The Author Friendly Blog


JoEllen Taylor is Director of Marketing & Business Development for FirstEditing, a family of editors worldwide who help authors bring out the best in their writing. Their vetted professionals have a fantastic array of skills to offer in every genre, including developmental and structural editing, academic reviews and publications, ebook formatting, proofreading, and publishing insights and experience.

What kind of editing does your book need? JoEllen takes us through all the different kinds of editing: copy editing, line editing, and content editing. We talk about character and story editing, structural editing, narrative arc, editing tools, common editing problems and misconceptions about what editors do.

Since 1994, FirstEditing has edited more than 200,000 documents for authors worldwide. Some of these authors will self-publish, says Taylor, but we also talk about authors who are preparing manuscripts for agents so they can get a traditional book deal.

FirstEditing is a virtual company with great pricing and their staff and editors live and work around the globe.

Here are the links to FirstEditing sites we mention.

Kristina Stanley is the bestselling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series and the CEO of Fictionary. Fictionary is a company that helps writers tell better stories with a tool that analyzes your manuscript. In a way that will astound you, data and visual aids allow you to evaluate your book on a scene-by-scene basis, displaying your structure, arc, characters, plot, setting, and other elements of your story.

Fictionary’s software appears magical and in this episode, you’ll learn how Stanley (who is also an editor) figured out how to transform her story analysis spreadsheets to create Fictionary with the help of her co-founders. It’s a family business with her husband, who watched her wrestle with the spreadsheets while they were on a long sailing journey, and her brother, who works in software and is also an author.

Stanley’s novels have been nominated for prestigious crime writing awards in Canada and England, and her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies. She is also the author of The Author’s Guide to Selling Books to Non-Bookstores.

Fictionary is based in Victoria, B.C., and has made quite an impact in the industry in this first year since formal launch with partnerships with Reedsy, ProWritingAid, and NaNoWriMo.

Here are the links to the Fictionary and Kristen Stanley sites we mention.

Laurie McLean wears many hats. She is the Director of the San Francisco Writers Conference, a literary agent, Founder of Fuse Literary, and a former Silicon Valley marketing and PR professional. I asked her to talk about the February 2019 conference and the return on investment for the money and the time for this or any conference.

You’ll learn what makes the San Francisco conference different and how to get the most of it. How to organize your time between the sessions, exhibitors, and the agents, getting to know some of the 500 other participants, not to mention the opportunities for deeper learning in the pre- and post-conference workshops.

There are over 100 presenters in the various tracks: Fiction, Non-Fiction, YA and Children’s, Self-Publishing and Technology (my track), Business and Marketing, and an Etc. track that includes sessions on audiobooks and book to screen to name just a couple.

I hope you enjoy this discussion and that it encourages you to attend a conference here or wherever you are. Listen and find out why.


Here are the links to the SF Writers Conference and other sites we mentioned.

Don’t miss the next episode

Sign up for the Self-Pub Boot Camp mailing list to learn about products, tools, and services for authors and how to use them. You’ll also get handy cheatsheets and checklists. I’ll also alert you when the next episode of the Author Friendly Podcast is posted.

Angela Bole is CEO of the Independent Book Publishers Association, a non-profit membership organization for self-publishers and independent publishers that provides resources, education, advocacy, connections, and tools for success.

In this episode, we discuss the role and responsibilities of the publisher no matter whether it’s you as an author who is self-publishing, or if you’re publishing via a hybrid publisher or even a traditional press, and why publishing standards matter.

You’ll learn about the hybrid publishing options that have sprung up in the past years. There has been a lot of confusion around what they do and the IBPA has clarified these roles for us. Specifically, you’ll learn about author-subsidized hybrid publishing, what a hybrid publisher does for you, how much they might expect you to invest, how much the publisher invests, and how much royalty you should negotiate.

In fact, the IBPA offers a nine-point hybrid publishing criteria you can download from their site for free. This document will help you make sure that a hybrid press is what they say they are and not just one of those vanity mills we want to avoid at all costs.

