Self Publishing Questions Answered (Self Publishing Podcast #145)

This week, the guys caught up on questions from you, our dear viewers/listeners, about self publishing. That wasn’t supposed to be the actual topic, but we’re pushing back the topic that the guys were SUPPOSED to talk about for another week or two.
(But the topic that was postponed should be awesome when they finally are able to start talking about it, so stay tuned for that!)
First, something of HUGE note: Both Yesterday’s Gone and The Beam have been nominated for the Audies, which is like the Academy Awards of audiobooks. The guys don’t realistically expect to win, but still, two Audie Nominations is a huge win for both the S&S team and Podium Publishing.
Get more info about the Audies here:
Once the guys got onto the main topic (answering your self publishing questions), here are the questions that were covered:

  • Is it better to wait a while (6 weeks of more) between your draft and your first edit?
  • What to do with a sudden inflow of new email subscribers (via a site like Noise Trade). If you’re interested in Noise Trade as a list-building option, go here:
  • Would it be advisable to have the same photo on a series of books, just with the titles changed?
  • Do the guys ever have more than one first draft going at a time?
  • Are euphemisms on the cover (or in the title) of a book a good idea, especially in the case of a YA book?
  • Is releasing books at 99 cents a good idea, in order to build a bigger audience?
  • Will the rise of Kindle Unlimited prompt the rise of shorter works?
  • Can you price your books higher for each consecutive installment in a series?
  • What does “think like a publisher” mean? Self-publish, find a small press, or go traditional?
  • Should an indie author look for a printer to hire for publishing books, or is POD better?

A question that was kind of can-of-wormed was about book launches, so look forward for a future show about book launches (a topic we haven’t seen since the original launch of Write Publish Repeat).
Here’s the video version:

Show Episode Transcript

Johnny: Self Publishing podcast episode number 145.
This episode of the Self Publishing podcast is brought to you by 99 designs, the online marketplace that helps you get outstanding book cover designs at an affordable price. Start your custom design today at, and enjoy a free power pack upgrade valued at 99 bucks.
Welcome to the Self Publishing podcast where if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself, and now here are your hosts the three guys who hunt Ewocks on the forest moon of Endor, Johnny, Sean and Dave.
Johnny: Hey everyone and welcome to the Self Publishing podcast, the podcast that follows three full time authors as we attempt to change the face of indie publishing. I’m Johnny B. Truant and my co hosts are Sean Platt and David Wright. Cut the part where I said trailblazing guests and boundaries, and various other things still working off the cuff today on the new intro, yeah there you go so…
Dave: The off the cuff show.
Johnny: The off the cuff show, yeah I was thinking we were in danger of coming off as unprofessional.
Dave: What?
Johnny: And yeah.
Dave: Now you’re worried about that?
Sean: Yeah I don’t think that’s possible, I think us being unprofessional is our professional like…
Johnny: What time is it by the way, what time is it? Anybody have the time, anybody?
Sean: I do not have the time, is it hammer time?
Dave: 3:12.
Johnny: Oh.
Dave: The time of the…
Johnny: Oh okay good that’s become the norm, and then we bitch about how everything goes well.
Dave: That’s not our fault though.
Johnny: No.
Dave: That’s Google.
Johnny: We’re the people…
Sean: Okay.
Johnny: Controlling the show.
Sean: Right, right.
Johnny: [crosstalk 00:01:38] I would be crazy to think we are at fault.
Sean: We did author marketing live– what was that two weeks ago and we had the little presentation and people said what’s wrong with you guys?
Johnny: And we said that’s a question with many answers.
Dave: Let me just say.
Sean: Really like because we were professional and I think that it rubs people the wrong way, people don’t want us to be professional.
Dave: Let me just say as somebody that watches a lot of live podcasts, I’ve yet to see any that come on when they’re supposed to, they’re always late because of technical issues.
Johnny: Well, I’d like to turn blame for us being late firmly around on you, the viewer.
Dave: Yeey.
Johnny: At the risk of being unpopular, no it is funny because we used to just be really-really loose and it didn’t make– because now we’re so professional and whatever, but it didn’t make any difference and then people started following us. People start watching us on YouTube. And we didn’t ever intend to have a live show and then it was kind of like, oh well does that mean we have to do it the same time every week, and what the hell, and so there you go. So that’s how that happened.
Dave: Yeah we’re actually doing it early for you, YouTube audience. The show is not even supposed to be out for another week, so we’re still early as long as we got a show by…
Sean: Ahoy.
Dave: Next Thursday.
Sean: Dave’s crafty today, have you noticed that he’s crafty.
Johnny: All right, so we– what we decided to do before I announce the topic which will start on time today, I think just because of the nature of the topic. I do have to address a very-very important question of my own, and that is what the hell Sean, like you aren’t shaved. So you must have some pressing thing that you’re working feverishly to handle, or is that like an hour like you missed an hour’s worth of shaving.
Dave: Yeah, I can use the [Inaudible] [00:03:29]. No that’s a good question; no it was as simple as…
Johnny: I’d like to clarify beforehand that that is not a good question. If that’s a good question why are we on the air?
Sean: Well actually it doesn’t even need a response then, right? I’m busy with shit, that’s why.
Dave: There’s something new.
Sean: Yes, I’m sure Cindy would love it if I had you know dragged metal across my face before the podcast started, but I did not.
Johnny: The things that we are busy with actually we had a on the fly topic changed today. We were going to talk about one thing and then we said no we’re not ready to talk about that yet. So there’s some stuff that’s in the works that weren’t ready to talk about. We haven’t settled whether we next week or I’m kind of pitching two weeks from now. But there’s some prequel stuff that we think will mean a lot to you guys, I think it will be one of those shows that…
Sean: Look at Johnny with his open loops.
Johnny: I know, that’s…
Sean: That’s the power of storytelling there…
Johnny: But when we do get to that, I think that that’s going to be one of the shows that’s going to be kind of a difference maker for people in terms of thinking about stuff, and that’s kind of the intention. So not to make big promises or anything, but that’s what I hope.
Sean: No it’s good stuff and it’s been brewing for a while and it really goes in– it’s in alignment with our whole year optimization you know that is really where our focus is this year and we’ve just been, you know bringing the hammer down on a daily basis, and the stuff that’s happening is cool but unfortunately it’s a little early to talk about some of it so soon, very soon.
Johnny: So I would just like take a moment to bask if I could, in the– to Sterling and Stone Audies 2015 nominations.
Sean: Oh yes, yes that was so awesome this week, so Yesterday’s Gone season one got nominated for best paranormal audio book. The Audies are like the Oscars for audio books and they’re apparently kind of a big deal around the world.
Johnny: Yeah I was going to bust on him for that too.
Sean: The Audies, sorry the Audies. And The Beam got nominated for best sci-fi which is awesome, so yeah we got two Audies which is really-really cool.
Dave: Okay, before you all get too excited, I just want to say…
Johnny: Yeah we’re not going to win them; we’re not going to win them.
Dave: You’re not going to win against The Martian.
Johnny: Which– what isn’t like The Martian is awesome, but wasn’t that like last year. Like what– not that we’re going to win anyway, we’re not going to beat John Scalzi either.
