The Only Thing You Need to Self-Publish

…besides a story that you’ve written, of course. ; )

Out with the Old

Okay, so you’ve written this novel, right? You’ve fact-checked, proofread, edited. Your beta readers have feedbacked the whole thing. You’ve rewritten, cut, killed your darlings. You’ve (hopefully) retained the services of an editor to catch all the errors you’ve missed (because you did miss them — trust me). You are ready to publish this work. You’re ready to feast your eyes on your sales pages at Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iPad, Nook.

Now what?

Last week you would’ve had to access Amazon Kindle, Kobo, iPad, Nook, and go through the entire publishing process at all four vendors, each of whom has a slightly different process that you would’ve had to figure out.

I don’t know about you, dear inklings, but the two times I’ve gone through the whole thing just at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (my publisher has done it for me the other two times), I found it less than exciting, less than simple, less than user-friendly. The best I can say is that it didn’t suck.

But that was last week.

That was old technology.

You heard me right. Uploading to all the different vendors individually is obsolete. This week, there’s a new service available

that will do it for you

in a single upload

AND WILL DO IT FOR FREE.

This new kid in town, my dears, is called Draft2Digital, and it is cramazing.

In with the New

 

D2Dlogo

 

Draft2Digital does exactly what the name says it does: takes the final draft that you’ve created in your word processor, converts it to the different formats necessary for the different e-readers, and spits out lovely, professionally formatted e-books at the various vendors. Draft2Digital does this at no cost to you. They lovely folks at D2D don’t get paid until you start selling books (marketing and selling, btw, are up to you). For saving you a ton of time, work, and headache, all they get is a small cut of whatever royalties you make off the book you uploaded.

Because they love writers, that’s why.

I got the happy task of beta testing D2D, and lemme tell ya, it was easy. What would’ve taken me hours upon hours (spread over several weeks, no doubt), took about 10 minutes. I got to preview my ebook in each of the different formats, and it looked perfect. D2D even generated a copyright page, an About the Author page, and a Table of Contents for me. I didn’t produce a single drop of authorial sweat.

What’s also tremendously cool here is that D2D pulls all the sales info, sales rank, stars, and reviews from all the different vendors and displays it all in one place. So you don’t have to go skipping about from site to site checking all the stats and trying to figure out just how many books you’ve sold and how many reviewers have said nice things about your baby novel. D2D does it all for you.

You want this, writers. You know you do. Because we’re all in it to write, right? The more we can load the business burden onto someone else’s shoulders, the better, right? Because that gives us more time for writing, right?

Right. Draft2Digital has the shoulders. It’s the singular hub of your entire writing business. All you gotta do is upload.

It’s still in the beta testing stage, so there are a couple of kinks. I, for one, write my stories in Google Docs, so I had to contact D2D to ask how to make it work. The good news is that the fix was simple, and the fix worked. And in the FAQs, the D2D people promise to get the Google Docs thing worked out. So I’m down wid it.

If you wanna beta test this beautimous operation, you can request an invite here.

THIS IS BIG STUFF, PEOPLE. This is the kind of thing that revolutionizes industries. Why? Because it makes people’s lives easier. The e-books of self-publishing and indie publishing have already made legacy publishing obsolete. Draft2Digital is the next step, and it’s a huge one.

Me, I’m excited to be stepping along with it. So go hop on board, me lovelies, and get your beta invites while they’re hot!

How My Bachelor’s in Writing Didn’t Prepare Me for Writerhood

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

~Henry Ford

In December 1999, I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English/Writing and thought I knew everything I needed to know about writing books.

Why, yes — I am waiting for your laughter to subside.

Okay, okay, calm yourselves, please. What do you think this is, a late-night comedy club?

Sheesh.

😉

Idealist Writer Changes World — Details at 11

So. Here I am, 22 years old with all of three-and-a-half years of higher education under my belt. I’m off to former East Germany as soon as possible. I shall change the world one relationship at a time and write books while I do it. I am Tawanda, Queen of the Amazons. Hear me roar.

For my senior project, I’d completed a Monster Epic Fantasy Novel (aka MEFaN), which I’ve previously mentioned here. My profs approved it. Their praise wasn’t exactly glowing, but it was shiny, at least. I thought my novel was ready to shop to publishers.

Um. No.

If you click through, you’ll see that the MEFaN in question was a first draft. I’d heard my creative writing prof mention such hideous things as re-write and edit and multiple drafts

— but I was 22 and brilliant. What need I with multiple drafts?

*sigh*

Ow, My Aching Ego

I learned. I learned that I was good for a 22-year-old straight outta college. I learned that I was not as good as what editing, rewriting, and plain ol’ life experience could make me. I learned that my profs’ shiny-almost-glowing praise was for how far I’d come by then.

But good grades, I finally realized, were not the final measurement of my skills. I realized that my writing degree was my starting point. My writing degree prepared me to begin.

And I’ve spent the last 14 years doing the work.

But here’s what my degree did not prepare me for.

Money, Money, Money

As part of my general education in college, I was required to take an economics class. I ended up in a course called Free Enterprise System.

