Considering Self-Publishing: A Panel Conversation, Part 3 or 4

This is a series of blog posts transcribing a Google+ Hangout conversation I had in October 2012 with a panel of experienced book authors, book marketers, writing & publishing coaches and a few people who had some burning questions for our panel!

Previously we discussed:

In this third installment, we’ll consider what our panel recommends Q3: Who To Consider When You’ve Decided to Self-Publish

Further discussion points in upcoming posts include:

  • Q4: Coaching From Concept Through Publishing

Book Authors & Publishing. For this second episode of #SparkleSOS, as with the first, we had a Facebook RSVP Page and Google+ Event Page. I also created a Feedback Form, which I encourage you to fill out to add your thoughts and help shape the next #SparkleSOS Hangout.

Transcribed by: Alex Conde

Here is the video:

Debbie: I have a question that’s just come in from someone watching us as we’re recording live. This is Cher Jones-Monroe. I met her a few months ago in Toronto and what she does is that she assists companies with workshops on actually going through policy and social media policies within their companies and sort of like crisis management situations ahead of time. Her question is: Who specifically are the better self-publishing houses. Do any of you have recommendations?

Richard: I say nothing without commissions.

Christine: I can tell you who I don’t recommend but I don’t want to be sued.

Michelle: I would say that I’ve heard good and bad stories with everybody out there and I think I love Todd’s advice that if you get as much done outside the publishing house that if you get as much done as you can outside the publishing house, you’ll have a much better success rate once you publish. And so I go back to hiring someone to help you through the process.

Christine: Last night Debbie, we heard from every single author on that panel saying exactly what Richard has said, which is “don’t even think about putting your book out there without professional editing, proofreading and design” and I think that everybody totally got on-side with that, and I think that I’ll sort of reiterate what I tell people, which is that if you want to self-publish and be successful at it, and sell your book, then you need to do absolutely everything that a traditional publisher would do. So that means having an editor, having proofreaders, and having a professional designer.

Debbie: I just wanted to introduce Daniele Rossi to the panel. He mentioned to me earlier, about a week ago, when I sent out the invitation that he’s currently working on a book. Now, he didn’t share with me any details at all. Hi! So, introduce yourself to the rest of the panel because we’re going to be answering your questions.

Daniel: Well, my name is Daniele, feel free to call me Danny. I’m in the digital media industry. I have a podcast called “Stuttering is Cool” about stuttering, you might not hear me stutter, but that’s for another time to explain. I guess I’m a bit nervous right now as I know we’re on the air and this is being recorded, I didn’t prep myself for that. There are a few books that I have in my head, but one of them will be a book about my experiences with producing a podcast about stuttering. It’s more of a mentoring book on how I got into this online stuttering community and helped build it a bit, the people that I’ve met who’ve made a name for themselves, and because I draw my own comics I’m hoping to add comics and illustrations to it. I guess my big question has always been: what formats can I use to create an e-book? I know there’s iBook and all that, but I guess – does the Kindle support graphics? Because I don’t think there are graphic novels in Kindle format. Correct me if I’m wrong, can I publish comics on a Kindle?

Michelle: I can talk to that a little bit. Different Kindles have different qualities of graphics, but yes, you can definitely publish. When you started talking, what I think would go well down on Kindle… I love that title”Stuttering is Cool”. You could do a series of short guides on “Stuttering is Cool” and put that up on Kindle. You probably have that information if you just transcribe your first 10 podcasts or something and put them up as guides. You could be up on Kindle and we’d have you at number 1 bestseller by the end of the year.

Daniele: I love that idea!

Michelle: I have people who have cookbooks who don’t do Kindle because they want to be on iPad and other things. There are some interactive e-books where there’s apps where you can make it interactive that are really interesting that are coming out. Christine mentioned Smashwords earlier, which is great, but if you’re going to be in the KDP select program on Kindle you can’t be on Smashwords, but that’s a whole other conversation so it starts getting complicated, so you really want to spend a little bit of time researching, which is what you’re doing. And I also wanted to say that there’s an app to sign a kindle e-book. I also wanted to throw that in because that came up at the beginning of the conversation here in the talk, and so you can download an app and have anyone send you their kindle copy of the book and you can sign it.

