Australian Self-Publisher
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29 June 2018

In the June issue

We’re halfway through the year, folks! We hope it has been a productive and successful six months for all our readers—but if not, the year is still far from over. In the June issue, we have a heap of news, tips and information to help you on your self-publishing journey.

In our ‘Self-publishing Essentials’ series this month, author Ellie Marney looks at how to harness the power of crowdfunding to help produce your book, while YA author Beau Kondos speaks with us about how self-publishing gave him the opportunity to write the book he always wanted to read, in our ‘Author Spotlight‘.

Have you ever thought about selling your book at a fan convention? We interviewed three authors who did just that at this year’s Supernova Comic-Con at the Gold Coast, Queensland. Read all about it in ‘Selling books at Comic-Con: The self-publisher perspective’.

And for even more interesting ways to get your book in front of readers, check out Claire Bradshaw’s tips in her column, ‘5 fresh ideas for promoting an indie book’.

Happy reading!

 

Shannon Wood
Editor
Australian Self-Publisher
shannon.wood@thorpe.com.au

 

Amazon launches Prime in Australia

Amazon has launched its subscription service Prime on the company’s Australian website, offering users free delivery and subscription access to ebooks, videos and games.

The service will include free ‘expedited delivery’ to addresses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and other major regional centres, although Australian customers signing up to Prime will have to wait two days for delivery compared to the same-day or next-day delivery offered to Prime subscribers in other countries.

Products bought from the US on the Amazon Australia website will include free international delivery for Prime customers on orders totalling more than $49.

The current cost of the subscription is about half the price of the cost in the US. The service also includes access to the Prime Reading subscription service, online video streaming platform Prime Video, online gaming service Prime Twitch, and access to a loyalty program that markets shopping deals to users on ‘Prime Day’.

The launch comes after the announcement that Amazon’s international websites will no longer deliver to Australian addresses from 1 July, following changes in GST laws requiring online retailers to collect 10% GST on all overseas purchases.

As a result, Amazon has established a ‘global store’ option on its Australian site, which offers more than four million products that were previously only accessible from Amazon.com. Sales of these products will collect and remit the required 10% GST, however, the Australian Financial Review reports that the global store offers only a fraction of the 480 million products currently available on Amazon.com.

The multinational is growing its network of fulfilment centres in Australia, which includes a facility in Dandenong South, Victoria, that opened in December last year and a 43,000 square metre facility in Moorebank, NSW, due to open in the second half of 2018.

As previously reported, Amazon launched its local website last year. Australia is the 17th country where Amazon has launched its Prime service.

This news story first appeared in Books+Publishing on 20 June 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.
 

Amazon criticised for removing online book reviews from website

Amazon has drawn criticism from authors, bloggers and publishers for removing reviews from its online book listings, reports the Bookseller.

According to reports, some Amazon customers have had all their reviews removed or are blocked from posting further reviews on the website. Amazon has blamed temporary ‘technical issues’.

Author Isabella May told the Bookseller that she had had a ‘hellish week’ of losing reviews for her two novels, published by the small independent press Crooked Cat Books. She explained that the experience of losing 11 reviews of her books listed on Amazon was ‘quite upsetting’, adding: ‘For a high-profile author who may no longer feel the need to check their reviews, this is but a drop in the ocean. But for a new voice, it’s everything, and very distressing—particularly as my publisher retail solely online and solely via Amazon’.

Amazon has developed tools and policies to combat fake reviews amid problems over ‘reviews for hire’—a practice where individuals post fake reviews on Amazon product pages in exchange for money.

When May contacted Amazon, she was told the removed reviews would not be brought back online because they were ‘in violation’ of Amazon’s guidelines. The retailer did not specify which reviews were in violation, but was instead directed towards the company’s lengthy community guidelines microsite, which includes a section on how the company ‘may restrict the ability to submit a review when we detect unusual reviewing behaviour’.

HarperCollins’ commercial publisher Kimberley Young told the Bookseller that the removal of reviews enabled Amazon to promote its own books ‘at the expense of others’.

‘Writing an honest review on receipt of a proof copy of a book is both an established practice and also a very modern tool,’ Young explained. ‘Reviews drive word of mouth and help readers find the right books for them’. ‘We know algorithms favour well-reviewed books,’ she added, suggesting that the removal of reviews across so many titles on Amazon was a decision that ultimately narrows ’the range and discoverability of books’ online.

