– From Large Publisher to Self-Publisher: The Felicity Pulman Story

25/01/2012 at 9:25 am | Posted in Authors, Self Publishing, Writers | 11 Comments
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Award-winning Author Felicity Pulman has written books about crime, fantasy and history.  With a number of her works on the NSW Premier’s Reading List, 2010 and Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge list she has been published by Random House Australia, Pan Macmillan, Scholastic, Blake Education, Wendy Pye NZ, National Library of Australia, Pan Macmillan (UK) and Sauerlander (Germany.) I met Felicity at the recent NSW Writers’ Centre weekend workshop Everything About Publishing. While I was there to spend a few hours educating attendees about Digital Publishing and the opportunities available to them, Felicity was one of a panel of writers telling others about their experiences of Self-Publishing. When I headed up the Production Department at Random House Australia many books crossed my desk at various stages of the editorial and production process. I found myself at times getting drawn into a story and always made a note to read it later. I have always read across a number of genres, even those books classified as being targeted at ‘young adults’. As someone who is adult, and not at all young anymore I have still found some titles and series written for this genre very enjoyable. Felicity’s The Janna Mysteries series was one of them and The Rangers Apprentice Series by John Flanagan will always remain another firm favourite. It was a delight to meet Felicity and hear that in order to finish the Janna Mysteries series she decided to self publish. While many authors may choose to do this as a first step into publishing, it is very interesting to hear of a successful author who has worked with a major publishing house to then experiment in this field. I wanted to share her experience with readers of this blog and Felicity has been kind enough to answer some questions.

Digireado: Hi Felicity, thanks for agreeing to share with us your experiences of working with a major publisher and then self publishing. Firstly, can you tell us how you were published by Random House Australia?

Felicity Pulman: My manuscript was chosen from the slush pile by the wonderful Linsay Knight, then Head of Children’s Books at Random House Australia, who so loved the idea of five teenagers travelling through time to the court of King Arthur she asked me to write another book in what eventually became the Shalott trilogy. I’d already had four novels published by then (Ghost Boy, Surfing the Future, Wally the Water Dragon and Three’s a Crowd) and I went on to write the first four Janna Mysteries with Random House Australia.

Digireado: Have you always had a burning desire to be an author?

FPI’ve always enjoyed stories and, being a voracious reader growing up in a small bush town in Zimbabwe, I used to write my own stories when I ran out of books to read. Writing stories was just something I did. I didn’t think of it as a serious career path until, aged 40, I sat the HSC and went on to do a degree in Communications followed by an MA in Children’s Literature.  (An indication that ‘life begins at 40’ – or else I’m just a very slow learner!)  Having woken up to the fact that I should start taking my writing seriously, and being a great lover of crime fiction, I wrote a few crime novels for adults, without success. (The manuscripts are still sitting in my bottom drawer!) My daughter, then a teenager, was reading several Dolly fiction novels a month so I decided to give that a go, with some success. And I realised I enjoyed writing for children and teenagers and have been doing it ever since, although I’ve also had success with my short stories for adults.

Digireado: You’ve worked with a number of publishers so can you explain why you recently self-published the last two books in The Janna Mysteries?

FP: When I embarked on writing The Janna Mysteries, I felt I’d made a pact with readers to finish the series.  Because of disappointing sales (for various reasons) Random House Australia decided not to publish the last two novels – but I still needed to find out how Janna’s quest ended.  Did Janna find her father?  Did she avenge her mother’s death and bring a murderer to justice?  And, when it came to choosing between Godric and Hugh, did she make the right choice?  I thought I knew but, as in most of the books I write, my ideas can change and so can outcomes. After living with Janna for so many years while writing her story, I needed to know if she was going to be all right.  While I was writing the last two books I was also being bombarded by readers desperate to find out when the next book was coming out. For all our sakes, I knew I had to finish the series and, somehow, get those books out to readers.

I believe it’s absolutely vital to have your work professionally edited before publication if you’re going it alone.  Felicity Pulman

Continue Reading – From Large Publisher to Self-Publisher: The Felicity Pulman Story…

– Withholding Tax USA: Author Brian Lawrenson shares his guide

24/01/2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in Authors, Self Publishing, Writers | 8 Comments
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If you are an author who is interested in self-publishing Amazon seems like a logical avenue to explore. Let’s face it, it’s got the ‘name’ and perhaps it seems like a measure of success to have your content available for all the world to read. Because Australia is behind the US in ebook sales they have many ‘names’ that an author will consider when self-publishing including Lulu or Smashwords. But there is one issue that I don’t hear discussed a lot when considering dealing with US companies, and it’s a fairly BIG issue. A ‘30% of your sales income‘ kind of issue. For authors outside the US you need to understand how to overcome the hurdle of withholding tax. While in theory you’d think this is simple in practice  it can be quite tricky and involved. If you don’t do it exactly right then you’re back to square one.


Today Brian Lawrenson shares with us his experiences of navigating the problems of Withholding Tax for Non-US Authors. Brian has put together this guide to help others. 

Question: Congratulations, Brian. You are an Australian author who has been making good money out of ePublishing but have found frustrations in dealing with overseas taxes. What have you learned about the process?

Brian Lawrenson:  If you are, or are thinking of, earning money in the USA and you are a non-resident, you will find that you encounter some frustrations as your business grows. I would have loved to have had a simple guide that took me thought the steps that ending up with me paying minimum USA tax. That’s why I put this guide together.

Now, upfront, I should tell you that I’m not an international tax expert and once your earnings rise to substantial levels, it would be prudent for you to consult the appropriate tax professionals.

I have four significant cash flows in the USA and a number of casual ones. For a while, I struggled to understand why 30% of my earnings were being withheld. Then in one month when I had almost $2,000 withheld, I decided to use Google to find out exactly what I needed to do to change this situation. This is about what I’ve learned from the process. I hope that you’ll find it helpful, too.

Continue Reading – Withholding Tax USA: Author Brian Lawrenson shares his guide…

– How Australian writer Lee Atkinson created her Australian Road Trips App

16/01/2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in Applications, Authors, Self Publishing, Writers | 2 Comments
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I work with a number of authors to inform them about their digital publishing options and most of them are interested in understanding more about ebooks. Some authors are keen to understand how they can produce their own app (or application)  but can be put off by what they see as the complexities in delving into this sort of digital content.

Today we’re talking to travel writer and author Lee Atkinson about her new travel app Australian Road Trips and how and why she has chosen this digital content strategy.

Digireado: Hi Lee, thanks for talking to me today about your experiences. Is producing this app your first experience of digitising content?

Lee Atkinson:  This is the first app I have done, but I’ve been working with digital content since 2001, when I helped relaunch the NRMA’s travel and motoring website.  I had been editor of the print magazine, The Open Road, before that, but even then I spent a lot of time re-editing magazine articles and content to fit the website format.

Since becoming freelance in 2002 I have written for a number of commercial websites such as ninemsn and provided content for hotel and car company websites who needed some lifestyle to content to help broaden their brand.

I have also developed a number of my own websites to help market my content, such as a syndication website aimed at editors which also has an online image library attached with almost 7000 travel images.  In December I launched a new website called OzyRoadTripper which I will use to market and promote the app.

Continue Reading – How Australian writer Lee Atkinson created her Australian Road Trips App…

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