Challenge,  publishing

Great Publishing Challenge

Something New…

For much of 2019 we have been doing two challenges, one for writing novels, one for writing short stories. And a lot of novels or short stories have come out of those challenges that I enjoyed reading. And over the years I have also challenged myself to get books into print and many of you have watched me do that.

So a new challenge that fits hand-in-hand with the Great Novel Challenge, The Great Short Story Challenge, and The Decade Ahead class. A challenge a little saner and a little crazier in the same breath. And again, the fee goes toward two workshop fees.

Kris and I have been talking about this one for a while and decided that 2020 was the perfect time to add this into the mix.

(And I promise, this is the last new thing, besides regular workshops, for a while.)

Here are the basics…

The Great Publishing Challenge is simply to publish a new book every month for 12 months.

What is a book?

— Novella over 20,000 words

— A novel

— A short story collection of five stories or more

— An omnibus of three or more novels or novellas

No genre limitations.

Rules of Turn-In

1…A link to the book on Amazon must be sent to me before the end of every month. (If you end up starting in the middle of the month, your due date for each book would always be a month from that date. That way it is possible to jump into the challenge at any time.) The link is so I can see it is published.

2… As soon as you can in the next month or so, you must mail me a paper copy of the book. (The link to your book being on sale is your deadline, but you must complete the publication process by mailing me a book to Dean Smith, PO Box 479, Lincoln City, OR 97367.)

3… Book must be published wide, meaning at least on Amazon, Kobo, and D2D. Kindle Select does not qualify. It must be wide.

4… Book must not have been published before. It can be written at any time in the past or during the year. This is a publishing challenge, not a writing challenge. But you can take it with one of the writing challenges if you like. (It actually fits really well with the Great Novel Challenge.)

The cost is $600.

(No credit, I am afraid. Can’t buy in with credit to get more credit.)

If you miss, at that point you get two regular online workshops or $600 credit toward any online teaching, such as Pop-Up series or lectures or classics or lifetime workshops.

So in essence, you are buying at least $600 credit, just as the other two challenges are.

If you get published all twelve books in a year, you get your choice of any Lifetime Subscription WMG Publishing has to offer.

Some Help…

Occasionally on Teachable I will post a publishing hint video. Each will be short, but over time they will add up to a lot of help on publishing books and how to think about continuing to publish into the future.

The Great Publishing Challenge Reward…

First, you have a new book of one sort or another published every month and making you money. That is a total win for both the year and for your future.

Second, if you hit 6 books published before missing, you get $900 in workshop credit.

Third, if you hit all 12 books published in one year and send me the paperbacks of each, you will have a credit for any Lifetime Subscription you would like. 

So, in summary…

The Great Publishing Challenge consists of the following…

— Your book must either be a novel, a novella, a short story collection, or a three-book omnibus.

— It can not be published before. But the short stories in a collection can be published already or the novels in an omnibus can already be published.

— Collections must be at least five stories long and have an introduction.

— Any genre.

— Novellas must be at least 20,000 words long.

— Omnibus must be at least three novellas or novels.

— If you miss, you instantly have credit for two workshops ($600 credit).

— If you publish six books before missing, you get three workshop credits ($900 credit).

— If you make it a full year and publish 12 books, you get your choice of any lifetime workshop.

— Cost is $600. (And yes, if you miss, you can buy back in and start over.)

— Challenge starts any time you tell me you want to start. (That date will be your deadline every month.)

But what a great way to start the new decade. Great incentive to get some of those books you have in a file up and published, or put some of those short stories you have been writing into collection.

This is a win/win/win challenge. Jump in, should be great fun!

Questions, write me or ask in the comments. Sign up on Teachable.


  • Meyari McFarland

    Oh, goodness. Would the books I’ve already got done from the Great Novel Challenge apply to this challenge or would I need additional books beyond them? Because oooooh, interesting and dovetails perfectly with my goals for 2020!

    • dwsmith

      Meyari, nope, those are published and I have some great-looking paperbacks I am reading. So nope. They can be written before the year, but not published.

