Carla King talks about her self-publishing journey and how she uses her experience to help other indie authors through courses and conferences.
D2D's Kevin Tumlinson chats with Carla King about travel writing, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and her author-helping services, Destination Published and Self-Pub Boot Camp!
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Hey, welcome to Draft2Digital's D2D Spotlight. And today we're talking with Carla King. Now, among other things, she's an author. She's a travel writer. She is the founder of Self-Publishing Boot Camp. And also you put together—well, and you also organize the San Francisco writers conference, which I appreciate because I've gotten a chance to speak at that a few times now. But you've also put something together that's pretty cool. And it's the virtual …. Well, you tell us. Before I butcher it, you tell us what it is.
Carla King 0:54
it's the Virtual Travel Writing Group, Kevin. You should be in it
Kevin Tumlinson 0:57
Virtual Travel Writing Group. I should be in it. I think you reached out to me to be in it and then I got sidetracked with other stuff.
Carla King 1:07
This kind of stuff.
Oh, you know, this kind of stuff.
Carla King 1:10
Yeah, it's fun talking to people.
You remind me afterward and I will make sure that I get into that, so that we can … Is it, do you have like a link to that on your website?
Carla King 1:22
I do. I'll put it up on the screen later but it's carlaking.com/travelwritinggroup.
I'll send everybody to carlaking.com at least, and that way they can—you guys, feel free to pop on over there: /travelwritinggroup, and make sure you register. So um, so tell us—okay, you're one of those that has a ton of stuff to talk about. So I hardly know where to start. Why don't we start with you. Tell me a little about you and how you came to be a self-publisher.
Carla King 1:56
Oh my gosh. Well, I was a travel writer and I took a trip around the United States doing the other thing that I love to do, is motorcycling. I'm a motorcycle mechanic, so I was test riding a Russian Ural sidecar motorcycle for the American market, and basically broke down in small towns all over the USA, testing this bike and writing a blog about it, and this was in 1995. And so it wasn't called a blog yet, right? I mean, it's like we did FTP and HTML, and all of that. I was working for O'Reilly and Associates up in Sebastopol, who pioneered this art of the real time online travelogue and blogging. And then later I wrote a book. I took that collection of blog posts and I wrote a book, and I'll put it up here, called American Border,s and you'll see that crazy motorcycle. Isn't it nuts?
It has a sidecar and everything. I'm gonna put you back full-screen because you can't see the book. Oh, there you go. You're smarter than the screen is. That's very cool. Do you still have that bike, by the way?
Carla King 3:05
No, but I have one like it. This was a prototype motorcycle. It was not terribly reliable and I finally, I sold it to an electrician who put it out to pasture in the mountains of Southern California. And he taught his two girls, his two pre-teenage girls, to ride motorcycles on that bike. But nobody but an electrician could deal with that motorcycle after I got done with it. I replaced four alternators, one of the engines—it's a boxer twin engine, and one side of the engine just blew, so I completely replaced that while I was on the road. It makes for some exciting reading. And right now I'm working on the second book in the series about my trips around China on the Chinese cousin of the Ural motorcycle and that's called the China Road Motorcycle Diaries. And that's in editing right now. And I hope to have that out finally, this year, because I did the same thing. I broke down in small towns all around northern China, I spent four months. It was crazy. It was insane. And blogged, and by then it was called a blog, I think, in 1998. And then I did it again in 2008.
Kevin Tumlinson. 4:19
And in 10 more years, it'll be called something else entirely. I know, I always tell people I was blogging before the term blogging existed. And now I hardly blog at all.
Carla King 4:22
Oh, really? Yeah. You talk a lot.
Kevin Tumlinson 4:23
I do talk a lot.
Carla King 4:24
Kevin Tumlinson 4:25
No, no, we all caught the implication of what you're trying to say there. We got it. So okay, I know that a lot of the writers that we talk to are going to be interested in this idea of travel writing. Now right now, travel writing, probably not such a lucrative field, unless you're sneaking out and writing sort of clandestine reports about places. But how did you—you know, and maybe it wouldn't work now, the way you got involved in travel writing—but how are some ways that authors could actually get involved with that sort of thing?
