Episode 52 – Safety, Censorship, and Our One-Year Anniversary

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Jim and Bryan celebrated their one-year anniversary this week! They also awarded episode 50’s big video contest winner. In their 52nd episode, the Midwesterners discussed a trio of tips on writing in the cloud, using physical book cards, and adding bonus content to your fiction books. The news focused on digital growth, safety for book reviewers, the Clean Reader app, Joe Konrath’s EbooksAreForever library business, and the controversy over Jane Litte’s pen name. This week’s Question of the Week: What do you like and dislike about our show? What could we do better?
What You’ll Learn: 
  • How Bryan found success with Draft2Digital
  • Why you might write more if you worked in the cloud
  • How to create physical cards for your books
  • Several ways to add bonus content to your works of fiction
  • What digital book growth in the U.K. means for authors
  • Why Brenda Clark Gray quit Goodreads
  • Jim and Bryan’s opinions on the Clean Reader app
  • Why all authors should consider submitting to EBooksAreForever
  • How a pen name controversy ignited a flurry of comments
Question of the Week: What do you like and dislike about our show? What could we do better?

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  • Interesting points about the Joe Konrath library submission system. I actually used a system called SELF-e to submit some of my books to California libraries. SELF-e is partnered with Library Journal, and you directly submit either the EPUB or PDF version of your books for them to vet. So far I’ve had one of my titles, The Vixen Files, accepted and I’ve recently submitted Confessions of a 3-Day Novelist with hopes of having that book accepted as well. SELF-e is a free service, too, so I’d recommend it for authors who are looking to get their books into their local libraries. Here’s the link, if anyone else wants to check out the program: http://self-e.libraryjournal.com/

    • Bryan

      Interesting! If you don’t mind my asking, how much did you get paid for getting your one book accepted? Was it sent to multiple libraries or just one?

  • Jacob Williams

    There is an estimated 120,096 libraries of all kinds in the United States alone.
    Public Libraries: 8,956
    Academic Libraries 3,793
    School Libraries 98,460
    Special Libraries 7,616
    Armed Forces Libraries 265
    Government Libraries 1,006

    • Bryan

      That school libraries number is nuts.

  • I like this show as is, honestly. Quick, concise and covers the ever-changing landscape. That being said, I would suggest adding special episodes (additional ones) every once and a while, with guests so you can do a deeper dive into the more salient subjects.

    As for the censor app… I think it’s a great idea because it opens up your material to anyone, no matter there sensibility. You can write what you want and they can read it the way they want. It’s no different than skipping over passages you don’t like or closing your eyes in a movie when someone’s head gets hacked off. We ALL self-censor anyway. This just makes it easy.

    For example, when my kids were younger we had the Clearplay DVD player which did the same thing as this book app. This opened my entire movie collection to them for viewing. My young kids were able to watch The Wedding Crashers without all the R rated material. And it was still hilarious.

    • The app would probably turn 50 Shades of Gray into a pamphlet!

      • Bryan

        Hahaha, true. Thanks, Pete!

  • Great show it was an honor to be mentioned 🙂

    The Tucson festival of books was just a crazy experience. I think they said there was over 130k in attendance over the 2 days. Looking forward to doing it every year. I watched a lot of authors and saw a lot of them making mistakes and saw a lot doing well while selling at the festival. Think I will turn that into a blog post.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Vinny! Definitely post a link here when you blog about it…

      You could write a book about it too ;).

  • I like the show as is. It’s a good length, and I like the format.

    I’d second @petebauer:disqus on special shows with guests of focused topics, but even then I’d keep it to maybe once a month so you can be choosy about the guests that will truly teach people to sell more books.

    • once a month, that’s what I was thinking too. great minds… 🙂

    • Bryan

      YOU CAN TAG PEOPLE ON DISQUS?! Mind blown.

  • I really enjoy the show as is. It’s quickly become one of my top favorite podcasts!

    • Bryan

      Thanks so much, Stacy!

  • Even though I haven’t been listening to the show for a whole year, I wanted to say thanks again! Bryan, you’re an inspiration to me, with all your hard work, how you were able to make so much progress over the short time I’ve been following the show, and how honest you are at the same time about your failures and mistakes. Gives me the courage to face my own as well.
    As to the format of the show – I think I enjoy it as it is, like other commenters said, otherwise we wouldn’t still be listening to it, would we. But I, too, liked the episode with a guest speaker – it’s good to hear a different point of view once in a while.

