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Author Topic: Writing: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)  (Read 453 times)

Jenett

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Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« on: January 05, 2021, 11:14:58 am »
From discussion in other threads recently, it seems handy to have a thread to discuss self-publishing in all its forms.

Use this thread to ask questions about resources and tools, share your wins and successes, or whatever else seems relevant!
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Jenett

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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2021, 11:50:48 am »
From discussion in other threads recently, it seems handy to have a thread to discuss self-publishing in all its forms.

Use this thread to ask questions about resources and tools, share your wins and successes, or whatever else seems relevant!

I thought I'd start with a couple of explanatory bits:

One big choice for self-publishing is how you distribute. Some people put their books in the exclusive Kindle program. (On the author side, this is called Kindle Select, from the reader side, this is Kindle Unlimited). If you put your book in Kindle Select, you can't sell the ebook through any other channel.

(You'll see big publishers with books in Kindle Unlimited who are also distributing through lots of other platforms. Big publishers get to make different deals with Amazon than self-publishers and small publishers...) 

The alternative is usually called "wide" or "being wide" - distributing through multiple channels. These can include Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo, Apple Books, etc. There are services (Draft2Digital and Smashwords) that will help you with distribution to other channels as well.

This choice doesn't affect print distribution: you can be in Kindle Select, but have your print book available through multiple channels. The two big print on demand options are Amazon and Ingram Spark.

(Lulu also does print on demand, but it doesn't connect to distribution outside of Lulu as easily, so discovery is hard. There are also other various printing options, but these are the three main ones for a lot of self-publishers)
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Jenett

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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2021, 12:05:21 pm »
Use this thread to ask questions about resources and tools, share your wins and successes, or whatever else seems relevant!

To start off, if this thread is of interest to you, feel free to share some stuff that you're doing or working on or otherwise interested in learning more about, including plans for your coming year if you've got them. Here's mine!

My writing:
As Celia Lake, I've been writing and self-publishing romances set in the early 1900s (mostly the 1920s) with magic. Think a combination of Dorothy L. Sayers, the Potterverse with more thoughtful worldbuilding, and a decided focus on disability representation. I've been releasing a book every three months since the end of 2018: my 10th will be coming out in February. (Romance is a genre that tends to have readers who read a lot: reasonably frequent release is a thing.)

Relevant to this forum, Christianity is still a major religion in the world at large, but decentralised among the magical community of the books. My most recent release, Carry On has a heroine who is a nurse sworn to Sirona, with a focus on long-term healing and care, and I had a lot of fun writing scenes involving the healing baths under the Temple of Healing in the main magical city. 

(All due credit for many things should go to Darkhawk, my most excellent editor who tames my commas, makes me put things down on the page that were only in my head, and stops me calling every secondary character George.)

I publish wide, not least because seeing library sales happen makes me go EEEEEEE all over the place. This is good on one hand (it works for how I think about my writing) but I'm still figuring out how to get meaningful sales anywhere but Amazon. On the other hand, nowhere to go but up!

At this point, I've got some reasonably functional habits about writing and editing and I'm continuing to work out glitches. (My current project is to figure out how to plan better so I am not stacking all my complex tasks on Sunday afternoon, which is the one time in my week I have extended focus time not on a work or coven day.)

Tools I use
(Glad to talk about any of these in more depth)

- Outlining: Scrivener
- Drafting: 4theWords (writing gamification site)
- Initial editing: Scrivener
- Further editing: Google Docs
- Formatting: Vellum (fantastic program, not cheap, but makes my life much easier.)
- Cover: My awesome cover designer (not sure if she's taking more people on right now)
- Social media: MissingLettr for taking blog posts (that I like writing) and turning them into Twitter and Facebook things (that I hate setting up.)

Multiple writing communities: I'm on a mailing list for people doing romance that's been really helpful with tips and resources, I skim through several Facebook Groups (20BooksTo50K, WideForTheWin, the Mark Dawson SPF groups (I have his ads course), and a handful of others.

I recommend finding at least one online community that will alert you when Amazon, Facebook, or whatever other site does something weird this week. (This happens a lot, unfortunately.)

