Say No To Accusatory Marketing

I just logged into my in box and there was an email in there with the headline, “Why aren’t you watching?” I assume if I were to actually click on the email it would have suggested a specific show that I absolutely must watch right now lest I be considered uncool or out of touch.

But I am very happily binge-watching Cold Case and Without a Trace right now, thank you very much, and do not need someone coming at me with accusations about what I should be watching instead.

A while back I received a snarky little email from someone trying to sell me on paying them to run my AMS ads. It named one of my books and pointed out that the book (which was not the first book in the series and had been out for three years) was just outside of the top 100 listing for its category, and then said something about wouldn’t I like to pay someone who could get me an ACoS under X%? The implication of course being that I was failing miserably at doing so myself.

I don’t remember who sent it because I was like, “wow, yeah, fuck you,” and immediately blocked them.

The problem is, that kind of thing works on a lot of people. There are advertisers out there who will make you feel bad about yourself to get your money.

They will imply you are a failure. They will play to your insecurities. They will make you question yourself or your choices. They will make you feel like you’re not “in” if you aren’t paying for whatever they’re selling.

Don’t let them do that to you. Look for brands that are trying to help, that want to share their joy. That want to lift you up. Buy because someone is offering you a positive experience not because they made you feel like shit.

And if someone does make you feel horrible and less than and you really do feel like you need to buy something to fix it, go to their competitor and buy from them instead. Because the sad fact of this world is that if something works, even if it’s negative and destructive, people will keep doing it. So don’t reward that type of approach. Please.

Even More Random Thoughts

First off, it’s Thanskgiving here in the United States. Canada had theirs last month I think it was and I’m not really sure about the rest of the world. But I think it’s good to have a day where you stop and take stock of the things that are going well and that you acknowledge what you do have as opposed to what you want.

Far too often we get fixated on what we don’t have. Or what we’d like to have. Or what we’re striving for.

And Goals are good, don’t get me wrong. I am all for forward progress.

But it’s easy to miss what’s there already. The family, the friends, the pets, the home, the hobbies, the job that isn’t your forever job but that you actually like, the peace, the money in your bank account. Any of which could be gone tomorrow.

So take a moment, even if you’re not American, and count up your blessings.

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about a few concepts.

One is the idea of incremental improvement versus exponential improvement. The last few years I’ve seen a steady 15% increase in profit each year. But a few years back I had a 700% increase in profit year-over-year and going even further back I had a 2200% increase in profit one year.

Why the difference? Why did I see such a big jump in certain years, but not in others.

Simple. In those big years I made a drastic shift. Both involved writing something completely new.

Ironically, the 2200% increase was one I didn’t stick with. It wasn’t for me long-term so I didn’t build on it.

But I kept writing and trying new things and then had the 700% increase year.

(Quick comment here: Not everything new that you try will do that. You have to not only try something new, but have it “hit” to some degree compared to where you were.)

Now here’s the trick, though.

I think one the hardest business choices to make is to be at a point where you’re making that steady 15% more profit per year on something that’s “good” but you’re not where you want to be.

Taking that leap into the new and unknown to see if you can find the 700% market instead is not an easy decision to make. Because you often have to sacrifice the “good” path to get to the “great” path.

Earlier this year there was a Wharton talk I listened to. Can’t remember if I mentioned it already. But it included the guy who started SkinnyPop. And one of the things he mentioned is that he didn’t start with SkinnyPop.

He started with a gourmet popcorn idea that was profitable but not at the level he wanted. So he and his business partner took the risk of working on a new line of healthy popcorn. When that new product started to show promise they sold off the old business even though it was doing fine.

That old business is still viable, but it wasn’t a $320 million business, which is what the founders were able to sell SkinnyPop for.

So when do you set aside the viable business for the shot at the superstar business? Do you make the leap? Maybe that leap is jumping right off a cliff? Maybe a little patience would’ve transformed the original idea into something that was enough.

Because note that the guy isn’t running that business anymore. If what he really wanted was a storefront where he interacted with happy customers every day, that man actually didn’t succeed.

