The Sword and Laser discussion

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message 1: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 4132 comments I've got a friend who is doing some writing, and it's not half bad. I'm trying to encourage him to do some self-publishing. Maybe like Doctorow does, where he just puts it out there, or maybe through Kindle Singles or iBook Author. Does anybody have any experience with any of these? Any tips you can offer, or websites you know of that might help someone considering self-publishing? I figure there are probably a fair few people here who might consider self-publishing at some point...and at least one person who I believe has.


message 2: by Nick (new)

Nick (whyzen) | 1295 comments http://reviews.cnet.com/self-publishing/
Seems to have a few tips for self publishing.


message 3: by Nick (new)

Nick (whyzen) | 1295 comments Same guy has a link at the bottom of that page to a article he did about e-book publishing.
http://reviews.cnet.com/how-to-self-p...


message 4: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6195 comments That's all Dragon Page Cover to Cover talks about starting with episode #456 http://www.dragonpage.com/category/sh...


message 5: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Publishing on Amazon is dead simple -- just format your book in HTML, go here and sign up for an account and follow the instructions. For other ebook stores, the easiest thing to do is use Smashwords which will aggregate the book to the major etailers for a very small cut of the royalties.

I've been doing it for a year and have averaged about $40 a month, though everything I've published so far is short fiction.


message 6: by Otto (new)

Otto (andrewlinke) | 110 comments Sean wrote: "Publishing on Amazon is dead simple -- just format your book in HTML, go here and sign up for an account and follow the instructions. For other ebook stores, the easiest thing to do is use Smashwor..."

What have you don in the way of promoting your work? My wife and I are finishing up books and I'm starting to worry about how to get any attention.


message 7: by David (new)

David Carroll (david_carroll) | 7 comments Self publishing is indeed easy. I have seven titles in ebook and one in paperback. I've sold 70 copies of Princess Nenji and brought in over $300 in royalties in the last two years. The hard part is getting the work ready to put out there. If it hasnt been reviewed by someone who knows what tjey are doing, don't waste the public's time. I met one guy witj three full length novels in 'print' without a single sale. So also remembwr that when you self publish, you must also self promote.
David D. Carroll
Author and self publisher


message 8: by Mike (new)

Mike | 41 comments How would a self published writer best go about promoting their book?


message 9: by Brad Theado (new)

Brad Theado | 217 comments I used www.lulu.com to publish a cookbook and was happy with the results.


message 10: by Doctordalek (new)

Doctordalek Mike wrote: "How would a self published writer best go about promoting their book?"

They usually spam goodreads. :)


message 11: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Doctordalek wrote: "Mike wrote: "How would a self published writer best go about promoting their book?"

They usually spam goodreads. :)"


That's not totally wrong. My beloved wife has gotten a few "advance reader copies" from Goodreads giveaways and has reacted with a range from "oh ick" through "wow that was really well done".

I have to concur too that the hardest part about self publishing is the promotion. You don't have contracts with major publishing houses to get your name out there and to get the book on store shelves. Even just getting it set to go to a brick and mortar store rather than just Amazon can really cut into your profits.

I've been working with Createspace and can highly recommend it. Easy interface, good feed back, the proofs turned out nice and very professional reading.

Also on the promotion front it helps to network. Get in with other self published authors and look for chances to cross promote. Find someone at a con to share a table with. Go into book stores and ask them to stock a copy or two as a local author. Offer to go free talks at your library about the writing process. Offer to give away copies of your book at events.

As said above: Self ~publishing~ is wicked easy. Self promotion is a bear.


message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) I find promotion the hardest part too. I agree that mastering social networking appears to be the key. I've found Google+ to be very good, but I've not made any progress with the oft recommended Twitter. Other than that I've got my own blog, my profile here (and posts of course) and, when I've got some spare time, I'll give Facebook a go. I'd much rather spend all my "author" time writing, but promotion is a necessary evil :(


message 13: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) when I've got some spare time, I'll give Facebook a go. I'd much rather spend all my "author" time writing, but promotion is a necessary evil :(

Actually if you're already blogging, Facebook's a breeze. You make a fan page for yourself (or you book (or both) ), and then you can link your twitter feed, your blog feed and other stuff directly to the fan page. Then people can just like you and get regular updates.

