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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2018

Need Self-Publishing Help? Check out the ALLi Self-Publishing Advice Center

Where would we be without some good advice? Whether you are an established author seeking the freedom provided by self-publishing, or a burgeoning young writer focused on crafting the perfect debut novel, there is an understandable pressure to seek out the best resources and tools to aid your professional and creative development. Whether you are developing writing, editorial, or design skills, or you are concerned with the production and promotion of a completed work – it helps to have someone with experience in your corner. Not just that – it helps to have someone who understands the legalese of the self-publishing landscape. As aspiring and current independent authors know well, success sometimes comes down to rights, contracts, time, and money; and, it sometimes comes down to knowing what you are worth and how to prove it. To that end, rather than comb Google search results for the appropriate factual minutia, the great editors and independent authors at SelfPublishingAdvice.org have brought together a number of useful resources, all in one place, and all for the little guy.

Let's see your credentials

With the swirl of advice on the internet bombarding self-publishers, we'd be crazy not to check our sources. When it comes to bonafide credentials, the good people behind SelfPublishingAdvice.org and The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) exhibit some hard-hitting experience in their fields.

The Self Publishing Advice Center is one of the ways in which ALLi contributes to the community. They also advocate for self-publishing authors within the publishing business, at rights fairs and other events, and promote self-publishing as a viable and creative option for authors. Their mission is excellence and ethics in self-publishing, and they do a lot of work in both arenas.

Orna Ross is the managing editor and director of both the Alliance of Independent Authors and SelfPublishingAdvice.org. More than just a huge job title though, she has experience negotiating exactly the type of claims that an independent publisher might encounter. In 2011, Orna took her publishing rights back from Penguin Publishing. Then, in 2012, Orna launched ALLi, seeking opportunities for publishers like her which were unavailable through traditional publishing routes. She went on to publish several works of fiction, non-fiction, and even poetry; and, of course, she was recognized for all this as one of The 100 most influential people in publishing according to Bookseller Magazine.

Orna Ross' creative team is equally impressive: Debbie Young is the commissioning editor and ALLi UK ambassador. She writes, of course – short stories and author guidebooks; but, more importantly, she is a founding creator of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, and the co-host alongside David Penny of the Ask ALLi Self-Publishing Q&A Podcast. Other members of the team are Michael La Ronn who is an author of over 30 science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as Dan Holloway who is a journalist, editor, and performer with The New Libertines. He is famous for his spoken prose and slam poetry. These are the type of people who know the field and who can teach others from experience. Of course, the team isn't all about publishing and writing: John Doppler and David Penny contribute articles and advice regarding e-publishing and other technologies useful for authors, and Jay Artale writes content designed to help independent authors create a social media presence. They really are the whole package.

Alright, but what's in it for me?

Reliable free resources organized by need are the calling cards of this site. It presents helpful articles and exemplary social media outreach. This site has its hands in everything – blogs, journal articles, podcasts, instructional videos, and guest post submissions from leaders in the fields of digital, traditional, and self-publishing. The site contains the backbone articles we've come to expect – writing advice pieces on the "snowflake method" and discussions of events in the literary world like the sensation that is National Novel Writing Month (an event that has been growing steadily each year since it was imagined and launched in 1999). The site then leads you step-by-step through the process of taking your written word, and helping it reach the masses.

Editing

Editing discussions unique to independent editors are approached with the know-how of those who have gone through the process. Topics such as beta readers, do-it-yourself editing tools, and resources for seeking out a professional editor are all available – and all presented by people who have been there and done that.

Design

SelfPublishingAdvice.org offers articles on how to choose software (on a budget or otherwise) which will help the aspiring self-publisher create a manuscript ready for any digital format, or which can then be sent direct to the printing house. What really shines in the design section are the video essay reviews of each and every popular cover design process, from ready-made templates and pre-made covers to working with bespoke and the true do-it-yourself. All of these design processes are described in detail with visual examples, often taken from the author's own stable of covers.

Production

In terms of production, the advice given is a treasure trove. Articles cover every method of distribution, as well as everything from file formats – their benefits and drawbacks – to the methods which will make the most of your time when publishing with the big-name distributors like Smashwords and Amazon.

Promotion

The promotion section of the website offers step-by-step videos for designing an author website and creating a social media presence on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter. What is really valuable though are the unique angles given for promotion. The site includes videos which describe how to design book promotions, and how to get the most out of those promotions, as well as how to avoid the pitfalls of investing too much or too little in promotion. It offers a host of offline activities which can be beneficial to an independent publisher, and tips for optimizing your relevance on search engines within sites like Amazon or Smashwords.