Which is sort of a secondary thought to the whole incremental vs. exponential growth question.

And leads me into my final area of thought these days.

Because at the same time I’ve been thinking about revenue and profitability and all of that jazz, my mind has also been on a completely track. (My mind often operates on about four levels at once but usually one whole level is music, because I’m weird. Anyway.)

A while back I read The Hero Within by Carol S. Pearson and it felt like that next step past CliftonStrengths for me. (That’s an affiliate link to Amazon by the way, but you can find it on all major retailers.)

For those of you familiar with Strengths, I know I will always be a Strategic-Achiever-Learner-Relator.

Put me in any context and that is who I am at my core. I am that person who will quickly learn what it takes to survive and then set about doing so while only bringing a limited number of people into my inner circle.

I don’t have to win, I’m not high Competition, but I do have to survive. (It’s part of the reason I have to be careful what environments I put myself in.)

I accept that wisdom I gained from Strengths. But it seemed to me there should be more to the story.

Because who I was at twenty-five and what I valued is not who I am at forty-five and what I value.

I have even found myself at times feeling very uncomfortable in conversations with friends who are currently where I have been.

For example, I met a friend for a meal a while back who was in a power struggle at work. And I knew that five years ago I would’ve reacted the exact same way they were to their current situation. But by the time we met the idea of spending that much mental energy on a work conflict repelled me. Like, what a waste of the limited time we have on this earth to be fighting over widgets.

But applying what I’d read from the Pearson book I could see that my friend was in a Warrior phase of their life. A phase they needed to go through. This was someone who needed to learn to stand up for themselves. So they were right where they needed to be.

I just wasn’t there any longer.

The Pearson book gave me an insight into the different psychological stages that we might all go through.

Now, keep in mind this worked for me. And I am not going to get into some lengthy debate with anyone about Jung and how accurate his work is or whether it can be scientifically proven, because at the end of the day something like this boils down to “Does it help you move forward in your life? Does it give you insights that let you better communicate or thrive?”

For me it does. For others it may not.

The book also gave me insight into why certain genres might appeal to certain readers. Many readers like stories around the Innocent archetype. They want to read about being rescued and taken away.

So that book was helpful to me both in terms of which stories I should be trying to write and in terms of understanding the personal conflicts in my own life. I’ve recently been reading Awakening the Heroes Within and it reinforced for me the concepts from the first book.

(Now I will say that at online they seem to have changed their test and I don’t resonate with the results of the new one and probably wouldn’t recommend it. But the books have an assessment in them that still works for me.)

Where to from here with all those thoughts percolating?

One idea is to make sure that the next fantasy I write incorporates characters that include each archetype. (In this recent book she makes repeated references to the Arthurian legend as an example of a story that incorporates many of the archetypes.)

Another is to lean into where I am on my own personal journey right now and choose the story idea I have that is most in line with the archetypes currently active in my own life.

If I look at the incremental versus exponential idea, then another option is to write something completely new. (I have a domestic thriller idea that’s been percolating for example.)

But I think I’m also coming to a really hard realization. One I may not be able to achieve fully.

And that’s that so much of what I valued in my early career has no meaning to me now. And if it has no meaning to me then I need to fully let it go, which is scary because it would mean fully letting go of fallback financial security.

Right now I’m pretty sure I could go back to consulting or corporate work and even if I took a position a few steps back from where I left I think I could excel at it again. I think I know at least three people who would help me get back in the door.

But knowing that is keeping me from fully stepping onto the path to wherever I go next. I am coming to the realization that moving forward from here requires me to fully let that possibility go.

Which is scary. Because that path represents wealth and financial security. And it also contains people who will not understand where I go next and who I may not understand anymore either.

Now, I should be clear here that this isn’t about “choosing to be a writer”. Because I know many authors who do exceedingly well financially with their writing.

And they have a level of reputation and clout that fits in very well with the path I want to step away from.