Other resources we discuss include the IBPA industry standards checklist, so if you’re doing it all yourself you can make sure that your books look just like those published by Harper Collins or Simon & Schuster.

Bole also talks about the cooperative marketing opportunities available to IBPA members, which includes physical catalog mailings to bookstores and libraries. They mail catalogs to 3500 independent bookstores, including the bookstores classified as top buyers.

There is so much to IBPA we don’t even get to cover it all in this podcast but you’ll get an idea of why it’s the professional organization I recommend most often to self-publishers, independent presses, and the people who support us. You’ll find out why in this episode.

Show notes

Here are the links to IBPA sites we mentioned and other resources.

Kevin Tumlinson is Marketing Director at Draft2Digital and a prolific and best-selling author of thrillers. Draft2Digital was founded in 2012 to provide an easy way to format and distribute your ebook.

One of D2D’s recent partnerships is with Bibliotheca, which extends their reach to libraries, a market overlooked by many self-publishers. Find out why it’s a great way to increase discoverability, about the mechanics of how ebook licenses get delivered and purchased by libraries, how the cost per checkout model (CPC) model allows as many patrons who want the book to check it out at the same time, and about the potential to make a lot more money by distributing to libraries.

We discuss the importance of audiobooks, too which Tumlinson says is “the new frontier” of book publishing because the market isn’t yet saturated. Draft2Digital has a partnership with Findaway Voices to help you get that process started.

Author pages also come up in our conversation, and not just your Amazon Central Author page but your free author page from Draft2Digital’s sister site Books2Read. Even if you haven’t published using Draft2Digital, you can use Books2Read author page, book page, and universal book link. A universal book link creates a single trackable link that shows readers where it’s sold. See an example: The Girl in the Mayan Tomb by Kevin Tumlinson.

Other features that I think you’ll find interesting are the automated front and end matter, including the Contents and the Also By page, and their book formatting tool that Tumlinson says is their “own version of Vellum” but for both Mac and Windows, with templates that output both ebook and print book formats.

The author of more than 30 books, Tumlinson talks from both sides of the author-aggregator equation, and I know you’ll benefit from his insights.

Christine “Chrissy” Munroe is Director of Kobo Writing Life, a digital self-publishing platform from Rakuten Kobo who partnered with Walmart to provide Walmart eBooks and a co-branded app. (See my blog post Walmart eBooks takes on Amazon Kindle: What does it mean for authors?)

Before joining Rakuten Kobo, Munroe was a foreign book scout and literary agent in New York.

So why should an author go direct with Kobo (and the other retailers) rather than use an aggregator to distribute their ebooks? The answers are personal, says Munroe, and you’ll find out that with Kobo you don’t just get direct to Kobo; you get personal feedback from their in-house marketing staff, you get your ebook in independent bookstores via the American Booksellers Association, an opportunity to distribute to libraries with Overdrive (also owned by Rakuten) with a more favorable royalty split then going through an aggregator, and many more perks we’ll explore in the podcast.

After hearing this conversation, you may end up deciding to upload your book directly to the big five (Amazon, Kobo, Apple, B&N, and Google Play) rather than reaching these sales channels with an aggregator.

If you own your book (ISBNs) you can easily make the switch and experiment. There are definitely pros and cons, which you already realize if you’ve listened to the podcast episodes with the aggregators (Smashwords, StreetLib, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, Scribl).

We also discuss marketing opportunities with libraries, how merchandising among Kobo, libraries, and aggregators work, the Walmart eBookstore experience for customers, and the Kobo Plus subscription program for the Netherlands and Belgium with and how English-language authors can reach this market (and why you’d want to).

Also find out about their partnerships with Reedsy, Damonza, NetGalley, and others that help authors with editing, design, formatting, and marketing.

PublishDrive is an ebook aggregator that serves self-publishers and small presses. The company is based in New York City and Budapest, Hungary. Kinga Jentetics is co-founder and CEO of the company, which competes favorably with other aggregators in distribution, royalties, reporting, analytics, and an easy-to-use author-publisher interface.