    • Bryan

      Thank you so much, Anja! I like having the guest speakers on as well. It’s awesome having you as a listener!

  • Daniel Martone

    Best censored line from a movie to tv… Yippee Kai A Mr. Falcon (Die Hard 2). We so wanted the bad guy in Die Hard 4 to be named Mr. Falcon… they missed an opportunity.

    • Bryan

      Take that, Mr. Falcon! They missed a lot of opportunities in Die Hard 4, btw ;).

  • Daniel Martone

    I like the idea of keeping the show as it is. One of the reasons we all listen is the no BS approach you guys take… 3 tips and 5 news.. perfect! That being said, I agree with the others about the idea of once a month or every other month doing a topic focused show could be fun.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Daniel!

  • Darren Sapp

    I found your show in June, listened to all the back episodes, and every one
    since. Thanks for your efforts in producing a quality podcast. I learn
    something every week and implement many. I count you a partner in my success.

    I like the format and love that you keep the format with guests and ask for their
    input. I hope you’re able to continue the occasional guest. I’d like to see
    Konrath and Eisler get on there, but I’m a fan of hearing all sides. Maybe you
    could have a trad pub proponent on for a point-counterpoint.

    P.S. Just got accepted for eBooksAreForever, and I’m excited about the opportunity.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Darren. Let us know how the acceptance into EBAF goes! Congrats!

  • I agree with Roland. 1 hour is the perfect length, and I think your podcast has found a great niche. There are all kinds of shows out there doing their own thing. I listen to each one for different things. Yours is one of my favourites as it stops me from missing important news.

    Like the others, I DO like your special shows, but they’re special only as long as they’re rare. For example, I think 1 special per month would be about right, and it would create anticipation too. I’m certain those shows would generate buzz and more comments.

    Regarding Konrath’s library submissions. I applied but haven’t heard back yet. As a Brit, I think I’m unlikely to be accepted during the first round, but I’m happy to support his efforts no matter how that’s accomplished. The system doesn’t just consist of an email submission as I think Jim assumed. It’s followed by setting up an account where books are submitted. BUT, although the account can be set up, the authors have to be invited/pass a review before they’re allowed to upload anything. This is the only gatekeeper in the system that I can see.

    Mark E. Cooper

    • Bryan

      Thanks! Yeah, we only had two 10 guest ones out of three because of the scheduling. Usually there’ll only be a couple every year.

  • Oh YEY! You featured me in your show. I’m sorry about my last name – it’s a mouth full. But thank you for the love.

    • Bryan

      Did I get it right? Thanks!

      • Very close. The first c is silent. You wouldn’t believe the nicknames I used to get when I was little – pricecheck, pergizer …

        • Bryan

          Hahaha. I like pricecheck :).

  • Pros:
    Great length. Not too long. Not too short. Most importantly, not too long.

    Great structure. I really love the top 5 and that you’re really religious to sticking to it. I know what to expect (as far as format) every time I listen, and I like that.
    Great hosts. Not every show has great chemistry between the hosts. I don’t really know how successful pairings work and why some just don’t – but y’all definitely do.
    Great topics. You are always on top of things. I don’t know how you do it, but your info is always current as in you are capturing stories that happened within the last week. For me, that’s perfect. It’s now my Self Pub news show.
    Jim’s rants: Please schedule one per show. They’re hysterical.
    Guest hosts: Brian, just for the record, when Jim goes away for business, etc, I don’t think you need a “guest host” b/c you are that good. But if/when you do that, the show works better when you just have one guest host. As opposed to have 10 different people answering 10 different questions. I think you’ve done that format twice – and those weren’t my favorites shows. I think the reason is – I like to really get to know a person if I am going to listen to the professional advice – and just answering one question doesn’t allow me to do that. Also, I miss the rapport you build with just talking to one person. So I think I am just saying I like one guest at a time (in the longest way possible 🙂

    Thank you for a great show. This is the only podcast I still listen to regularly. Cheers. Here’s to another great year.

    • Agreed!

      As one of the 10, I enjoyed doing the show and listening, but that format should stay in rare and special occasion status.

      • Bryan

        For sure.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Taryn! Interesting, some folks like the 10 guests, and some don’t. We’ll probably only do that during conferences, just because there are so many cool people to talk to!

  • In response to Dropcards. I think it’s a fine idea, and if it can automate file distribution and look good in the process, then cool. Still not as good as a physical book at a show.

