Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

#9 Pop-Up Free

The Author Problem… Pop-Up #9 on Teachable…

I recorded it about four weeks ago before things went crazy with life, and so when I went back to put it up, it dawned on me that just about all writers need to hear this one. So we decided to make it free.

And there is a story prompt for you to do a story from. Just don’t send this story in.

I also loaded the first five of the twelve videos from the Pop-Up on YouTube. But the only place you can see all 12 videos is on Teachable.

And speaking of new stuff on Teachable, we moved four regular workshops to Classic Status. We needed to make room in the regular monthly schedules for new workshops like the Emotion one that is going on right now.

So the four that are now in Classic status are:


–Writing Fantasy


–Writing Mystery

For you folks who are lifetime subscribers, I left the old regular workshops there in case you wanted to do the assignments, plus added the classic ones as well. So both of each workshop are in your subscription. (So only way to get me to respond to assignments on those four workshops now is be a lifetime subscriber.)

So here is the first video from Pop-Up #9… The Author Problem.

Get all the videos free on Teachable.



  • Harvey

    Dean, this is incredibly generous of you.

    You’re a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, only you carry writing knowledge in your bag. And the bag has a small hole in one corner.

    So everytime you stop at a planned location to plant a particular seed (a workshop or lecture), a few other bits of knowledge drop out through the hole as well.

    I’ve yet to get less than promised from any of your workshops or lectures, and I get more than promised almost every time when my knowlege grows from those extra few seeds that drop.

    So on behalf of myself and the writers who follow my own blogs, thank you. Shared widely.

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, Harvey. Just trying to help writers like so many of the great names, now sadly gone, helped me. The last of my major mentors just died this week. Gene Wolfe was there helping us when Kris and I met. Gene Wolfe, Jack Williamson, Fred Pohl, Algis Budrys, Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, and Harlan Ellison. I was lucky enough to have them all help me early on and they are all now sadly gone. So I just hope that if I do help some writers, they pass it on to the next generation as well. All any of us can do.

      • Harvey

        I was fortunate to study for one semester under Jack Williamson in ENMU Portales just before he went to Professor Emeritus status.

        I got to see his library/office in his home. It was wonderful, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, chock full of one copy of each novel he’d written in every language into which it was translated. I wouldn’t trade for that time.

        He even gave me a copy of a collection of his short stories (People Machines), each accompanied by an essay explaining a technique, and gave me permission to reprint those essays in my (now long-defunct) Roswell Literary Review. Great man.

        • dwsmith

          Yeah, we reprinted them as well in 1987 in the first few issues of Pulphouse. Great stuff. He truly was a great man, of that there was no doubt.

  • Emilia

    Your videos need a “don’t drink/eat while watching” warning. I would choked on my coffee had I been drinking during the “horse’s ass” parts XD

  • Kate Pavelle

    Thank you, that’s very useful! It’s kind of like having the Publisher Problem when “writing to market” thoughts intrude as the story unfolds… but in reverse.
    (Also, this series features Dean in his iconic long hair 🙂 )

  • J.M. Ney-Grimm

    Great series of videos! Thank you!

    You hit so many experiences I’ve had right on the nose.

    From 2011 to 2018 I wrestled with what genre a few of my books were. Were they epic fantasy? Were they historical fantasy? Had to be one of those two. Well, no. Last spring I saw a good 30 books by other authors that mine clearly belonged amongst. What were they? Fairy tale fantasy. Ha! After 7 years I finally have those books correctly labeled for genre.

    My latest novel, just released it last month, has 2 POV characters. When I wrote it, I thought the 45-year-old woman was the main character. Nope. Every reader who has read the book knows that it’s the 15-year-old girl who is the main character! So, yeah, the story in my head was obviously different from the story on the page.

    I especially loved what you said about sales expectations. Very timely reminder for me. I’ve been letting such expectations creep in and erode my confidence. Time to banish them!

    • dwsmith

      Yup, of all the Author Problems, sale expectations might be the deadliest by far. It can actually stop you from writing if you take it in long enough or deeply enough. Thanks!

  • Indiana Jim

    It would be interesting hearing of more cases like Burroughs where Authors did not capitalize on their property but someone else did later. Could be a series on your YouTube channel!