Possible “Writing Business” course, and World Clinic progress #wabwm

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?

Yesterday’s progress

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.


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.

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208 responses to “Possible “Writing Business” course, and World Clinic progress #wabwm”

  1. Robin Avatar

    This is a great idea, and to let you know the first thought that popped into my head was a concern about how copyrighting works. I know that you get an ISBN assigned when you go to createspace, but how does it carry over when using all the other places, and if I did createspace and somebody at B&N orders, is it createspace who builds the book for them? These were the two issues that popped in my head immediately. Currently, I have three books I used createspace for, and each is available on amazon and kindle, do these work interchangable with all the others or do all of them work separately, and how much cost would be involved? As a person with limited funds, i would need to know what I need monetarily before I’d try this, and would you offer a payment plan of some sort for the course? I doubt I could scrape up any sizable amount all at once.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Your work is copyrighted when you create it. You insert a TITLE © YEAR by NAME. All Rights Reserved. notice on the copyright page of the formatted book to claim your copyright—but all this does is provide notice. Copyright is yours automatically by right of creation.

      Copyright is assigned by book VERSION. Print, audio, and (at the moment) ePub and Mobi (Kindle) each get a different ISBN. Who sells the book doesn’t matter a bit.

      There’s been considerable discussion about having one universal ISBN for ebooks. At the moment, though, “ebook” isn’t an assignment option in Bowkers.

      And the ISBN has NOTHING to do with copyright. It is a cataloging number. Your book title and any information you provide to Bowkers will show up in Books in Print, essentially so people in physical bookstores can ask to have it specially ordered for them. The absurdity of this for ebooks should make itself readily apparent, and neither Amazon nor B&N requires them for publication. Apple does, though, so I bought them in bulk. Then, after the latest round of frustration and crap with Apple, took my books off of Apple. So now I’m using them in my ebooks because I have them. Might as well.

      1. Laraine Avatar

        I was appalled at the cost of ISBNs in the US and figured they’d probably cost even more in New Zealand. (That’s usually the way the land lies.) Imagine my surprise on finding out that (for once) I was in a favoured position; they are free to me!

  2. Anthony Avatar

    Hi Holly,
    I would certainly be interested in a course about self publishing.
    Where do I sign?

  3. Karen Avatar

    This is the side of writing I haven’t thought about much since I’ve been focused on writing and am clueless about. So am definitely interested in this course and the short story course. ^_^

  4. Cathy Avatar

    Hi Holly,

    yes I would be interested in this. I use scrivener, I don’t have a blog or website currently so it would be wonderful to learn how to set all that up as well as formating for all the different ereaders and distributors. Yes definitely interested in marketing too.

    The only thing is I am Australian, will the course be applicable? I know you’re not going to do tax stuff, which I assume includes payment, which is fair enough I can get that info locally, I think. However will you be able to indicate where any of the material isn’t applicable for people outside of the US? It is frustrating for us because nearly everything on this topic is completely US centric as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

    Anyway definitely interested thanks.

  5. David Avatar

    Hi Holly,

    Yes I would really be interested in learning more about self publishing.

  6. Renee Benzaim Avatar

    Hi Holly,

    What good timing! Just an hour ago I finished the first draft of the novel I started in NaNoWriMo. I will be starting the revision tomorrow using your book Lesson 25 and then . . .HELP! LOL This course would be perfect.

    I have self-published three non-fiction books on amazon and SmashWords, but this is my first novel. I do have two older novels that I wrote a few years ago, and I plan to put them through the revision process before I start the sequel to the novel I just finished today when the NaNoWriMo Camp comes around in April.

    Do you have a time frame for this course?

    Renee (American writer living in Morocco)

  7. Tom King Avatar


    I don’t see a segment on copyright and obtaining an ISBN and library of Congress number for your book. Seems like that needs to be part of the course.

    Tom King

    1. Holly Avatar

      LOL. That’s two minutes and two links.