Carla King 5:10
Well, right now, all the travel writers that I know are stuck somewhere. A couple in Uganda that I know who are writing, and also doing videos. I mean, they're everywhere. And I got this idea for the travel writing group, because the professional travel writers who have a platform are now writing about … memoirs and, they're writing for us, and people who have never been to a place and who may now never get to a place, right? It's almost like, I felt like, wow, we need to hunker down and record what life is like in Casa Blanca, and in Baja, and in all these places that may permanently be changed by this thing that's going on, and also to just tell us what's happening, how this COVID is affecting travel and places. And it's been amazing, all of the COVID-related travel pieces that have come out. There's a huge Travel Channel on Medium, for instance, that deals with COVID and travel and being stuck and you know, what you can do and what you can plan for and looking forward to traveling after this. And I don't know, it's just, it's just really nice to be able to just sit and think about what you've done and really bring the world to people who've never seen the part of the world that you've seen.
Yeah. Now, it's like you're getting an opportunity to stop and reflect on all that travel.
Carla King 6:54
There's a lot of memoir going on. In the travel writing group, there are a lot of very very accomplished and widely published travel writers, as well as people who have traveled who want to break into travel writing. And you know, there's always a market for a memoir, I think. Right? Don't you agree? I mean, because we all see a place with our own eyes.
You get told all time by the traditional world, there's no market for memoir.
Carla King 7:21
Well, Kevin, you and I know that the traditional publishing world isn't the be-all, end-all of the publishing world. You were just trying to goad me into saying that weren’t you?
I'm a little sneaky. No, it's true, though. And what's interesting is that we have this, you know, we have the tools now to make these memoirs available to discover and, you know, or for an audience to discover that might never have, they might never have heard of us and they might not care about us personally. But, you know, the topic is what's going to attract people so you got a lot of wealth of content out there.
Carla King 7:57
Exactly. And you only need metadata to market that stuff. So you say Morocco and Casa Blanca in your metadata, and beach and Essaouira and kite surfing, and hey, that's a huge marketing tool.
You used the dirty word, which is marketing. So how do you handle marketing for yourself?
Carla King 8:19
I do a lot of niche marketing. I also do, you know, like you, use metadata. Smart use of keywords and categories, blog posts with the correct metadata. I—you know, it's a little different for me. I broke into travel writing with the motorcycle world in 1995 and so, I have the oldest blog on travel on the internet right now. Well, it's now rolled into carlaking.com because first I got americanborders.com, but then I got chinaroad.com, and then I got indiansunset.com, and I got aroundtheadriatic.com, and fromthealpstotheatlas.com, and I'm like, this is ridiculous. Like I just had to get carlaking.com and put all that, you know, inside. Because your name is your biggest brand, right? So it's all rolled into carlaking.com now.
That's the way to go. I remember in the early 90s, buying up all these different domain names, because my thought at the time was, you know, I'll write about this topic, and this topic, and this topic, and I'll keep them all nice and organized and separate and, you know, never quite realizing what I was getting myself into.
Carla King 9:34
I think we all had that idea at the same time. And you have a great website. I'm always pointing people to kevintumlinson.com and saying "Do what he does." Do that.
You're the one responsible for the traffic I get there.
Carla King 9:48
Yeah. Don't you ever forget it.
Now you—I want to talk, there's several things that we were going to cover, but I want to talk about your Self-Publishing Boot Camp. What's the origin of that, and how's that working?
