A 90-minute crash course on self-publishing


This past weekend, I was lucky enough to both organize and participate on an amazing self-publishing panel (though it’s over, see my original announcement for more details). For those of you who couldn’t make it, you  missed a 90-minute, crash course on self-publishing success, failure, resilience, and prediction.

In retrospect, it feels like we covered half a hundred topics in that short time. It was more likely just two-dozen or so, but it ran the gamut from smart pricing to promotional strategies, from e-book formatting to the uses of new technology.

I’m sorry to say that we weren’t able to video-tape or otherwise capture all of the content of the panel, but I’ve listed the websites and services below that I could remember from the information blitzkrieg. If you were there and know I’ve forgotten anything, please say so in the Comments section.

Here’s hoping for a reprise soon!

(Please note that I can’t vouch for all of the services or advice from the various sites below; they were mentioned during the course of yesterday’s discussion. Use your own best judgment when hiring freelancers, engaging services, or taking counsel!)

Panelist sites
Karen Cantwell
http://www.karencantwell.com/

Matthew Iden
http://matthew-iden.com

Scott Nicholson
http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

Michael J. Sullivan
http://riyria.blogspot.com/

Robin Sullivan
Blog – http://write2publish.blogspot.com/
(Ridan Publishing) – http://www.ridanpublishing.com/

Retailer Sites
These are sites where self-pub writes can upload their pieces themselves, without help–or control–from anyone else. Note that Smashwords, while also a retailer, distributes to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple/iBooks, Sony, Diesel. It doesn’t truly distribute to Amazon despite saying so, and is not necessary for upload to Kobo or B&N (i.e., you can use their own services). It is most helpful for authors trying to reach iBooks and other markets.

Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin

Kobo – Writing life
https://writinglife.kobobooks.com/

Barnes & Noble/Nook – PubIt
http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com

Smashwords
http://www.smashwords.com/

Amazon imprints
There was some confusion regarding the difference between Amazon KDP and Amazon Publishing. The former is Amazon’s online publishing service that anyone can use, without charge, to upload their manuscript and sell it on Amazon.

The latter is a true publisher that solicits manuscripts and backs their publication. Unlike KDP, inclusion with Amazon Publishing is by invitation only (agented submissions sometimes accepted). Different genres have different imprints under the Amazon Publishing umbrella. See the links below for the list.

Amazon’s List
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000664761

Wikipedia entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Publishing

Audio books
ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange)
http://www.acx.com/
Matchmaking service, brings authors together with audio talent.

Audible.com
http://www.audible.com/
Audio book service, owned by Amazon.

Formatting, e-book design, and artwork
99 designs – http://99designs.com/ (design bidding)
Elance – https://www.elance.com/ (freelance professionals, many fields)
Guru.com – http://www.guru.com/ (freelance professionals, many fields)
Deviantart – http://www.deviantart.com.  Artist community site. Job board allows freelance work to be posted and artists to post rates. (artists only)
52novels – http://www.52novels.com/ (e-book design and formatting; no cover art)
Streetlight Graphics – http://www.streetlightgraphics.com (e-book formatting, cover art, CreateSpace paperback formatting/layout)

DIY Formatting Help
Smashwords guide
http://www.smashwords.com/books/download/52/1/latest/0/0/smashwords-style-guide.pdf
This is Smashword’s founder and CEO Mark Coker’s free guide to cleaning up your manuscript in Word in order for it to make through Smashword’s “Meatgrinder” conversion software. Even if you don’t plan to publish through Smashwords, this is a helpful guide on how to clean up your manuscript so that it produces fewer errors during other conversions (like Amazon’s KDP and Kobo’s Writing Life).

KDP help
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A17W8UM0MMSQX6

MobiPocket Creator
Free software to convert a Word or .html document into a .mobi file (helpful for uploading to KDP).
http://www.mobipocket.com/en/DownloadSoft/DownloadCreator.asp

Calibre
Free software for converting most file type to other file types, such as .epub.
http://calibre-ebook.com/

Self-publishing Websites
Kindleboards.com (Writers Café)
http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/board,60.25.html
(see also my summary of KB at http://matthew-iden.com/2012/03/07/kindleboards-the-best-resource-around/)
Self-pub and online writers’ hangout. Archived threads are indispensable guide.

Goodreads
http://www.goodreads.com
Reader community. Has ratings and review schema separate from retailers like Amazon. Self-pub writers can join as “Goodreads authors” and (tastefully) promote their books. Allows giveaways of books as a promotional tool for authors (physical books only).

Librarything
http://www.librarything.com
Reader community much like Goodreads. Allows giveaways of e-books as a promotional tool for authors.

Helpful Author Sites
David Gaughran
http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ (especially http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/lets-get-digital/)

Joe Konrath
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
http://kriswrites.com/

Dean Wesley Smith
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/

Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Tips for eAuthors
6 comments on “A 90-minute crash course on self-publishing
  1. Wo3lf says:

    Thanks for this Matt. I wish I could’ve been there. I’m at a point where I need to find an editor (in the process of doing) and cover artist. Thanks for the links and info.

  2. Thanks so much for posting all the links Matt. I had a previous commitment that took me elsewhere for most of the day or I’d have been front row center. I started my publishing imprint in May of 2011 and have done eleven books so far. I learn something new with each one.

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