Episode Summary

When you’re a self-published indie author, there’s allies and then there’s ALLi—the Alliance of Independent Authors. It’s organization built for supporting the author community with resources, representation, and advocacy. Orna Ross discusses all the ways ALLi works for you.

Episode Notes

Orna Ross is an award-winning novelist, poet and director of the Alliance of Independent Authors Find more about ALLi at www.allianceindependentauthors.org

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Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

authors, people, publishing, writing, good, books, service, self publishing, marketing, ally, membership, business, members, poetry, question, independent authors, reader, important, find, industry

Kevin Tumlinson00:02

Well, hey, everybody, thanks for tuning in to another episode of D2D’s Self-Publishing Insiders.This is a fun time, everybody’s kind of running around a little frantic right now, there’s so much going on. But that’s why it’s extra special that our guest has joined us today. We’re talking to Orna Ross. She is with the Alliance—I’m always going to get this wrong, Orna. Alliance of Independent Authors. I always have to check my notes, because I’m like, I’ll say three different words entirely. But it’s the Alliance of Independent Authors, otherwise known as ALLi, not “alley,” as I said for a good two or three years. 

Orna Ross00:43

Yeah, no. “Ally,” because we are the self-publishing ally. That’s why.

Kevin Tumlinson00:46

Exactly, exactly. And that’s exactly what you guys are. This has been an incredible service for authors, independent authors. You know, I dragged my feet forever on joining. And when I did join, I’m like, why didn’t I join like five years sooner? This is ridiculous. This is a fantastic service. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about how it all works. What is ALLi?

Orna Ross01:11

Yeah, ALLi is the professional association for self-publishing authors. So we are mainly a community. But that community is a huge hive mind, first of all, of advisors all over the world, in different genre and in different areas of expertise in publishing. And there are ambassadors who are also global and worldwide, we are in every country, and literally all over the world. And while most of our members are either US, Europe, or Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, we literally have people everywhere. And I think that’s just the nature of, Draft2Digital is the same, it’s the nature of publishing. It’s a global business. And it’s hugely exciting. So yeah, ALLi is a community. Our mission is excellence and ethics in self-publishing. So we have a watchdog service, which you guys know, there are lots of players in this field who are really, you know, not here because they love books, shall we say. They are here for a different motive. And, you know, we keep an eye on the industry. And we are also an advocate for indie authors in the wider publishing industry itself. And we seek to create industry boundaries, again, all over the world through our ambassador system, and with new organization membership now, which in which we’re connecting to local and genre organizations on the ground around the world. Because while they have lots and lots of supporting members, they are maybe not, having come up the traditional way, they maybe are not as tuned in to the … it’s a very fast changing world, as you know. And so thinking together, I think makes a lot of sense. So you know, we’re just essentially anything that furthers and develops a self-publisher. And we’re there, we’re trying to buy that, A huge amount of what we do is links, and we also have a partner membership for, obviously, Draft2Digital is a partner member for a long time, I think since you began, really. And good self-publishing services so that our authors can pull together a team and have complete confidence that they’ve been vetted and approved by our watchdog desk, and so on. So yeah, that’s just some of the things that we do. Self-publishing is us.

Kevin Tumlinson03:42

Yes, and that is such an important thing. To have a professional organization for this particular part of the industry. You know, the traditional world has had things like that for years. So it’s good to see that and it’s good to have someone kind of watching our backs out there.

Orna Ross04:00

Yeah, I think it’s essential. You know, not everyone’s a joiner. But I think everybody benefits just by the fact that there is a professional organization. And when we started, we had a lot of trouble getting people to take notice of the fact that we were a professional organization, and that our members did do things professionally, and wanted to, and you know, representing independent authors in various spheres of the publishing industry. It’s very interesting to see still, not so much course, but still, to this day, there’s a fight that has to be hard to get a level playing field for indie authors at libraries, prizes and awards. The most prestigious ones are still closed to independent authors. There are lots of programs where people, you know, will not admit self-publishers, for whatever reason. Generally, the reason is that it’s too much work for them to work out how on earth are we going to fit all these people into our program? Oh, it’s easierto just say, no, we won’t do it at all, but that’s not good enough, people. So you know.

Kevin Tumlinson05:08

I have been making the case and making the argument for the past couple of years that, you know, indie publishing is publishing now. It’s the traditional publishing that is the sort of outlier now. And do you find … I’m sure you agree with that, but how much do you agree with it?

