The Alliance of Independent Authors – a Q&A with Orna Ross

ALLi logoWhen I cover publishers behaving badly, self-publishing scams, or authors’ rights, I always get asked if there is an organization which advocates for self-publishers.

The general feeling seems to be that we are particularly ill-served by the status quo, given that the pre-existing writers’ organizations either don’t let us in, don’t care about the issues that matter to us, or take up positions contrary to our interests.

Lately I’ve been pointing people towards the Alliance of Independent Authors. I’m not a member myself, but I have been impressed with the way they have started, the kind of people involved, and the issues they are taking on. I met several members at the London Book Fair in April, and they were all enthusing about the Alliance.

The Director of the organization, Orna Ross, is a former literary agent, turned traditionally published author, turned self-publisher (and fellow Celt). I invited Orna to explain more:

Why did you start the Alliance?

When I took back my rights from my trade publisher to self-publish, back in 2011, I looked around for a non-profit association of indie authors. I wanted a group that was conscious of the issues of ethics and excellence that seemed core to me and that shared my delight in the democratisation of publishing. When I couldn’t find such a group, it gave me pause. The more I looked, the more necessary it seemed.

• Self publishing writers were (still are) marginalised in a way that makes little sense to me — excluded from most writing organisations on largely spurious grounds, not featured in literary events and festivals, ignored by prizes.

• Companies who had no interest in writing or publishing were circling (still are), sensing quick-buck opportunities, offering poor services and appalling contracts.

• And while indie authorship was exciting and full of potential, it was also hard work and brought with it challenges and pitfalls to negotiate.

Self-publishers also, it seemed to me, needed to disengage from self-defeating, phoney wars with the rest of the literary world, and instead promoting their own perspective within the writing and reading industries — with booksellers, libraries, wholesalers, agents, trade publishers and the media.

When I couldn’t find an association that was doing that, I asked some of the people I most admired in writing and publishing what they thought of the idea and whether they would be willing to come on board as advisors, people like Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, Joel Friedlander, Victoria Strauss, David A Vandagriff (Passive Guy). And so, at London Book Fair 2012, ALLi was launched.

You’re a nonprofit. Why?

There are so many people who see self-publishing writers as a route to a quick buck. It’s important to me that members know their subscription is used to provide services and any profits go back into the organisation and into furthering the empowerment of indie authors, not to the benefit of any individual or business.

What are the benefits of joining?

The benefits are numerous and range from the educational — free seminars and events like the one you’re doing for us — to discounts & deals that we negotiate with service providers like designers and printers. We also try to provide the things that indies may find hard to provide for themselves. So we have an agent who will consider all our members work for foreign rights potential, for example. We’re constantly adding new benefits in line with the feedback we get from our members about what is most important to indies. And of course by joining, each member contributes to our campaigning work too.

Who’s eligible?

We have three levels of membership for writers: an Associate/Student Membership, for the not-yet-published writer preparing a book for self-publication; Author Membership, for writers who have self-published and Professional Membership for full-time indie authors. We also have a Partner Membership, for author service providers. Associate and Author Memberships are open but Professional and Partner Members are carefully vetted.

You’re based in London. Is this a UK organisation?

Oh no. Most of our members are actually in the US.  One of the things I’m pleased about is that the Alliance already has members from all over the world, from Alaska to Japan, the long way round.

How can people help?

As a nonprofit, and a startup, budgets are tight so we’re always looking for volunteers. email Geraldine if you’d like to help on one of our campaigns. You can sign our petition: Open Up To Indie Authors. And of course you can join our alliance.

How does somebody join?

Full details and pricing for all our memberships are available on the JOINING PAGE.

* * *

Thank you to Orna for coming along. She’ll be around later if you have any questions.

In other news, the Alliance of Independent Authors has organized a virtual book event with me this coming Thursday from 4pm to 5pm Eastern (9pm to 10pm GMT).

