For Those Who Think They Might Have Words To Sell

Any of you who has written anything they own outright — whether educational, travel, series of blog posts, epigrams, poems (You’ll see mine when you pry them from my cold dead hands) novels, short stories or end-time-prophecies — and who wishes to try his/her/its/dragon’s luck at self-publishing on Amazon (from my experience, HONESTLY what sells will shock you.  As will what doesn’t sell) but is sitting there going “But it’s a complex process.  I have no idea how…”  Amanda Green who often comments here and who is my co-blogger at Mad Genius as well as a member of my critique group, is doing a workshop.  She has done this for two years for Naked Reader Press for which I am now — poor them — art director.

I asked her to send me the info and she did.

Publishing is changing. We all know it. We’ve seen how traditional publishers have struggled, and are still struggling, to adapt to changes in technology and customer demand. Every aspect of the industry has been impacted. But those who have been impacted the most are writers. The question each of us face is whether we view these changes as a door closing on our careers or one opening. In my opinion, it is a door being thrown wide open and, for the first time ever, giving writers the chance to take full control of their careers. This workshop will deal with a number of the issues facing writers as they determine whether or not to take advantage of new opportunities to digitally publish their work.

Here is a brief overview of what we will be discussing during the workshop:

    Some business and legal considerations.
    Digital formats.
    Preparing to digitize
    Editing, copy-editing and proofreading
    General formatting considerations
    Distribution possibilities
    Repackager v. doing it yourself
    Where can you do it yourself
    Pros and cons of each
    Specific manuscript formatting issues based on upload method (Smashwords, Lulu, Amazon, B&N, etc)
    ISBN, copyright, etc
    Where to find artwork for cheap/free
    Text considerations
    Other considerations
    Price points
    Price control
    Promotional pricing
    Misc. topics including promotion, print on demand, etc.

The workshop is free, although donations are welcomed.

I’m taking it also, since the method I use I learned at Oregon Writers and though it works well, it can drive me bananas with some things — like Smashwords — and glitch majorly on longer works.  Amanda uses different methods/software and I figure if I know both I can pick and choose.

If you have Amanda’s email contact her and she’ll add you.  If not, leave your interest here, and make sure the email is active on your avatar, or leave an email you don’t mind leaving, in occluded format, and she’ll ping you.

Oh, and those of you who are waiting for Witchfinder, I’m working on it right now.  It’s … an ODD chapter.

57 responses to “For Those Who Think They Might Have Words To Sell

  1. Awesomesauce. I just finished Bob Mayer’s online workshop on a very similar vein, but the more info on the current state of play, the better my osmosis…I hope. Please sign me up!

  2. I’d be very interested in participating. This bit of your build-up particularly catches the eye:

    HONESTLY what sells will shock you. As will what doesn’t sell

    I could use a good shock about now. Thanks!

    • Some years ago while watching Book TV The Spouse and I heard something that peaked our interest. There had been a convention of decorative barbed-wire collectors with some 10,000 people attending. That is a large number of people interesting in decorative barbed-wire willing and able to pay to go to this convention. The speaker then went on to observe that while the number might be impressive, in this country that represents a small drop in a bucket. Never be surprised what there might be a market for.

      • Given that there’s an entire market for pictures of shapely-legged women crushing things with high heels, colored barbed wire conventions don’t phase me one bit.

        • In silk stockings? (runs.)

          • I believe stockings (with or without runs) are optional. The main thing was the sight of a stiletto heel crushing something like a large bug. Almost, but not quite, as weird as “pony play”.

            • Not having seen that before, I expected it to be all kinds of things, like fruit, vegetables, bugs, technology, etc., but not I think I get it.

            • I think I get pony-play before I get bug-squishing-in-stilettos. O_o (But I, like Nell, may be awfully hard to shock.)