Stuff I've been learning
I took Becca Syme's Write Better Faster last summer, and found it incredibly helpful (I'm doing her Strengths for Writers in February.) It's been really good for figuring out how my particular brain works, and helping it do its thing better and more smoothly.

I want to figure out marketing that works for me better in 2021: I am writing in a weird little cross-genre niche: people like my stuff, I suspect there are more people out there who would, but finding them is not simple. My plans involve more authorial blogging, automating the social media stuff as above, and experimenting some more with some carefully designed ads to gather data. And figuring out more wide promotion options.

An author friend had a really good experience with a FreeBoosky serial promotion recently, and my first series qualifies (once I get the first book in the series set permafree.) I need to set aside some money for that (it's $200) and schedule it, but I'm excited to try that.

I also feel like I levelled up a lot as a writer in the last two released books, which is a good place to be, and makes me curious about what happens next there.

My plans for 2021
Not commuting has been really good for my work count (extremely good for my word count!) so I am taking advantage of that while I can. My hopes for the year are super ambitious, and we'll see how far I get with the lower stuff on the list.

0) Figure out how to help more people who might like my books find my books. Besides the series promotion above, I want to try setting up a cross-genre 1920s BookFunnel promotion, on the theory that people who like the 1920s might like other 1920s stuff.

1) Write four books: a) villain redeemed confidence game plot with a side of banking and a dragon, b) a later-in-life romance c) fun with an investigative reporter in the Nellie Bly mode, and d) something set in the artsy Bloomsbury set of the magical community.

2) Publish four books: a) Chaos Muppet and portal expert in Scotland investigating a failed portal, b) two teachers at the elite magical school fall in love with a bonus eclipse and witchcraft, c) a 1901 'let's take this magical gem across the ocean, oops, kraken' ocean liner novel, and d) the villain redeemed book from point 1. (I write a book in 3 months, let it sit for three months, edit it over three months, and then release, hence the offset from the above.)

3) A project focused on 'how to learn Pagan things' (i.e. figure out how you learn, troubleshoot parts of the process, figure out how to deal with types of information and goals that were definitely not a part of my formal education and research projects...) More details over here.

4) A novella for a new f/f publishing house project (if you're interested, let me know and I can connect you with info: idea is to have people publish things from novella length up that will include the publishing house name to help cross-promote). This is my current writing, and is set in 1910 at an artist's colony.

5) Four additional novellas so I can do a winter holidays collection to come out around November. (This is the one I'm not sure I'll manage: it's going to depend on whether I can swap writing the novella into the month in the middle of a novel when my brain is chewing on the novel but not making words go on it.)

6) Some more stuff for Seeking, but mostly "what do I feel like writing at the moment" rather than being super structured about it. (This is the writing I do when I can't brain fiction words: I already have done all the necessary thinking about stuff I put on Seeking, I just have to get the words out of my head onto the screen. It lets me keep up my word count habit.)

Um, many words later, hi! Words good!
« Last Edit: January 05, 2021, 12:08:23 pm by Jenett »
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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2021, 12:23:17 pm »
To start off, if this thread is of interest to you, feel free to share some stuff that you're doing or working on or otherwise interested in learning more about, including plans for your coming year if you've got them. Here's mine!


So, getting published has been a soft goal of mine for ages (soft, because when I'm really honest with myself, I don't actually work on it much...I want to, but my desire to be published is less than my intimidation by the work to be done to get published).

I have a smallish body of work, four short story series I wrote for my Patreon (one story a month, so they are 12 stories, featuring the same characters that span the course of a year).  I also have a couple of NaNo projects that could be turned into something.

The one I think would be the best bet is a project I did one year on Facebook, which involved working the moons of the year...every phase (using an eight phase moon cycle), of every moon.  But, since it was a series of Facebook posts (which I did save on my computer, so luckily I don't have to try to find them all again), they are somewhat inconsistent...which bothers me.  Some posts were not very long, while others were much more detailed.  I also want to make sure I am not repeating any activities.