Orna Ross05:29

I agree with it so much, I wish you were here so I could express how much I agree with this. Yeah, we’re selling more books, you know, indie authors are now selling more books than all the trade houses combined and put together, between all the different wonderful [inaudible] that we have. So in quantity, in dollar value and pound value, we are also outselling, and we’re also seeing the quality of the books just going up and up. So, and as well, we’re just doing such innovative and interesting things at the publishing level and leading so much in terms of marketing, you know, to readers. Understanding—because when you took away all the middle folk, and it was that direct relationship between reader and writer, really interesting things started to happen. And so indies are leading, you see now the trade picks up and does things indies have been doing, you know, a year or two after indies are saying, “Hey, this really works,” then the trade comes along and says, you know, “Hey, we’ve just got this great new idea,” you know, we should do free books, or, you know, something like that that indies have been doing for years. So, yeah, I think authors, I think we’re only beginning though. I think authors are incredibly creative people. I think the way in which publishing happened for so many decades, in a sense, took away some of authors’ confidence in their ability to manage, to publish, and to write together, for example. So I think that now, as we’re getting that confidence, I think it’s the next 10 years. Also, once authors realize, I’m in business. So when we talk about professional standards, we’re not really professionals anymore. Because professionals, like, have CVs and appeal to the establishment, you know, and indie authors are not like that. So we’ve got this whole thing now around creating a digital business, which is a very liberated space where you can do, you know, if it works, you can do it. And I think we’re really seeing now, we’re calling it self-publishing 3.0, where authors are recognizing that yes, it is a business. Actually, I don’t have a career, I have a little business or a big business, a global business, a digital business, generally speaking. What does that mean for me? How do I approach when I really kind of take that on board? What do I give myself permission to do? How do I reach my reader? Who is my reader? How do I want to produce these books? You know, what do I want to do over the next 10 years? So, seeing really exciting things. 

Kevin Tumlinson08:20

Yeah, that’s … 3.0. I’m like, why didn’t I—I think I skipped 2.0. What was 2.0?

Orna Ross08:31

Well, 1.0 was desktop publishing. You’re too young, you wouldn’t remember, but … 

Kevin Tumlinson08:37

No no, I remember desktop publishing. Yeah, I was there for that.

Orna Ross08:41

Yeah, so desktop publishing was number one. That was the first time that authors were, you know, didn’t have to invest in a printing press to actually create a book. And [inaudible] jumped in and created books. 2.0 was the Kindle. Kindle books, and the arrival of ebooks, and the ability to do digital audio books, all of those are 2.0. But in that time, I don’t think authors really got to grips with the fact that they—yeah, they knew in theory that they were in business, but 3.0 is recognizing what it means to be in business and what sorts of support authors need. And in talking to the wider publishing industry about the kinds of supports that are given to authors, for example, graphs and things like that, are really pretty useless for most self-publishing authors. But what is really useful is business skills. Which is something a lot of authors run away from. But when you realize that actually creative business is not the same as business as usual or conventional business, and then you realize that you need to run a creative business, that’s 3.0. So lots of authors selling direct to readers, authors going wide, you know, and not just going for the obvious thing to do, but actually getting two or more formats, publishing globally in other countries, doing translations, getting into as many formats as possible, as many territories as possible. That’s 3.0.

Kevin Tumlinson10:17

That’s, I like that. So I think that that’s us. D2D, we’re a 3.0 company.

Orna Ross10:26

You were a 3.0 company right from the start. Even when it was [inaudible].

Kevin Tumlinson10:29

We should put that on the logo. So that’s great. So it sounds like ALLi is really focused on author education. Is that a fair assessment? 

Orna Ross10:41

That is a huge, huge focus for us, and particularly writing education or publishing education, and particularly things that maybe other people haven’t been focusing on as much, like rights, for example, how indie authors can sell their own rights. Also, you know, how they can integrate the three aspects of the business. Because if you do accept that you are in business, then you have to recognize that the job is not just writing, it’s also publishing and also business. You’ve got to be a maker, you’ve got to be a manager, and you’ve got a marketeer, and you’ve got to somehow do all three of these, all the time. Keep those, you know, juggling in the air. So you know, the old story of “I love writing, but I don’t like marketing.” Well, that doesn’t work for 3.0. You have to actually find the place where marketing integrates with your writing, actually can nurture your writing. A lot of people find once they stop resisting it … so, you know, education at that end of the scale is where we have a lot of our energy. So that’s one thing that we do put a lot of time into.

