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30 April 2019

Self-publishing essentials with Ellie Marney: promo, marketing and all that jazz (part three)

Welcome back! In the first article in this series on book marketing, we explained the difference between promotion and marketing, and why it’s good to have a marketing plan. In the second article, we talked about the things that make you and your book stand out from the crowd, and how to develop those things organically to create a ‘promotional footprint’. Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of promotion …

Book promotion: the basic field kit

Here’s a few things every writer should have, if they want to coordinate a marketing plan for their book:

  • a static website, where readers can find your contact details, a bio, a newsletter sign-up form, and a list of your books (and links to buy them)
  • an email newsletter, which you can use to send out information and develop a loyal fanbase
  • a Facebook presence, whether that’s on a page or in groups
  • one other social media presence, on whatever platform you prefer (and typically enjoy).

Those are the absolute minimum requirements for implementing book promotion. You might want to add to them with a Patreon, a YouTube account, podcast broadcasts, or whatever takes your fancy, but remember: everything you utilise takes time (and sometimes money), and it’s not necessary to be everywhere (that’s exhausting). Just use the promotional platforms you feel comfortable with. But these four things offer the most utility and flexibility for basic promotion.

Unpacking your field kit

Your website: Don’t worry about making it super fancy! Just make sure that it looks professional and that it displays your books and includes buy links. Definitely have an author bio on there, and a way for people (like readers, librarians, booksellers and event organisers) to contact you. Include a newsletter sign-up for readers. Feel free to add a blog component, or a page with your news and events, or a link to your podcast etc, but those things are largely secondary. Not sure how it should look? Check the websites of authors whose work you read and enjoy, and compare notes.

Your newsletter: It might seem old-fashioned, but an email newsletter is the number-one tried-and-true best way to establish (and communicate with) a loyal base of readers. Find an email service that suits your budget and your needs, and send out monthly updates, snippets of work in progress and special offers. Check out Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque for a complete newsletter strategy.

Your Facebook page: Some people hate it, but if you want to use Facebook advertising (which generally has good return on investment), you need to have a Facebook page. For more info on Facebook for authors, try reading this article by Jane Friedman, and for Facebook advertising, read Help! My Facebook Ads Suck by Michael Cooper.

Your social media presence: You do need another place to establish a public profile and send out your message about your book to a wider audience, so choose a social media platform—I recommend Instagram or Twitter, but it depends on you and your audience. If you’re having a hard time deciding, think about your audience and where they’re likely to hang out online. Above all, make sure your social media platform is one that you enjoy using, or at least have a preference for.

Your author platform

The field kit just described is your basic author platform for promo. The golden rule of interacting via your platform is simple: be yourself. While your platform is for promo, it shouldn’t be a long stream of ads—in fact, don’t do that. Readers and fans want to get to know you before they click on a buy link for your book, so concentrate on connecting with people in a genuine way. Try this article by Nathan Bransford for social media tips for authors, and if you’d like to know more about author platforms, Dave Gaughran has written a useful article about them here.

But what about the book?

Well, the cool thing about being a self-publisher is that there are a number of variables you can control, and most of those are about your book. These are the things we’ll talk about in the next article—see you then.

Ellie Marney is a teacher and hybrid YA author. She lives in Victoria with her family, and her most recent book, Circus Hearts: All the Little Bones, was published in November 2018. Find her at or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


John Reed Books offers bookseller distribution to ASA members

John Reed Books will provide sales and distribution for new print books by Australian Society of Authors (ASA) members, under an agreement negotiated by the distributor and the ASA.

The agreement is an extension of the temporary arrangement put in place following the liquidation of Dennis Jones & Associates last year.

The service only covers ASA members who own local rights to their new work but have no access to Australian booksellers or libraries.

The ASA said, ‘For most self-published storytellers, access to Australian retail stores is their primary challenge and we are very pleased that John Reed Books have been willing to work with us to make this valuable access available to all our members, as they create new work.’

For more information, click here.


Amazon self-published authors suspended ‘without sufficient explanation of wrongdoing’

In the US, self-published authors have claimed Amazon removed their ebooks from sale without sufficient explanation of wrongdoing, reports Yahoo Finance.

Amazon has reportedly been cracking down on authors who abuse the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program, which offers authors enrolment in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in exchange for exclusivity with Amazon. There have been reports of Kindle Unlimited authors, who are paid from a collective royalty fund based on how many ebook pages are read, engaging in ‘book stuffing’—faking the number of book pages read.

These methods include adding a ‘bonus content’ link at the start of a book, which takes the reader to the end. Such manipulations are grounds for the company to pull an author’s book from the Kindle store and terminate the author’s Kindle Direct Publishing account.

However, six authors who spoke to Yahoo Finance claim they’d done nothing wrong. Jason Cipriano, a self-published author who claims to have sold 143,000 copies of his novels through Kindle Direct Publishing, said he had yet to receive ‘a clear, detailed explanation from Amazon’ after his books were pulled from the Kindle Store and his publishing account suspended.

Similarly, Michael-Scott Earle, an author of over 45 novels, received an email from Amazon stating his Kindle Direct Publishing account was also involved in the ‘manipulation of KDP services including Kindle Unlimited’. ‘I imagine I make them probably about a half-million dollars a year which is nothing to them—it’s probably a rounding error to them,’ said Earle. ‘But could they have called me or maybe sent me an email? I’m not even worth someone reaching out to and saying, “Hey, Michael-Scott, we’re seeing this or that with your account. What’s going on?”’

