Monthly archives for August, 2012

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: The Myth of Giving Away 15% Ownership in Your Work.

Oh, oh, I’m doing another Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing post. Stay tuned, I have a hunch there will be more. And it’s time for me to redo some of the old ones as well. Things have changed.

Why this topic? Why now?

Over the last month or so I have been hammered by all kinds of writers bent on the belief, the myth, that giving a percentage of their work away is a good and smart thing to do. I went to the conference I talked about in a previous post and heard writers talking about giving away percentages. My wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, on her blog every Thursday has been pounding on how horrid traditional publishing contracts have become, detail by detail.

And the common thread on her posts is that writers are determined to give away control of their work.

And lately I’ve seen a couple of contracts that are flat horrid from epub companies (meaning companies that claim to “help” writers get their work into print while taking 15% or more forever).

And the key to all of this is that they take these rights FOREVER.

So what am I saying exactly?

Simply put…Writers should hold onto 100% control of their own work.

Period. No exceptions.

Sure, license a right to a publisher or a magazine or an audio company for a short use time, but keep 100% control of the underlying property. (If you do not understand what I mean by license your work, the you need to learn copyright. A great place to start is the Copyright Handbook from Nolo Press.)

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The New World of Publishing: The Myths Are Still Strong

Sometimes, those of us playing out on the new edge of fiction, striding out for ourselves in the indie landscape trying to connect personally with readers, flat forget that the traditional side of this industry is still full of “the way it is done” and “flat silly myths.” (The quotes are just mine and mean nothing.)

I think there are a few reasons for this kind of thinking on our part. (And honestly, I’m talking some about myself here, but I am far from alone in this.)

Reason one: “If I have learned how to use indie publishing, then everyone has learned it, because it has to be obvious. Right?”

Reason two: “The old ways make no sense when looked at in a cold business eye, so no smart person would go that way now that there are options. Right?”

Reason three: “I’ve read about traditional publishing contracts and no way would I sign one of those and let them control what I write and give my book away forever. So no one else will either. Right?”

Well, not so much.

When you talk with insiders in the publishing business, off the record, they are not worried in the slightest about the books drying up. Not in the slightest. Thousands and thousands and thousands of writers are still flooding at them at full speed with new books. And as you can tell from the questionable comments from the likes of Scott Turow, most of the bestsellers aren’t paying any attention.

This also came clear to me at a writer’s conference a couple weeks back. I wasn’t there long, but had the pleasure of talking with a number of young (meaning just starting out) writers.

And of the ones I had never met before and who didn’t really know me, they wanted to tell me their exciting news for the conference. And without fail that news was that some agent wanted to see their work.

One young writer actually flashed the agent’s card to me like it was something collectable and to be cherished.

Of course, I said nothing.

Why? Simply put, it was not my place. I congratulated each writer in having someone interested in their work. Outside of their family, more than likely this was the first time for many of them that anyone showed an interest. And that fact is very, very cool.

So no problem there. They didn’t need me tossing cold water on their excitement and I didn’t.

(See how these myths just keep going and going?)

On the indie side, to be honest, I get excited when anyone reaches for their wallet and spends money on anything I wrote. Period. Never fails to excite me. I doubt it ever will.

So, I honestly do understand the excitement of having someone interested in work. Honest, I do.

But what really worried me was the fact that it was agents at a conference that were interested.

I know how that system works.

— Agents glance at something or listen to a quick pitch, give the writer a little hype about how the book sounds good, and the writer should send it.

— The writer thinks they have made progress (when in most cases, the writer could have done the same exact thing just mailing the manuscript to the agent without going to the conference).

— The writer, thinking they might “have” an agent, doesn’t mail the book to anyone else for months and months, just waiting for the agent response.

— Then when the rejection comes, the writer has built up a hope that is unfounded, and thus might have their dream killed.

It’s a stupid and ugly system for 99.9% of all writers out there.

Plus, on top of that, I really, really, really wanted to ask any of the writers (bragging about getting an agent interested) if they had checked out the agent’s financial statements, or criminal record. I really wanted to know if the writer had figured out where the agent lived. Or how many clients they had, or what kind of agency agreement they were going to be forced to sign by that agent or agency.

You know, basic business stuff you would do when hiring a contractor to work on your house.

