The new course concept
I mentioned this yesterday on the Write A Book With Me forum, in response to a writer’s question about publishing.
I had done some initial brainstorming on setting up a short-story to self-pub workshop. In my initial concept, it would have been 11 weeks from basic 10,000 word story start to fully functional writing business. (Scrivener formatting, Ebook self-pub, Kindle, Nook, PDF, CreateSpace, and WordPress estore setup, INCLUDING product setup, covered)
Story planning. Live brainstorming session.
Here was my initial thumbnail sketch:
- Story start. 3500-word assignment, and how to get it written.
- Story middle. 3500-word assignment, and how to get it written. My crit on your story start.
- Story ending. 3500-word assignment, and how to get it written. My crit on your story middle.
- My crit on your story ending and overall. How to revise.
- Story revision, titles, final crits.
- Formatting your print book. Live practice.
- Formatting your ebook versions. Live practice.
- Creating your cover art. Live practice.
- Setting up your products in CreateSpace, Amazon, B&N, and your own shop.
- Reviewing, self-promo, ongoing process of building your writing business.
HOWEVER, one of the comments related to my thumbnail description made me realize that’s unnecessarily complicating what I think would be a straightforward course: How To Set Up Your Writing Business
Which would be THIS part, which I could do (and the student could keep up with, in six [gruelling] lessons:
- Formatting your print book. Live practice.
- Formatting your ebook versions. Live practice.
- Creating your cover art. Live practice.
- Installing and setting up your own WordPress-based bookstore
- Setting up your products in CreateSpace, Amazon, B&N, and your own shop.
- Reviewing, self-promo, ongoing process of building your writing business.
Again, I’d have to do the first run-through live, which would mean a TINY class size and a pretty high price tag for the first few students, with whom I’d be doing live-online instruction. The students would finish with a book or short story live on their own sites and the big sites (as well as any others they decided to pursue independently), and the process for putting the rest of their work into print.
But I’d be able to record the class and set it up as a lessons / worksheets / demo videos / forum discussion class that as many people as wanted to could take.
The sole prerequisite for this would be that the student had a finished, revised manuscript on hand.
My question is this: Is this something enough people want to do that it would be worth my time to pursue? Do you have any questions about building your own writing business (EXCLUDING TAX STUFF) that I haven’t included?
1746 words on World Clinic.
Since I’ve only had three hours sleep, and have a migraine, I’m not anticipating anything like that today.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON SPAMMING:
If you post affiliate links uninvited to someone else’s site, YOU ARE SPAMMING. I have deleted the post in this topic where this was done, and will delete any future posts containing affiliate links.
Holly – yes, I would be interested in your business course (the second of 2 options) depending on the fee. I have self-published, but am stuck on the promotion aspect – nothing new, eh?
Add me, if you can, to the list of potentials and I look forward to seeing where this goes.
Thanks for all the work you do.
I second the want of promotion advice. I’ve more or less stumbled through most aspects of self-pubbing, but promotion is overwhelming. After the Locke debacle, and dismissing other techniques that I find ethically compromising, I’m not left with much I can afford.
Agreed. I’ve been looking at self-publishing with a wary eye, and it is the promotional aspect that makes me hesitate.
Devil’s Advocate here. You’ve been working really hard to finish up making your novel writing and revision courses and all the rest available in a way that doesn’t require you to be involved in them so you can get back to writing full-time. Are you sure you want to delve into yet another course? Especially since they always seem to take more time than you expect and you end up a bit crazy trying to do everything.
OTOH, I also think you’re a teacher at heart. When you get to the end of one thing, your brain comes up with yet another thing you know you can teach to others. I think you might want to embrace that inner teacher and make a real effort to write first, with a bit of teaching on the side. So, I think it’s a great idea, but should take second place to your writing. 🙂
I’m sure. 😀
I’ve discovered that when I’m not working on both fiction and nonfiction, I feel like I’ve tied half my brain behind my back.
I’d certainly be interested. I have a collection of short stories that I’d like to put out as two books, and I’ve got some kid’s materials, originally with a mainstream publisher, that are now out of print but it might be worth looking at how I could revamp those books. (Though the pix for those were professionally sourced and I don’t own the copyright for those – so I’d have to review how the illustrations could be done. I have a website (very static at present), and a blog (that’s static too at the moment since I’m revising a novel). Both your proposed models would be interesting for me. Look forward to further updates.
