Australian Self-Publisher
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29 May 2018

In the May Issue

The May issue of Australian Self-Publisher includes the top news of the month and offers more self-publishing tips for our readers.

As we head towards tax time, author Ellie Marney talks about banking solutions for self-publishers in her ‘money matters’ article, while publishing services provider Julie-Ann Harper shares her guide to setting up a small publishing business in Australia.

Read about the start of the Australian #SelfPubIsHere campaign, as well as our round-up of the self-publishers who have been longlisted and shortlisted for book awards in the past month.

The FAQ with the ISBN team piece discusses ways to update your title and publisher information easily online, to help you stay on top of your title metadata and give your book the best chance of discovery.

Lastly, don’t forget that you can now advertise in this newsletter and on the website. Email us at to learn more.

Happy reading!


Shannon Wood
Australian Self-Publisher


Self-publishers among 2018 RWA 'Ruby' award finalists and Ngaio Marsh 2018 longlist

Five self-published books are among the finalists for the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Romantic Book of the Year Award, also known as ‘the Ruby’.

Ruining Miss Wrotham by Emily Larkin and The Sicilian List by Robby Dennis are finalists in the Long Romance category while K M Golland’s Plight and Anna Hackett’s Unmapped made the ‘Short Romance category. The Romantic Elements category includes self-published title The Girl and the Ghost by Ebony McKenna.

The winners will be announced on 18 August at the RWA conference in Sydney. All of the finalists will also go into the running for the overall Romantic Book of the Year Award, chosen by a panel of industry professionals. For a full list of finalists, see the RWA website.

The Ngaio Marsh longlist for best New Zealand crime, thriller and suspense writing also features two self-published titles.

Finn Bell became the first self-published author to win a Ngaio Marsh award last year when he won for Best First Novel. Bell has made the Best Novel longlist this year with his self-published title, The Easter Make Believers. Katherine Hayton’s The Only Secret Left To Keep is another self-published title on the longlist.

A panel of crime-fiction experts from the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand will choose the shortlist, to be announced in July alongside the finalists for the best first novel. The winner will be announced at an event at the WORD Christchurch festival, held from 29 August to 2 September.

For the full longlist, see the Booksellers NZ website.


Authors create #SelfPubIsHere campaign to amplify self-publisher voices

A number of self-published Australian authors, including Dionne Lister, A B Patterson and Lisa Fleetwood have pledged their support for a campaign to have self-publishing recognised and included in Australian literary festival programming.

The #SelfPubIsHere campaign, started by authors Pauline Findlay and Robin Elizabeth, grew out of a Facebook self-publishing group post that expressed frustration at the lack of programming related to self-publishing at the recent Sydney Writers’ Festival. A plan was made to ‘make some noise’ on Friday 11 May to ‘amplify’ self-publisher voices by creating or sharing blog posts and opinion pieces under the #SelfPubIsHere banner on social media.

Campaign activity has so far included Robin Elizabeth’s proposal for a self-publishing festival in a blog post that was later shared on Twitter by publishing consultant and NSW Writers’ Centre board member Joel Naoum, who made a call out to start the conversation with other interested parties.

In another blog post, author Lisa Fleetwood said that a self-publishing festival would give self-published authors a much needed avenue to connect with their readers; while author Pauline Findlay wrote about how literary festivals missed opportunities to engage with self-published authors and find new sponsors.

Several other authors, including Lola Lowe, Maureen Flynn, Alison Croggon and Ellie Marney, also pledged to help raise the profile of the campaign that hopes to ‘let people know that self-publishing it is out of its infancy,’ and to turn #SelfPubIsHere into an official network.

‘Our aim is to make festivals, writers’ centers and awards aware that we’re now bigger than a one-off panel or to be blocked from eligibility. And to let them know that people actually want to see us. It’s profitable to put us on your programs,’ said the campaign organisers.

‘Friday was our launching point and from there a lot of authors have exciting ideas as to directions they’d like to take this and how to formalise things. We’ll keep shouting #SelfPubIsHere until we’re heard.’