              • I vaguely recall reading about issues of crushing small furry animals (that is to say: cute animals) were raising concerns. Frankly, it is a subject which stirs so little interest compared to the revulsion evoked (it seems that there ought be a ratio expressing the two, interest & revulsion,recognizing that some things will score high on both scales and other things only one or the other) that I quietly dropped it into the “people is sick” bin and quietly walked away.

                • When it gets into animal abuse, I think it passes my squick point at warp speed, too. I definitely grok pony play more than animal-abuse. *shudder*

    • By the way — there is an email address attached to my name here, but it doesn’t show up if you click on the link. So in case you need it, here it is: jrandom (swirly-thingy) bondwine (spot-thingy) com.

  3. Yeah, and that IS something driving the gatekeepers and their champions nuts. We learn, we teach, we propagate. We’re EVERYWHERE. And, unlike zombies, we have more brains than the competition. 😉

  4. ppaulshoward

    I keep telling myself to start writing. [Frown]

  5. pohjalainen

    I’m interested.

    Will there also be something about how to do things when you don’t use Word? I have a Mac, and use Scrivener (which I’m still learning) or Open Office, and most of the instructions I have found so far go with the assumption that you start with a Word doc.

    Also, I have some artwork ready. And since I’m only starting with it right now I would be happy enough to donate that for free if anybody happens to need the type of stuff I have – if I keep doing this I will probably go for what you suggested, start putting things up for sale, or at least get a permanent place with a donate button, at some point, but not yet.

    • The only real problem you may run into using OO is with Smashwords. I will also do my best to include some Mac references or at least links to software that will help you with the process on a Mac.

    • One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that converting from Open Office to PDF format causes a formatting disaster. I’ve even tried converting first to MS Word and THEN to PDF, with the same results. I have no problem with Open Office to Word, but I’ve learned that it’s best to do a complete re-edit after the conversion to pick up any problems. Most Word documents convert quite well to epub format, except when you use an “exotic” script, such as Old English. THAT doesn’t convert.

      • Personally, I would advise never, ever using exotic fonts in a book destined for epub. There are just too many different reader apps/devices, and I wouldn’t trust them to handle it prettily. (Not to mention that many apps allow the reader to set what font they want to see things in, which will override the font(s) in the book. As a reader who often needs larger type (eye-floaters suck, even aside from myopia), I revel in the ability to set font and size!

        But it does mean exotic fonts are, whoosh, out the door. C’est la vie.

  6. I’m definitely interested! My self from two year ago would never believe I’m saying this, but, with the state of publishing in such turmoil, I think self-pubbing is the way to go for now. (Yes, Baen is an exception, but I don’t write the Baen kind of book, much as I enjoy reading them. I hope Baen prospers mightily through all this.)

    It’s hard for those of us who have not been published before, there’s that whole “am I really worthy?” thing, the whole never-being-blessed-by-the-gatekeepers stigma. But everything else weighs too much on the other side – the DOJ lawsuits really pushed down on that end of the scale.

    • You are worthy. Being lied to and treated like dirt by big publishers is NOT a growing experience. TRY it. As I said, Amanda Hocking thought her friends and relatives would buy the book. Instead, she ended up making a fortune. TRY it.

  7. Please pass my name on to Amanda – I’m waiting for information from SS that the woman on the phone claimed will make it safe for me to try self-publishing without affecting disability income adversely. I may need to know HOW sooner than I thought.

    • Abe: I’m also on SS disability, although now that I’m 65, it doesn’t much matter. There’s a certain threshold you must meet before you lose anything. I think (been a long time since I asked the same question) it’s $6000/year, but it may have changed. The Social Security disability pamphlet should have the information, and you should have gotten a copy once your claim was validated. Where my copy is only G-d knows.

      • You won’t get that from self-pub the first year, unless you have a ton of works out, or a lot of luck. (I mean, it could happen, but almost everyone gets a slow build)

        • One element of such a seminar should be how to evaluate metrics, exactly such as year-to-year rate of growth. It helps to know how long it takes your trees to bear fruit and whether you’re planting apples (2-3 yrs), sweet cherries (5-7 yrs), avocado trees (15 yrs0 or shoe trees (never.)

