Nov 26, 2018
Transcript: Thanks, Allan. Hi. This is David Brower with Your 20-Minute Podcast. Our special guest from freezing cold somewhere in the Midwest, is Lisa Orban. How are you today, Lisa?
Lisa Orban: Still cold.
David Brower: Still cold. I like it.
Lisa Orban: Still cold.
David Brower: Things haven't changed in the last 90 seconds. That's awesome.
Lisa Orban: No, no. We still have snow, and it's still cold. 25 degrees below normal, and I'm not appreciating it.
David Brower: Oh, geez. I'm in Colorado. I'm feeling much better.
Lisa Orban: You should.
David Brower: I know.
Lisa Orban: It's warmer there.
David Brower: Oh, my god. There's a lot of things I'm excited to talk to about, but one of them is the Indies United Publishing House, a place where readers and authors meet. You started this, right? You're an author first and foremost, but you started this website, for lack of a better term ...
Lisa Orban: Yes, this year.
David Brower: This year?
Lisa Orban: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
David Brower: Wow, that's awesome. Tell me about it.
Lisa Orban: Well, I've been an author since 2013. I have been and indie author, which means I'm an independent. I didn't belong to a house. Because I wrote memoirs, I received a lot of very nice rejection letters that started with, "We love your book. It is amazing. It's awesome. We think that it has a great deal of potential, but ..."
David Brower: But.
Lisa Orban: But.
David Brower: I hate the but.
Lisa Orban: What it came down to ... Yeah, I know. It all came down to, well, cost versus profits.
David Brower: Sure.
Lisa Orban: As a memoir writer, they didn't feel that I was worth investing in because they didn't feel that I would be prolific enough. Eight books later, here I sit.
David Brower: Wow. Told you so.
Lisa Orban: Yeah. I have received amazing reviews on my books. People love them. I'm a little snarky. I'm sarcastic. I have a great sense of humor, and it comes through in all of my books.
David Brower: Good.
Lisa Orban: Even when I touch on darker subjects like in my memoirs. I also have a couple of coloring books too if you want some stress relief.
David Brower: Oh, fun.
Lisa Orban: I am an artist as well. Anyway, but it got very frustrating. Then, once you publish as an indie, it becomes difficult for people to take you seriously. "Oh, you're an indie author, uh-huh." You know?
David Brower: Oh, yeah.
Lisa Orban: It puts you in this unwanted stepchild category.
David Brower: Oh, my gosh. Hate that.
Lisa Orban: There are amazing, amazing indie author published books, I mean and there are, but again, it comes down to publishers will only publish a finite amount of books every year. Meet that criteria of prolific. They generally don't want you. You get into this kind of gray area. Then when you add into it there are things called vanity publishers which offer what sounds like these amazing deals, and then they take thousands of your dollars, and they don't give you a whole bunch in return. They're predatory, very predatory.
David Brower: Oh, my gosh.
Lisa Orban: And unfortunately, a lot of authors, new authors thinking like, "Oh, this is a publisher, they want my book." I just have to give them $13,000 or whatever.
David Brower: How sad, I mean that's really sad.
Lisa Orban: So, they really take advantage of them. And then there's even the worse category, which are ones that say, "Oh, we love your book. Sign this contract." And unfortunately, because most people don't read contracts, which we encourage our authors to read ours, take it to a lawyer. We have nothing to hide, but it's a good habit every author should get into. It's a habit every person should get into ...
David Brower: Every person, yeah.
Lisa Orban: ... is read the contract. So, what happens is they sign these contracts and they inadvertently, not realizing it, they get paid and they think it's an advance and what it turns out is that the company has now purchased full rights to their books and the author has given up all of theirs.
David Brower: Oh, my gosh.
Lisa Orban: And so, they'll never get it back. And so these companies feel that they pay a couple hundred bucks and they just shoot out hundreds of books and if one hits, well then they've made their profit back. But these poor authors, if it were to become, it's not likely, but if it were to become a bestseller, they get nothing, because they have no longer any rights to their book.
David Brower: Wow. Unbelievable.
Lisa Orban: And so, I'm looking at all of this and I've made a lot of contests with a variety of people within the publishing world and it is a very small world believe it or not.
David Brower: I would think so, yeah.