This is more me talking about writing something that’s so different and challenging and may not even work that it’s very likely ten other people will get it. And finding joy in that because it lets me explore the themes that matter to me. It’s about finally acknowledging to myself that other than books and a secure home and vehicle that possessions really do nothing at all for me. And about accepting that that may put me in a place that others can’t follow because they don’t get it.

I don’t know. I don’t know if I can make that leap. Or if I need to take that step to then come back into a more material life under the Ruler archetype with the knowledge that success for me won’t be about the money or being put on a pedestal, but on the ability to spread my truth far enough for it to have an impact.

Which sounds incredibly arrogant and pompous and all of that fun stuff, but that’s part of the whole journey discussed in those books. Setting aside those outer judgements so you can do what you need to do to move forward in your life.

ANYWAY. Count your blessings today. And if you think you have no blessings, remember you are still alive and there’s still another day for things to get better.

(And if it turns out they get worse but you didn’t count the blessings you had, well then clearly you were being an ass who refused to acknowledge what you had and you should try again.)

More Random Writerly Thoughts

This morning I was curious and tried to look up an author’s books. And I’m pretty sure they’re only listed on Smashword and publish print through Lulu. Which, ouch.

I understand that not all authors worry about making money from what they do, but that’s an interesting set of choices to make to be found by readers. I had tried looking them up on Amazon before I clicked their links on their website, because I’m weird that way, but there was nothing for me to find. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that.

Then again I have another author I know who is very serious about doing well at this and they published non-fiction but only in ebook and only on Amazon. Which means all those Fortune write-ups are mostly wasted. If you’re going to pursue more traditional media coverage, then being available on all major platforms and in all formats is kind of key.

I also know an author who has done incredibly well with a few series for a short period of time on each one through KU who can’t be bothered with print. More understandable there because fiction readers that read self-published books do lean more towards ebook, but that author is still leaving money on the table every time their books are on the top 100 list.

I know we all have different goals in what we’re doing and different bandwidth and energy for doing all the various aspects of this writing gig. Still. I think sometimes it’s “can’t be bothered” but sometimes it’s “I was given really bad advice.”

Like the author I met with a while back who was going to use IngramSpark for ebook distribution. (Plenty of discussion on why that’s a bad idea in the Wide for the Win Facebook group.)

So, yeah, interesting choices. Of course, I’m sure someone looks at mine and thinks the same. I am not immune to bad choices.

Also a few AMS comments for the day.

Years ago I opened I think it was an Advantage account in the UK. I’d actually transitioned from using it for the most part in the last year or so because the account I can access through my KDP account is just fine. Which is good.

Because when I was looking at ad spend this month I noticed that for that account they tacked on 20% tax. Must’ve been because I never fully completed setting the account up back then, which was the trick to get access to AMS in the UK without having to pay the fee for that type of account.

I am not seeing that same 20% charge on my KDP UK AMS account.

I have to say that tax must really disadvantage authors who are getting charged that amount. 20% is a lot. I still make $2 when I spend $1 on AMS so I could keep going, but if someone were operating closer to the edge, that would push them right over into unprofitability. And if all they’re doing is paying attention to their dashboard numbers they won’t even see that.

For the record, I track AMS ad spend in a spreadsheet and not only do I add in any extra fees or taxes like that I also add in 3% for a credit card fee for all of my foreign AMS ad spend because that’s what my credit card charges for foreign transactions. If you’re not factoring in those extra costs, you could be losing money and not realizing it.

Also, I just have to roll my eyes at the scammers in one of my niches. I at some point mentioned that X keyword was one of my best keywords and now I get to watch that particular keyword be hit by fake clicks on a regular basis. It looks awful day of but then Amazon seems to back it out a few days later.

Some days I turn of that keyword and its iterations and let them have their way and some days I’m luck “fuck it” and just let it ride because I know in a few days it’ll sort itself out. But it would be nice if we operated in an environment where that kind of crap didn’t happen and it was just about the books and the readers.

But it’s a lesson, too, that you can’t expect the same strategy to work long-term. New players, new opportunities, new developments. It’s 3-D chess played against ten thousand opponents.

