Self-publishing

Companion Publishing Profits Review

Review: Companion Publishing Profits by Amy Harrop

Companion Publishing Profits is a new self-publishing guide from my colleague Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful author herself and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

Companion Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing books that are intended to accompany or supplement existing content. An example would be a study guide.

The main guide is a 75-page PDF. As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with screen captures, mainly of related Amazon books and listings.

Amy starts by saying that services such as Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle have made it easy for anyone to self-publish. She adds that companion publishing can be a great way to capitalize on this, as you are effectively piggy-backing on the popularity of other products.

The types of product discussed in the manual include workbooks, journals, study guides, planners, and so on. One big attraction of producing this type of book is that the reader typically provides much of the content him/herself. In effect, you are simply providing an attractively formatted product for them to write in.

Of course, this type of product only really works in print format. So Companion Publishing Profits focuses mainly on using Amazon’s CreateSpace (print on demand) service. Kindle is mentioned as well, though, and there is also a bonus guide to self-publishing on Lulu.com.

There are 11 main chapters, as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Companion Publishing as an Income Stream
  3. Finding Hot-Selling Topics for Companion Publishing
  4. Popular and Effective Companion Content
  5. How to Create Workbooks
  6. Creating Workbook Templates
  7. Creating Journals and Planners
  8. Publishing
  9. How to Position Your Content
  10. Making More Sales
  11. Conclusion

Companion Publishing Profits takes you through a wide range of companion products that are quick and easy to produce, with plenty of examples to set you thinking. It also suggests ways of researching ideas for your own companion products.

The manual goes on to discuss various methods for creating templates for your companion publishing projects. These include buying ready-made templates (including PLR) and making your own using Microsoft Word or Canva. Once you have a template or templates you like, you can of course use them again and again to create your own range of companion publishing products with relatively little extra work.

Publishing on CreateSpace is covered in some detail. As well as the ‘nuts and bolts’ of publishing on the platform, Amy also discusses choosing categories for your book, optimizing your title and description, targeting search keywords, and so forth.

The manual also covers the tricky subject of avoiding copyright and trademark infringement. Amy advises using public domain or out-of-copyright content as much as possible. For example, the Bible offers lots of opportunities for companion publishing, including devotionals and prayer journals. But you can also choose topics that are covered in popular books without mentioning them specifically (e.g. tidying your desk). You can also quote short extracts from popular books under the ‘Fair Use’ exemption in copyright law.

One big advantage of writing and publishing companion books is that there is a large group of people interested in the subjects concerned, who in many cases are actively seeking content related to the topic concerned. If you can publish a book that comes up high in the results when they are searching (either online or on Amazon), you could potentially generate a lot of sales.

Although the guide is fairly concise, it includes links to a range of other resources – some by Amy, some by other people – covering specific issues and questions. The links to templates you can use for your companion-publishing projects are worth the price of the product alone in my view.

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. These include a 22-page PDF guide to self-publishing on Lulu (as mentioned earlier) and a 29-page PDF guide to marketing your book. The latter would be relevant to any self-published book, not just companion-publishing products.

There are also five training videos covering various aspects of the process. These are as follows:

  1. Companion books research
  2. Canva for journals and worksheets
  3. Tips for Creating journal prompts
  4. Cresting Worksheets from PLR
  5. Creating worksheets from table of contents research

The videos are attractively produced in the usual screen-capture style. They range from around 3 to 8 minutes in length. The commentary is provided by Amy herself. She speaks quite slowly and clearly, and I had no problems following what she was saying.

In summary, Companion Publishing Profits is a comprehensive guide to writing and publishing books of this nature. It is currently on a launch special offer, after which (as is Amy’s normal practice) the price will be rising by at least $10. If you are looking to build a growing additional income stream for relatively little effort, it is well worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about Companion Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Cookbook Empire Review

Review: Cookbooks Empire by Alessandro Zamboni and Lucrezia Aria

Cookbooks Empire is a guide to making money by writing and publishing your own cookbooks as Kindle e-books (and in hard copy form using Amazon CreateSpace).