Where I tend to get bogged down is I'll load up my files (I have the posts saved by the full moon cycle, so 12 different files), but I want to compare all the individual phases (so look at all the new moons, all the crescent, etc), and I get just bogged down by the thought of opening up 12 files to work on it.  Part of me also thinks I need to just suck it up, print the whole thing out (I forget how many full sized pages it is, at least 80 I think I worked it out to), so I can attack it with pen (some things I'm much more analog with).

Since I am sort of taking a Sabbatical from structured writing (no Patreon story series this year...), I thought it would be a good time to actually work on polishing something up to publish.  Part of me wonders if doing one of the more fiction pieces would be better (less editing, and I think I would feel less bothered if it didn't do well).  Overall, I'm just unsure about it all!
Check out my Patreon for more writing and other goodies!

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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2021, 09:02:33 pm »
To start off, if this thread is of interest to you, feel free to share some stuff that you're doing or working on or otherwise interested in learning more about, including plans for your coming year if you've got them. Here's mine!

Thank you for posting this!

Publishing is one of my top life goals, but I'm moving at a snail's pace in that direction.  While I love to write, I struggle with anxiety and imposter's syndrome when it comes to actually putting my work out there.  It's ridiculous because I know I can write reasonably well and, when I do put my work out there, it's generally well-received. So, I'm actively working to get over myself.

I took a few, big (for me) leaps forward in 2020:
 - Joined two critiquing sites to get some much needed skin-thickening
 - Started using ProWritingAid to help with the self-editing process
 - Launched a writer's website under my pen name, Kit Bellamy, along with social media accounts
 - Began revising a fantasy novel, Rifted with an eye to publishing it within the next two years

Plans for 2021:
 - Wrap up critiques and edits of Rifted
 - Monthly posts to my website
 - Find beta readers
 - Begin the next novel 


 And now I'm off to check out Becca Syme's website (thanks Jenett!).
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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2021, 09:28:14 pm »
And now I'm off to check out Becca Syme's website (thanks Jenett!).

Those are some awesome steps! I'm glad to talk more about the Write Better Faster stuff if it's helpful (and I did detailed writeups in my writing filter on Dreamwidth, which I will now go add you to, tagged with the obvious tag for that. Anyone else, feel free to ping me if you are on Dreamwidth.)

Becca's really big on "question the premise" (a lot of writing advice comes across as "you must do this thing to be successful".)

Becca's take, based on the CliftonStrengths work and coaching she's done with tons of people, is much more 'figure out what you can be really awesome at, and ways to do that, even if it's not how other people do it' (though there is some adjustment needed if you want to aim for most-marketable, usually.) She's got a videocast (about to also be a podcast-podcast through the usual sources, they're working on transferring the files.)

I've found the course discussion some of the most useful stuff, which is not public, obviously, and there's some other specific-strengths related stuff I know I'll get to see more of in February and am super excited for.
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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2021, 09:30:41 pm »
Where I tend to get bogged down is I'll load up my files (I have the posts saved by the full moon cycle, so 12 different files), but I want to compare all the individual phases (so look at all the new moons, all the crescent, etc), and I get just bogged down by the thought of opening up 12 files to work on it.  Part of me also thinks I need to just suck it up, print the whole thing out (I forget how many full sized pages it is, at least 80 I think I worked it out to), so I can attack it with pen (some things I'm much more analog with).

The "I have to look at a dozen files" problem is such a big one.

I spent most of my two weeks of vaction from work redrafting a novel, and managed it by doing dual pane in Scrivener, one with the chapter I was looking at, one with a running file of notes. And a stack of highlighters, colour coding, and cryptic notes to myself.

(I think it helped a lot: we won't be sure for a month or two.)

But I don't have a printer (and I'm not sure printing it out would have helped in my case.) Needs must, or something?
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Sophia C

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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2021, 03:41:48 am »
Tools I use
(Glad to talk about any of these in more depth)

- Outlining: Scrivener
- Drafting: 4theWords (writing gamification site)
- Initial editing: Scrivener
- Further editing: Google Docs
- Formatting: Vellum (fantastic program, not cheap, but makes my life much easier.)
- Cover: My awesome cover designer (not sure if she's taking more people on right now)
- Social media: MissingLettr for taking blog posts (that I like writing) and turning them into Twitter and Facebook things (that I hate setting up.)