    The reason that physical books are popular at shows is because:

    • It’s a free thing. SWAG.
    • It’s a physical book! You can tell immediately if it’s your thing. With an ebook you have to do all sorts of steps to get it onto your device, only to find out that it’s not for you (or it’s garbage). Most people would rather just not do that and move on.
    • How am I going to remember to look for that free book on my kindle, bookmark, or little card when I get back from the show? Hint, I’m not.

    What they could do is provide a service that let’s an interested party sign up for the book with a simple process (scan the badge or enter email address), then automatically send the book (or link) out in a few days, so the reader gets the book/email when they get back home. The email would be the cover, the blurb, and a personalized message from the author as a reminder of why they should look at the book now.

    Obviously print books are pricey to just give away, but I don’t know that the price of going to a show and giving anything away is cost effective for most authors. It seems fun, but do sales, reviews, and fans really come from having a table at a show or having your book or bookmark in a giveaway bag?

    • Bryan

      Yeah, physical books rock.

  • Connie B. Dowell

    Congrats on making it a whole year. I love the show’s format. My only suggestion, as others have said below, would be the occasional guest appearance.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Connie!

  • Honestly, I like the show as it is. Occasionally mixing it up w/a guest host is always fun, but I like the 3 tips + 5 news items each week. There are plenty of other places for us to get topical shows, including Jim’s author marketing institute podcast.

    By the way, Jamie Todd Rubin is a man.

    • Bryan

      Thanks! Whoops.

  • Just found you about a week and a half ago and I’m catching up on shows. It’s a great incentive to get off my butt and exercise. 🙂
    I particularly love your roundup of news. I now feel like I’m up to date on what’s going on in the publishing industry, which became even more important a few weeks ago when I parted ways with my agent to self publish.
    One little, bitty, tiny thing that bothers me: your “Tip of the Week” voice over. There are multiple tips, so it should be plural. It shouldn’t drive me crazy but… Yeah. It does. 🙂
    That’s the only criticism I have, which means you two are doing an awesome job. Glad I found the show.
    (I think I found you guys because Joanna Penn referenced you on one of her podcasts.)
    Thanks for being a curator of publishing news for me!

    • Well now it’s going to bug ALL OF US! 😉

      • Bryan

        Be cool, man.

    • Bryan

      Hey, Sandy. Well, technically Jim picks which one of the three he likes the best, so that’s how I’m gonna justify it ;).

      So glad you’re exercising and learning from us at the same time!!

  • Nakeesha Seneb

    I love the format. I think you guys give well rounded advice. My only suggestion is that you perhaps add a genre specific news item or tip each week. Like This Week in Romance, or This Week in YA, etc. Not a tip in each genre each week, just one tip or piece of news specific to one genre each week.

    • Bryan

      Thanks! Cool idea.

  • Gillian

    I want Jim to do more voices. Or I would like to hear him do the entire show with an English accent.

    • Bryan

      Great idea, Gillian!

  • You may be the right guys at the right time for me. Just getting started taking the writing seriously again and immediately found this podcast. I’ve started listening to a lot of shows about writing, and most of them seem to have this meandering attitude that isn’t very focused. What I’m saying is they aren’t helpful, and can veer off topic quickly. A lot of them drone on. Some are strictly grammar. Some take a while to get to the point and some bury the lead and make you wait forever before they get to their actual content. There’s sometimes a kind of lengthy morning show chit chat you have to wade through. Some are just too long. (Please don’t let your show go too long. I think it’s the smooch of death to a podcast when someone decides hey — it’s the Internet and I can drone on as long as I like…)

    You don’t.
    You get rolling.
    You get to the point.
    You pack the show with everything that’s useful.
    I like it.

    I always leave with a few action items added to my list, things I didn’t know about or were on the fence about.

    I was going to say you could use shaving off about fifteen minutes from the average episode, mainly because I like to finish a podcast before the commute is over, but after listening to 52, I don’t think there’s that much fluff to cut, right?

    Please stick to your schedule. Once a week is great. I was listening to another writing/literature related podcast and they went to a two-per-week schedule, and I immediately got too much of them piling up in my podcast app. I got sick of them quick. You show up right when I’m wondering what you will have to say next. It’s never an oh God, here’s another one… I’ve got five of these backed up already… situation, so please keep that schedule.