Cookbooks are an attractive option for self-publishers. They are steady sellers, and there is a huge range of niches you can target, from gluten-free to low-carb, vegan/vegetarian to Indian, Italian or Greek. A further attraction of cookbooks is that they are ‘evergreen’. A good cookbook has the potential to go on selling well for many years to come.

Cookbooks Empire by Alessandro Zamboni and Lucrezia Aria is a 74-page PDF e-book. The content is presented in chapters as follows:

Introduction
Chapter 1 – Why do we love cookbooks?
Chapter 2 – The ingredients of great cookbooks
Chapter 3 – 10 golden ideas for your books
Chapter 4 – Cookbook creation process
Chapter 5 – Cookbooks advertising
Last words

The book is generally well written. There aren’t many illustrations, but you do get lots of links to useful resources, recipe sites and published cookbooks on Amazon.

Alessandro and Lucrezia talk at some length about how to create recipes for your books if you aren’t a dedicated cook yourself. As a general guideline they say you should avoid copying photos or instructions word for word, but lists of ingredients are okay. If you do copy the latter, however, they recommend acknowledging the original source of the recipe idea and perhaps including a link to it as well.

Cookbooks Empire takes you step by step through researching, writing and publishing your book using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). It includes details of ten cookbook niches that are selling well currently. There is also valuable information about how best to promote and publicize your book, using social media, forums, classified ads, and so forth.

As well as the main manual – which as stated above focuses on Kindle – you get a 31-page bonus report about publishing a print book (not necessarily a cookbook) on CreateSpace. CreateSpace is, of course, Amazon’s dedicated POD (print on demand) self-publishing service.

Overall, Cookbooks Empire is a practical, readable guide to creating a type of book that doesn’t require huge amounts of content but can potentially generate steady profits for years to come. If you are brand new to publishing on Kindle (or CreateSpace) it may not contain every single detail you need to know (I recommend Geoff Shaw’s Kindling to anyone who wants a comprehensive guide to Kindle publishing). It will, however, definitely open your eyes to a wide range of money-making opportunities in the cookbook field. At the modest asking price of around $13 (10 UKP) I recommend it to any entrepreneurial writer who would like to add another income stream to his/her publishing portfolio.

If you have any comments or questions about Cookbooks Empire, as always, please do post them below.

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Now You Can Publish Kindle Ebooks as Paperbacks Through Kindle Direct Publishing

Now You Can Publish Kindle Ebooks as Paperbacks Through Kindle Direct Publishing

If you’re a Kindle author and haven’t logged into the KDP website recently, you may notice a new option on your Bookshelf.

There is now an option to publish your Kindle e-book as a print-on-demand (POD) paperback via the KDP site. This is quite separate from publishing on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, incidentally.

I spent some time looking at what is on offer today, so here are my thoughts so far. To start with, it’s not just the case that you click a button and a paperback version is produced from the e-book. Some information is obviously carried over (book title, author name, publishing rights, and so on). However, the text and cover artwork have to be uploaded separately as new files. It does surprise me a bit that you can’t just import the existing text and format it for print, but there we are.

You can download various templates for your book from the KDP website info pages and edit these in Word or other software. Some guidance is provided for doing this, including a downloadable PDF manual. In my case KDP recommended that I use a 9 x 6 inch template. Both blank templates and templates with sample text are available via the KDP website.

Likewise, you can’t just automatically import your existing e-book cover. You have to either create and upload a print-ready PDF (you’ll need software such as Photo Shop to produce this) or use the KDP Cover Creator tool. The latter can produce cover designs suitable for paperback books (front, back and spine) and will import your existing e-book front cover if you wish (and it’s suitable). If you want a consistent look across both the e-book and print version of your book, however, you may face a few challenges.

You can set your own price for the paperback version of your book and receive 60% of the price paid once print costs have been deducted. This is obviously worth doing in order to reach the substantial audience of people who still prefer print books rather than electronic ones.

The KDP paperback creator is still in beta and additional features are promised in due course. One major thing lacking at the moment is any way of purchasing a sample print copy of your book so you can see for yourself what buyers will receive. This is clearly a drawback compared with CreateSpace. Neither do KDP published print books currently receive the extended distribution of CreateSpace titles.