Multiple writing communities: I'm on a mailing list for people doing romance that's been really helpful with tips and resources, I skim through several Facebook Groups (20BooksTo50K, WideForTheWin, the Mark Dawson SPF groups (I have his ads course), and a handful of others.

I recommend finding at least one online community that will alert you when Amazon, Facebook, or whatever other site does something weird this week. (This happens a lot, unfortunately.)

Stuff I've been learning
I took Becca Syme's Write Better Faster last summer, and found it incredibly helpful (I'm doing her Strengths for Writers in February.) It's been really good for figuring out how my particular brain works, and helping it do its thing better and more smoothly.

Watching this thread with interest! I write non-fiction - through articles so far - and I suspect my future is in self-publishing. I currently have a book deal to turn my PhD into something non-academic (with a co-author). And it’s not like I was expecting to earn a lot, but I thought my advance would cover my costs (paying my participants a little bit for their time and a bit of transcription). It didn’t come close. So I can see why trad publishing is not necessarily the way to go anymore. I also only got the book deal because my thesis fills a serious niche - I won’t be able to keep filling those to the satisfaction of publishers, but there will be potential follow-up books that I suspect will have a small but reasonably interested audience. So I definitely want to think about things like Amazon vs publishing wide, and how best to reach people who are ‘just looking’ on my subject. (I also detest Amazon for many reasons, but also recognise that a lot of people go there to look for ‘books on this subject’.) I’m finding people’s tools and tips here really useful - that drafting vs editing list is very handy, Jenett, thank you.

My writing goal this year is to turn my PhD thesis into a book, and also work with a co-author, which is all going to be a bit of a challenge! I keep reminding myself that I know the subject well, which is what I always need to churn out words. My way-too-full-time work contract ends in March and I should go back to part-time work then, so that’s when I plan to start seriously. I want to do proper work hours on it. We’ll see how motivated I stay!


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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2021, 06:33:26 pm »
Watching this thread with interest!

Same here, though I have chosen not to monetize my writing (and mostly write fanfic at the moment anyway) and thus only post on AO3. Writing as a craft is a lifelong interest of mine.

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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2021, 06:49:49 pm »
Same here, though I have chosen not to monetize my writing (and mostly write fanfic at the moment anyway) and thus only post on AO3. Writing as a craft is a lifelong interest of mine.
I write a lot of fanfic too. That’s why I can’t ever see trying to publish fiction - I love how it doesn’t feel like work, when it’s fic. I’m in awe of people who write serious fiction, but I’m too afraid of the work involved. (But tips I’ve picked up from fiction writers who publish, like using Scrivener for my 50K word fanfics, have been so useful!)


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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2021, 07:20:51 pm »
Those are some awesome steps! I'm glad to talk more about the Write Better Faster stuff if it's helpful (and I did detailed writeups in my writing filter on Dreamwidth, which I will now go add you to, tagged with the obvious tag for that. Anyone else, feel free to ping me if you are on Dreamwidth.)

Thank you.  I've downloaded one of her books and from what I've seen so far, she has some useful advice. I'm hoping to dive deeper into it this weekend (tonight is a lost cause with all of the news coming out of DC).
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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2021, 09:18:35 pm »
Use this thread to ask questions about resources and tools, share your wins and successes, or whatever else seems relevant!

Will have to read the replies in depth at a later point, but for now here's my quick-and-dirty self-pub intro.

Hi, I'm Morag, I'm an author. I've been self-published since 2011. ("Hi Morag.")

I'm a (historically) very slow writer, however, and have learned and unlearned and relearned everything through trial and error, so I only have five books currently out -- 2 in one series, 1 in another, and 2 poetry books.

That year is the year I plan on changing all that (and I'll probably do a post about my 2021 plans later because it'll be pretty in-depth, I think) and actually making a profit as a writer. We'll see how that goes.

