SPP 040 – Your Self-Publishing Questions, Answered by Proxy

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On today’s show, we had a special guest in Garrett Robinson, who we figured could represent all of you out there in self-publishing land who had questions for us. We picked Garrett because he always has a ton of questions, and having him on was easier than filing a restraining order.

Live from his closet, here are just a few of the questions Garrett asked us and that we then discussed while stupid jokes were tossed about and Sean and I yelled angrily about Garrett making us be on the podcast in the evening:

1. Do you need a publishing house, or can you publish under your own name?
Short answer: you don’t need a house. I (Johnny) don’t have one. Sean says you might consider it if you want to act like a publisher. Whatever that means.

2. What’s the best way to price serials?
Answer: It depends. Listen up to get the full details.

3. What is the best timing for KDP Select promotions?
Answer: Undecided. Sean wants to try running his promos on Saturdays and Sundays, while I still tend to go with Tuesdays. It may not matter. There was much confusion about the timing of sending emails.

4. What’s the best way to collaborate and write fast?
Answer: A bit too convoluted to write out here. I’m also too lazy to listen and find out what we said.

We also took a voicemail from Gareth and did some other dumb stuff. I was tired. The end.

To view the video version of this episode, go to: Self Publishing Podcast #40 – Your Self-Publishing Questions, Answered by Proxy

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  1. Hey guys, just started listening to your podcasts. Really dig em. Just one comment, related to the most important topic on this podcast: horses/unicorns.

    Just wanted to confirm that horses do indeed lay down. I’m no horse expert, but when I was traveling in Iceland last year, I saw tons of Icelandic horses sleeping on the ground. And Icelandic horses are kinda like little primadonna versions of the horses we know, so they might be the closest thing to a unicorn.

    Here’s proof. 5th picture down:

    Thanks guys. Look forward to future shows.

    • Ha, awesome Matthew — thanks!

  2. Puuh ! The first 10 minutes I thought this was going to be the most off-topic show, ever, but I’m glad Garrett followed up with real questions. I checked out his Amazon page as well – it’s interesting to see the common format you all share :

    30,000 to 60,000 word serial novellas in the 2.99 to 3.45 $ range.
    Is that “standard” accidentally or is a viable options that just works ?

    • Hey Mars!

      I think it’s just a viable option that works. I think we’re sorta making up our own standards right now. 60K sounds a bit too long to me — more like an actual book. I would think 30-40K is the better range.

    • I think of pricing like this:

      Short stories (10kish and under): $0.99, but the main purpose isn’t sales; it’s lead-gen.

      Novellas (25k-45k): $2.99

      All lengths of novels and 3-novella collections totaling under 100k: $4.99

      Collections (including serials) totaling 120k+: $5.99

      Massive, multi-book omnibuses totaling 200k+: $9.99

      I think that no matter how big a single novel is, you really shouldn’t go much higher than $4.99. The perception of value is just too low for one work, no matter how long it is.

      I also think that the no-man’s land between short stories and novellas is a toss-up… you could call them short novellas or long stories and price them either way. But when in doubt, err toward a better experience for the reader, and keep in mind whether you care more about sales or lead-gen.

      Also, based on what we’re hearing from our new buddy Lexi Maxxwell (she asks as many questions as Garrett, leading us to suspect that Garrett is in league with her), the rules change a bit for erotica. That market seems to be able to price a tier up from the above (10-12k for $2.99, etc.).

      • Wow, thanks for that ginormous pricing model – this is going to help me a lot with my upcoming stories. There really is a lot of science behind this, and I can’t wait to crack it open. Thanx for all you do, guys.
        Me and a butt-load of other peeps really enjoy + appreciate it !

        • Between a short and Novella would be a Novelette. As for a price, I don’t suppose you would bother going any higher than 99c? Maybe 1.99 for a book in the middle of a normal short and novella length?

          • Personally, I wouldn’t bother. Anything below $2.99 is 35 percent commission and hence not very interesting to me. I mean… what do I care if I make 70 cents instead of 35? IMO, anything below $2.99 is lead-gen territory, and hence the only real thing to do with it is to keep that price as low as possible so that you get more people in the funnel.

  3. Much confusion about timing for emails and frees, you say. When was Unicorn Western on for free?

    Another great show – keep it up!