Daniele: Oh, you can sign it? How on earth..

Michelle: It’s an app you download, I just wanted to mention that. So, I don’t know if I helped… (Authorgraph)

Daniele: You did, but I have a feeling that the last 50 minutes of the chat has a lot of information so I’m glad this is being recorded so that I can watch after. I couldn’t make it in the beginning because there was a power outage.

Debbie: We’ve got a bit of inclement fall weather in Toronto today, but I was actually having my own technical issue and Christine was trying to figure out the audio so we didn’t get started until a quarter after, so we can actually go to a quarter after 10 to make it a full hour on the broadcast. So, at this point, I think we’ve gotten in 2 or 3 questions. I’m asking everyone, if you have a specific offer to help people watching, if you have a specific offer to help authors navigate self-publishing, can you tell us about it?

And we’ll start with Christine.

Christine: Before I tell you about my offer or my book, Daniel, you had asked about graphics. And, in converting one of my books to an e-book, or at least getting myself started on it, I found this great downloadable software which I found very affordable. You can get a standard for $40, and all the bells and whistles for $69 and it kept all of my graphics intact because my graphics are REALLY important to me. It’s called SmartPDF converter, and the upgrade was called SmartPDF converter Pro.

If you google it, I’m sure you’ll find it. I don’t have shares in it, if they make a billion dollars I hope they share some with me. But I tried a few and the graphics didn’t work. So I’ll suggest that for you. Hopefully that might be a tip for you. So, my special offers… I have a book I’d like to sell and it’s called “The Gift – sharing your life lessons with the people you love most.” It actually comes in a package with a book and a workbook full of exercise. There’s three parts – part 3 is about self-publishing, or getting your book into print. I wrote this, it came out of helping people write their memoirs and family histories. But I’m also a writing coach, so I also give workshops to writers. So, of course I’m influenced and the exercises in here are influenced by all that I’ve done.

So, the feedback that I’ve had from writers is “Christine, you should repackage it and call it a book for writers.” So, whatever you’re looking for, hopefully it might help you. It’s $30 and you can get it off my website, which is I am a self-confessed techno-tard, so the easiest way I found was to put it up there with PayPal, so if you have trouble and the PayPal isn’t working, please just send me an email. I answer my emails myself, and I’ll be happy to sort something out just to get it into your hands. Very quickly, I will say, at the same website right now, if you trust me with your email, I will be very respectful of it, you can also download the grammar-punctuation guide, just 10 or 11 pages that I’ve put together.

Debbie: I think Christine has just frozen. Hopefully she’ll come back. She was just talking about a free, downloadable punctuation guide that she was mentioning last night at the event, which is a free download available on her website. Dan, I know you’re here asking questions about your book, but I think the best way to learn is to teach. If you do have anything you would offer to help other book authors through the process, you can think about it for a few minutes and I’ll come back to you. I’ll move on to Michelle…

Michelle, tell us about what you do when you work with book authors and what your specific offer is for tonight.

Michelle: Well I think if you’ve heard the broadcast tonight you’ve gotten a feel for who I am. I like to interview an author and find out what their goals are and then find out what’s the best plan to help them sell more books. For some people it’s going to be a book tour, for some people a radio tour, for some people an Amazon number 1 best-selling launch. I do have an ebook up on Amazon called “Amazon Sales Ranking Tips” which is a $2.99 book that will give you 10 tips to help you move up the Amazon ranking, but the best way to reach me, the easiest way, is to go to TalkingBooksTV.Com. Just stick your name and email in there, I’m always sending out free offers. I do free calls and free webinars because that’s how I get my clients. So, I teach you how to sell more stuff, and in the process I sell more stuff. So if you just sign up on my list, you’ll get lots of free stuff, and that’s at