I’d love to take this course (even if the info covered is much the same as has been included in the updated HTWAS.) And I’m passing on this article to my Indie writer’s group, as I’m sure they’d be equally interested.
None of this has been in HTWAS. This is the physical use of the software and the step-by-step details of setting up your site, your first product, your publication on the big platforms, and your publication on your own site shop. As such, it’s limited in scope only to those products I use myself, and the objective is to have your work published and your own shop live and your initial self-promotion going by graduation.
I’ll teaching only the software I use myself for my own books because I have spent a ton of money on other stuff that didn’t work, or that was too expensive for what it did, or that was free but too complicated and miserable for daily use, or that just sucked. I have been with nightmare site hosts, with lousy email services, purchased shop software that was unbelievable crap, and on, and on.
So I’ll ONLY be showing you how to use the solutions I’ve arrived at by extreme and painful trial and error, and I’ll show you how to set them up the way I use them (again, extreme and painful trial and error.) Once you have something that works, you’re free to modify, change, or completely revamp it to your heart’s desire.
All I want to do is get you across the finish line once, but with a system in hand that will let you keep crossing it on your own.
I’m very interested. But like others cost is a concern. Please just keep it to publishing issues, as I don’t need another lesson in writing fiction. My 4th grade teacher covered that.
I write my lessons and my husband’s sermons on two blogs. To change them to e-books will take a lot of rewriting, but after that I will be lost as to how to proceed.
LOL! Unless she wrote and published fiction commercially, I guarantee you she didn’t. But I’ve already done and offered a number of courses on writing. And I’ll eventually offer the short fiction one. But not wedged in with this.
Holly yes I would be very interested….
I’m pretty sure this one is going to make it to GO, but I’m trying to limit the size and scope to what can actually be taught in a week.
I am definitely interested! A big part of self-publishing is marketing your book. I would suggest that you make the “promo” aspect a third component of the program.
If you’ll look closely, you’ll see that I already have. 😀 Bullet #6.
This would be something I’d be interested in as well.
Self Publish workshop
What a great idea,someone who already inspires and motivates running an essential 21st Century course for both knowledgeable IT experts and duffers like me!!!!
Your books, tips and expertise has made a hobby become a financially viable, lively and very enjoyable subject.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Regards Tim Walsh London UK
I found this notice in my inbox this morning and its very timely. I’m finishing up the first draft of a novel and would be very interested in learning about self-publishing and setting up a store.
What price point were you thinking? My other concern is the timing of the live sessions. I have a full time day job.
I’m not even CLOSE to an idea on price yet.
Before I can get there, I have to know:
EXACTLY what my students need and want to know,
HOW I’ll teach it,
WHAT they’ll have accomplished by the end of it,
and HOW I’ll present the results in the open version of the course.
Yes to BOTH classes. I would initially be more interested in the larger class.
Thanks for always thinking of ways to get us writing, writing BETTER and getting published!
I’d certainly be interested in course like this. I have several books that I would like to make available again. I’m finally getting interested in writing again now that chemo brain seems to be fading, but in the meanwhile just getting some of my previous work available again would be great.
I’d be very interested.
I’d be very interested in taking the course. My main thing to get out of it would be the marketing aspect (as a software engineer I know a lot about document creation already, but that’s just me, of course)
One thing I’d dearly love to see included would be the best route to take should I get an agent or publisher interested in my work after self-publishing. Stick to my guns or sell out? 🙂 And if selling out – what rights to insist on! Until I came across your site I always assumed that the rights to out of print books automatically reverted to the author, but I guess that’s a big trap…
This one’s a freebie. Hang on like hell on steroids to e-rights. If the bastards have e-rights, having the ebooks up on one site means your book is still in print, and nothing will ever revert to you again, nor will you see another dime from it.
Voice of pissed-off experience here, remembering contracts from ages ago where editors and agents were all saying, “Oh, e-rights aren’t important,” and idiot me believing them.