It’s a live video chat, in the form of a crazy free-for-all of your questions on visibility, marketing, and, um, adventures in facial topiary. Hopefully followed by answers. The event is open to anyone, not just Alliance members, and free. Register here in advance.

Come armed with your trickiest questions, and watch me flounder… live.

* * *

Just before I go, Let’s Get Digital is reduced to 99c today.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

84 Replies to “The Alliance of Independent Authors – a Q&A with Orna Ross”

  1. I joined Alli a little over a year ago. I did not join for badges or for tangible benefits. I joined for access to the closed Facebook community. That supportive, informative group is the reason I recently re-upped my membership.

    1. David,
      I signed up for the video chat and went to the link. Couldn’t get “in” for some reason, and was very disappointed. I hope the tech issues are resolved and the chat rescheduled. Was it recorded and available somewhere, such as YouTube, and available for downloading?

      1. Hi James, Unfortunately we had a series of issues and had to abandon the video chat half-way through. It looks like we are rescheduling for Tuesday July 9. I’ll come back and confirm.

  2. So let’s attack authors- we can use the words like SPAM, SCAM, UNEDITED OUTPUT, LOWERING OF STANDARDS, BOUGHT REVIEWS…. well there is no shortage to choose from, though none of them are any more relevant to this piece than they are to hedgehog poo. Not that that matters, as they are suitably venomous words.
    Well, the Alliance makes a stand against all those familiar bashes and a hundred more, which is why I’m such an enthusiastic supporter. The Alliance is owned by, managed by, and acts on behalf of authors who above all else value and respect all readers. Shame about some of Orna’s less than well informed and or maliciously negative commentators here, but we will listen. Unlike their users, the Alliance, we all, do care about the hurt they are intended to cause. Why else do you think the Alliance was formed?

  3. Authors, more than anyone, know the weight of words and using a word like SCAM is meant to be malicious, not cautionary, especially on a blog that endeavors to put out quality information for independent authors.
    My Alli membership renews this week and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Scam it is not. I’ve learned a great deal over the last year from the group’s advisors and other members. The fellowship, continued quality information and resources are well worth it.

  4. Perhaps one of the things Mr. Young doesn’t see through his one cynical eye is that there are so many of us who have become acquainted in one or more various interactions over the past several years, there is a level of trust and confidence he does not see. It is not a service organization hyping its wares to unsuspecting newbies – there are resumes and digital trails that demonstrate commitment and quality in what members do.

  5. I joined ALLi this year and have found it to be enormously valuable because the world of self-publishing is a huge, rambunctious, chaotic place to be and this group helps me make sense of it all. I think some on this thread might be misunderstanding the value proposition. I spent ten years as an executive for a professional membership association, and in my opinion you don’t join one for the swag on offer, you join it for the networking, the sense of community support, the educational tools and resources, and to help create a strong advocacy organization for your chosen profession that can be a visible and credible representative to the larger world. I think Orna Ross and ALLi do all this with integrity and consummate professionalism. And I didn’t even know about the badges. I don’t need no stinkin’ badges. I have enough trouble just keeping up with all I’m getting out of it already.

  6. I joined ALLi last Auturmn as an author member when I realised it was a valuable central resource of knowledge and support on all things to do with indie publishing.

    The resource I’ve made most use of – in fact, I read it every day – is the closed Facebook community. There members share questions and advice freely, honestly and openly, knowing that only genuinely helpful, knowledgeable and supportive people will join the conversation. (No trolls over there!) The Facebook community alone has delivered full value for money for my joining fee.

    I’ve also made many valuable new friends, gained opportunities to guest on others’ blogs and have them guest on mine, and been glad to put something back into the community by sharing my own experience with newbies.

    Being a part of ALLi means that I’m never going to miss out on key indie news from around the world, without having to traipse about the internet tracking news down. This leaves me much more time for writing – and hey, isn’t that what every author wants?