Rights and contracts (legalese)

This section is essential. It covers topics such as selling the rights to your work in a foreign country, landing that big film deal, and what contracts to sign – and which ones to avoid. Two pieces which stood out in this section were the podcast on legal essentials and the IPR and TMA Alli initiatives. The first is a brilliant starting point for indie authors who don't want to lawyer up, and the last two are initiatives which strive to provide licensing consultations and rights protection services, respectively.

Time and money

Time and money are the bottom line for some of us (and a headache of a distraction for others). This section of SelfPublishingAdvice.org can't be ignored by any of us. It includes advice regarding recent trends like crowdfunding: how to go about it, what monetary goal to set, how to manage expectations, and building your campaign. It also does a superb job of providing advice regarding traditional concerns such as the following: how to earn a living wage; how to pay taxes when selling in multiple countries; and answering the age-old question "art or commerce?"

How can I act on all of this advice?

Contrary to its namesake, SelfPublishingAdvice.org hasn't limited itself to just offering great advice. The website features a showcase of works by members of the Alliance of Independent Authors, and opportunities to write for the Self-Publishing Advice Community Blog. Each of these is a good way for new authors to be seen, and for experienced authors to pass on their wisdom.

Better though are the self-publishing services provided by the website – especially their watchdog reports and vetting service. ALLi has an independent code of standards against which they measure publishers and companies affiliated with the self-publishing industry (illustration houses, printing presses, etc.). Vetting by ALLi can let a self-publisher know if the rates charged by the company are appropriate to the service rendered, and can identify a presence or lack of credible testimonials from previous clients. These watchdog reports help the individual author avoid being taken advantage of, which is basically ALLi's modus operandi: indie authors' helping and protecting other indie authors.

Finally, for those of us looking for a quick overview, ALLi publishes ratings and reviews of self-publishing services and writing and publishing contests. This system clearly labels each contest and company as either reliable or unreliable, and offers reasoning for each qualification. For example, one publishing press has a watchdog advisory posted for a staggering number of complaints regarding transparency, marketing and quality, which is of course a major red flag independent authors would be wise to notice before entrusting their work to such a company. If only for peace of mind, the watchdog ratings offered in the Self-Publishing Services section of the site are invaluable.

The really cool stuff: Indie Author Fringe Conference

Indie Author Fringe is a three-times a year online conference for self-publishing authors. This is the type of event that is likely to present avenues to a self-publishing author which they wouldn't otherwise discover. Each event includes speakers from a wide variety of fields related to self-publishing, and a number of competitions designed to help your book reach your audience.

If that weren't enough, SelfPublishingAdvice.org offers a weekly podcast which is not only a useful resource, but an easy listen, and includes guests with a wide variety of experiences in the field. Each of these is about thirty minutes long, and packed full from beginning to end with helpful hints for anyone in the publishing industry.

Okay… what if I want more?

SelfPublishingAdvice.org is a non-profit organization. All of the resources described above are offered completely free of charge. The Alliance of Independent Authors is also a non-profit organization. They charge a fee to pay their staff and team, but all profits go to benefit the indie author community. They offer a host of pay-to-play resources which are aimed at the aspiring or current indie author, and should be within the budget of most interested parties. These come in the form of membership in the alliance, which offers a host of resources and a supportive community of other self-publishers, and in the form of guidebooks. These guidebooks are detailed electronic manuals which address a variety of issues, and usually come in at about ten dollars for 200+ pages of advice.

The take away

Free has been and will forever be a good price for information, but of course not all wisdom is created equal. It's only natural to want advice from those who understand their field. The advice offered at SelfPublishingAdvice.org is not only pertinent, but it is well-organized and presented in a clear and professional manner. Writers, publishers, and designers who are visiting the site can easily find the articles and resources most pertinent to their immediate needs, and can be confident that the writers who develop articles for the site and design other content such as podcasts and videos are respected in their fields. They can recognize partners of the site such as Amazon Create Space and Apple iBooks, and be reassured that these are reliable companies which they can trust.

There is a quantity of writing and publishing advice on the internet which is ever-growing, but SelfPublishingAdvice.org is a source of high-quality, professionally-sourced, and experience-backed advice targeted directly at specific problems encountered by independent publishers.

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