Note that some publishers (mostly small presses) offer time-limited contracts, wherein the contract runs out after X years rather than after books fall out of print. Also, there are some other ways to get “out-of-print” defined to include e-books. That all has to be set up explicitly in the contract before you sign, though.
(I’m not a lawyer; this isn’t legal advice. Just pointing out some pertinent business info.)
Hmm… I’m already self-publishing and designing my own covers and whatnot, and here are some notes fyi, in case you don’t know:
• Scrivener for Mac ≠ Scrivener for Windows, as far as how the exported files turn out.
• Note that (on Scrivener for Mac, at least), you can create different cover pages for the different editions, whether you do that by filetype or by vendor, and for formats other than EPUB and MOBI, you can set that cover page so the first page has the cover image in it. (Has to be pasted in, though.)
• Two other possibilities for selling your titles yourself: Ganxy and E-Junkie (Note that not all website hosting plans have the disk space or bandwidth for hosting your own store.)
I hope this is helpful!
Definitely interested in this. I’ve seen quality self-publishing products are shocking low prices. Technology is passing me by and this course may assist me in catching up. I would recommend you touch on price/quality comparisions of the various publishers out there.
Best of luck. You are extremely creative.
Yes Holly, I would definitely be interested.
I need this.
Actually, I havent used your courses or website in a while. I overloaded myself with too much stuff to do and put it off, trying write on my own. But this product reallly got my attention. It answers the questions I have the most anxiety over.
Where’s the sign up sheet? When do you think you’ll have it available?
I’m in the brainstorming process.
If I can get a small group of folks together to spend every day for a week with me as we actually build their sites, I could probably offer the open-enrollment version pretty soon.
I’d have to do the prep checklists and probably the initial workshop in my evening “off” hours, because I have existing commitments to finishing Create A World Clinic, the How To Write A Series Extension the HTTS Walkthrough.
But now that Margaret’s completed drip and we have it working, I’ll be able to start doing a few live projects like this one, then adding them to the shop.
I don’t know when yet, though. First I need to be able to clearly see WHAT. 😀
Holly, this sounds like a great course. I have some ideas I want to write this year, but can’t afford the initial class. Book preparation how to steps and account setups with online retailers like Amazon and B&N would help me.
I’d be interested. (And having a ready book as a prerequisite is a great push for the fearful and/or procrastinating among us.) And I commend Tracy R for the request on how to include illustrations (including cartoons) in the book. Great idea, Holly.
I’d be very interested in the course. However, it would solely depend on price point!
That would be great! I have one published book (through Xlibris) and am working on a second. Knowing how to plug into the resources would be invaluable.
I would love to take this course.
Holly, what an idea.
I’m in! With a kid lit – 1400 WC, so hope that’s do-able for your course as well.
I noticed someone has asked re: illustrations and I saw your answer. (nice!)
Do you have a program you’d recommend incorporating?
I don’t have anything right now, am doodling with FiftyThree to see how well I can draw first!
I definitely need help on the business side of writing! Especially how to get my work seen once it’s out there, since I have a new (first) book out now. I use the same editor Carol does and the missed deadlines are a problem (her health issues are very real, but so is my business).
I would love both courses you mentioned. Having the visuals on publishing would be great.
would love to do this course, how much is it and when can i start??????
Hi! I’d love both of them. Count me in!
I would be extremely interested in a 6+ week self publishing course. You are a great teacher as well as a talented writer. It’s a good combo.
I do not have a story ready in order to be in the first round. Granted, that could change depending on when you start. Still, would be interested in the class even if not in first round.
Related to the topic, what about blogger? Yes, I know WordPress is what professionals use and I’ll have to switch at some time. But, right now, when my writing is bringing in $0, paying for support platforms instead of using free ones is not in the budget.
The issue here is simple. You can’t set up a store on Blogger. In general, terms of service on the free blogging sites forbid you using them for commercial purposes, which ALSO means you’d be in violation for promoting your books with sales links from those sites.
If you’re going to have a business, it’s going to take some money to start. Not a lot. But some.
Bare minimum, you’re going to have to own your own website. That’s $7.95 a month or thereabouts, depending on where you go. Most places, you get a significant discount if you prepay by the year. Figure $80-ish dollars.Wordpress is free.