Sean: What I don’t understand about the Martian is that we were– when we signed with Podium, they said, hey we just got this book The Martian out, and it’s awesome. And that was one of the you know one of the examples they used to pitch us, but we signed with them like nine years ago, so like the book was live, I don’t understand how…
Dave: Was the audio out yet at the time or were they just telling us about it.
Sean: No it was already out and performing well.
Dave: Okay well maybe they hit us in beginning of the year and we came out in the end of the year, I don’t know.
Sean: No I think it must have been early release or something.
Dave: There’s some bullshit going on, that’s what it is.
Sean: Either that or somebody…
Johnny: They should re-release the Godfather so it can win some more Academy Awards, best actor, wait he’s dead.
Dave: Now I actually on Facebook I said a comment about Yesterday’s Gone in paranormal?? And James Khan of Podium publishing answered and said that it was there because there are aliens in it, rather than sci-fi, because you know sci-fi and aliens have nothing to do with one another. So he offered to explain it to me sometimes. So I imagine that there will be a discussion at some point which I’m told why I’m wrong so…
Johnny: And the additional kind of fun nerd cred thing that happened– I don’t know what happened with Yesterday’s Gone’s announcement, but The Beam announcement was made by Neil Gammon, and so it was kind of cool.
Dave: Ours is made by a hobo behind them the Winn-Dixie.
Sean: There is no respect for paranormal, there’s none.
Johnny: There’s all that porn there, that’s why.
Dave: The crazy cat lady down the street made it.
Sean: Yeah Stephen King– like there were some cool people nominating and I honestly even though I looked it up, I don’t know who nominated– who announced the paranormal nomination– it’s really was some hobo.
Dave: They are smart in the wind.
Johnny: Is this the wrong time to mention that our next week’s guest has the accolade of having announced paranormal for the Audies– is that embarrassing at all? Sorry never mind, I’ll cancel that guy I’ll tell him that Sean and Dave didn’t want him.
Sean: But yeah that was– and I know this is such a cliché thing to say, but I don’t think we’re going to win, but it really is an honor just to get nominated like it’s really cool.
Johnny: There’s…
Dave: Worry nothing man.
Johnny: There’s zero chance that we’re going to win. It’s flattering to be nominated, I love to be able to say that, I love to be able to say that we were in Neil Gaiman’s tweet and Facebook stream for five minutes, but there really is no chance. Like that just like there are several tiers above us that are going to catch whatever nominations might come our way, or anything.
Dave: Well Yesterday’s Gone can still win, it’s in paranormal.
Johnny: Right well but [crosstalk 00:09:02] I’m not part of Yesterday’s Gone, so I wouldn’t use the pronoun we, but yes.
Dave: I thought we’re all a “we.”
Johnny: That’s true.
Dave: Even if I win and vice versa.
Sean: So I think that– sorry I think that Yesterday’s Gone has more of a chance of winning a paranormal, not that I have read those other books so I don’t know, but The Beam you know I have read.
Dave: I think Twilight book one was nominated for [Inaudible] [00:09:28].
Sean: Oh was it and I just– what I mean, I don’t know The Martian was just fantastically done, it was really-really-really good. And besides it’s already got a movie deal, things like that.
Johnny: I just looked at this…
Sean: A lot of attention on it.
Johnny: Yeah Yesterday’s Gone is up against Of Mice and Men, do you know that?
Dave: That was a good promo book, that one.
Johnny: All right.
Sean: I would love to rewrite of mice and men with Boricio. I think that would be…
Johnny: Of mice and killing men.
Dave: Wow.
Johnny: And then another thing to mention on the heels of this and this is actually a partner doing some smart marketing for us, but this is the sort of thing I think you have to think about in terms of tying promos together. Yesterday’s Gone didn’t have any coordinated marketing for this that I remember, but The Beam did, and so today is February 13th as we record this, and the announcement was made on the 11th for the Audies for Beam season one. And on the 11th there’s a promo going on right now where you can get episode one of The Beam on audio for free, and that said So please go check that out.
But that’s not a thing that Audible normally lets you do, and so Podium made a case with Audible to say you know let’s use this free episode to drive the season sales in you know the wake of this nomination, and then today season two came out. So like what we’re hoping is kind of a thunderclap, not literally you know episode one downloads season one purchases or Audible redemptions, and then season two on the heels of that and we don’t get– I don’t think that Audible has visible ranks, but we can track them.
Sean: No it doesn’t.
Johnny: We can see them in Author Central though, do you know that? You can locate in author central.
Dave: No, we didn’t know that.
Sean: Oh that’s cool.
Johnny: If you go to track your sales ranks in Author Central and then it’ll give you a list of your books, and then you pick one of them. So you pick Beam season one, and then it’ll say three editions, because there is a paperback and Audible and a Kindle. And then you select the Audible edition from the little drop-down, and it’ll show you the ranking of that and so that’s kind of neat.
Sean: Oh that’s really cool. I did not know that, I’ve never looked at an audio book ranking before.
Dave: Something that I just noticed on Audible, I was looking at Yesterday’s Gone season one where how the reviews done there are very cool. Like they have like a question and answer format, I never noticed that before. I think that’s pretty fucking awesome because the reviews have a lot more I don’t know credibility or what, but it seems like the person is writing a review actually like took the time to think out what they liked about the book itself, as opposed to sometimes you get these reviews that I liked the book it’s spelled liked right so…
Johnny: The questions are different every time too, so that’s what I can’t figure out. It’s almost like there is an Audible person prompting them. You know what character did you like best and different…
Dave: I do love them.
Sean: It’s somebody an employee from Audible, ad sir.
Dave: Ad sir who do you work for?
Sean: I do love that, I think it’s great, but the thing I don’t like about audible reviews is that you can also be anonymous and you don’t have to say anything. So that makes it easy for you know you get those– it’s the same thing, the problem with Barnes & Noble reviews, where you just get trolley one stars that aren’t actually you know substantial in anyway, but when it works, it works really-really-really well, I agree.
Johnny: So I’ll just close this up that The Beam episode one audio promotion goes until March 13th. It’s limited time, so if you want to check that out, please do. It’s like I said
Sean: I heard David Lorinsenz [ph] say– I heard a few chapters yesterday of Axis because I needed it, check in on it and it sounded really cool. I listened to two of my favorite chapters which are buttercups or something, and who am I and both of them sound awesome. You’re going to be really happy with it.
Johnny: That’s really cool. I’ve been listening to more audio books too, and I have– okay so here this can be my something cool this week. So one of the nominees for sci-fi with The Beam is John Scalzi Locked In– Lock In sorry, and it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton, which is just kind of awesome, and I got to say…
Sean: Did you notice there’s two versions of that?
Johnny: Yes, and I don’t understand that. I wonder why that is.
Sean: Because I guess Wil Wheaton just did a cooler one. But it’s funny because the other one has like three and a half stars and Wil Wheaton’s has like you know four and a half stars and like way more reviews too…
Johnny: It’s– I got it I got to say I was impressed with Wil Wheaton’s reading. It made me say, boy I wonder what his rate is, like I wonder if he’s in for hire, like because he did a really good reading. Now it’s a thriller, it’s a future. It’s a thriller in a sci-fi setting and so he has a good kind of strangely like I don’t know, I got used to Wil being Wesley Crusher you know, but he has kind of a cool like cop pick cadence, you know like just a tiny bit hard-boiled, not really. And it’s great, so that that’s my something cool.
