That’s great, but there’s, unfortunately, there’s a whole bunch of steps that you have to take before that happens, so once you’ve determined where you want your book, that’s just the first step. What I need you to do afterwards is do your research. Do your homework. When you decide to self publish a book and by self publishing, I don’t mean that you gave your book to somebody with a great deal of money and asked them to create a book shaped object for you when, if you’re going to write your book and publish them yourself, you are starting a small business actually and in some people’s case, you’re starting a large business. So you need to really do your research and understand the business that you’re starting.
Amy: It involves wholesalers, distributors, it involves a great deal of business terms. You need a return on your investment, you need a business plan. And so when I say things to you like identify the distributors that they use, we’re going to cover that Orna’s actually, ALLi hosting on Saturday an online session where I’m actually going to be teaching a whole bit about what’s a distributor versus a wholesaler versus a retailer. I can’t get into that here, but the main thing that I want you to do is before you say to me or to anyone I want to be in that particular store, I want you to ask yourself, have you shopped in that store? Don’t tell me you want to be in libraries if you’re not visiting your local library. Now, I understand here in the UK, libraries are in an interesting flux at the moment, but major chains, they have websites, they have newsletters, they have communication with their customers.
Amy: Have you signed up? Have you joined their newsletter? Are you reading what they’re doing? Do they do events? People come to me and say, I’d love to do a bookstore event, or I’d love to do an event at my local shop. And I say, well, do they hold events? I don’t know. Okay, well that’s probably the first step. Again, we’re running a tad late this morning, so I’m going to hop over this, but again, Saturday, come join us. I’m going to cover all of this online. It’s a wonderful program that that Orna’s put together and she and Sasha have already yelled at me about my presentation so I’ll be doing this. You need to cover it but very, very briefly a retailer buys from a publisher or a wholesaler and sells directly to the public. If you want to be in a retailer, you need to know that your book, your 10 pound book or 20 pound book is going to be sold at a 40% discount.
Amy: If you cannot afford or if you cannot wrap your head around the idea of selling your book on a returnable basis, then perhaps shops are not for you. You might want to stick to just doing it online. You might want to stick to just doing ebooks. I don’t like that idea but I, again, we’re starting a business. Be aware of what’s going to be asked of you and one of the things that’s going to be asked of you is an enormous amount of money. This is not a cheap hobby. You guys, if you were starting up taking up golf or tennis, I’d be fine with that. This is far more expensive than golf or tennis is ever going to be, I’m sorry, this is, it’s a business you’re starting and so please be aware that when you sell your 10 pound book, you’re not selling it for 10 pounds. That’s not how it works.
Amy: Oh sure. Oh, okay. How about this, better? I had to come all the way from New York to be told to move. That’s great. That’s awesome. No, I appreciate that. That’s kind. Adam and Camille were both talking about the mindset, the mindset when you’re selling your book is not, “I have a great book and you need to buy it.” The mindset is not, “I have a lot of readers who are going to want to buy this book.” No. The mindset that I take on and the reason why I get to sell so many books, and I do sell a lot, I’ve sold over 40 million books in the last few years, is that I understand that stores, libraries, chains, buyers, they have their own goals, wants and needs, and I understand what their goals and wants and needs are, and then I give them proof that I can fulfill those goals, those wants, those needs.
Amy: The main goal that every bookstore, major chain stores, supermarket have, the main goal they have is this. They want to stay in business. That’s it. It’s really simple. People whom you are selling your book to, the people whose job it is to decide if your book’s going to go on a shelf. Their big goal is this. They want to be able to come to work tomorrow. It’s really simple, so if you can help them do that, you will have a much better chance of getting your book into the market. They want to acquire books that their customers want. They want to increase their foot traffic, they want to stay in budget. I understand we’re running late, so I’m just going to, I’m going to make it very quick, but here’s the thing. When I take a book to a buyer, a buyer whose job it is to decide if my book’s going to go on their shelf at an airport or in any one, even a small shop, I think and I’m wrong, that I’m just asking them to take a chance on my book.
