Australian Self-Publisher
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26 September 2018

Reading the audience: the LoveOzYA readership survey

In 2017, the LoveOzYA committee conducted a survey into the reading habits of the Australian YA community. Committee chair Stacey Malacari reports on the survey’s findings.

The LoveOzYA movement was launched in May 2015 to support Australian YA authors and to promote local content to local readers. Since then, authors, booksellers, bloggers, teachers and YA fans have all jumped on board to help the movement. In 2017, to better facilitate this mission, the LoveOzYA committee conducted a survey of the reading habits of our community, which was distributed via our mailing list and social media network. The survey served two purposes: to uncover data about Australian YA readers and to provide an open forum for the community to share its thoughts on the future of LoveOzYA.

The survey attracted more than 800 respondents, 28% of whom were aged 12 to 19 years old. The largest portion of respondents were aged 20 to 29 (32%). An overwhelming majority of surveyed readers (90%) identified as female, although male readers were slightly more represented among teenagers, (13% compared to seven percent overall). This could indicate the potential for a growing male readership or, on the flip side, a declining interest in the genre as boys age.

Read the full article here.

 

Longlisting of self-published title for major prize angers French booksellers

French booksellers have lashed out at of one of the country’s most prestigious literary prizes for longlisting a self-published novel that’s only available on Amazon, reports The Guardian.

French-Israeli author Marco Koskas’ Bande de Français was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and is among the 17 titles longlisted for this year’s Prix Renaudot.

The French bookseller’s association (the syndicat de la librairie Française), which represents nearly 600 French bookstores, said in a statement that the longlisting of the title has put booksellers in an unfair position since ordering the book is ‘technically and commercially almost impossible’.

‘Morally, especially, they refuse to “jump into the mouth of the wolf” because Amazon is not a competitor like the others. It does not just want to become a major player in the book market, it wants to become the market by itself by eliminating its competitors, organising unfair competition, escaping the tax, bypassing the single price of the book, and replacing publishers, distributors and booksellers,’ wrote the association.

It also warned that including Bande de Français on the longlist ‘does a disservice to the author himself, as well as to booksellers, and is a worrying sign for the future of book creation and distribution’.

However, the author told The Guardian that he was ‘amused and proud’ to find himself selected, adding that the call for him to be excluded was a ‘great lack of fair play, not to say blackmail’.

Koskas, who has published traditionally in the past, said that he was forced to self-publish after his book was passed on by traditional publishers.

‘As I didn’t want to bow down to this decision, in the end I decided to self-publish,’ said Koskas.

He added that bookshops should not be angry with him or with the Prix Renaudot judges, but with the publishers who ‘made a mistake’ about his book.

Prix Renaudot judge and author Patrick Besson defended the choice of Bande de Français, calling the novel ‘one of the most original, the most interesting’ of the season.

 

Prizes round-up

Two self-published titles have won awards in the 2018 Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Romantic Book of the Year awards, known as the ‘RUBYs’. Ruining Miss Wrotham by Emily Larkin won the long romance category; and The Girl and the Ghost by Ebony McKenna, won the romantic elements category. The awards were announced on 18 August at the RWA conference in Sydney. For the full list of winners click here.

The Sisters in Crime Davitt Award winners were also announced in August, with No Limits (Bearded Lady Press), Ellie Marney’s self-published book about the regional ice trade, highly commended in the YA category. For the full list of winners click here.

The shortlists for the 2018 Queensland Literary Awards (QLAs) were announced on 3 September. White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon by Barbara Miller (CreateSpace) has been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance. Brisbane Houses with Gardens by Beth Wilson (self-published) has also been shortlisted for the 2018 People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony at the State Library of Queensland on 23 October. For more information about the awards, visit the website here.

US author Douglas Richards’s self-published book Seeker is a finalist in the Best Fiction Book category in the Digital Book World (DBW) Awards. The awards recognise ‘worldwide achievement in publishing’ and the winners will be announced on the opening night of the DBW conference, which runs from 2-4 October in Nashville, USA. See the full list of categories and finalists here.

 
Image not loaded. Advertisement: Digital Book World. 2-4 October. Nashville, US.

The 2018 Indie Publishing Forum: POD, metadata and self-publishing tips among topics discussed

The Indie Publishing Forum—a joint initiative by the Small Press Network (SPN), IngramSpark, Books+Publishing and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA)—launched earlier this year with sessions held in three Australian cities from late July to early August. Debbie Lee, Ingram Spark’s content acquisition and business development manager, summed up the inaugural program for Australian Self-Publisher.