    I must declare a vested interest here, in that a few weeks ago Orna Ross asked me to join the team to edit the ALLi blog (I’m an experienced journalist and blogger). I now feel like the guy in the 70s razor ad who said “I liked it so much, I bought the company!” I would not have taken this position on if I had not been convinced that ALLi is THE indie authors’ organisation to belong to. I’m one of many people proud to call themselves a member of ALLi.

  7. I am stunned by all the negative, snarky comments on here about ALLi.

    As someone who is mid-way through writing a first novel and learning both writing and about self-publishing, I have found ALLi to be an absolutely brilliant resource for both.

    As to value for money, let me put it this way: just by being on their Facebook group alone has given me tons of information – not to mention, other authors (who’ve been through the writing and self-publishing loop) more than willing to share what they know. And the best bit of it is, I can go on there and ask questions about things I don’t know any time I want, and there’ll always be someone there to help. And vice versa, if I can help them.

    Bottom line: if I would have had to spend my own time doing this – researching, and not to mention being led up hundreds of blind alleys – it would have cost me time. A lot of time. In fact, so much time that it makes the money I spent on joining totally worth it.

    For all those people banging on and saying: “scam” – you know what, there are a whole bunch of books and sites out there promising “you too could make a million dollars” by self-publishing and basically feeding off people’s dreams. Now that’s a scam. Those sites also waste people’s time by misdirecting them. ALLi, are completely legit and upfront and do what it says on the tin – provide resources and information.

    1. I too would like to underscore what Mark Tuban has written about ALLi. I am also an author member. I’ve got more out of just one year’s membership with ALLi than I did over the 15 years plus that I was a member of the Writers’ Guild. Others have written about the FB forums and the brilliantly helpful advice we get from fellow members but I would like to mention the discount that Orna and her team was able to swing for members at the London Book Fair. I would have found an event such as this as both traditionally published and now indie far too intimidating an event to attend on my own but this year, thanks to ALLi I was able to network, attend seminars and get an enormous amount out of it.

      What a shame that David Haywood Young didn’t have the opportunity to meet ALLi members face-to-face before making an ill-informed judgment about our wonderful, supportive organisation that costs me $100 a year to belong to. The fees for The Writers’ Guild are, I see currently £180 minimum. Never mind, David, hope to see you at LBF in 2014.
      Alison Ripley Cubitt
      w/a Lambert Nagle

  8. I’m a Professional Member of Alli. I joined earlier this year. I have not made much use of the ‘benefits’ that one can make a solid list of. But the benefits of Alli are not just things an author can hold in their hand and say, ‘hey, I got this for free!’ I have benefited from this organization in so many more amazing ways. One being that I have met the most amazing authors. I even discovered David G through Alli. The help and support from its members is way beyond what anyone could ask for. Got a problem? Got a tiny question about publishing that you think might make you look stupid? Ask someone at Alli and you’ll get a response from someone in the know within seconds — and they won’t make you feel silly for asking.

    This organization is not just about what THINGS you can get. It’s about indie support, paying it forward, being a consistent part of the community and having the ability to learn something new and extremely useful every single day. I signed up already knowing quite a bit about self-publishing. But I have learned so many more useful things, and made some awesome friends and professional contacts, since signing up. Though I may have stumbled upon some of these people without being a member, I certainly wouldn’t have had the honour to know so much about them.

    Alli is a community which is basically a shoulder to lean and cry on whenever, where ever. I love it. And I don’t know a single member who is unhappy.

    And just for the record, I didn’t pay that 99 bucks to GET SOMETHING. I paid it to support the indie community. Without people like those at Alli, advocating for us, going out of their way to tell the world that we are worth reading just as much as the Stephen Kings and J.K Rowlings out there, I think many of us would be lost. It’s a jungle out there.

  9. I’m an ALLi member and find this organization more useful than at least one (long-established) writers’ organization to which I belong. The members-only Facebook page is a treasure trove of information and support, and ALLi’s ongoing efforts to support self-published authors and warn them off scams are valuable. I don’t think any author MUST join organizations, though. Some of us are joiners, some are fiercely independent. ALLi works for me and is definitely not a scam.

