Becoming Indie

Self publishing and Indie author sessions

Are you thinking about self publishing? Do you want to be an indie? Are you fed up with the rejection letters from traditional publishers? Have you got a fire in your belly for your book? Are you ready to take control and bring your book to the world?

This is a course for the determined, for those wishing to empower themselves. This is a course for the serious emerging indie, those wishing to develop audiences and those traditionally published authors who want to take control of their backlist

It is common to suppose that you write the book, then your publisher sells it. You imagine your book of beautiful words and pretty sentences will bring thousands of pounds to your bank account and you can just lie back, rest, maybe write another.Unfortunately, this is no longer accurate information. 

Authorship is a business. You become your product and you have to demonstrate to agents, publishers, literary industry and fans that you are worth investing time and effort in.

Audience engagement with your product, before your product is available, is now commonplace. Writers wish for fans as they write, so that there is a market waiting for their book. We engage with our potential readers before our novels are even at first draft. As independent authors and publishers we actively seek out the folk who will enjoy our words, in order that we may one day sell them a book, or indeed, buy a book from them.

There are many questions to consider. In this course you will be examining the nuances of publishing, the etiquette of Twitter, how to find book reviewers. You will learn how to create a book which looks as good, if not better, than a traditionally published one.

  • What will your book look like? Will you design it all yourself or will you ask for professional assistance?

We take time to explore the online world of authors and readers and the many thousands of sites where stories are sold.

We look at the self published books with professional input and we examine the covers, layouts, designs, formatting and ISBNs.

We look at audio books, Amazon Author Central and Kindle Direct Publishing.

Print on demand companies work with indies to help distribute physical copies of your book. Which print on demand company best suits you is subjective and dependent on pricing, benefits and relationship. Building a relationship with your print on demand company is vital.

  • Where do you want to sell your book? Will it look good on a bookshelf? How attractive can you make it? Who will it appeal to?

Some people are simply not comfortable revealing their poet-identities. It takes time for folk to take on the role of indie. Insecurities are the main barrier, in my opinion, to stepping up and publishing your gorgeous stories on your own blog. 

To overcome this, I have been teaching the shy retiring emerging indies to create public personas which they are comfortable with. For instance, one student did not wish to be known as a poet, so I helped him create an alter ego for social media sites. 

Here is an example of an alter ego, or second self, which I created for a client.

This is where he can publish rants, insights and wisdoms and fans can engage.

On Facebook he is Nib Doula, with pages called Nib’s Nature Notes

He also has Twitter, Goodreads, Kobo, Pinterest, SmashWords, Google Plus, Instagram and Literary Hub accounts, with audiences of hundreds on each.

I built and connected all these sites. Nib wrote the content.

The content of your blog (eg WordPress) allows potential readers to access your world and you. Audience engagement is vital. I like to win one fan at a time – they are more loyal that way. I ignore the haters and the trolls. I build security systems into blog sites in order that trolls can’t leave their poison.

(For those of you who don’t know, internet trolls are people who need to project negativity by leaving hate speech on your sites. A bit like the sad little man up the road who shouts at everyone because he is feeling angry).

Writing content for blogs is as important as the content of your book and you give it as much consideration. Recording your spoken word pieces and uploading onto You Tube should be done as professionally as possible. The time to publish your blog is when the demographic for your identified target market is likely to be online. For instance, the demographic for Nib Doula’s target market are on line on Sunday mornings, reading blogs they have bookmarked on Friday evening commutes home from work in the city, so I published his rants and poetry at 4pm on Fridays, stayed online to engage with any clickers on any social media site and then recorded the positive reactions by either adding friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and WordPress and collecting email addresses.

These are the rudiments of audience development for writers. There is a whole lot more to learn and many wonderful indies ready to help and assist you.

I teach you how to build the sites, maintain them, link them, and unless you purchase a domain name, your online identity should cost nothing. That’s right. You do not need to spend money on a website. 

  • How does my book get from the print on demand company and onto the bookshelves in shops?

The world of Search Engine Optimisation is the art of tricking the Google algorithm so that your website appears on google search pages. It is aided by Adwords. Amazon have a similar system with categories and keywords. It takes a bit of learning and practice to understand both systems. You will make mistakes, we all do.

  • Do I really need an editor or can my friend do it?

In order to understand all this, and much more, you need to access courses and workshops facilitated by indie writers. I love Joanna Penn and The Alliance of Independent Authors. The Times and The Grauniad also offer self publishing workshops.

I offer online tutorials of two hours duration.

I have found that three sessions of two hours each and even total beginners can build, upload, own, publish, share, comment, engage and feel comfortable with social media, whether as their genuine self or as their alter ego.

Once you have established yourself online and are contributing content to the digital world, you will gain followers. You then have a potential income source. These are the people you sell your book to, and then you encourage them to tell their friends.

I offer online or face to face classes on author branding, SEO,  the costs of self publishing, how to network, how build your author platform, how to find a designer, the types of computer files required for print on demand companies and the type of files needed for Kindle or Kobo or SmashWords.

Payment is £40 for each 2 hour session.

Sessions are online, unless otherwise agreed.

Once payment has been received, I will be in touch to set a date for our first consultation.

The first consultation serves to ascertain your needs and what you want to do with your book. We then build a plan of where to start, we begin creating your author profiles and then I teach you how to find your fans and readers, reviewers, peers, support networks and other Indies, as well as spoken word events, submissions to journals or competitions. Each week you build your skills and knowledge until your book is ready to publish. We then find a suitable launch pad. 

