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29 November 2018

In the November issue

It’s that time of the year where work might be slowly grinding to a halt for some or leading into a busy period for others! Either way, we hope you enjoy the final newsletter for this year, the November issue, which contains your usual dose of news and information on self-publishing plus an additional special feature answering all your questions about copyright in Australia.

If you’d like to get in contact with Australian Self-Publisher, please use the new email address We look forward to hearing from you as we head into 2019.

Happy reading!

Shannon Wood
Australian Self-Publisher


Amazon unblocks Oz shoppers from US store

Australian consumers are now able to purchase and ship items from Amazon’s international website, according to a statement from Amazon.

The retailer suspended shipping to Australian addresses from its international website on 1 July 2018 in a move to comply with GST laws affecting online retailers. Amazon had established a ‘global store’ option on its Australian site offering a selection of four million products from the international store, which has increased to 20 million. After making the change to allow delivery to Australia directly from, customers have access to around 500 million products.

Amazon says it has listened to customer feedback after announcing the changes. ‘Since that time, our teams have continued to focus their efforts on building the complex infrastructure needed to enable exports of low-value goods to Australia and remain compliant with GST laws,’ said an Amazon spokesperson.

‘We will continue to work constructively with the government on the implementation and enforcement of its legislation to ensure it achieves its objective of a level playing field for all retailers and marketplaces,’ the spokesperson added.

The Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) chief executive Joel Becker told Books+Publishing that it was impressed that after about six months, Amazon has come up with a solution to add GST to sales. The ABA has long lobbied for the change to Australia’s model for collecting GST on low-value overseas purchases.

‘We congratulate the Commonwealth government and the Australian Taxation Office for sticking to their principles. Needless to say, as long as Amazon operates within Australian government regulatory rules, respecting tax and copyright laws, we acknowledge their place in the retail landscape,’ said Becker.

This news story first appeared in Books+Publishing on 22 November 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.

New pricing model at PublishDrive

PublishDrive, a global ebook distribution platform for authors and independent publishers, has introduced a new subscription pricing option, reports Publishers Weekly.

Under the new plan, authors will pay a flat fee of $100 per month and keep all of their sales revenue, no matter how much they sell.

PublishDrive CEO Kinga Jentetics said that the new model is optional and authors are still able to use PublishDrive’s traditional royalty share model, whereby the platform takes 10% of all book sales and authors receive 60% of the list price of the ebook.

‘We talked to authors and figured out that for a reasonable monthly fixed fee, they would love to keep all of their titles, operations, sales data and analytics in one place—instead of spending countless hours handling everything on their own,’ said Jentetics.

‘We believe with the new pricing option, authors will not only lower their distribution costs, but also save way more precious time to focus on writing,’ she said.

PublishDrive is combining the subscription model with its real-time sales analytics tracking tool. The company now reaches more than 400 digital stores in 70 countries and has a roster of more than 4500 publishers.

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Debunking copyright myths for self-publishers

This month, Jo Teng, a senior lawyer at the Australian Copyright Council, explains Australian copyright for self-publishers. 

As a self-publisher, you have total control over your book. You get to choose the freelancers you work with, have final say over your manuscript, the cover design, as well as the marketing strategy. Such control is incredibly empowering, but it also means that the work a publishing company looks after in a traditional publishing arrangement—including all ‘the legal stuff’—is now your responsibility.

At the Copyright Council, I often get calls and emails from authors seeking advice on copyright before they take the plunge to self-publish. Here’s my list of common questions about copyright, and the answers.

Is copyright free?

Yes. In Australia, you don’t have to register your copyright. You don’t have to pay fees to get copyright, have any forms signed by a lawyer, or even put the copyright notice on your work. Copyright is free and automatic the moment you write something original (i.e., not copied from elsewhere) onto a manuscript or save a Word document to your computer hard drive. What’s more, thanks to international treaties, almost every country around the world, including your obvious markets (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, etc.) will recognise your copyright.

I’m confused—I found a website offering to register my copyright!

It’s a scam. A common situation I am asked about at the Copyright Council is from creators who have unwittingly paid a fee to ‘register’ their copyright with a website, and later receive emails demanding additional payments to ‘renew’ their registration (with the threat of legal action if that payment isn’t made). If you have paid to ‘register’ your copyright and are receiving such emails, just ignore them—any website offering to register your copyright in Australia, and your refusal to pay any ‘renewal’ fee will not result in legal action.