      However, you could put three of those books from the Novel Challenge into an Omnibus and the Omnibus would count. (grin) Or you could do the Great Novel Challenge again and those new ones would count. (grin)

      • Meyari McFarland

        Ha! That’s what I figured but hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

        I am definitely going to think about this one. I’ve got several more Omnibus editions that I want to do and more than six more books I want to write for 2020. Fun stuff!

  • Kessie

    This is awfully tempting, but I have a baby due in June, so I know the second half of my year is shot already. I might try to do five or six books, though … I need to get back into publishing.

  • Nick Kotar

    What about novella-length nonfiction? I’ve got short books connected to my fiction series. “Historical stories that inspired my novels” that sort of thing. Would that count?

  • Kessie

    I posted a link to this article on a writing group I’m in. Somebody asked if this is even feasible, since editing is expensive and so is cover art. What should I tell them?

    • dwsmith

      Kessie, I would suggest running… (grin) That person is hopeless I’m afraid because they are so deep in the myths and uninformed.

      However, if you do want to help the person, suggest they Google “Roayalty free” art, places like DepositPhoto and so on. They can find cover art for anywhere from $1 to $20. As for editing, copyediting is very reasonable and yes we all need a copyeditor. The person who does most of mine worked locally in Lincoln City, is not a writer, and enjoys reading. We also found a couple at the local library. We also have a few writers who also copyedit and they know to not be too heavy. But not that expensive.

      We have had this discussion here a few times, to be honest, with people claiming it is expensive and they need to buy their covers done and things like that. I block much of it, to be honest because it sends the wrong message for writers moving into this new decade. I can say pretty clearly that if a writer doesn’t do their own covers and find a reasonable copyeditor who is reasonably priced, they won’t make it through this coming decade. That’s a prediction I want to be wrong on, but I see no signs that I will be.

      So don’t fight with the person on your list, just give a few suggestion, say 12 books is easy, and run. (grin)

      • Kessie

        Oh my goodness, yes. I told them your response and I’m being told “that’s not advisable for most authors”. I have to be careful who I give your advice to because people get so angry. I learned to do my own developmental editing and my own covers. If I can do it, anybody can.

        • dwsmith

          Yup, Kessie, so many writers have an emotional investment in the myths and a deep, deep fear of doing it themselves. For them, publishing is magic and they don’t feel capable of the magic. So yes, be careful. Better to just nod, and then keep doing what you are doing to be successful. Sadly, they will fall away. Can’t begin to tell you how many writers I have known over 40 years who flashed in, couldn’t get past their own demons and myths, and vanished. Thousands. Sadly. But nothing you or I can do to help them. And it always shows by anger and defense. So caution is right. (grin)

  • Jamie

    I’ve been planning on taking the Short Story and Novel challenge in 2020.

    If I start them all concurrently, (somewhat crazy,) am I allowed to “double-up” with this Challenge?

    The way I see it, the first couple of months will be a messy dash, but after that, it seems the Publishing Challenge is basically a “free challenge” if you’re doing both the others already.

    With the Short Story Challenge, you have 8 shorts every two months. (so a short story collection plus extras.)
    And with the Novel Challenge, a novel every two months.

    So each of these stories contributes to half the total required for The Great Publishing Challenge. Only issue is getting ahead of the challenge for month one and staying ahead of it.

    It seems incredibly daunting, but I got a nice new diary for Christmas and most of my worries are on scheduling as opposed to the “Will I be able to do it?”

    Plus, winning the treble seems like something worthy of writing about itself.

    • dwsmith

      Jamie, you sure can do all three at the same time if you want. But might want to stick with the writing ones as you said for the first two months, then bring in the publishing side. And besides, the novel one has a publishing requirement with it, so that will help as well. There is six books as it stands, half of the other challenge. And trust me, you get that up and running and you will have a fantastic start into the new decade, that’s for sure.

  • Maggie King

    Hi Dean! I’m signed up for the Publishing Challenge and wanted to clarify something. You said to publish wide by going with Amazon, Kobo and Draft2Digital. When I put my book on D2D it said it includes Kobo…so I don’t need to do Kobo separately, right? Thank you! ~ Maggie

    • dwsmith

      Maggie, a huge advantage to do Kobo on its own. They have a ton of promotions and other things you can do. Just click it off on D2D, just as you would click off Amazon.

      So go direct to Kobo. It’s easy.