An Amazon spokesperson told the Bookseller that a technical issue last month affected some book reviews, preventing them from being submitted and displayed. ‘These issues were quickly addressed and we apologise for any inconvenience. Customer reviews are one of the most valuable tools we offer customers for making informed purchase decisions and we work hard to make sure they are doing their job’.

This news story first appeared in Books+Publishing on 15 June 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.

 
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Selling books at Comic-Con: The self-publisher perspective

While most marketing and promotional strategies are directed online these days, fan conventions can offer self-published authors a way to meet and sell directly to potential readers and add a ‘personal touch’ to their message.

Authors Marianna Shek, Marissa Price and Felix Long shared a stall at the Gold Coast Supanova Comic-Con & Gaming Expo, that ran from 27-29 April earlier this year. They spoke with Australian Self-Publisher about the experience.

How it all began

Marianna Shek, author of fairytale picture book The Stolen Button, had previously run a number of market stalls and decided to reach out to other authors interested in sharing a stall at the Supanova convention. She posted a call-out in an online Facebook group, and two other authors signed up: Marissa Price, author of Into the Abyss, and To Conquer Heaven’s Felix Long.

The Supanova convention describes itself as ‘a place where fans inspired by imaginary worlds emanating from comics, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, gaming, nostalgia and literature have been able to come together to celebrate’. But for Price, the experience of going to a convention was a new one: ‘I had no idea what Supanova was, but I was willing to give it a go,’ she said. ‘I got my first real taste of what I was in for when we checked into our hotel and saw a group of people in costumes!’

Unconventional thinking

Shek, who has sold her titles at libraries, brick-and-mortar bookstores, markets and online, said she always thought ‘there was marketplace potential for fantasy/science-fiction writers at pop-culture conventions’. Her work in animation led her to realise the potential of reaching like-minded audiences at these gatherings. ‘I have a lot of friends and former students who end up working in illustration and/or comic books. I could see they were doing extremely well at places like Supanova and Comic-Con, and I thought comics are not so different from novels. It was an easy decision to try it for myself.’

Price’s titles are available at several online retailers such as Fishpond, Booktopia, Amazon, Angus and Robertson and QBD, as well as on her own imprint’s website, The Literature Factory. She said she was drawn to the idea of selling at the convention because it was a new idea she had never considered before. ‘I wanted to have a new experience, and to try something outside of my comfort zone. I’m not a seller by nature—at least not of my books and myself! It’s been my Achilles heel in self-publishing,’ said Price.

Long’s books are also available at several online retailers such as Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Google Play. She has come up with a unique way to generate extra income from her ebooks via a ‘Digital Honesty Box’: a means to take payment from within the ebook (which she explains further in her Q&A in this issue). Long said her main objectives at Supernova were to sell enough books to cover the cost of the table, to observe the strategies used by other authors at conventions, and to assess if the Supernova attendees are her target market.

Key takeaways

Convention attendees love stories and don’t mind self-published books

Shek was surprised by the level of interest in her stories and learned that convention attendees don’t care if the stories are self-published or traditionally published. ‘People would come up to my stall because they were drawn to the cover art and were really enthusiastic when I pitched the premise,’ she said. ‘I could tell straight away if they were engaged with my story and if I would make a sale. If they were not interested, I would ask them what genre they liked and pass them on to Felix or Marissa if their tastes matched their books’.

Make sure you have a strategy in place to direct readers to purchase your books outside of the convention

Shek also noted that one customer said that they found it annoying if they could not find book sequels easily, for example at regular bookstores. ‘It gave me room to pause because so many self-published authors wouldn’t be regularly distributed through those channels.’

It’s another distribution strategy, but make sure your books suit the audience

Fan conventions are an overlooked distribution strategy, but work best for fantasy, science-fiction or speculative fiction. ‘I had more success at my first convention than at arts-and-crafts markets and book signings in terms of financial return and, in audience engagement,’ said Shek.

It helps you grow as a publisher

For Price, one of the benefits of selling at the convention was personal growth. ‘I had no real expectations of Supanova, and it more than delivered,’ she said. ‘The costumes were amazing, the confidence of the people wearing them was inspiring and the creativity blew me away. I was out of my comfort zone, but many others made me feel comfortable and welcomed simply by being themselves.

First-time authors might struggle against the competition

Long felt conventions might be more viable as a sales avenue for mid-career authors with two or more books, and advised writers do their research. ‘If you are a debut author you will struggle against a fair bit of competition,’ she said. ‘Go along to Supanova and see what works and what is not really worth your investment.’

