The Ebook Conference Bubble Shall Soon Burst!

I am not making this crap up:

In this exclusive, weeklong, all-workshop cruise, only 30 attendees will have the opportunity to learn everything
they need to succeed with self-publishing, author platform, podcasting and social media from these experts:

April L. Hamilton

April L. Hamilton

POD Self-Publishing

Joshua Tallent

Joshua Tallent

Ebook Publishing

  Seth Harwood

Seth Harwood

Podcasting For Authors, Author Platform

Kirk Biglione & Kassia Krozser

Author Platform,
Social Media For Authors

Even better:

*tax deductible for U.S. citizens who file a schedule C or business tax return as authors – please see a tax professional for more information

(GLWT.  I just got audited a few months back, and they’re cracking down, hard, on the self-employed, to raise taxes and further subsidize the sort of person it is whose job is to tell the public where it can and cannot smoke outside. Problem with a “knowledge event” like this is you won’t be earning any money in your business if you think The Kindle Formatter! and other usual suspects have anything to say that might actually sell a book… while if you are actually making money in publishing, the agent’ll focus in, laser-like, on non-business-related expenses.)

On the plus side, cruise is freestyle dining, so at least you could get away from ebook people for a while.

About dmoynihan

Me here.
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  • April L. Hamilton

    As an organizer of this event, I’m very puzzled by your mention of it here.
    The workshop cruise is not an ebooks event, only one of the workshop speakers will be addressing ebooks:

    “In this session, Joshua Tallent of and Ebook Architects will show you how to format your manuscript for ebook publication and take you step by step through the process of publishing your book in Kindle format and making it available for sale in Amazon’s Kindle store using Amazon’s Digital Text Platform.”

    It’s pretty straightforward, there are no overblown claims there. And this is something which many self-publishing authors need to, and want to, learn. The other sessions are on self-publishing in print and podcast formats, author platform and social media.

    I’m not clear on why you’ve singled out this specific event for criticism, particularly from an ebooks point of view, but I’d be happy to answer any questions or concerns you have about it.

  • dmoynihan

    Two reasons:

    1. As a regular exhibitor at book festivals, I’m greeted by dozens of hopeful writers and likely future self-publishers. My advice to them is: spend no money, start with Lulu/CreateSpace (paying only $10 or so to get a single proof), and then see how it goes, but under no circumstances get involved with “experts” (like the one at that booth over there!) who do nothing for the writer. In this context, a “cruise event” for self-publishers is a new low.

    2. For ebooks, man, name authors like Lawrence Block have, despite no prior training or agent’s blessing, somehow figured out how to get their titles into the Kindle store without any expert assistance. They can (and do!) make improvements. The concept of a professional kindle formatter is particularly ludicrous, given that Mr. Block is not alone (I know of a few folks in smut doing similar things), and any costs associated with such nonsense will be complained about bitterly in future royalty negotiations.

  • April L. Hamilton

    dmoynihan -
    It might surprise you to learn that I’m with you on advising self-publishing authors against paying for services they don’t need.

    To put my money where my mouth is on that, I’ve made the entirety of my how-to book on self-publishing, The Indie Author Guide, available for free viewing from cover to cover on my website (link is embedded in my name, above) for many months now, and have given away hundreds of electronic copies of the book as well. All the information authors need to go totally DIY on everything from publishing for the Kindle to book promotion is there in those 300pp, presented in plain English, step-by-step directions. And nobody even has to sign up or provide an email address to have access to the book. If this is some sort of author-victimization scheme on my part, I’m obviously going about it all wrong since I’m not even accumulating a mailing list as a result of the giveaway. ;’ )

    However, some self-publishers want more personalized instruction than they get from just reading a book. I’m not one of those, I’m definitely the type that prefers to learn from books and experimentation on my own. But after speaking to attendees at conferences where I’ve spoken, as well as with self-publishers online, I’ve come to see that plenty of self-publishers truly *want* more of a workshop or classroom experience and many of them have asked me to offer it.

    Of course, there are expenses involved in putting on such an event, and speakers must be compensated for their time, travel and effort just the same as any other teacher. Given that pretty much all of us are tightening our belts and looking for ways to economize these days, the notion of combining a weeklong vacation with an intensive author workshop series seems like a great way to kill two expense birds with one stone.

    Those who want the workshop/classroom experience can look into the cruise. Those who don’t can avail themselves of my book for free.