Amazon declined to comment on the cases to Yahoo Finance, but said it ‘takes attempts to manipulate our services very seriously’.

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DC Public Library to add self-published authors’ ebooks to their collection

In the US, the District of Columbia (DC) Public Library is looking to add ebooks written by local authors to its online collection, reports NBC News.

Electronic resources librarian April DeRome said she hopes the library can add 10-20 new titles from the submissions, which will be reviewed by library employees with ‘a wide range of interests’. Selected titles will be featured on the library’s OverDrive homepage, which is accessed by 3000 readers a day.

DeRome said local authors often ask for their published books to be added to the DC library’s collection, but ‘this is the first time that it’s intentional, that we’re reaching out to local authors in our community’.

There’s no prize money for authors, but the library will purchase author’s titles through the self-publishing platform before adding them to the collection.


Learn how to self-publish with IngramSpark’s free online course

How much does it cost to self-publish a book? How do I start a publishing business? How is self-publishing different to traditional publishing? Learn the answers to these questions and more in IngramSpark’s free online ‘How to Self-Publish’ course. Read more.


Advice from the ISBN team

Who should apply for an ISBN?

It is always the publisher of the book who should apply for the ISBN. For the purposes of the ISBN, the publisher is the group, organisation, company or individual who is responsible for initiating the production of a publication. Normally, it is also the person or body who bears the cost and financial risk in making a product available. It is not normally the printer, but it can be the author of the book if the author has chosen to publish their book themselves.

For more information, contact the Australian ISBN agency on (03) 8517-8349 during business hours or email

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Drew Turney on ‘Falling’

This month, author Drew Turney spoke with Australian Self-Publisher about Falling—a ‘sweeping adventure of the paranormal in the technology age’ that’s 25 years in the making.

Describe your book in under 50 words.

Falling is a grand horror story set five minutes in the future when an iconic bridge shudders and collapses, taking over 600 souls with it. Nobody is prepared for the maelstrom of supernatural terror that emerges years later, but it appears to have an unspeakable goal it can only reach by scaring you … And it knows what scares you.

Why self-publish?

The short answer—owing to the response I got the few times I tried—is that it’s not something any of the major publishing houses want to publish.

But the longer answer is that book publishing (along with most other media like newspapers and magazines) is in a state of collapse. A few blockbuster names get the lion’s share of attention and resources from publishers and fewer small titles get a look in.

The story of how one of Australia’s biggest fiction authors, Matthew Reilly, became so successful is publishing industry lore. He wrote, designed and printed his own books and sold them to bookshops in the northern suburbs of his native Sydney. An editor from Pan Macmillan saw one, bought it, offered him a contract and the rest is history.

I resolved to do the same—never mind that printing a book in quantities needed to adequately distribute it would cost more money than I’d probably ever have spare. I figured I’d cross that bridge when I came to it.

Meanwhile Amazon, the iPad and ebooks happened. Those of us increasingly shut out of the big publishers now have the means to go it alone. It’s now a cliché that publishing your thoughts and releasing them to the world has never been easier—we’ve all got blogs, after all.

The challenge now is to cut through the white noise, and when everyone can publish a book with a few mouse clicks, there’s even more for readers to choose from than when the book publishers had the market to themselves.

What year did you start and where are you based?

I started writing Falling in 1991 while living in my native Sydney. Since then I’ve lived in the West Midlands in the UK, Los Angeles, USA, and Perth, WA.

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

I wrote the novel, designed and built the website, designed the cover, media kit and all the other marketing assets. The only parts I contracted to other providers was the digital artwork to create the New Sydney Harbour Bridge as it would appear in the novel in the year 2037.

What makes your book unique?

Most horror stories are about just that—scares—and for their own sake without any real reason except to scare the characters (and the reader). I wanted the site of a large and very visible haunting to prompt characters with a vested interested to figure out why it was happening, which the technology of the year 2037 and at least one of the characters possessed.

What has been your biggest success?

Getting to this point in the project. Multiple drafts of a 260,000 epic over decades, all under my own steam and in non-work hours as I had bills to pay and mouths to feed while I was doing it.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Finding the time to complete such an undertaking while having bills to pay and mouths to feed while I did so.

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

Invest in the interface between your project and your public/readers. People can smell a book that looks put together with spit and polish a mile away, and they tend to avoid it no matter how brilliant your story is. Look at least as professional and slick as the corporate publishers with a decent cover design, website, all the elements the media expects (a media kit with usable imagery, etc).

What will you publish next?

My next project is to write a screenplay about the biggest natural cataclysm in recorded human history.


Upcoming events

Sydney Writers’ Festival (29 April–5 May), Carriageworks, Eveleigh, NSW

Clunes Booktown Festival (4–5 May), Clunes, Vic
Scribblers Festival (8–12 May), The Goods Shed, Claremont, WA
Institute of Professional Editors conference (8–10 May), Pullman Melbourne on the Park, Melbourne, Vic
Queenscliffe Literary Festival (11–26 May), Queenscliff, Vic
Children’s Book Council of Australia National Conference (31 May–2 June), Canberra, ACT

StoryFest (21–23 June), NSW South Coast
Australian Booksellers Association conference (23–24 June), Pullman Melbourne on the Park, Melbourne, Vic
Emerging Writers’ Festival (19–29 June), Melbourne

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