Kevin Tumlinson11:59

What would you say to the authors who … because I hear that a lot, is an author who says, I just want to write, I don’t want to market. And they usually use that as an argument for going through traditional publishing. So what do you say to authors like that? 

Orna Ross12:15

Well, first of all, it’s not an argument for going through traditional publishing, because traditional publishing will not relieve you of the need to market. While traditional publishing houses will help you with certain aspects, if you are lucky enough to be one of the authors who actually gets a deal and an advance that is commensurate with actually getting a decent marketing spend. And what a lot of authors who say something like that don’t realize is that trade publishing takes on, you know, say 25, authors knowing that only one or two of those authors are actually going to make a return on their investment. What they don’t know is which two is it going to be? They don’t really mind. They put them all out into the marketplace, and whichever sticks gets an investment next time. Whoever doesn’t, is dropped. So the whole system has kind of been built on author failure. Most authors fail to actually get a trade publishing deal, and then when they do, most authors fail to kind of stay in traditional publishing, because there’s only room for so many people. Even within the trade now, you will be expected to do your own marketing. In fact, getting a trade deal will very often depend on how many social media followers you have, for example, or some other evidence of an author platform. So it’s not a good argument. But secondly, it’s not, it doesn’t work that way. Because if you … saying you don’t like marketing is like saying you don’t like your reader. It’s like saying, like, you know … it’s absolutely fine to say okay, I just write for me. And I’m just writing what I want to write. That’s 100% fine, that’s so valid. It’s such a brilliant, brilliant thing to do. But don’t self-publish then. Don’t waste your time, everybody’s time, don’t clog up the system, you know. Because publishing isn’t about putting a book together. That’s just one of the first couple of processes of publishing. The design, the production, the distribution and putting the book up and out there, that’s essentially the start of it, but that’s only one part, because publishing is also marketing, promotion, and rights. It’s a long-term thing, if you’re not doing marketing promotion, you’re not a good publisher. You’re just not good at your job. So, you know, it’s also disrespectful of the reader, I think, to say, “I’m a publisher who doesn’t like marketing.” So it’s hard work. That’s why people don’t want to do it and resist it. It’s a different kind of work that takes a different set of skills. But when you stop resisting it, when you stop saying that sentence, which is so widespread and authors encourage each other in it a lot, when you actually let that go, and when you realize, okay, marketing means reaching my reader. Marketing means communicating with my reader. Marketing means actually embodying something of the spirit and the nature that led me to write the book in the first place. Getting that into communication forms that are tiny and small, and that can reach the reader in different sorts of ways. And maybe even, you know, deliver the mission that made me write the book in the first place. That can be encompassed in my blog, it can be in a podcast, in [inaudible] and in so many different ways. When we start to think about it that way, then marketing begins to nurture the writing, the writing nurtures the marketing, and you’ve got a nice symbiotic thing going on. So I just don’t allow that sentence. It’s not allowed.

Kevin Tumlinson16:01

Not allowed, all right. So what are some of the things that you guys offer that help authors get through this sort of road bump? You know, tools to teach them the business and that sort of thing? 

Orna Ross16:14

Yeah, so, we’ve we’ve got a podcast like yourselves. We’ve got a daily blog, a weekly podcast, we’ve got all sorts of tools really for people on different … Are you still there, Kevin? 

Kevin Tumlinson16:30

I am. Can you see me?

Orna Ross16:32

No, you seemed to die, I don’t know why. Oh, yeah, I can see you now again. Sorry. I don’t know what happened there. Okay.

Kevin Tumlinson16:39

You had me worried for a moment there. I thought maybe I’d disappeared and just didn’t realize it. 

Orna Ross16:44

I don’t know, it just [inaudible]. No, you’re back.

Kevin Tumlinson16:49

So, you were sharing some of the tools and resources you guys have for authors? 

Orna Ross16:54

Yes. So yeah, a daily blog and a weekly podcast, I think, you know. We have a member Q&A where they can kind of bring their particular issues. We’ve got a Facebook forum for our authors at two levels: Entrepreneur and Membership is for authors have sold more than 50,000 books or equivalent in the last year or two. And our Author membership then, which consists of people are varying stages. And we turn a lot of that original content then into what we call our ultimate guides, so to getting reviews or libraries or whatever, we have a library of books as well. So yeah, we’re constantly kind of working with people and asking them what they need and want. And this scenario, I think, you know, where there’s only so much you can do, and you just have to do what you can, because it’s always changing as well. And we’re always trying to kind of keep up with each other. And I think, you know, indie authors are fantastic in the way they help each other. And so I would say that’s the biggest resource of all, on our forum where people ask questions, and 25 people dive in with an answer. And you maybe find five different answers sometimes, depending on the request and so on. 