      In the US, you already own copyright the instant you create your work. You can choose to buy ISBNs, (and I’ve done so), but if you use CreateSpace, you can get a free ISBN for your print book, and the only site that requires you to use them for ebooks is Apple, which I no longer am using or recommend (at least not if your time has value to you).

      You get legitimate ISBNs at Bowkers: Here’s the link. https://www.myidentifiers.com/

      But what you need to know on ISBNs, Library of Congress numbers, and considerably more you can find out here: http://www.thomsonshore.com/support-guidelines/publisher-resources/isbn-library-of-congress

  8. Joan Avatar

    Hi Holly,

    I’d been interested, depending on the time frames and fees. I have a nonfiction writing book and a mystery novel I’ve just finished with final revisions, and planned to put them up through Create Space, since that’s what everyone else seems to be using now as the easiest way. But would love to learn from you for more options.

    1. Joan Avatar

      Oops, that’s what I get for writing (and revising on the fly) and not rereading before I hit send–should have read ‘I’d be interested’. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Addy Rae Avatar
    Addy Rae

    Yes! I’m also interested in Kobo and the Apple store (I think that’s what they’re calling it?). A course like this is exactly what I’m looking for right now, provided I can afford it. It might be best if it isn’t a live course, at least for me, because our internet is very slow and limited.

    Wonderful idea!

    1. Addy Rae Avatar
      Addy Rae

      Also very interested in a short story course. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Larry Avatar

    I am definitely interested, probably for the second (or third) offering).

  11. Rebecca Ryals Russell Avatar

    I’m interested in the publishing course.

  12. Yog-Sothoth Avatar

    I’d be interested in a short story course and a separate how-to-self-pub course.

  13. Rebecca Talley Avatar

    My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the cover blurb and the cover art are very much a part of setting up your self-publishing business, rather than part of a short story course. I have a book, but without knowing how to create a compelling blurb (how long it should be, what should be included, etc.) I can’t even entice a customer to buy my book. Same with the cover art. Part of being able to successfully sell books, traditionally or self-pubbed, is being able to catch the eye of a potential customer. I think that the writing portion should be separate (as in you already have a product that you want to self-pub and sell) and this course could focus solely on taking that product from formatting to selling. What sales channels are effective? Is KDP Select effective? How does pricing work? Are $.99 ebooks devaluing the story or is it an effective marketing tool? The mechanics of setting up an online store. Not only is formatting, getting a great cover, and writing the blurb part of self-pubbing, but so is knowing how to market it. Of course, this is just my opinion, but that’s the kind of course I would be interested in. I think you already meet the “writing a book in the first place” needs with your other excellent courses.

  14. Lisa Avatar

    Color me interested!

  15. Jennifer Avatar

    The setting up your own writing course sounds wonderful and very timely. Price point would probably be the biggest thing for me right now. This does sound very exciting. Also, I am so glad you are still teaching! Yea!

  16. Ray Avatar

    I understand your reasoning in only teaching the software you use. On the other hand, the one thing I’ve always found most valuable about the writing books you’ve written was that you described the process in such a way I could adapt it to my own needs. It sounds as though this course would be different.

    I think I understand why, since in this case you’d have to teach a good deal about computers and software and so on to let your students learn how to adapt it for their own use. And you’re not a software guru. So this is probably the best you can do. In my case, it wouldn’t work for me: I do use Scrivener for Windows (& I’m working on setting up the Linux version, if so many other issues would stop cropping up), but beyond that, I think we’d use different tools. (I actually find it easier to do HTML formatting by hand – with my own, self-created automation – using something like Notepad ++. As for WordPress, I know too much about the security issues involved in any online software installation to feel comfortable using such a complex system without knowing far more than I do.)

    As I say, this may not matter much. I’m weird. But you did ask for input, and since my sense was that this course would not be able to provide what I’ve always thought of as your one greatest strength – the basis on which I’ve recommended your books and courses to others – I thought I should mention it. I don’t know how many others would see it that way. And, sadly, I can’t think of any way you could “fix” this issue. Perhaps I shouldn’t have even brought it up; if so, I’m sorry.

