Category Archives: On Indie Publishing

London Author Fair at Foyles & Indie Recon

In the Author Lounge at London Book Fair I kept my mouth shut (for once) while being told that indie authors need to a)stop being so arrogant and b) indie book covers aren’t nearly as professional as properly published books.

Publishing still seems like a dinosaur profession to me. It’s so different from the tv and film world from which I hail. There, independents are admired as mavericks,risk takers, who challenge the status quo. Yet indie authors are regarded with suspicion (still) by the publishing industry.

So it was a great relief then to go to Indie Recon at Foyles on Friday and listen to the stars of the indie publishing world – CJ Lyons, Nick Stephenson, Rachel Abbott, JF Penn and Steena Holmes tell us that all that matters is your reader.

At the Author Fair (organised by author collective Triskele)

Lambert Nagle Book Signing @ Foyles

Lambert Nagle Book Signing @ Foyles

where we members of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) got the chance to sell our books to the public, I came away from there determined to make a go of getting the print copy of Revolution Earth into bookshops and libraries.


Across the Mekong River

Across the Mekong River is the story of a refugee family from Laos, who had to flee to the refugee camps in Thailand when the Vietnam war ended. The Communist regime hunted down their own people and killed those who fought on the side of the Americans. It is only thanks to their sponsorship by an American soldier that the family are permitted to resettle in America.

The story centres on daughter Nao’s struggles to bridge two opposing cultures. Her Hmong family believe women are subservient to men, whereas all Nao wants to do is to go to college and lead an independent life. Nao so desperately wants to fit in at school she calls herself Laura and hides this from her parents.

It is not exclusively written from Nao’s point-of-view as author Elaine Russell gives a voice to Nao’s mother Yer and her father Pao. Yer’s tale is of a paradise lost. Her beautiful homeland – a land of ‘gentle streams and green forests, ‘ has been invaded by a succession of foreigners – Thai, Khmer, French then Japanese. Pao, the patriarch in the family, left his fields to take up arms against the communists in the Vietnam War.

Nao, Pao and Yer are convincing characters who speak believable dialogue. Written in a compelling and convincing style, the author gives voice to all those displaced people who find themselves adrift in a newly adopted homeland, struggling to adapt to a new language and culture. Across the Mekong River is really the story of America.

Going Free on Amazon – with Zero Marketing

Here are the results of my little experiment for Revolution Earth:

Zero Marketing Day Results
Yesterday I conducted a little experiment. I’m running a BookBub ad today(UK only)and on Friday December 5th one in the US with Kindle Books & Tips. Because the BookBub rules state that your book has to be discounted at 12.00am PST (Pacific Standard Time)on the day of your promotion I decided to make it free a day earlier. It’s as well I did as in fact Amazon didn’t set it at free until an hour later – 0100 PST (0900 GMT).

I decided to see if I could get any downloads with no marketing from me just to see what happened.

266 downloads Amazon US,
17 Amazon UK,
4 Canada,
2 India.

None in Australia but that could have been because of the time difference as the promo starts at 12.00am PST (Pacific Standard Time) (8.00am UK time) and the evening by then in NZ and Australia.

What does this prove about marketing? Dunno. Maybe we just got lucky. Or it proves that there’s still an appetite for free books out there.

But one thing’s for sure, the Amazon algorithm doesn’t discriminate so for one heady moment a novel about crazy Kiwi eco-warriors who want to blow up an oil refinery in Australia was at number 1 Free in Political thrillers on the US Amazon site.

Whether you love or loathe Amazon, what it does do is give writers from other countries other than the US (to misquote former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd who seemed to have made up this expression) a ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle.’Screenshot 2014-12-02 07.33.57

Blurb Now Has Design & Distribution Sewn Up

The design of my forthcoming book,Castles in the Air: A Family Memoir of Love and Loss is going to be as important as the content as I plan to illustrate it with photographs, drawings and other ephemera. I have for a while now been mulling over which print-on-demand (POD) distribution service to use – Ingram Spark or Blurb. I’ve always loved the look of Blurb books as Blurb was originally created with photographers in mind. And I have to say that I am very impressed with the professional look of a Blurb book. Their website looks great too and is easily navigable. Ingram Spark’s looks boring and corporate in comparison.

Of all the costs involved in indie publishing the one area where I resent paying for services is formatting. But up until now I have had to hand over the task as I’m not proficient with Adobe InDesign. InDesign worked beautifully with Create Space and Kindle but was spat out by Kobo, iBooks and all the other digital ebook distribution platforms I’m meant to be selling on but am not. I’m one of those people who as soon as there’s a technical hitch likes to throw everything into the Too Hard Basket. Blurb for the time being is offering a free ISBN if you use their new design tool Blurb BookWright or their Adobe InDesign creation tools. So now Blurb not only has a solution for formatting but has the additional carrot of a free ISBN as well as distribution through Ingram. Global distribution is a key factor in choosing a self-publishing service as it is the only way your books will have any chance at all to sell to bookshops and libraries.

So it looks like Blurb has won me over. Have you used Blurb recently or are you thinking of using it for your next book? If so I’d love to hear about your experience.

Is Kindle Countdown the new Free? Keeping books visible in 2014

Is Kindle Countdown the new Free? Keeping books visible in 2014.

I am linking  to this excellent post by M. Louisa Locke as it neatly addresses that dilemma that indie authors have – to be visible on as many sales channels as possible – or to go exclusive with KDP Select and thus take advantage of Kindle Countdown.

What do you think?


Struggling with ebook Formatting?

On Joel Friedlander’s blog Ed Ditto has written: How to Publish Your eBook from Word to Kindle in under Ten Minutes

Of all the vexing and annoying job’s I hate the most – formatting has got to be it…. It’s particularly vexing because you don’t just format once and that’s it – if there are revisions, edits and corrections (and there will be – no matter how many times your work has been proofread) then you have to spend ages tweaking the layout and formatting.  Then you upload to Kindle preview and that will tell you that you have made mistakes that need fixing. And that process can be repeated until finally Kindle is happy.  So I was thrilled to come across Ed Ditto on Joel Friedlander’s, (book design guy) blog.  His advice is the best I’ve seen on the web. And I don’t care if it takes me ten hours….. just as long as the darn thing gets done and I can go and pour myself a glass of wine and bask in the smug glory that I’ve been able to achieve something a bit techy….

Thanks to Ed Ditto (@BooksbyEd)

The Bookseller’s Top 100

Orna Ross, founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors makes The Bookseller’s list of the Top 100, the book trade’s most influential people. Orna is the voice for writer/publishers, raising their profile at trade fairs such as London Book Fair. The Alliance is global now thanks to Orna and her team.