  10. I can only echo what Jill has said. I joined ALLi almost from the start, first as an associate, then as an author member. For me, the value is in the network of experienced and supportive fellow Indies it gives me access too. Stumble over a problem or an issue? I post a question on the FB forum and have half a dozen intelligent, helpful replies within minutes. As for the connections I made through other ALLI members at the London Book Fair – they are already proving invaluable. The discounts and free material I received on joining probably more or less covered the joining fee – the rest can’t be added up in terms of $ or £. But I can say that of the three professional memberships I have chosen to acquire as an author, this is the one I make most frequent use of and get the most immediate benefit from.

  11. All of us at Triskele Books are members of ALLi and find our membership invaluable. The tangible benefits listed have certainly proved useful, such as the foreign rights agent, the Open Up to Indies campaign, the newly negotiated deal with Pubmatch, the presence at the London Book Fair, the profile-raising for indie authors in the media and strategic partnerships.

    But it’s hard to put a value on the support network, sense of unity, tip-offs and shared advice, heads-ups and warnings, generous info on marketing tools, opportunities to collaborate, recommendations and wealth of expertise which comes from the organisation’s management and its members. So no, not a scam. For us, it’s been a godsend.

  12. I joined the ALLi in April after a visit to the London Book Fair, where I was privilage to witness a number of talks by ALLi members.
    As a first time self-publisher, the amount of information out there is vast, and honestly… confusing. Everywhere you turn there is different information on editors, book covers, formatting – Everything.
    I joined the ALLi, not because I wanted discounts on things, or I wanted to get other people to do the work for me by handing me a cover designer, or a publicist. I joined for the chance to learn from experienced authors, to benefit from the things they have already learned, and to have a group of people that I can talk to when I hit a problem. I paid my membership because I know that when I ask a question, or I read articles posted, that I am getting this information from someone who is treating writing the same way I am, as a business worth getting the best for and doing all you can to succeed.
    These members are professional and talented authors, and I count myself lucky to have them to help me through my journey.

  13. I did not join ALLi in response to the offer of benefits, badges, bargains or baloney. I joined it because of the people involved in it. There will always be the uncommon cynic who’s compelled to nitpick the relative value of $100. It’s my fucking money, I’m a big kid, and I don’t need another cynic to warn me away from scams. I’m plenty cynical on my own.

    So huh!

  14. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll say upfront that I’m a member of ALLi at the ‘author’ membership level and have been since they launched last year. I joined principally because I thought they had a good idea and because they were endorsed by folks I respect like Joanna Penn. I didn’t join for ‘benefits’ but from a desire to support what seemed to me to be a worthy undertaking.

    In truth, I’ve received little in the way of benefits, but the fault there is entirely my own. By nature I normally paddle my own canoe and interact infrequently except for commenting on a blog (such as this one) now and again. I hope to participate a bit more fully in ALLi in the future, but that may or may not happen. The road to Hell is, as they say, paved with good intentions, and the demands of writing, promoting, and actually attempting to have a life often interfere with my best laid plans. However, whether I become more active or not, I will continue to support them with my annual dues.

    So, as I suppose is obvious, I don’t think ALLi is a ‘scam.’ In my view, they are a fledgling organization with a good idea and honorable intentions. I hope they prosper and grow increasingly effective with time, because God knows self-publishers can benefit from some sort of organized advocacy.

    I would close with the observation that if Orna and company are running a ‘scam,’ then they’re woefully inept scam artists. Seriously, a ‘scam’ at 99 $/GBP a year? To me a scam is something like Author Solutions and it’s various ‘imprints’ that sucks in the unwary and has high pressure sales reps pushing multi-thousand dollar ‘publishing packages.’

