Monday, January 9, 2012

Interview with Daniel Coleman - Co-host of the Create or Die Podcast

Hello everyone today I hope that you have all had a good weekend. Since I am planning on self-publishing my next book I wanted to find out more about it from a friend of mine who has done a  great job of self-publishing two of his own books, JABBERWOCKY and HATTER. Wonderful books by the way you should buy. Here is an interview with him. You can check out more on his blog which he has a link to below.
Hope you enjoy and please visit his podcast to let him know your appreciation. 

1) Is it worth it or should we hold out for traditional?

It’s not that clear-cut for all authors.  Some books and some authors are better for self publishing and some are better for traditional.

For example, memoirs of someone who is not famous are next to impossible to get published through a traditional publisher, so if you want that book out there look at self-publish.  Short story collections, or individual short stories for that matter, may do better as ebooks.  Or if you are someone who has a huge audience, or can build a huge audience or loves self-promoting, self-publishing might work for you.

Trad pub is better for people who want to less promotion, editing, formatting, covers, etc, they just want to write and let someone else do as much as possible.  Keep in mind, those people all take their share of the pie, and have their own best interests in mind over yours every time.

The reason I got into self-publishing is because my first book, JABBERWOCKY, is too short for traditional publishers.  It’s right around 40,000 words, about 140 pages.  That’s why it’s only $2.99 right now, but more and more I think I’m better off raising the price.  There’s a lesson in self-publishing right there – you gain control but you sacrifice experience. 

2) What length is the best to publish with?

Wow, right off the bat you are hitting a couple highly debated questions on forums and in debates.  But here is the answer:  The best length is whatever length the story is.  That’s one of the huge benefits of epublishing.  You don’t have to conform to a publisher’s guidelines.

Anyone who has submitted to a publisher has seen word count limits: If it’s Urban Fantasy, it has to be at least 100,000.  If it’s YA, it has to be under 80,000 words.  With epublishing whatever length your story is, you can make it work.  Short stories, novellas, epic length – you can make it work.  You don’t have to pad your work or hack major elements out to fit someone else’s idea of how long it should be.  Keep in mind that the people who set the limits know what sells best on bookstore shelves; they’ve been doing this a long time and readers have developed expectations.  If you don’t meet the expectations, you could make very important people (i.e. readers) very angry.

3) Where do we go to get info on how to do it?

There’s a post on my blog: Oversimplified Guide to Self-publishing.  You can find that here

Other than that, I am going to take for granted the cover and the editing and focus in on formatting because that was the part I needed the most help with step by step. 

I recommend one of two free guides for that: The Smashwords Style Guide can be found at  ePublishers don’t like Word documents, so you’ll have to transmutate your document.  There’s a reason that sounds so daunting.  It will take you at least a few hours if you’re very good with a computer.

The other guide is Amazon’s Simplified Formatting Guide.  It’s also available for free.

4) What is the best site for self publishing?

My recommendation is to upload your book to KDP, which is Kindle Direct Publishing.  That will get it on Amazon so it’s a must.  Also upload it to and they will distribute it to Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Sony, Kobo, Diesel and a couple other more you may not have heard of.  Their cut is very small for the service and exposure they provide.  Those two will get you in front of 99% of ebook customers. 

If you’re going to do paperbacks (expect a bigger investment in formatting, inventory, time delays with proofs, etc), I recommend CreateSpace.  Their prices are affordable for books, whether you order 1 copy or 10,000.  CreateSpace also ties into Amazon, so paperback and ebooks appear right next to each other.

5) Should we pay to have it professionally edited?


I’m tempted to leave it at that, but I want to drive this home.  Writing groups are great, friends and beta readers are great, and I’ve received some excellent free critiques, but there is affordable professional editing out there.  You should be able to get either content or line editing for around $300 depending on the size of the book. 

If you want your book to be on the shelves next to Dean Koontz, Stephanie Meyer, and Dan Brown, you don’t want to release a book with plot holes, grammatical issues, or any other major issues.  (Go ahead and gripe about your beef with whatever New York Times bestselling author is your favorite target before reading on.)  Ok then, their books have been through thousands of dollars of editing by the best editors money can buy. 

How much did you invest in the book?  You can invest a little money in some editing. 

6) How important is the cover?

I’m going to assume that everyone reading this post has bought a book at some point in their life, so here’s my question:  How many books have you bought that had a horrible cover?  I’ve done it, you probably have too, but it took a lot for me to do it.  Either it was written by someone I knew or was recommended by multiple people I trust.

A cover is a billboard for your book, the 1-second pitch to the reader.  Don’t hurt yourself right out of the gate by putting an unprofessional cover on your baby.

7) How are you qualified to answer these questions This is where you self promote your books and stats and anything else :)

This is such an exciting and changing field that within 4 or 5 months of jumping in I was doing presentations at writing conferences on epublishing.  That’s how long it took to become an expert.  And it was all by jumping in and doing it.

Self-publishing and creativity are topics I’ve studied for years.  I’ve learned from mistakes along the way and tried to share what I’ve learned with other authors.  I recently launched a podcast to give practical and creative advice to artists of all genres: writers, painters, dancers, musicians, photographers, actors, etc.  My co-host is John Berry, a 20-year, professional easel painter, and the name of the podcast is Create or Die.  It’s available on iTunes or at  We’ll put a new episode up every Tuesday.  

8) what do you wish you would have known before getting started?

This won’t apply to everyone, but I didn’t realize that my target audience for JABBERWOCKY, young teens, doesn’t own e-readers.  I didn’t realize it until my paperbacks started selling better than ebooks when I went on book tour.

Final words: Work hard to put out a quality product; don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong.

Daniel Coleman is the co-host of the Create or Die podcast.  He is also the author of two YA books: JABBERWOCKY and HATTER.


  1. Some really great pointers here. Thanks for all the tips.

  2. Hello, Daniel. This has a lot of good information and the more I hear of your experience the more I come to appreciate those who choose the self-publishing route. Though I don't think it is necessarily what I am looking for, I have great respect for those who do it.

    Just as a side note: Jabberwocky and Hatter are great books.

  3. Thanks, C D and Emily!

    Though I have 2 epubbed books, I'm not 100% convinced I'll do it with my next book. I have a couple months and a couple rewrites to make up my mind.

  4. nice...thanks for the insights...have debated the self publishing route and this helped get some clarification and thoughts moving...


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