Write: Basic Creative Writing Skills for Beginners 8: Self-publishing | Brian Jackson | Skillshare

Write: Basic Creative Writing Skills for Beginners 8: Self-publishing

Brian Jackson, Author/Publisher/Educator

Write: Basic Creative Writing Skills for Beginners 8: Self-publishing

Brian Jackson, Author/Publisher/Educator

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
2 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Dialog

    • 2. BookLengthSeriesPrice

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Write: Basic Creative Writing Skills for Beginners 8: Self-publishing

In this class we'll discuss self-publishing your work.  Self-publishing is the fastest way to get your work into the hands of your readers, and with the eBook revolution it has never been easier.  Given this overview of self-publishing you'll be fully prepared to take one of my extended class series on the subject and will see your name in lights on Amazon in no time.


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Brian Jackson



Born in Los Angeles in the middle of the last century, I have always wanted to be a writer. After twenty-five some odd years spent working in the computer industry in the heart of the Silicon Valley, first for Lockheed as a Systems Programmer and later for Cisco Systems as a test tool developer, I managed to retire early and begin my next career as a self-published author.

Along with writing and publishing my own novels I also publish the works of my wife, Melanie Jackson. During the past four years I've published well over 100 books in paperback and eBook formats. Oddly enough this includes eBooks on how to self-publish books and how to create professional looking book covers using the GIMP. I've also recorded and distributed a pair of audiobooks available for purchase on Amazon... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Dialog: Hello and welcome back. I know for you it's probably only been a few seconds since you watched the last lecture, but for me it's been over six months since I recorded this course, and I am now returning to extend the course to make it longer. I also noticed several things that I didn't cover that really should be covered by a basic writing course. And in this lecture, I want to talk about dialogue. Not necessarily. How do you write good dialogue? That's another issue entirely. But how do you write dialogue in the first place? We're gonna touch a little bit about how to write good dialogue to, but maybe they're Abeel. Hold another course on that. First, let's talk about how to write it. Um, you begin dialogue by using double quotes. Okay, that's traditional in English and, ah, that you use double quotes. Sometimes quotes or the quota dialogue can begin with an em dash or a long dash. Um, it very infrequently is it put in single quotes, so double quotes is usually it, and you'll notice that word puts in smart quotes. It curves the quotes in different directions that uses a different opening and closing quote depending on your editor and may just use straight quotes. But he beginning quote and then you say something like, um, hello and put the period You close it with a punctuation and then you put the ending quote . Now this is a very short sentence for somebody to say, but you notice how the punctuation goes inside of the quotes Now, what if we wanted Teoh attribute this to somebody speaking frightened? Right now, we have no idea who's speaking. What you do is you replace the period with a comma, put the quote back again, and then you say Who's speaking? For instance, he said, and then put the period to terminate the sentence. This is the way that you write dialogue and attribute the dialogue to a person. Now let's say somebody responds, How do you do? And here we're going to It's more of a question, so we're gonna put a question mark at the end rather than a semi colon, she said. Now notice that this, he said, she said, can get very boring after a while. So what you end up doing is you find new ways to say he sheds, she said, To vary the dialogue, for instance, you might say, she replied. She quipped, she murmured, Ah, there's all kinds of ways that you can say, she said he shed. In fact, you might even not get completely out of, Ah, just the saying part and say she oh, puffed on her cigarette cigar. Rhett. Something like that. Just a very the he said, she said, and make it not occur. In fact, sometimes what you do is you just say, he said on one of your pieces of dialogue, to identify who's speaking and then you know who was replying is going to be she because he's done speaking and you don't even have to attribute it. And from this point on, you can say Ah, love Lee, Evening out, period And we can not attribute sentences and the reader will assume that they alternate back and forth Now, for some people, this gets kind of complicated, and they want to attribute everything so they'll put, she quipped. He announced, and so on. And you'll keep this going now. Sometimes you want just a break in the dialogue, so we would say something like Hello, he said. Now, this is a new end, uh, sentence. So we would begin it here. Now, Notice that we start on the same paragraph with the rest of what they say. I like to keep entire paragraphs used for what one person says and use a paragraph break to break to what the next person says. So lovely evening. He might say, Um and this gets continued on after the first sentence as a complete paragraph. Now, I don't often use exclamation marks when I write, but I do use it in dialogue to indicate that this is being shouted or in some way emphasized. So we say get out of the room and use an exclamation mark. There we go. He demanded notice how once again we're varying. We haven't said, Ah said once in our four pieces of dialogue and instead we used I o actually here we said it once, But then we quipped, We announced and