    Please don’t ever release ‘uncut’ or longer versions of your podcasts later. If you’ve got something that’s just too long to go into one show, hey you have two shows down, put them in the bank! One podcast I used to listen to did this. I’d get a good episode, 45-mins to an hour and then less than a week later the uncut version would hit in the same feed, and it would be an hour and a half or two sometimes. No one wants to listen to mic checks and note paper ruffling, and hey are we on yets. Please avoid.

    I heard you mentioning how you disliked hearing other podcasters refer back to previous episodes all the time (Did I hear that right?) The tendency of some podcasters to prefer not to explain something again because they feel like they’ve covered it before. (Refer to podcast #33… for blah blah blah etc.) Please don’t hesitate to create a new segment on an older subject instead of that. If there’s something new to say, and you’re mentioning it, mention it right? List sites again in the show notes if you go back to them again on another show. Sites on the interwebs change frequently. Things are updated, new services and sections appear where they weren’t before, and I think you can help us keep up-to-date without a lot of living in the past. There’s plenty of good in listening to older podcasts in the feed, but there’s always new information, right? besides how far back do you want people to dig? Eventually an older show that covered something really well will still become one with content or a strategy or something that’s become outdated. With 52 it’s pretty easy to scan through. When there’s 252+… It can become quite cumbersome.

    Cough. (That was great by the way — hope your voice has recovered) Talk. Flub lines. Keep being human! I feel when I’m listening to you like you like I’m hearing fresh information about this industry not just from people who are credible, knowledgable and smart, but from people I could eventually become friends with, and that makes a difference.

    • Bryan

      How’d I miss this comment?! This is great feedback, John. Thanks for the suggestions! We’ll try to maintain our friendliness :).

  • Hey guys! Just found your show a couple months ago and I find myself actually looking forward to chores so I can power through your episode backlist! But you don’t make it easy because you keep putting out new ones! You have great chemistry, and the news and tips are very useful and informative…

    One minor suggestion: as a writer, I always challenge myself to be as focused as I can, and I challenge you to the same thing when discussing news+tips. Get in, be succinct, move on. That’s what will send you to the next level in Year 2!

    • Nick Marsden

      Taryn, these guys are really good at staying on topic and keeping the podcast moving. I tried getting into the Self-Publishing Podcast and couldn’t listen to them because they NEVER stay even close to the topic. It’s so bad they joke about it.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the suggestions, Taryn!

  • Nick Marsden

    I regards to using Google Docs: Sharecropping. If you’re file is lost by Google, does a copy still exist on your computer? (There was an online service for screenwriters called Scripped.com that lost almost ALL customer data because of server failures.) I use Dropbox on each of my computers. I have a home computer for publishing tasks and a laptop for writing activities. My files are shared on all my computers and synced on the web. I can also write and work if I don’t have internet access for some reason. I’m not limited by wifi access on my laptop. And if Dropbox crashes or goes out of business or explodes or something, I won’t lose my files or the ability to edit them.

  • Nick Marsden

    Clean Reader: This thing isn’t changing my book at the source. I don’t see a problem. If it were going to the file on Amazon and changing the text in the file, I’d have a problem. Otherwise, I don’t get the problem. It’s only affecting the experience of the reader using the app. It’s not affecting anyone else.

  • Nick Marsden

    Here’s my feedback: I think Bryan should always talk in that gruff, Batman voice and Jim should have a helium balloon handy to suck on during the show. That would change things up a bit.

    Really, your format is amazing. I learn so much every week. I love having the tips and the news in the format they’re in. I’m glad you guys are careful not to push BS on us or spew paid advertising or anything like that. Doing the show weekly and sticking to new content keeps us all up to date in an industry that changes so quickly.

    You and Joanna Penn have a good tag team going as far as I’m concerned. You and the Creative Penn are the only Podcasts I need. You guys cover the news and marketing tips while Joanna covers the interviews with industry people. I like how, when you do have guests (especially at the conventions like last week), you stick to the format and don’t go into personal interviews of the guests. I have Joanna for that. 🙂

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the high praise, Nick!

  • Amelia Smith

    I like the Top 5 News and Top 5 Tips format a lot. The length is pretty good, but I preferred when you ran at about 45 minutes rather than the full hour.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Amelia! I blame myself for us going long. We appreciate the input.

  • OMG! Winner, winner chicken dinner!!