    ALLi is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. It’s value to each individual member will vary in large degree with how often one uses it (or whether one uses it at all). I think it also helpful to remember that (the ‘starving writer’ trope aside) even at the higher levels, annual membership costs less than dinner for two at a nice restaurant. From that perspective, I suggest that some of the previous comments are a bit overwrought.

    Just my opinion, for what it’s worth.

  15. Thanks, David, for sharing this. If David G. gives a thumbs up to an independent organization, it is definitely praiseworthy since his work in exposing scammers and fraud has been a tremendous boon over the years to the self-publishing community. Our small formatting/design business is a Partner Member at ALLi and I felt it was a very good investment for not very much money. For independent authors the organization helps answer a lot of questions that come up in the course of publishing their own books (e.g. how do I pay taxes to Amazon if I’m a UK citizen, how can I get my book for sale on Lightning Source, etc.) It’s good that there is a reputable organization to pool knowledge resources in a world of garbage.

  16. Reblogged this on "CommuniCATE" Resources for Writers and commented:
    If you are an Indie, this may be helpful for you. I am finding that Indie organisations swing between the kind of unprofessional presentation and features that give Indie’s a bad name, or they are simply way too expensive. Do your homework before you join anything and best of luck.
    Thank you David for a very informative post.

  17. Wow. Some people really got a bundle of sticks up their butts over this. It’s one thing to be automatically suspicious of groups that purport to help writers – hey, it’s a survival mechanism these days – and it’s another thing entirely to start showing outright suspicion without cause.

    I don’t have any plan to join any group that can’t show very concrete results, and even when it does, I’d be weighing the cost vs. benefit. That being said, I wish ALLi the best of luck! Progress usually happens when a group of people does what the rest of us can’t or won’t.

  18. Read the entire post, read all the comments, here is my comment; whenever I see something become more confusing and argumentative, I back away. Clarify your presentations, simplify your requests and state the case. There seems to be merit on both takes of the debate. I am lightly published, but wanting to be more independently published author now more confused.
    Tell me why I need your help, why is this any different, how do you set yourself apart, how long does the downstream reward take to materialize,
    Don’t send me off to read the site, if you post this this should tell it. otherwise send me off to read the site and don’t do this back and forth confusion. It waists time and interest.

    1. Sorry to confuse, much depends on the individual requirements of the writer. One member may most appreciate the one-to-one advice, another the vetting of a contract; another our resolving of a dispute with a sevices company, or our live meet-ups, or the contacts and collaborations we are building in the wider industry. As an example of our discounts, we’ve just negotiated paid membership of Pubmatch, the rights network run by Publishers Weekly, at a cost of $5 (usual cost :$79.99). This will also provide us with a catalogue of our members books that we can bring to book fairs etc. We aim to do for indies what it’s difficult for them to do alone, hence the hooking up with a foreign rights agent, who advises our members on contracts and takes on suitable books for representation. What sets us apart, I believe, is the vetting we do of author services and our advocacy on behalf of indies. We are already changing how some members of the industry treat self-publishers and hope to see the bad actors out of the market in time. So it’s difficult to generalise. Happy to talk to you about your individual circumstances to tease out whether membership would be beneficial in your circumstances. Just drop me an email. Thanks for your interest and good luck with the publishing.

  19. This sounds good, but I’ll need to write more and sell more before I can qualify or even afford membership. Still, the idea of it seems practical.

    I’ve registered for that video chat and will go plug it on Facebook and see if I can’t get more people to attend.

    1. It’s a great group! Just because we’re indie authors doesn’t mean we are lone wolves. It’s wonderful to see what others are doing; share promotional and marketing tips and failures; get the latest info from the powers-that-be at Kobo, Smashwords and Amazon; and have resources and discounts all in one place. Professional organizations aren’t exactly new, and always have a joining fee (a point Mr. Young seems to leave out). And that fee is tax deductible, at least in the states, since it is a business expense. So it’s a win-win all around.