I also would point out that Blogger has a really easy to use schedule feature. I don't have time to write during the week (usually) so I write a pile of blog posts and schedule them to come out on my "blog days" to be sure that my site always has new material up on it.


message 14: by Warren (new)

Warren | 1556 comments Self publishing toon-

http://goo.gl/QZqae


message 15: by Napoez3 (new)

Napoez3 | 158 comments The hardest part for Indie artist (games, music, books) it's promotion. Publishing is easy, and getting easier with each moon pass.

Some one said "spam goodreads", one thing I learn is that spam is worthless and it's effects are normally bad. In my opinion, if you are an active member in a few comunities, people minght give you a chance. Try different social networks, and use the ones you like the most, but don't forget the main stream networks.

The problem with books it's more "work" for peopleto "try",with music you can listen to a few songs in in a few minutes, but with books you can't. Ypu might have a better chance writting short stories to promote your work, something you can read in less than 10 minutes in front of a computer screen.

I hate netbooks, when I get my hands in a normal keyboard, I might add a few things...


message 16: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) I was just grappling with that this week. I'm working on a Sci Fi Epic right now and writing some short stories as part of my world building and character exploring. But then I don't know what to DO with those stories.

I can post them on my website for free and garuntee they'll never earn me a dime.

I can, alternatively, try to sell them to a magazine, which means in a year or so they might get read, maybe.

I can, finally, sit on them until the novel is done and then put them in as "bonus material" for the eBook or hope that my publisher (if I find a traditional publisher by then) will use them for promotions.

All options have upsides and downsides....


message 17: by Otto (new)

Otto (andrewlinke) | 110 comments Rob wrote: "I was just grappling with that this week. I'm working on a Sci Fi Epic right now and writing some short stories as part of my world building and character exploring. But then I don't know what to..."

Post as free or $0.99 short stories for eBook readers? Not guaranteed to make any money or get attention, but you'd at least know if people were downloading them.


message 18: by James (new)

James Kelly (jamestkelly) | 4 comments Rob wrote: "I was just grappling with that this week. I'm working on a Sci Fi Epic right now and writing some short stories as part of my world building and character exploring. But then I don't know what to..."

If you're interested in self-publishing, Joel Friedlander's Book Designer blog is a must-read. Joanna Penn does a god blog as well.

Andrew makes a great point about free of 0.99 shorts. The Kindle Single format is opening the gates for short fiction again and it would be a good way of developing a fan base while you finish your longer work.


message 19: by Mark (new)

Mark | 18 comments One thing I recommend is finding a good designer to make your cover. I tried to do it myself and my early covers were horrible. Most of the other stuff like formatting you can learn to do yourself, but on the cover, spend the money and get a pro to do it.


message 20: by MeiLin (new)

MeiLin Miranda (meilin_miranda) | 18 comments From a successful self-publisher (me):

--Take it seriously. Treat it like a business. This is true for all writers, not just indies.

--Invest in your work. Hire an editor. Hire a cover artist. If formatting makes you woozy, hire a formatter. This doesn't have to be expensive. I got one of my best covers (paranormal erotic Jane Austen mashup) pre-made, even. $40.

--Join Kindleboards.com. You will find a wealth of advice and experience there. Every question you have about self-publishing, you'll find answered by people who know what they're doing--not people who've sold 1500 ebooks like me but 15,000.

--Go into it knowing it's a marathon, not a sprint.

--Be ready to fill your virtual shelf. The more you have on sale, the more money you'll make. A new book rises sales for all your others; it's not arithmetic, it's geometric.

--Don't Kickstart too soon. My main series started out as a web serial. I had one book out and another that needed production funds before I went to KS. As a result I not only met my goal I got to 350%, because I had a fan base and stuff people could read. No one wants to fund a writer they haven't read or can't read.