Tools I use:

Outlining: a combination of Notion, Scrivener, and WorldAnvil for worldbuilding.
Drafting: Scrivener.
Editing: printed pages and a red pen.
Formatting (ebook): Vellum. I originally used Scrivener, but recently switched to Vellum when I had a bit more money than usual thanks to the day job and realized that it would take a ton of work off my plate.
Formatting (paperback): currently using Affinity Publisher. Before that it was InDesign CS5, which I used for years and years and years and refused to upgrade until my hand was forced last year, and then Affinity had a pandemic-special amazing deal so I bought all three of their products 2x each, once for my PC and once for my Mac (which means I can now write off any parts I buy for my gaming computer because I am also using it for publishing).
Cover design: self-done. This is a bad idea, by the way, so I don't recommend it. It's just been my only option, financially. (However I am lucky enough to be friends with an incredible artist who is letting me use her paintings as book covers for my Borderlands Saga, so they look really nice. Not to-market at all, but really beautiful.)
Marketing graphics: Canva and BookBrush, paid options. If you're only going to pay for one, do BookBrush. They're both great, but BookBrush is specifically really great for authors and makes it so easy. Canva can have more steps sometimes depending on what you want to do (but is also more versatile with regards to making not-specifically-book-cover-related graphics).

Resources I Recommend:

David Gaughran. Yep, he's a resource in and of himself. Read everything he posts, read his books, watch his Youtube, get on his email newsletter. The man is a treasure trove of data-driven self-pub info.  Of special note: his Starting From Zero course in self-publishing, which is available for free. Yes, free.

Facebook groups: 20BooksTo50K, SPF Community, Indie Cover Project, Selling for Authors and 20BooksAndME, which is an offshoot of 20BooksTo50K specifically for authors struggling with chronic illness, disability, and/or mental health issues.


Annnnd...sorry, my brain just ran out of steam. I'll post later with more resources when I remember them all. XD
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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2021, 09:41:01 pm »

Hi, Morag! (ducking, ducking...). Who also thought of other stuff.

I'm working on WorldAnvil for sharing things with readers (timeline! map! basic background info!) I also have a private MediaWiki install for my own notes. Not quite up and running yet, but I hope sometime in the next month.

I also use BookBrush, and agree on the "super fast and simple" part. I like David Gaughran's stuff in general (and he's also a generally good source for "Here's the weird thing in this bit of the self-publishing world to know about")

On covers, my cover designer turned me on to Cover Critics, where people can submit covers, and get critiques - people often do mock-ups of alternatives. Really educational for 'how do you signal relevant genre'.

(I'm sort of penned in because there is almost zero stock art for the 1920s, and what there is gangsters and flappers. There's a reason my covers are in silhouette. But it works fine for romance, and we're careful to signal other stuff in useful ways, so.)

On the tax front, for US people, I did my taxes last year (the first year I had writing income) with a place called Brass Taxes, who specialise in artists, musicians, authors, and other people with related kinds of tax issues. I'll be setting up an appointment with them in February again.

They were super user-friendly, really easy, and they will let you ballpark costs on their webpage. For example, my nice tax person pointed out that anything I read for "how to write" (craft) or "I am reading this novel to get more examples of how plot goes" or "I am watching this streaming service to figure out how plot goes", and of course "I am reading this thing for research for writing" all count as business expenses. And their forms explain that kind of thing, and then you can either be on a video call with the preparer for an hour, or they can call you when they get to the part where they have questions.

(And your fees for that year are deductible on the next year's taxes as an expense. Also included: "If you start hitting X per month, ping us, and we'll use the 15 minutes of time you didn't use to tell you how to do quarterly taxes." I am not there yet, but maybe this year.) )
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Re: Self-publishing (for fun and possibly profit....)
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2021, 01:00:47 am »
From discussion in other threads recently, it seems handy to have a thread to discuss self-publishing in all its forms.

Use this thread to ask questions about resources and tools, share your wins and successes, or whatever else seems relevant!

Bookmarked. Thanks for this.
Oh, is it time again to say "Fuck Trump gently in the ear with a swarm of pissed-off hornets?"?

Okay. Fuck Trump gently in the ear with a swarm of pissed-off hornets.

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