If you currently publish on CreateSpace I can’t therefore see any compelling reason to switch to KDP at the moment. However, the likelihood is that once everything is working as it should KDP will become Amazon’s main hub for both e-book and print self-publishing. The future for CreateSpace after that is uncertain. For this reason if no other, it is a good idea to at least take a look at KDP’s paperback creator tool now.

I have made a start on converting one of my Kindle e-books using the KDP paperback creator, and will post here again once it is available. But I’d love to get your comments and feedback as well, especially if you have tried out the service yourself. Please leave any comments below as usual.

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Why Now is the Time to Start Promoting Your Amazon Affiliate Links Extra Hard

If you are reading this blog, it’s quite likely you have a book or e-book on Amazon. If that’s the case, you should be promoting it extra vigorously right now. And, specifically, you should be promoting it as an Amazon Associate (as Amazon calls its affiliates).

There are various reasons why promoting your book as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated through your link will attract commission from Amazon. Assuming you’re earning royalties on sales as well, in effect that means you’ll be getting paid twice over for every sale.

But there’s another particular reason to promote extra hard via Amazon just now, and that’s because you will receive commission from Amazon for ALL purchases made by a customer who visits the store via your link.

And in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas, Diwali and Hanukkah, many people will be buying multiple items as gifts. If they do some or all of their gift shopping via your link, you will earn multiple commissions.

Admittedly, Amazon doesn’t pay a fortune to Associates. Commission starts at just 5 percent, rising to the dizzy heights of 15 percent for some products. By way of comparison, affiliate commissions paid on downloadable products are often over 50 percent, and in some cases up to 100.

Even so, if someone spends a lot of money on a visit (and it happens at this time of year) the returns to you as the referrer can be substantial. Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) regularly lists surprising products people have bought from Amazon on visits via his links. Here’s one eye-opening list he posted a while ago.

If you’re not an Amazon Associate already, you can easily join by scrolling down to the foot of the Amazon homepage, clicking on Associates Program, and following the instructions to sign up. Note that you will need to join each national store’s Associates Program separately to promote there.

Once you’re in, Amazon have a huge range of banners and widgets you can use on your blog or website. They include, of course, simple image ads such as the one below for my latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com…

You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here’s an example of a seasonal banner that is automatically updated by Amazon.

Of course, it’s possible that all you want is a simple text link. Oddly enough, this isn’t as straightforward as you might think with Amazon. For text links Amazon give you about five lines of code which are designed to display your link in a pre-formatted, Amazon-approved style.

If you don’t want their complicated and largely superfluous formatting, here’s a simpler alternative. Use the following framework to construct your link:

—-http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN/?tag=yourAssociatesID—-

Or for Amazon UK use:

—http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/ASIN/?tag=yourAssociatesID—-

The ASIN is the unique identification number every product on Amazon has – you will find this in the product details. My own affiliate ID on Amazon UK is nickdawswriti-21, so a basic text link for my e-book above for the UK store would look like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DP8HKLQ/?tag=nickdawswriti-21

One slight drawback of this method is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won’t automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience (very likely online) you might therefore like to use the free Geniuslink or Booklinker service.

Both of these are run by the GeoRiot organization. They create a single link that detects where visitors live and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link included if you have entered it for the store concerned.

I wrote about Geniuslink in this recent post, and Booklinker in this one. Geniuslink has a few more bells and whistles than Booklinker, but once your links are generating over 1,000 clicks a month you start paying for the service. Booklinker is a more stripped-down service, but it is free however many clicks your links attract.

Here is a sample link created with Booklinker for my Kindle e-book on plotting: http://mybook.to/ThreeGreat. Click on this and it should take you straight to the appropriate page of your own national Amazon store. Do try it and see 🙂

Good luck on Amazon, and I hope you sell lots of book, e-books and more expensive items as the festive season approaches!

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Editing

Do All Writers Need to Hire an Editor? Here’s Why I Say No!

A trend I’ve noticed recently among writing blogs and websites is a growing consensus that to succeed as a writer, you MUST engage an editor for your work.

