On Writing,  publishing

Freedom in This New Publishing World

The Responsibility of What to Do Next…

Friday night about twenty professional fiction writers will gather from all over the Northwest at WMG offices for three hours of business and writing discussions. Without fail I know I will come away from the gathering with more things to do. Exciting things.

New, shiny things…

And thus back to the topic from last night about always being behind and figuring out ways to deal with it.

The second part of last night’s post is the responsibility of choice.

I have talked in various ways here this last year about the wonderful freedom the new world of publishing gives writers in all sorts of ways. But when it comes to being behind, we also have the freedom to decide to let it overwhelm us or to enjoy it.

We pick what to do next. We decide what we can do and shift schedules when things take longer or life gets in the way. Me make the decisions.

It’s all on each of us. No one else to blame.

And thus comes some of the pressure. If there is no one to blame for not getting something done, then you feel more pressure to do it.

All of it. Every bit of it.

Right now!

But flip that pressure on its head and wrestle it to the ground and stare down at it.

The more you stare at it, really look at it, the more you come to realize that the pressure is made up. All the stress is just you thinking you NEED to do it all to some artificial deadline you created in your own mind.

But… but… Absolutely NEED!!! TO!! DO!! IT!! RIGHT!!! NOW!!!

And if it doesn’t get done, the world will end, your career will be over, life as you know it will vanish and your cat will get sick.

Uh, no.

If you don’t get that one thing done life will go on, your books will continue to sell, and your cat won’t get sick. (But you might if you continue that level of exclamation-point-stress.)

Now to the aspect of freedom.

You have the freedom in this new world to decide to not be that stressed. At least not every day for years at a time.

Your freedom, your business, your choices.

The control I talked about last night is just one way to get this feeling (of being behind and needing to do everything now) under control. But before you can even start those kinds of lists, you have to completely and totally understand the decision is all yours.

Now this understanding of responsibility is damn near impossible for those of us trained in the old traditional world. Those old deadlines were real and career threatening, so when we have deadlines in this new world, that trained feeling from the old world moves over to the new deadlines. Bamn!  Stress!


I fall back into that feeling of panic and stress all the time. As I said last night, I am talking to myself here. I know where it’s all coming from, I know my own history.

But slowly I am shifting that old belief with the belief that I have the freedom to decide for myself what I do, what is important, what I can let slide, and what just flat isn’t right for me.

So tomorrow night (I am sure) I will learn all sorts of new stuff. Get that many dedicated professionals together in this new world and you can’t help but not learn new stuff.

But I have the choice to add the new stuff to my list or not. Or put it on a list for the future, which is constantly shifting and growing and shrinking sometimes on a daily basis.

The choice for me is on me. That is my freedom.

You all have the same freedom for your own work and business. How you decide to use that freedom is up to you.

Have fun.


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  • Vera Soroka

    I would love to be a fly on the wall to listen to all the discussions. I would be curious, does all these professional writers make a living with their writing? Or is it just a handful of you all? Just wondering.

    • dwsmith

      All are well-published. Past that, other than a few around town I talk with, I don’t know how much people make. But got a hunch with this bunch, there are some large numbers. (grin) Numbers of us were selling novels in traditional and are now only indie with our own companies.

  • Harvey

    There’s an old saying, Dean. Something like “Change occurs when the fear of the status quo becomes greater than the fear of the learning curve.”

    Something like that.

    Great post.

  • Patrick R

    Echoing Harvey – yes, very interesting blog. Also great to see this other aspect, though ‘Part 2’ discussion.

    You (and many) discuss end-of-year reviewing and new year planning. Seems that the pace of review/plan is faster, the frequency more often. More flexibility in self-love with energetic pushing, being open to opportunity as it arises and also listening to what creatively interests – how the creative Voice wants to play.

    I wonder if this is what classic entrepreneurs deal with in their constant juggle and advancing and playing. Writers shifting (or are offered the potent to…) to that and away from rigidity of external deadlines and systems of purely tradition, almost employee-like past.

    Good to hear your ‘thoughts’!

    • dwsmith

      Patrick, yes, it is more often. Sometimes almost daily or weekly on certain levels, quarterly and yearly on larger goal stuff. But yes, far more frequently.