Carla King 10:05
Well, that all started with travel writing as well. And I wrote a book about my mountain biking trips in the south of France when I lived there, 1993-94, and I couldn't get a publisher for it, although everybody said "This is great book, but it needs to be a bigger book than just the Nice and the Alpes-Maritimes area. So do that." And I said, I'm not going to do that. So I just self-published it. There was only one way to self-publish then. There weren't all the tools like Draft2Digital and everybody else who jumped in, in 2008 and beyond. So I just self-published it. And now my friends in San Francisco, who were travel writers, kind of looked down their nose at me for a long time. And then there was the big era of the big publishing houses low-balling their authors, so authors who I knew who were getting at 80 to 150k and more for their books, were now getting offers of 15k to 50k, and you cannot make a living off of that kind of an advance. And so suddenly they were all clamoring to say, "Oh, Carla, how did you self-publish?" Because they knew they had an audience, and they didn't quite know how to gather their audience and create a mailing list and actually do the things that you need to do to self-publish. So I started giving self-pub boot camp classes, and now, it has just evolved and evolved. And I love teaching and I love tech tools. I'm a technical writer, by trade. I don't do that anymore, but I'm just a geek and a mechanic, and I just love how these tools work. And I want to pass on the best of the best of these tools to authors and just put it in their own hands. So yeah, thanks for putting that screen up. I run Destination Published, which is sort of a hand-holding service for individual authors and groups. And I offer this Consumer's Guide for Self-Publishers,with all of the tools and services that I love for authors, self-publishing or not, that you can get free at destinationpublished.com and selfpubbootcamp.com.
That was my clumsy way of making a transition. It didn't do it as smoothly as I had hoped. It'll key it up. It'll prime it, and then all I gotta do is hit it, and then we'll go in. But that's our segue. We'll just jump right to it. So yeah, is this tied in with your self-publishing boot camp at all, or is this a separate entity?
Carla King 12:47
Yes. If you go to selfpubbootcamp.com, this is what appears now. I was working more with travel writers, so it's funny how brands evolve right? So, my self-pub boot camp courses are online self-paced courses. And I pop in every once in a while to try to gather the herd and answer questions, and also improve the course. I have courses on, you know, the self-publishing freedom course, which tells you how to do all that competitive analysis and market research that you need to do to make sure that you actually have readership and you know, where do you belong, do you belong in thriller?
Kevin Tumlinson 13:37
Maybe I need—
Carla King 13:38
Maybe you could teach the course, Kevin.
I don't know about that. But I'm always looking to learn more about that stuff. So.
Carla King 13:43
Well, you know, it's all about using Amazon Advanced Search to research your, you know, your competitors or your compadres. I always like to think of them as compadres, as partners really. Because as you know, if you make friends with other writers in your genre, right? So I'm friends with many travel writers, and we can co-market. And you're friends with many thriller writers, and you can co-market and create anthologies and, you know, just pump each other up and it's amazing. It's an amazing way to market your books and it's so much more fun.
Yeah, I agree. I've never been—I've never latched on to the whole competitor thing. Like, no matter what business I was in, I don't see any of D2D's "competitors" as competitors. We're just all serving a different part of the different segment of that same market. You know, I've always seen it like that. But with authors, I never got the competitor thing. You know, it's not like, if someone buys your book, they're not going to buy my book. Like, that's not the way readers work. So yeah, okay, so that's very cool. So people can—and I didn't put the URL up there, so I can pop it back up, but—
Carla King 15:02
I'll put it in the chat. It's www.selfpubbootcamp.com.
Yes. Do that. And I will happily share that on the screen for everybody to see.
Carla King 15:13
It's also, you know, at destinationpublished.com. So you find a one-stop shop. And if you go to carlaking.com, there's a button for Self-Publishers as well. So I linked them all up, no worries.
Kevin Tumlinson 15:28
Yeah, you made it easy on us. I love things that are easy. That's—so, I'm going to share this. There we go. All right. There we go. Selfpubbootcamp.com. See how easy that is?
Carla King 15:39
So okay. Now, the next the next topic is one that is—I believe this actually may be where you and I met. Didn't we meet at the San Francisco Writers' Conference, or did we meet before that?
Carla King 15:48
I think we did meet at the San Francisco Writers' Conference. Were you there for Draft2Digital, or just for yourself?
Kevin Tumlinson 15:50
Yeah, um, you know, that's tough, because I've been there for both. So, I think the first year that I came with Draft2Digital, you and I met, and then it was just fireworks from there.
Carla King 16:17
It was. It was, I really, I loved talking with you. I mean, the first time—let's see, I was on your podcast, and oh my gosh, we talked about travel and being on the road and self-publishing. We talked a lot about beta books, you know, beta publishing. All kinds of things.
We range far afield on the Wordslinger Podcast. We kind of—anytime I'm on screen or on a microphone, I'm going to range far afield. It's hard to hard to keep me sewn in. So, how did you become involved with San Francisco Writers' Conference?