    I’d be happy to answer any additional questions or concerns you have about the event.

  • dmoynihan

    See, now, I get that you’re, you know, Our Benevolent Lady of Self-Publishing, and it’s entirely an altruistic journey for you. And, fine.

    I’ll go further. I did once tell a man, in violation of my own strict Keep It In Your Wallet, Dude policy, to spend a bit more for his efforts. However the guy had means, and an apartment full of Old Testament proverbs, in Spanish and English, beautifully illustrated by himself, that he’d had made in America by Union Labor. I’d've driven him personally to the Miami Book Festival, just to see something sell on a Friday there. ‘Cuz we are talking demographic killer, and $7 Pennyworth remainders or no, you can get full price on the main drag with the right book. Which he freaking had.

    But I earned nothing for my efforts, save blank looks at my extreme enthusiasm for his future travel. On the other hand, your chosen profession, profiting from the dreams of others without any guarantee of result, is just a tiny step removed from the (also entirely altruistic) Get Out of Debt Fast! credit card “counselors” who keep interrupting my sports talk radio with their spiel about books, tapes and workshops. And in these difficult economic times, people are latching onto their dreams as a way out, and not coincidentally are quite vulnerable to every possible scam or unnecessary overpay.

    So, you know, I understand, in the future they’ll be burning Overnight Prints 5×8 postcards to your memory each year. But a cruise (that people must Sign Up Now! for) is still in poor taste.

  • April L. Hamilton

    dmoynihan -
    My chosen profession isn’t profiting from the dreams of others. If it were, would I be giving away my book for free despite the fact that it’s also being offered for sale in print and e editions? Just because *some* people and companies are dishonest and predatory, it doesn’t automatically follow that *all* are.

    I’m not saying I’m some kind of selfless saint, but neither am I a predator of my fellow authors. When I hear someone raising an objection to this or that author service or event solely on the grounds that it’s too expensive for a lot of authors, I always ask, “What’s the alternative then? Should no one be allowed to offer services and events to authors unless they offer them free of charge and pay attendees’ travel expenses too?”

    I paid over $1000 to fly to NYC earlier this year for the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference, and hundreds more in expenses once the plane set down. The trip was a real financial hardship for me, but I don’t fault the O’Reilly people for that. They’re putting on an event, it costs what it costs, and I’m free to either go or stay home. I decided it was worth the expense and I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m not going next year because I can’t afford it. If I *could* afford it, I’m sure I would come away feeling it was money well-spent because it’s a fantastic event.

    When I can’t afford a writers’ event, I don’t jump to the conclusion that event organizers are taking advantage of attendees and reaping huge margins. By that logic, the Maui Writers Conference should be shut down immediately because I’ve never been able to afford that event, and neither can any authors with whom I’m personally acquainted.

    All I can do, is do my best to be inclusive. At the higher-cost end of the spectrum, there’s this workshop cruise. At the far opposite end, there’s free access to my book. In between the two extremes, there are print and electronic editions of my book offered for sale at prices ranging from $3-$24. I’ve done all I can to ensure I’m not excluding anyone who wants the information and instruction I have to offer, regardless of their financial situation, preference for learning from a book or a class, or even their format preferences in books.

    If, in light of all this, you still choose to believe I’m some sort of charlatan, I’m pretty sure nothing I could say or do will ever convince you otherwise.

  • dmoynihan

    Well, you have me on one thing. As mentioned in the post, I did have a five-hour chat this summer with agents from the Department of the Treasury about certain business practices and recordation of same. Given that I’ve used the Depreciation for Mileage to deduct $15-20,000 every year since ’05, I am now strongly encouraged to only go to those book events where I can show an actual business purpose, and, hopefully, a profit, something I achieved at all shows this year save Philly (and Philly was limited out-of-pocket… just, you know, for all the coolness of the Sixth Borough, they have a Burlington Coat Factory in their glamorous downtown mall…)

    So no, I don’t personally go to conferences unless I can sell out a mixture of new titles and remainders at $5-10 per. Also, the host city should really have a solid bar scene, or at least a major league baseball facility I haven’t visited yet. Or, in the case of Lexington, KY, a unique resource.

    On the plus side, I do know enough about economy travel to let on that, hey, if you’d stayed in Murray Hill for TOC, you could have gotten a decent hotel for under $50 a night with taxes that time of year, remained on the island, and only been a subway stop or two away.