This is an assertion that I feel needs to be challenged. Yes, a good editor is a wonderful thing to have, but there are two major stumbling blocks.

First, finding a good freelance editor isn’t as easy as you might think. Bear in mind that anyone can call themselves an editor. As well as the genuinely good ones, there are plenty of deluded amateurs and some out-and-out fraudsters. Sorting out the good from the bad and the ugly is by no means a simple task.

And even if you are lucky and find a good editor, their services aren’t cheap. For a full-length book you can expect to pay several thousand pounds/dollars. If you are self publishing – on Kindle, for example – you need to think carefully whether any boost in sales that may result will cover this.

Self-publishing authors sometimes believe that a freelance editor will be able to help them with the deeper, structural aspects of their book as well. This is akin to the role performed by developmental editors in traditional publishing houses. Whether a freelance editor can realistically offer this service is in my view very doubtful, however.

Developmental editing tends to be a slow, iterative process. The editor typically reads and reflects carefully on the manuscript, then raises queries and offers suggestions to the author. The author duly reflects on this and gives his/her reactions, and so on. This can work very well with a salaried editor who is employed by a publishing house, but it is not really compatible with freelance editing, where you are charged by the page or the hour. If you hire a freelance editor, what you are basically getting is a copy editor. They may (or may not) make the odd structural suggestion as they go, but it is a long way from the in-depth feedback you will get from a developmental editor in a publishing house.

My advice is therefore to ignore anyone who tells you that you MUST hire an editor. Instead, I recommend a two-pronged approach. First, be sure you are fully up to speed with the basics of grammar and punctuation (my course Essential English for Authors might be helpful here – just saying!). Aim to be your own best editor (and proofreader) rather than relying on someone else.

And second, make full use of free and low-cost resources such as beta readers (other authors are often happy to reciprocate in this role) and online forums such as myWritersCircle. Off-line resources such as writers’ groups can be a big help as well. By this means you can get a lot of valuable feedback about your work without spending a fortune.

If you hear of a good editor and can afford their services, by all means use them too. But be realistic about how much benefit you are likely to get from their input, and weigh this carefully against the costs involved.

Remember, also, that with e-book (or POD) publishing, if someone tells you about a mistake, it is a very simple matter to correct and republish. Getting everything 100 percent correct before publishing, while still desirable, is therefore no longer so essential.

Of course, if you’re aiming to get published by a traditional publishing house, some of the above comments may not apply. But still, bear in mind that in-house editors provide their services free of charge if the publisher sees potential in your work. Your objective as an author should therefore be to ensure that your manuscript demonstrates such potential. No freelance editor will be able to ‘fix’ your manuscript if it is basically unpublishable. But that won’t stop them taking your money, of course.

So that’s my view, but what do you think? Should all aspiring writers be told to hire an editor for their work, or is this (as I think) unrealistic in many cases? Please post any comments you may have below.

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Puzzle Publishing Profits

Review: Puzzle Publishing Profits by Amy Harrop

Puzzle Publishing Profits is the latest writing product to be launched by my prolific colleague Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful self-published author, and publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

Puzzle Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing puzzle books of all types, probably using Amazon’s CreateSpace print publishing platform. It is being sold via the popular and well-established WarriorPlus platform. The main guide is a 60-page PDF.

As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with graphics and screen captures where relevant.

In the manual, Amy explains how you can capitalize on the huge market for puzzle books. She starts by discussing the wide range of such books and reveals the various target audiences for them, from children to the elderly. She also discusses current trends in the puzzle books field. The manual covers crossword puzzles, Sudoku, logic puzzles, maze puzzles, word-search, graphic puzzles, math (or maths) puzzles, brainteasers, and many more.

The latter part of the manual then discusses how readers can write, publish and market these books themselves. Amy recommends publishing in print rather than Kindle e-book form, as in general people like to complete puzzles using a pen and paper, not on a tablet or e-reader. As mentioned above, she recommends using Amazon’s CreateSpace POD (print on demand) self-publishing platform.