Sean: Yeah, I really want to crack the audio book market. I really like it as a medium now and it’s funny because I want to crack the audio book market anyway. I mean Dave and I have talked about that since episode one of season one of Yesterday’s Gone, but now experiencing audio books on a really regular basis, I want to do it more, you know, because now I’m a consumer too. Johnny what speed do you listen to your audio books on?
Johnny: Well it’s called 2x but it’s not really 2x, I’ve actually timed it because I wanted to see if it was really and it’s not. It’s like one and a half, but that’s what I do, I just have the– because I don’t listen on my phone, I listen on my iPod, so there’s half 1x and 2x.
Dave: Sean listens to 20x.
Sean: No, I actually listen to 3x.
Dave: Which makes it just talking speed?
Sean: No 3x I think is 2x because Johnny is right, it’s not really…
Johnny: Why didn’t they just not call it what it is like…
Sean: I don’t know.
Johnny: YouTube does it right, YouTube 2x is really 2x.
Sean: So I don’t know but I listen to him on the audible app at 2x or 3x.
Johnny: Do either of you have…
Dave: Except for me.
Johnny: Another something cool or– because I just backdoored into that, that wasn’t planned, so.
Sean: No that was awesome, like Dave can go first if he has something.
Dave: Yeah I’ve been watching The Blacklist, which you know a lot of our readers have e-mailed me about in the past, and it’s like one of those shows like I’d missed the beginning and there is no catching up without paying for it, so I wasn’t going to pay for the episodes when there’s already all these other awesome stuff. So, but it was on it’s on Netflix and I’ve been watching season one, and I absolutely love the show so.
Sean: Yeah Dave is kind of getting on and I’ll be on as soon I’m…
Dave: On season four you’ll be there.
Sean: No I’m checking…
Dave: It is a show that has good ratings, you have to worry about it getting canceled like you know some of the other shows we start liking and it’s gone.
Sean: No I’m hanging with Hank Moody these days, but I’m almost done, we’re flying through that.
Dave: I am going in and that show is not even done.
Sean: Well, I already feel like season three is less even than season one and two. So if it deteriorates…
Dave: Make it flourish?
Sean: Yeah I’ll move on to something else, I won’t Weeds it because Weeds had me to the end and I wish I just bailed on season two when it was still good, and then it just got stupid. But my something cool is a book I just finished called The 12 Week Year, which I really liked– actually no, I didn’t like the book.
Johnny: All right, Sean Platt everybody.
Dave: That’s cool.
Sean: No, I didn’t like the book but I liked some of the ideas.
Johnny: You should leave a review like that halfway through five stars– wait a minute, hold on I hated it.
Sean: No-no-no, let me clarify. It gave me some good ideas which I think that’s why I read books right. I read them to either be entertained or get good ideas. So the book served its function by giving me good ideas, but not in the way it intended to. So the author– it was just kind of those bullshit books where…
Dave: Indie authors, one podcast at a time.
Sean: Well that’s fine whatever.
Johnny: I’ve got to look this book up now.
Sean: I want to like it; no you will hate this book Dave. I will give each of you a reason why you’ll hate it. Johnny, you will hate it because it’s just recycled bullshit you’ve read in a million other places like Tony Robbins stuff, right? Like you got to know your outcomes and all that which I agree with, but I’ve read it a billion times, there is nothing new here.
Dave would hate it because the entire construct of the book is meant to up-sell you, all right which you know, like whatever we have one kind of cunty review on Fiction Unboxed that accuses us of that. But like whatever it is a whole big book that tells this whole big story and then at the end there’s an offer, hey, you can watch the 24 hours of this. It’s the opposite of this book. In this book it constantly refers to worksheets that you can get, or training that you can get, but the worksheets…
Dave: They’re not free?
Sean: No they’re not free, the worksheets are $89.
Dave: Oh fuck you.
Sean: Right.
Dave: You shouldn’t even mention this book on the air.
Johnny: Imagine if Dave could download those for free somehow and waste like his bandwidth?
Sean: So yeah, so the book just made me kind of mad, but I still left with a couple of really good ideas because you guys know how I am about like framing out the year, right? And just the idea of framing it a little bit differently, I’m already on like I’m going to spend this week and kind of plan things out, and next week planning things out and I’m really excited about it.
So my cool thing is just kind of a– it’s not the book itself. It’s the mental flip that I did by thinking of a twelve week year because I mean you guys saw at the end of last year how urgent I– okay it’s the end of the year, let’s get this shit done and framing our you know, little twelve week spots like that, I think really goes in line with the optimization that we’re trying to do and it’s in the same way that you know thinking of admin work as inventory management was very helpful for me, this was just a shift for me, so that’s my cool thing.
Dave I’m reading a review of this on Amazon. By the way this book’s like 14.99 Kindle version, it’s– here is what one review says, this book does however offer the reader additional support, for only $89 you can purchase 12 Week Year study guide, for a mere $147 you can take the 12 week year challenge, for just $197 you can purchase achieve the twelve week year online system.
Johnny: Next week we’re going to have on the author of The 12 Week Year if you guys are interested into tuning in for that.
Sean: Yeah that guy needs a dick slap because…
Johnny: That’s what I’ve titled the episode; I already have it written up.
Sean: Because there’s just so little new information in here, like maybe 3% of this book felt new.
Dave: That’s true of a lot of those books.
Sean: And then, but to offer nothing new. It’s an overpriced book, you offer nothing new and then the up sell is $89 at a minimum for worksheets, like what the hell and then it just made me…
Dave: It’s $897, come on.
Sean: And then it just made me madder about the bitchy review for Fiction Unboxed and we try to do things well.
Johnny: I don’t even think in Fiction Unboxed, I don’t think we mentioned like you go get it here. I think it’s like it just happens to be on the extras page right, like it doesn’t even say go here to get– I don’t think.
Sean: No it’s not at all, no we have a bunch of free stuff you can get, like the transcripts are free it’s all free and then oh by the way, if you want this it’s the opposite of this book. This book is what’s wrong with– there’s nothing wrong with up-selling in your book, if that’s part of your marketing plan, but you can’t be a dick about it, and this book was a dick about it. It made me mad, but I did like some of the ideas that I had as a consequence of reading the book. It wasn’t– the book itself didn’t…
Dave: I should definitely buy the worksheets; they’ll probably give me even more ideas.
Johnny: They probably will, Dave do you have something cool or something to add?
Dave: I already said The Blacklist.
Johnny: That’s right, that’s right, you did. I just– I’m used to tuning you out, sorry.
Sean: Look what would they do, by getting it turned into a book?
Dave: What?
Sean: If they were going to make the blacklist into a book, how would they do that?
Johnny: Is this a prompt for a spontaneous discussion 10 minutes early? Could be, Sean just don’t.
Dave: You’re bad at it.
Johnny: Don’t even try, it’s just bad, so here’s what we’re going to do today guys. Like I said we had the thing where we could tickle your ass with a feather and it’s going to be exciting, but what we decided to do instead is we’ve gotten a bunch of questions. And so we wanted to hit listener questions and if you have them on YouTube– we can’t make it like a you know a hang out where if this is a deluge whatever, but because I want to get through these first, but we have a few voicemails, we have a few that people have sent in, and so we thought we’d take a show to answer your questions since this is what people are basically interested in, so there you go. So should I start with the voicemail questions?