  20. I’m curious if anyone knows of meaningful differences between the Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Association of Independent Authors. A cursory google seems to show that the AIA offers an associate membership with many of the same benefits (a forum, various discounts) that the ALLi charges about USD 60 for, for free.

    I’m not at all opposed to paying for useful things, but I’m curious why the spread in pricing. Does the ALLi focus more on collective advocacy?

    1. Yes Mina — we are running various campaigns & advocacy programmes. Also ALLi’s associate members receive all benefits, except author profile (being as yet unpublished/students) whereas AIA’s is something different I believe. There are various other differences too.

  21. Thank you David, for the post! I checked out the staff of ALLI and I found that I am following the blogs of probably half of them already! It was reassuring to see all these familiar faces. I think this is a great resource for those who wish to self publish. I was lost when I self published my first book. It took a lot of mistake-making and learn-as-I-go attempts.

    1. Thanks Leda. Yes it helps to have the support and experiences of others who’ve been there to draw on at all stages but especially at the beginning.

      1. One of the best things about Alli is the community and support, through the Facebook group and also through each other’s blogs. There’s plenty of networking and mutual promotions going on. I remember when I started out 5 years ago, I knew no authors at all, I felt isolated. Alli aims to be also be a community of authors who can help each other. It’s an awesome organization and I am a proud member.

        Yes, I also know Orna personally and she is a terrific advocate for indies. She spends a lot of time and effort on this when she could just be working on her own writing. We need advocates who work tirelessly for indies, and Alli is one of these.

  22. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I agreed with David Haywood Young about it sounding a lot like other “opportunities” that were just scams. But on the other hand, Indie authors pooling their resources does not preclude them from being independent. If a writer signs up with Amazon or Smashwords, are they truly independent?

    What I would like to see is a sort of limited clearinghouse of screened works that authors can pitch to and agents and publishers can browse. The questions there would be who screens the works and who pays for the service? And then would Mr. Young and I still call it a scam?

    Great post!

    1. I sure wouldn’t. I’d think it was pretty cool. In fact I think authors can associate in just this way to create a new sort of publishing imprint (cross-promoting and screening by–perhaps–unanimous consent for new members?), and I’ve posted on my blog about how I hope to do it myself at some point in the near future.

    2. I have no position on ALLi. But I’m not sure how you would get a clearinghouse of screened works without running into major differences of opinion regarding quality. And I don’t know that agents are looking for that — all they have to do to determine what’s selling is to look at book rankings. The sea of indie published books is its own “slush” pile — the cream rises to the top after you write enough books, I believe. Further, many indie authors are not looking for publishers, and why would they? To quote Mr. Young, above, “So I can give up a percentage forever”?

      1. I think I’d like to have the option of working with a publisher who might be able to get the word out better than I can. But an Indie-owned clearinghouse could also be used by straight up Indie writers to simply promote their work. Setting all of this up would not be a huge challenge. Getting authors to join or become part-owners on the cheap could be easy. Driving eyeballs and wallets to it would be the biggest challenge.

    3. I’m a very happy member of ALLI. We share many tips about best practices, service providers, possible scams, industry news, and our own info about what’s working for us (or not). Best organization for indie’s that I’ve come across.

      1. I’m glad it’s working well for you. What I want is exposure, and I don’t see on their site where they help much with that. It’s all about getting eyes! Good luck!

  23. This is a great post. Thanks so much! I am almost pulled into a contract with one of the circling vultures, full of promises and a large price tag. Thank god for the hubby so stopped me. It’s taken longer this way, but I’d like to think it’s the better way. (That’s what I tell myself anyway)

    1. Was it one of the Author Solutions companies? You need to be very careful about these so-called “self-publishing service companies” – many of which are no better than the worst vanity presses.

  24. Um. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Indie is, I think…well, independent. Or it ought to be. And even if I’m wrong, this seems a poor deal for writers.