Clearly covering how to do all this in detail would require a much longer book, so what Amy has done is link to useful resources throughout the manual. Some of these resources she has produced herself, while others are from external websites. An example of the former is a six-page spreadsheet listing sources of online puzzle-making software (free and paid for), puzzle-making resources, forums, Facebook Groups, Yahoo Groups, and Pinterest pages. The forum, groups and Pinterest pages strike me as being more relevant for puzzle aficionados than for puzzle-book makers,. but the software and resources websites are certainly worth knowing about.

There is some good advice on publishing your puzzle book using CreateSpace, again with links to other resources for finding out more. The manual closes with an 8-page discussion of how to promote your puzzle book. This focuses especially on writing a good description of your book for the Amazon store, and using social media to build your following and help spread the word. I thought there were some very good tips here.

When preparing puzzle books, Amy advises strongly against referring to actual product and brand names. While I understand her caution, personally I think it’s a bit excessive. While I would agree that producing a Frozen puzzle book is a bad idea and would likely attract the attention of the Disney company lawyers, simply mentioning the name of a movie or TV show in a broader-based book is unlikely to cause problems. If that were not the case, most trivia quiz books (such as the one pictured below that I wrote a while ago for my clients at Lagoon Games) would never see the light of day. The key thing is to be sensible and only refer to high-profile, trademarked productions in a broader context. In a themed puzzle book about movies, for example, you could (in my view) have a wordsearch puzzle featuring the names of well-known characters from children’s films.

TV trivia quiz book by Nick Daws

As well as the main manual, buyers of Puzzle Publishing Profits get two bonus items. I didn’t actually receive these with my pre-launch review copy, but here are the descriptions from the sales page:

Amy Puzzle Book Bonusese

It sounds as though these will add value to the main manual, especially the CreateSpace publishing guide.

In summary, Puzzle Publishing Profits is an eye-opening guide to a field that appears crammed with potential right now, and it has definitely inspired me to think about trying it myself. It is currently on a launch special offer for $17 (about £14), after which – as is Amy’s usual practice – the price will be rising to $27. If you want to broaden your publishing portfolio with something that is fun and not too time-consuming, it is definitely worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about Puzzle Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Remain Tee-shirt

Lessons Learned from My First Teespring Publishing Project

In this post a few weeks ago I revealed that I had tried publishing a tee-shirt design on the popular Teespring platform.

The campaign is over, so I thought I would take this opportunity to reveal how it went and some of the lessons I learned from it.

Of course, the main aim of the campaign was to make some sort of profit. Unfortunately, the profit I made barely covered the money I spent advertising the shirt on Facebook. Still, at least I didn’t make an overall loss!

So one thing I learned straightaway is that making money on Teespring isn’t as easy as you might think. I thought I had a witty, topical idea and a snazzy design, but the great British online public (whom I targeted) thought otherwise.

Here are a few more lessons I learned along the way as well, in the hope they might help anyone else who is considering trying their hand at this…

1. In many ways Teespring is a great platform for designing tee-shirts, but some aspects of the way it works aren’t especially intuitive. For example, initially I assumed that with any design potential customers would be able to choose from the whole range of shirt colours. That is not actually the case. You have to specify what colours you want your shirt to be made available in, and there is a maximum to the number you can choose.

2. Just because your design generates interest and “likes”, it doesn’t automatically mean people will want to buy it. As you will see from the image above, my shirt had a political message, on a topic that in the UK is still generating a lot of controversy. One comment I received was that even people who sympathized with the message might feel uncomfortable going out wearing a shirt that others could find provocative.

3. You must expect and be prepared for some negative comments and even trolling. I got my fair share of this on Facebook from people on the other side of the Brexit argument. There were also some people who appeared outraged that I was attempting to make money in this way.

4. If you advertise your tee-shirt on Facebook, bear in mind that people will comment in ways you can’t control. Neither can you delete negative comments made in response to the ads. Of course I am not against freedom of speech, but it is somewhat frustrating when your carefully prepared Facebook ad on which you have spent good money is effectively defaced by abuse and obscenities.

5. if you hope to make money selling tee-shirts on Teespring, you need to have a way of targeting potential buyers as precisely as possible. Facebook can be your friend here, as you can select by interest, age-group, geographical location, and so forth. In my case I selected an audience of young people (age 20 to 30) in the UK. It quickly became apparent that this was far too broad, and my advertisement was being shown to a lot of people who disagreed with the message, to whom it came across as a red rag to a bull (see points 3 and 4, above).