  17. Christina Stiles Avatar

    Yes, to both courses, Holly!

  18. Michelle Avatar

    Sounds really interesting and would def. be interested, but probably wouldn’t take it until after it’s gone through testing and a few groups have had the chance to take it and give feedback.

    I’m interested in self-pubbing, but think I would like to try traditional publishing first- holding on to e-rights so I can do what you’ve done and self-pub the books after they go out of print. What I’m MORE interested in is building an website and web presence such as you have here. I know you’ve been at it practically forever (I’m an FM member!) and you have probably the most lively mid-list author site on the web… it would be a huge deal to learn how you manage that, but it sounds like this course is more focused of self-pubbing?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      too bad there’s no edit button, “sounds really interesting and I’d be interested” is right up there with the most redundant statements ever ๐Ÿ˜›

  19. Deb Longoria Avatar
    Deb Longoria

    I’d be very interested in the second outline. It’s a great idea.


  20. Coral Avatar

    Would take this course in a heartbeat! Don’t need a short story angle, as I’m strictly a novelist but having one good teacher (as I know and trust you to be) covering all these topics in one workshop would be well worth the price of admission. I have two books ready to go right now and two more in draft and I’m loathing the painfully slow agent/editor query/submission process. I’m very serious about learning the self-pub process and am ready to jump as soon as possible. Hope this works out, Holly!

  21. Bethany Avatar

    I’m interested. I’d also like to learn more about selling serials vs short stories vs novels… I use Scrivener for PC, too. I’d like to learn how to decide which platforms to use (Kindle exclusive? Smashwords?)

    And to be honest, I’d love some more talking about how to decide when to look for an agent vs. just publishing yourself. I’ve been playing around with the idea that publishing a few books traditionally might be the way to go and then deciding whether or not to go on your own. (If you are so lucky to even get published…) Or beginning by self-pubbing short stories or serials and seeing what kind of fans and response you get. Being successful in that way might be helpful if you want to try to find an agent for novel-length works.

    1. Bethany Avatar

      I will have a finished short story by the end of this month, but I like the idea of writing a new one and having it critiqued as we go. I’m interested if I can afford it.

  22. Sara Avatar

    I’d like to take a step back and learn more about how to evaluate whether self-publishing or publication with a big/small traditional publisher would be more benefitial given your situation, e.g. previous publication, genre, how commercial your book is (how do you even know?) …

    I have a novel out on submission now, and so far the response is lukewarm to cold. But I don’t know if this is because the novel is not the next big thing ( it doesnt reinvent the fantasy genre, like one agent cited as reason for rejecting it), if it’s too quirky/non-PC, is more of a mid-list type of book that might do well self-published, or plain just not good enough and my career would be best served by putting it under the bed. (I am writing another.) Any tools to help figuring these things out would be very useful!

    1. Michelle Avatar

      This would also be really good to know… not only how to self-publish, but why and when. Traditional publishing can and does work for some people… how do you know or predict if you might be one of those people? Or is it just serendipity?

  23. Marti Verlander Avatar

    Holly, I’m close to send a short anthlogy (30,000 words) off to my editor for a quick “rainbow edit.” My business plan says I’ll have the anthology published in March. If the timing works, I’d like to volunteer for your initial “try-out” group.

  24. Maureen Avatar

    I think this is an excellent idea, and it’s something I think me and a few members of my family could definitely use. I don’t know much about self-publishing, but it looks like a pretty complete list.

  25. Marti Verlander Avatar

    Holly, I’m working on a short anthology of about 30,000 words. It should go through initial editing later this month and be ready to publish by March, if I meet my business plan. If the timing works out right, I’d love to be part of the initial run-through.

  26. Lee Avatar


  27. Tola Issachar Avatar

    On further thought I do have one question as to content and/or advice. I write in Apple Works, and I am wondering about editing and formatting. Should I have my work edited before I format it for an e-book or find someone who can do both at the same time?

  28. Valerie Comer Avatar

    Definitely interested.