Kevin Tumlinson18:23

I’ve found that if you ask 100 authors a question, you will get 6000 answers.

Orna Ross18:32

So true.

Kevin Tumlinson18:36

Speaking of which, you guys actually have, sort of in your corner, a whole lot of people we know in the industry. Some influencers and friends of D2D, folks we’ve even had on the show, like Joanna Penn and Michael LaRonn, and folks like that. You guys have quite a raft of intellectual giants working with you. 

Orna Ross18:59

We are so lucky. I mean, we really are. The skill level and the generosity of our advisors is just, it’s astonishing. And literally they are the [inaudible], you know. Without them, the show doesn’t run, and it’s incredible, I think, how generous indie authors are. And then loads of people whose names other people don’t necessarily know who are equally generous behind the scenes. It’s just makes coming to work every day, and I’m sure it’s the same for you guys at Draft2Digital, just being around it is such a privilege really, it’s amazing.

Kevin Tumlinson19:45

Yeah, that’s one of the greatest things about this job, is the authors themselves. And I know people say things like that and it’s just sort of a kiss up kind of thing, but we actually truly mean it. I actually truly mean it. So, yeah, it’s an amazing group to work with. So you’re, okay, this has been going on for … how long has ALLi been around, actually?

Orna Ross20:10

I think 2012. We did a London Book Fair in 2012. 

Kevin Tumlinson20:14

So we all started around the same time.

Orna Ross20:18

Yeah, if I remember correctly, you were 2013? Was that right? Or did you start in 2012? 

Kevin Tumlinson20:23

2013 was kind of when we officially, like everything was sort of really ramping up. 2012 we actually, the roots of the company were there in 2012. So, we were around, we just weren’t what we are today. 

Orna Ross20:39

Sure. Well it was in 2013 that ALLi actually awarded Draft2Digital with our Service of the Year Award, which is not something we’ve done in recent years. Yeah, I met with Chris and Dan and … not yourself, I don’t think, that year.

Kevin Tumlinson20:54

I wasn’t there yet. I didn’t come along until 2016. 

Orna Ross20:58

Ah, that explains it.

Kevin Tumlinson21:00

So that was all pre-K.

Orna Ross21:05

D2D PK. 

Kevin Tumlinson21:10

Exactly, yeah. So wow, you guys have really been … I mean, that is essentially, that era is kind of the—not quite the birth of this industry, but not far from it. Only about four years off from when all this craziness began. So you guys have been a part of it since almost the beginning. 

Orna Ross21:29

Yeah, I think when things started to get serious, you know, when it changed from being just putting a book up on Kindle into being something else, whereby more people and more good services came along, where people realized, well, actually, if I put all my eggs in one publishing basket, I’m not really any more indie than I was if I was tied to a trade publisher. But actually being independent means something a bit more than that. So and yeah, I think that 2012, 2013 was when people began to see this is much bigger than one company, and it’s much bigger than, you know, just authors who want to self-express. This is actually going to change everything. And it has.

Kevin Tumlinson22:20

So the watchdog part of the business—what are some of the ways that you are advocating for or helping authors in the industry?

Orna Ross22:30

Well, we’ve, you know, actually got a ratings list of the best and worst in services on our self-publishing advice center, which is [inaudible]. And John Doppler heads up our watchdog, you know John. And John has been, you know, tireless in his dealings with both the best and the worst. He has produced a book for us, which is How to Choose the Best Self-Publishing Service for You. And that includes everybody from the smallest sort of freelance editor all the way up to the largest big companies. And we speak to people, when we represent our authors or members, if they’re having trouble with someone who’s clearly not being fair, we will actually take up the calls on their behalf. We have a contracts desk, where we have comp agreements that you can look at to compare the offering that you been given and compare to what it should be, or ought to be. We now have our own dedicated literary agent also, who will review agreements and say, you know, what’s missing. Because very often with a publishing contract or a self-publishing agreement, what’s there might look okay, but there might be some very important or author protection clauses that are not there. So, and all of that kind of semi-legal—it’s not legal advice, we’re not lawyers—or guidance is all just part of your membership, it’s free of charge. So obviously, that can be very useful if you’re at that stage of actually negotiating a contract or an agreement. And we have called out certain players in the marketplace for disreputable practices, we’ve supported offers to open class actions against different players. So that’s a different level, we’re involved with that.

