Challenge,  Fun Stuff,  Licensing,  publishing

Lots of Learning

Amazing Week of Conversations and Learning..

Pretty exhausted after four days of getting up very early. But wow was it worth it.

Major areas I have learned stuff about…

Kickstarter… I will be sharing a bunch of this over time as we test some of it out, and also sometime this winter I will be updating the free Kickstarter class with a bunch of new suggestions. I will alert you here and over that class when we get it done.

AI in Publishing. So, so many ways AI change indie publishing and our lives over the next five years. Art, audio, and text. Just amazing. I will do updates regularly here as I learn more.

Direct Sales… A lot of us are doing this in some fashion or another, some well, some not-so-well. But direct sales, good direct sales will have a ton of impact on all of us. One area direct sales will impact solidly (when done right) is in the licensing world. It is part of the road into licensing for all of us.

And that was just three main areas I ended up learning a ton on. I really love learning. Getting up early in the morning, not so much. But these last four days were worth it.




  • Tari


    I’ve been meaning to ask, Do you only work on one book at a time? I assume so but I wanted to know.

    Also, I want to try writing out of order. Do you ever do that?

    • dwsmith

      Yup, one book at a time, but no clue what you mean by writing out of order. You mean writing out of the order that a reader will read it? Sure, with every cycle in Writing into the Dark. I work towards what a reader will read, not hold myself in prison in the timeline a reader will read.

  • T Thorn Coyle

    Glad to read this takeaway, Dean, because it tracks what I’m studying, too! It’s nice confirmation that I’m exploring the right things.

    Now that Kickstarter is a stable part of my business plan, my intention is to finally get around to even more direct sales. I had Mal Cooper redesign my website this year, and she built direct sales into my new site. Now I just need to populate it and press Go. Meanwhile, I ordered Morgana Best’s Stop Making Others Rich on direct sales for authors. Bought it from her direct, of course:

    I’ve done a handful of GoogleAI audio books and intend to do more. IMO the voices are pretty good, and putting the books up takes all of 20 min total, including covers and minor corrections.

    For folks who attended 20Books, if you missed Paddy Finn’s Kickstarter talk, it’s a great one for mindset! Watch the replay. I got some great ideas from it. The KS talk with Russell and Oriana is also good, as was the panel.

    Didn’t get digital access? Look for the video replays on the 20Books YouTube channel in a few months. They plan to post there after those of us with early digital access have had time to go through the materials.

    • dwsmith

      Major connection between the two that I doubt most writers are seeing, since most writers have no clue what licensing even is, let alone copyright.

  • Lorri Moulton

    Dean, this is so exciting! Thank you for keeping us updated on the latest information. I appreciate all the help you give us with Kickstarter. And selling direct has a lot of potential! 🙂

  • Wes McBride

    I heard one AI venture capitalist describe AI as a “boulder that’s going to roll through everything.” So, I’m keenly interested in your thoughts about how to prepare for AI in publishing (and still keep the writing fun).

    I have a lot of artist friends and this has been the main topic of conversation over the last year. Right now, I’m leaning towards the doom and gloom side of AI unless serious legal and ethical protections are put in place soon.

    If you’re interested in using AI Art for publishing, you might be interested in Steven Zapata’s video essay (, and the Concept Art Association’s town hall on AI Art (

    These videos are from the artist perspective, but they do a great job of raising issues that will affect all creative pursuits. And I think its a conversation we’re not having at any real level in independent publishing.

    They also do a great job of explaining the difference between the way AI creates art and how a human artist creates art. Not remotely the same.

    I have lost track of how many writers I’ve heard say that AI is creating art just like human artists do. Or that AI “steals” the way artists do. Usually to justify using AI Art for their book covers.

    Artists steal like writers do. Artists study the artists they like and are influenced by them. I try to replace “artist” with “writer” when I’m thinking about this. Do I write by randomly cutting and pasting linked data points according to algorithms that determine character, setting, structure, story, voice, and style, all based on text input from an end user? Not currently.

    I think I’d rather outline a story sentence by sentence.

    I worry about legal precedents writers may help set by rushing to use AI Art for cover designs. During the Concept Art Association’s town hall, a representative from the U.S. Copyright Office said there’s no real legal difference between copyright for art, music, dance, coding, filmmaking, or writing. Or any other creation that can be copyrighted. Legal precedents in art and data laundering affect writing copyrights.

    There are some queasy legal and ethical issues that will need to be worked out at some point. AI developers are currently ignoring these issues, and dismissing people who raise them as luddites.

    Who knows which way future law (copyright, privacy, communications, etc.) will fall. Currently, you can’t copyright AI Art in the United States. But you can in China and Britain. And the rest of the world is a mix. So it’s going to be a terrible mess.

    I’m hoping for “AI tools” and not “machine creators” but that’s not the direction AI seems to be headed right now.

    But why automate all the fun stuff?

    • dwsmith

      Well, that was a lot. And interestingly, I heard all those same exact arguments when writers switched from typewriters to computers back in the late 1980s. I agree, the copyright issues are not settled and will not be for some time. But AI is a tool that will impact publishing, without a doubt. How it does will depend on each writer and indie publisher. In other words, stay tuned, keep an open mind, because with an open mind, learning is possible.

  • Mark Kuhn

    I have been having some really awesome results with AI art websites, especially for story idea kickers. On one story that was grinding to a halt, I entered some of the elements I had into an AI generator and it gave me one image that took my story into a whole new direction. Eerie, too, that the image gave me a place to move forward from where it got stuck. And the image would make a perfect cover, I think.

  • Kate Pavelle

    That’s all interesting stuff, Dean! Regarding AI art, I’d be comfortable using it commercially if I knew that the artists, whose work was used to teach the AI, were compensated. I don’t see how that’s anything close to using a word processor instead of a typewriter (and I’ve used both.) However, AI art is sure a lot of fun to play with just for fun.

    • dwsmith

      Kate, I was talking about AI writing. Interesting tool not there yet.

      AI art still has the artist side copyright issues, you are correct. A few AIs only used public domain to learn. Interesting art from them, that’s for sure.