But I didn’t ask, because I knew the answer. These writers, clearly hard-working and sincere, believed in the myth that they needed an agent to sell their work. Any agent who liked their work. And they were willing to send their hard work to that agent, give that agent all their money if the book sold, and the paperwork on that money.

They were willing to just trust a perfect stranger with their dreams and their money and their hard work. All because that stranger had handed them a card and showed some interest in their work.

The myths are still very, very strong out there in new-writer-land. (And with the bestsellers, but that’s another matter.)

So here is what agents need to do to get my vote and my trust again.

First off, agents, stop this crazy policy of going to writer’s conferences and feasting on the writers who don’t know better than to trust you or even ask a few basic questions about you. Wow, does that smell of a scam. So stop it. If you want to go, go to teach and help new writers understand the business. Nothing more. Don’t you have enough slush as it is, anyway?

(I know, some agents hate the entire thing and never go and I applaud those who don’t buy into that writer-dream-crushing method.)

Second, kill all agency agreements and have the publisher split payments in contracts. Make that your policy and tell people up front that is your complete policy. You don’t need an agency agreement if you just split payments. Stop trying to own or control a writer’s work. You are an employee, hired to do a job. Do the job and leave. If the writer likes the work you did, they will call you to hire you again. If the writer doesn’t like your work, let them go.

(I know a couple agents who will split payments, no problem, but still work for agencies who want to control a writer’s work.)

Third, if you are going into publishing as a side business, go read agency law. You are breaking a ton of it. Also, stop pretending you understand contracts. Tell your clients to spend the money on an attorney to do the contract and you do your job with everything else. That gets you off the hook with the publishers in negotiations and keeps you from practicing law without a license.

Of course, not one of those things will become “the way it is done” until writers start demanding it in mass, and trust me, from what I saw at that writer’s conference, that’s not happening in my lifetime.

Ah, well, tilting at the windmill can be fun at times. Now how do I get off this stupid donkey?

So writers who want to learn business and do understand some of the myths, what can you do?

So now I’m going to talk to writers who are worried about the “system as it has been” and don’t much like it. Here is what you can do to play both sides of this new world of publishing and avoid a ton of myths in the process.

One) Never stop writing. And having fun.

Two) Try some books indie, try some books the traditional route. Try some short stories indie, try some short stories the traditional route.

Three) When going traditional, send your work directly to editors working at lines of books you would like to be published by. Ignore the agent roadblock. Never deal with one. And if an agent comes to you with promises on a book, CHARGE THEM to represent your book. It’s called a “shopping agreement” and such agreements are standard in Hollywood. Make the agent pay you $1,000 up front for the right to take your book out to traditional publishers for one year. If the agent won’t do that, they don’t really believe in your book. Make them put their money where their hype is.

Four) If you get an offer from any publisher, hire an IP lawyer. They are surprisingly reasonable. The lawyer will tell you what you are signing. Then you will have data to understand if you need to walk away or sign.

Five) If you are going indie, make sure you are not shooting off toes in your sales. (See those two posts.)

Six) Keep writing. Figure out ways to spend more time in the chair. Follow Heinlein’s Rules for a year or two to understand them and see if they work for you. Then adjust. But give Heinlein’s Rules a year or more. Stop being in a hurry.

Seven) Learn business and don’t get in a hurry. It takes time, meaning years and years, to learn an international business.

Eight) Keep learning craft and don’t get in a hurry. It takes time, meaning years and years, to learn how to be a good storyteller.

A couple of last thoughts

This is a thought for you young writers out there who are reading this and getting mad at me. An agent wanting to see one of your books is just one person.

When you indie publish and sell one copy, that’s one person paying money to read your work.

Trust me, the reader paying money for your work is far, far more important than some scam agent at a writer’s conference.

And that’s called perspective.

And keep having fun. (I said that, didn’t I?)

Copyright © 2012 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time: The Second Foot

In the last post I quickly detailed out how I saw indie writer after indie writer shoot themselves in the foot with their publishing when it came to sales of their books. (Read it first if you have not. It is right under this post. I deleted all other posts between the two.)

So I’m now going to torture this metaphor until it’s dead. Or at least shoot it a few times. (Add in your own joke here, but please don’t send them to me. (grin))

— And, of course, on the first five toes article, I got many of the types of comments I expected.

— And almost all the comments ignored the toe I expected indie writers to ignore. (I sometimes hate being right.)

— And, of course, all indie writers claim they write across genre, ignoring completely that I said most writers I have met, beginner and professional alike, don’t know what genre they write in, let alone if they write across genre.