Debbie: Awesome, thank you. And Richard…

Richard: Well, first of all I’d like to answer the question from a few minutes ago about recommendations for self-publishing. The big sell for iUniverse for me with Raincloud was that, as I said earlier, it’s the only self-publishing company that was accepted by Chapters/Indigo into their system. That was really the biggest reason that I went with them. But since then, iUniverse, as it’s been mentioned, has been through a lot of changes and there are so many self-publishing companies out there that, personally, I’m doing it on my own for The Orphans of the Creek. In the beginning anyway with the e-book, and then we’ll go from there. Now to the offer. Usually when I go out and mentor other writers, I go to their location. I don’t really do it online and I do groups. But, because we’re talking to individual writers tonight, all I would ask is that they go to my facebook page, Author Richard S Todd, and you can get to it from my website, which is And if you like and share my facebook page, I’ll give you access to the e-book for my next novel that’s coming out in the next few weeks. It’s getting great pre-release reviews, and I think you’ll like it if you like psychological dramas, which is what this is.

Debbie: Awesome, thank you so much. Dan, did you have something that you’d decided you’d like to promote or discuss?

Daniele: I do have an ebook I wrote in 2007 all about using Social Media to mentor others to help create a support group community. If anyone’s interested, go to my-ebooks I’ll put the link in the chat. On there you also see some other ebooks that I created. Basically, what I did was take public domain classics like Moby Dick, amongst others, and I redesigned their covers using modern day digital culture jokes – Moby Dick has the Fail Whale and it was through there that I created my own ebook site using Caliber, and I use Adobe Indesign, and I blogged about the process I used, which was a very discombobulated process, and at one point they stopped working on my iPad for no reason, so I don’t know if it was the correct way. So if anyone’s watching and they want to read it, it’s still a discombobulated thing, but I’ll just include it into the chat. It’s my blog post about how I put everything together. It’s probably not as seamless as what’s available now because the technology changed so fast. This was done before the iPad 3 even came out, before the Kindle fire.

Debbie: I always think it’s interesting to read everything. I mean half of the books I bought in 2009 and 2010 about web marketing and social media marketing, I’m actually going back and reading now and I’m finding that a lot of them really are still relevant. It’s shocking, because a lot of authors really do the smart thing and instead of writing about in their books where to click on the screen in order to do what, they talk about the generalities of creating a community to support yourself or to support your book and to market. And it really is applicable cross-platform.

It’s not just for book authors, it’s for anyone trying to get into social media. And so, for myself, my own offer and what I do as a Social Media Concierge – generally I don’t have hourly rates, my background is working with advertising agencies for more than 15 years, so I’ve worked on global brands and things like the Olympics. I started in 1996 in traditional media buying working on car and automotive parts, and then I worked my way up to being the media buyer for Lexus Automobiles Canada for a number of years, and ever since I got into digital media and social media in 2008, I’ve been working on automotive accounts and a variety of small businesses. My very first small business client that found me when I put up a group on facebook was Richard S Todd. He hired me to help do a little bit of publicity, something at that point I wasn’t very good at doing.

I’m still not an expert in publicity, but what I’ve really come to is helping people understand from a distance that I have a very different viewpoint about what the opportunities are in Social Media and I’m able to help people avoid becoming overwhelmed with having to do all of the channels. I can be there as an assistant for them to help take on a lot of the technical burden, like “where do I press” and “how do I organize things”, which to me is my everyday, all-day job.

I like to do things like hosting this Google+ Hangout at night because it helps me learn. It gives me products and services I can sell that will assist book authors so that you don’t have that you don’t necessarily have to go through the pain that I’ve gone through myself in order to go host something like a Google+ Hangout where you’re chatting about something like your book specifically. And so, what I do is I have been coaching individuals on Skype and on telephone and online, and I usually charge $75 for a 1 hour consultation or a coaching session and tonight what I’m going to offer if anyone does go to my website at and sends me an email and registers for coaching sessions, you will get 3 coaching sessions for the price of 2. That’s the offer I have for tonight, and for the people who have worked with me, what they say is that I am able to very quickly turn around 2 important things. One is their confidence level, and two is their understanding and ability of what they need to do on a daily basis.

The next episode of #SparkleSOS discussing issues of books authors & publishing is scheduled for November 14, 2012 on Google+ Hangouts on Air at 8pm ET.

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