Unfortunately, such scam websites are typically based overseas, so it’s practically impossible for us in Australia to get such websites taken down. All we can do is educate people about copyright and ask others to do the same.

So, do I need to put the © symbol on my work?

It’s a very good idea to put a copyright notice on your work (e.g. ‘Copyright Jane Leong 2018’). Using a copyright notice helps to remind people that your work is protected by copyright and tells them who the copyright owner is, but it’s not a requirement to get copyright in the first place. In other words, if you forget to put a copyright notice on your book, don’t worry—your book is still protected by copyright.

Can I claim copyright in my idea?

No. Copyright applies to the actual expression of ideas (e.g. a written book, a captured photograph), not the idea itself. For example, anyone can write a story using the idea of a chosen one, of lovers separated by the cruelties of fate, or a weird family that lives in a haunted house, and that specific story will be protected by copyright but you can’t prevent people from using the same idea as inspiration for their own writing.

Can I copyright my title?

No. Short strings of text—a title, a name, a quippy slogan—don’t get copyright protection because they’re too small to qualify as a literary work. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Just Do It—none of these word combinations are protected by copyright. However, they are registered as trademarks with IP Australia, which gives them protection as brands. So while it’s no problem to write in your book that Harry Potter is your character’s favourite series, you should steer well away from using ‘Harry Potter’ in your book title or marketing.

Can I take pictures off the internet to use as my book cover and/or illustrations?

Contrary to what some people think, the internet is not the public domain. ‘Public domain’ refers to material over which copyright has expired, not what anyone can easily find. Given that the current duration of copyright for pictures is the life of the artist plus 70 years, this means the vast majority of images you’ll find online are still protected by copyright.

If you find such a picture online and want to use it for your book, you’ll first need to seek permission from the copyright owner. That permission (which lawyers refer to as a licence) may come with a licence fee. Although some copyright owners may be generous and forego such a fee, that is a decision for them, just as it is your decision as the author and copyright owner of your book to choose what to do with your book, and what to charge for it.

If you don’t seek permission and simply take a picture to copy into your book without a licence from the copyright owner, it is very likely that you have infringed copyright. The copyright owner can choose to protect their copyright in a number of ways, including going to court. However, even if the copyright owner is in another country and can’t afford to sue you, they can still take other steps, including demanding that any websites hosting your book take your book down. In other words, if you don’t ‘clear’ the rights and get permission to use a photograph in your book, and you list your book on Amazon, the photographer can contact Amazon and demand that they remove your book from sale because it infringes their copyright, and Amazon will do so.

All this ‘legal stuff’ is complicated, where can I get legal advice?

The Copyright Council is a small, non-profit organisation that advises on and advocates for copyright law. We provide a free legal advice service through which we can help you understand your situation and figure out a way to move forward. We also have a large number of free information sheets on our website covering almost every aspect of copyright law, including how long copyright lasts, owning and licensing copyright, and copyright exceptions. For more information, head to

 Jo Teng is the senior lawyer at the Australian Copyright Council.


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

Your book promotion footprint

In the first article in this series on book marketing, we talked about why marketing your book is worthwhile, why you’re the best person to market it, and the differences between promotion and marketing. Now it’s time to talk 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’.

Your best assets

Before you rush out and make a website, buy Facebook advertising, and sign up for Instagram, it’s important to have a few concepts figured out. It will save you a lot of time (and money) later.

First tip: First, think about yourself: who are you as a person and as an author? Are you outgoing or quiet? How do you best engage with people—in groups or one-to-one? What sorts of social media do you use (if any)? What themes and ideas come to the fore in your books? Apart from writing, what are your personal interests? These things may not seem important, but they can help inform the strategies you use to market your book and engage with your intended audience.

Your personal platform, or ‘brand’, is a combination of your presence on social media, the tone you take in email newsletters and the way you present in public. This should (ideally) reflect who you are in real life, otherwise it will be tiring to maintain and will seem fake to your audience. Are you a quiet, introverted person? Then use social media like Instagram, that’s not too wordy or overwhelming, and engage like a special confidante with your readers via email. If you’re outgoing and extroverted instead, go louder. Above all, for publicity, play to your strengths. Be yourself—just tidied up a bit for public consumption.

Second tip: Think about the things that make your book special. What is it about? Why is it different from other books on similar themes? Why did you write it? What’s unique about it? How does it compare to other books in the same genre or category? Understanding the things that set your book apart can be the key to marketing it effectively.