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EWF 2018 program launched

The Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) has announced its 2018 program, which runs from 19-29 June in venues across Melbourne’s CBD and surrounding suburbs.

Timmah Ball, Tony Birch and Neil Morris will reflect on their ‘storytelling inheritances’ at the opening night event, which aims to ‘inhabit, question and critique our literary canon’. The opening night will also include the announcement of the winner of the Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing.

The National Writers’ Conference for industry professionals will run from 23-24 June at State Library Victoria. This year’s guests include the previously announced EWF ambassadors Melissa Lucashenko, Isobelle Carmody, Ellen van Neerven, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Stuart Grant. For the first time, the conference will also give attendees the opportunity to pitch to publishers, editors and industry professionals.

More than 300 emerging and established writers, artists and arts workers are featured in this year’s festival line-up. Among them are writers Nayuka Gorrie, Melanie Cheng, Helen Razer, Ellena Savage, Emilie Zoey Baker and Maria Tumarkin; editors Michelle Cahill, Cosima McGrath and Hella Ibrahim; comics artist Rachel Ang; translator Alice Whitmore; and poet Shastra Deo.

Highlights from the rest of the program include a series of ‘speakeasy’ debates on the topics ‘money, sex and death’, which will also include dinner and roundtable options; a literary gig and performance event that brings ‘Afrikan artists together in conversation with First Nations and Pasifika artists’; a ‘Queer Icons’ party celebrating queer ‘histories and herstories and theirstories’; and an ‘intimate performance journey’ on the Blackbird boat along the Maribyrnong River.

The program will also feature a number of professional development opportunities focused on podcasting and criticism, as well as masterclasses for nonfiction and poetry.

‘Our aim with this program is to provide a bird’s-eye view of at least some of the staggering creativity, care and critical rigour that’s happening here in this moment,’ said festival artistic director Izzy Roberts-Orr.

To see the full program, visiting the Emerging Writers’ Festival website here.

This news story first appeared in Books+Publishing on 16 May 2018. Books+Publishing is Australia’s leading source of print and digital news about the book industry, keeping subscribers up to date with the latest industry news, announcements, job advertisements, events, trends and more.

Self-publishing essentials with Ellie Marney: Money matters for self-publishers

Dealing with money and totting up figures … It’s not exactly the first thing a writer imagines when they’re thinking about their next book. But if you’re self-publishing, you’re not only working creatively—you’re running a small business. If you want your business to succeed (because paying the bills allows you to keep writing, right?) it’s important to make sure that the ‘money’ side of things is all in order.

The business of writing

Once you’ve written your book and scheduled the release, the first thing you should do is to set up a business bank account.

A business bank account allows you to monitor the money you’re earning from your books. Apart from the satisfying feeling of watching the royalty money roll in, a separate account makes it easier for you to organise information for your accountant at tax time. It also means you know exactly how much money is available to cover production costs of your next self-published title.

Business bank accounts are a must for collaborative authors—the ATO requires separate bank accounts for partnerships. But the ATO also recommends a business account for any small business. Having a business account that allows you to accurately balance your self-publishing budget (you have a self-publishing budget, right?) is just smart financial sense.

The problem with Amazon

The main problem for Australian self-publishers is that Amazon is a US company, so in every market except Australia, you’re being paid in foreign currency.

In the bad old days, Amazon used to pay Australian authors by paper cheque. Fortunately, those times are long gone, but now you have to be prepared to receive EFT (electronic funds transfers) from overseas. Almost every Australian bank wallops you with a hefty surcharge for foreign transfers—$15 to $50 AUD or more per transfer, in some cases. But you don’t want to be losing your hard-earned book royalties on bank charges, do you?

Solutions to the surcharge problem

Payoneer and PayPal are both financial services companies that provide digital payment and online transfer services. You can sign up for an account with one (or both) of these services, and direct your royalties into this account. Then, when you reach an account threshold that you determine, you can automatically transfer the money into your local Australian business bank account. Transfer costs are usually small (certainly smaller than with a direct transfer, although there will be fluctuations depending on the currency conversion rate and your bank’s processing or landing fees).