  29. Storm Avatar

    I’d be interested once it got to the “at your own pace” level. I’m afraid the pace of the one-on-one(ish) class would be too fast for the way I write and prep my work. Other than that, I’ve taken 2 of your “big” classes and LOVED the heck out of them, so I’m definitely on board when this one comes to fruition!

  30. Lisa Sullivan Avatar
    Lisa Sullivan

    Hi, Holly. I am very (and seriously) interested in this workshop because last March I started my own self-publishing business. After following your ventures for a while now, I felt informed, empowered, and not alone in wanting to self-publish in a transitioning industry that stigmatizes self-publishing. My first book Ghosts of the Mid-Atlantic came out on Kindle and Amazon last September (yay!), and I am currently writing Ghosts of the Mid-Atlantic Volume II and a paranormal romantic comedy which I have decided to self-publish in 2013. I would like to see a brief session on organizing one’s writing day and files for writing projects as well as business documents (I know you said no taxes would be covered). I will be looking for your launch of this course! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lisa Sullivan
    Self-published author!

  31. Jessica Steiner Avatar

    Heck yes! I have one novel self-pubbed and another collection of short stories almost ready to go. I’ve figured out a lot of what you’ll be offering, but additional tips are always great, and I haven’t yet figured out how to set up my own store, and I’m really excited to delve into that.

    One huge issue I’m having is the same issue everyone has – having a full time job, trying to figure out how to do promotion without just spamming my name around and annoying everyone, and also writing the first draft my next novel (and editing my last draft as well to get it ready for release!)

    I sure hope you have a magical solution to there not being more than 24 hours in a day.

  32. LauraP Avatar

    I’m interested. I have the rights back to 7 backlist books. They’re just waiting for me to proofread the digital files and move forward, and I keep putting it off because of the time involved in the learning curve for everything after the proofreading.

  33. Mike Schulenberg Avatar

    I’d be totally interested in a writing business course. I don’t really need the story-writing component you initially proposed, but other writers would find it invaluable, so I’m glad to see you’re leaning towards separate offerings. Sadly neither of my projects are in a state where I could participate in the trial run, but I’d definitely sign up once the business course goes mainstream and I’m closer to self-pubbing.

  34. Jennifer Avatar

    I’ve never given much thought to self publishing because I like the old school way of sending out manuscripts and receiving rejection letters until you get your big break. Recently I’ve been thinking self publishing might be a better idea.
    I’d really like to do the live run through, but I’m afraid my job hours probably wouldn’t allow me to participate.

  35. Walt Nickell Avatar
    Walt Nickell

    I’d be very interested if the price was right and it didn’t pull me away too long at a sitting from my fiction.

  36. Shirin Avatar

    I’m very interested in the “second” business course…depending on the price and the timing, I might have a book to run through your test/setup course…it’s with an editor right now…but it’s really a memoir, not fiction, so if you’re going to be talking about content you probably don’t want me in your demo group…but I certainly want to take this course! Thank you for continuing to teach!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Not going to be talking about content. The writing courses are separate.

  37. Charlotte Avatar

    Yes, I would be very interested in a workshop like this. If feasible, I would love to do it live, although that dictates that I have something long enough and finished on hand (I’m working on it, really.) If anything, perhaps I could gather some of my previously published short stories into an anthology.

    Either way, I’m interested in both concepts.

  38. KarlS Avatar

    Hi Holly – As per the other commenters, I think you’re talking about two courses. I personally would be interested in the second, on setting up your own publishing business.

    One suggested addition, how to find and work with an external professional editor. I think many of us would find that useful and it helps take whatever you’ve written to the next level.

    Also, it’d be great if you not only included your own experience but made reference to the successes and models of John Locke, Amanda Hocking, and EL James.

    Look forward to hearing back on this.

    1. Bethany Avatar

      Finding an editor- great suggestion. I’m am also concerned about finding a person to do my cover art. I want something really professional and I’m overwhelmed by all the talent out there that I’ll have to comb through. I don’t know how to work with an artist, either. I don’t have any interest in creating my own cover art… I think cover art is incredibly important for fiction writers.