Good luck!


message 21: by Sky (new)

Sky Corbelli | 352 comments From my personal experience (as an indie author who has only sold about 1200 copies) readers don't respect the 0.99 price point unless it's a short story. I saw an appreciable rise in sales just by bumping my novel's price up to 2.99... but your best bet is to open up with a free book and go from there. As I will do... if Amazon ever decides to match the price on Smashwords...

Lindsay Buroker regularly posts very good advice on self publishing with an eye for first-timers, if you're looking for that kind of thing. Plus, she's a decent human being and a talented writer, in case you haven't read any of her stuff.


message 22: by MeiLin (new)

MeiLin Miranda (meilin_miranda) | 18 comments Sky's right, 99 cents is an "indie ghetto" right now; it's a sign for some people that the quality isn't very good. I found my sweet spot for my novels at $4.95; any more or any less and they don't sell. Short stories are $1.25, short story collections are $1.95, novellas $2.99. That's my pricing strategery, anyway. ^_^


message 23: by MeiLin (new)

MeiLin Miranda (meilin_miranda) | 18 comments Sky's right, 99 cents is an "indie ghetto" right now; it's a sign for some people that the quality isn't very good. I found my sweet spot for my novels at $4.95; any more or any less and they don't sell. Short stories are $1.25, short story collections are $1.95, novellas $2.99. That's my pricing strategery, anyway. ^_^

ETA: And Sky, "only" 1200 is not bad at all for an indie. It's a marathon not a sprint; we just gotta keep filling the shelf.


message 24: by Micael (new)

Micael Martel (micaelmartel) | 65 comments I go with the reviews that I can find. Not the ones I see on amazon. Those can be ridiculous sometimes. I'm pretty new to the ereader business and I have to admit that it's hard to choose sometimes. There seems to be a lot of stuff that is horrible.

Is there any indie house we can perfectly trust or is it just a matter of trusting your instinct and the blurb?


message 25: by MeiLin (new)

MeiLin Miranda (meilin_miranda) | 18 comments Micael, sampling is your friend. :) Download the sample and see what you think. Don't go by publisher; go by author.


message 26: by S.E. (new)

S.E. Saxton (sesaxton) I used Lulu.com to publish my book "The Secret to Atheness." S.M.Gilson

It is free to self publish you just have to pay for them to advertise and to get copy's of your book. My book is now on all E-Reader's under fantasy. I would definitively recommend them. I also used Amazon to self publish on E-Reader's.


message 27: by Justin (last edited Apr 21, 2012 08:39PM) (new)

Justin Kemppainen | 29 comments Most general marketing practices have varying degrees of low success, but the ones mentioned by MeiLin are pretty good for starting points.

As much as it sucks to say so, it takes time, dedication, and a helluva lot of clawing your way upward before you'll see a whole lot from your considerable time investment.

- Assuming you can drive traffic to your book, 3 things are important to help it sell. Good cover (pay for it. 50 bucks will get you something pretty darn nice), a good blurb (spend some time writing it), and a damn good book. This means solid polish in terms of editing, story, and presentation.

- Some people have had decent success with book review bloggers. Make sure to read any submission guidelines and always, always, always respect their decisions in terms of A) rejecting you and B) giving you a poor score.

- Avoid spamming. It pisses people off, and you're pretty unlikely to pick up any interest.

- Definitely agree with KindleBoards Writer's Cafe. Good advice can be had there, but enter with the proper humility. A fair number of people new to the concept go in with their (for example) cover art looking for "advice" when they're really looking for validation. The folks there are definitely friendly, but they're also honest.

In the end, there are a lot of things which can help increase exposure. Marketing for some helps immensely and for others it's a profound waste of time. There's no foolproof method; as with everything else, sometimes crap sells and true quality remains mired in obscurity.

The best way is to hedge your bets with high quality work and high quality up-front presentation.


message 28: by MeiLin (new)

MeiLin Miranda (meilin_miranda) | 18 comments Effort + talent + luck = success. And sometimes if you're talented enough and work hard enough, you make your own luck. :)


message 29: by W.R. (last edited Apr 24, 2012 08:09AM) (new)

W.R. Edmunds (wredmunds) | 28 comments I have a question that I haven't seen posted here. I'm just starting out and have already begun to create a marketing plan, even though I don't have a finished book. The problem is that given my job finishing is going to take a bit of time.