The estore software I use is a one-time purchase of $50, free upgrades for life, EXCELLENT customer service and support), and set up correctly, it’s easy for customers to use.
Scrivener (writing, editing, formatting AND publishing software) is $45. One-time purchase, most upgrades are free, EXCELLENT customer service and support.
Kindle charges, but only when you sell.
B&N charges, but only when you sell.
Kobo charges, but only when you sell.
And PayPal charges, but only when you sell. If you pass a certain monetary threshhold, you have to upgrade your account and pay a monthly fee—but if that happens, you’re making enough money through them that the $20 bucks or so is worth it.
I know there are a lot of by-the-month rent-a-shops you can hook into, but the way I build, you OWN everything with no monthly outlay but the website. Writing is NOT a business where you want to speculate on whether you’ll make enough every month to pay credit card merchant fees, monthly paid cart service fees, and other things.
Thank you so much for the run down on costs. It helps with planning to have a decent estimate.
Would you share the name of your estore software provider? I would appreciate the opportunity to check them out.
I’ve been reading APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki. When he runs through the writing software, he says to stick with Word because all of the others have issues converting. What is your actual experience with converting using Scrivener? Are there any issues?
Is using Scrivener one of those things where those who learn how to use it love and everyone else just sticks with what they know?
Thank you for the info on Small Orange and Scrivener. I’ll check them out in greater detail.
One more question. Can you add illustrations using Scrivener? Thanks again.
Holly – this is very timely for me. I just finished two big pieces and I want to come back to my children’s farm stories.
Hi Holly! I love the concept of this class. However, I love the original thumbnail sketch version better (the one that included the three 3500-word segments). Here’s my dilemma. My imagination thinks big – novel or series big. However, I have 5 very active kids so my current lifestyle simply doesn’t afford me the time to write novels quicly enough. I grow frustrated and quit. Last summer I decided to turn to short stories instead, with the hope that it would allow me to write a finished product (which gives me more practice writing, allows me work on my revision skills, and gives me the personal satisfaction of completing something). I just received my 3rd rejection of a short story however:( My biggest problem is narrowing the storyline down to the appropriate size of a short story. I always feel I need to provide a lot of background to the reader to make the story more understandable (again, in my head I’ve already built out a novel’s worth of info, so I feel the reader needs to know some of this stuff). It bogs the short story down. So that original thumbnail sketch would be perfect for my woes I think.
But I’d also love the business aspects of the course as well, because my ultimate goal would be to self-pub my short story/novellas (my first 3 have been between 12K and 17K words, and my current one looks like it is going to be in that same ballpark based upon the outline I just completed). But, I until I can get a handle on writing better short stories, I don’t feel I’m ready to sell yet.
Also, will you be producing Nook versions of this course eventually? It is extremely hard for me to dedicate specific time for classes that you offer. Almost all of them appeal to me, but I simply don’t have time for the ones that require live participation.
I appreciate all that you do for writers. I’ve learned more from you than you’ll ever realize!
When I looked at it through the eyes of my initial commentor, I realized that I’d smooshed two unrelated courses together.
One is the Short Story course, which I want to offer.
And one is the Set Up Your Writing Business course.
Why not do them as one course?
Because some people want to write short fiction but only pursue commercial publication.
And some people already know how to write short stories (including commercially published authors who want to offer their out-of-print work as ebooks or POD print books), but don’t know how to self-publish their work.
I agree. It should be two separate courses. I just wish the Short Story course was first:)
I’ll be purchasing your Nook version of the Set Up Your Writing Business course when that becomes available. I’ll also be patiently waiting for the Short Story course to be added to your list (which I know is already a lengthy list from reading previous posts).
Keep up the great work! I appreciate you immensely!
Yes, I’d be interested. Have completed three novels and am currently looking for an agent. It appears that winning the lottery is easier than finding one. Your course would be excellent to save time, if I go the other route.
One important aspect of the course would be how to build name recognition. You have been around for awhile and have a strong following. Many new writers have to “create” a following and there are probably some smart/time-saving techniques to do this. Maybe you will cover this in the last session. Just thought I’d mention it.
YES PLEASE! I’d love to see a course like this!