Of course, as readers first and foremost, we think we know a genre. But alas, that has nothing to do with writing inside the structures of a genre so that other readers will be satisfied.

I know most of you don’t like this thought, but reader satisfaction is why you must get genre right. Besides sales. You flat say something is a romance and it is not, (because you wouldn’t recognize a romance structure if it slapped you) then a reader of romance reads your work and goes, “Worst romance ever.” And never buys another book from you. In any genre.

But alas, as many of you pointed out in comments and private letters to me, you like to blow off that toe book after book because you KNOW you KNOW and you write across genres, so you don’t have to pay attention to this small little problem. Yup. Pull the trigger.

— And by the way, I NEVER SAID to write in series all the time. Heck, I write all over the place, and so does my wife. I seldom write in a series except for sort-of-linked Poker Boy stories. So some of you, please quote me correctly if you are going to quote me. (sigh)

— And the toe that got no comment at all really was the 5th and most important toe. Ah, well, not much to say about it, I suppose. If your book looks like an indie book and you can’t tell because you never hold it up beside a professional cover in the same genre, and understand that most professional bestseller covers tend to have four or five print elements, then the gun just isn’t pointed at that toe, it’s tied to it.

So moving on to the next foot. (You didn’t think I could leave an indie writer just hopping around on one foot, did you? Oh, no, there are more things indie writers do to cause bad sales. Many more.)

Shot #6

Spend all your time promoting your first book instead of writing your second and/or third book.

I see this all the time and it flat stuns me. The best way to sell more books is become a better storyteller, to have more product to sell, to work on craft and pacing and cliffhanging and all the thousands of things a professional writer needs. But for some reason the availability of social media and myths that you MUST promote force otherwise perfectly sane humans into spending all their time annoying a few hundred followers on Twitter and Facebook and doing blog tours and other silly things like that.

This toe is blown clear off of all “authors.” (Authors are people who have written and are always looking backward at what they wrote. Writers are people who write and look forward at what they are writing and what they want to write next.) Writers tend to get past this much faster, or only graze the toe with the shot.

Six toes now gone. (If you are an author.)

Shot #7

Too much ego or bad thinking to use a pen name.

Wow, I see comments from all sorts of beginning writers who are exploring around genres (which is normal and cool) stating they didn’t want to put a pen name on something in a very different genre than they already had their real name on.

Yup, that will kill sales faster than anything I have seen. Why? Because of reader expectations, that’s why. A reader picks up and likes a romance under “Real Name Writer” and then sees another book from the same author name and buys it and it’s a horror novel with ugly guts and blood. Reader says, “I’m not buying anything by that author again.”  And then tells their friends to avoid you.

And you know the biggest reason I hear beginning writers saying they didn’t want to put pen names on books different from what they already have under a certain name? “It will take too long to develop the name.”

Seriously? You are saying that to someone who sold his first short story in 1975 and didn’t sell a first novel until 1987.  And who has pen names far more popular than this name. Seriously?

If you cross genres, be polite to your readers and use a name for each major genre. In the long run, you will not hurt your sales and sell a ton more books.

That seventh toe is gone.

Shot #8

Underpricing your work for the wrong reasons.

There are times for smart writers and publishers to use the free or heavily discounted price to bring in more customers. No argument from me on that.

But if you discount your first or second or third novel down to 99 cents, without having a bunch of other novels at $5.99 or higher, you will lose customers. Period.

Sorry, folks, but the 99 cent and $1.99 is a price ghetto now. It makes you look like a beginner if it’s your first or second novel. It makes your work look cheap. And you might get a few more readers of the discount type, but unless you plan on writing completely to the discount bins your entire life, devaluing your work is not the way to start to gain readers.

If you have to discount something after a year or two, discount it DOWN TO $2.99. That way, compared to your other work, it will look like a deal.

Yeah, I know, write me your letters about how you personally made more sales at 99 cents. I expect them.

But folks, to be even more blunt than I normally am here, when I am looking for a quality bottle of wine for a celebration, my first stop is not the Dollar Store. If I’m looking for a quality piece of writing in a bookstore to entertain me for a night, my first stop is not the discount bin on the sidewalk.

Some people shop those bins to the exclusion of going inside the bookstore. Those are not my main audience for my books I’m afraid. But every writer is different. Just understand that if you discount your only book, or only your third novel, your audience has just moved from the shelves of the bookstore to the discount bin on the sidewalk.