    I can’t believe I won a whole year’s supply of turtle wax. I feel like a million bucks!
    Oh, and that other stuff’s neat, too.
    I’d like to thank the academy and all the little people that helped make this happen. I don’t remember your names, and so heretofore, I shall always refer to you as “the little people.” (Oh no, see what’s happened? A little bit of fame and recognition, and it all goes to my head. Now to find a chafing dish.)

    What would I like to see changed about the show?
    1. More sound effects. I need to hear Bryan sound awkwardly flustered and exasperated more often.
    2. A weekly segment titled :Jim’s Jeremiad’s where Jim rants on one thing or another for about 45 seconds.
    3. A monthly giveaway. Some gift ideas such as a new car, a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni the San Franciscan Treat, or a chafing dish. A really nice one. Not the kind you get from the dollar store.

    All joking aside, I love the format of the show! I especially love the tips of the week. I feel like I learn something new that I can implement right away, and I’m always encouraged to keep on keeping on. You guys are doing a fantastic job!

    I look forward to the turtle wax.

    • Bryan

      Loading the turtle wax into the boxes as we speak! Congrats :).

  • Adam Haviaras

    Congrats on your 1 year anniversary, guys! Great show, as ever.

    On the public library thing…

    In my day job, I work with public libraries as clients and I know that most of them get their e-books from Overdrive, the smaller libraries especially getting those through consortia purchasing deals with Overdrive so that they can cut costs.

    I know Smashwords cut a deal with Overdrive but I haven’t heard how much of an impact that has had for indies getting into libraries. It’s great that JA Konrath is having a go at this!

    I think that for public libraries the problem is awareness and acceptance of indie authors.

    The libraries that my books are in are mostly through personal connections with librarians who presented my books to their collections development person – this is not a very efficient way to get onto the shelves, but it is worth it if you live where there is a large urban library system.

    Here’s an idea:
    Wouldn’t it be great it the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) partnered with Konrath’s E-books Forever and/or Smashwords to put dedicated indy author computer stations in major urban public library branches (to start with) so that patrons could plug in their e-readers/tablets and download indie author works that they would not otherwise know about? ALLi could then sponsor indie author talks at those libraries.

    Libraries certainly do seem to be over charged for e-books, so they might be amenable to this.

    On the ISBN discussion, I think (but am not positive) that books going into library collections may require ISBNs at this point.

    Cheers and thanks for putting on a brilliant show every week!

  • Kim Smith

    Just wanted to say congrats on making it this far you guys! As a fellow podcaster I know how hard it is to have content each week. And I wouldn’t change a thing from what you have going right now. It’s awesome I love Wednesday just because I know a new episode will air. Thanks for all you are doing !!

  • Congratulations on this year milestone!

    I totally love the show format. I especially like that you feature the top 5 news in the publishing industry. There’s so much stuff going on, it’s hard to stay abreast. So thank you for doing that. I like that this show focuses primarily on the struggles and reality of marketing your book and not so much on how authors ‘already made it and talking about their successes.’ I’ve listened to plenty of podcasts about that, and I think those are helpful and encouraging, but podcasts like Sell More Books Show are exactly the kind of resource that an author like me needs. So thank you guys for providing that missing resource. I think an hour is a perfect amount of time for these podcasts. Based on the other commenters, they seem to agree, too.

    I really love the guest episodes. It’s nice to hear from some of the listeners, and see how they are doing based on the information they’ve been listening to on these podcasts.

    One thing I guess this show could do without are the excessive weird sound effects. I mean, once in a while is okay, but too much of something eventually gets bad.

    Thank you, Jim for telling it how it is when it comes to marketing. You obviously know what you’re talking about since you’ve been in this game for so long, so I find much credibility in your advice and rants.

    Keep up the great work, guys!

    In response to the Dropcards segment, I actually met someone at a conference who was using Dropcards. She was passing them out for free instead of her business cards. The cards were business-card size, so it was convenient. I thought it was pretty cool to be able to pass out free sample copies of your ebook like that. My only concern is that you would have to side-load the file onto your ereader using Dropcards. Dropcards does offer support, in case people have problems side-loading, however, that’s an extra step that people will have to do, which is an inconvenience. I think most people would expect their book to automatically pop up on their ereader whenever they purchase or download it from the website. I’m still waiting for this technology to happen. Then I think the ebook market will be changed forever. Authors would be able to sell books directly from their site just like any other retailer without inconveniencing the customer with side-loading. This would be huge.