Kevin Tumlinson24:33

That’s good, because there are a lot of predatory services out there, as you pointed out earlier. I found some when I first started, you know. Like, the agents who charged the reading fees and things like that. You guys are helping to alert people of that. 

Orna Ross24:51

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it would be really helpful if people like Google would help us, and not—you know, if you actually Google “how to publish a book” or “how to self-publish a book,” you are going to get, first of all, a whole load of problematic players, because they’ve got big deep pockets. And they’ve been there. So it’s very, very easy to get caught. And I think, once you know, you say, well, how did the author not realize? But when you don’t know, you don’t know what you don’t know. And so it’s important to … it can be frustrating work sometimes, because these guys really do know how to take advantage of people. And they particularly go after older people who want to write their life story, or … And also, they trade in dreams, you know? They ply your [inaudible] as Hollywood deals and major publishing deals and so on. And yeah, that end of the business is not a nice end of the business. And with self-publishing now being so popular, you’ve got a lot of players coming in. Another problem: they’re not actually malicious, bad actors, but people who are not competent at what they do. So they think, oh, I’ve a great idea. Authors would love this. And they set up something, and they don’t actually know what the author needs at all. And they think they’re providing a good service, and they’re not. Or, you know, English teachers who think they can edit, or … from software creators who are, you know, providing services that don’t really have legs. 

Kevin Tumlinson26:32

And do you guys do some sort of like certification or give somebody like a seal of approval or something? 

Orna Ross24:51

Well, we … our partner membership is our seal of approval. So, services apply to join as partner members, and they go through the vetting process. And it’s a discussion. You know, if we do have somebody who is bad and isn’t sorry about it, if there are bad actors with sort of bad intent, well, they’re not going to be wanting to join ALLi anyway. But if it’s somebody who has kind of products or services that are less than brilliant or what they want, then we can help them, guide them and help them to do that. So yeah, we like to think that our partner members badge Is that kind of seal of approval. 

Kevin Tumlinson27:20

Yeah, that’s good. I like that. Your membership is the approval. I like that. Well, we’ve had some comments and from some familiar names, too. I’m gonna go ahead and pop a couple of these up. This gentleman with all the skulls is our good friend, Mark Leslie Lefevbre. “Like Kevin, I delayed getting a membership to ALLi—but I learned rather quickly, it’s definitely worth a worthwhile investment. Amazingly helpful resources.” I could not agree more with that statement. 

Orna Ross27:52

That could not have come from a nicer man. Thank you Mark.

Kevin Tumlinson27:57

Yeah, Mark is an easy sell, though. We got quite a few comments, looking for some questions here. Uh, oh. Charles says he wishes he could be in two places at once. So we’ll have to—Charles, the good news is, there will be a transcript and replay of the video, which you can find if you go to selfpublishinginsiders.com, so go check that out. Um, so I did see at least one question mark in this group. I’m gonna find it. Here we are. Oh, it’s from Mark. So question. “Orna, you got into the business because you’re a writer, but ALLi must take a lot of your time. How do you balance your ALLi work with your personal writing projects to ensure you keep writing?”

Orna Ross28:44

Yeah, I write every morning. So I’m like somebody, you know, who has a full-time job. ALLi is the day job, and I do my writing outside of that. And actually, I had a short period of time where I didn’t do that. I left everything, I sort of was going to be a full-time writer. And it didn’t last long, because I never wrote less in my life. I just didn’t get anything done. I procrastinated hugely.

Kevin Tumlinson29:10

Isn’t that the way, though? That’s just always the way. Everybody wants to go “full time,” quote unquote. But once you do it, you lose your mind. You can’t, for some reason you can’t keep writing.

Orna Ross29:21

I think there’s a certain kind of person who can, but I am not that person, which I quickly learned. So actually, ALLi came along then, and it was the perfect combination. Because yeah, it just fits in really nicely. 

Kevin Tumlinson29:36

Yeah. Here’s a good question from Kathy on YouTube. “How does your revision process differ between your fiction and your poetry?”