So if you want to build a long-term career, with fans finding you slowly, over time, who are willing to pay a respectable price for your work, have some respect in your own time and craft. Price your book in the same range as traditional publishers price their works. ($4.99 to $8.99 for most for e-books)

I got an idea. Pretend you sold your book to a traditional publisher and price it exactly like they would price it.

That’s eight toes gone. Just two more left before you need new shoes.

Shot #9

Ignoring 65-70% of your market. Or worse, going exclusive and ignoring 90% plus of your market.

Indie publisher after indie publisher ignore paper books, even though survey after survey show that print books are holding strong among all readers, even those with electronic devices. And indie bookstores are growing in numbers every year. In fact, the new study out today shows that electronic books across all trades are just under 20% of books sold. Slightly higher or lower depending on genre and type.

So by ignoring paper editions, not having them available at least, you ignore 80% of all readers. And also kill a great price comparison on your own books. (I did an entire post on this topic, but say your print book is $15.99, it makes your $7.99 electronic edition look like a deal.)

And then there are the writers who go only with one electronic publisher. Sure, write me letters about your wonderful experience with Kindle Select. But I’m also talking to writers who feel it isn’t worth their time to go to Smashwords, thus cutting out huge areas of the entire world as an audience. Any form of being exclusive, unless used correctly, is just a killer to sales. And most indie writers I know don’t know how to use an exclusive sale correctly.

The ninth toe is gone. Just one left.

Shot #10

Getting in a hurry.

This tendency of all new writers kills more sales and writing careers than any I have observed over thirty years of paying attention.

Sorry to tell you, but writers like me and Kris and other long-term professional writers did not spring fully-formed from the head of Zeus (as my wife says). It took us years and years and often decades to get to where we are at. And millions and millions and millions of words.

And for me, those millions of words and years came at a pace of about 750 words per hour starting at typewriters and then moving to computers. I have thousands and thousands of rejections, 250 alone from just Asimov’s Magazine.

So why some writer who has written a novel or two or a few short stories thinks they should be famous and sell millions of copies is beyond me. That attitude shows a complete lack in the ability to understand storytelling and the complete lack of common sense or business sense.

So how does that kill sales? Did you read the four shots above this one? Getting in a hurry is a major cause for all of those mistakes and a number of the first five in the last post as well.

(The one I love the most is the “Oh, no, sales have declined in the last two weeks! I had better lower my price!)

I know this advice will get ignored, but if you follow any piece of advice in these two articles, follow this one.

Slow down. Focus on learning how to become a better storyteller, learn how to do professional covers, learn how to set up a business, travel and talk with writers farther down the road than you are.

Make a business plan that covers years, not months.

Warning #1… I don’t mean slow down in the writing process itself. If anything, speed that up. Write faster, do fewer drafts, mail more work. Follow Heinlein’s Rules. Combine that with constant learning and study of craft and you will get better. (It’s called “practice” for those of you not afraid of that word.)

I’m saying slow down in the worrying about (and the focus on) sales.

Warning #2… I am not saying you shouldn’t mail your stuff to editors or put your work up electronically and try to make sales. Do put it up, do mail it to editors. I mailed my very first short story to a magazine that bought it. And my second. And after that I got hundreds of rejections before a magazine bought another story from me. If I had been in a hurry, if I didn’t understand at a deep level that learning how to be an internationally-selling fiction writer took time and years, I would have stopped somewhere between 1975 and 1982.

But I didn’t stop. I kept writing and learning and working on becoming a better storyteller. And I kept learning the business, even as it changed.

And now, thirty-seven years later, I’m still writing and still learning and still working to become a better storyteller.

So slow down the worrying about sales, focus on learning, focus on the next story and the next story, and have fun. The sales will come if you put your work out there and keep learning.

The last toe is gone. And more than likely, if you shot your very short-lived publishing career in the foot ten times, so is your career.

But it is possible in this new world to stop firing at your feet. It’s magic, I know, but true.

Focus on the writing, focus on learning, do the best you can with every book and story and then move on to the next one and the next one. Mail your work or put it up indie or do both. And never stop doing that either.

Nothing will kill a writing career except for a writer stopping writing. But if you metaphorically blow off enough toes, this career you are trying to start will just not be fun anymore.

Trust me, it’s a ton more fun to focus on learning and writing the next story than it is worrying about sales.

