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Webchat 5: The DIY workshop

with 34 comments

A place to ask for help and share expertise. We hope to be joined by Self-publishing guru Siobhan Curham and new music ezine Outliered Magazine to learn form them. But this is mainly a place for practical help. We will also be hearing from someone who did their Masters thesis on an analysis of the Creative Commons Licence. And staff from editorial service providers The Editorial Department will explain how self-publishers can use editors. And Vikram from our fellow travellers and writers’ friends bookbuzzr will also be stopping by to explain what has to be the best widget on the web (the bookbuzzr is what we use to create our marvellous page-flipping programme) Suggested topics:

– your experiences and recommendations of software, producers, presses, editors – give us links we might not know about!

– what’s creative commons?

– do you have tips for getting into venues/bookstores?

– what should you outsource? the importance of good editors/producers/graphic designers/web people

– where and how do you advertise?

– social media – what’s ut there and how to use it.

We will not approve comments from new users until the day so as to save debate for the day itself, and to give the hosts time to formulate initial responses.


Written by danholloway

November 24, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Posted in webchat

34 Responses

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  1. […] DIY Workshop: resources for indie creatives […]

  2. I’ve SPed nonfiction and managed to do well with it because I had found a niche. In the end I got tired of writing about it and wanted to return to the fiction that was my greater love.

    The big problem with self-publishing fiction is lack of exposure. Nobody knows you, and it is hard to get noticed through all the white noise.

    I have heard it is easier to find an audience through ereaders. You can appear on forums and offer books cheaply enough that readers will toss out a little change for a chance at finding something they like.

    What we really need is someplace that will promote independent writers. A few of us have talked about establishing an online bookstore where surfers can browse shelves the way they do in real bookstores. But once again, the site would have to attract attention in the first place.


    November 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    • some great resources for efiction exist, many of which are reader-oriented so reach a more targeted audience. The best I’ve found are


      and of course smashwords has a really wide reach. I agree that we need more for actual printed books. I know of one online retailer working closely with indie authors (a friend is finding the URL).


      November 30, 2009 at 7:22 pm

      • The place Iw as looking for is The Book Journal (US based but will work with UK authors) is a great online store that specifically works with Inide authors to pronmote their books. Open to communication & very approachable.

        Also, To Hell With Publishing , a great indie firm, have just set up a bookstore in London (opening next week) specialising in literary fiction – they also seem very approachable


        November 30, 2009 at 9:59 pm

      • Thanks for the links Dan. I will have to check them out as I move my manuscripts through the publishing process.


        December 1, 2009 at 1:06 am

  3. Is anyone familiar with They offer mp3s from independents. I know they offer ebooks as well. Perhaps it might be worth our while to connect with them.


    November 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm

  4. Hi all. I am Josie from the above mentioned Indiependent Books. We cater solely to showcase the best of the best indie authors and their books are are always looking for the next best-seller. Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions



    November 30, 2009 at 10:06 pm

  5. I’m not going to talk in depth about Bokobuzzr (the best widget on the web) or smashwords, because I believe the founder of each will be popping by in 20 hours or so, or Editorial Department for the same reason (although I WILL say something that can’t be emphasised enough – self-publishing isn’t just about DIY – it’s about doing what a publisher does but retaining control. Editing and cover design are utterly crucial, and the fact that you’re not reliant ona publisher for them is no reason not to choose the very best yourself – in fact it enables you to do just that. I have a wonderful cover designer, Sarah E Melville, whom I use because she seems to have a sixth sense about what I’m trying to convey. That kind of trust is also essential when choosing an editor)

    I DO want to recommend though – it’s a fantastic site that converts file formats – so if you need a pdf or a jpeg or pretty much anything you can put your file in one end and get one out the other. Whcih goes with a general piece of advice I learned (along with the usefulness of zamzar) in making the programme for Free-e-day: always embed your fonts in Word docs – from the microsoft button, click word options at the very bottom, then click saev and in the new window check the “embed fonts” box


    November 30, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    • Re: embedding fonts. Very important. Particularly if you use an unusual font.


      December 1, 2009 at 1:09 am

  6. Software question: do people have any experiences to share about good/bad software? For example novel writing software?


    November 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm

  7. Dan asked me to stop by and share some information about the site I founded earlier this year, Publetariat. There’s a link to it embedded in my name, above.

    The site is an online news hub and community built specifically for indie authors and small/micro imprints, but I’ve found a great deal of our traffic comes from folk in the traditional side of the book biz, too.