we demanded. So you want to vary it as you go through your dialogue. So this is the basics of writing dialogue. Just alternate, right, new paragraphs. Um, this can continue on with more and more stuff that's written in multiple sentences. Use appropriate punctuation to separate your sentences. Have you been here long? He might continue and keep all of it in double quotes notice. Here we've got more than one sentence in the double quotes. You just use one pair of double quotes to, ah, quote everything that they say and then use quite often commas. And he said, Or she said. But the not he said Or she said, Make equipped, announced, demanded. All of the various ways you can say said, instead, saying said, Of course, the other thing you want to do is change. He and she to, for instance, if he was a captain, you might say, the captain said, or she actually used her name Marie equipped. And in this way you can eliminate the redundancy of he and she as well as what they do Equipped, announced, demanded. Another thing to consider is including the person's name. When you're speaking, for instance, Hello and then we can put the name of the person. What if it's Gloria? That would come after a comma so we would actually have to commas in there? Hello, Gloria. The name is kind of an aside, so there's a slight pause. That's how I always tell. Where a comic goes is the pause in the conversation. So that's the basics of writing dialogue. 2. BookLengthSeriesPrice: hi. In this lecture I wanted to talk about, well, specifically, book length writing a Siri's and setting your price. But what we're really talking about here is providing an author's introduction to the business of self publishing books. Now I happen to self publish my books if you get a publishing deal. That's great, because one of the my objections to going with publishing deals is how hard they are to get and how much time could be wasted trying to get them when he could be self publishing. But have you already have it in your hand? Hey, you know that's a don't look a gift horse in the mouth, right? So I want to talk with you about the business of self publishing specifically, and prices and setting them on Amazon. If you self published, then you have control over those things, so you're gonna have to think about it. So let's begin, and everything begins in this lecture with word count. Word Count is one of the best measures of how productive you're being, how far you've made it in writing and how far you have to go, what you're trying to accomplish. Basically, 250 words. You know, whatever standard word length is considering the words is equal to one page. So most people think in pages there, used to reading books but pages air beginning to deteriorate. In the electronic age, when you know margins could be different, font sizes could be different. There could be different amounts of white space between chapters. All these things can affect the page count that does not affect words. And that's why authors prefer to think and speak in words. However readers. I prefer thinking and speaking in pages. So is an author you need to think and work in both. There are some industry standard lengths for what? More terms that we use for ranges of, ah, of word and page length. For instance, a long novel might be, ah, 100,000 words, long or 40 pages. Ah, standard novel, the good old number that I always remembers. 80 k 80 k words or 320 pages. A short novel like a mystery novel. They can get down, you know, cozy novels down to about 65 k words. You know, 260 pages. Novellas usually fall into the range of about 30 k words or 120 pages. Technical guide. You're seeing more and more of them coming out there. Justice address a specific technical issue very fast in 80 pages, 20 k words. And they sell for 99 cents there. A great deal. I bought several of them and then went to get then at the very bottom of short stories. If you want to write those, then we're talking about that might be something you know you're doing a blogger, you, Ah, Korean Anthology. Or you can sell them individually. I actually have two short stories out there that I I sell for 99 cents and they're, you know, about 20 pages or or five K. So it gives you an idea of some of the links of things and how many pages air involved. Now, once again, I want to stress that you need to think in both. So you might want to pause the screen and memorize actually, the numbers that are on it because readers thinking pages, But writers think in words. So you need to know in both. Okay. Next. What is this word? Count? How are we gonna be able to track it. Well, if you use word Microsoft word that is ah, as your editor, then you're going to find the number of words in the document in the lower left hand corner of the word window Here, in this example, you'll see the page 20 of 20 I'm on the last page and that there are 9939 words in the document, so I'm it about 10-K If you see a number before the word of, as in this example 37 of 9939 that indicates the number of words that you currently have selected on the screen. I use this all the time. If you remember where you started like I started to the beginning of this chapter, you can go put your point there, and then you can quickly select everything up to the end where you've written, you can see how many words you wrote for the day. An easier way to do that, though, is to note the total words in your document at the beginning of the day and then make a note of the number of words at the end of the day and that will tell you your words. You could even make mental notes if you're good at remembering things Now I want to talk about writing speed and duration. Okay, What I have found and this is my personal goals for the day, is that these air fairly easily attainable. I write a minimum of 500 words a day when I'm writing. Right now I'm doing you Demi lectures. So I'm not writing. I