Is it acceptable/a good idea to start marketing the book based upon a sample such as the first 3/4 chapters without a finished book?


message 30: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) If you're sure you want to self publish then it's never too early to start to generate buzz. Put some samples out on your blog, chat up what you're working on, show off sample covers, get people to ~talk~ about what you're doing.

As another option though, if you have a finished synopsis, you may consider sending querry's to agents explaining that you have a work in progress that you'd like to submit a proposal for. I'll be honest I'm fuzzy on the ettiquette here so hopefully someone more knowledgable will chime in, but I ~believe~ you can get an agent's attention with just a proposal, sample chapters, and overall synopsis.


message 31: by Justin (new)

Justin Kemppainen | 29 comments I could be mistaken in this, but I believe it's quite rare for agents and such to be interested in anything unfinished (or anything at all these days X_x).

It might be worth looking into, however, if you're interested in the traditional route. Most agents/publishers have specific submission guidelines, and you can do a little research to find out if anyone is willing to give works in progress a shot. My instinct says not a chance, but...

In addition, you have to weigh the advantages/disadvantages of commercial versus independent, but that list of things is very large.


message 32: by MeiLin (new)

MeiLin Miranda (meilin_miranda) | 18 comments Agents want finished work. Sometimes they even want pre-edited work. They want to see your best.

If you go indie, put up work on your site right now. You want to generate buzz and build your brand as soon as you can. Good luck!


message 33: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Okay I wasn't sure. The last I talked to someone about pitching a story outline was about 10 years ago and before the shift from the publishers to the agents as the main gate keepers.


message 34: by W.R. (new)

W.R. Edmunds (wredmunds) | 28 comments Thanks, guys! I'm pretty sure I want to self publish given the way the market is going so let the onerousness of shameless self promotion and endless waiting/hoping begin :)


message 35: by Ella (new)

Ella Stradling (Ixtila) | 2 comments This is a great thread with some very useful hints. I am self published with createspace and kindle, with two novels available, but I'm finding the promotion very difficult. I am a mum of 3 and I have trouble finding writing time, let alone networking and blogging. It's tricky, but I'm happy to take it slow. I know it's an uphill marathon...


message 36: by Justin (last edited May 01, 2012 01:23PM) (new)

Justin Kemppainen | 29 comments Just be careful about the shameless self-promotion unless honestly asked. It usually ends up, as I mentioned before, making people pretty upset. Obviously not all forms of it are bad (if someone asks you about it, you can totally go nuts), but alienating a group of people would not really help to push your work.


message 37: by Thom (new)

Thom Duran (thomduran) | 6 comments Some links that you may find helpful.

AMA from Michael J. Sullivan. Very good read.

http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comme...

Another Michael J Sullivan from Reddit on getting reviewed.

http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comme...

The Indie Author Guide is a good book on self publishing. There are also books about guerrilla marketing for authors, but I can't think of titles off the top of my head.

One main thing I took away from Michael J Sullivan is that self publishing still has a stigma. What he did to get around it is to start his own publishing company. This doesn't seem terribly difficult to do for getting your own ebook out. I think seeing a publisher that isn't also the book seller looks better. Not sure how many people here feel that way, but I think the general public would feel more secure as well.


message 38: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Justin wrote: "Just be careful about the shameless self-promotion unless honestly asked. It usually ends up, as I mentioned before, making people pretty upset. Obviously not all forms of it are bad (if someone as..."

Which raises it's own question:

Is any publicity still good publicity?

And this is part of why I think Self-publishing will also keep a bad reputation for a while, even if the quality of the work improves. Authors, especially those desperate for eyeballs, are rewarded for anything that gets them into a rotation of conversation. Even if it's a "can you believe this feces-storm over on twitter?" that gets a book talked about, that's 10-100-1000 people who had never heard of something that are talking about it. And of that what percentage will buy it just to see what the scandal is about?