Promotion is—to a large extent—about making your book stand out from the crowd. To do that, you first need to know what your book is giving your ideal reader. Only you really understand what makes your book valuable. Is it jam-packed with interesting facts? A hugely entertaining page-turner? A collection of special recipes? Whatever it is that makes your book worth reading is what makes it worth buying.

Third tip: Think about that ideal reader: your audience (i.e. the folks most likely to read your book). They’re the people you wrote for. How old are they? What’s their gender or identity? Where do they hang out, in real life and online? How do they like to read—paperbacks, ebooks, from libraries, on their commute? Figuring out as much as you can about your ideal reader is really important for what is called targeted marketing, and you’ll go back to this information a lot later.

You might think marketing is about throwing your book out to the four corners of the earth—not so. Targeting your audience is important, as it saves you from wasting your efforts on people who aren’t ever going to pick up your book. Knowing who to target is also really important for things like advertising, which needs a tight audience to be effective.

Fourth tip: Consider how much time you have for promotion—you might already have a day job, or a family, so consider all the variables. Also think about a timeline for marketing—when and for how long will you promote this particular book? You’ll also want to a timeline for results—when will you assess the effectiveness of your promotion? Be prepared to spend time keeping track of results.

Social media presence, attending events, scheduling advertising … it all takes time. Devoting an hour a day to marketing is about the minimum requirement, so think about where you will fit that in. It’s customary to promote a book heavily at release time, and maybe a while after, but marketing efforts for indie authors (especially on standalone and first-in-series titles) can happen anytime, over longer periods. And you should know what works and what doesn’t—schedule regular checks of your sales against your marketing efforts, to make sure you’re not wasting your time and money.

Fifth tip: Finally, work out how much money you can afford to invest. Paid promotion can be very effective, but it can also be costly, so sort out a budget. And remember, all marketing is a financial investment—the time you spend marketing your book is time you could be using to earn money in some other way, so factor that in.

Don’t waste money needlessly. Work out what things you feel comfortable doing yourself (like posting on social media and sending out your own newsletters) and what things you might need to outsource (like making a website). Tap into your own skills—but remember there are people who can help if necessary. And make a budget for advertising and stick to it.

Next time, we’ll talk about promotional basics and how to get started.

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.

Dianne Blacklock on ‘Jack and Kate’

This month, author Dianne Blacklock spoke with Australian Self-Publisher about self-publishing her latest book, after having nine novels traditionally published.

Describe your latest book in under 50 words.

Jack and Kate is a story of first love and second chances, set against the backdrop of Sydney in the 1980s, the fashion houses of Paris, strife-torn Ethiopia, and all the way back to a house overlooking the beach on the picturesque south coast.

Why self-publish?

I had nine novels published traditionally, and while I’m grateful for that experience, I wasn’t enjoying the relentless cycle of producing a new title every year, preferably even more! I have friends and family in the industry—therefore plenty of ‘insider’ insight—and it was definitely much less of a risk for me as I already had a readership. So, it felt like the right time to take the reins myself.

What year did you start and where are you based?

I was first traditionally published back in 2002, but after having my rights reverted, I self-published my entire backlist in January 2018.

I’m based in Sydney.

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

So, I am in the lucky position to have sons in publishing! This was a major factor in my decision to self-publish, because I had seen first-hand how it could be done professionally. My eldest son, Joel, runs Critical Mass Consulting, a one-stop shop that provides editing services, designers and typesetters, distribution and marketing—so while I had access to all these services, I only had to deal with Joel. Another son, Patrick, is a graphic designer with Red Tally Studios, and he did all my amazing covers.

What makes your book unique?

The 1980s setting is something that seems to have really resonated with readers. Apart from that, I hope it’s unique because I wrote it! Like any author, I bring my own unique voice to the story, which has helped me develop a loyal audience.

What has been your biggest success?

Having the rights to all nine novels reverted—that effectively gave me my own ‘small business’, and a solid base from which to launch Jack and Kate a few months later.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Without question—self-promotion. Having started my author career with an assigned publicist and a whole marketing department at my disposal (or my publisher’s disposal at least), I still find it very unnatural to promote myself, yet I understand how vitally important it is for a self-published author.

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

Get professional help, and be prepared to pay for it. ‘Self-published’ does not necessarily mean ‘DIY’.

What will you publish next?