Finding your tribe

All three authors said, ultimately, the event was a rewarding and fun one. ‘There is a certain joy in finding your tribe. And in finding that they are a glorious technicolour spectrum, from closeted introverts hiding under a Nazgul cowl to gorgeous spandex-clad sex-bomb Gold Coast gals getting their badass on,’ said Long.

Shek also emphasised the pure enjoyment of making connections with people who love the same stories as you: ‘I don’t necessarily mean my stories, I mean it was fun to be able to nerd out about animation and favourite tv shows and games,’ she said.

Price encouraged all authors who’ve ever thought about it, to just do it. ‘You never really know what will work and what will not, as there are so many variables to consider. The nature of the author and publisher, the type of work and the connection with the audience are all very valid matters to think about, but aside from selling books, it’s an awful lot of fun!’

Tips from the authors

  • Your branding and promotional material is very important. Artist’s alley, where the authors were set up, is packed with merchandise and marketing so invest in the presentation of your stall as it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Horizontal banners may work better than vertical for visibility.
  • Be prepared with freebies: postcards, bookmarks, anything that will make you stand out is good.
  • Find a friend or family member to sing your praises. The pace is hectic and if you’re shy about flaunting it, enlist some help to sell your story. It can make all the difference.
  • QR codes are handy to direct people who want to purchase online at special discount. Link your code to where digital versions of your book can be purchased at a Comic-Con only rate.
  • Plan your budget carefully, be optimistic, but remain realistic.

For more information about each author’s self-publishing journey, see our Q&As below or click here.

 

Comic-Con author profile: Marianna Shek

Describe your latest book in under 50 words.

The Stolen Button is a fairytale picture book about a spoilt girl, Mei Ling, who gets lost inside a mirror maze and trades her belly button to a gypsy in order to get home.

Why self-publish?

I had some interest from publishers but they wanted me to scale back the fairytale so that it would appeal to a younger age group. The Stolen Button is a picture book for adults. It’s along the lines of Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle and Odd and the Frost Giants.

Leila (my illustrator) and I discussed simplifying the story to suit a younger audience, but we decided we wanted to stick to our vision. At the time, we were both PhD students and this as our passion project, the only work where we had full creative control and we didn’t want to relinquish it.

What year did you start and where are you based?

I started working on The Stolen Button two years ago. It took so long because Leila and I were both working on it part-time.

What will you publish next?

I’ve just finished a middle-grade novel The Apprentice Guide to Faerieland. It is a choose-your-own-fairytale adventure for middle-grade readers. I love working with non-linear narratives. Hopefully, I’ll get it out by the end of the year.

 

Comic-Con author profile: Felix Long

Describe your latest book in under 50 words.

My latest book is To Conquer Heaven. It follows Jeremy Wang, who has found a clue to the location of the lost tomb of the first emperor of China, and a lost treasure more amazing than King Tutankhamun’s tomb. There’s just one problem: the emperor was a powerful Taoist sorcerer … and he is not quite dead.

Why self-publish?

I made a few mistakes in my pursuit of the traditional publishing model and I refused to take no for an answer. Having said that, I now know several traditionally published authors who are seriously considering the self-publishing model to pursue the combination of artistic freedom and financial control that it affords.

What year did you start and where are you based?

I started in 2017 and I am based in Brisbane.

What will you publish next?

Habnab will be out in October 2018.

Tell us more about the Digital Honesty Box and why you think it works. 

There are three main reasons why people don’t pay for ebooks:

  • They think authors are rich.
  • They think ebooks cost nothing to produce.
  • We don’t ask them to.

So I invented the Digital Honesty Box. It includes a PayPal widget on my website, a link in my book to the widget, and a request for payment using nudge psychology to get people to pay for it.

And it works! Using a Digital Honesty Box allows me to capture a secondary reading market and monetise referrals from fans.

Everyone should use a Digital Honesty Box and a direct request to their readership to pay for the ebook. In that request you must dismiss as false your readers’ reasons for not doing so. If everyone pointed out that authors make a third of minimum wage and paid several thousand dollars to produce each book, more people would be willing to pay for them. Drop me a line at http://www.emilyforemphasis.com to find out more.

 
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Comic-Con author profile: Marissa Price

Describe your latest book in under 50 words.

Into the Abyss is Shakespeare meets Outlander. The latest instalment, Scourge of Scotland, is a magical realism novel where worlds collide, based on the brilliance and bloodbath that is Macbeth.