Orna Ross29:45

Yeah, poetry I think of as like, it’s almost like, moving words around in space. And I always think, revising a poem is like doing a jigsaw. It’s like, you’ve kind of thrown all the words out onto the table, and then you’ve kind of got to fix them in, so it fits. And when a poem is finished, it’s locked. And you cannot move a single word without it falling apart. Fiction is a much longer term thing. For fiction, I do a few passes, and then it’s done. You know, I have to actually prize it out of my sticky little hands, because otherwise I would just keep going and going as if it was a poem, and you’re never going to fix it up. It doesn’t add to the story at all, for me to keep doing battle with the thing. So for fiction, I do a pass for plot, I do a pass for, sort of, general language. You know, just generally, making sure that the tone and consistency of everything happens on the page. And then it goes to an editor who does the first pass, and I get it back, and then I do a final pass, and then it gets proofread.

Kevin Tumlinson31:06

Do you find that that’s … Is that a change, shifting gears between poetry and fiction? Is that a … I don’t write poetry. I’m really not a poetic soul, I guess. I can kind of appreciate it. But I mean, is it a mental shift to go between the two? Or is it pretty easy for you? 

Orna Ross31:27

I think there is a lot of kind of precious thinking that goes on around writing poetry, and writing fiction, and writing generally. There are a lot of things, like the writing and marketing we were talking about earlier, there are a lot of things that people say that are not necessarily true. But when you say them, they become your reality. So if you think you can’t write poetry unless you’re sitting on the side of a cliff gazing into the beautiful sunset with your beloved beside you, then that’s what you’ll get. You won’t be able to write poetry unless your beloved is sitting beside you, blah blah blah. But if you tell yourself you can write a poem every day and put it up on Instagram, no matter how good or not good it is, I’m just gonna get it out there, then something different happens to your poetry. And actually, the poetry improves, even though it sounds very mundane and very anti-poetic. So um, yeah, I do think you have to get yourself into the mind stage, creative condition in which poetry can happen. And that’s the challenge. And for that I need to meditate, walk, you know, get away from the desk. I definitely need that to happen. It’s one of the reasons I like to write poetry, is that it makes me do those things.

Kevin Tumlinson32:45

You’re implying something that makes people uncomfortable, Orna. It’s that practice makes perfect. People don’t like to hear that. They want to be, they want certain arts to be pure.

Orna Ross32:59

Yeah, it’s true. They’re really wedded to this idea of the spontaneous overflow, that just kind of happens. Yeah. And genius, overflowing. I don’t really believe in that. I think it happens occasionally. But not until you’ve done a ton of work first.

Kevin Tumlinson33:16

Right, right. So I have another good question here, coming in from YouTube. Geoffrey Wells says, “How can ALLi help authors (me) with my Amazon questions?”

Orna Ross33:29

Well, Geoffrey, it very much depends on what your Amazon question is. Is your Amazon question about, how do I upload my book? Or is your Amazon question, you know, my earnings have crashed, I don’t know why my ads aren’t working anymore? You know, it depends. So we would have different ways of helping you depending on what that question is. We have an open channel with Amazon, we encourage people always to use their own support desk first of all, but we do have, we can bring issues directly to Amazon. But they have been very helpful to our members in the past. So perhaps we could help in that way. Without knowing more about the exact nature of your issue, it’s hard for me to say.

Kevin Tumlinson34:13

Yeah, that is actually a pretty remarkable thing all on its own, that people can … because Amazon and some of these other platforms can be so interesting and inscrutable, sometimes, when it comes to finding help for issues. A lot of them try to put you off on fairly useless forums, where someone says, “I have problem X” and 2000 other people say, “I also have problem X.” So it is pretty remarkable that you guys offer a pathway for people to actually get help. That’s pretty cool. 

Orna Ross34:44

Yeah. I mean, I’m not saying that we can solve every single Amazon issue that people have. We certainly can’t. 

Kevin Tumlinson34:51

If you solve one, you solve more than Amazon solves. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Orna Ross34:57

I think it’s very very hard to bea huge service providing the sort of service that’s being provided there under the conditions that they are being provided and keep people happy. It’s not possible because it’s, it’s just not, it’s not person-shaped. And so, but I do think that there are ways in which some problems can be solved. And sometimes authors don’t know those solutions. And if we can help, we certainly will. 

Kevin Tumlinson35:28

Yeah. Yeah. We got another question from Mark Leslie Lefevbre. He says, “Can you talk about how being a member of ALLi saves authors fees or gets authors discounts on specific publishing services?” This is an important thing that I didn’t ask you about earlier. So thank you Mark.

