Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Maelstrom of DIY courses

Since my budget for taking courses to learn the new world of self-publishing is exactly $0, I have leapt at all sorts of free offers (Free e-books) in return for my email and filling up my mailbox with tips and offers for courses I can't afford.

It amazes me that everyone and their fellow authors seem to have courses, videos, books, seminars, and methods that they offer for those starting out in this new field. Now, I have no idea if what they are offering is actually worth the money, and I can't point to anyone and say that their program is good or their's is a rip-off. After all, I can't pay for any of them. But there is a maelstrom of offers on courses for all aspects of the new world of self-publishing that is mind-boggling.

(I am not including companies in this group --- they are a different beast. This is about individual authors who are offering these lessons.)

Some of these authors are well-known and have a track record that goes backs years; others are newcomers themselves but have some success. Others I have never heard of; that doesn't mean they aren't good people with quality stuff. It all comes down to who is trustworthy in your view. Because when it boils down to it, Author A might be a great writer, but their course might be a clear as Mississippi mud, while author B's course is more relatable, even if their writing isn't as strong.

But here's the thing; if you don't sit down and write the story, all the courses in the universe will not make you a writer. Unless you produce something, taking courses will not help. Some courses will teach useful things, but unless you put them into practice, they are useless. In my view, don't waste your money unless there's something already done on the page.

Now, if you're like me, with no money, you have to get a bit creative with learning the new field of self publishing. I have a mess of self-published authors, writing groups, and company blogs I read on a regular basis. If I read something I thing I can use, I save off the webpage, then later on, copy/paste the information into a text file and save it off for my own use. (I always make sure to keep the author's name on the article, if I ever need to quote from it in a public forum, like this blog. Otherwise, everything I write here are my own words.)

I am in the middle of organize these text files into useful folders. Now, while I'm not getting in-depth detail that I would by taking a course, I am getting an understanding of subjects, and from more than one source. It may not be as deep, but it should be wider. And from all these different sources, I shall form my own method.

And that's what it all boils down to: DIY --- Do It Yourself. You have to do what works for you. What these course do is show you how these authors did it. It doesn't mean that their method will work for you 100% of the time, or even 50%  of the time. You can learn to avoid pitfalls, and be given a method where you may not have had one before. But it doesn't mean it's the only way. No course will replace the act of sitting there, pecking away at the keyboard, or writing it in longhand. Writing is an art, a craft, and no teacher can infuse you the willingness to write. Like any craft, it must be worked at constantly and regularly. Teachers will show the way, but unless to take the steps, the path will never be started upon, let alone completed.

And if you do decide to plunk down the money for a author/teacher's course, make sure of who the teacher is. Google them, read their blog, read their books, research them and make sure you will get something from them you can use.

Am I going to become one of those people I spent most of the blog discussing? Hawking courses and how-to books? I don't know. At the moment, I wouldn't have a clue where to start. And if I decided to go that route, there are so many questions I would have to answer, as well as trying to figure out how to distinguish myself from everyone else. Do I really want to do that? I have limited teaching experience, and and an undertaking like that would involve sitting down and breaking my experiences, thoughts, and methods down to a level that most people could understand. Hell, I'm not sure I understand what I do well enough to teach someone else to do it.

And I would have to have one hell of a track record as an author to even consider that. If I'm not a best-selling author, why bother? Who is going to buy a how-to from someone who can't sell to enough people to be considered popular? So, the short answer is no, the long answer is. . . .maybe, but not anytime soon.

So that's it....until next week (Hopefully)


Both Outcast Ops novels I co-authored are on Amazon and are both part of the Kindle Direct program. African Firestorm is here: Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon! For those in the United Kingdom, Outcast Ops: African Firestorm on Amazon UK!! Red Ice is here: Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon!. and for those in the UK, Outcast Ops: Red Ice on Amazon UK!



  1. I wonder. . . would it be a mistake to name a story before you even write it down on paper? I know that naming a poem before you write it is a mistake cause one does not know what the poem is about before its even written. So i ask, would it be a mistake to name a story?

  2. Not really -- sometimes all I have is a title to start with. Sometimes, titles come to me right at the start and stays throughout the writing process, from start to finish. Other times, the title is an elusive thing that doesn't come to me until the story is complete. I've changed story titles before after the story goes in a different direction than I expected. A couple of stories might have two or three different titles by the time I've finished the story.

    So, don't get stuck on worrying about titles --- call it whatever you want at the start, then let the story flow. The title can either fit the story, or it may not, but there's no rule saying the title at the end of the story has to be the same one you started with.

    Hope that helps!