Category: Events

Get ready for Indie Author Fringe 2017!

Indie Author Fringe

What is Indie Author Fringe?

Indie Author Fringe is an online conference for self-publishing authors, organised 3 times a year by Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). ALLi brings together the most up-to-date self-publishing education and information available and broadcasts it to authors everywhere.

Running 24 completely FREE sessions over 24 continuous hours allows authors round the globe to attend live sessions, no matter where they’re located. (But don’t worry, we don’t expect you to stay up all night! You can always catch up later or replay any parts you want to watch again.) These sessions are run by self-publishing gurus and bestselling self-published authors – so you will certainly learn a lot of useful tips and tricks when it comes to how to self-publish really professionally.

Over the course of the year, they take authors across all stages of the author-publishing journey: writing, editorial, design, production, distribution, sales, marketing, rights licensing, money matters and living the indie author life. This time, the focus is on how to sell more books – one of the biggest challenges for any self-published author today.


Ali Dewji’s session at the Indie Author Fringe: Sat 3rd June

Indie Author FringeNot only are we very proud to sponsor Indie Author Fringe, our very own marketing director, Ali Dewji, will be running an unmissable event for any author wanting to boost sales without marketing taking over their life. Join him on Saturday 3rd June for:

Stop Wasting Time and Money on Marketing That Doesn’t Work

Frustrated by a lack of marketing results? Overwhelmed and not sure where to start or what will work for you? You are not alone. I’ve seen many well-meaning authors waste time and resources keeping busy but getting nowhere when it comes to marketing. Even authors with a marketing plan can end up targeting the wrong people with the wrong message or having the wrong offer in the wrong place.

In this session, I’ll show you how to avoid wasting your energy and budget on things that don’t result in book sales, and teach you how to stay focused with my proven T.R.A.C.K. book marketing system.”


  • Learn the impact that research and targeting has on your marketing plan, and where most authors go wrong
  • Discover the vital components of an efficient author marketing plan, so selling books doesn’t take over your life
  • Assess which marketing activities are most likely to attract your readers and convert them into loyal fans
  • Avoid classic author marketing pitfalls that waste your time, energy and budget


As part of the Indie Author Fringe, we are running a very special competition. The winner will get Ali for an hour! A 1:1 is up for grabs, where you can get individual and tailored feedback on your current marketing activities and advice on how to build (or re-build) your marketing plan, as well as the opportunity to discuss or ask any questions you have about self-publishing and author marketing. An invaluable session for any author (also worth $150).

Sessions can take place over Skype or in person. Find out more here.

See the full Indie Author Fringe line up here.

And make sure you sign up here.

We hope to see you there!

Gilding the Lily – Waterstones Launch

The yellow light poured invitingly out from the Waterstones’ window onto the cold pavement. It was a frosty, winter’s evening and a colourful display of hardbacks and new releases were arranged enticingly in the window, displayed among the heart shapes and gifts for lovers, each tied with red ribbons. ‘One day, Gilding The Lily may be in this window,’ I thought as I pushed the door open, jingling a bell nostalgically.

16473791_10154108348760064_8111455509572707564_n“Come in, come in,” said the manager warmly, as he welcomed me into the shop. He had already positioned about thirty copies of my book in a very appealing arrangement close to the front of the store. Next to this design was a table and chair, where I was going to sign the copies. Yes, sign copies. Of my very own book – in Waterstones!

“This is where you can sign,” he said. “And this is where you can set up drinks and nibbles.” He pointed to another free table a little further back and my husband dutifully began to arrange the glasses we had brought with us.

To say I was excited about the prospect would be an understatement – my very own book launch. Over the next two hours, about forty people came and went. I signed and sold thirty-two copies and seemed to impress a few people, judging by the applause after my nervous reading.

When the idea for the story of Gilding the Lily came to me, all I imagined doing was writing it. What I would
do next didn’t come to me until I’d finished the novel. The whole publishing process and industry is so expansive and vast, it would take me a month of Sundays just to read all the advice that I seemed to keep finding on a daily basis. I still feel like a tiny floundering fish in a huge ocean of whales, and it’s often hard for me to focus when I have another life outside of writing.

So, I admit it, I’m still daunted. But with the help of the friends I’ve made on this journey so far (and I’m 16649192_10155091536804445_6267007827149445340_nstill right at the beginning), I know I can continue achieving the small amount of success I have found. I Am Self Publishing have been my partner in bringing my story to market. After eighteen months of looking for an agent, I felt I had to do something with this book that was burning my soul. They found me waiting bashfully in the wings and set me on the path in a friendly and understanding way, giving me the benefit of their experience. Within a couple of months, they had my script both proofread and uploaded with the most amazing cover design. They even helped me to produce the paperback too. This led to marketing advice, press release ideas and events such as this one. Without them, I’d still be floundering. Even though I’m still way off centre stage, at least I’m now stepping out from behind the curtain, and I think I see it there… on the horizon.

Signing thirty-two copies of my own book was an early pinnacle in my career and the start of something big. But I’ve learned over the past year that we all need expert guidance in anything we choose to do (and I don’t just mean help with writing) if we’re to have any kind of success, and I don’t think we ever stop needing it.