    But if you want me not to think of you as a charlatan, you really ought not go citing TOC and how valuable it was. You’re talking about an event that, rather than advise (altruistically), publishers and authors of a future, instead attempted to create the narrative–last year with an “open” ebook standard employing mandatory overpriced Adobe DRM and Bowker Identifiers–but, oh, DRM is bad, yet somehow Adobe sponsors us… This year, it’s some kind of overly-jargoned method of distribution as a hook. They’re literally making this shit up and coordinating the message like global warming zealots, only to, of course, shift on a dime (by jumping into Amazon’s Kindle store the minute the conference is over.)

    And I resent and abhor them, because they make my life harder. Their “vision,” really nothing more than a marketing pitch, has become a “truth” for the clueless. So oooh, maybe a new variant of RSS Will Change Everything! It Could Be! Or at least, this year’s layoffs might be a smaller percentage of total staff! The core business hasn’t faded that much, has it?

    As to how much the event made them? A cool million, easy, and their VP was here explaining it all away on excess food costs. So now the former JupiterMedia is jumping on the bandwagon, and so’s DigitalBookWorld, and, oh yeah, you, with the boat.

    Doll, I’d add, co-hosting your event with Biglione and Krozser don’t exactly add credibility. I mean, the pair were themselves Expert on the myriad ways of the New Publishing Paradigm, and they started a little indie company (with significant financial backing the like of which none of us get), and then the first little blip came up with their business plan, they curled up like a bitch, took a week off to hide, and are now back to their stated goals of Helping Others For a Fee.

    Jes’ like you.

  • Mike Cane

    >>>learn everything they need to succeed


  • April L. Hamilton

    Yes, succeed in producing a quality print book, ebook or podcast and marketing it as effectively as possible, given the individual author’s resources and comfort levels with various types of publishing and marketing.

    Nobody’s promising bestsellerhood or fame and riches here. I’m always very upfront in my blog, talks and The Indie Author Guide that being a published author is no guaranteed—or even likely!—route to fame and fortune, regardless of who published you. The question of how much you stand to earn on your book ultimately comes down to three things: the quality of your writing, the quality of your presentation, and the quality and quantity of your marketing effort. I have no control over, nor even input to, item #1, but this event is designed to help self-publishing authors ensure they’re on track with #2 and #3.

    Many people like to accuse anyone offering goods or services to self-published authors of taking advantage of those authors, of pumping up hopefuls with false promises of financial success. There are plenty of scams out there, but it might surprise you to learn that authors who have stars in their eyes about the mainstream route have been sold a bill of goods that rivals anything being perpetrated on self-publishers. In a way, it’s worse because the conspiracy of silence among mainstream-published authors perpetuates the myth that financially, the mainstream route is both safer and smarter.

    Perhaps you haven’t seen it, but multiple NYT-bestselling author Lynn Viehl has gone public with her royalty statements, and a few others have followed her lead, and the financial picture there is shocking. It turns out that even if you succeed in getting an agent, getting a mainstream contract with a major publisher, AND hit the NYT bestseller list, MULTIPLE times, you can only expect to earn wages on par with being a McDonald’s burger joint manager. And I’m not doing that math where you calculate how long it took to write and workshop your book, get representation and eventually sell the rights, this is just talking about from the time the contract was signed until 12 months after the book debuted on the NYT list. (Scroll down to the comments to get links to other authors’ posted earnings data)

    The only authors who’ve gotten wealthy off their advances and royalties are those who’ve become cultural phenomena, usually with cottage industries of movies and merchandise growing up around them, or were a cultural phenomenon before their books were ever published (e.g., Sarah Palin). We all realize that the only popular musicians who are getting rich are those who’ve had such sustained and broad success that they’ve become household names the world over. Yet there’s this assumption among aspiring authors that once you’ve been published by a major imprint—never mind even making the NYT list—your career in authorship is set and you can quit your day job. It’s just not true.

    So, given that when you decide to become an author you have to go into it knowing it is never likely to pay big financial dividends, your motivations for doing it have to be about the work and reaching a readership. You can often accomplish your goals in that area much more quickly and efficiently by self-publishing, but only if you know how to produce a quality product and how to properly promote it to your target audience. That’s all that the workshop cruise is about.

  • Mike Cane

    You act as if this is all frikkin new to me, April.

    But “succeed” has implications. Ask any lawyer.