    I’d consider this an outright scam if you hadn’t plugged it. Taking that into account, and after browsing their site…I think it’s about 85% scam. I was at 70% from your recommendation before I looked into it.

    Member badges are an old SEO hack for the badge creator. Closed groups tend to have fewer (real) participants, and are more often moderated to exclude diversity of opinion. Directory listings are a dime a dozen–except they’re usually free. Paying $$ to join is no guarantee of quality and I’d be surprised if anyone thought otherwise (some sort of peer-review-ish test might change this bit). The discounts & deals would have to be fairly substantive to offset the cost of membership. A translation rights agent? So I can give up a percentage forever? And I can pay in advance for this? Awesome.

    Oh, and nonprofits can pay (very) large salaries, if they’re successful. I have to wonder: what sort of overhead is there in creating/maintaining this group? Some development work (or free open-source software) and server costs? Hmm. Nice.

    I guess some people will like it. I don’t see the point myself.

    1. If joining an organization is not for you, that’s fine, and a perfectly valid position. I’ve no problem with people asking hard questions, but I think it’s a little much to throw out the word “scam” without providing anything to back that up.

      I’ll let Orna answer in more detail about the benefits members receive, but let me say that this isn’t a fly-by-night organization hoovering up member fees. The people involved are well-known in the self-publishing community and, as far as I’m aware, they don’t receive any compensation for their time.

      Regarding the translation rights agent, that’s an *option* for members who may wish to shop their books to foreign publishers. It’s a service for those who wish to avail of it (if the agent also sees value in shopping that book to foreign publishers). And it’s only there for people who want it.

      I really don’t see what the big deal is. Some people like joining organizations, some don’t. I’ve been getting lots of requests for information on indie organizations. This is the best indie organization I’ve seen, so I invited them along.

      1. You’re really going to say I didn’t provide anything to back it up? Okay; it’s your blog.

        To respond to the point you made: the agent is listed on the website as a -benefit-, and only for people who pay for a more-expensive tier of membership. It’s not necessary to pay an agent in advance to review work. That sort of behavior is fairly often referred to as a scam. Has been for many years.

        Beyond that, it’s interesting that the higher tiers of membership are “carefully vetted” above, but there’s no hint of that in the site’s actual sign-up process. If true, it’d be a selling point. But it would require time & effort.

        It’s interesting that you say I don’t want to join a group, thus apparently invalidating whatever I say about this particular group, even though we’ve never met. I checked out the site hoping to find evidence of something useful. But I got a very bad feeling from their website (and the hoary “nonprofit” bit)–and I’ve been involved in building sites & online businesses since the mid-nineties, so I’m going with my gut-plus-experience here.

      2. Let me also say that I have bought your books and enjoyed them. I think you have a very logical mind, and make excellent points–many of which are based on experience I just don’t have. And I appreciate your willingness to share.

        1. Hey David. I just think you need to be careful when using the word “scam” which implies some kind of fraudulent behavior or deception. You may feel that the benefits aren’t worth the fee, but that doesn’t make it a scam – it makes it bad value, in your opinion.

      3. “Hey David. I just think you need to be careful when using the word “scam” which implies some kind of fraudulent behavior or deception.”

        How about “ripoff”, David? About $100 USD/year for the lowest membership, and two of the six benefits are a badge and a “Code of Standards”? Is that a joke? Authors, you’d better cast a jaundiced eye on “organizations” wanting your money, especially if they offer squishy “benefits” like “collaboration” and password-protected forum software.

        My favorite part–the more you pay, the more prestigious the “badge” you get. God love the enterprising.

        But heck–John Locke paid for hundreds of reviews, omitted it from his “how I made a million dollars” book, and few (including Mr. Gaughran) even batted an eye. Now *that’s* entrepreneurship.

        1. James, I’m pretty sure you are just trolling at this point, but I can’t let this comment stand unchecked:

          “But heck–John Locke paid for hundreds of reviews, omitted it from his “how I made a million dollars” book, and few (including Mr. Gaughran) even batted an eye. Now *that’s* entrepreneurship.”