Have fun. The sales will come.

(Now I have officially tortured this poor metaphor to death. Someone please bury it on the way out the door.)


Copyright © 2012 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

This chapter is now part of my inventory in my Magic Bakery.  

I’m now getting back to writing fiction, so every word I write here takes time from that. And I have to justify this somehow in how I make a living.

So, if you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. I don’t always get a chance to respond, but the donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

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The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time

Over the last month or so, (I suppose because I was preparing for the “Think Like a Publisher workshop) I started noticing how indie writers shoot themselves in the foot as far as sales. And not just once, but often so many times that it guaranteed that no sane reader (past family and friends) would pick up their book.

And they did it all purposefully. And were often very proud of the fact that they did what they did, having no idea what their decisions were doing to their sales.

I call that “Shooting Yourself in the Foot.”

You hold the gun, you aim at your own foot, you pull the trigger. You have no one to blame but yourself when you indie publish.

So, let me detail out a few of the “shots” I have seen indie writers take at their own feet lately.

Shot #1

Tiny little author name on the cover, sometimes hidden in some part of the very busy artwork.

It has been proven over and over and over that author names sell books. So an indie writer has ten books out, which means that if someone manages to find one of the author’s books, the reader wants to look for other books by the same author. And how does  the reader do that????

Author name.

I was looking for an indie author the other day who had a list of twenty books. I scanned right past the author’s books because the author’s name was so tiny on the covers, in thumbnail it couldn’t be read.

If your name isn’t in about 60 point type, you are just taking shots at your own foot. (Just a general guideline, but think about it.)

One toe now gone…

(I look forward to your letters on this first shot… (grin))

Shot #2

Wrong genre. In about thirty different ways.

Always have someone else tell you what your wrote. Writers are awful at knowing what they write. Indie writers put their books on the wrong shelves in online stores all the time. Or call it by the wrong genre name, making sure that readers who might like it will never find it, and readers who do find it will hate it because it’s not what it claims to be.

Wrong genre on cover design.

Folks, I hate to tell you this, (and I made this mistake early on as well) but covers need to scream genre. For example, I had a book I did called “On Top of the Dead” which was a pure science fiction story with aliens and everything. So what did I do to make sure it didn’t sell?  I put the lower half of a dead body in a street on the cover, making it look like a literary mystery. And, of course, it didn’t sell much. I just redid the cover putting alien spaceships hovering over New York City on the cover instead. Duh…

And genre in fonts.

The types of fonts on a cover will shout to readers about the genre. Put a romance font on a science fiction book and trust me, you ain’t going to sell many copies. Start learning fonts.

And genre in blurbs.

For heaven’s sake, if you call your book a romance, it needs to have a complete focus on the romance, must have girl meets boy, must have issues, and must live happily-ever-after in the ending. And that needs to be clear in the blurb. The blurb must be focused on the romance, not on the murder that brings the two together.

So if you don’t know what your wrote, ask someone else and then focus your blurb to the elements of the genre that are important to readers.

Second toe gone….

Shot #3

Dull blurbs, filled with plot elements.

Plot is dull. “My story starts with a woman getting out of bed, yawning, going to the restroom, brushing her teeth, washing her face, brushing her hair, then stumbling to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.” You would never think of doing that in a blurb to sell your book, yet indie writer after indie writer do exactly that, only in more general terms.

Plot is the linked events. Readers want to read the story to figure out the linked events. But to buy the book, the reader first wants to know WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT. Not the events in the book. Two very distinct things, folks.

And dull blurbs also means nothing but passive verbs. Sure, we all use them at times in blurbs. I do as well, but I know what I am doing to make a reader buy a book. I know how to write tag lines that snap. And when I write a blurb, I ask myself what would make a reader buy this book? But if you use nothing but passive voice, the reader will automatically think your book is dull and never open it to the sample.

Third toe missing…

Shot #4

All your books look different, even if they are in the same genre or series.

A good friend of mine is having this problem, causing bad sales.  His name floats all over the covers, different sizes, his art is all different, his fonts are all different from book to book. He now understands what he did wrong and is fixing it. Here is how this shot works to not only blow off a toe, but kill almost all sales.

A reader finds a copy of a book and reads it and likes it, so goes to look for more work by the same author, and finds a ton of books that all look different. What happens?