And we can say "oh but once you get a reputation people will avoid you," only I don't know if I believe that of human nature. Your name, while still disliked, is still ~familiar~. It could be that even if you're hated for shameless self-promotion, that still gets you more sales/ eyes on page than if you're polite, respectful and follow all the rules.

The guys at Freakonimics put it pretty plainly: You get what you incentivize.

Not that I, personally, want to go that route, but I'm not sure that things are going to change too soon on that front.


message 39: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Chamberlain (andychamberlain) | 72 comments Hi all,

First, I think this is one of the best discusion threads I've found Goodreads, well presented and insightful - good stuff!

A couple of thoughts:

- Offering to give your writing away is of limited value on its own. I tend to think that when a self published writer (I include myself here) talks about giving something away, the person who is doing the giving is actaully the reader, because they are having to give away their precious time on something that might be good or it might be rubbish.

- It's always worth trying to get reviews of your work

- What you can give away is whatever people want, thereby getting yourself at least a small group of people who will take you seriously and appreciate you. I'm thinking of tips and advice, offers of help and support with editing and review, interview material, resources for creative writing.

- Make sure anything you offer, including thread contributions is of good quality


message 40: by Michael (last edited May 03, 2012 03:53AM) (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 112 comments Thom wrote: One main thing I took away from Michael J Sullivan is that self publishing still has a stigma. What he did to get around it is to start his own publishing company."

Thom...thanks for re-posting my links from reddit. Here is another one that I think some may find helpful:
Book Marketing: Resources to help you sell more books
These are books written by (primarily) self-published authors that have had tremendous success (i.e. have sold a lot of books).

As to stigma...I think it is MUCH better than it once was, but yes since making an imprint is so easy. I do suggest that. Just to be 100% accurate, I didn't start a publishing company...my wife did. Not only did she publish my books but about 30 others as well.


message 41: by Justin (last edited May 04, 2012 08:40AM) (new)

Justin Kemppainen | 29 comments The stigma still exists in some realms. As in, it's a widely known fact (opinion) that $.99 has become the new low standard, so unless Poseidon intervenes on your behalf, you're unlikely to sell much at that price point.

I think the trick is to make the book look as professional as possible. Good artwork, good blurb, good editing/formatting tends to accomplish this. It also doesn't hurt to have an imprint, but I imagine folks don't really dig to see if it's self-published or not (especially when in some cases it's pretty obvious by production values).

On the marketing stuff...

While I definitely wish no offense to Michael, I'd be very wary of paying for books like those linked. A lot of times they either state the obvious, regurgitate ideas you can find elsewhere for free, or monologue about their own successes in a used car salesman-like tone.

They also tend to neglect to mention (or keep it understated) that even doing every piece of their advice correctly (and having an amazing, perfect book), there's still the lightning strike factor of pure luck.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good advice to be found, but most of it you don't have to pay to find.


message 42: by Michael (new)

Michael (michaeljsullivan) | 112 comments I've never been a fan of the $0.99 price point. But based on Amazon rankings it still is "working" in the respect that many books are being bought at that rice. Are they being read? In the case of the successful authors...yes..because rankings of subsequent books in the series (priced higher) are also seeing good ranking numbers.

Justin is 100% correct in that a quality book, with good artwork, blurb, editing, and the like is essential. The only way that any book "succeeds" is by word-of-mouth and repeat sales of other titles so poor quality will mean that any marketing is sellig by hand (requiring a touch point by the author) whereas a quality book requires the author to prime the pump (get a few people to read) and then it is these readers that actually spur future sales. Quality recruits a "reader salesforce."

As to the books I recommended. I'm not saying "buy them all" I'm saying these are books with proven techniques by people who I know have the sales to back them up. Yes you can "dig" through multiple blogs and fid this information for free but to get it all gathered for you and presented in a step-by-step way is well worth $2.99 or $4.99. Time is valuable and if it takes me hours to comb through the Internet to dig out the morsals - what have I gained?