I am very much in need of this class. Right now I’m using a professional to get my book to publication. But, she’s ill. She’s consistently missing deadlines due to ill health, and I could stand to save the money that is going out if I can do more of it myself.
Right now, I’m in the most need for running the business after the book is available. I have my first book signing set up and haven’t a clue what I’m supposed to do.
Thank you for coming up with the idea of a class that will help me understand all that is needed before I need it.
This is essentially what I’m doing in the UGLY WORKSHOP and UGLY BABY right now, as much as I can and with the tools I currently have available.
I would absolutely be interested in your self-publishing/how to set up your writing business workshop.
BTW, just finished Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood and downloaded Warpaint. Absolutely loved Corrigan’s Blood and can’t wait to read Warpaint. Also just finished reading Mugging the Muse.
You truly are an inspiration.
I got fired from my job three months ago and I’ve decided to take it as a sign to get off my butt and start doing what I love–writing. Your wonderful advice makes me feel like I have you right at my side helping me along. Wish me luck.
Hugs, and good luck.
And thank you. I’m delighted you enjoyed Corrigan’s Blood, and hope you have fun with Warpaint.
This is so exciting! I’ve read and poked around this stuff and I think all of the bits and pieces are out there, but fitting it together as you’ve suggested in your course outline is daunting. I’ve never seen anything like this before. This definitely would be worth the investment. Personally, I’m probably not quite ready for it since my stories still need work before I’m willing to publish them, and I’ll be on the road for the next several months. Nonetheless, I would be an eager participant when the time is right.
I am interested in the course. The only topic you might consider adding is about differences in formatting problems one encounters between Word vs. LaTex vs.other open-source word-processors and writing tools. As I understand it, the later versions of Word can be much harder to convert to e-book if you are using Smashwords or other services.
I wouldn’t be able to teach this, because I don’t USE Word. I also don’t use LaTex, or other open-source word processors.
I use Scrivener.
I use it because it is is a on-time expense (and a small one at that) which allows me to write my work, format my work, convert my work into ePub, Mobi, PDF and print (.doc, .docx, .rtf, .rtfd, .osx) formats (plus a number of others), all with the checking of a few boxes and the click of a button.
I’m not going to be teaching what’s possible. I’m going to be teaching what I know works. The difference is immense.
The purpose of this course is not going to be to teach writers how to theoretically build a business at some time in their futures.
The purpose of this course is for writers to HAVE their own complete, working business on graduation day.
Holly, you might want to brainstorm on this a bit more. I know you’re attempting to limit the scope of what is a galactically-proportioned subject by focusing only on what you have made personally work, but that will be a weakness as much as it will be a strength.
Your other courses are references to which I’ve referred for I think three or four years now. A course like this would be valuable, but out of date far sooner. The limited scope of what works for you will also rule out a portion of your potential audience due to plain old geography alone because of differing distribution and e-commerce rules across international borders.
The landscape changes so quickly that yesterday’s success story is tomorrow’s “don’t ever do this” and you might find that there is more work updating the course to keep it current than is good for your stress level to take on.
Having said all that, you might find that maybe a different format will allow you to teach what you need to share with the world. Something smaller and more nimble than a whole course so you can separate the “eternal” parts (like how to run a good writing business) from the parts which have a shorter shelf life.
Good luck and I’ll keep checking back to see what you decide. 🙂
I would love the Self Publishing course and would be very willing to be a test subject.
Thank you for all you do.
Hi, Mary. I won’t have any beta testers for this. The folks who go through first will be getting me live and hands on (via webcasting and desktop-sharing) as I set up a demo business and walk them through setting up their own.
Folks who take the later version will get the video walkthroughs of these processes.
Since I’m looking to self-publish sometime later this year, I would DEFINITELY be interested in this.
Short version of my answer: YES.
I have a crash-revised novel that I did for Rebel Tales and kept as a potential first-round-in-the-barrel. It needs a few tweaks pointed out to me by a fellow student (thanks Danzier!) but I’m overall happy with it and ready to get it out there.
And I have my big project, first book is on Lesson 13 of HTRYN. I’ve got web space ready to go and I want to launch both by the end of this year, and I would benefit IMMENSELY from a self-pub course.
😀 You’re welcome.