I have a pretty solid idea for a story set in the Hunter Valley, exploring intergenerational relationships, but I’m so busy as an editor, and I love that so much, that it’s difficult to make the time to write. However, the good thing with self-publishing is that I can work to my own schedule, and when I do write another book, I’ll be able to release it as soon as it’s ready to go.

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Networking tips for authors

Why network?

For some authors, the concept of ‘networking’ is like pulling teeth—painful and to be avoided at all costs. However, it could present useful opportunities, and there are different ways to make the most of these opportunities.

But first, we need to have a quick look at why you might want to network in the first place. Here are a few reasons:

  • To sell more books
  • To sell more books through a distribution channel (i.e. bulk sales, gift channels)
  • To introduce your concepts to a new audience
  • To generate paid opportunities for teaching, consulting etc.
  • To promote reading, literature, poetry etc.

After you have considered your reason (or reasons) for wanting to network, you then need to decide what feels comfortable for you, or at least, not so uncomfortable that you won’t do it. That said, I would like to encourage you to start with some comfortable options first and then challenge yourself once you build a little more courage.

Most people probably think of networking as attending an event with a bunch of random strangers and then after listening to someone else’s elevator pitch, being ready to fire off your own elevator pitch, even if it is not relevant to the person you are talking to. I would suggest that you avoid these types of events unless there is a really great speaker or entertainment that you can enjoy!

Find the right audience

If your mission is to sell more books, you need to network with people who will be interested in buying your books! Children’s books are usually of interest to parents, teachers and librarians and well-read friends and family members who buy them as presents—although this last group can be difficult to herd into one spot. However, teachers and librarians do congregate at schools and association events and they are often looking for speakers and authors to interview. These small and often local audiences are usually very excited to meet a ‘real author’ and understand more about your book.

Local bookshops that you personally support are also usually open to suggestions, or are good sources for recommendations for events.

Guest speaking at conferences, events, meetup groups, book groups or book launches can also help you tap into the right ‘audience profile’ for your publication. If you are attending one that is of interest, be bold and introduce yourself as willing to speak ‘next year’ if a place is available. If you get listed on the program, connect with the other speakers before the event to give them a heads-up about your presentation, and a direct opportunity to come up and network with you at the conference. After the conference, post your presentation online where it can provide further networking opportunities.

If you are attending events, please remember to arrive early (so it is not so intimidating) and if you leave last, you can be sure that there will be some extrovert who is very willing to talk to you right until the very end! If it really is too much, praise yourself for turning up and leave when convenient (I have done this several times, particularly when all I am getting is a sales pitch).

Once you develop some real courage, you can go along to other non-specific events and try meeting people serendipitously. But be willing to help them first before expecting them to provide you with referrals or suggestions on other individuals or networks to tap into. I always find that asking for information is so much easier than asking for book sales!

Build online networks

Do you have an up-to-date online presence? You should have an informative website, a LinkedIn Profile (regardless of your genre) and some other relevant social media for your audience (Google expects you to have both a website and a social media presence nowadays). Does your online presence allow people to contact you directly, or click on a link and complete an online form to reach you or your agent or publisher? If you can Search Engine Optimise (SEO) your content online, you can once again be networking 24/7 if people can find you for your selected search keywords. For example, Google ‘LinkedIn Specialist’ and you will see my name on the first page of Google search results.

If you can find the sweet spot of physically networking where your audience is, I encourage you to also do the following online:

  1. Promote the fact that you will be attending before you attend
  2. Take photos on the day (I prefer from the back of the room to de-identify the audience) and perhaps one or two with the organisers and share these on social media (make sure you also use hashtags and ping the organisation and/or organisers in the post)
  3. Invite all guests to connect with you on LinkedIn by turning on Bluetooth on their phone, opening the LinkedIn App, clicking on My Network (the two people on the bottom of the screen) and then ‘Find Nearby’ and connecting live and in real time. I also offer a free book to the first person who appears on my phone screen
  4. Follow up with a favourable Google Review for the organiser, personally thank them for the opportunity via a direct email and offer anyone you do connect with either a book extract or some other electronic ‘perk’ for connecting by direct email

Ultimately, networking is about introducing yourself to people, finding a way to maintain that connection after the meeting (connecting on social media is simpler than emailing and potentially spamming and annoying them) and then continuing to release good quality content that keeps them interested into the future.

Sue Ellson is the author of 120 Ways To Achieve Your Purpose With LinkedIn120 Ways To Attract The Right Career Or Business, 120 Ways To Market Your Business Hyper Locally, and Gigsters. Learn more at or email
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