As to "lightning strkes" and pure luck...that is a debate that is impossible to win. I personally think that "luck" is a matter of having a quality product in the right place at the right time. The thing of it is - if you are constantly releasing good product - eventually the time will be right. If you produce "crap" then you'll never strike. If you put out one good book - it might not "hit" right away. So put out another, and another, and another...Eventually one will "hit" and then the others will also be picked up. In many ways we are responsible for "creating" our own luck.

My two favorite quotes on luck are:

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I'm a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” ― Thomas Jefferson


message 43: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Fiore (rfiore) | 4 comments Regarding self-marketing, besides all of the suggestions mentioned above, I've tried a few guerrilla marketing techniques that are inexpensive.

1) Business cards with my book cover on one side and info where it can be found on the back.

2) I printed and laminated my book cover and mounted it to the inside of my car's rear window. Now when I cut someone off in traffic they might buy my book.

3) I had a couple of t-shirts printed with the book cover and "Available at Amazon.com" printed on the back. I gave one to my mom who will wear it everywhere!

4) I bring a copy of my book when we go to restaurants and leave it on the table while we eat for passersby to see. I think I will also start carrying it when I have a doctor's appointment, etc.


message 44: by Anne (new)

Anne Nydam | 5 comments I've used both lulu and createspace. I think lulu has a very slightly better quality printed product, but createspace is cheaper and easier to get distribution.
As has been said a million times above, self-publishing is easy... IF you're willing to be a one-person show, or you know some helpful people, or you are willing to hire. With self-publishing you need not only to be the writer but also the editor, the formatter, the designer, the illustrator (if any), the cover designer, and the promoter. Personally, I enjoy everything but the promotion.
So, as has also been said a million times above, self-promotion is not easy - especially if you, like me, are an introvert who doesn't want to be a jerk! Here are a couple of ideas, though: I've had a blast doing guest talks about fiction writing in local schools (which works best if your books are appropriate for kids, of course.) You can also try doing a program at your local library. You need to offer something other than just your wonderful presence - a how-to, a slideshow, an activity - some content that will draw people in and get them interested. Also, unfortunately, for any program you do you'll have to promote the program to get the people to come, so you really can't escape promotion!


message 45: by Mark (new)

Mark Rude (markrude) I self-publish using Lightning Source for Print On Demand, but I also have my book available in e-format and audio book. Does anyone have suggestions on where to distribute audio books besides iTunes?

http://www.markrude.net


message 46: by September (new)

September (septemberrain) Mark, have you looked into Audible.com? I don't know much about it, except that you can buy all kinds of audio books from it. Surely they must have an option for you to upload & sell your own? Dunno. Good luck!!


message 47: by Justin (new)

Justin Kemppainen | 29 comments www.acx.com

They have tools there for people to upload audiobooks that get distributed out to Audible. Otherwise, depending upon what you're going for, you can release them in serial format over at Podiobooks.com.


message 48: by Mark (new)

Mark Rude (markrude) I've done some research into Audible.com since they are the most obvious, what with TV commercials and all. However they are not geared towards new authors and require several published books before they let you post. At least that's what I found.
Podiobooks.com was recommended to me recently and it looks promising. I also wonder if it's not too hard to offer it on my own website...
There seem to be very few options out there, but thanks for the advice! I'll keep looking.


message 49: by Raymond (new)

Raymond Fiore (rfiore) | 4 comments Mark wrote: "I self-publish using Lightning Source for Print On Demand, but I also have my book available in e-format and audio book. Does anyone have suggestions on where to distribute audio books besides iTun..."

I think you can have audio books made available on amazon through createspace.com.


message 50: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn Weis | 126 comments I'm not a writer/publisher but I'm an avid reader who is really rooting for the indie writers!

Have someone edit your work please.

I cannot tell you how many indie books I've picked up on my kindle and cringed at the lack of editing.

If you can't afford an editor use friends, family, forums, etc. Have as many people read your book before you publish it to edit it as you can so that you're not using the same phrase 300 times in as many pages, and spell check! Grammar check!

It's a big turn-off from a writer to find glaring grammatical and spelling errors in a book.


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