So would I try tee-shirt marketing on Teespring again? The answer is yes, absolutely, but I would probably steer clear of political slogans! A lot of people who have succeeded in this field target a very precise niche market, e.g. dachshund owners. Come up with something that appeals to these people and you should have a much better chance of making a profit while avoiding a torrent of personal abuse.

I also realise that to succeed in this field you need to hone your skills in targeting people who are likely to buy your design. With my anti-Brexit shirt, I realise now that my targeting was hopelessly broad. While I could have narrowed it down a bit by targeting people interested in Europe (for example), precision targeting buyers for this shirt would still have been difficult – at any rate using Facebook advertising.

So that was my experience of setting up a tee-shirt marketing campaign on Teespring. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below. I would also be interested to hear from anyone who has tried out this sideline moneymaking method for themselves.

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Pop Culture Publishing Profits

Review: Pop Culture Publishing Profits

Pop Culture Publishing Profits is the latest writing guide to be launched by the prolific Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful Kindle author, and publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

Pop Culture Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing e-books (or books) that leverage the popularity of high-profile movies, TV shows, video games, and so on. The main guide is a 41-page PDF.

As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with screen captures (mainly of Amazon reviews) where relevant.

In the manual, Amy explains how you can capitalize on the huge interest in popular culture. She reveals how you can create books and e-books that will appeal to people interested in the shows and products concerned. One example she gives is a Kindle e-book on the subject of The Vikings, which appeared to have been written to cash in on the popularity of the TV show of the same name.

The big advantage of writing and publishing books related to popular culture is that there is a large group of people interested in these matters, who in many cases are actively seeking more information about them. If you can publish a book that comes up high in the results when they are searching (either online or on Amazon), you could potentially generate a lot of sales.

Amy discusses a variety of niches in which this could work. As well as the movies, TV shows and video games mentioned above, she includes politics, sport, music and books. Unfortunately (from an author’s perspective!) the latter is not as big a niche as the others mentioned, but it is certainly possible to write books/e-books that capitalize on the popularity of current or forthcoming titles.

Speaking of which, one thing that impressed me about Pop Culture Publishing Profits was how Amy reveals ways to find out about forthcoming productions likely to have lots of people talking about them. Certainly, if you can write a book that ties in with the next blockbusting movie (for example), you could be on the way to generating large numbers of sales.

Although the guide is fairly concise, it includes links to other resources – some by Amy, some by other people – covering specific issues and questions. There is a link to some additional training by Amy herself on how to get reviews for your books, for example.

The manual also covers the tricky subject of avoiding copyright and trademark infringement. Amy advises writers to use public domain content as much as possible, e.g. if a forthcoming movie is based on an old fairytale which is out of copyright, you could publish your own version of the tale by adapting a public domain version. Note that Amazon won’t allow you to simply republish public domain content, so you will need to rewrite/adapt it in some way to make it original.

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. These include a publishing guide, writing outlines for a variety of books, and a research and writing guide to help you publish quickly.

In summary, Pop Culture Publishing Profits contains some eye-opening ideas and information, and has definitely inspired me to think about trying this approach myself. It is currently on a launch special offer, after which the price will be rising to $27. If you are interested in this opportunity, it is well worth a look. It doesn’t go into the actual mechanics of publishing a book or e-book, but there is plenty of good advice about this available elsewhere (Geoff Shaw’s Kindling, my number one recommended resource for Kindle e-book authors, for example).

If you have any comments or questions about Pop Culture Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Remain Tee-shirt

My First Teespring Publishing Project!

As you may know, Teespring is a website that lets you design and publish tee-shirts and other garments and make money if they sell.

It’s a site I’ve known about for a while, but never got around to exploring. But after the result of the recent Brexit referendum here in the UK, I saw a golden opportunity to try it out for myself.

As you doubtless know, the outcome of the Referendum was a narrow (52 to 48 percent) vote for Britain to leave the EU. A lot of people who voted for Remain (which includes me) were shocked and disappointed by this, all the more so when some of the consequences of this decision started to become apparent.