Orna Ross35:45

Yeah, thank you Mark.  Absolutely lovely as ever. Yeah, so I should have said, of course, that people often say to me, “I can’t afford to join ALLi.” And actually you will save money within the first week or two of joining, because all of our—well, most, if not all, of our members provide discounts on all their services. And that includes, again, from smaller players like individual freelance operators, to Ingram Spark setup and revision fees, which can, you know, really add huge savings for foreign authors. So you’ve got the trust thing, you know you’re getting a good service, but you’re also getting a very good deal. We also have an affiliate program. Every member is automatically an affiliate, if they want to be. They get an affiliate key, and therefore, they bring in an author friend or two, 30% of the first year’s fee is returned to the author. And some of our members actually make a nice sum every month, bringing in —particularly those who have good websites themselves, and an author community themselves, and they can actually earn quite a bit of an income by getting people to join up. So yeah, there are lots of ways in which it doesn’t actually cost money to join, if you use your membership, And that’s aside from the actual services that are there.

Kevin Tumlinson37:21

Here’s a here’s a comment, actually, that does involve writing and money. This is from Victoria. “I’ve learned so much information through ALLi. It’s amazing, and my membership was the first thing I spent my writing money on when I had extra!” So that’s quite a testimonial right there.

Orna Ross37:39

That’s lovely.

Kevin Tumlinson37:40

Authors don’t typically have money, much less extra. 

Orna Ross37:45

You were doing good things, Victoria. Well done on having extra and on reinvesting it in making more. Good. 

Kevin Tumlinson37:53

Yeah. You’re investing in your future. And there’s so many great resources. And it’s really interesting, it’s sort of, there’s a line, Orna, and I don’t know why …. It’s either, you’ve heard of ALLi and you’re a member and you love it and you always have. Or you’ve never heard of ALLi at all. So we’re trying to bridge that gap. I don’t know why that is, but people who hear of it go right for it.

Orna Ross38:22

Yeah, I think so. If you’re a joining person, it just does make sense to join. But you’re right. It’s very like books, you know. People say so-and-so is a famous author, and then they list off these authors I’ve ever heard of. And I’m thinking “Oh, are they famous? They’re not famous to me.” And you know, when we do things like we’re doing here, I know you do podcasts, and you do blogs, and you’re putting stuff out there and all the rest of it. You can think that people know about you and must come across you somewhere along the line. But no, it’s not inevitable at all. Yeah, keep on spreading the word please. 


Kevin Tumlinson39:00

Oh, absolutely. You know, we do our best to try to make sure people have heard of you guys and are going to you. Same with D2D though. I feel like I market everyone else as much as I market D2D. It’s really a very exhausting marketing job, frankly.

Orna Ross39:16

Marketing the world.

Kevin Tumlinson39:18

Marketing all the good publishing companies that are out there. 

Orna Ross39:26

Yeah. I think we all do that for each other, though. Because we know how important it is that authors are put in touch with the right people.

Kevin Tumlinson39:31

Yeah. Well, I think enough of us have been on the receiving end of the not-so-great services, that when we do know someone out there is actually looking out for us, it’s very important that we spread the word, you know? So that’s just the industry. We all do that for each other. Do you … So, because you’re focused entirely on independent publishing, do you ever have any scrapes or anything when it comes to the traditional world? Because you guys are going to, like, London Book Fair. And you’re going to all these events and things where you would encounter the traditional publishers. I don’t want to trash talk anybody. I’m just wondering if you ever have any sort of static when it comes to those guys.

Orna Ross40:18

I have been in situations where I’ve been disappointed, let me put it that way, at responses. So, you know, here in the UK particularly, where sometimes there have been, say, government inquiries into creative industry issues or publishing issues, and we are invited to make a submission, and then find for whatever reason, our submission isn’t taken on board. Yeah, I have had those kind of disappointing things. Or walking into a room and knowing that our organization thinks completely differently to every other publishing organization in the room, which see, you know, Amazon and self-publishing as a problem, as a bad thing, whereas obviously, we’re taking the opposite approach. And so, for example, author income, there was a lot of activity in Australia and the UK in the past couple of years. And actually in the US as well, the Authors’ Guild did a survey into authoring income, and it was, there’s so many inaccuracies that were reported, and a complete ignoring of self-publishing as the one area where author income is very much on the line. And it wasn’t, just was not happening. And, you know, we did a lot of work trying to get that to the forefront and say, you know, if you give a writer a grant, you’re feeding them for a week and a half. If you give somebody publishing skills, you’re actually feeding them for life. And in this current world, we’ve got to start taking on board how readers are buying books, how authors are producing books, and so on. And just deafening silence. You know, so sometimes that can be disappointing. But I’m sure it will change. It just needs more time. But it’s gone beyond its time, you know, it really shouldn’t be, it should really be happening now.