Amy: “Here. I have this wonderful book, please take a chance on it.” That’s not what they’re thinking. What they’re thinking is, “I already have a shelf full of books that are making me money. I get to come to work tomorrow because the 92 books on that shelf are already, each one of those are making me money.” So when I come to them and say, “Please take a chance on my book,” it’s not as casual as I think it is. I am asking them to take a book off their shelf that’s making them money, put it aside and put my book on in its place. They are not in the business of giving you a shot. I’m afraid we have to prove to them that we can make them money. And you guys can do this and this is how I make my living. We will teach you, Orna and her group that this is the thing, they have budgets they have to stick within.
Amy: Please, please, please do not go to a bookstore with an 86 page pamphlet that you call a book and charge 29 pounds for it because it’s four colour and it’s a really good, pay attention to what the marketplace is asking for. They want to be able to do their job easily and quickly. So when you communicate with a bookstore, with a library, with a major chain, do their job for them. Tell them about the marketing you’re going to be doing. Give them your ISBN right up front. Give them the ISBNs of five books like yours. Tell them what wholesalers you’re available in. Do the thinking for them. So the big question I want you guys to ask yourself is not how great is my book. Obviously your book is great. Brilliant. Well, not yours, because you asked me to move, but the rest of you.
Amy: But the big question is what can you do to help these stores achieve their goals? And so the second big question is do you know what their goals are? And then the third big question is, are you sure? I love that question, are you sure? Just because you shop at Mark and Spencer, is that’s what it’s, just because you shop at Mark and Spencer’s doesn’t mean you know what their goals are. Do the research, pick up the phone, ask people. Ask people who work there, go in there, talk to people, make sure that you understand the goals of the people to whom you’re selling. My name is Amy Collins. I want to thank Orna for having me here and we now have a Q and a that she’s going to walk you through.
Orna: Thank you Amy. So what you have there is an absolute whizz through lots and lots and lots of different options. And I do want to say that you only do one thing at a time and you’re probably best to begin with an ebook online. And then think about other formats. But we’re going to take your questions now. So, we have a roving mic today. We’ll bring you the mic.
Audience: Okay. No problem. It’s already broken. Hi, my name is Vicki Barista. I’m an editor and I have a client at the moment doing what you were talking about, about trying to go wide and think of new ideas and new ways to bring her product to her readership. And I was just wondering if you have, sorry I am talking to you but I’m trying. I was wondering if you have any tips and ideas for how to market your new idea to those new areas and how you kind of research those new marketplaces and what they want.
Orna: Quick tips, Amy.
Amy: I always start with who’s doing it best now. There are authors out there right now that already have the readers that your, that your client wants. And so go find them. Please. Too many people are trying to put their ideas out there and don’t know what’s already happening in the easiest way to find out what’s happening is to see what other successful authors are doing. So stay a really, really highly connected to other authors. They’re not your competition.
Orna: Okay. Any quick tip Adam?
Adam: Are we talking about different formats?
Audience: So basically she’s got out a nonfiction book and she’s looking to do series of kind of webinars and also maybe serialization through Patreon or something like that.
Adam: I mean there are lots of people that can say a lot more about nonfiction than me, I’m a relative newcomer and that’s it.
Orna: I pick up on the Patreon one, actually. It’s very important not to do Patreon until you’re well established with a following already. Patreon is not a discovery tool, unlike, say, Kobo who will actually bring your books to people who haven’t heard of them before and help you with the promotion of marketing. Patreon is for people who already have an established following, so maybe that’s helpful. Okay. Next question here.
Audience: Hello. Okay. Um, this is more a question for Camille. I was just wondering, is there a market for self publishing if you’re not writing in English or do you need English?
Camille: Oh yeah, absolutely. Of course. I handle the European markets. So obviously all the English territories are more advanced because ebook revolution started earlier, but today we see a huge growth in markets like Germany, France, the Netherlands that I was talking earlier.