Why self-publish?

The technical process of publishing is something that I felt confident doing on my own. I was offered a contract on the first novel, Vault of Verona, but the terms weren’t favourable and I worked out that I would be paying a lot for things I could do myself. Don’t get me wrong, traditional publishing still has a prestige and presence in the industry that self-publishers have to work hard for, but the playing field is levelling. I also wanted to show that I could, and control the work that I put out into the world. Marketing is perhaps the hardest part, but every day is a learning experience.

What year did you start and where are you based?

I published Vault of Verona on 5 July 2017, and I started writing it in December 2016. I’m fairly new to the scene of publishing; I’m still feeling my way in many respects, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far. In July I’ll be presenting at the Australian Literacy Educators Association Conference in Perth on ways to bring Shakespeare into the 21st Century, and I love writing a series that celebrates female agency and ability.

I’m based near Bribie Island, which is an idyllic little spot in Queensland about 40 minutes from the Brisbane airport. I love where I live and the community that I’m a part of.

What will you publish next?

The third title in the ‘Into the Abyss’ series, Angst of Athens, is due out in 2019. It’s based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is very different to the first two fractured tragedies. I also write for the Refresh Co and the Regionalist, both online publications in very different spheres. I write articles on Australian content and popular culture, and domestic and international foreign policy respectively. I’m a complicated person!

 

Self-publishing essentials with Ellie Marney: Crowdfunding your book release

Got a book written and not sure how to pay for production? In self-publishing, the initial costs of editing, creating a cover, typesetting and formatting—and sometimes printing and distribution—are all borne by the author-publisher, who hopes to recoup their money once the book is released. But if you don’t have the money to invest upfront, you might like to explore crowdfunding as an option.

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a way to pre-sell a product to raise the funds necessary for the creator to manufacture and distribute it. These days, crowdfunding seems to be used for everything from philanthropic interests to artistic projects. It has been used effectively by authors like Paul Kingsnorth and Seth Godin to raise capital for a book’s production.

What’s the process?

A crowdfunding platform is used to advertise a potential book project. Individual backers contribute funds to the project, and once the target level of funding is reached, the book goes into production. Backers don’t get an equity stake—all project rights are retained by the self-publisher, who offers a staggered series of rewards to early supporters of the project in exchange for their backing.

The primary steps are:

  1. Create a business plan for your crowdfunding campaign: You’ll need to figure out your expenses for book production, the timeline for the launch, who you plan to target with your campaign, your overall budget and marketing strategy, what rewards you’re prepared to offer your backers, and what hurdles you might need to overcome.
  2. Choose your platform: The most popular ones for self-publishers are Publishizer, Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but you might also like to look at Australian platforms like Pozible, or collaborative publisher-funders like Unbound or Inkshares.
  3. Create a crowdfunding campaign page: You will need a strong headline, a book blurb, a sales video and defined reward tiers. Check out other publishing crowdfunding campaigns to get an idea of what to develop.
  4. Launch your campaign: Crowdfunding is about momentum. Getting strong support in the early days of the campaign’s launch are essential.
  5. Follow-through on your campaign: Once your campaign is completed, you will need to deliver the rewards you promised your supporters, and produce and release your book.

Be realistic about your target goals—$10,000 for a fiction book is considered a high benchmark—and remember, you have to pay the platform up to 30% of your raised capital. Your book’s genre can also have an impact on your campaign success: nonfiction, fantasy and science fiction all seem to do best.

What are the benefits?

Apart from supplying much-needed funds, crowdfunding allows you to fine-tune your book’s pitch, create buzz around your book’s release, and find an eager audience before the book has even launched. It also gives your book instant credibility through visible proof of demand, and allows you to connect with readers in a type of direct collaboration.

What are the drawbacks?

It can be time-consuming—particularly in the pre- and post-campaign periods. Crowdfunding campaigns are won or lost in the planning, so you have to be highly organised. You need to have your head around marketing and promo to make it work well. And if your book’s genre isn’t tempting to backers, you might have trouble getting off the ground.

Case study: Alison Croggon and Fleshers

Alison Croggon is an award-winning hybrid fantasy author who crowdfunded the release of Fleshers, the first in her Newport City series penned with her partner, Daniel Keene.

Alison, can you walk us through the process you went through to crowdfund your book Fleshers?