Use Payoneer for Amazon, and/or PayPal for other aggregators—you can do a comparison of Paypal fees and Payoneer fees to find a service you prefer.

Having a foreign currency account is also really useful for times when you might need to pay for book production services overseas—with a $USD account, you can pay a cover designer, order author copies from Amazon, or pay for advertising campaigns with US companies like BookBub.

Aggregators and other platforms

You can make the same banking arrangements with aggregators like Smashwords and D2D as you do with Amazon: provide the details of your PayPal (or Payoneer) account to accept foreign currency royalties, and set an appropriate threshold for automatic transfers into your local bank account.

If you’re published on other platforms individually—Kobo, Nook/Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Tolino, OverDrive etc.—you can make a similar arrangement there.

Tax time! Oh, the joy

Yes, it’s getting closer to June as we speak—so it might be time to get your tax details in order. Luckily, you’ve now got a separate business bank account that lets you track different income streams, shows you how much you’ve really made in royalties, and allows you to monitor withdrawals that you might be able to claim as business expenses at tax time.

For pete’s sake, make a budget!

Every small business goes through financial ups and downs. We all love to write, to create enthralling worlds and beautiful words … but we’ve got to pay the bills too. Without a budget for book production costs, you might be tempted to blow money you’ve set aside for personal expenses. Don’t do that! Work out how much your costs are likely to be for each release—take into account editing, proofing, typesetting, cover design, promo and marketing—and stick to your budget. Successful budgeting could make all the difference to your writing career.

If you’d like more info about banking, budgeting and small business finance, the ATO are really helpful on the phone.

And if you’re still confused, I recommend you talk to your accountant—or a specialist accountant for the arts. Creative Plus Business (a great organisation for information about arts and business) has a good list of suggestions for arts accountants here.

Ellie Marney is a teacher and hybrid YA author. She lives in Victoria with her family, and her latest book, White Night (Allen & Unwin), was published in March 2018. Find her at or on Twitter or Instagram.

FAQ with the ISBN team

What is is a Bowker platform that provides publishers with tools and resources to purchase and assign book identifiers such as ISBNs, SANs, QR codes and others. provides a host of discoverability services and solutions for publishers including automated tools to update or add to their title listings in Bowker’s Books in Print database. Additionally, authors and publishers that purchase ISBNs and provide bibliographic details about their titles, automatically receive a listing on Bowker’s Bookwire.

I already send my information in an Excel or ONIX file. How can help me?

If you supply title information to Thorpe-Bowker in Excel or ONIX format, you can use to access your listings, check titles, or make up-to-the-minute changes. You can do this online, and you will not need to create a new file or send a full update. Urgent changes to status, price, or title information can be made immediately. (Just ensure that the change also appears in your next file to Thorpe-Bowker, so we don’t overwrite your work with incorrect information.)

The My Identifiers Dashboard can also be used to enrich your title listings with cover images and descriptions. In addition, stay connected to book buyers, librarians, and Thorpe-Bowker’s retail customers by updating your company information in You can add website and email information, update your list of distributed clients, or provide contact information to our customers. allows you to update or enhance this information at your convenience.


Have an ISBN question? You can also visit the MyIdentifiers website or phone (03) 8517-8349 for more information.


Michelle Morgan on 'Flying through Clouds'

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Spark Award recognizes excellence in children’s books published through an independent or non-traditional route. Michelle Morgan, who won the 2017 SCBWI Spark Award in the Books for Older Readers category, spoke to Australian Self-Publisher about her winning novel Flying through the clouds and her self-publishing journey.

Describe your latest book in under 50 words

Flying through Clouds is a fast-paced novel about a teenage boy growing up in Sydney in the 1930s who dreams of becoming an aviator but faces many challenges. It has a compelling mix of humour, drama and adventure and is rich in historic detail.

Why self-publish?

I had never seriously considered self-publishing my second novel until I went to a weekend workshop at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I was so impressed by the speakers and their clear practical advice that I came away determined to independently publish Flying through Clouds.

What year did you start and where are you based?