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: Yeah.
Johnny: All right.
Dave: I also have a couple of ones that came in.
Johnny: Do you want to do YouTube ones first?
Dave: Sure.
Johnny: I just said we weren’t going to do YouTube ones first, but go ahead now that you said sure, go ahead.
Dave: Okay Thomas Bennett– first of all he said you should win The Beam was amazing audio book wise. I listen to about at least 50 books a year and it’s good. My top three last year, the narrators were amaze balls, I wonder if the top two included The Martian though. Thomas Bennett again he says, hey guys I’m having a debate with a friend of mine and I’d be interested in your take on it. He’s a firm believer in waiting six to eight weeks after you finish your rough draft before going back to it, so you can have fresh eyes. He got this from Stephen King’s own writing. I know you guys are fans; I’m just wondering what your feelings are about waiting that length of time given the amount of fiction you produce. Thanks.
Johnny: I guess we’ll find out.
Sean: Yeah I think it depends on the project. I think it definitely can be a big benefit. We just did that with Robot Proletariat and I actually had a way harder time having waited. I think I would’ve had a little easier time being real fresh off of that and coming through, and right now I’m just starting on The Nightmare Factory which we finished in November.
Johnny: That’s The Dream Engine sequel.
Sean: Right, that’s The Dream Engine two and I’m doing that and Ruby Room which is…
Dave: My autobiography.
Sean: 3 back to back and so I’ll report on that because I am– it is the first time we waited that length of time in between something and I think it’s got to be better for The Dream Engine books than it was for Robot Proletariat. So I think it’s just– I think it’s it depends. I think some books are more conducive to it.
Dave: I definitely do like that approach. I think it’s different. While Sean’s video is way off time, he’s like still talking while I am.
Johnny: Oh it’s good for me, for once I’m actually on– I’m on and Sean’s off for once.
Dave: Okay, so I think if you’re working with somebody else it may be a little different because you have two different people looking at it, so you kind of have that different set of eyes but if you’re working around on your own I would definitely suggest doing it– waiting you know eight weeks or even longer. You know just as long as you don’t wait too long that you don’t feel like doing it lose like you know whatever, but I think there’s really no way to– if you’re doing it on your own and you go to edit it immediately afterwards, you’re doing a disservice to the book, you really should give it time.
Sean: Yeah I think Dave made two really good points right there, the fact that having a partner does change it. I think I would always want to wait if I didn’t have a partner. I think that extra set of eyes does a lot of the work that waiting does, but I think the other thing he said, which is you can’t wait too long that you all of a sudden don’t care about the book anymore, I think that’s really too true also. It can only get so cold you know, so you don’t maybe it’s too hot right when you’re done with it, and you want to let it cool down a little, but you still get to it while it’s warm.
Johnny: I’m going to be…
Dave: Go ahead…
Johnny: I wanted to weigh in on that because I’m going to be interested to see how that works for the Dream Engine sequels because I think that it’s good to have distance from the work, but the way that I write is I tend to discover a lot of the story as I go. So at the end there are things that I realize that I didn’t necessarily know at the beginning, and so when I go back and start over again, I want to say I know that this occurs– number– so it’s two things, its events, but it’s also thematic stuff. So if I know that I’m working toward– I don’t necessarily know at the beginning that I will be working toward what comes out at the end.
And I don’t necessarily know that there’ll be thematic stuff at the beginning that ends up evolving through the course of the book. So what I’m a little worried about maybe more concerned, I guess, than worried with The Dream Engine sequels, is I’m a little concerned about not necessarily remembering the things that happen at the end of book three or even book two when we go through it, because and I will need that, like if I know that I’m working towards something that helps me bring out better you know a better polish. And so if I’ve forgotten things, then I’m worried that that might denigrate the quality of the polish a little, so I guess we’ll see.
Sean: I think this is like any of that. Any advice you really have– it’s a why thing you know what am I trying to accomplish with this work, and I think that some work lends itself to just, you know, going right back in. We recently finished a project that I think probably would have suffered if we had waited a little bit before going right back to it. I think it has a real immediate feel and I think we wanted to capture that immediate feel. And so I just think you need to look at your projects and think what is best for this project, rather than what am I supposed to do.
Dave: We have an answer from the different audio versions. Greg says there’s two versions of lock in because it was specifically written not to reference a protagonist gender at all, there is an audio version read by a man and one read by a woman sort of your inclination lies, you can get it.
Sean: Oh that’s awesome.
Johnny: That’s actually really super cool.
Sean: That’s really cool.
Dave: Thomas Bennet says how do you mean about the audio reviews. Sean in order for me to review an audio book on Audible, I have to own it.
Sean: Right, but you don’t have to leave your name.
Johnny: It’s the…
Dave: For a while, if they still own it they can hate on it. I mean whatever.
Johnny: Okay, so, I have something I wanted to weigh in on, it’s not really a listener question, but it is an e-mail that we got from Market Kobo, we’ve been talking to Mark Levebvre from Kobo recently and…
Dave: My favorite Canadian.
Johnny: He’s your– out of all the Canadians because there’s like several dozen of them.
Dave: No, he’s in my top five let’s say that, no I love Canada, I’m still going there.
Johnny: And…
Dave: I just say that every day.
Johnny: And Mark saw an opportunity to shoehorn in and talk about a friend of his who has had a lot of success using you know a company that we really adore, anybody know what the company would be?
Dave: Would it be one that we talk about every week around this time?
Johnny: I’m having a little trouble remembering who that is, oh that would be 99 designs.
Dave: 99 designs?
Johnny: 99 designs. He said that his friend Sean Costello needed a new cover for one of his books, and of course I’ve made short links so I no longer remember the name of the book, hold on I should figure that out.
Dave: Wow.
Johnny: But here if you want to see an example of a 99 designs cover, Mark would strongly encourage you to go take a look at Sean’s book, killing time waiting for it, will get a 99 designs cover– oh here we go finders keepers. Okay, so what I love about this is that Mark gave us the Kobo link, but then he knew you know, he knew that some people buy from that other place and gave us an Amazon link too, so…
Dave: You froze Johnny.
Johnny: Oh okay, so– am I still frozen or something, you guys are laughing at me.
Dave: No-no, you’re talking now go ahead.
Johnny: Okay.
Dave: This is a great ad read.
Johnny:, it’s working on the audio feed so shut the fuck up., for the Amazon link or findersK for the Kobo link and you can see his 99 designs cover. He had a A– he loved how easy the simple 99 designs experience was and he said to specifically mention that the power pack upgrade with the money back– because he was really worried there was something to lose, and so positive experience. So you can check that out. He says that that some of that this guys bad guys that Sean Costello’s bad guys would rival Boricio, that’s what Mark claims which I think is fine with us.
Dave: Oh I doubt that, yeah that’s fine, we got a…
Sean: Does Sean Costello have any necrophilia scenes? I don’t know.
Dave: If not he’s not even trying.
Sean: Yeah I don’t know.
Johnny: I don’t know.
Dave: Johnny is frozen again.
Johnny: No I’m here, so all right let’s send this– they pay us for this ladies and gentlemen, they pay us for this travesty which is great.