Kevin Tumlinson42:24

I think, frankly, with everything that’s been happening in 2020, I think we’re starting to see that shift. You know, I think we’re starting to see, people are embracing ebooks more, which is sort of the, that’s almost the calling card of the indie publisher, is the ebook. But it is important, this reporting or this, you know, lack of reporting sometimes, it’s important that we correct that and fix that. Because that information is used for all kinds of, you know, passing rules. And, you know, organizations use that to determine whether you can be a member. There’s all kinds of ways in which that information gets used. So making sure it’s accurate is very important. And I’m glad someone’s looking out for us. 

Orna Ross43:06

Yeah, well, next year, in 2021, we actually want to work to get our own research together, and get a really big sort of press push behind that in a number of different countries. But one of the things we found is that traditional media, newspapers, don’t necessarily want to hear those kinds of things. Because they too are suffering from similar things to traditional publishing. They’re very, you know, they have an ear for that kind of story. They don’t necessarily want the kind of story we want to tell, or the one they think we’re going to tell.

Kevin Tumlinson43:45

Yes, there’s a tangent we can go off on for quite a while. It’s the way mainstream media handles self-publishing as a topic. Which is unfortunate, because I think there are so many rich stories that the mainstream media would really get a lot of play out of, if they would just turn their focus just a little, just a little, and see some of what’s going on out here.So your frustration is shared. I also get disappointed with the way some of these things get handled and covered in the news and elsewhere. So you guys are about to start doing some of your own research. Are you partnering with anyone now that supplies you with research and data that you can use for this stuff? 

Orna Ross44:35

No, we’ve only, up to now, done pretty informal stuff, just our own in house. None of us is an experienced researcher. But next year, we’re actually going to get some formal research done, and network with a company who’s done just quantitative, as they call it, that it is quantitative, not just the qualities that a person experienced, which is what we’ve done up to now. I just realized I’ve gotten really dark, as I’ve been talking to you here.

Kevin Tumlinson45:03

Well, I’ve just assumed that, you know, this is you being dramatic. It’s like, slowly fading out. We’re here at the end of the broadcast too, and you turned the light on and revealed. 

Orna Ross45:14

Sorry.

Kevin Tumlinson45:18

No, that’s okay. It’s okay. We are here at the end. So I’m gonna go ahead and I want to make sure people know where to find you guys online. Now, you take a look, did I get the URL correct? 

Orna Ross45:31

You did. And it’s a very, very long one. 

Kevin Tumlinson45:38

As a member of ally, I have to help you now to find some ways to get this shorter so we can share this. work. Yeah. So for those who are listening to the broadcast, rather than watching, it is allianceindependentauthors.org, you’ll be able to find links to it in the show notes in the episode. So wherever you found us, go look there, it will be right there. Orna, anything else you want throw in right as we’re wrapping up here? 

Orna Ross46:08

No, thank you, Kevin, everything I think has been very nicely covered. Thank you very much. 

Kevin Tumlinson46:16

No, thank you. And thank you for the dramatic reveal at the end, by turning on a light. I appreciate it. Everyone else, thank you. First of all, I want to thank you so much for being a part of the show. For everyone watching and listening, we really appreciate you being here. Make sure you subscribe to us on YouTube. If you go to youtube.com/draft2digital, you can find our channel. Subscribe there and you’ll be alerted, if you click the little bell icon. I’m legally obligated to tell you that as a YouTuber, click the little bell for notifications. You can also find us on facebook at facebook.com/draft2digital. And if you want a countdown to the next live broadcast, go bookmark D2Dlive.com. You can also find links, you’ll find links to whatever is coming up on that site. You can also find links to sort of the archive of back episodes. But the real archive, the real jewel, is if you go to selfpublishinginsiders.com, you’ll find all the episodes, all the people we’ve interviewed, and there’s some amazing information there from wonderful, brilliant, amazing and beautiful and dramatically revealed guests like Orna Ross. Thank you so much Orna again for being a part of the show. 

Orna Ross47:27

I’m off to check it out. Thank you, Kevin. Take care.

Kevin Tumlinson47:30

Okay, everybody, we’ll see you all in the next Self-Publishing Insiders with Draft2Digital.