Lisa Orban: There's a lot of authors, but we're all kinda this small community. And I got to talking to him about it and expressing my frustrations and everyone agreed, "We should do something about it," well, I've finally said, "I should do something about it."
David Brower: Yeah, I was gonna say, we turned into you, I think.
Lisa Orban: Mm-hmm (affirmative) and I went, "That's it, I'm doing this," and it took me about a year to get everything set up. So, I didn't just throw it together and I started making contacts with people and started to put together the business model and kinda running it by people and finally I came up with this, we are a co-op as opposed to a more traditional publishing house.
All of our authors keep 100 percent of their royalties, they keep complete control of their books. Primarily what we are for is we are to give them support, additional promotions, a home for their books under our umbrella to give them more legitimacy instead of going, "Oh, you're an indie author, gotcha."
David Brower: Well, I love the fact that you're right up front with it, calling it Indies United, I mean that's ... the thing that's cool to me, because I don't know what I don't know about this stuff. I've been dabbling in a book for years, who knows if I'll ever finish it, but ...
Lisa Orban: Oh, you should come to me.
David Brower: Okay, I will. You'll be 73, but it'll be okay.
Lisa Orban: All right, that's fine.
David Brower: Is how transparent you are. I mean, my gosh, folks when you go to the website and it is indiesunited.net and you click on the FAQ, there is not a question that you can imagine in your lifetime that Lisa hasn't put down in words and answers and I mean I'm very impressed with how transparent you are.
Lisa Orban: Well, thank you. I want to be as transparent as possible and believe it or not, there are questions that occasionally come up that are not covered in the frequently asked questions and people can, if you go to our website, if you have any questions, there's a link to email me and send me an email and ask me and I will do my best to answer your questions and if I don't know the answer, I will find the answer.
David Brower: Nice. Well, the other thing that's cool about this and correct me if I'm wrong, but you don't have to be a prolific writer and already have books out and those kinds of ... seriously, if I ever finish this manuscript, I just send it to you, right?
Lisa Orban: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
David Brower: What do you do with it?
Lisa Orban: We take ... well, basically we will review it. We have reviewers that also look through our books and as long as it is what is called "publication ready", it's been edited and proofread and is ready to go, we assign your ISBN. The only thing that we will ever charge you ever is the processing fee for the ISBN's.
David Brower: Okay.
Lisa Orban: But that's it and in exchange, you basically get lifetime marketing and promotion as long as your book holds our ISBN at no charge.
David Brower: Now, tell me for those who don't know, what is the ISBN?
Lisa Orban: An ISBN is the International Standard Numerical System. It's the string of numbers, 13 numbers on the back of the book and in the copyright page and that numbers tells libraries and book stores and other people if you put that in anywhere, it'll pull up the book. So, it says who's the name of the book is, the title, the publisher, which in our case would be Indies United. And just a lot of little information about the book.
So, it's a way for libraries and everybody to categorize books when they come out.
David Brower: Well as an author, it makes you, it gives you instant credibility, right?
Lisa Orban: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.
David Brower: That's very cool.
Lisa Orban: And see, here's the thing, because you can buy these ISBN's individually through Bowker's, which is the company that is the only place in the United States that you can buy the ISBN's from or from like Amazon or other book producing companies. But they charge $125 per ISBN. That's a lot of money.
David Brower: That's a lot of money.
Lisa Orban: It is a lot of money and you have to have a different ISBN for every variation of your book.
David Brower: Hello.
Lisa Orban: Yeah, so Amazon doesn't like to play nice with other people, so if you have a book, if you publish your book with Amazon, and it's an eBook, you can't use that same ISBN, say going to Barnes & Noble, because they claim it, it's theirs. So, if you go to Barnes & Noble and then you wanna do an Amazon and you have a paperback and so on and so forth, an eBook, every one of those will cost you more.
David Brower: See, I would do an audio book.
Lisa Orban: There you go.
David Brower: Yeah.
Lisa Orban: But all we do is charge a processing fee of $25 for the ISBN's and that's basically what allows us to do the marketing and keep the lights rolling.
David Brower: So, if I understand you correctly, if I was to go to Big Brother whatever and buy my ISBN, right?
Lisa Orban: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
David Brower: Okay, for $125 or I can be an indie and hook up with you and get that same number for $25 and have a lifetime of marketing?