Dave: Not for long.
Johnny: Yeah not for long, but we do love and use 99 designs.
Sean: I think our twelve week year with 99 designs is about to end.
Johnny: That was the cease and desist e-mail I got, is they said, we said we are getting sponsor you guys for the whole year and we’re referring to a twelve week year, that’s what they said. So to start your custom design today at, we’ll get you the power pack upgrade that Mark and Sean Costello speak very highly of, and that’ll get you more designer exposure and tend to get around 185% more designs and entries in your design contest sorry, and that’s valued at 99 bucks. So start your custom design today at Sorry I’m being distracted here. So we should move on to voicemail questions, so should I just play the first one here.
Dave: Sure, we do have more YouTube ones, but yes go ahead.
Johnny: All right from Jim Buddy mail.
Jim: Hey guys Jim Woods here, hope you’re all doing well. I have a question here regarding email. I know this is kind of like asking the blind to lead the blind from what you guys have said about your e-mail strategy in 2014, but I still I know you totally have something to offer here, so I would love to ask you this question. I just find out from Noise Trade and Noise Trade is basically a free eBook service and you get your email.
Well I did an ad in the newsletter and I had a pretty good response; had about 300 subscriptions through the 300 email addresses through that. How would you handle this? Because I don’t want to be too aggressive in sending out an email to these folks, would treat as your normal like readers, your normal blog subscribers? How would you angle this? I really look forward to your response, thanks so much I appreciate it.
Johnny: I would like to delegate that question to one of you because I’m not sure I understood it.
Sean: Yeah I’m not sure I understood it either. Let me unbox it for just a second. I think it’s a service that basically you can borrow their broadcast somehow to make an offer and then get people on to your list. And in internet marketing that’s called an email drop. So if that is what I’m hearing and it’s an email drop, then I don’t know the value of that person. It’s a little like running a contest where you give away a kindle or something to get people on your list, but those people on your list aren’t necessarily going to like your books. So the way I would…
Dave: Free eBooks and audio books from authors who would love to meet you, they also do it with albums. It’s a pretty cool looking website; I’m not familiar with it.
Sean: It sounds worth trying, I mean that sounds cool. The way I would do that and actually…
Dave: Get them all on my own list.
Sean: Yeah Amy maybe want to make a note for us to try this because it sounds like it may be worth trying and then we can report back. But the way– if I’m understanding the question correctly what I would do is use that, and then if you have those 300 people I would immediately mail them something and see how interested they were in my offer. So mail them something that is in direct alignment with the future of what we are going to do. So you know maybe see either it would be a Boricio story, because with Boricio you guys are in or you are out, right?
So we would know is this reader somebody who is going to like our other stuff. And then immediately get them off your list. If they are not opening your emails, if they just went on there to get their free thing or whatever that one offer was, then that’s not a good lead. It’s not a potential reader, and you don’t want them to decay your list, so just delete them. And maybe if you get 50 people out of that 300, that’s still pretty good, but those are you know 50 potential readers who actually will be looking forward to the next thing you write.
Johnny: Yeah I agree. You would want to make sure that you move people over and then sort of keep an eye on whether those folks are opening your emails. One of the things about the blind leading the blind comment, that’s true. We haven’t done a great job with email but that is– it’s in the works and it’s in the works in a different way than it was last year.
Sean: In a big way.
Johnny: Yes.
Sean: So email– we’ll get to it.
Johnny: I don’t want to go too far, Dave is enjoying it. I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole or even down it at all. But the reworking of our email system is one of the things, it’s behind one thing that got really pressing and then it bumped it back. But Sean had talked about a 60 part Autoresponder series and I think that a lot of that is still in play. But it’s in play in a different way than it was originally.
Sean: Thank God for you.
Johnny: And yeah you just– it’s my connection but I’m going to try and figure that out this weekend. But we are re-working a lot of that. And we’ll explain the rationale, we will probably do an email final show, but that is in the works and it’s really-really cool. And I’m kind of excited about the tools we are going to be using and the method behind it. And Sean and I had several long meetings about that when I was working on it. We are like okay well let’s re-do this, this way and then I get a little bit into it and I’d say no I think we want to do it this way, so we’ll handle, we will address it.
Sean: We’ve had a couple of really big breakthroughs on it and I know we’ve said this on the show before but I stand by it. By the time this email thing is done even if it’s only like 20 emails in the sequence, it’s still will end up being the biggest project that we’ve ever done. It’s bigger in a way than Fiction Unboxed. Like it just has these very specific moving parts that have to work together and we have to get all the imprints harmonized, there is that word again. You know and what we’ve done is like it still needs to be finished off, but theoretically you know we are in a very-very good place with it.
And I think that it’s one of those things that you know every single person listening to this can benefit from that conversation when we have it.
Johnny: So we will move along because behind the scenes Dave is like stop it fuckers, stop talking. But I will just mention very quickly that– and I will be quick, I will be quick, I will be quick and Sean is not allowed to respond to this. That with email the two most important things in my opinion are trust. You are trying to build a bond of trust; you don’t want just end enmity. And that’s why you have to be careful emailing the list that doesn’t know you and alignment. And we’ll go into this a lot more, but the alignment issue was what I was worried about. Emailing people who were interested in X about Y, and so we had to resolve that.
So we will move on to the next question via voicemail and then we’ll hit YouTube after– this guy has two. So after his questions we can go back to YouTube question. So here we go.
Respondent: Hey guys you are doing so great, it’s really helpful when you answer a lot of other people. I’m designing the covers for a series that will consist of at least four novels. And as a former graphic designer I’m doing them myself. Anyhow my idea is to use the exact same starter on all the books to make it very short titles. Titles that are only two three words each. And that we will be very large and point size, make the title the thing that changes from cover to cover.
So my hope is that this will create the strongest visual theme for the series. And that the very large titles will be titled to distinguish each book when you see them on Amazon. My question is can you think of any reason why the same exact photographs on every cover in a series will create any issues on Amazon itself assuming the large titles will all be different.
Johnny: All right. So let’s answer that one first now. I don’t think it would create an issue on Amazon at all, but I still would not do it. It depends on how you are going to do that. But some of the optimization that we’ve done this year around covers has been about uncoupling; let’s say efficient reuses of photos or images in a series. We’ve actually kind of made a point.
So we want something now in series. This is very-very preliminary, but we’ve done it with– like I said we started some of our optimization with Lexi’s titles. And the Future of Sex is the best example of this but we are sort of in the works doing this with others. And when you use the same, you want something that’s going to be kind of visually the same, but I would not use the same image even with a different title.
Dave: Yeah look at Nick Stephenson’s Leopold Blake thrillers. He has very similar looks, I mean just your eye alone will say, oh that’s the same cover, but it’s not. I mean they have different CDs in the background. They have slightly different images on the bottom. They are just always like a guy in front of light like a tunnel, a hallway, or something. They look very similar but they are different. If you are going to do it another– you may if you are not going to do something, if you are sold on this way to do it you might want to use a color filter or something. Being a graphic designer I’m sure you can do it in a way that doesn’t look horrible.
A color filter is something that would distinguish it and also you want to make sure if these books are related in any way, if there is any order which a reader should read them that that is in the product prescription. If it’s part of the series that you write the series title in there, that way people can easily distinguish what book they should read first because that’s another thing. If people see four different books and they don’t know what is what, then you know they are screwed. Any confusion for the reader is bad.