Carla King 17:00
Well, you know, I was there the second year teaching writers how to write for the web. Remember that? Writers were just like, what is this thing? We write for newspapers, we write for all these publications, magazines and books. But how do you write for the web? So I was teaching. Not yet how to build an author website, though I did teach that later. But just how to write for the web, like, you know, 300 word chunks with headlines and all the protocols that websites wanted, web properties wanted in those days. And just trying to demystify the internet for authors. And I kept teaching websites, I kept teaching—when the self-publishing tools like Draft2Digital came along, I was helping people figure out how to use them, right? And which ones were good, because there's a lot of bad players out there, right? Vanity presses who will take $5,000, $15,000, and more to "help you" publish your book, right? And there's a lot of free platforms as well. So I always try to help authors understand what they're getting and what they're giving up. And to help them figure out the right way to do it professionally as well, because a lot of people just wrote something and put it up on the web. And they didn't have a good cover, they didn't have editing. So the whole process. And eventually, the San Francisco Writers' Conference being tied to Multimedia Gulch, being tied to the greater San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, a lot of the tech tools are centered there. A lot of the companies who helped us were there. And so it was just natural to fold a technology and independent publishing track into the San Francisco Writers' Conference, correct? If you notice on the header for the San Francisco Writers' Conference, it says "craft, commerce, and community." And it's one of the few writers' conferences that teach commerce and marketing and not just craft, right, and teach community. And it's a big conference. And we've had many people who go to conferences say, and many of our sponsors say, that it's the best conference in the United States. And I may be a little bit biased, but I've heard that over and over and over again. It's an amazing writers' conference, and if you have to go to one, so many people say that's the one to go to, because of the commerce and the community aspect of it.
Yeah, it certainly attracts a lot of talent. I've noticed that. Like the whole—this past conference, Jonathan Mayberry, who also has been on the Wordslinger Podcast, came and did the keynote and everything. And we had editors and publishers—and I'm noticing, and I don't know if you're seeing this as well, you can let me know if this is actually happening. But it seemed to me like there was a growing self-publishing presence. And in years past it's been very heavy toward traditional.
Carla King 20:28
Well, San Francisco Writers' Conference has always had the agent speed dating, right, and the editor speed dating, which has attracted many, many authors and more and more often those agents and those editors are saying to authors, you know, self-publish a book or a couple of books and, you know, go that route. It was about I think, five years ago, perhaps, that agents really started embracing self-publishing and saying, "There's a place for this. Be a hybrid author, you know, there's a place for maybe a three-book series for thriller or romance or nonfiction. The San Francisco Writers' Conference is also one of the few conferences that has a nonfiction track. And then write supporting books and smaller books, maybe prequels to promote the books that, you know, are agented, and agents are now working really hard with authors to promote books with self-published materials.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:36
That's really good to hear because all you ever hear on our side is, you know, supposedly agents are telling people "don't self-publish, because that's going to nix your chance of ever having a contract. Go down that road, and you're not going any further."
Carla King 21:54
Well, that's what they say when an author says—okay, so there's a particular kind of book, and I'm not someone who's attracted this, you know, traditional self-publishing, because I've made a lot of money from American Borders and my self pub boot camp guide for authors. And I know that I can make more money on my own than I would with a traditional publisher. But if, for example, you're writing historical fiction—this is from an author that I was helping. She writes historical fiction. And the agent wants a three-book series. So the agent is telling her, if you've already self-published that first book, you're screwed. No agent will touch that series, because they want the series. But, so she wrote a three-book series. And then she wrote a prequel to promote the book and she gives that away free and you know, she does, she uses the tools to help that series along. So that's called hybrid publishing, and it's really the way that the industry is moving.
I feel that way too. I feel like the trend has been towards some form of hybrid publishing. And unfortunately, the term hybrid publishing has gotten a little bit of a bad rap. But I think there's something there, like there is that definite, you know, sort of synergistic—I'd hate to use that term too, because that's all marketing sounding, but there is something there, we're just gonna have to invent a whole new term for it.