We launched our campaign through Pozible, a huge platform that has the advantage of being Australian—you get paid in AU dollars, rather than having to pay international transfer fees. We mocked up some images (our son knows how to make and edit videos, so he took care of the video), put together a blurb of what we wanted to do, and figured out our rewards for pledges. Then I put together a list of emails—friends, acquaintances, people who might support us—to contact once the campaign was launched, and nagged everyone we knew to spread the word.

When people started pledging, I was surprised by how amazing it felt. It was such a buzz to know that people were interested in helping us! We were aiming for $3000 and raised $3730, and that was awesome.

Any advice for those looking at crowdfunding as a self-publishing support option?

The biggest thing is to use an Australian platform. And I heard some stories about people who spent more fulfilling pledges than they raised, so be precise and careful about what you’re offering. Remember, Paypal and credit card fees also come out of your pledges—budget those in as about 8% of your total budget.

Be organised and brave. And unembarrassed about nagging people.

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 www.elliemarney.com or on Twitter or Instagram.
 

FAQ with the ISBN team

How do I buy and apply barcodes for my books?

Barcodes are a separate purchase to ISBNs. They are usually purchased individually when your book is ready to go to print. They cost $45 AUD per ISBN, and are credited to your ISBN account at MyIdentifiers as soon as purchased. You will receive instructions on how to generate or share barcodes in an ISBN confirmation email immediately after purchase.

Instructions 

  1. After purchase, sign in to MyIdentifiers and go to MyAccount > Manage ISBNs to download the barcode which appears alongside your ISBN (the Barcode column will be designated ‘Generate’ ready for you to download or share your EPS or PDF barcode).
  2. Click ‘Generate’ in the Barcode column of the ISBN for which you wish to generate a barcode. Note: if this is not the first time a barcode has been generated for the ISBN, the button in the barcode column is labelled ‘Manage’.
  3. Click ‘Download Barcode’ (select file type EPS or PDF). Click ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ to save the barcode graphic to your computer. Do not click ‘Open’ during the save process. To download the barcode again, you may repeat this process at any time.
  4. There is also an option during the barcode ‘Generate’ process for you to ‘Share’ your barcode as ‘PDF’ or ‘EPS’ or ‘Share both formats’. This places the barcode link into an email ready for you to forward to an email address (for your printer or graphics person).
 
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Beau Kondos on 'The Path of the Lost'

Describe your latest book in under 50 words.

The Path of the Lost is a YA fantasy novel based in the Cosm, a world where creative expression has been outlawed. Those who dare to practice art can harness magic from their craft. The characters journey down a labyrinth-like path, filled with formidable creatures to discover secrets of the Cosm’s past.

Why self-publish?

I originally submitted to publishing houses using the traditional avenues. Although I was ultimately met with those pesky closed doors you hear about, I appreciated the encouraging feedback some publishers provided. It revealed how subjective the whole process was. One publisher enjoyed particular elements that another didn’t, and vice-versa. I realised it was a tough game of chance to have your story fall into the lap of someone who felt strongly connected to it. Finding an agent to sell my novel overseas was just as tough as finding a publisher, so it felt like I had no other option but to self-publish. In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise.

I was able to take creative control, designing the cover and choosing particular illustrators to bring a powerful symbol of my story to life. And having control over the content was just as important. When I was younger, the big publishers tended to play it safe. The content that can now be found in the mainstream was hard to come by less than ten years ago when it would’ve been more impactful and needed by minority groups. Self-publishing gave me the opportunity to take a risk and write the book I always wanted to read.

What year did you start and where are you based?

The idea for my story came to me from dream fragments around ten years ago, and that might explain some of the surreal dream-logic in some chapters. I developed these ideas by daydreaming during my accounting lectures at Melbourne University. At the time, I didn’t know that the story I was toying with would become a novel. It wasn’t until after I graduated I realised that if I wanted to make something of it, it needed to be now. I enrolled into a postgraduate writing course and further fleshed out my ideas and discovered my writing style with the invaluable help of a writing group. Six years and many, many redrafts later, I had a book that was ready to self-publish.

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

I was so happy with the editor who completed a manuscript appraisal, that I returned to them for both a structural and copy edit. After looking at the same pages for so many years, I cannot begin to tell you how helpful a fresh set of eyes was. I also hired a proofreader and commissioned three different illustrators, two to work on the cover and one to design my imprint logo. I was lucky enough to have a few friends who worked in the industry to take on the typesetting of the cover and internal pages. The Path of the Lost is printed by McPherson’s Printing Group and distributed by Black Inc. in both Australia and New Zealand. I also hired someone to convert my pages into an ebook, which I have uploaded on Amazon to be available globally.