Sean: Yeah I totally agree, I think that you should strongly consider not doing that unless there is a specific reason that you are doing it. I can only think of one series that we have right now and that Adult Video where we use the same image, just colored differently. And that’s because there is 12 episodes in that season and it’s hand drawn…
Johnny: And they are not books in any way, they are very clearly episodes.
Sean: Right, yeah so if you’ve got four books in a series I think you are going to be short changing your sales if don’t have four covers. I think we’ve learnt that ourselves. I think we can definitely say that.
Johnny: Yeah so as an example Unicorn Western has this really-really wonderful illustration done by Aaron Milos. And we liked it enough. Like this wasn’t– we were trying to be efficient with the nine individual Unicorn Western books which aren’t episodes they are novellas, but really those could be books. Like those could be kid size books. They are about 25,000 words each which is short but they are novellas but whatever. Like I could definitely see them being kids books. And we just liked them enough. Like it wasn’t that we were trying to be cheap although it would have been very expensive to do them anyway as individual books.
It was just that it kind of made sense, like why not. Like Unicorn Western I, Unicorn Western II and I think even if we had titled them differently the repetition of that image for a reader and even for us once we started to consider it made us see those as pieces of a whole kind of like episodes within a season. And I’ve said a few times on the podcast like let’s face it, The Saga the full nine book collection, that’s really the book. And I’ve kind of changed my mind on that.
I think that’s only because we repeated, like we treated it like pieces of a whole. We didn’t treat them like individual books. And I think that once– if we were down the road I could see us commissioning nine individual separate books…
Sean: Yeah we talked about this just a couple of weeks ago. That if money was raining right now we would have eight new Unicorn Western covers. So you know…
Johnny: And I think people would consume them like separate books that way.
Sean: I agree. So yes four separate covers is what you got.
Dave: Okay question Sabra Kay asks, “Okay I know you might not answer this– not sure why, but do you ever have more than one first draft going in a time?” Oh that’s such a cute question.
Sean: That’s adorable. I will say that we never not have more than one first draft going at the time.
Johnny: I don’t normally have more than one first draft.
Dave: That’s because of Sean I would not do it, but…
Johnny: Do you mean as a company because I’m usually– I mean we have one now that happened that way. But that’s not typical for Realm and Sands.
Sean: Yeah we have– in fact in 2013 we often had more than one going at a time.
Johnny: Yeah, but the question is in historically like right now that isn’t our MO.
Dave: Well she said do you ever have more than one first draft going so that’s ever?
Johnny: Do you ever, not have you ever? If that is indeed your real name David Wright.
Sean: Historically yes and as a company, company Y yes we always have many drafts going at any given time.
Johnny: I don’t prefer that at all.
Dave: [crosstalk] [00:46:02] maniac no.
Johnny: No.
Dave: I like to work on one thing. Okay so let’s get to the next question.
Johnny: No I love it. I love in these shows when Dave keeps us moving. Okay so there is another part of this question. So he had another question.
Respondent: Now my second question relates to these same novels being in the Young Adult category. Seeing that Amazon doesn’t seem to have any problem with covers having euphemisms like F-ing or WTF on the covers, and the titles and other categories, do you think the policy would be different regarding the YA category. Thanks a bunch guys again in your so helpful way I appreciate the opportunity to ask these questions. Thank you.
Johnny: It’s an interesting question.
Sean: Yeah I don’t think you even want to be worried about Amazon’s policy. You want to be worried about buyers. If you are trying to market to the YA audience then you may not want those euphemisms on your cover story or product descriptions, because I think your product will suffer. That’s just my two cents on that though.
Johnny: Interestingly yeah I think that if you are worried about Amazon censoring you, that’s more a case like a lot of people who work with racy– Lexi runs into this, right? So you– it’s usually that it is something that is indeed maybe should be kept from you know younger audience. And then you are worried about like okay so if I have a title that uses a term in a way that isn’t racy but it’s something that could be used in a racy way then you want to make sure…
Dave: Like donkey punch.
Johnny: Right, you want to make sure that they aren’t filtered in some way. If you are talking about like a donkey [kong] documentary and it’s called Donkey Punch as opposed to the other way. And you know I didn’t mean to blow the cover on something I have coming up, but that’s I think the case where you want to worry about that, and you are talking about readers. And it’s so arbitrary like if you are talking about actually being filtered. I ran across something the other day where there are like erotic writers like true erotic writers not people who are putting story for just fantasies whatever who have like tits in the cover. Like full…
Sean: Oh my god Johnny sent me a bunch of links the other day and the stuff was– it wasn’t, it was straight on porn, like there were nips on the covers. And they weren’t filtered, I couldn’t believe it.
Johnny: Yeah you can go and look and you’ll be like no you know no adult tag applied to those. Like they are doing…
Dave: Are they recently published in Amazon [inaudible] [00:48:41] are these things…
Sean: No-no, they were not recently published. And they were like the most– they were the ugliest covers. They just look like the…
Johnny: They just look like the [gypsy] nipples. They just took something off of so for you know like a Tumblr or something of a hot girl with her top off, and stuck it on a cover then you know put some words over it. Actually some of them didn’t even have words over it, they were just a photo.
Sean: Yes they were. It was nuts and there was no adult tags on these. And yeah, so I don’t think you need to worry about the Amazon filters so much as making readers happy or prospectively as happy. You want to think of that as a conversion thing. If a YA reader or a parent who is buying for a YA reader lands on this page, are they going to want to buy this book? I think that’s where your focus needs to be.
Dave: All right next question.
Johnny: Go ahead Dave. Do you want me to read one or you want a YouTube one.
Dave: I got a YouTube one as Jack Bohannon says, “I launched my first novel last week and it has done really well, staying ranked in three categories on Amazon hanging out in the top 6,000 in the kindle store. I launched it at 99 cents and plan on keeping it there for a while doing the same thing with my next books. So I planned–I released– I’m sorry I m messed that up– same with the next books I release until I build an audience. At what point should I raise the books to 2.99? I plan on doing first in series perma-free. Should I raise price after I have a certain number of books out, or use another strategy.
Sean: Okay this is another one of those things that I don’t know if this is the best advice, it’s what I would do. I would raise it now. I don’t really want to build a reputation on 99 cents books. I wouldn’t want the minimum; I would want to charge for my work is 2.99 unless it’s a short story. I don’t want to condition people that its 99 cents and then you build this big audience, and then you raise your price and they are like hey jack ass you know. Like look who’s head is all big now. I think that price and perception are important.
And so I had a principle– I mean you would have to sell 1/7th the amount at 2.99 anyway. So I don’t even know if it’s mathematically the right argument but even at a principle I would raise it now, and then I think that free is better than 99 cents. So if you are talking about the entry point to your funnel, it’s better to have your other books need to be where they are and then make that first one free.
Johnny: Yeah I…
Dave: We have a similar related question– go ahead.
Johnny: Well I was just going to say that I think that I can see what Zach is trying to do there. If the idea is to get maximum number of readers then I can see that. That said I agree with Sean in general and we– this is maybe where we say this isn’t even though it is kind of like we are giving advice, we are answering the question, I can’t help but answer this with the Sterling and Stone filter in place. And we’ve always looked long term and I think that avoiding a perception as a 99 cent permanent like that’s your price. Avoiding a reputation as that writer is something I would try to do to avoid doing.