Carla King 23:27
I don't know what it is. I mean, there's a hybrid author, which is the author who's self-publishes some work and traditionally publishes others. The romance author Bella Andre, now, some years ago, she had a groundbreaking contract with Harlequin. She's a very, very prolific and bestselling author. And she sold print rights to Harlequin and kept her digital rights. Right? So that kind of deal really paved the way for other authors to get into print and real distribution. And one of our keynotes at the San Francisco Writers' Conference this year is Brooke Warner, and she's like the queen of you know, hybrid publishing and distribution, demystifying distribution. It's so easy to distribute e-books, right? But for a self-published author, it's very hard to get real bookstore distribution by self-publishing. You need other methods. And Brooke's company, She Writes Press, who publishes women's fiction, helps you get into those channels. You can also get into those channels directly with Ingram, if you're a professional writer, and you show that you really have a big market.
I've had Brooke on the show too by the way.
Carla King 24:56
Oh, that's awesome.
You may have been the one who introduced us. So I want to prompt everybody right now, if you're listening, no matter where you are: YouTube, Facebook, or otherwise, go ahead and ask us any questions you want. Because coming up in about five minutes, that's what we're going to do. We're going to shift focus to you and what you want to know. I already see a couple of questions coming through. So, you got some people who are big fans of yours, Carla. Yeah. Janna Lopez here says hi, Carla.
Carla King 25:24
Janna. Oh, she worked hard on her book. And she did it right. So congratulations, Janna. Yeah, look her up on Amazon, Janna Lopez. Great nonfiction book, inspirational, excellent.
I can't wait. I'll check it out. Everyone go right now and check out Janna Lopez's book. Jannalopez.com. You better own that, Jana.
Carla King 25:52
You better, I'm checking that now. Yes, there she is. Awesome.
So now, you said she did everything right. What is everything, what'd she do right?
Carla King 26:03
Well, you know …
You don't have to talk about her specifically, I don't want to put her on the spot. But …
Carla King 26:07
Well, I mean, just go to Janna Lopez and look at her website. She did a really good job on her website. And, you know, she's very focused. She knows her audience. We worked hard on doing that competitive analysis and looking at books like hers, right? Looking at books that—making sure that she had a market, and that the cover looked like a book that her audience wanted to read. Now, this is the thing, right? Because I have so many authors come to me and they have a cover already done. And like, okay, let's go look at Amazon Advanced Search at the authors like you, and their cover looks really different. And they're like, "Yeah, my cover is gonna stand out." And I'm like, no. I'm gonna look at that as an author, and I'm gonna say, "Oh, no, that doesn't look like a book that I read." Right? That's not the kind of book that I read. And I haven't even seen the title. So all of that is so so important. And she, you know, she slowed down and took her time, right. And like many authors, you have an idea. And you want to get it out there in three months, right? Because self-publishing is so easy. I have authors coming to me in April, and they want a book out by October for the holiday market. I'm like, wait a minute, let's just slow down a little bit.
Kevin Tumlinson. 27:31
Send them to me, a little book called 30 Day Author. We'll get 'em going
Carla King 27:33
Come on. Let's talk about that. So what can you do in 30 days?
You can write a book in 30 days. That doesn't necessarily mean it's ready to go to print, right? I mean, you want to make sure that you edit and you do your market research. I mean, I like your approach. Do the market research first, find out whether somebody is going to buy the type of book. You don't have to write to market in the sense that you have to make it just like every other book. You write to market because you know the audience, you know what they're looking for. So if you do the research, you find everything you need to know, in order to make that book ready for that audience. Am I on point?
Carla King 28:13
I think you are, yes. Because you can definitely write a book. Sometimes a book just comes out of you, right? And hopefully, by then you've already been on social media. And you're hanging out with the kinds of people who want to read your book. Because if you're marketing after your book, it's going to be—it's not gonna be any fun at all. And it's gonna be so much work, but if you already know these people and are hanging out with them. Like, I had a natural audience for my motorcycle travel books, right, because it was very niche. And a lot of times, it's great to just to stay niche and then try to, you know, move out into the general audience from there. Which is what I'm trying to do with my China Road Motorcycle Diaries, right? I probably won't have a cover with a big scary biker motorcycle on it. Right, because this scares—this attracts the motorcycle audience, and when I go to motorcycle conferences I make thousands of dollars at my booth. But I don't get the general market, right? The general markets, like the Eat Pray Love market and the Wild market and—it's a memoir. It's like that, not a motorcycle book.