PublishDrive made a recent deal with Chinese e-commerce giant Dangdang to sell English-language ebooks, which gives your ebook access to a readership with enormous growth. We discuss the Chinese market and other emerging markets for English-language ebooks, which I think you’ll find enlightening and may cause you to aim to toward growing your platform in those directions.

The company makes use of new tech like artificial intelligence (AI) to inspect your book for formatting errors and copyright infringements and this also includes review by one of their staff for a quality end product.

We also talk about other partnerships with online retailers, marketing and merchandising tools, and how featured books are chosen.

Jentetics got the idea for the company as she struggled to publish her master’s thesis on how music influences the perception of a country. She gathered together a tech team and has grown the platform with the help of a Google Developers launchpad grant

Best Page Forward is a book description copywriting service for authors founded by Bryan Cohen in June 2015. Since then they’ve provided over 1200 book descriptions for authors like you.

He’s published over 40 books, which have been downloaded over half a million times. His books include How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis and five novels in The Viral Superhero Series.

Book descriptions are one of those things most authors find difficult to do… or difficult to do well. It’s not our fault! We’re good at writing, and copywriting is a completely different skillset. It’s sales and marketing! Authors who hire it out or know how to write strong sales copy get more book reviews, write better ads, find more subscribers, recruit additional fans, and sell more books.

Bryan can teach you how to write book descriptions as well as Facebook and Amazon ads that sell your book, or you can just hire the BPF team to do it for you.

In this episode, you’ll find out how it’s done, what’s a hook, how to state the conflict, the magic of keywords and other metadata, secrets for getting your book in more Amazon categories, the selling paragraph, and many other book discovery and marketing techniques.

Listen here or subscribe on iTunesStitcherSoundCloudYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Show Notes

Best Page Forward website

Free cheat sheet on writing better blurbs

Selling for Authors Facebook Group

Bryan Cohen’s Author Podcaster Coach page

The Sell More Books Show podcast with Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral

Bryan Cohen’s Amazon Author Page

Pressbooks is a formatting and design tool for your books with a set of themes you can choose from to create a book interior very quickly and easily.

It’s based on WordPress that creates all the formats you ever need – PDF for print, EPUB, MOBI, and other more geeky formats –  from a single source so you’re ready to publish using Amazon, IngramSpark, Smashwords, or any other publishing or distribution tool.

Liz and I talk about Word styles, themes, imports, customization, publishing to your website, creating lead magnets, creating books from blogs, and adding interactive elements like audio and video, which I didn’t know about until our conversation and I fully intend to use.

So far I’ve used Pressbooks to collaborate, publish, and update books. I recommend it all the time and I think you’ll probably consider using it after hearing this conversation.

By the way, especially listen for a special offer for 25% off Pressbooks during our conversation. Also, please check the website for links and show notes.

Listen here or subscribe on iTunesStitcherSoundCloudYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Show notes

Pressbooks website

Pressbooks YouTube Channel

Consumer’s Guide for Self-Publishers

Greg Ioannou was using the book crowdfunding platform PubSlush to help fund books at Iguana Books, his hybrid publishing company until it closed in 2015. He reimagined the platform as PubLaunch with both crowdfunding and a marketplace to not only serve Iguana Books but the larger author-publisher community.

Listen and learn about hybrid publishing, how to recruit a quality publishing team, and what it takes to crowdfund a book. Other PubLaunch features, including the supplier marketplace, will be launched later in 2018. You’ll hear about that, too, and some surprising facts they discovered when putting editors through a qualification test.

Meantime, check out their learning center, especially if you are are considering crowdfunding your book. Not considering crowdfunding? Maybe you should. Listen here or subscribe on iTunesStitcherSoundCloudYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Show notes


The PubLaunch Blog

PubLaunch on LinkedIn

PubLaunch on Facebook

PubLaunch on Twitter

Become a supplier

Start crowdfunding

Crowdfunding 101

Iguana Books hybrid publishing company

Colborne Communications professional editing and publishing services company