    In our various departments you can find information and commentary on everything from the state of trade publishing to how authors can most effectively use social media. There’s also a community discussion board for site members (membership is free, BTW), and site members can also blog on the site. The 10 most recent blog posts are always featured on the front page, in the right-hand sidebar, so it can be a great way to get some extra exposure (since the site launched in February, it’s been in the top 2% of all sites worldwide according to Alexa web traffic ratings—you really *can* get some valuable exposure this way). I use the blog feature to post my weekly #fridayflash.

    If you need step-by-step, how-to information about self-publishing and book promotion, you can find it in my book, The Indie Author Guide, which I’ve made available for free viewing from cover to cover on my personal website and blog in a BookBuzzer widget – you can see it here:

    For those who prefer more interactive instruction and have a bit of money to invest in their self-pub education, next October, Publetariat is sponsoring its first ever author workshop cruise along the Mexican Riveria. The weeklong cruise features 4 intensive, 3 hour workshops in publishing in print, Kindle and podcast formats, as well as a 3 hour session on social media for authors and book promotion. As an added bonus, each registrant will get a 45-minute, one-on-one consulting session with a workshop presenter. All workshops take place on at-sea days, so attendees can still go ashore in port (Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta) and make a nice vacation of the trip, too. You can find more information about the cruise here:

    And as always, I do my best to make myself available via Twitter (@indieauthor), on Facebook (April L. Hamilton), on my blog ( and via email ( to answer the questions and concerns of my fellow indie authors.

    Whatever your budget or learning preferences, the resources are out there to grab 2010 by the throat and make it yours!!

    April L. Hamilton

    November 30, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    • Publetariat sounds like my kind of place. I will make a point of checking it out and establishing a presence.


      December 1, 2009 at 1:11 am

      • It is your kind of place – it’s a really great initiative and a great community


        December 1, 2009 at 8:56 am

  8. Gah! Error correction – there are 4 workshop sessions in total on the workshop cruise: print publishing, Kindle publishing, podcasting, and author platform/social media/book promo.

    April L. Hamilton

    November 30, 2009 at 11:03 pm

  9. Hello Dan and All Artists!

    Thank you for creating this fantastic forum to help promote independent art, literature and music. I’m from BookBuzzr ( and will talk about what I know best and that is online book marketing by giving away free content.

    As an author trying to market your book online, you may find that many of the simple steps involved in Internet marketing are actually quite daunting. Consider the simplest and most important pre-requisite of offering an extract of your book online in a nice to read format that can be easily shared among your readers. 99% of author websites are unable to allow sampling of books on their websites. They simply stick in an image of their book and hope that this is enough to stimulate the desire to read the book among site visitors.

    BookBuzzr is built from the ground-up for word-of-mouth (or shall we say, click-of-mouse) book-marketing. By signing up for BookBuzzr you can allow readers to browse through portions of your book in a nice to read online, flip-book format where the experience is similar to reading a real book. Additionally, they can get a single place listing of all things related to your book such as links to where they can buy your book, where they can discover interviews with you, where they can listen to podcasts related to your book and more.

    BookBuzzr also makes it easy for you and your fans to share your book. For example, let’s say you saw a book-extract of a book that you loved and you want to share this with readers of your blog. The best most people can do is to put up a link to the book-extract. But is this enough? The era of people going to a few “destination” websites to get their content is over. Today, you are as likely to see an interesting video embedded on a blog that you discovered as you are of seeing that video on YouTube. So we’ve taken care of this for you. Fans of your book can easily embed your book on their personal blogs and Facebook profiles and become ambassadors for your book.

    BookBuzzr is intended to take care of most of the details related to online book-marketing and book promotion on an ongoing basis. At the very least, BookBuzzr helps you to:

    * Reach your target audience by allowing them to discover your book in various places such as blogs, websites, social networking sites and more.
    * Tell them that your book is available by providing links to places where they can buy your book.
    * Persuade them to read it by allowing them to easily sample your book with jaw-dropping book simulation technology.

    As a bonus, when you sign-up, you also get listed on where readers can interact with you and with other readers. Further, you can link from fReado to your own author-site or blog thus helping your search engine rankings. Because is optimized for search engines and because is regularly crawled all over by the major search engines, the information about your book will soon be noticed and your pages should be listed in response to web searches.

    Hope this helps!