What makes your book unique?

It’s a crossover voyage-and-return story that begins in Melbourne and continues on in the fantasy realm of Cosm. This allows for the refreshing contrast between Australian vernacular and a world with a medieval setting and language. It also helped me to explore my fixation with losing oneself, something that is becoming more and more difficult in a world of hyper-surveillance and omnipresent screens. I believe that creative expression is a perfect way to let go and explore, and I wanted to tackle some big questions. What defines art? And why is it so important to our wellbeing? While books about magic are fairly common, exploring how art is connected to the soul was a lot of fun to do. I also believe teenagers are looking for something more layered than Insta-love narratives, and attempted to explore the grey areas when it comes to relationships.

What has been your biggest success?

I was absolutely stoked to find a distributor who believes in the value of my story as much as I do. Self-publishing gives the writer a lot of control, but having an established distributor, with all the connections to get my novel into bookstores smoothly, was a welcome relief in this very hands-on process. 

What has been your biggest challenge?

Juggling the novel’s cash flow could have been more of a challenge than it was, especially when other financial obligations seemed to all land at once. Luckily a friend had encouraged me to use the Kickstarter crowdfunding website, which enabled me to create a customer base for pre-orders and receive the funds upfront to pay for the novel’s outgoings.

The other challenge was finding a test audience who knew the genre well and who were willing to give constructive criticism in the novel’s early stages. I had a lot of friends who were really excited to read my book, but YA fantasy isn’t for everyone, so there was a bit of a lag with this particular feedback loop. Luckily my writing group was a godsend!

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

Writing groups are essential. You might be reluctant to share your ideas, but finding a group of people who you trust with your work, and to be frank with their feedback is crucial. Also, don’t short change yourself by skimping on paying an editor. Established authors have their work edited multiple times. If you truly see your book sitting on the shelves next to the big guns, hiring an editor is a must.

What will you publish next?

The Path of the Lost is the first instalment of a series. At this stage I’m not sure how many more books there will be to bring the story to a close because it has evolved into its own organism. Characters decided to do things I hadn’t planned on and took the story in a different direction to what I had originally imagined. I’m excited to find out where it leads!

 

Upcoming events

June

Kids and YA Festival, (30 June) Sydney, NSW

July

Children’s and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators (CYA) Conference, (7 July) Brisbane, QLD
Telling Tales in Balingup, (7-8 July) Balingup, WA
WA Writing and Publishing Sector Forum, (10-11 July) Perth, WA
Maleny Celebration of Books, (13-15 July) Maleny, QLD
Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, (18-20 July) Mackay, QLD
Voices on the Coast, (18-21 July) Sunshine Coast, QLD
Stella Prize: Girls Write Up Perth 2018, (19 July) Perth, WA
Mildura Writers Festival, (19-22 July) Mildura, Vic.
Noosa alive!, (20-29 July) Noosa, QLD
Southern Highlands Writers’ Festival, (21 July) Bowral, NSW
Young Writers Conference, (22 July) Brisbane, QLD
DIY Book Fair, (22 July), Richmond, Vic.
Storyology, (27-28 July) Brisbane, QLD
ALIA/LIANZA joint 2018 Conference, (30 July—2 Aug) Gold Coast, QLD
Indie Publishing Forum (31 July) Melbourne, Vic.

 

National Library of Australia calls out to self-publishers for legal deposit

For many self-publishing authors, the true reward of publishing a book lies not in fame and fortune, (which is found by relatively few) but in sharing ideas, experiences and stories with the world through the written word.

Our collection aims to provide a true reflection of Australians and Australian culture. With improvements in digital publishing and printing technologies, self-published books make up a large portion of the nation’s published output, so we are keen to ensure they are held in the collection.

Self-published books are an important part of the national collection, offering diverse views of Australia and the world. They have significance, whether from an academic or entertainment or family history perspective.

A huge benefit of depositing your publications with us is that you don’t need to worry about your work becoming inaccessible as the years go by. It’s our job to ensure the content is available for future generations, whether you deposit your print book or ebook. Hardcopy books are well looked-after in climate controlled stacks, and electronic material is preserved and monitored so that content can be migrated as file formats change over time.

So, a call-out to all self-published authors—we want you! (Or rather, your books.)

Here are the top four questions our legal deposit team receives from self-publishers:

I’ve self-published a book—would you like a copy?

