Ben Galley is one of those people you really want to hate for being awesome at everything. With his first release in 2011, at age 25 Ben has already released 4 popular books, the recently concluded Emaneska series. Not only that, but he’s an influential member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, runs a popular Self-Publishing advice and support site, Shelf Help, is a talented artist, and has just opened up a new Independent only eBook store, Libiro, alongside Teague Fullick.
Yep, with amazing accomplishments like these, it would be very easy to hate Ben Galley. The only problem? He’s so nice that you want to take him out for drinks and talk about his projects instead of be jealous of his great achievements. Well, we didn’t end up getting drinks, but we did talk about his achievements; mostly, the new Independent eBook store, Libiro!
You’ve become quite well known in Self-Publishing through the Alliance of Independent Authors and your website Shelf Help, how did you come to be an advocate and source of information for self-publishing?
Primarily through experience. As the old saying goes, “learn by doing”, and that’s exactly what I did. I knew next to nothing when I first started writing my debut book – The Written. It took a lot of research, a lot of trial and error, a lot of planning, and a certain degree of luck to get where I am today. That, and a lot of patience. I’m proud to be able to offer advice and to help other authors.
Libiro has just gone live for independent authors, and will be live for sales on September 1st. How long has this project been in the works?
Myself and Libiro’s other founder Teague Fullick (who’s in charge of web design and development) have been working on Libiro for just under a year now. Originally, it was going to be just a simple eBook store, selling all different kinds of books – both traditional and indie. But earlier this year we decided to revamp it, shake it up, and the concept evolved into what it is today.
How did you come to be involved in Libiro, and what will your role be moving forward?
The idea to launch an eBook store was originally mine. I wanted to build an eBook store from an author’s point of view, based on what I have learned about the market, and also what I had come to yearn for in eBook platforms. I will be managing it alongside Teague for the foreseeable future.
Why make the choice to only cater to Independent books? Couldn’t the allowance of small press books lead to a larger draw for readers?
It could indeed, but it’s something we’re looking to move into in the future, and therefore I don’t believe we will be limited. I believe small presses can be classed as independent too, just like indie record labels in the music industry. That being said, even if we didn’t allow small press books, there are so many indie authors out there. I don’t believe Libiro would struggle.
Libiro only caters to Independent authors, yet one of the strives of self-published authors is to be looked on the same as traditionally published books in skill and professionalism. Do you think that this further separation of Independent from Traditionally published books will have an effect on the view of these books?
Not at all. There is a lot of stigma still surrounding indie books. Many readers believe self-publishing is synonymous with low quality and instantly dismiss it, and through Libiro, we hope to combat that. We hope that we can help authors make more of a living by providing them with a dedicated platform. By helping authors do this, we can enable them to do more – such as afford better services, or increase their reach – and therefore increase their standing in the industry. Hopefully this can help eradicate this stigma, and bring both halves of the industry together.
At the moment, you only offer PDF or .epub download. With a large portion of the audience owning Kindles, what do you think about the decision not to cater to these customers when .mobi files are available to purchase on stores other than Amazon? Will these become available at a later date?
They will be indeed. We are looking to provide as many formats as possible, to help authors reach as many readers as possible.
One of the aspects Independent authors like about platforms such as Kobo, Smashwords, and Amazon, is that they can keep track of their sales on the site and receive regular payments. How have you conquered the author side of a business like this?
We will be providing payments on a monthly basis, for the month that has just passed. This is something few other eBook stores do at the moment. Unfortunately, we can’t offer a back-end reporting system for authors at present, but again will be looking to provide this in the future. It’s very early days for Libiro, and we’ve got a lot of exciting ideas in the pipeline. Everything will be lead by what our authors want and need, so this is definitely a priority for us.
Libiro boasts a 80% royalty payment to Authors, a good 10% off the nearest competitor. Is this for books priced at any level?
Absolutely. We offer an 80% royalty for any book, at any price, by any author.
An important marketing techniques for Independent authors is lowering their prices for sale events: How will you keep up with these price fluctuations?
That’s a good question, and we’re tackling it in two ways. Firstly, authors can change their price whenever they want to by emailing us a request. We aim to make that change within hours and days, instead of weeks. Secondly, Libiro will be holding its own promotions that authors can opt in or out of whenever they like.
I notice that in your submission form, you have ‘Publication Date’. Will Libiro be offering pre-orders for books coming up to release?
Yes we do, which is something that authors, myself included, do like to see in eBook platforms. Indies are somewhat at the mercy of platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing that lack pre-order functionality. We have to get good at timing releases and keeping track of how certain platforms operate. With Libiro, you can set a publication date, and have your book go live when you want it to.
When it comes to the future, where do you want to see Libiro heading?
Into the realms of marketing! One thing that we would very much like to offer is a service that gives authors more information about who exactly is buying their book. Not just information about location, or device, but demographic, reading habits, perhaps even contact details. Information like that will enable authors to market more effectively, and so it’s another priority for Libiro’s expansion.
Any considerations to sell print on demand books, or merchandise from the authors?
Yes indeed, but these are near the bottom of the list at the moment. The infrastructure needed for this would entail quite a lot of work. We’re willing to put it in, but not until we’ve built a firm platform first.
How do you intend to bring readers who perhaps haven’t ventured into Independent books before?
Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of marketing, and we’re confident that a lot of readers, and authors too, will spread the word about us. Indie books have fewer boundaries, and therefore have the potential to be exciting and fresh. We’re hoping that fact will draw new readers in, ones intrigued and interested in what indies can offer.
Go on then, give me one last hard sell for Libiro…
Of course! Libiro isn’t going to stop at just being your friendly neighbourhood indie store. We’ll be organising best book cover awards and competitions, exciting promotions for Christmas and Halloween, author interviews, reader videos, and maybe even throwing a few events on Twitter and Facebook. You might as well get involved now, to avoid missing out! You can find is at http://www.libiro.com, or on Twitter @LibiroAtLarge. Thanks for reading.
With a passionate and knowledgeable backing like that, it’s not hard to imagine that Libiro will gain a great following, doing such an amazing service for Independent authors; I know I’m already excited by it. All you have to do is look at the books they’ve got on sale to know that these are professional authors providing a great product. Click on the logo above to be taken over to Libiro!