  • Giles Becker

    Just looking for some help here. I am trying to join the great new e-book movement of independent publishers/writers but I need the name of a trustworthy business who will help me get my e-books up on Createspace and Kindle. I can’t seem to do it on my own. I have tried one firm but I think I am being ripped off — three months and $1500 and it is still not up. Help!

    • dwsmith

      Giles… What can’t you do? Anyone can do this with a little learning. Not kidding.

      Pay no more money. Stop. And write me off list privately who you are trying to work with. My contact info is at the top.

      Folks, can you give Giles a few good web sites who have the basics of formatting and loading books. I think Maggie Lynch did one but I haven’t looked, just heard.

      Giles, indie means doing it yourself. Sure, we all hire out parts at times, but rarely starting out past the first book, maybe. So caution. Write me.

    • J. D. Brink

      The Vigilante in me would like 10 minutes alone with the folks who took that money from you…
      Like Dean said (and has probably explained further off-line), you can do all that yourself. It’s just a matter of formatting. Both sites, KDP and Createspace, have resources/instructions on them on how to format your word docs (or whatever you’re using). Then you just upload and go.
      If you have the will power to get entire books written, formatting and converting is a breeze. Like Dean says, just takes a little learning more time. But saves you a heck of a lot of money.

    • Alexa

      Cover to Upload at covertoupload.com, in my experience, provides excellent service. Great work, quick turnaround time, and reasonable prices. Some of my upcoming covers are included in her cover examples. I would highly recommend!

  • D J Mills

    Sounds like fun listening to your group discussion.

    In fact, my To Do List has “Start Indie Writer/Publishing Group in my Area!” Along with “Finish Current Series, edit same, publish” and then “Update Pub List and Details for Will”. And “Take a month to write short stories like Dean did!” Also other things like “Do Taxes.”

    All fun things to do when i get around to them. 🙂

    • Ed Ryan


      Check out David Graughan’s Let’s get Digital ebook and go to Joanna Penn’s thecreativepenn.com for help.

      I think let’s get digital is $2.99 and the thecreativepenn.com has loads of info.

      Mark Coker has a good amount of free help on the Smashwords site and Draft2Digital.com has blogs with free help.

      Dean is 100% right – you should never pay anyone to format and upload your books to kindle, Itunes, createspace etc…

      post any questions you have (with Dean’s ok!) or email me and I can point you in the right direction.


      Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has also just begun integrating paperback into their dashboard which mimics the createspace process.

      Draft to Digital can convert all of your files and allows you to download them in any format for free. As you get more experienced you may want to do things yourself, but just starting out, their services are a good spring board.

      Reach out for help – and pay for NOTHING until you understand everything and are fully aware of what you are paying for. The quick and dirty rule is – Pay for covers and line edits – do everything else yourself until you make so much money your time is too valuable to do it yourself and then hire help from folks with good track records and references.

      $1500 is criminal to format and upload books.

  • Linda Maye Adams

    This struck a chord with me. At my day job, I get pummeled by deadlines every month. Worse, they keep increasing and border on unrealistic and vindictive. Often they are changed midway through the month, so I have to redo work. If submit it incomplete, I get sneered at because my boss should hire more people in the middle of a hiring freeze; if I don’t submit it, a very senior boss gets contacted. One of the deadlines is so short notice each month that I have to drop everything to do it–and it never comes out on the same day and has been known to come out the day before Thanksgiving.

    So this year, I finally decided that I can’t deal with deadlines on the writing side. I don’t need to do to me what everyone else is doing to me. I’ve got some things on the list–like your newsletter–that have been sitting a while. At the moment, my gut is saying that the most important thing is to produce novel-length fiction. I’m about to finish Book 2 in a series and start on Book 3. That’s on the list, too–and bundle all three into a bigger book.

  • Giles Becker

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Much appreciated. I don’t mind paying but I have to find a reputable firm or person, known and trusted. Just emailed DWS with all my troubles. Thanks again! Giles

    • Harvey

      Giles, on my website at HarveyStanbrough.com, click Free Stuff tab, then scroll down to The Essentials of Digital Publishing. It covers formatting and uploading to various venues. And it’s free in PDF. Other stuff there too.