Dave: Mike McPherson asks, “Do you think the rise of Kindle Unlimited will boost the viability of the short reads 15 to 45 minutes market as an audience builder?”
Sean: Yes.
Dave: Yeah and it is something he has a longer version of the question, so but just because we are running short on time I won’t read that whole thing. But basically we have gone long and you know we went– we have some shorter stuff planned, but I don’t know that we want to break up all our old stuff in that [inaudible] [00:52:21] I see some people doing again.
Johnny: Yeah I worry about– Amazon is not stupid. And I think that once Amazon realizes that a lot of people are reacting to Kindle Unlimited by taking a work that should be 100,000 words and breaking it into 10,000…
Sean: They will find a way to punish you.
Johnny: Yeah-yeah there is no– because that’s just– it’s different if it is episodes for short stories like awesome, like that’s great. If that’s what it’s meant to be, if it is meant to be a short read. But if you are just trying to trick the system, like Amazon is not going to put up with that shit.
Sean: Yeah look guys just put the reader first always. Always always-always-always put the reader first. That’s the relationship you want. And if you take a book that you know like Johnny said is 100,000 words and you make that into 10 things so it’s easy to borrow, that’s just kind of a dick move. Like if I was a reader and I got that I would not like that. It would put me off– I wouldn’t borrow the other nine, I would just not read that author. And that reader relationship is just too important to mess with.
Johnny: And I have a concrete example and I’ll move onto the next question is Lexi’s Filthy Fairy Tales is doing really-really good in Unlimited, really-really well. And it’s like it’s every time we put it free it does really well, Buck books actually just did a promo. And it’s hangout there and it’s continued to get borrows. So we’ve talked about you know like she wants to write more. And so do we put them out as individuals if we had three more.
And my argument is I kind of think that we should go ahead and do another three pack, and not worry about the individuals even though that would be a natural way to do it because the value is so high. And I think that that’s the reason that that does so well it’s just $6 book. And people– I want to borrow that, it’s six bucks. So I don’t know if that’s necessarily the smartest but that’s kind of the way that I look at it for that volume anyway. Adult Videos is actually the opposite so who knows both examples. So the next question. This is the last voicemail question I have.
Ben: Hey guys my name is Ben and I’ve been looking since episode 50, I love the show so thank you. I have a series called The Candle Light Kids that has four eBooks in it. And I recently released a soft cover version and I’ve priced eBooks progressively higher, so each episode kind of an attempt to drive people to the soft cover. The first eBook is a buck, the second is two bucks, the third is 2.50, the fourth is 3 bucks. So to me the weird thing is that since launching the soft cover I’m finding that sales are going up on the eBooks. So I’m worried that– well I’m worried that some people will think I’m a dick which I am, but I don’t want my readers to think that.
So I’m driving them to the soft cover and increasing the price of the eBooks but that might come across as dickish. So I’m just wondering maybe I should change the prices back to one buck each and take the profit hit. I mean they are selling well in spite of the price increase. But I wanted to get your three cents. So there is no box set yet of the eBooks, it’s just a soft cover and the individual eBooks. So thanks guys I appreciate it.
Johnny: See that actually bugs me a little bit because it’s not pushing them toward a bundle of eBooks versus individual eBooks or something. It’s an actual format change. And people don’t necessarily want a soft cover. Like…
Sean: Yeah I don’t understand the strategy because a lot of people who read on their Kindle you know they don’t necessarily want that. They…
Dave: Right it might be if it’s a children series maybe it’s doing well because of that.
Johnny: I just wonder about trying to enforce a format change. Like I actively– other than my books which are trophy pieces, I generally don’t want a paper buck, I literally do not want it. I will– even if it’s cheaper and Sean ran into this with something where the Kindle version will be more expensive as long as they don’t get it.
Sean: And I was so annoyed.
Johnny: And I’ll be pissed but I’ll usually get it– the Kindle version because that’s what I want. I don’t want print books. I like that my Kindle is light and portable and I can fit a bunch of stuff on it.
Dave: The other thing I don’t like about this strategy is raising the price on each successive book. Like one it’s one price and then number two is higher, then number three…
Sean: Yeah it makes them more– it’s like you are punishing loyalty.
Dave: Yeah. I would just make them all the subsequent after number one, I would make them all the same price.
Sean: Yeah I think you could solve your problem here by just getting a bundle around. And making sure that each of your CTAs at the end of the book just says hey if you want this whole bundle, you want all four of these books click here. I think that makes way more sense than trying to push people to print which is lower profit for you anyway, and you know because you could make more by just having the bundle.
Whatever you are making on the soft cover version, you could make that on a bundle for sure. And probably charge the reader at last. So I feel like you have a win lose situation here and you could totally turn that into a win-win.
Dave: Ryan Attard has a question and this is a rather open ended question and I think we should probably hit in a couple of weeks, I don’t know, but if you guys want to. Ryan Attard asks, “Hey guys I’m launching my third series soon, so my question is about book launches. What are your tips for making book launches more effective?”
Johnny: Oh let’s talk about that in a few weeks.
Sean: Yeah we’ll talk about…
Dave: Yeah that’s like a whole episode.
Johnny: So stay tuned, don’t worry we won’t miss that one, any other YouTube?
Dave: Yeah hold on one sec, I’m just trying to refresh. Jan Schlosser says, “We should start a Kick starter campaign to get Johnny a better internet connection.”
Johnny: I think it’s my computer is finally bogged down yes. I have the most expensive internet connection I can get. I need to move.
Sean: He’ll be blazing in Austin soon.
Johnny: Blazing, that came from Sean.
Dave: 4:20.
Sean: All right, so do we want to do any– do we want to wrap up or do we want to hit a couple of these texts?
Johnny: Let me read one of them we’ll see how long it goes, because it’s not like we promised to read all of these today, so this is an ongoing Q. And I will just add really quick just as an interest thing here that Sean did definitely propose the date April 20th as the start date for sentimental reasons of the project, so there you go. All right, it’s like I want– can we start it on 4:20? All right so…
Sean: All right, wait-wait-wait, to my defense there it’s because that’s after the colonist session. So we will be able to talk about this project live and then start on that Monday. It just happens to be on 420.
Johnny: Yeah but don’t even pretend that you don’t have that thing about dates. Like at a certain day…
Sean: Oh I have that thing about dates. I love dates.
Johnny: I wanted to start a project on my birthday but that felt a little– I didn’t care that much when I couldn’t bump it. All right so the question is you guys have mentioned many times about thinking like a publisher not a writer. To clarify you have to think like both. Does that mean I should find a small– okay so here are the options, so that means I should a) Find a small publishing press to take me on or 2) Just publish for myself or 3) If I should start my own press or should I start my own press where I publish my own books?
I’m a little confused by the use of the word press. We have a company but it’s just like it’s just– it’s us working together. It’s nothing– I mean it is formal. I don’t know– you do it yourself. I don’t think that means– doesn’t mean you need to find a publisher like somebody else.