Yes! Legal deposit applies to material that is made available to the public for sale or for free and is either published in Australia or published by Australian authors or organisations.

My book is printed overseas—do you still want it?

Yes! If you are an Australian self-published author and your book is printed overseas, legal deposit applies to you.

Who is responsible for sending you my book, me or my self-publishing service?

You are, unless your self-publishing service has undertaken to deposit a copy of your book on your behalf. Check our catalogue to see if we have already received your book, and check your agreement with the self-publishing service.

My book is available as an ebook—can I deposit the electronic version?

Yes! From February 2016, legal deposit provisions at the National Library were extended to include electronic materials, which you can send to us using our fancy new edeposit service. If you publish in both print and electronic format, you only need to deposit one copy in one format, so let us know which option you prefer.

If you have any other questions about depositing your work with us, our friendly legal deposit team will be happy to have a chat with you.

 

Register your interest for inaugural Indie Publishing Forums

The inaugural Indie Publishing Forums are coming soon to Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. The forums will provide an unmissable evening of advice and insider knowledge from a range of publishing industry experts.

The forums are presented by the Small Press Network, Ingram Spark, Thorpe-Bowker and the Australian Society of Authors, and are supported by the Australian Booksellers Association, Queensland Writers Centre, Writers Victoria and Writers NSW.

Each forum will kick off with a keynote address from Ingram Spark’s US director Robin Cutler.

Then there will be panel/Q&A sessions with publishing industry experts covering crucial topics including:

  • Identifiers, metadata and databases
  • Distribution
  • Industry bodies and organisations
  • Publisher/author relationships
  • Print-on-demand and ebooks
  • Working with publishing service providers
  • Dealing with booksellers

Tickets are only $15 (or $10 for members of SPN, the ASA, ABA, or the state writers centres) and $2 from every ticket sold will be donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Event details

Melbourne, 31 July, The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale St
Brisbane, 1 August, Auditorium 2, State Library of Queensland
Sydney, 9 August, The Sebel Chatswood, 37 Victor St

Tickets will go on sale soon. To register your interest, email admin@smallpressnetwork.com.au with the subject line ‘Indie Publishing Forum’ and we’ll email you as soon as tickets go on sale.

 

5 fresh ideas for promoting an indie book

As an indie author, all book marketing and promotion is entirely your responsibility. The amount of people your book lands in front of comes down to the promotion strategies that you develop. But when it comes to promoting an indie book, it can feel like every marketing tactic has been done to death.

Besides the standard avenues of book reviews, interviews, press releases and book launch parties, is there anything else you can do to market your novel?

Good news: the answer is yes! Here are our top five fresh ideas for promoting an indie book.

1. Blog tours and guest posts

For indie authors, working with book bloggers is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your books. Book reviews and interviews, as we mentioned above, are pretty much essential when it comes to promoting an indie book. But there are other ways you can work with bloggers, too.

A blog tour, for example, involves organising a number of bloggers to each publish content relating to your book, over a set schedule. Usually over the span of a week or two, your book will be featured on a different blog every day, with unique content on each blog.

According to Penguin Random House, online exposure is the main benefit of using a blog tour to promote your book.

‘It hits a different audience than, say, an NPR interview or local newspaper review. Sure, an unbiased review from a huge publication is fantastic publicity, but what the fans are saying can have a similar impact.’

Blog tours won’t be as effective for some books as they will for others. Young adult books and genre fiction (especially romance and fantasy) generally tend to have more engaged and active online audiences. So, if you’re writing in these spheres, a blog tour could be great for you.

If not, though, consider reaching out to bloggers to discuss the possibility of writing a guest post for their site.

We’ve talked before about why indie authors need to guest blog, but to briefly summarise: guest blogging involves writing a dedicated piece to be published on someone else’s site. It gets your name out there, drives traffic back to your website, and helps you build anticipation for your book.

When you’re connecting with book bloggers, consider suggesting guest posts in addition to reviews to help diversify your promotional content.

2. Bonus material

Standard bookish merchandise/’swag’ options, such as bookmarks, are an excellent and relatively cheap promotional tool for indie authors. But you should also consider offering other bonus material that relates to your book.