The 2017 SCBWI Spark winner in the Books for Older Readers category,

I wrote the first draft of Flying through Clouds in 2013 while I was waiting for my first novel to be published by Allen & Unwin. Flying through Clouds took me four years to write, as I was working on another project at the same time. I started the process of self-publishing in August 2016 and Flying through Clouds was published in April 2017.

How many people did you contract on your book and what did you do yourself?

I had a structural edit done by the managing editor who’d worked on my first novel, Racing the Moon. But the manuscript still needed copyediting, laying-out and proofreading, so in 2016 I employed a copyeditor and a proofreader. While the copyediting was being done, a professional cover artist designed the beautiful cover and layout of the book and produced the PDF files for printing and for eBooks. Flying through Clouds was printed by Griffin Press in South Australia and is distributed by Dennis Jones and Associates. The paperback is also available on Amazon, and the eBook is on Kindle, iTunes, Smashwords, Nook and Kobo. I uploaded the eBook versions myself on Amazon and Smashwords.

What makes your book unique?

Flying through Clouds, set in the 1930s, is written in the present tense, which is unusual for an historical novel. I also wrote it in the first person from a teenage boy’s point of view. I wanted readers to experience Joe’s world through his eyes and to be accomplices in his well-meaning but misguided choices. I also incorporated real historical events into the narrative.

What has been your biggest success?

My biggest success has been winning the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Spark Award 2017 for Older Readers. A close second would be securing orders for Flying through Clouds from Australian Standing Orders (Scholastic).

What has been your biggest challenge?

Publicity has been one of my greatest challenges as I arranged all of it myself, including a book tour, blog tour, reviews, endorsements, interviews, articles, emails and social media promotion. The other significant challenge was the structural edit, which entailed rewriting several chapters, deleting others and writing new chapters, then further developing the characters, setting, narrative and dialogue, being careful to avoid gaps and inconsistencies.

What would be your top tip for those starting out in self-publishing?

My best advice would be to go to self-publishing workshops run by writers’ centres and other professional organisations to find out from the experts exactly what is involved so that you can make an informed decision about whether self-publishing is a viable option for you.

What will you publish next?

Although publishing Flying through Clouds was a rewarding experience, it was all-consuming. I would prefer for my next novel to be traditionally published so that I can concentrate on writing. But I won’t rule out self-publishing sometime in the future.


Upcoming events


NT Writers Festival, (24-27 May) Darwin, NT.
Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival, (25-27 May) Geraldton, WA.
Feminist Writers Festival, (25-27 May) Vic.
Latrobe City Literary Festival, (25-27 May) Vic.


Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival, (1-3 June) WA.
Abbotsleigh Literary Festival, (5-7 June) Sydney, NSW
Henry Lawson Festival, (7-11 June) Grenfell, NSW
Conjugation (Continuum 14), (8-11 June) Melbourne, Vic.
Bellingen Writers Festival, (8-10 June) Bellingen, NSW.
Woodend Winter Arts Festival, (8-11 June) Woodend, Vic.
Oz Comic-Con, (9-10 June) Melbourne, Vic.
Australian Fairy Tale Society Annual Conference, (10 June) Sydney, NSW.
Supanova, (15-17 June) Sydney, NSW.
Williamstown Literary Festival, (16-17 June) Williamstown, Vic.
Australian Booksellers Association Conference and Trade Exhibition, (17-18 June) Canberra, ACT.
WordFest, (18 June – 26 July) Melbourne, Vic.
Emerging Writers Festival, (19-29 June) Melbourne, Vic.
Glen Eira Storytelling Festival—Off the Page, (21 Jun – 8 July) Glen Eira, Vic.
Supanova, (22-24 June) Perth, WA.
Outback Writers Festival, (26-28 June) Winton, Qld.
Rare Book Week, (29 June – 8 July) Melbourne, Vic.
Kids and YA Festival, (30 June) Sydney, NSW.


Publishing as a business: how to set up a small business in Australia

You’ve now decided to self-publish so the first question you need to ask yourself is, are you a hobby or are you a business?