Camille: So, in all those places, you already have an author community that is starting to do what Orna, and the Alliance have been doing for many years now. They are getting together. They are, they are just creating this community and exchanging tips. So yeah, basically you, it’s not just for English.
Orna: We are seeing our authors who write in English who are now going into translation. They’re pioneers. They’re leading them fields in those territories because they already know what to do in English.
Camille: Absolutely. That’s the right moment to go.
Orna: This lady here and then we come to you.
Audience: Hello. That was brilliant by the way. Thank you. That was so much information. So I’ve self published a children’s book, I’ve illustrated it myself. I’ve got as far as the library, the local libraries bought nine books off me. So they’re in local libraries.
Audience: I do storytelling in schools, things like that. Bertrams, Gardener’s, I’ve set up my book there. Waterstone, my book’s in Waterstones in their database. And I’m just arranging to do storytelling in there, but then I’ve just realized I’m just not a business person and I don’t know, I’ve kind of come to a standstill. So I realized I just don’t have a business head, where do I go from there.
Orna: I’m gonna take that one if I might go to the Alliance of Independent Authors and we will make a business person out of you as we have lots of authors. Creative business is different and you’re probably not, it’s a mindset thing, again. Read Adam’s book, but do come and meet some authors who, like, two years ago said that and now are actually conquering the business challenges. It’s just a creative challenge. Like all the things it took to get this far and well done on how far you’ve got. Also we have a children’s advisor who will be able to talk to you specifically about marketing to children, which is different because you’re not, they don’t buy the books. So I could put you in touch with her. Come to the booth later. Samantha.
Audience: This question is for the Kobo. Do you have any plans to get into print self publishing as well as just ebook and audiobook?
Camille: So that’s something that we are considering, for this we might, contrary to ebooks where we were global for this, we might go territory by territory, so maybe we’ll come up with a social in some European territories first and then expand it. But yeah, that’s something we are considering at the moment.
Orna: This lady beside Samantha. Yep.
Audience: Could you say a little bit more about the, Orna, you said if you go ebook first and the timing between ebook and paperback and audio and how you would recommend approaching that.
Orna: Okay. Good question on. Somebody else might want to weigh in on this as well, but I’m going to take back what I said and say that actually the very best way to do this is probably to plan your ebook, print book and audio altogether and your various print formats of softback, hardback and large print and plan it all together and do a proper launch plan for it, however you need money and time to do that.
Orna: And one of the great joys of being indie is that you can do it more quickly and you can get an ebook out there and begin to learn. So for most authors, what they do is they put the ebook out, gather some readers in or fail to, not move the book and then begin the learning process of doing what Amy talks about, how you actually reach readers. You’ve got three things to think about, making a great book, selling the book well and then running your author business. And these are the three things that you need to begin to think about from the start. There’s no timetable that’s perfect because it depends on the genre of the book as well. And so many other factors, like everything in this business, it all depends is the answer to everything. And the time to plan for your print book is either when your Ebook is selling well or right back at the beginning when you plan them all together. Does anybody else want to weigh in?
Adam: Yeah, I was just going to say, books now have no shelf life. It’s not the case that you had to do a big launch and set everything within six weeks or that gets pulled from the shelves, that doesn’t happen anymore, you can have books out there for years and years that will continue to sell. As Orna says it would be beneficial if you can try and plan everything for a big splash, but in the long run it doesn’t make a huge difference. I got into the audio game very late. I have books out for five or six years before I had even one audiobook. And it depends what you’re writing as well, if you’re writing nonfiction, for example, paperbacks and audio will often outstrip ebook sales anyway. So like Orna says, like everything, it depends.
Orna: Okay. Wendy here, lady in the blue and then we’re coming over to this lady over here.
Audience: Hi, this is a question for Amy. I’m doing quite well with my books in libraries in the UK. How do you get them into the libraries in the USA?