average about 1000 words or four pages a day, and the maximum that I hit is usually to K word. Today I've hit those three k. I've even hit four K days. They're crazy. You're on some kind of high. He right long into the night. But they're rare far in between. And I hope not to do that too many times I prefer to sleep. So there's some averages for me And that would mean if we put that together with some of these links that we've already learned. Ah, if I'm doing one k a day and we take that into the long novel, that means it takes about 100 days to write a long novel you're talking about three months , Just the writing part, Okay, That doesn't include editing and publishing. And ah, creating the book covers and all the things you have to do is a self published author standard novel. Usually is about 80 days of writing. All right, do 80 K shorter novel. You can get into that area. You know, the mysteries and stuff like that. A lot of genre fiction, men's fiction, things like that you can get away with ah 65 K and even shorter now that it's Elektronik World. It used to be that these links were there because the machines that printed the hard copy books I wanted to be them to be a certain length and to print a certain number of pages. All of that is gone now in the Elektronik World novellas 30 days technical guides. I'm seeing Warren Mawr. Short technical guides out there should take about, you know, 20 days to write a 20 case technical story or a short story in five days. So there's an idea of sometimes now I do this right and revise as I write kind of process. So my first drafts are usually in pretty good shape because I've gone through them and revise them. I kind of go through a waterfall of writing revised, So I only do about 500 words an hour, and I write for about two hours a day. So that gets me my 1000 words. Now, some days I work longer. Some days I work faster, I write faster. I do less editing and so on. That's probably a really good habit that I should try to cultivate. So here's some numbers that will give you an idea. Uh, as you think of you know, your own monitor, your own writing rate and stuff like that. Modify these numbers and, ah, figure out how they apply to you specifically and your speed and duration. Next, I want to talk about another key element of this whole glob of pricing and and length and so on that I'm talking about. And that is the Amazon royalties that they pay. Amazon is where I sell most of the e books that I publish, like 95% of all sales come through Amazon. So Amazon awards a 70% royalty to any author slash publisher who will price their books between 2 99 and 99 9 99 and not offer their e book for a lower price anywhere else, like on Binds and Noble and so on. That's pretty easy to Dio, and that's a really good royalty. Barnes and Noble's E book royalty rate is 65% so offering 70% is, you know, it's a little nudge in Amazon's favor if you just stick within these ranges. Otherwise Amazon will fall back to the default royalty rate of 35%. That's, Ah, 50% reduction. I mean, you're talking about being able to double your royalty rate of you comply with these two simple rules above. Okay. Also, Amazon will offer a 35% royal town certain countries like Japan, India, Mexico and so on. If you're not in there, select program. Ah, there select program. That's a whole nother topic, and maybe I'll get into it in this writing course. But not right now. It's just a simple and additional commitment that you make to Amazon to get better royalties in these countries, if that's important to you. Okay, so let's look at Amazon e book prices. There are some important e book price points out there that you'll encounter 99 cents. Okay, this is kind of like the new free, but it only gets you 35%. So if you sell the 99 cent book, you're getting 35 cents. Okay, the minimum. But the 99 cents is the minimum price that you can charge for a book on Amazon and e book. The minimum price at which you'll get 70% is to 99. Okay, So tripled the price from 99 cents to 2 99 you six times your return. So it's a really good deal. You want to hit that? That's the sweet spot to 99. The maximum isn't 99 I've never even come close to that yet. They hope to someday, though, huh? So the sweet spot once again is to 99. That's what we're shooting at for. What can we write that we can charge to 99 4? That's what we're asking. Other prices that I use quite often I do three book bundles where I say, Okay, if you buy three books, I'll give you one of them for free. So I'll charge you 5 99 for three books which normally, you know, would have been whatever 8 99? I suppose so. They get a free book, but I get ah, 4 19 Return on this rather than you know, the 209 Because they committed to buying more books. So commitment is good. Um, And for the latest release, if I've got them hooked and I've got a long Siri's, I come out with the latest book. You know, if you want the latest book hot off the press, I'm gonna charge a premium for it. So I might charge 3 99 there, in which case I get back 70% or to 79. This is a really great way to make money. This is a money making machine here. Now, let me look at a sample publishing strategy in this strategy. Let's say that we're gonna write short books. They're gonna be for him 35 k 2 50 k words or 35 to 50 days to write. Okay, we're gonna write a series of books. We're going to charge 99 cent for the first book. It's called the lead magnet. We're going to use toe pull people into this Siri's to 99 for subsequent books. That's a really meat and potatoes. They're in the sweet spot. Then we're going to give people a discount on three book bundles. You know, bundles of books two through 45 through seven. We begin after the first because they've already bought that for 99 cents. So we bundled two through four instead of one through three. I hope you understand that. You know there's economy and