It’s important to establish whether you’re approaching publishing as a business or a hobby early on as it will affect your tax and deductions. When running a business, you pay tax on the money you earn, can claim for deductions on your expenses and generally need an Australian Business Number (ABN). These do not apply if your activity is a hobby. Read the Australian Taxation Office (ATO)’s Are you in business? page to help you decide whether you’re running a business or a hobby.

Once you’ve decided that you’re a business, how do you go about setting it up? While the specifics can change from state to state in Australia, the information below will give you a rough guide to go by.

Choose your business structure

Your course of action is largely determined by the business structure and type you go with—sole trader, partnership, company or trust. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages to research, but the main decision is the degree to which your business has a separate legal existence to you.

For sole traders, you are your publishing business. A majority of author-publishers choose this option for its convenience and simplicity.

For a partnership, authors or individuals who start a publishing business together can legally share profits, risk and losses between them, and usually this is set out in an agreement.

A company is an entirely separate legal entity run by a director (the author or other individual), and a trust gives control of a publishing business to another party (the trustee) to run the business to benefit its members (beneficiaries). 

Get your numbers

This is a simple and straightforward process and is completed by the author-publisher through the Australian Business Register. Essentially, to conduct a publishing business in Australia, you’ll need an Australian Business Number (ABN). Applying for an ABN is free. Please note Australian authors are required to have an ABN to access Ingram Spark.

At the Australian Business Register, partnerships, companies and trusts can also register for their Tax File Number (TFN)—sole traders don’t need a separate TFN, their personal one will suffice—and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), but only if you expect a GST turnover of $75,000 or more. 

If you need further support on this we suggest you search for your local small business development centre. Most states have one.

Claim your publishing business name

The next step is to give your Australian Business Number a name. When creating a publishing business name, talking to your prospective readers is a good idea. Check no one else has the name you want using the ABN Lookup or ASIC Online Services, and creatively explore.

Now, before you jump and lock the publishing business name in, you should check a website URL for that name. Lock in where possible both the .com and version. Is it available as a website domain and social media handles? Use this link on our AuthorsWish website to find web host providers where you can check domain name availability. Find more on registering a website name here.

Register for licences and taxes (if applicable)

As a newly formed publishing business, there’s a checklist of things you may want to consider and register for. The list is quite extensive and can be overwhelming but it is better to know your legal responsibilities upfront and then adjust if need be.

For instance, an internet publishing business has less regulations than a publishing business with commercial premises. The list of items that may be shown include PAYG Withholding, Fuel Tax credits, an Australian Business Account, Standard Business Reporting, as well as any licences or permits you may require to trade (e.g. home-based business for example). These can be checked at the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website.

It is important that you understand your taxation obligations, record keeping requirements, and any additional taxes you may need to pay (e.g. GST, Capital Gains Tax, Fringe Benefits Tax, Super contributions for employees etc.).

Publishing business, location for trading

Will you trade as a home-based business, an online business, or will you lease a business premises? Whichever option you select, you need to ensure it is properly insured and registered accordingly. Once again check the ABLIS website if you are home-based as local councils have rules in place. 

Employing others to assist you

We would hope that you can get all you need through your preferred author services provider. However, if you envisage needing an assistant, and this is your first time ever employing others, then the best resource for you is the Fair Work Ombudsman. Essentially it is your responsibility to know what a fair rate is and whether you need to collect your employee’s details (such as TFN and super) for any payroll taxes or super contributions.

Some author-publishers think that they can just employ under a contract basis. We suggest you visit the ATO site to find out if your worker is an employee or contractor for tax and super purposes.

More information 

These are the basics however if you are looking for comprehensive information on how to achieve each of these milestones, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has a wealth of information and some great checklists.

Julie-Ann Harper has 25 years of experience in publishing, business training, self-publishing workshops and presentations; she is a passionate advocate towards true self-publishing and helping authors to view publishing as a business. 
Pick-a-WooWoo Publishing is the only Australian company listed under IngramSpark’s Resource Experts page as an ‘IngramSpark Self-Publishing Friend’.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The Pickawoowoo Publishing Group (PPG) are offering reliable information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the company are not engaged in rendering, legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The company specifically disclaim any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use or application of any information contained in our support publications.




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