This year saw the advent of the Indie Publishing Forum—a unique, three-city event designed to bring small publishers and self-publishers together with industry experts, with a program covering the gamut of topics relevant to this growing market base.

Director of IngramSpark US Robin Cutler kicked off proceedings by discussing her expansive career encompassing book design, commissioning in the academic space, establishing a publishing company, working at CreateSpace, and setting up what is now a flourishing self-publishing platform, IngramSpark. Cutler highlighted the ‘Author as Publisher’ phenomenon as a gamechanger, spurred on by the technological revolution of print-on-demand, coupled with access to a global distribution network.

Other aspects of this vibrant publishing ecosystem were explored from diverse yet interconnected perspectives. Booksellers in each city—Brunswick Bound’s Megan O’Brien (Melbourne), Avid Reader’s Sarah Deasy (Brisbane) and Lindfield Bookshop’s Scott Whitmont (Sydney)—expressed common themes: become a loyal customer before you start plying your wares at your local bookshop; and avoid publication at peak periods (you won’t get a look-in during the Christmas rush!).

Gary Pengelly of MyIdentifiers Australia (also known as the Australian ISBN agency) stressed the importance of good metadata in aiding discoverability, as well as the value of owning your own ISBN. If you plan to publish in multiple formats (with each format requiring its own ISBN), it is more cost effective to buy multiple ISBNs rather than purchasing one at a time.

Author service providers Julie-Ann Harper (Pickawoowoo), Alex Fullerton (Author Support Services) and Jenny Mosher (Mosher’s Business Support) each spoke about the need to view your ‘publishing self’ as a business, and to be sure to employ the professionals—editors, designers, cover artists—for an all-round quality product.

Ellie Marney, teacher and YA fiction writer, and Kim Wilkins, UQ academic and prolific fantasy novelist, shared their tips about traditional and self-publishing options. Both agreed that each book has its own ‘needs’ but whatever the route to fruition, your role as author has just begun when you type that last page. Building an online platform and engaging with readers is key.

Black Inc. international director Sophy Williams recounted how the publisher maintains a diverse list spanning history, politics, biography, current affairs, fiction and poetry. By contrast, Bronwyn Mehan of Spineless Wonders spoke of specialising in short stories and ‘microlit’ fiction, with a foothold firmly in the print-on-demand and digital space.

The integral role played by industry associations was ably demonstrated by Tim Coronel, general manager of the Small Press Network and MC extraordinaire, as well as by representatives from other industry groups. Writers Victoria director Angela Savage highlighted the amazing opportunities, workshops and guidance offered by state-based and regional writers groups; Olivia Lanchester, legal services manager for the Australian Society of Authors, advised about copyright and contractual matters; and Queensland Writers Centre CEO Lori-Jay Ellis led the floor at a full house (250 delegates!) in Brisbane.

Alongside all of these guests was one of the industry’s stalwarts, distributor Dennis Jones, who fought for the little guys and lifted so many indie publishers into the retail space. Sadly, Jones’ company Dennis Jones & Associates is no longer in business, but its legacy truly lives on. And so too will the Indie Publishing Forum. The structured two-hour format, complete with audience Q&A, proved to be a winning formula.

Proceeds from ticket sales resulted in a $1000 donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Pictured: A panel at the Indie Publishing Forum in Brisbane. Credit: Queensland Writers Centre
 

FAQ with the ISBN team

Many websites generate an ISBN barcode for free—what is the advantage of purchasing an ISBN barcode from MyIdentifiers?

First, a few things about barcodes for your books:

  • The barcode which is generated from your ISBN is called a 13 digit EAN barcode, or Bookland EAN, and is specific to the publishing industry. Although the EAN barcode is much like that used for general retail merchandise, the numbering system used to generate the barcode for books is different.
  • Your ISBN needs to appear at the top and bottom of your barcode graphic.
  • ISBNs and their associated EAN barcodes will then identify you as the author or self-publisher on established bibliographic databases such as Books in Print (in Australia, you need to send a copy of your title for Legal Deposit to the National Library of Australia).
  • Not only does your ISBN need to be a part of your EAN barcode, but the barcode graphic needs to be very clear to ensure successful scanning at point of sale.