Well have you ever considered retooling the cover? You should keep the motorcycle cover. Do a second edition with a new cover. Are you doing it?
Carla King 29:44
Yes. And releasing China Road and American Borders together. And we're re-releasing it with different covers, yes.
Yes, coordinated, coordinated covers. Yeah.
Carla King 29:53
I knew you were brilliant. I didn't even question it.
Carla King 29:59
I wonder where I got that idea.
I don't know. Did we ever talk? I'm sure we did talk. I know, I remember us talking about your cover on Wordslinger. I like your cover.
Carla King 30:15
It's a great cover for that market, but it doesn't attract somebody who likes—
You could never do that in the traditional world, because the publisher would have to pay for all that, right? But the indie publishers, self-publishers get the advantage of being able to do things like have the same book with two different covers to appeal to two different markets.
Carla King 30:37
Exactly. And so also you don't need a new ISBN with a new cover. You do with a new title. And I will retitle this book. So it will need a new ISBN. But if I just change the cover, that's my only ISBN. And it's really important, let me just say that when you're self-publishing to buy your own ISBNs, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 31:07
Why do you think that?
Carla King 31:08
I think that because—well, okay, so if you publish with Draft2Digital and then, it's a great platform, and you have one of your ISBNs, it's amazing. But then you're like, oh, I, you know, I want to move it. I think you should be able to move it wherever you want. And if somebody uses a free ISBN from Amazon, right, and then they want Draft2Digital distribution. Well, they have to get another ISBN for the same book. So then you've got a book with two different ISBNs for the same book.
Yeah, but I believe though, you could—well, I don't know, I'm not going to speak to that. Because I know that we have, there are certain things, like you can't bring in an ISBN that's been used elsewhere to us. So I assume that it works the same way going out. But that would be the same—I guess, if you own the ISBN, yeah, you can do what you want.
Carla King 31:57
You can just move it around wherever you want.
I do know that people sort of reuse the same ISBN all the time anyway.
Carla King 32:04
I know, there's no ISBN police. There aren't, so.
it's a kind of antiquated sort of system anyway, I think it's great for print books, but it's completely unnecessary for digital books. It's—everyone's got their own code. Some people require it. Apple requires it, you know, others require you to have it but—so that's why we offer it.
Carla King 32:27
It's a great service.
So we're not gonna, we won't debate it or anything. You and I come from different directions on the ISBN thing, but that's okay. That's why it's a big broad beautiful world we can explore and write about.
Carla King 32:43
Well, you know, it's the difference between being an author, writing a book and publishing a book as part of your life and, you know, and being a professional author with a whole business that you're basing around your maybe author career, speaking career. So I would say that that's the differentiation, is most authors who come to me are coming to me because they want to add a book to their business or their career, or they want to make money and make a living of being a writer. And then you're talking about ISBNs, DBAs, fictitious business names, notification numbers. All that kind of thing, that doing business as an author part. And that's one of the courses that I offer with self-pub boot camp courses.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:37
So we're in the last 15 minutes or so of the broadcast, so we're gonna jump in and get some user questions—or some viewer questions rather—going. You may be a user too, I don't know your life habits. But we got Richard here asking, "Have you learned anything about a "reader persona" or typical demographics for travel books? More specifically, humorous adventure travel books such as hitchhiking around the world?"