Instead of the reader just grabbing a book that looks similar, (and in the same genre as the one he liked) the reader must now start over, look at each book to try to figure out what he wants and what each book is. And that guarantees the reader will often not buy another book, because the author is making the reader start over with every book. And work to find another book.

And if you are looking to build the sacred 1,000 fans who buy all your work, doing this will make sure that never happens.

In other words, if you do this, every sale to every reader must be like a first sale.

There is a real reason traditional publishers make all books from a bestseller look pretty much the same from book to book. Just walk into any bookstore or stand in front of a rack with a lot of books and look at that. Then ask yourself why you aren’t doing that as well? I know some of you hate traditional publishers, but in some areas, like author branding, traditional publishers know what they are doing. So copy what they do, learn from them to increase your own sales.

Fourth toe missing…

Shot #5

Covers looks like they are indie published.

Wow, is this going to cause letters. (grin) But alas, true. If you can’t put your book next to a traditional publisher’s book in the same genre and have your book look more professional or at least at the same level as a traditional publishers’ book, you are losing customers.

Most indie-published books all look the same. Sadly. Title at the top, centered, author name in small print near the bottom, centered. Nothing else on the cover except a picture or art, often done so it looks like it was photoshopped. No contrast in anything. Fonts are wrong for the genre, no tag or blurb or anything.

A cover likes that SHOUTS indie published and will push readers right past it.

Why? Because you sent your book to a job interview half-dressed and without shoes, that’s why. The reader will not hire your book and spend money on it. And why should they? It screams amateur.

Readers are looking for quality and covers scream if a book has quality or not. The customer might not actually notice an indie-look cover, but they will subconsciously, and move on to a different book.

What makes a professional cover? A bunch of things, but let me list a few major ones. (And please, this is all general.)

— Massive contrast in fonts, big author name at the top of the book.

— Only two fonts that are compatible, usually one serif, one sans-serif. (Many fonts is a pure sign of a beginner.)

— A small blurb near the author’s name such as “Author of (another book title).”

— A tag line or small active pitch about the book on the front. And no more than that. Only the four print elements on the cover, or five at the most.

— Art or photo that is clear and matches the genre and the font genre.

— It looks like other covers of other books and stories the author has written. In other words, it is CLEARLY branded.

Again, all that was general and I left off a ton of stuff.

Professional covers take a skill that is easily learned given some practice and the ability to use InDesign (or Photoshop.) But to learn it you must study covers and sometimes imitate traditional publisher covers in your same genre. It takes a focus in the learning. But if you just toss up a standard CreateSpace template cover, your book will shout indie and drive readers away.

Your book must complete with the best of the traditional publishing covers.

The fifth toe is now gone.


Those are the five major areas that indie writers and publishers shoot themselves in the foot and thus kill their own sales. There are others, of course. And all I talked about was in general terms. We teach entire classes on some of this stuff.

So if you are wondering why your books are not selling when everyone tells you your story is wonderful, maybe you should back up and look at the package you put the wonderful book inside.

Clearly, there is more to this indie publishing that some let on, isn’t there? (grin)

But honestly, for me, it is great fun learning. And having the freedom to write what I want, when I want. And only write for me and my readers.

That’s worth the learning curve a hundred times over.

Keep having fun.


Copyright © 2012 Dean Wesley Smith

Cover art copyright Philcold/Dreamstime

This chapter is now part of my inventory in my Magic Bakery.  

I’m now getting back to writing fiction, so every word I write here takes time from that. And I have to justify this somehow in how I make a living.

So, if you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip jar on the way out of the Magic Bakery.

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this chapter along to others who might get some help from it.

And I would like to thank all the fine folks who have donated over this last year. I don’t always get a chance to respond, but the donations and the comments both after the posts and privately are really keeping me going on this. Thanks!

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Smith's Monthly, an original fiction magazine featuring every month a full novel, short fiction, serial adventures, and nonfiction now available for subscriptions.

And twenty-six of them now exist... Amazing, huh? And hard to hold. Here I am holding the first five...

$6.99 electronic and $12.99 trade paper editions are available at your local bookseller. All paper subscription copies are signed. For more information, just click on the cover.


Online Workshop Schedule

These are the starting dates of upcoming online workshops. Limited to twelve writers. All have openings unless I say closed below. For sign-up and more information about each workshop, click the Online Workshop tab at the top of the page.