commitment here, so we're going to ah ah, reward people for committing to buying more books. And then, you know, that premium price for the latest book and that would produce something that would look like this. Write the first book and to 99 on 3 99 at the end and over on the right, you have the option now of buying a three book bundle. It costs you more, but you save quite a bit or buying the three bucks one at a time. Give people choices when it comes to buying your things, and they'll buy more. Now you might maybe thinking Brian, this is all great, but you're talking about multiple books here. How long is this going to take? Well, if you use a waterfall type of process, it should take about this long, right? Given a 50 k word book or a 200 page book, I might use two days of outlining upfront I might use. Ah, I'm going to use 50 days in my right and revise process. I only need about three days really to edit something this short at the end. Otherwise I get totally bored. Then it's off to the copy editor and I'm free to start the next book. I got another day that I've got to commit to later. So if you look at all of this, right? Oh, yes, by the way, include research time as needed in your calculations. If you're going to go through these calculations yourself to figure out how fast you can, you can ah ah, publish books. And in this case, I can repeat this process every 56 days, right? You know, a few days in there taking off and so on. That means six books a year. Every two months I could publish a book using this process in a Siri's. So how long would it take to get that five book example? I showed you earlier about 10 months. That'd be my rough estimate. Less you write faster. Another publishing strategy is to serialize your books. It's been used by Dickens. It was used by most for most of his work. Stephen King tried it with The Green Mile. Other authors have tried it, and it's become quite popular with modern day self publishers. What you do is you write 10 to 20 K word chapters in the continuing saga every month and you charge 99 cents. And then every six months you gather all of those chapters together and you release It is a bundle for 2 99 a substantial savings from 99 cents for each of the six chapters, and you hit your sweet spot there with the bundle. So you do two bundles per year, and it would look something like this. Here's what six months might look like technical guide publishing strategy. You know, Theo, only thing that I really can tell you about technical guides that I've seen is that most of them seem to sell for 99 cents. Um, and they seem to be short, and they're on specific niche categories of providing information. Ah, popular guides and bundles can sell for upwards of 2 99 6 99 for them, but most of the time you see 99 cents, and I would definitely shorter guys as and cheaper guides as lead generators for maybe my more expensive works. I've seen people bundle two books together and sell them for 2 99 to get to that sweet spot . You know, that's a dollar 50 per book. Users might go for that, that's it. Sounds like a pretty good strategy to me. Now. How do you apply this information? Choose an appropriate word. Count for your project. What are you going for? 80 K full novels Or you doing like 30 K novellas and stuff like that? Are you going to use my recommended about 50 K for books in a Siri's Choose what? What fits your genre? If you're into fantasy, those air usually really long you're talking about it. Ah, boy, 1000 plus pages, whatever that turns into inward count, so choose something short, but long enough to charge to 99. In fact, if you do have an epic fantasy. What I would encourage you to do is to broke break it into smaller chunks. That you can sell for 2 99 to 99 is that sweet spot hovered towards it. Optimize your writing towards it. It's where you get the big jump in income to 70% but it's also the least expensive option that you're given the user. Publish a book every two months or six times a year. Commit yourself to doing that and set up your timetables that you can do this. You might be slower. You might be faster, whatever the number is. Set up your timetable and actually anticipate Prepare for your books coming out in the future. You should be able to publish a serial chapter or a technical guide every month, maybe even do one of each. I don't know, but this looks really tempting to be is the serial releases. I'd like to try it sometime. I haven't done it yet. Pick a publishing strategy that applies to your situation and then right, that's what's next, and you need to go off and do it. But first we have an additional slide that I added late and didn't animate. So you're seeing it all at once. Here, we're going to do some what ifs with money. Let's see what happens if you sell 100 books at 35 or 99 cents. Well, you're gonna get that 35% ascent. Ah, pay back or royalty or $35. It's still some money, but you know, you need to sell quite a few at 99 cents to make anything. Notice the jump when you go to to 99 0 Here we're making $209 and 5 99 If you get them to buy those bundles, Boy, $419. Another way to look at it is how many books would you need to sell at each of these prices to make $1000 in a month? Well, in 99 cents, it's gonna take you 2800 and 57 copies to 99. Huge drop down to 4 78 and finally, at 5 99 we're talking about Onley 238 copies. Would you have to sell to make $1000 in a month, and I know you have been dying to ask me. Okay, what's my best sales per month for a single book I ever published? Not one that I wrote one that I published for my wife. She wrote Moving Violation. And in March of 2011 we sold Ah 3005 copies at 3 99 which was a 70% royalty of 2 79 Which means that on that single book in a month, we made over $8000. Yea, so you need to go off and write. I need to go off and put together Mawr you Demi presentations encouraging you to write.