Why not put together some things like:

  • Prequel stories: Try writing one or more short stories that serve as prequels to your novel. Then offer them to readers for free—for example, as a reward for signing up for your newsletter, or as a bonus item when your book is purchased on launch day.
  • Book club kits: Create a set of questions and discussion points that readers can use to talk about your book in a book club setting, and make the list available on your website. You could even offer a discount for multiple copies of your book purchased by a book club.
  • Playlists and moodboards: If you haven’t already, create a Spotify playlist or Pinterest moodboard that helps inspire your writing process. Then share it with current and potential readers.

Sharing access to these inspirational tools can intrigue readers with a behind-the-scenes look at your process, or snag new ones if they like the look and feel of your novel’s imagery.

3. Team up with other creatives

We creative types have to stick together, don’t we?! And teaming up with other creatives is a great way to drum up some fresh ways of promoting an indie book.

Here are a few people you might want to reach out to:

  • Bookstagrammers
    Many bookstagrammers are also reviewers, so sending out a free copy of your book for some gorgeous promotional shots could kill two birds with one stone if they publish a review as well.
  • Book subscription box companies
    This is a relatively new piece in the indie author’s promotional toolkit, but getting your book in a book subscription box is a great way to reach new readers. Check out our full guide to the book subscription box to find out how it can be a secret weapon for indie authors.
  • Artists
    There’s been a growing proliferation of fan art (artists’ interpretations of book characters and scenes) in recent years. Try reaching out to an artist to discuss the possibility of pairing up to promote your book—but never ask the artist to work for free. You’ll need to pay for the work you commission, unless you come to an alternative arrangement that’s equally beneficial to both you and the artist.
  • Podcasters
    Are there any bookish podcasts on which you or your book might be a good fit to be featured? Do some research, reach out to podcasters and see what you can arrange.
  • Makers
    Book-inspired items, such as themed candles and even tea blends, are becoming ever more common. Do some research on the makers of these kinds of items and see if they might be interesting in pairing up to create themed items for your book.

4. Become a ‘book fairy’

Have you heard of Emma Watson’s ‘Book Fairies’ project? Earlier this year, the Harry Potter actor began an international book-sharing movement, which involves leaving free books in public places for people to find and take home. The finder is encouraged to pay it forward by leaving the book for someone else to find once they’ve finished reading it.

There are people participating in the Book Fairies project all around the world, with similar initiatives like Melbourne’s Books on the Rail popping up as well. It’s a great way to do a good deed and promote more reading in the world—but have you ever thought of using it for promoting an indie book?

That’s right: we mean leaving copies of your books hidden around in public places for people to discover.

Now, we do realise this method involves a cost outlay for you, as you’re essentially giving away several physical copies of your book for free. But it can be a fun and different way to get your book out there into the hands of people who might not otherwise have found it.

If you do choose to become a ‘book fairy’, there are a few things we recommend doing:

  • Try to leave books in safe spots where it’s likely people who might enjoy them will find them. Taking the lead from Book Fairies and Books on the Rail, train stations and public transport are good options.
  • Always include a note explaining that the book is free to a good home, and encouraging the finder to pass it on if you wish. Perhaps include a link to your website as well, or an invitation for the reader to share their thoughts on the book in a review on Goodreads or Amazon.
  • You might like to promote your book fairy-ing on social media to get more people interested, and even start a sort of treasure hunt! Chef Jamie Oliver did this recently when he visited Sydney, leaving copies of his latest cookbook around the city and posting clues on his social media channels to help people find them.

5. Intrigue potential readers with quote images

Many social media users are visual creatures. If you have an author Twitter account or Facebook page (which you should), you’ll probably have noticed that posts with images tend to get way more engagement than text posts.

Following this logic, it’s easy to see why pretty #bookstagram shots of your book’s cover are a great marketing tool. But these aren’t the only type of visual post you can use to drum up interest!

Step one to creating a great quote image is scouring your book for some intriguing, quotable sentences. Snippets of description and dialogue tend to work well.

Then, create some pretty, eye-catching images to display the quote, making sure to include your name and the name of your book. You don’t have to stop at quotes from the book, either; you can also use favourable quotes from reviewers who have enjoyed your book.

Try a graphic design tool like Canva to create professional-looking quote images. You might like to use background images and colours that relate to the theme/content/aesthetic of your book. Have a bit of fun and be creative!

When it comes to promoting an indie book, the tried and true methods are vital—but it also helps to shake things up a bit, too.

This article was originally published on Writer’s Edit. The author, Claire Bradshaw, is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader. As well as contributing writing and self-publishing advice articles to Writer’s Edit, she enjoys working with indie authors to perfect their manuscripts for publication.
 

 

 

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