    Many Thanks,

    Vikramaditya (Vikram) Narayan
    Free, Online Book-Marketing Technology for Authors

    Vikram Narayan

    December 1, 2009 at 11:33 am

  10. Vikram thank you so much for coming by and sharing this with us!


    December 1, 2009 at 11:43 am

  11. Funny, I just read a post on Jane Friedman’s blog in which she posted a response from an independent printer/publisher/marketer in the UK that offers, well, everything it seems we want.

    Troubador Publishing Ltd? Anyone know them? I’m in the US so it’s not so applicable.


    jenn topper

    December 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm

  12. Hello all,

    Apologies for my delay in arriving here in this virtual meetup. I’d like to blame things on the time zones, but it sometimes takes me a little while to get going in what passes for the winter here in Arizona.

    First of all, thanks to Dan Holloway for setting this up. I’ve enjoyed reading what the other contributors have to say, and hopefully I can provide some helpful information as well. I don’t know if I’m a great lecturer, so I’m going to keep my remarks brief and take any questions anyone might have about editing and do my best to answer them. Also, keep in mind, I’m the marketing and writing guy around here and not specifically in the editing business, so forgive any errors I might make (not holding them against our company’s reputation).

    Obviously, over the last few years, the number of opportunities that have arisen for anyone who wants to write have multiplied at a pace no one would have likely expected. Where someone two decades ago had options ranging from professional outlets like publishers, magazines, etc. to spending weeks assembling a zine at their local copy shop, now within five minutes, anyone could be broadcasting their thoughts of indefinite length on a Tumblr site. The question isn’t whether the democratization of ideas is a good thing (I would say it certainly is), but what to do with it. Self-publishing has exploded along with the rest of technology based media, but what’s the best way to communicate your ideas in the medium?

    Clearly, I work for a company that sells editing services, but I’m not here to tell you that we need to do your editing, but I am here to say someone needs to be…whether you pay for that help or not. Your writing can always be better, not just technically, but stylistically, and it takes at least one other set of eyes (preferably a set that knows something about writing and isn’t personally invested in your work) to bring the best out. That paragraph you thought was so clever? It was really just a distraction. One character is probably too prominent, while you didn’t say enough about someone in the background.

    While the technology world will say all you need is an idea and a keyboard, it’s not quite that simple and frankly, your idea deserves the extra effort of finding quality editing. Your style and creative force won’t be subverted by a great editor, but amplified. Find someone you trust with your work, someone with the expertise to clear out the static and get to the heart of your message, and you’ll find the self-publishing process to far more satisfying in the long run.

    Again, I’d be happy to answer any questions.

    Dan Gibson

    December 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm

  13. Thanks 🙂 I personally definatly need editing – though I still argue with my editor about certain points. Normally about technical correctness and the causal feel of piece 🙂

    What do you think of things like the book oven that do proof/editing in bite-sized chunks on a ‘open source’ type bases?


    December 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    • I don’t know the Book Oven terribly well, so apologies if I misrepresent what they’re all about in any way.

      The bite size chunk bit would concern me. Sure, some of the technical issues can be fixed that way…commas, semicolons, etc., but the larger issue with editing is developed a singular voice lacking in distractions and clutter. Anyone can be a grammarian, but it takes an expert to understand less tangible rules about style and form. Personally, I’m so thankful for the relationships I have with those who have edited my work in the past. They believe in what I’m doing and are encouraging, critical and honest. For me, I’d be a little afraid of the treatment my work would get in a crowd of strangers congregating for the thrill of being critical, without the balance of the other attributes of a great editor.

      Dan Gibson

      December 1, 2009 at 10:36 pm

  14. One of the things that came up earlier was someone was saying they wanted ways of breaking up web-site text and deliniating like you can in print.

    Here’s an article on it

    I think it was in one of the other discuessions but this seems a more appropriate place for it


    December 1, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  15. A hige thanks to Dan for coming over!


    December 2, 2009 at 1:19 am

  16. Hello,

    Thanks Dan for this wonderful platform, it’s a great way for authors and writers to share and connect.

    I am Freya and I’m the Author Community Manager at BookBuzzr. Before I joined BookBuzzr I was aware of various social networking sites; I was/am a member of many of them too. However I had not really utilized them to their fullest potential. One of the first platforms I started actively participating on was Twitter and it has helped us at Bookbuzzr immensely to spread the word.

    Twitter is thought to be ineffective by a lot of people because of its 140 character restriction but I think this is one of its biggest advantages. The 140 character limit ensures that there is no information overload. Twitter also lets people share as much as they want to without losing their privacy. On twitter only basic information is taken unlike other sites that hold a lot of private details.