Lisa Orban: Yes.
David Brower: That's insanity. Why don't you charge $50?
Lisa Orban: Why? Because here's the thing: it's expensive to publish a book. It is. You have to pay for cover art and interior editing and design and graphics and formatting. It's expensive, it is very expensive to be an author. Basically, you have to become a millionaire to be a moderately successful middle-range author anymore.
Unless you're already a celebrity, then everybody buys your book, it doesn't matter if it's good or bad, because you're a celebrity.
David Brower: Yeah, exactly.
Lisa Orban: But for the average indie author, let's face it. The medium wage in the U.S. is not all that great and I want authors to be able to publish their books through us. I want them to be able to have this home, I want them to be able to publish their books, I want them to have a support network. All of our authors support each other, they advertise for each other, they market each other. We're there to encourage each other and that goes for our vendors as well that we have on our site, because we do have vetted vendors that have gone through a process to make sure that they don't ... because the other thing is there are a lot of people out there that will take your money, "Oh, I'll edit your book," and they don't.
David Brower: Right, right.
Lisa Orban: Or "we'll give you cover art," and it's crap.
David Brower: So literally, you've covered all the bases. If I ... again I'll selfishly use myself as an example, if I send you my manuscript, in a perfect world you go through, "Hey, this is kinda cool and it's vetted, whatever," and then do I get with your vetted vendors to do the rest of the process to get that published?
Lisa Orban: It's entirely up to you. Like I said, some authors, when they submit their books to us, they've already gone through with an editor and stuff, because we do not do the editing, because if I provided all these services like a traditional house, I would then have to take royalties and the authors would lose a lot of their creativity and control and I don't wanna take that from them.
David Brower: It would defeat the purpose, yeah.
Lisa Orban: Exactly.
David Brower: It would defeat the purpose, yeah.
Lisa Orban: And our vendors, none of our authors are required to use them. They are simply there as a service, as a safe alternative instead of just going and randomly searching for people online, because this actually happened to me with my second book, I went, "I'm gonna do this right, I'm gonna get an editor, I'm gonna do the whole thing," paid a lot of money, I don't wanna say how much, because it's embarrassing, but anyway paid a lot of money.
Now, most of these places will charge you under $1,000, because at that point, if they don't perform, it's petty theft and then you have to go to small claims court and it's just a big mess and they know it. It's not worth it. So, they took my book, they kept it two months longer than they were supposed to have it. I almost missed my publication deadline, didn't look through it, just threw it up, I'm like, "Oh, it must be done," threw it up there and found out they had not edited a single line.
David Brower: Oh, my gosh.
Lisa Orban: Not one. They made no corrections.
David Brower: That's heartbreaking.
Lisa Orban: So, I contacted them and they said, "Eh, we didn't find any mistakes." I'm like, "Are you crazy? I'm dyslexic, I know I made mistakes."
David Brower: Yeah, right, right.
Lisa Orban: I can't vet myself, okay? I know I make mistakes, which is why I hired you. So, this happens to authors way more than you would think it does, which is why we offer these vendors, who will actually do the work as advertised without issue.
David Brower: Good for you.
Lisa Orban: So, if you use one of our vendors, you can be guaranteed to have a good, finished product.
David Brower: I love that. I love the fact that you've created a community.
Lisa Orban: Well, thank you. I believe that "by your own bootstraps" just doesn't work, because it's an impossible task. You need others and we need each other and again, you don't even have to be one of our authors to use our services. If you are an independent author and you need a cover artist or you need a translator, we have a translation service that translates I think into 11 languages now.
But if you need any of these services, you don't have to be part of our team to use them, anybody can.
David Brower: Nice.
Lisa Orban: So, they're just there for anyone, because again, I wanna give authors a safe haven, a place where they can trust where what they get is what they get. What they think they're paying for is actually what they're getting.
David Brower: Well and you indicated earlier, you've written quite a few books, "I'd Rather Starve than Cook", "I Feel Better When it Quits Hurting", "Wine Comes in Six Packs," love that.
Lisa Orban: It does.
David Brower: "If I Were a Dictator" and then another, "If I Were a Dictator: A Tongue-in-Cheek Guide to Saving Our Democracy," a cookbook for people who hate to cook and then you have these optical illusion coloring books, oh my gosh. What a great variety of stuff.