Carla King 34:06
Yes. I mean, you have to research and figure out—if you're looking at my bookshelf at Bill Bryson, right. Bill Bryson is a very funny travel writer. I read one of his books on a plane one time and I laughed the whole time so much that everybody around me were like, What are you reading? So are you going after the Bill Bryson, are you going after, you know, who's … there are so many different kinds of travel writing. So you really have to dig deep and make friends with those authors who are reaching the kind of readers that you want to read and make friends with them. And blogging is—the reader persona or the customer avatar, those two terms just mean know who your reader is and write to them. Like for American Borders, I thought I was writing to women my age, right? Who wanted to travel around the world. Well, it turned out that I was writing to men who like motorcycles who are over 50 years old. That's my audience for, currently. And I want it, I love them. But I want to get into the women's market. There are more women. I'm writing actually to women. I think that I speak a lot to women in that book about freedom and self-sufficiency and men are often very surprised, like make comments and say, "Wow, I never knew women thought that way," because I have a lot of thoughts. You know, it's a travel book. You know, I have a lot of helmet time. They're like, "Wow, you're really enlightening me about a woman's perspective." So that's really nice. But yeah, I want those readers. So my reader personas are the people who are writing for, who are reading Cheryl Strayed's books, and Elizabeth Gilbert's books.
And you know, you present an interesting dynamic because your cover is attracting a different audience. I love finding that out. Because it means that, you know, this idea of—that's a different aspect of considering your reader. You know, everyone thinks about, consider your reader with the voice of the book, with the way the book's written. A lot of people don't think about the rest of it: the marketing, the book cover, the website, all that stuff needs to be aimed at that same reader. So we have, it's not a question, but we have—or it's not necessarily a question, but I feel like we could talk about this a bit. So, "Great information here. Thank you. Still deciding about self-publishing versus hybrid. The distribution is the issue, as well as money." Now I could talk about the distribution side of the issue, and I'm happy to. Do you want to chunk anything in here before I say something?
Carla King 37:13
Why don't you go first? Because—yeah, go ahead.
Alright, so of course Draft2Digital will help distribute your books, for free. We take a minor little 15% cut off of the royalty when you distribute and sell through us, so you can check us out at draft2digital.com. I'll even pop a URL up here if I can find it real quick, let's see, where do we go? I hate when I do that. Like I had everything all queued up and then I lost it. Well, it's draft2digital.com and, you know—there's the one to the blog.
Carla King 37:51
Well, you know, Linda Joy I know has been traditionally published and thinking about self-publishing and you know, she writes memoirs and novels, and a great writer and teacher. And when she, you know, so—the question here really is like, how do you sell-publish and get your book into the print, into the bookstores? Now, Draft2Digital has a POD option as well coming up. Is that still in beta? Can you tell me about that?
It's still in beta, but we just did a complete retooling of our, the way the site works and the way that process works so that we can make it easier to get out of beta and go live. We learned a lot from the beta. We applied it. And now we're finishing the beta so that we can take it live.
Carla King 38:47
Cool. And so are you going to be able to discount the books in different ways?
There are some tools for like price changes and things like that right on the site. So you'll be able to do that. I don't think at this time, I don't think we have a way for you to just sort of set up a like, we can do like a timed promotion kind of thing. You know? Yeah. So that you can do that. But I think as far as like, you know, setting up like a coupon code or something like that we don't have anything like that.
Carla King 39:18
I think a lot of people, they don't realize that when you want to attract bookstores that you need to discount your book by 55%, and offer returns. And returns is a terrible way, a terrible thing about—
Kevin Tumlinson 39:39
Oh, I see what you're asking there, yeah.
Carla King 39:40
And so most books are going to be sold via the online retailers. Not Amazon at this moment, but Indie Bound and, oh, what is that new one?
Carla King 39:50
Bookshop. Yes, it is Bookshop. They are the independent bookstores because Amazon isn't concentrating on books right now. So all you need is a 30% discount to sell to the online retailers, through the online retailers, and you're going to make a lot more money too. So what I see authors doing, is because they want their book in bookstores, they're setting that 55% discount and implementing the returns program, which means that if the bookstore wants to, they can return the book. Well, in this they are actually marketing to bookstores and marketing to people who shop at bookstores, which is kind of futile right now. They're losing a lot of money and they're risking, you know, having their books come back damaged and read through and mold you know. So right now, especially, I would release—if I'm going to release a book right now, I would release it with 30% discount to the independent, to the online retailers like you guys do. You distribute to Amazon, where else?
Kevin Tumlinson 41:04
Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books. All of the major players.
Carla King 41:06
And the smaller ones too. Lots of smaller ones.