    Twitter is a great tool to promote your book and you as a brand. It may seem like chaos the first time you look at it but if you just stick around and listen you’ll notice conversations and patterns. You’ll find and meet friends with the same interests as you and before you know it you’ll be talking too!

    But just talking isn’t enough, it is important to build variety and connect with people making sure not to overload them. Here are a few of my thoughts on this.


    – Don’t limit yourself to what you are doing or your area of work, look at how you can build-in variety. For e.g. Apart from tweeting about what writing you are doing, your tweets can be about –

    1. tips on writing
    2. latest developments in your field
    4. quotes by writers
    5. humor based on books
    6. good blog posts
    7. recommend others who are good

    These are some examples but you should not limit yourself to them either. Look at all that your audience would be interested in; and remember that they would also have varied interests.


    – Don’t be a robot and just post headings and links. Share information about yourself and what you are doing; but in an interesting manner. People may not be interested in knowing what writing you are doing but they sure would like to know how you overcame a certain challenge.

    Follow and watch what tweeple talk about. Reply and start conversations with people. Make your presence felt but tweet meaningfully not just because you have to say something.

    Search on twitter with keywords related to your field of expertise and help tweeple out with answers and suggestions.

    If you find an interesting tweet or information, retweet it. Passing on information helps your followers and also builds a connection with the person who posted the original tweet.

    Use the ‘@’ symbol not only to reply but to also draw attention and connect.

    Use hashtags to help people find your tweets. Hashtags are just like tags on blogs only added inline to your tweet. To create a hashtag simply place the ‘#’ symbol before a relevant word. E.g. #authors
    For finding relevant hashtags being used in your field search – a directory of hashtags.

    Use the #FollowFriday hashtag to recommend people. When suggesting people remember to include the reason for recommending them.

    Watch your twitter stream for questions or someone asking for help. If you know someone who can help or answer the question make sure to recommend them. Connecting people is a great way to network.


    – No one likes to listen to only one person talk in a discussion room. Hence remember – tweet but don’t overdo it. If your tweets clog your followers timelines there is a high probability they will unfollow you. I personally think you should tweet between 10-30 times in a day and no more.

    If your tweet is not relevant to everyone and just one person – DM (Direct Message) them as there is no point in telling the world about it.


    – The last but most important point to remember is to balance your tweets. A good mix of information, answers, replies, retweets and promotion will keep your followers happy and bring you more followers.

    I recommend only one promotional tweet in every 10 tweets and about 5-7 retweets in a day. The rest of your tweets can be a mix of information and replies.

    I have had a great experience with twitter and have made some wonderful friends. Do try it for yourself and stop by to say hi at @BookBuzzr 🙂

    If you’d like to read more about what I have to say about twitter, here are a few blog posts I had made. : )

    Using Twitter for promotion – Part 1: Imagine Twitter to be a newspaper…
    Using Twitter for promotion – Part 2: How to engage and interest tweeple with your tweets
    How to use the ‘@’ on twitter to your best advantage


    December 2, 2009 at 11:16 am

  17. Freya, thank you – you and Vikram are two of the most helpful and tireless people in the literary world.


    December 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  18. Lots of good information in this chat. Thanks everyone for being so generous with your information.


    December 2, 2009 at 4:28 pm

  19. Hi all, great discussion. If I can help anyone or answer questions about ebooks, let me know!

    Mark Coker

    December 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm

  20. Mark, tahnk you so much for coming over. As this is primarily about resources, what I’d really like to know from smashwords would be:

    1. the basics of your formatting principles (as people get very scared by the style guide – although it’s brilliant – yet my experience is they needn’t be because the rules are actually quite simple)

    2. as new devices come out, how soon will smashwords be able to provide compatible formats?

    3. in relation to the above – the Tablet

    4. how does your distribution work? n particular a. the premium catalogue and b. do people whose books are free/set your own price get the same distribution as those who charge?

    5. The geek in me wants to know how your grinder works

    Thank you!


    December 4, 2009 at 8:54 pm

  21. I am really struck by the method that you write, and the subject is quality. Do you know that certainly the Kindle makes use of the entire qwerty keyboard it has, but merely reading e-books doesnt require such a thing. Give it a minimal interface, like an iPod front, back, menu, and maybe one to three other buttons for things like table of contents or something. Put these buttons in a sleek frame around the screen and/or on the side, and just make it a sleek device thats 99% screen and the size of a trade paperback.Have it interface with your computer to upload books and documents again, like a simple mp3 player and keep it at that. Thanks and have a great day!

    Rolando Helvie

    February 5, 2010 at 7:14 am

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