Lisa Orban: You should see my boyfriend. He would cross his eyes when I get done with those, because I color them in to make sure that they were all right and I'm like, "What do you think?" And he's like, "Oh, god". I'm like, "That was the reaction I was looking for. Looks good."
David Brower: Well I'm looking at all your books on a site that's called goodreads.com, tell me about that briefly. We're just about out of time, so tell me about that.
Lisa Orban: Good Reads is a place where authors can promote their books and readers can find the books that they are looking for. Again, it's a community. Now, they don't do publishing and they don't do those other things, but it is a community of authors and readers together, which is nice.
David Brower: It is nice.
Lisa Orban: By the way, with the holidays coming up, everyone should really check out "I'd Rather Starve Than Cook", it's a cookbook for people who hate to cook. Recipes are generally under five ingredients and under 10 minutes.
David Brower: Buying it. Buying it.
Lisa Orban: And at the end, there is actually a complete, for the holidays, for Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, there are complete meal guides.
David Brower: Oh, my god.
Lisa Orban: And again, you can take them or leave them, but it's everything from turkey to ... I don't do desserts. I tell people they're on their own for deserts.
David Brower: Yeah, that's probably smart, huh?
Lisa Orban: I usually just buy a frozen pie.
David Brower: As long as it's pumpkin or coconut cream.
Lisa Orban: Right, because you see I really do hate to cook. I will sit and I will starve rather than cook.
David Brower: That is awesome, oh my god. You're my mother in a different life, I swear to god. I wish she woulda had that cookbook. She woulda been oh my, mercy me.
Lisa Orban: But I had five kids, I had to feed them, because the law says you have to.
David Brower: That's right. Well, it does and you can't feed them just frozen pie for crying out loud.
Lisa Orban: No, no you can't. So, I came up with all of these ... there's over 100 recipes in there and the book came about, because after my kids were grown and gone, because they're all grown now and they're like, "Mom, I can't find this recipe for your meatloaf" or "I can't find it for stroganoff" or whatever it is. Sheppard's pie.
And they're like, "I can't find it anywhere in a recipe book," I'm like, "Well, that's because I made it up." And so, two years ago at Christmas I said, "Oh, I'll just put all my recipes together" and I sat down and started putting them all together and I put just like a wire-bound booklet for my kids and I thought about it and I was like, "Oh my god, this is a cookbook, a real one."
So, the next year, I came out and the next year, the cookbook came out right before Thanksgiving.
David Brower: Excellent, good for you.
Lisa Orban: And you can also read about ... I share stories. You can read stories like how I blew up a fish.
David Brower: Oh, my god, I wanna read that too. We're about out of time, though, but folks you gotta go to ... you're everywhere. YouTube, you've got an author page, an author website, a website for Indies United, Facebook, Good Reads, Twitter, LinkedIn. Pretty much, if you put in "Lisa Orban" O-R-B-A-N, you will find her everywhere.
Lisa Orban: I am prolific.
David Brower: I love it, absolutely love it. And I love your laugh, I love your humor, I love your energy and anybody who is even remotely thinking about being an indie writer, you gotta check this out. Is it, hold on, I lost it. There we go, indiesunited.net, that's the place to go.
Lisa Orban: That's right.
David Brower: 99.99 percent of any question you can think of is under the FAQ. Trust me on that.
Lisa Orban: If you go to our Facebook site at Indies United Publishing, you can also see our recommendations and if you go to YouTube, I have an entire video series. I'm up to 13 videos, I think, right now on how to publish a book in the indie world.
David Brower: I listened to a couple of those today. I'm gonna go back and listen to them some more. There's so much free stuff, folks, that she's just putting it out there and transparent, encouraging, community, why wouldn't you get involved with this? Lisa, thank you so much, you are something special.
Lisa Orban: Oh, thank you. I really enjoyed this. This was a lot of fun.
Allan Blackwell: Your 20-minute podcast with David Brower has been brought to you by Audible. You can listen to any of David's podcasts anywhere podcasts can be found, including iHeart Radio, the Spotify mobile app and davidbrowervo.com/your20minutepodcast. Until next time, thanks for listening.