  39. Ron Trice Avatar
    Ron Trice

    This sounds like a wonderful idea. I’ve had some of your courses and you are a good teacher. I use Scrivener and would like to learn the self-publishing details as described. Please keep me on your mailing list and let me know when you get the course together. Regards.

  40. Linda Avatar

    Depending on the price, I would be interested. The part that most interests me is the promotion side. The technical side, while important, is accessible out there. I read through and already formatted for Kindle… and decided to try querying again with a new title. (A better title, I admit. I’m still adjusting to calling it that in my head.)

  41. Lauren 'Scribe' Harris Avatar

    I think both courses sound like they would be useful. I know a lot of writing podcasters looking to self-pub the print versions of their podcasted novels and short stories.

  42. Ralph Henley Avatar

    Holly, I have done a considerable amount of self-publishing on my proprietary website, but I want to move it all to a model like yours, using CreateSpace and WordPress. I would eagerly sign up for your the Part 2 course, taking a finished manuscript to e-store. Thanks!

  43. Cora Avatar

    I’d be interested in the second course. I’m interested in learning formatting, and to a lesser degree, how to set up the shopping cart aspect of a website.

  44. Rebecca Talley Avatar

    I already have an ebook available through Amazon. I’d be interested in learning how to set up a store on my website, how to get my book into the other formats, how to market, how to write effective cover blurbs, and how to create a great cover (what makes an effective cover, where to go to get the best deals for images, etc.).

    1. Holly Avatar

      Oh! Writing cover blurbs. That’s a nice little picnic in hell, let me tell you.

      That would fit in with the short story course MUCH better than in with the set up your business course.

      I wonder if maybe the cover art would, too….

      Something to ponder.

      1. Bethany Avatar

        A short story / serial course + marketing + branding that particular story / series? I’m working through HTTS and I’m using it on a short story… wondering a lot if I should be doing less work or working differently than what I’d be doing for a novel.

      2. Autumn Macarthur Avatar

        Please, in the business course! It would be great if the business course covered ALL the things a writer needed to do to self-publish, and covers and blurbs are definitely part of that.

  45. Jamie Avatar

    I am very interested in this. But I don’t know if I could be part of the initial run-through. I’m still working on my firt real attempt at a complete (publish-worthy) story. But, when I get it all nice and pollished, I am hoping I’ll have something I’ll really want to put out there. Self-publishing is the rout I’ve been seriously considering, but I wouldn’t know where to begin if I tried to do it on my own.
    I just want to thank you for all the help you offer to us fledgelings. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Holly Avatar

      The initial run-through is going to be with between one and five students—and I can probably get the open course done faster if I have just one or two.

      Getting into the live course is going to be a matter of luck, speed and being there and waiting before the doors open.

  46. Marianne Donley Avatar
    Marianne Donley

    I would be very interested.

  47. Susanne Avatar

    Sounds like just what I need. I’m very interested.



  48. Melanie Crouse Avatar

    I would love your course on self-publishing. I’ve been waiting to hear back from an editor for months now, and if the answer is no, self-publishing is my next step. It’s a scary next step, because I don’t know what to do.

  49. Amy Reineri Avatar
    Amy Reineri

    Sounds really useful. I would increase the amount of the class devoted to promoting the final product, even if it means adding a session. After all the work, it needs to get sold.

  50. Mike Dickson Avatar


    As a student of your HTRYN course I’m confident you can produce a worthy course of all there is in self publishing.
    It’s particularly interesting to me because I’ve just developed my own 2013 self publishing plan.

    I think everything you’ve outlined is great, but If I might mention, I didn’t see much in the way of social media marketing. Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads are all very important to driving business to an authors site and/or Amazon where many of our books will be. The reason I bring this aspect up is because I can find several places that touch on all of it, but none that provide me with how to get published and what to do once you have.

    If I missed this in reading your idea’s, please accept my apologizes.

    Take care


    1. Bethany Avatar

      Yeah- Those are really important, too.

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