I am interested in learning “easy and fast” (is that possible?) formatting for MOBI and EPUB, as well as would love to have ownership of my own website (like you preach) and cart software so I could sell my e-books daily, keep 100% of the purchase price (and probably then whine about collecting taxes).
PROBLEM IS: I’m sure not able to be the first at higher prices. I’m probably not even able to follow with the recordings. I’ve purchased your How-To Clinic books and loved them all. So I’m in that price range (poor newbie Indie author, not yet found by my readership).
In the meantime, I’ll continue to spend hours addressing glitches in my previews as I upload to the three main venues: KDP, PubIt! and Kobo.
Thanks, Holly, for all your classes. AND I LOVE CADENCE DRAKE!
I seem to recall one of the HTTS self-pub lessons had to do with creating a website. That said, having that module or a revamped version of it included might be helpful. Having a personal/professional website seems necessary.
I woud be interested
I would definitely do the course once you’ve got it finalized (I don’t have the budget for an avant-garde experience, as awesome at it would be).
I noticed you mentioned Scrivener. May I strongly suggest also working Calibre into the course (even if only in passing)? It is a multi-platform, free ebook formatting tool (as opposed to Scrivener that cost money) and many people’s go-to tool for ebook creation (quite a powerful one at that). It’s website is calibre-ebook.com
You can suggest it, but I won’t do it. 😉 What I’ll be teaching in the process I follow, which I know works.
I have no interest in learning Calibre. I downloaded it, went through it, and it’s a nightmare. I decided my time meant too much to me for that software. I know it’s a professional tool—and when I want books done in it, I hire a professional to do them.
For the projects I do myself on no money, Scrivener, for its small investment, does what I want, and does it simply and beautifully.
Calibre-formatted books are no longer accepted by Amazon, as far as I know. Also, having had a look at the HTML it produces, I have to say that it’s less than stellar.
However, a tool that might be worth mentioning, even though teaching the HTML knowledge that’s required to use it would be beyond the scope of the course, is Sigil, which I use to tidy up all of my eBook HTML. Anybody who already knows HTML will find it invaluable.
I’d be very interested in this course.
Before I start, let me just say that I recently discovered your HTTS and other guides, and they are working beautifully for me! Your teaching style perfectly matches my learning style. My only problem now is that my Muse won’t shut the heck up when I’m trying to sleep. XD
Anyhow, I would definitely be interested in this. I’m currently writing a 10,000 word story (novelette?) that I’d like to self-publish, and while I’ve been constantly researching the self-publishing world for about a year and a half now, I’ve barely scratched the surface! Your teaching style has worked so well for me in HTTS and your other guides that I can only imagine that this would be equally helpful!
For myself, I’d also like to see some information included on freelance editors/proofers. (Am I better off doing this work myself, or can hiring a professional be worth it? How do you find a reputable one? Etc…)
I’d be interested in this.
Best wishes, Judith
If you could include a section on how to get illustrations into your book when formatting your book (drawings, sketches, world maps and actual illustrations) that would be wonderful.
That’s incredibly simple. Yes. I can include that.
Ok. Where do I sign up? I’ve got a children’s picture book ready to go. I figured this was just for novels. Shouldn’t have assumed.
This is perhaps a somewhat unrelated, but what I’d most like to learn is if you OUGHT to dust off and self-publish MSs that have made the rounds and been rejected.
How do you determine (as much as possible) whether a MS is “good enough”, or is best left under the bed?
Good question. It isn’t always obvious.
No. You shouldn’t. “Dusting off” implies that these trunk books are essentially ready to go, and if they’ve done the rounds and been rejected, they aren’t.
HOWEVER, I’m wildly in favor of doing REAL revisions on old manuscripts, and then self-pubbing them.
I’ve taken my first novel through a massive revision in HTRYN, but it’s still been rejected everywhere. I have no idea why… and not really any clue of what to change if I were to revise it again. I mean, I like it as is now.
Here’s some totally unsolicited advice: Hire an editor to look at it and give you an honest opinion. Best case, they’ll love it too. Worst case, you find out what’s wrong with it. The HTRYN boards have links that can help.
I would love both courses!! And would love to take any you could offer on publishing help