Class #51… June 6th … The Business of Writing
Class #52… June 6th … Character Voice/Setting
Class #53… June 6th … Author Voice
Class #54… June 6th … Ideas into Stories
Class #55… June 7th … Teams in Fiction
Class #56… June 7th … Depth in Writing
Class #57… June 7th … Plotting With Depth
Class #58… June 8th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #59… June 8th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #60… June 8th … Advanced Depth

Class #1… July 11th … Author Voice
Class #2… July 11th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #3… July 11th … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #4… July 11th … Plotting With Depth
Class #5… July 12th … Character Development
Class #6… July 12th … Depth in Writing
Class #7… July 12th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #8… July 13th … Cliffhangers
Class #9… July 13th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #10... July 13th … Teams in Fiction

Class #11… Aug 8th … The Business of Writing
Class #12… Aug 8th … Character Voice/Setting
Class #13… Aug 8th … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #14… Aug 8th … Ideas into Stories
Class #15… Aug 9th … Teams in Fiction
Class #16… Aug 9th … Depth in Writing
Class #17… Aug 9th … Plotting With Depth
Class #18… Aug 10th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #19… Aug 10th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #20… Aug 10th … Advanced Depth

Sign-up and more information under Online Workshops tab at the top of the page.

Classic Workshops

You can sign up for these and start at any point. They are the regular workshops, only you don't send in the homework and you can take them as fast or as slow as you would like.

They are half the price of a regular six week workshop.

Classic Workshops offered.

Making a Living... Classic
Productivity... Classic
Discoverability... Classic
Writing in Series... Classic
Genre Structure... Classic
Career... Classic

Lecture Series

More information on these lectures under the Lecture Series Tab above.

#1... Heinlein's Rules... Dean Wesley Smith 15 videos... $75.00

#2... Read Like a Writer... Kristine Kathryn Rusch... 8 videos... $50.00

#3... How to Write a Short Story: The Basics... Kristine Kathryn Rusch.... 7 videos... $50.00

#4... Writer's Block and Procrastination... Dean Wesley Smith... 8 videos... $50.00

#5... Carving Time Out for Your Writing... Dean Wesley Smith.... 8 videos... $50.00

#6... How to Research for Fiction Writers... Kristine Kathryn Rusch.... 14 videos... $75.00

#7... Pen Names: Help With the Decision... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#8... Motivation: Starting Easier and Writing More... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#9... Practice: The Attitude and Methods of Practice in Fiction... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#10... Master Plot Formula: How and Why It Works Today... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#11... Prolific Lecture: How to Become a Prolific Fiction Writer... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#12... The Stages of a Fiction Writer: How to Know Where You Are In Learning and How To Move Upward... Dean Wesley Smith.... 11 videos... $50.00

#13... Starting Writing. Or Restarting Your Writing... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#14... Endings: How to Write Them and Understand What Makes a Good Ending... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#15... Audio Narration Lecture... Jane Kennedy.... 9 audio lectures... $50.00

#16... Your Writing as an Investment Lecture... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#17... How to Get Your Books into Bookstores Lecture... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#18... How to Think Like a Science Fiction Writer Lecture... Kristine Kathryn Rusch....11 videos... $50.00

#19... Why Some Books Sell More Than Other Books... Dean Wesley Smith.... 9 videos... $50.00

#20... How to Write a Page Turning Novel or Story: Basics and Tricks ... Dean Wesley Smith.... 8 videos... $50.00

#21... The Basics of Designing Science Fiction Covers ... Allyson Longueira .... 8 videos... $50.00

#22... The Basics of Designing Mystery, Cozy, or Thriller Covers ... Allyson Longueira .... 8 videos... $50.00

#23... Paying the Price: A Working Writer's Mindset ... Dean Wesley Smith.... 10 videos... $50.00

#24... Writing into the Dark: The Tricks and Methods of Writing Without an Outline... Dean Wesley Smith... 12 videos... $50.00

#25... Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly... Dean Wesley Smith... 10 videos... $50.00

#26... Organization... Allyson Longueira... 8 videos... $50.00

#27... Confidence... Dean Wesley Smith... 10 videos... $50.00

#28... Stories to Novels... Dean Wesley Smith... 9 videos... $50.00

My Publisher

WMG Publishing Inc. is now my major publisher of all my coming novels, collections, and short stories.

Support This Blog On Patreon

I now have a Patreon page with some nifty rewards for your monthly support.

Just click on the image to go to my new Patreon page.