Publishing a book is not easy, and never has been. But when you’re an Australian author, it’s even harder. We are so far away from the rest of the world, that relying on just our own population to make it economically worthwhile is, well, just daft. Getting our books in the hands of overseas readers has always been a necessity – but also a big problem. Until now.
The IndieMosh self publishing model came out of a desire – almost a need – to help MoshPit Publishing clients deliver their books to a worldwide audience without the cost of printing thousands of copies upfront and shipping them across the seas. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t always like that …
It started with just a step to the left
In 2008 Jenny, then one of the first IPEd Accredited Editors in Australia, was building a business focused on providing editing, accounting and printing services to local residents and small businesses. She had been approached by Julie Jones to help publish her creative fiction memoir on PTSD, Running Over a Chinaman.
Initially, Jenny agreed to edit it so that Julie could find a publisher. But as time passed, Julie decided she wanted Jenny to be the publisher! While Jenny knew how to edit the book, she didn’t know how to publish it. With the aid of the internet, she and her ‘trusty sidekick’, daughter and graphic and web designer, Ally, worked out what was needed. And so they set about helping Julie get her book published as a short run paperback for distribution by Julie as author and MoshPit Publishing as publisher.
Ebooks – a first, tentative step
The book came out in 2009 and by this time Jenny was very interested in also releasing Running Over a Chinaman as an ebook, realising that they would be able to reach people much further afield with an ebook than a print version. But how? None of the big Australian publishers seemed to be releasing their titles as ebooks, so there were no paths to follow there.
Eventually Jenny found some software called Ebook Gold which allowed her to create an ebook out of Running Over a Chinaman. This ebook could be read on a computer in its own screen (much like an app for a PC). Jenny was able to offer the ebook for free download, and lock it off at about the 70% mark, so that readers had to pay to read the last 30% and find out how the story ended. It seemed a great idea at the time, but getting other people to see what Jenny saw was a lot harder than she expected!
The other thing Jenny found hard was getting the print book into bookshops. The discounts required by bookshops plus the cost of delivery meant that it was barely worth it. But getting people to buy it on the internet was hard, too. If people don’t know a book or a website exists, they’re not going to go looking for it!
Developing a self publishing model – out of necessity
The big lesson Jenny learned from the exercise was that she couldn’t afford to publish any more books herself. Selling was a lot harder than she expected and recovering her initial outlay wasn’t going to happen quickly.
Over the following two years MoshPit Publishing released several more books, but for these books, the client paid the costs of printing and editing and anything else involved. The royalties were then calculated in the client’s favour, rather than the traditional 10% of RRP. This meant that if a book ‘took off’, the author would benefit. And if not, then at least Jenny and Ally were still in business!
Ebooks – a second, luckier step
Jenny really wanted to get her clients’ books turned into Kindle ebooks so that they could be sold via Amazon, but no matter what she tried, she couldn’t find the ‘back door’ into that secret world. And then, in 2010, Apple released the first iPad – and changed the world.
In 2011, Jenny visited the US for a few weeks, and while she really, really wanted to buy an iPad, couldn’t justify the expense. However, one day in Santa Monica she wandered into the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Third Street Promenade and found a lovely fellow called Patrick manning the NOOK stand. For about an hour, Jenny grilled him about the NOOK – how it worked, how she could buy ebooks, what it cost etc. And the big one – would it work in Australia? That was the tricky one – US$250 for something that might not work when she brought it home was a bit of a risk. After being assured by one of Patrick’s co-workers that yes, it would work in Australia, but Jenny would have to buy her ebooks from elsewhere as B&N only retailed to US customers, she took the plunge.
As Patrick was bagging the NOOK up for Jenny, he handed her a piece of paper with a list of URLs on it. These websites were selling ebooks across the world, not just to Americans, and so Jenny could buy from these sites, download them to her PC then sideload them to her NOOK. On that piece of paper was the URL for Smashwords.
On her return from the US, Jenny began investigating the options on Patrick’s list, and was very impressed with what Smashwords were offering. Not only could Jenny buy ebooks from Smashwords but she could also publish ebooks to Smashwords, and they would distribute them for her to Apple iBooks, as well as Barnes and Noble! And to make it even better, they provided a Smashwords style guide which showed how to make the base file for creating an ebook using Microsoft Word. On 8 June 2011, just three weeks after returning home from the US, MoshPit Publishing released its first Smashwords ebook, Art and the Drug Addict’s Dog, by Paris Portingale. Several free ebooks followed, so Ally and Jenny could make sure they had a good handle on the Smashwords system, and then Running Over a Chinaman was released on 28 June 2011.
MoshPit Publishing was away – with international reach for Aussie authors who were prepared to trial these new products called ebooks.
Still two links missing from the chain
But there were two things still missing as far as Jenny was concerned: the ability to release Kindle ebooks on Amazon, and a viable international print on demand solution for Aussie authors.
A few weeks later, during a local chamber of commerce breakfast, someone mentioned the words ‘CreateSpace’. Jenny went home, searched the internet and found the print on demand publishing and distribution solution she’d been looking for. By submitting her authors’ books to CreateSpace, the authors could then choose to have them listed for sale via Amazon. Every time someone purchased a MoshPit Publishing title via Amazon, CreateSpace would print it, pack it and ship it, dropping the predetermined royalty into MoshPit Publishing’s account.
On 26 November 2011, MoshPit publishing released its first CreateSpace title, Ally’s full colour book, The High School Survival Guide – a manual for young girls dealing with the early years of high school and the life that goes with it. Two down – one to go! But it took nearly another year, until August 2012, before Jenny found the ‘back door’ to help get her authors onto Amazon with Kindle ebooks.
IndieMosh, the brand, is born
But find it she did, and in January 2013, Ally and Jenny launched IndieMosh, a self publishing facilitation service to help Australian authors get their books ‘out there’ with online distribution. Basing their processes on their learnings from the prior 18 months, they were able to offer affordable packages to authors looking for a way to reach an international market. And then in July 2016 they signed up with Ingram’s Lightning Source meaning that clients’ books could be printed in Melbourne and made available to bookshops across Australia without the need for international shipping from CreateSpace (now KDP) in the US.
Fast forward to 2020, and the IndieMosh team has now helped more than 235 Australian authors release over 400 titles across the world, with more lined up already for this year. They are proud to say that they offer one of the fairest self publishing options for Australian authors, returning a minimum 85% of net royalties received to their authors.
Publishing is still not easy – there’s lots to think about, and many, many options to consider – but with IndieMosh by your side, it’s now a lot easier than it used to be!