Sadly, this had nothing to do with liberated starships.

Sadly, I learned exactly two things in this course:

  1. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. Booya.
  2. When one member of the project team doesn’t do his job, the economics prof doesn’t care that the rest of the team does theirs. Everybody gets penalized a letter grade because of the one lazy slob.
  3. Yay teamwork! I love teamwork!

Also sadly, I was not required to take any courses in personal finance (i.e. how-to-budget, etc.) or in finances for writers.

So, years later, when the husband and I got into serious trouble over self-employment taxes, my reaction was as follows:


 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing Homework

Let me be clear: I blame no one for this but myself.

I shoulda done my homework. After all, there is such a thing as thinking for oneself.

In the meantime, I’ve figured things out a little. I now understand things about withholding. I now understand that calculating my taxes myself is a rather dumb thing for me to do (especially when my info conflicts with that of the IRS). I now know to keep track of expenses like the ones listed in this article.

The business-sensible thing for me to do with this post would be to provide you with a list of such resources as that one. But I’m not writing this to be business-sensible.

I’m writing this to emphasize that even after getting our educations — whether that’s at the collegiate level or simply through life experience and trial-and-error — we writers still have to do our homework.

Yeah, we gotta research stuff for our writing. We read novels, articles, and papers. We drive to remote locations to get the feel and flavor of a place or to take pictures for cover art. We interview people. We visit museums. We sit in coffee shops, pondering and muttering to ourselves.

But we also have to research for our business.

It might be the most important thing I’ve learned about writing since graduation:

Writing is a business.

And the writer is CEO, VP, treasurer, secretary, and go-fer.

And this is every writer. Not just the self-published ones.

Writers, we must learn to think of ourselves this way.

If somebody had taught me this in college and forced me to sit down and learn the non-creative, non-artsy, non-inspiring, soul-sucking side of writing, it could’ve saved me a lot of trouble. And a lot of heartache.

So, do your homework, writers. Nobody’s gonna make you learn this stuff. You’ve gotta take responsibility (do as I say, not as I do) and do your research.

And for the love of all that’s good, true, and writerly in this world, keep track of your gas mileage.

__________________________

What financial education did you get along the way?

What’s been your experience with self-employment?

What’s been your experience thinking of yourself as a business — or not thinking of yourself that way?

If you’re more into the business side than the creative writing side, what one thing do you think writers need to be aware of?

But What’s the Because?

So, I didn’t intend to write a blog post for today, even though I usually do post on Thursdays. But, as you might’ve noticed, I moved last weekend, so my new home looks like a hoarder lives in it. I need need need to fix that. Plus, I’m cooking birthday dinner for my mommy today! Therefore, no blog post.

But

Then, I read/watched From Inspiration to Creation, today’s blog post by Chris Brogan, and I got all inspired to share a brief thought with you.

What’s the What?

In his post/video, Chris talks about taking an idea — and then deciding what to do with it. Does he want to use it to generate more interest for chrisbrogan.com? Or does he need to expand it into something more business-y for kitchentablecompanies.com? Or is this idea better fodder for something else entirely?

So, the first question he asks himself is: What’s it for?

Keep It Simple

Chris’s question reminded me of one of my favorite movies: The Boys Next Door with Nathan Lane, Robert Sean Leonard, Courtney B. Vance, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Jeter, and Mare Winningham. (I list them to distinguish the movie from another with the same title.)

In this movie, Tony Goldwyn plays Jack, a social worker who oversees the care of four mentally challenged men who are trying to live in a non-facility home. Just thinking about this movie makes me tear up, because it’s so sweet, so funny, so heart-warming, so devastating, and so triumphant.

And I haven’t watched it in far too long, so I can’t remember what’s happening in the scene I want to quote from. All I can remember is that Jack is trying to communicate something to Lucien, the most severely challenged of the four men.

Lucien (played by Courtney B. Vance in a stunning performance) can’t understand the reasons behind what Jack is telling him. In his simple way, Lucien asks:

What’s the because, Jack?

What’s the Because?

Combining Lucien’s simplistic worldview and Chris’s business sense, I come to this conclusion:

Whatever you’re publishing online — especially if it’s a blog post, an article, or a piece of creative writing, first ask yourself why you’re doing it.

Do you want to help someone?
Is this the answer to someone’s question?
Did you read something someone else wrote, and you think your spin would benefit others?
Are you marketing yourself? Your services? Your product?

Are you just listening to yourself talk?
Have you seen others post on this topic, and you want to ride someone’s coattails on the bandwagon?
Did you write this because it seems like the popular thing to do (but you don’t really have a passion for it)?

You put something together in a nifty package, and you want to share it with the online world.

But why?

Truth

Answer that question — find your because — and you’ll gain clarity about all sorts of things. Your target audience. Your writing process. Your thinking process.

If you’re honest, you might even gain clarity about yourself. And gaining that kind of clarity enables you to serve others better.

It makes you a better human being — and a better human living.

______________________

So, what’s your because?

Why do you do what you do? Write what you write?

Have you always asked yourself the whys? How has this habit made you a better person?

Let’s talk. : )