Places that are tough to reach on your own. So we make it a little easier. You know, I tried all these. Yeah, that's really how I discovered Draft2Digital in the first place is, I'm super lazy. And I just wanted something better. There are certain alternatives out there I tried first and pulled myself out of that era and into the modern era, and never looked back. Alright, well, we'll get to a couple more of these questions before we run out of time. So Guy says, "I will have an ebook, print, and audio book my first self-published book, a memoir, and will do it in French, English, and English editions." Okay. "Should it be the same distribution aggregator?" That's not necessarily aimed directly at you, but you can contribute. What do you think?
Carla King 42:01
Oh, well yeah. I mean, you guys have a relationship with audiobooks.
It doesn't always have to be about Draft2Digital, by the way. I understand, I appreciate your love. If you want to talk about other aggregators and distributors we're a-okay with that.
Carla King 42:19
We'll keep it simple because [inaudible] has a relationship with others as well. But I don't know about the French, so you could do it with the same distribution company. He's talking a distribution aggregator and aggregator is, we just call them the same. The French Editions, I don't know how to answer that. I guess you—
I think you could, there's certainly no reason why you couldn't use those the same aggregator. You know, Draft2Digital hits all those markets, we can get you to the French market, for example, the Canadian market. But I think most aggregators will do that. I think Smashwords does that too. So yeah, you could have all those, they'd just be separate editions. They're not going to be the same edition of the book.
Carla King 43:10
So you need a new ISBN for that edition. So you need six ISBNs. You need—
Kevin Tumlinson 43:13
Which you can get for free from Draft2Digital, but some people feel you should go buy them. So Richard's back with another question. "From a categorization perspective, do we consider true travel stories as falling under nonfiction, or should we avoid that label?"
Carla King 43:30
Well, if it's fiction, it goes under fiction. If it's nonfiction, it goes under nonfiction. So travel—it's black and white, yes. I mean, a lot of, plenty of people fictionalize their travels, right? Whether they want to leave something out or exaggerate something. So you've got travel books that are "based on" this trip. So you can do that. Memoir often—people who are writing memoirs often write a novel instead and say "based on the life of," so clearly—
I don't think you're ever gonna have an instance where it can skirt the line, or cross the line. You know, I mean, it might skirt it a little, you might come close to fiction in your memoir.
Carla King 44:16
So this is a thing, and I think Linda Joy taught me this, in one of her seminars about memoir writing, is like, you mess with the timelines. But you can't mess with the facts. Because it's difficult, because—so, in American Borders, I feel like the narrative arc doesn't fall in the same place where it would with a novel, right? So you have the narrative arc, and you've got these things and everything culminates in disaster, and then your life is changed, right? You have this life-changing moment, and then happy or not so happy ending, right? So there's this arc, and mine comes sooner because all the disasters really kind of come in the first half of the book. And then It's more about personal reflection and all that in the second half. So if you—I mean, if I was a more skilled writer in 2004, when I wrote this, or put together these blog posts, I might have been able to manipulate the timeline so it followed the timeline of fiction. But I wouldn't make up stuff to make it more exciting. I would just manipulate that timeline. So that's still nonfiction. And you see that a lot with travel and memoir. In the front of the book, it says, I changed the names to protect the innocent or the guilty. And that some of the timeframes aren't exactly right. But what it is, is true.
Yeah. All right. Well, we're at time, we're gonna have to wrap up. But I really enjoyed having you on the program. I'm so glad you could join me.
Carla King 45:52
Yeah. Oh, I'm here, Kevin. Here we are.
Kevin Tumlinson 45:56
And be sure to check Carla out at carlaking.com, selfpubbootcamp.com, check out the San Francisco Writers' Conference and you know, just go to carlaking.com, you'll find probably all this stuff there. So hop over there. And while you're on the interwebs, and probably sitting on YouTube right now, and Facebook of course, make sure you subscribe to us on YouTube, make sure you follow us on Facebook, and bookmark D2Dlive.com so that you can be kept aware of whenever these little Spotlights are going on. Right now, through the summer, we're looking at doing one of these every single day. So tune in tomorrow at noon central for another D2D spotlight. Carla King, thank you so much for being a part of the show yet again
Carla King 46:42
Thank you, Mr. Kevin Tumlinson. I appreciate it.
You got it. All right, everybody. See you all next time