          • The problem is that there really isn’t enough data and there are too many variables, at least right now. For example, romantic suspense will almost always sell more than sf/f. But, if you get your sf/f into the KDP Select program at the right time and offer it for free on the right day when there aren’t 600 or more free titles, you might gt a really good bump in both KOLL downloads — which pay you — and then buy-throughs.

  8. Sarah, the information posted doesn’t include whether this is an online course, an email course, or an in-residence course. If it’s online or by email, I’d certainly love to attend. There is one area where I could use some help that isn’t listed – how to get a decent review.

  9. Well, having muddled my way through this far, I’d be more than willing to learn how to not screw things up too badly, should there still be room at the metaphorical back of the class that is.

  10. Sounds great. For those who don’t have time for a workshop, you can currently pick up David Gaughran’s excellent guide to self-pub ‘Let’s Get Digital’ for free on Amazon. Covers a lot of the same topics.

  11. Sounds like Amanada could start a second batch of students.

  12. Robin Munn

    I have a few story ideas that seem permanently stuck in my head, which I’ve been unable to get to come out in a form I’d let anyone else see… so before this workshop would be useful to me, I’d need to successfully write those stories. However, I could see the ‘shop potentially being useful in the distant future.

    I probably won’t attend this one since I have way too many important commitments in the near future eating up my time & mental energy, but for future reference: do you think this workshop would be useful to me, or someone else in my shoes (i.e., aspiring writers who haven’t written anything yet)? Or would it be best if only people who’ve already written something signed up, for reasons of “space”? (I.e., there are only so many questions a workshop leader can answer, and a group of twenty is very different from a group of two hundred, even when no physical room size limitations exist.)

  13. Definitely very interested in this workshop! It sounds like exactly what I need as I step off the self publishing cliff and try to sprout wings.

  14. Oh and better email than the one I attached is

  15. Please add me to the workshop list, if you would.

  16. For those of you who are interested, please make sure you have either included an email address or your name has an active link to an email address. Otherwise, send me an email at amanda-at-amandasgreen-dot-com. I will be sending out the information and email loop activations over the weekend.

    • Amanda, I didn’t get anything from you over the weekend, so, just in case my email got lost in your spam trap, my email address is lmay at hal-pc dot org (there is a dash between hal and pc).

  17. I would definitely be interested in the workshop.

  18. I NEED that workshop.

  19. I am also interested.

  20. Please send me workshop sign-up details. If my icon doesn’t give you an email address, go here and click the contact me button.

  21. Please add me to your list. I’m very interested.


    thomas at coolsewell dot com.

  22. I’ll bite. I’m not afraid of learning something new, especially if it will help my collective. s DOT v DOT rowle AT gmail DOT com.

  23. I would be interested in more information about the workshop

    I would also be interested in hearing more on the subject of what does and doesn’t sell.
    retro_rockets AT yahoo DOT com

  24. callanprimer

    Amanda, please add me. I’ve stumbled a bit of the way into the self-pubbing thicket on my own, and could use the help before I’m permanently trapped . . .


  25. I’m out this time, because I’m taking an e-pub class as part of the regional writers’ workshops next month. Sounds great, though, and I’ll probably see if I can get into the next one. Thanks for doing this!

  26. Please sign me up. I am still in the process of deciding which way to go, but the thought of having a modicum of control is enticing, especially after reading some of the horror stories on the way writers have been treated by the Big Six.

  27. derekchamberlain

    I’m very interested in Amanda’s workshop.

    • Derek, I’ll be sending out the information for login, etc., later tonight and tomorrow. either post an email addy here for me or email me with an email addy –amanda(at)amandasgreen(dot)com

  28. Daren Bush

    I would also be interested in the workshop if it is not too late to sign up. Email is