Amy: Libraries in the US are getting more and more of their budgets behind audio books. And I know, for a fiction author in particular, not your children’s book, but for the fiction books focusing on audio right now, if the US market is important to you, and I am a huge proponent of library sales, ebooks and audiobooks are the way to go for now. It helps with your print and ship costs from over here or any country that you’re in, but their budgets right now, according to the American Library Association, 19% of, it’s a two and a half billion dollar budget every year. And 19% of that is ebooks and 27% is going to audiobooks. That is a huge amount. So I would say focus on ebooks and audio books. And then how do you actually sell? I’ll let Orna invite me to teach a class on it online and I will, at ALLi.
Orna: Done. It’s our second last question. So get your hands ready.
Audience: Thank you so much. I would say, I don’t have a question for you Amy, but I know that you’re selling, you’re teaching something really great because you make me terrified.
Audience: So I know, you know what I mean? When you see someone.
Amy: That’s also how I date.
Orna: It’s called creative anxiety.
Audience: You’re wonderful. It’s good. But I actually just had a, it was a technical question about Kobo. Cause I used to do my ebook through Lulu, which used to go onto Kobo and now it’s kind of saying I can’t do that. Is that a new thing or?
Camille: You were using Lulu to get your book?
Audience: I was putting everything on Lulu when it was going to all of the different platforms and now so, so now it’s saying yes, it’s not, you can’t go to Kobo through Lulu. And I wondered if that’s changed?
Camille: We working with all the aggregators out there. Lulu was not the most, I mean the biggest one or the one sending us most bids, maybe, I don’t know exactly. We stopped that. I haven’t heard that it stopped but-
Orna: it’s Alliance of Independent Authors advice to go direct to Kobo and direct to Amazon. And if you can direct also to Apple and to Ingram spark and then use an aggregator for the rest.
Camille: Yeah, I plus that,
Orna: Take one down the back and the lady, it’s Bee, this is our last question, but if you have more questions come to booth and we’ll take them but don’t all come at once. Okay, Bee.
Audience: Good morning. I’m Bee, I’m Bee Capitan, and I’m from Vancouver, Canada. My question is for the lovely, another Canadian at Kobo. First of all, your, the Kobo App is quite evolved and I’m very impressed with it. What I’m a publisher of next generation ebooks, so epube. So my question to you and I will be coming to your booth to talk to you. Is there any plans for the backend developer for the epub3 testing? Because at the moment with anything that has embedded media, snippets of audio or animations needs to be tested. And right now I’ve dealt with your support and they’re excellent people by the way. Very nice. But their solutions I think we need to evolve them for, because I think everything’s used to just a cover and then here’s your texts. So I’m looking forward to hearing if that is going to be happening in the future because epubs are not going away and as much as people love the feel of real books, institutions like my client is a university professor for linguistics and this is going to make it accessible for all of his students. So that is my passion behind this. So thank you.
Camille: Yeah, of course. We know that epub3 is really the format today and it’s going to be for next couple of years. We have our team of developers who are working on that, implementing and making, improving also the way we are implementing epub3, five and we are also working on the Q and A of the styles. So the testing that you were mentioning, I cannot give you an exact timeline but that’s something that we, that is on our roadmap for sure.
Orna: So that’s how technical the questions can get in self publishing, but also the questions can be deeply personal and you, you know, you might feel too basic. There is no such thing as a question that’s too basic. We are really happy to take any question that you have. We run a program called Ask ALLi in which we commit to answering any self publishing question anybody might have. We’ve yet to be floored by one. You are all invited to join the Alliance of independent Authors. You find us online at allianceindependentauthors.org, on your seat you should have an invitation to our author drinks meetup, which is sponsored by Amazon KDP on Thursday evening at the local pub four to seven. We’d love to see any of you there and get to know you a little bit better and you should have a leaflet and information about us. So I just want to say a huge thank you to Mr Adam Croft. Ms. Amy Collins. Ms. Camille Mofidi, I can’t do it but she’s fabulous. And thank you to all of you.
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