Please use the contact form below for enquiries and banking details.




Private Writing Tuition

I have no formal qualification in teaching. Instead I have a gift for it. I have a talent and it has taken me a long time to admit it. Thanks to HI-Arts and Emergents, I benefitted from a fifteen year apprenticeship in novel writing and self publishing. Because of Creative Scotland’s funding for emerging authors, and Scottish Book Trust’s dedication to the book, I managed to attend workshops with Scotland’s finest poet teachers, academics and visionaries. I update and enhance my skills regularly with retreats at Moniack Mhor. I am completing my first draft of novel three and I regularly enter short stories in literary journals, often published. My first novel is called The January Flower and it is available on Amazon (please leave a review).

My attitude to writing novels is that the words and stories should flow from the heart, then be shaped by some learnt techniques. The exercises I teach are not based on deconstruction of famous wordsmiths. I don’t demand clever insightful prose from my students. There is no vast reading list of highly acclaimed geniuses.

I teach you how to pull stories out of the nonsense in your head and then shape them into poems or stories or novels. I teach you how to start writing creatively, with highly creative techniques, exercises and homework.

  • This is a kitchen table/ coffee table service.
  • Payment must be made in advance for this service.
  • Once payment has cleared, I will read your work and offer to meet with you to discuss your needs.
  • Initial appointment lasts one hour, with in depth critique of your work.
  • Cost: £40 per session, payable by bank transfer.

Here are some of the reactions from former students;

“One session with Orla and I haven’t stopped writing since” – Laura.

“Thank you Orla, you really listened to what I needed and gave me the confidence to get published and enter competitions” – Amanda Gilmour.

“Your classes were the highlight of my week” – Viv.

“Thank you for taking the time to read everything I ever wrote and show me ways to put it together” – Christine.

“You are so insightful and patient” – Jake.

“Orla is a sublime and gifted creative writing tutor” – Napier Marten.

I am dedicated to all things writerly. I am interested in your stories and how you wish to tell them and I have years of experience nurturing the curious potential author or poet.

If you have a novel tucked away in a drawer, or the back of your head, please get in touch. If you have a dream of writing the stuff of your lived experience but have no idea how to start, then I may be able to help.

Please use the contact form below for details on how to make payments.






It has been my privilege to tutor some astonishing emerging writers this past twelve months and after June is out, I am taking a break in order to pressurise myself into finishing my own novel. I haven’t tried the back-up-agin-the-wall-and-bloody-get-on-with-it tactic before, on myself, and will of course let you know if it works.
Apart from the Daless Write of Passage Inaugural Writing Retreat, set in the hills of Nairn miles from anywhere, down a road I personally won’t drive, which will be the most informal surreal craziness, probably, then I am staying put, here at home, unless there is good money in doing otherwise.
Mark, Nib, Dani, Amanda, Lynne, Ali, Selina, Kenny, Viv, lis, Liz, Elisabeth et al, I love ye dearly and you are totes amazeballs so I am at your service.
Would it interest you to all meet up, to read out your favourite piece of work from the past months? Maybe a pint and some readings one evening in Brodie?
Merkinch Sundays in The Bike Shed have been wonderful, thanks a million. Let’s see if some funding materialises in order to continue with them. In the interim, there are writing classes in Eden Court and Merkinch Community Centre as well as courses at Moniack Mhor. Contact Paul Shanks and HiLit. There are spoken word events in the Autumn – see you there!

Daless 1

Daless 2


Summer 2017

My world is becoming what I always dreamed of. Notebooks of scrawls on every surface, diaries of classes filling, novel one filed, novel 2 in a box, novel 3 in note form. In order to buy the time to take novel 2 out of that box, onto the desk to be read, shaped, edited, I teach others all the writing techniques, insights, tips and tricks I have learned over the past 15 years with HI-Arts, Emergents, Scottish Book Trust et al. I am nervous, some days overwhelmed but always, in every moment, utterly grateful to everyone who supported me in my journey here. Now please help me sustain this…

Find Your Inner Writer, Findhorn is up and running. You are welcome to join us in Findhorn village every other Friday morning at 10am sharp. It’s a simple but powerful and quite unique exercise.

Above The Strandline is a writing retreat for women on Isle Martin. I will be a guest tutor. This is a weekend workshop on a remote island off the north west coast of Scotland. There’s no electricity and no wifi. Bliss. Our lead tutor is the truly amazing LG Thomson – here’s a link for more details.
Isle Martin Writing Retreat for Women

NOWSE is my self publishing/ self promotion strand. Whether you are a holiday cottage owner, a tradesman, an artist or you know you have books to write, you need to use the internet to build your on line presence. NOWSE is the tools; the spanners, cogs, wires and other assorted self publishing necessities. You can join us in the Emergents meeting room on Church Street, Inverness alternate Mondays from September 2017 – and yes, in order to make the most of your online presence, you need to find your voice, so we do a bit of that too!
Branding, blogging, Vlogging, meditations, exercises, how to Tweet, why to Tweet and SEO, it’s all just NOWSE.

If you would like to hire me for your group, then the fab folks at Scottish Book Trust have organised the Live Literature database which makes funding available so that authors can travel. Just contact Kay Bohan – and here’s the link
Scottish Book Trust, Orla Broderick

If you would like any more information, please use the contact form below and I will get back to you