About Guilding the Lily

15241260_10154856963204445_674252453605960688_nA gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies. An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics. Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

You can buy the book on Amazon here

Stay in touch with me to see where I go next at or follow me on Twitter @justinecjohn.

How to Nail Your First 50 Pages

I have just given a seminar on this topic as part of the amazing Indie Author Fringe festival. Hopefully, you managed to tune in and join me, but if you didn’t you can replay the video below:

I chose the topic because, as an author, you need to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Your opening chapters need to work the hardest, as they have to convince the reader to invest their time and money on the rest of your book. Whether they are just flicking through a few pages in a book store or have downloaded the first chapter for free on Kindle, it needs to leave them hooked and wanting more.

However, in my 10+ years of working as an editor (and also a literary agent), I have found that the opening chapters are often the weakest areas of the whole manuscript. This is because authors haven’t yet found their rhythm or got into the swing of their writing. I have read too many opening chapters that felt tentative and hesitant rather than powerful and attention-grabbing. In this webinar, I focus on how you can make sure your opening chapters are as strong as can be.

How to Nail Your First 50 Pages Webinar

how to nail your first 50 pages

Webinar Overview

In my session, I covered:

  • why it is so important to get right
  • why so many authors fail
  • the secret trick to help you view your opening chapters in a completely different light
  • how you can conduct an opening chapter audit to ensure your readers are gripped from page 1

I really stressed the two most important jobs of any opening chapter:

  1. To get you invested in the characters
  2. To make you want to stay tuned

I showed the audience how authors and TV dramas do this really well, with snappy extracts from super-slick US drama, The Blacklist, and then BBC drama, The Line of Duty. Both of these were full of action and charged with dramatic tension that left you desperate to know what happens next. Then I wanted to show the audience how authors use the same tricks to the same end. I read sections from Ian Rankin’s Even Dog’s in the Wild and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl – both of these have amazing opening pages. If you haven’t read them yet, then check out the look inside sample on Amazon and see how powerful they are.

Opening Chapter Audit

Finally, I ran through an opening chapter audit. The idea of this exercise is that authors can use the questions below to help them think more critically and objectively about their work.  They should be thought-provoking and enable authors to evaluate their opening chapters, identify potential weak areas and then concentrate their energy on strengthening those points.

  1. Does it introduce the main character and present them in a way we can connect with? Does the reader generally care what happens to them and want to go on their journey with them? This is job no.1.
  2. Is it structured in such a way that creates a sense of urgency. It’s your job to make sure the reader wants to read on.
  3. Is it clear what the protagonist’s goal is/what their problem is/what they need to make happen – this will set up your story arc. Get this in early to create intrigue and dramatic tension.
  4. Is there some kind of juicy conflict set up or at least hinted at? Is the will she/won’t she consequence clear e.g. can the policeman catch the serial killer before he strikes again, will she cheat on her husband before he gets back etc. This ramps up the drama by making it clear what’s at stake.
  5. Have you set the tone? Is it clear from your first chapters what kind of storytelling experience the reader can expect? Your book needs to feel like one whole experience. If readers like your opening chapters, they are going to want a lot more just like it. Often I see authors experiment with writing techniques in the opening chapters that they promptly ditch – it’s got to be smooth.
  6. Are you spreading yourself too thin? Have you got too many characters and not a sharp enough focus on one central figure? Are you making it hard for the reader to take it all in? Don’t forget the reader is new to this world that you have been building for months or even years; they don’t have your intricate level of knowledge. Go gentle on them, there will be plenty of time for the details later.
  7. Have you got too much tell and not enough show? This is the quickest way to bore a reader. These heavy sections will encourage the reader to close your book.
  8. Could you put more of it in dialogue? Dialogue is the fastest way of conveying information to the reader, also it feels exciting and immediate.
  9. Could you have started the opening scene any later? Try fast-forwarding slightly to see if you can create more tension by throwing the reader into the middle of something.
  10. Are you guilty of too much scene setting or backstory? Is there any description or background information that you could cut out and put in a later chapter? Those details may be important to the story, but is it important to know them right now? The only thing the reader really needs to know initially is where and when the action is taking place – the rest can wait. Weave in little details rather than info dumping.
  11. Can you cut 100 words, maybe more? Check your word count. Keep it short and sweet. You will make a stronger impact with fewer words. This needs to be your sharpest work, so don’t get complacent. See what you can do to pack more of a punch.

After you have done this exercise, you’re ready to bring in the professionals, so check out our Start Strong Manuscript Assessment Service. Our expert editors will carefully read through the first 50 pages of your manuscript along with your synopsis. They will then create a 6-10 page manuscript assessment report, which will cover both broad strokes issues and give specific examples of smaller problems along with solutions of how they can be fixed. This allows you to make really speedy progress improving your work, as you will be armed with an action plan of what you need to do, where and how.

If you tuned in to the webinar, I’d really appreciate some feedback as it was my very first webinar and this showbiz is all new to me! Or if you have any questions, please email