So I decided to try my hand at designing a tee-shirt on Teespring aimed at disappointed Remain voters. You can see the result above and click through here to visit the Teespring sales page. The campaign will run for seven days from today, and I am promoting it in various ways (including some paid Facebook advertising).

I am doing this as an experiment as much as anything, and will report back in due course on the results I obtain. I must say that I was impressed by how easy it was to design my shirt on Teespring and set up a campaign for it, but of course the real test will be whether anyone wants to buy it!

  • Have you tried making money as a Teespring publisher? I’d love to hear how you got on! Please post any comments or questions below.
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3 Minute Journals Review

3 Minute Journals is the latest writing product to be launched by the prolific Amy Harrop, in association with her regular collaborator Debbie Drum.

Amy is a successful author, and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

3 Minute Journals is a software tool and training course for creating print journals for publication on CreateSpace and other print-on-demand services. For those (like me) whom this trend has largely passed by, journals are print books where most of the content is supplied by the purchaser. They take a variety of forms, including diet journals, prayer journals, dream journals, and of course writer’s journals!

Journals and other types of interactive print books are very popular right now, and this product is designed to help you publish your own. Essentially, all you have to do to create one is add some artwork and page borders and perhaps a few inspirational quotations. Once your journal is published it can be a source of ongoing royalty income, potentially for many years to come.

Like many of Amy’s products, 3 Minute Journals is accessed via a password-protected WordPress site (so don’t lose your log-in details). This has the advantage that that you can access it from any computer with an internet connection, and it can also be easily updated and expanded.

The members area is divided into six main sections, each of which contains training videos, PDF guides, and so on. You can also download the 3 Minute Journals software from the “Creating Your Journal” page. The full list of sections is as follows:

  1. Welcome
  2. Why Journals
  3. Creating Your Journal
  4. Formatting Your Journal
  5. Publishing Your Journal
  6. Getting Exposure for Your Journal

As you will gather, the training takes you from a discussion of journals and why they are an attractive outlet for self-publishers, through creating your own (using the 3 Minute Journals software in conjunction with Word or similar), to publishing via Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and then to publicizing and promoting your journal/s. The training is largely video-based, although there is some written content and there are also PDFs you can download.

The 3 Minute Journals software runs on Java, and it is important that you have the latest version installed on your computer. It turned out that I didn’t, so the software didn’t initially work for me. Once I had updated my version, however – which is straightforward enough – everything worked without a hitch.

One other thing to note is that the software doesn’t actually install to your PC. You simply double-click to run it. This makes it straightforward to use and (I believe) reduces the system demand on your computer. You do need to save it somewhere sensible on your PC, though. The desktop would be a good choice for many people.

The software is essentially a structuring tool for your journals. It lets you decide how many pages your journal will have, the page size, chapter headings, number of pages per chapter, number of ’empty’ pages, and so on. You could do all this in Microsoft Word, of course, but the software makes it quick and easy to create a basic journal structure, which you can then export to Word to add images, page borders, and any other bells and whistles. Here is a screen capture of the software with a sample project in progress.

3MJsoftware

The training covers pretty much everything you need to know to use the software and publish your journal on CreateSpace. One thing I did notice, though, is that some of the resources refer to other types of product than journals, including ordinary books. I assume these have been borrowed from other training courses that Amy and Debbie have created. It’s not really a problem, although ideally it would be nice if all the resources were solely about journal creation and created specifically for this product. On the other hand, if you plan to publish other types of print book as well, I guess you would find this useful.

Overall, I thought 3 Minute Journals was a high-quality guide to creating and publishing a type of print book that has good long-term selling potential. Inevitably there will be a learning curve, especially if you have never published on CreateSpace before. Once you are up to speed, however, there is no reason you couldn’t publish a range of journals very quickly. It is definitely an opportunity any entrepreneurial writer should consider.

Finally, I should note that 3 Minute Journals is on sale at a launch offer price of $27 until 24 June 2016, after which the cost will almost double.

As always, if you have any comments or queries about 3 Minute Journals, please do post them below.

 

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