I was privileged to be on The Praying Medic Podcast this week. Over the previous weekend PM and I had a three hour recorded Skype conversation on the heels of having just recently recorded a lengthy episode of my own podcast with Chris Wilson on blogging and writing.
This is the second part of my interview with Praying Medic on his podcast to talk about book publishing and self-publishing. Listen to the first part here. This part is nearly 82 minutes long, so here’s a bit of a breakdown of our conversation here:
The headaches of formatting for Ebooks
One of my biggest headaches when trying to format other people’s digital books for them is when people would like the font and picture settings and other formatting to look identical to how it does in their print version. This is almost always more difficult to accomplish. Inserting a lot of artwork and pictures is difficult for e-book formatting. I discuss examples of when people do this right and when they get it wrong. I also share specifics about how difficult this was for me with our Peruvian e-Cookbook.
9:28 – Scrivener For Publishing
Of course, if you’re going to invite me on your podcast to talk about writing, it’s inevitable that Scrivener will come up! For just the ease of being able to convert your manuscript document into a mobi or epub file Scrivener is well worth the price. We discuss how if you’re using a Mac and prefer using Pages, Apple’s version of a Word processor, and your book editor is using Microsoft Word, you run into the formatting problem. Meanwhile writing with Scrivener and exporting to Word is much easier for both parties involved. Try Scrivener For Windows FREE for 30 Days.
The learning curve is steep, and if you want to learn how to use Scrivener, enter ‘fireonyourhead’ as your coupon code when you purchase Scrivener Unleashed and get it for about $48 instead of $97. This will teach you how to use it whether for Windows or Mac with Pastor David Lee Martin as your tutor. There’s a LOT of content in these videos.
Praying Medic shared the nightmare using SmashWords was for him; it creates a really good e-book in the end, but the process to get there is a pain in the butt. Scrivener can help you create the epub file they accept, and PM felt like he was hammering away at a rock with a chisel.
I also share my opinion that writers who are serious about their craft need to buy their own Kindle as a quality assurance tool to check their finished product on. Too many authors run their file through an online Kindle converter or a free piece of software, and don’t know how horrible the end result looks for the readers. And worse yet, many have no idea their book looks like crap on a Kindle device.
21:00 I discuss getting a contract with Destiny Image Publishers
I share at this point how I was approached and why I first said no. During this part of the conversation we also discuss the pros and cons of having your book get published by a traditional publisher. It’s at this point that Praying Medic shared why he’s championing the self-publishing industry, and why he turned down a contract from a traditional publisher.
With the give and take involved in traditional publishing, I discuss why I decided to go for it and just what pros outweighed what specific cons for me in signing on the dotted line.
36:07 – We discuss the view that many have that Christians should never charge any money for something that’s connected to ministry
We discuss how we wish we could get more people to understand the costs involved in self-publishing, such as hiring a graphics artist for your cover (if you want a decent one), the cost editors charge for their work, the money involved in promoting it (if you choose to) and all the other things that add up. Not to mention that even with a 70% royalty from Amazon, you still don’t exactly break even or make a profit unless you sell a BUTTLOAD of books. Suffice it to say, most authors make no money their first year, even the best-selling ones.
During this segment of the conversation I shared my thoughts on Kindle Unlimited, and my experiences comparing free promotions vs KDP Select countdown promotions.
We also discuss the trade-off for authors who use KDP select; on the one hand, if you are a relatively unknown writer just starting out, giving one of your books away for free can be a way to get it discovered and have people check out your other books.
However — and this is a BIG ‘however’ — there’s also a devaluing of your book that happens as people are becoming conditioned to getting books free or heavily discounted all the time. Books take authors time and money to write and edit. Don’t sell yourself short or feel pressured to give in and give your work away free. There are fans out there who just haven’t discovered your writing yet. If you truly want to succeed as a writer or author, you need to persevere in this.
62:15 and onward we discussed content marketing and building an email list
We discuss different things we’ve tried with regard to building an email list. Praying Medic remains unimpressed and unconvinced it list-building is worth the hassle, and shares feedback from social media followers who say they HATE pop ups on a site and leave immediately. For me, content marketing and list-building is an art form more than a science. But I’m still learning.
Is a free giveaway of a book worth it in order to get e-mail sign-ups? Or does it just add to the culture of an expectation of freebies?
Despite what all the internet marketing gurus say, neither of us are building an e-mail list as effectively as the experts say.
70:50 we discuss how we handle negative book reviews
We have a laugh about just how mean some of our one-star reviews have been for books of ours. Ultimately, you can’t let it eat your lunch. We discuss how we can handle it if someone doesn’t share our perspective but gave the book a review, but otherwise, you have to keep your wits about you when you start getting people who are bored and having a bad day.
I am also personally convinced when you give your book away for free and get a lot of downloads or you give it away for free on a regular basis, that’s when you attract more of the negative reviews from people who aren’t as invested in giving honest feedback as you’d get from people who are actually paying for your work.
Check out funny negative reviews we mentioned:
The Amazon review of sugar-free gummy bears can be found here.
The review of the book Moon People can be found here.
Listen or Subscribe to the Praying Medic Podcast:
Resources Mentioned in the Show
My Books We Discussed:
Praying Medic’s Books We Discussed:
Life Resurrected by Jesse Birkey
I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend by Martin Short
If you’re looking for an editor, you might check out Lydia Conrad
If you’re interested in checking out the word processing program Scrivener, you can find their website here. Enter ‘fireonyourhead‘ as your coupon code if you’d like to purchase Scrivener Unleashed and get it for about $48 instead of $97. Scrivener Unleashed will teach you how to use it whether for Windows or Mac with Pastor David Lee Martin as your tutor.
There’s a LOT of content in these videos.