          Few batted an eye? You must have been living under a rock for the huge, rolling scandal that went on for weeks. For my part, I made my views on the matter quite clear:,124295.msg1848486.html#msg1848486

          Before you make wild accusations, I recommend doing an internet search or two.

    2. Orna Ross/ALLi Team: Fully transparent accounting. Probably one of the best defence against claims of this nature. Considering all the scams that are out there, it would be quite refreshing to see an organisation with the services you offer showing their books, and allowing members and those thinking of joining exactly what their money will be going to.

    3. Hi David. As the other David says: some people are joiners, others not. We do our best to provide good services to our members and the wider indie community. Our discounts do indeed add up to more than the joining fee and we’re adding more all the time (we’re just over a year old). And we are also heavily involved in campaigning work within and outside the industry. From feedback we know our members particularly appreciate the moderated groups and our vetting of author services (see our book Choosing A Self Publishing Service). Thanks for comments.

      1. I guess it’s a neat and only semi-offensive ad-hominem-plus-straw-man argument. In your view, the relevant question here is: am I a joiner? If so, I’ll love your organization. If not, not. So the rest of what I said really doesn’t matter very much.

        Who could argue with that?

        Of course if you have a reasonable number of discounts, any author who could take advantage of enough of them would save money vs. the fee. Awesome. But you should probably realize–if you don’t–that your claim as stated detracts from your credibility (though not necessarily your actual honesty). Because a straightforward answer would have to look more like this: “It depends on what an author is trying to accomplish, and which services the individual author chooses to actually use. But at this point we have x authors doing y, n authors doing m, and in general it looks like q so far.” Or even: “We’re not sure, but here’s where you can see the discounted rates for various services. And over here is where you can see what they’d be if you contacted the service providers individually.” Or perhaps even: “Well, it’s hard to say. But we have x service providers of this type, this is our vetting process, and here’s the average discount.”

        Plus, the moderated forums are not at all like a semi-self-selected echo chamber. Because you say so. And paying an agent a reading fee is so irrelevant it’s not worth mentioning. And, at some point in the future, your finances will comply with some legally required version of transparency–up to me to chase down the details of that if I want to spend the time. And it doesn’t matter that your statements here contradict the website itself.

        Thanks for all this clarification, and I believe I’ll unsubscribe from further comments on this post. I have no idea of how useful your organization may be, or to whom. It may very well be wonderful in all respects. Except for one: I don’t have the time or interest to deal with all the deflection.

        Good luck, all.

    4. A scam?! How exactly does a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to the betterment of indie author services, forging a supportive community, and mutual learning, and increased professionalism resemble a scam?

    5. I’m an ALLi member who recently and happily renewed. I’m also a member of International Book Publishers Association, and several other groups. Of the lot, I receive more value from ALLi. Not through discounts, or whatever Mr. Young expects, but through the community.

      Like Mr. McDermott below, I’m not that active in the group, but when I have a question (advertising, referrals, ideas, etc), asking the collective group has saved me more than the dues several times over. While I value the older (1983), more established IBPA, I can’t point to dime one that they’ve saved me.

      I’ll gladly remain a member of ALLi for the opportunity to celebrate, commiserate, and ask questions of my fellow indie adventurers.

      Mr. Young, you’ve demonstrated nothing but ignorance.

      Peace, Seeley

    6. Can I just say in response to one o fyour points, I am one of the most awkward, ornery, left of the left field self-publishers you will find – I refuse to call myself indie, I write weird experimental fiction and spend 50% of my internet time campaigning for the media to stop covering self-published ebooks (in favour of handmades and zines). But I have never felt moderated or quietened or brought “towards the centre” in my time at ALLi, whose strength lies precisely in its diversity

  25. Orna Ross is a woman of exceptional integrity. She is also a gifted writer.
    Thank you for sharing this interview, David.

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