While you are entirely within your rights to get your barcodes from other sources, there are advantages to buying one from the ISBN agency:

  • Obtaining your barcode from your MyIdentifiers account is quick and convenientit’s a one-stop-shop for your ISBN and barcode needs.
  • You can create and download the barcodes as and when you need them.
  • You can also see at a glance your list of ISBNs and the barcodes attached all in the one place.
  • You can be certain of the clarity and quality of your barcode.

Lastly, if you choose to go elsewhere, rather than looking online, we recommend that you start by asking your printer if they have software to create an EAN barcode using your ISBN. You will have, by that stage, a good working relationship with your printer and you can be more certain of obtaining a quality barcode from them.

 

A E Dooland on ‘Solve for i’

Describe your latest book in under 50 words.

Maths whiz Gemma Rowe has found the one problem her maths can’t solve: she’s fallen for her female and very heterosexual best friend.

Essentially, my latest novel, Solve for i is a lesbian rom-com with a storyline many folks can relate to: falling for someone who is unavailable.

Why self-publish?

The reason I self-publish is that the format I write my stories in isn’t typical of books—I write them as weekly chapter-by-chapter web series, with each chapter going through an editing and redrafting process each week before being published online on my website. When the series is complete, I collate the chapters, edit them again as a whole, and then release the story as a book.

I did initially inquire with some publishers about whether it would be worth submitting a manuscript when I’ve already published the story online (usually to paid readers), and I was met with a lot of hesitation rather than enthusiasm. Given that response, I opted to give self-publishing a shot.

Self-publishing is expensive but I’m very lucky in that I already had a fan base of regular readers who have been following my writing for some time. I asked my fans whether they’d be interested in financially supporting me and got an overwhelmingly positive response, so I decided to crowdfund the cost of my books. I’ve successfully done that three times now and I plan to crowdfund my next book, too.

There are lots of benefits to self-publishing: I have complete creative control of every aspect of the process, I commission artists I like and choose the cover art myself, I control deadlines and, while I do listen to the advice of my editors, I have the final say in which parts of the plot stay or go.

What year did you start and where are you based?

I crowdfunded my first book in 2014, but I’ve been publishing stories online since the late 90s. I’m Geelong-based.

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

I need to contract at least five other service providers per book.

I had three artists on all my books: one person to do the cover art and graphic design, and the other two for promo art and marketing design. I have two editors: one story editor and one copyeditor. I also periodically contract sensitivity readers for content related to characters from minority groups I’m not also from.

Everything else I manage myself: marketing, project management, type-setting, promos, campaigns, phone calls … everything! I had no idea of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into publishing a book until I did it all myself.

What makes your book unique?

I’ve been told my books are page-turners because of their origin as web series; I need to keep people reading and coming back next week for the next chapter, so I try to create interest for the next chapter in every chapter I write.

What has been your biggest success?

Hitting bestseller in my category on Amazon USA!

What has been your biggest challenge?

I face two big challenges, and those are finding the energy to write when I work full-time (in a job I unfortunately love!), and the fact that when you self-publish, writing the story is just the beginning. Once the story is finished, the publishing process begins and it’s exhausting and time-consuming. I spent 1000 hours writing Solve for i and probably about 200 to 300 hours on administration related to publishing the story.

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

Don’t be afraid, take the plunge! Self-publishing is hugely daunting at first, but there are so many guides out there about how to get the best out of your story that it’s never been a better time to start.

If I can also sneak in a cheeky second-to-top tip, it would be to always make sure you have a written, legally binding contract when you commission services from someone. Things go wrong more often that you’d like them to—little things like missed deadlines, or big things like completely substandard work. A contract protects you.

What will you publish next?

I think I’m going to try my hand at fantasy next! I’ve loosely planned a couple of different web series, so it’s a toss-up between pirates and dragons at this point. Whatever I write will have a mostly queer cast.

 
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Upcoming events

October

Tasmanian Poetry Festival, (5-8 Oct) Launceston, Tas.
Crush Festival, (5-14 Oct) Bundaberg, Qld.
Unleash the Beast: Writing and Wellness Symposium, (10 Oct) Toowoomba, Qld.
Frankfurt Book Fair, (10-14 Oct) Frankfurt, Germany.
Burdekin Readers and Writers Festival, (12-14 Oct) Ayr, Qld.
Kids Books Fest, (13 Oct) Melbourne, Vic.
Coal Creek Literary Festival, (14 Oct) Korumburra, Vic.
Australian Short Story Festival, (19-21 Oct) Perth, WA.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, (24-28 Oct) Bali, Indonesia.
Celebrate Reading National Conference, (26-27 Oct) Fremantle, WA.
Digital Writers Festival, (30 Oct—3 Nov) Melbourne, Vic.