    • It’s free now. We accidentally missed a day. 🙂

  4. With all due respect, Can you guys make an separate podcast that has questions and answers or specific advice, minus all the sex talk, self promotions, or constant ragging on each other? It’s annoying to hear the same thing every week and just when you get to a good question or subject, someone interrupts and the question is never answered fully. If you seriously want to help other authors, cut out the 4th grade fluff and be professional. That’s why we listen to you guys because you know your stuff and we can benefit from it, but its sad when outside guests bring more to the table than you do. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Steven,

      I totally appreciate what you’re saying, but that pretty much has zero chance of happening. The three of us do this show for free because it feels great to help. But it does cost us valuable writing time and you will hear self-promotion, although even having said that we actually do very little direct self-promotion. We have to talk about our products because that’s where our experience lies.

      We will continue to be juvenile because that’s what makes the show fun for us to do and one of the reasons each of us looks forward to it each week. That’s what makes it easy and natural. That’s what DOES help the majority of our listeners. Most of our listeners like the blend, though it’s absolutely okay if you don’t.

      It’s not sad when outside guests bring more to the table. That’s why we bring outside guests on.

      • Well played my good man, well played.


        • Yeah, it pretty much comes down to either doing a juvenile show or doing a non-juvenile, 100% information show that we give up on doing because we hate it.

      • Fantastic answer, Sean!
        When you guys are having fun, I have fun listening. And I always get valuable information from your podcasts. And I love it when you have guests who have more knowledge in some area than you do–those have been some of your bests shows.

      • Thank you! Don’t change anything. 🙂 I adore your podcast for the fact that you guys are so fun to listen to. Makes the whole experience enjoyable and truthfully, I can get “instruction” just about anywhere online or through the multitude of books available for writers, but I can’t get a dose of your chemistry anywhere else. 😉 Love the show and spend way too much time listening and re-listening to your podcast. I’m going to have to check out the Better Off Undead podcast next. As soon as I get some more free time, I’m making time to listen. Thanks again! Love the show. 🙂

  5. Got UW2 now!

    Thought I share some KDP select results to add to the discussion. I ran Wednesday and Thursday last week (23rd/24th) for my short story collection Cracks in the Ceiling (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005KNAU9S/). It’s been out since September 2011, and is currently $4.99, having also been $2.99 for a lot of its life. I listed it with every “free kindle” service with 3 weeks notice, and got picked up by some but not Pixel of Ink. I shifted 2,093 at amazon.com but only 17 at amazon.co.uk.

    It’s only a bit over a week since it ran, so hopefully the impact is still to trickle through. So far, only one new sign up for my list (for which you get a free ebook), no reviews and no impact on other sales. Being patient!

    • The patience thing is super hard, but it looks like you’re doing great!

    • Dude, you’ve just got to hang in there and keep going. I’m only now beginning to feel less frustrated. I takes time. Like Sean said, 2k is fantastic. Give your name time to spread.

      • I certainly know the answer to the question “Is it worth an hour of my time listing the free promotion on every site mentioned Author Marketing Club?”

        Most of those 2K went out on day 2, BTW. Wish I’d thought of /knew I could let it run for an extra day.

        Putting the time into this week’s schedule to get another couple of promos going in the next month. Will try Fri/Sat rather than Wed/Thurs next time.

  6. Great 2(!) podcasts. Like birthday and Christmas all rolled into one.

    Here’s a question for you: Do you know anyone who is just a little further down the road than you guys who is making the series model (ie 30-45k word novellas) work? When I say work I mean an exponentially-growing list and actually making a modest living from their books.

    I’m just starting draft 2 of my third novel (~90k words) and plan to try the series model after that. I did plan to also create a series in the more traditional sense (eg Lee Child Jack Reacher novels). So the continuing adventures of the same cast of characters, but each book can be read as a standalone. I was assuming these would be 75-95k words each. But now I’m thinking that the series should consist of novella-length books too (after reading comments on one of your earlier podcasts). As I haven’t seen the model working for anyone, I’m not sure what the best approach would be.

    • Hi there Eva — unfortunately, I don’t. Everything we’re doing is sorta frontier, so there aren’t a lot of examples to look to. We’ll continue to share everything we discover ourselves in the meantime, though!

      • Thanks Sean – you guys are pioneers – just saddling up your unicorns and heading west toward the setting sun… (wait, or is that east? or maybe south?)

  7. Hey guys, I love the idea of using TV shows as a model for serialization. I was trying to convince a friend of mine to use that model when I found your podcast (and thus Yesterday’s Gone). If you were writing a semi-serialized show based on the 1/2 hour tv format (say about 20k words), would you distribute it the same as your current model? If not, what would you do different?

    As a PS, I love how you’re reusing the Unicorn Western cover!


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