Sean: Yeah you don’t need to find a publisher, this really is– I mean when we say think like publisher that means have a professional cover, have a professional edit because you know before when you are just getting– if you are just putting your book up– if you were to sign with a publisher they are supposed to take care of things like editing and the cover and all of that, right? You submit your manuscript and then they take it off.
If you are thinking like a publisher you can’t do that. You have to get a line of it, you have to get a copy of it, you have to get a cover, you have to be professional, you have to worry about your product prescription, all of that. So yes you can get a small press to take you on, but they are going to do a lot of that work. And maybe you’ll get a return on that, but maybe not, you still have to do a lot of your own marketing.
So it just depends. If all you want to do absolutely is just write and deliver that to someone and then go write the next thing, then yes that could probably be an absolution. But if you want to kind of you know nurture your own career, then it makes sense. And you may just be using the word publisher in all caps where it doesn’t need to be.
Johnny: So do you want to do one more and then we’ll call it a day?
Sean: Yeah there was one about printing I remember, yeah okay this one. Yeah so what printers– this person had asked a lot about printers and how do you get cheap printing and what printers do we recommend. Unless you have a really big audience, I actually would not recommend using a printer at all. I would recommend using print on demand which is a totally different beast…
Johnny: CreateSpace.
Sean: Yeah CreateSpace and if you are doing hard backs, Lightning Source. But if you do a print run you are going to have a lower cost per unit, but you are also going to have to have a print run you know. Dave and I actually looked into this, and we actually paid for I think a plate originally back when we had finished four seasons. And we were going to do a print run– this is before Kindle happened. And it’s just– it’s really expensive and the quality of print on demand just keeps going up and the cost is very reasonable. There is no inventory risk whatsoever. So I absolutely would not look for a printer. I think that’s totally a wrong way to handle it.
Johnny: Yeah the Axis hard back is– if I could reach it I would grab it here is my favorite yet. Like it’s 150,000 word book, so it’s thick like it looks like it deserves a hard back. It’s in– one of the things I’ve noticed I have a Barnes and Noble near me, yes they do still exist. And…
Dave: What?
Johnny: I’ve been looking at hard back covers and trying to decide what makes some look pro. And they are all glossy. Like they just are, like there are some that are matt, but it’s rare. And they are all– they do things that we can’t do yet. Like they– a lot like most of them tend to be embossed in some way, but that said they are all glossy. So it’s got this really nice glossy cover that it works well in gloss. It doesn’t really require embossing, and Gary did a great job with the internal, the formatting and it just looks pro. Like it just looks like a book you would pull off the shelf at a Barnes and Noble.
So I just don’t imagine why we would ever do a small press. Well down the road maybe for something like an embossed cover, but you really into like you talk about 20%, that’s 20% of 20% of 20%.
Sean: You will need a big audience to justify it you know a substantial audience. Then you have to worry about warehousing and all of that too. It’s just a…
Johnny: And fulfillment, you have to send it out yourself or have them do it at a fee.
Sean: Yeah there is so many reasons not to do that versus print on demand. It’s not even close.
Johnny: And a small publisher isn’t going to help– well okay they can help you. There are small publishers that will help you with eBooks, but why? Right? And that’s for most of us indies that’s going to be the most lucrative market is eBooks. And so you are talking about optimizing an ideal like for print which really for fiction is really minuscule for us, and for most of the other Indies we’ve talked to. All right, so is that it? We’ll come back to…
Dave: Well we have– I don’t know if Mike went first on this behind or this is– if he didn’t think we’d answer the question regarding KU and liability of short rates. He says, this is probably too late, but do you think the content specifically optimized for short reads, instead of longer pieces cut up could function well in KU. So yes we do. We don’t particularly care for cut up stuff, that’s screwing the reader I really think unless it was designed that way to begin with, but yes shorter reads, and we will be…
Sean: Shorter reads yes, but you need to specifically engineer them that way from the beginning.
Dave: Yeah and we’ve got some stuff coming up and we will report how it does and all that.
Johnny: Yeah I think the KU does really well with stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily show out for, because people who read it are just like why not, right? I think there is a real why not factor to KU. And that’s why we are experimenting with it in some fields, but we keep most of our stuff wide.
Dave: And I think Kindle Unlimited is really also good for nonfiction authors. You see like you know S.J. Scott I know he does all of his stuff in KU or maybe does I don’t remember.
Johnny: He told us he did yeah.
Dave: Okay but yeah like a lot f times like if I don’t know of an author, like when you know when I first saw his stuff I saw he had like a bunch of books out, I really know of him. So you know I borrowed because I didn’t know who he was. Because you know a lot of times in nonfiction is crap shoot, you either have a person who knows what you’re talking about or a person you know that’s trying to scam you and up sell you on some shit. So you know KU is really good for kind of weeding out the good from the shit. So…
Johnny: Something I’ve wondered about with KU, so you have it Dave, Sean do you have it? Do you borrow?
Sean: No, I should though, I should totally get it.
Johnny: Okay. So Dave have you ever borrowed something and then bought it?
Dave: Let me think. I don’t think I have yet, I would though if it was something that I’d want to re-read or I’d want to share with somebody I would. But no, see the other thing is about KU the part that is scary– if you borrowed a book like let’s say you know Yesterday’s Gone was in KU which is not, but let’s say it was, but then it wasn’t. So I think I don’t know how long the book stays on somebody’s read if they borrowed it, I guess they get to keep it. But I think once they return it they wouldn’t be able to borrow it again. So in that instant it would make sense to buy it like if you wanted to refer back to a book or something. But in most cases I think I don’t read books often. So I’ll borrow and then delete.
Johnny: My instinct says that– and I could be totally wrong about this. My instinct says that for somebody with KU, earning a buy is kind of an honored thing. Like I kind of feel like that’s the equivalent of I want to have that in my book shelf. So…
Sean: Yeah, I agree.
Johnny: All right, so I guess that’s it, right?
Sean: Yeah.
Dave: That’s it.
Johnny: All right. So let me just remind you guys…
Dave: Thank you to everybody who had questions.
Johnny: Yes thanks everybody and we’ll get to the rest of those next week. Let me just remind you about The Beam audio promo, because that is free for about a month. I think until March 13th did I say– I don’t have it in front of me. For the Beam episode one on audible that will be free, it’s and that’s it. And we’ll see you all next week folks, thanks for listening.

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3 Replies to “Self Publishing Questions Answered (Self Publishing Podcast #145)”

  1. Ember Casey

    I haven’t read/listened to John Scalzi’s Lock In yet, but heard that the reason it has two audio versions is because the gender of the narrator is never specified (and is some sort of robot/android, correct?)–so the listener gets to choose which gender they’d prefer to imagine for him/her.

  2. Sheenah

    In regards to the question about euphemisms in YA titles: I think using an acronym is okay (there’s a YA book out by Simon&Schuster called WTF) but I wouldn’t actually use the f-word on a cover. Some words are more acceptable than others (damn comes to mind). Obviously, think about the age of your audience. YA encompasses such a broad spectrum of maturity from 13-18, some say 12-18. If you’re going to use euphemism on the title, make sure that book is for the mature YA readers rather than the younger group and make sure that the cover and blurb leaves no question that the book is intended for the older group.

  3. John

    Do you ever cover stuff like front matter? (Copyright and all the stuff that isn’t usually read at the front of the book (aside from the dedication.))

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