 

5 ways to optimise LinkedIn for self-published and indie authors

Many self-published and independent authors feel comfortable with the concept of creating a profile on Facebook or Amazon, but they are not always aware of the benefits and opportunities available via LinkedIn.

If you thought LinkedIn was just social media for professionals, or only an online resume, think again. When you optimise your LinkedIn profile, it can help your name, keywords, book title, content and articles be found through a Google search. Here’s how to do it.

1. Change your public profile URL

Your LinkedIn profile has its own unique resource locator (URL). Mine is https://www.linkedin.com/in/sueellson—and as you can see, I have managed to change it from the automatic version with dashes, numbers and letters to just my own name. If you haven’t done this, you can do this online. If your name (as one whole word in lower-case letters) is not available, you can try putting a dash between names, or add your pre- or post-nominal letters (Dr, PhD, etc) or a number (but not one related to your date of birth). If you have a Twitter account, you may like to use something similar.

By updating your URL, you are optimising your LinkedIn profile for Google’s search results. It also looks much better on your business card, email signature, biography, and so on.

2. Update your LinkedIn headline

This is directly underneath your name and is the most powerful location on your LinkedIn profile for appearing in search results on both Google and LinkedIn. Just try typing ‘LinkedIn Specialist’ into Google and you will see my LinkedIn profile in the search results!

I suggest that you start with some sort of memorable label that you wish to be known by (mine is Independent LinkedIn Specialist) and then, after that, include any other words related to your area of expertise, and finally add something memorable about you.

For example: ‘Young Adult Fiction Author—YA Writer, Romance, Teenagers, Youth, Surfer and Skier’.

If you also earn a living in some other way, you may decide to focus on those skills instead and add your author status at the end.

For example: ‘Freelance Writer, Journalist, Editor and Author—Tenders, Policy, Procedures, Technical Writing, Young Adult YA Fiction’.

Note: If you update your headline on your mobile phone or tablet, you will have more characters available than if you use your laptop or desktop computer. More tips are available if you’re interested.

3. Add your keywords in other locations

While I cannot prove that these are the best locations for keywords on your LinkedIn profile, the more often you include your keywords in the following locations, the more likely you are to appear in search results: Current Job Title, Past Job Title, Education (yes, include your subjects in the Description box), Volunteer Experience, Skills & Endorsements, Recommendations.

This means that when you list your job as ‘Technical Writer’ at ‘XYZ Enterprise’, you should also add your keywords after the job title.

For example: ‘Technical Writer – Tenders, Policy, Procedures, Submissions, Proposals, Grants’. Find out more about keywords you should use.

4. Optimise your posts

When you post an update on LinkedIn that goes in the newsfeed, make sure you add a picture or video first, then type your post using engaging language. Also be sure to ping others (by typing @ before a person’s name or company name) to trigger notifications, and use hashtags to direct your content and to encourage discoverability.

Remember that your posts can go viral if you generate early engagement (likes, comments and shares), and if you personally respond to all comments and shares. Posts can be a fantastic way to remind people about what you are up to—but once their cycle is finished, their value disappears.

However, I would still recommend that you aim to post at least once a month. Read more about LinkedIn posts.

5. Optimise your articles

When you write an article on LinkedIn, you can optimise it so that it can found through Google search long after it has been published. Just try typing ‘LinkedIn for authors’ into Google and you will see my article on this topic on the first page of Google’s search results.

Likewise, if you write some longform content, you too have the potential to create another top Google search result for the name of your book, your genre, your area of expertise, and so on. Once again, you need to generate some early engagement and respond to all comments and shares.

Articles can be a great way to showcase your expertise, and they can potentially generate lifetime value. I would recommend that you aim to publish three or more articles per year.

For more tips on optimising your articles, click here or here.

Ultimately, LinkedIn is just one of many online tools you can use to help raise your profile as an author and be found online—not just by your fans, but by journalists, publishers, event organisers and more.

To your publishing success!

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