  • bowerbird

    hey, david, i think you’re being a bit harsh on april.

    aside from toc — and did you see the video of that?;
    they almost forgot to let april say anything at all, so
    she paid dearly for the one minute they let her talk –
    and this ill-advised cruise (which i suspect she’s doing
    merely so she can deduct a nice cruise from her taxes),
    her track record isn’t all that bad…

    april follows the win-friends-and-influence-people
    strategy — as far as i can tell, which is why she has
    generally enacted a “no-talk” policy towards me –
    which is why she sucks up to the current group of
    charlatans (since she thinks they control the power),
    but she doesn’t strike me as nearly as manipulative
    or calculating as some of the other jerks in that circle.

    of course, there _is_ her association with everpub…

    but still, i think there are much better targets out there.


  • April L. Hamilton

    Bowerbird -
    Why do you think I’ve enacted a “no talk” policy toward you? I haven’t been active on Authonomy for a very long time, if that’s what you mean, but when I left I announced it, so no one would think I was ignoring them if I was no longer responding to anything there. I don’t think I’ve had any emails from you since then, so I’m not sure why you think I’m refusing to talk to you.

    RE: the cruise, I’ve organized it for precisely the reasons laid out here, not just to write off a cruise on my taxes. If that’s all I wanted, all I’d need do is write a novella about, or taking place on, a cruise afterward and self-publish it (for free) to the Kindle. The point of it is to provide useful, intensive workshops in a cruise setting so busy & budget-conscious attendees can kill two birds (vacation writers’ workshop) with one stone.

    RE: Everpub, I’m curious: what are your concerns about it?

    Finally, who are the charlatans to whom you believe I’m sucking up, and why do you think I’m sucking up to them? I don’t think anyone “holds the power” where self-publishing is concerned, other than the authors who are doing it. That’s kind of the whole point of self-publishing. =’)

  • dmoynihan

    You cannot expect me to watch video of TOC when the complete Rocky & Bullwinkle is to be found in Hulu.

  • bowerbird

    april said:
    > Why do you think I’ve enacted
    > a “no talk” policy toward you?

    just my impression… i could be wrong…

    but it would be smart of you to enact one,
    because much of the twitter circle-jerk has.
    so, you know, just to be on their good side.

    > can kill two birds… with one stone.

    gotta be efficient with that bird-killing, yep.

    > RE: Everpub, I’m curious:
    > what are your concerns about it?

    the cost-benefit ratio looks shaky to me.

    and i have a general distrust of middlemen.

    especially since nobody knows what works.

    and there is a lot of shakeout still to come.

    just my impression… i could be wrong…


    > Finally, who are the charlatans
    > to whom you believe I’m sucking up

    well, you know, if you could find parking
    here in west los angeles, then we could go
    to lunch, and i could tell you all of that…

    short of that, look at your twitter-stream
    and see what names pop up, and then
    answer yourself about why you follow ‘em.

    just my impression… i could be wrong…


    david said:
    > the complete Rocky & Bullwinkle

    well, there is that, yes…


  • April L. Hamilton

    Bowerbird -

    When you invited me to come out to Santa Monica to meet with you for lunch and chat, I responded that since I have two kids and I’m responsible for managing the office for my husband’s business, I rarely get out there. It’s about an hourlong drive for me each way, longer if I’m fighting traffic.

    However, I *was* in Santa Monica about a month ago to do an interview and tweetup, and I tweeted about it like crazy, inviting anyone and everyone who wanted to join me to come to a certain pub on a certain day and at a certain hour. You didn’t attend.

    RE: Everpub, while *I* prefer to do as much as I can myself, rather than paying middlemen for services, I can’t dictate what’s right for everyone else. As a retired software engineer/web developer, I find whipping up a website, working social media and the like come very easily to me, but I’m an unusual case. Most authors and aspiring authors don’t have all the same tech skills I do, and for many of them, their only shot at getting a quality, professional-looking web presence going is to pay for it.

    RE: Twitter, there are four reasons I choose to follow someone on Twitter. If they don’t fit into one of the following categories, I don’t follow them.
    1) family member/personal friend
    2) writing/publishing associate (e.g., people I’m actively working with on a current project)
    3) person who consistently tweets links of interest to writers and/or publishers
    4) person who consistently tweets info or links that is/are amusing, informative or fascinating

    I don’t see how that counts as “sucking up”, or that the people in those categories count as “charlatans”.