Which reminds me of the guy who posted in one of my FB groups some thing about how writers don’t have gold medals to compete for and so it’s all just one big love fest. And I was like, uh, Hugos? Nebulas? Booker Prize? Pulitzer? And what about Amazon rankings? Last I checked, only a hundred spots available on each list.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. The writers who form good peer groups absolutely help each other succeed. I can point to numerous examples of that happening. A good group forms and they all find long-term success. And the social support is pivotal for some to keep them going.

(Although I think sometimes that social support is a bit like what I saw with skydiving where you end up with a peer group because you all do Y together and then it’s really hard to walk away from Y even though you should because it also means losing your entire support network, too.)

So, yes, there’s absolutely value in having friends and not trying to compete with your fellow authors or be jealous of their success.

But, at the same time…Don’t be fooled into thinking there is no competition or that visibility isn’t impacted by who else is out there. When you search for X type of book, only one book can be listed first. And people only have so much downtime to spend on reading. If they’re getting their needs met elsewhere (which may not be happening, given my recent run of bleh books I’ve read), they aren’t going to find you.

I personally have no interest in “Being #1”. I could go my whole life without winning a literary award and be perfectly content. And I’m happy to let someone else get the suicide and death threats for not writing their series fast enough or in the right way.

I just want to hang out with my dog, keep a roof over our heads, and do something that engages my mind without destroying my spirit. But I also know that to hit that #2 part of my goal I have to contend with the fact that this is in fact a competitive industry and there are “winners” and “losers” no matter what someone’s goal is.

Anyway. Back to it.

NaNoWriMo: Writing Progress Doesn’t Have To Be Linear

I decided that I would do NaNoWriMo this year. I managed to write fourteen novels without it, but I was kind of stuck in a non-fiction rut and wanted to break out of it and write the next cozy. Those all come in around 42K so a new one seemed like the perfect project to target for the month.

(So far all I’ve seen from officially signing up for NaNo is requests to buy things or donate money, so it’s a good thing I did it more for the mental reminder than anything else.)

I thought I’d share my progress for the first four days just to show that you don’t have to hit the exact same word count goal every day to stay on track with something like this.

I had an early draft that I’d started probably this time last year that had about 10K words in it already, but it needed a new pass because the story had evolved in my head in the interim and I knew there wasn’t the right balance between the mystery part and the personal life part.

(At this point the cozies are 60% actual mystery and 40% hanging out with a cute dog and all of the main character’s friends and family and seeing how everyone’s lives are going to change this time around. I figure if readers stuck with me for the first seven books they’re on board with that.)


Day 1: Added 2,308 new words and ended up with about 5,200 words that were reviewed and ready to be part of the new draft. Time spent: 2.5 hours

Day 2: Added 774 new words and ended up with about 7,500 words. Time spent: 50 minutes

Day 3: Added only 60 words but cycled back through the first 7 chapters for a light edit. Time spent: 1 hr 20 minutes

Day 4: Added 2,459 words and ended up with about 11,000 words total. Time spent: 1 hr 45 minutes

I’m averaging about 1,400 new words a day but you can see how chunky it is.

This is pretty standard for my writing process. I have days like yesterday where lots of new words are added all at once and I have days like Wednesday where it’s almost entirely an editing pass to smooth things out.

Also keep in mind that adding 60 words may involve deleting 120 and adding 180. I just track my net difference each day.

So there you have it. For anyone who is new to writing and questioning your progress and worried that you have to average X words per day or it somehow doesn’t count, don’t. The key is making forward progress. Sometimes that involves playing solitaire or walking the dog while you think about the story, sometimes it involves feverishly drafting new words, and sometimes it involves going back through what you have and tightening it up a bit so you can move forward.

It’s all writing.

Excel Video Courses Available

After I published the Affinity Publisher video courses to Teachable, I decided I might as well add the Excel for Beginners, Intermediate Excel, and Easy Excel Essentials video courses there as well.

These were courses that I originally published on Udemy in 2018, but I didn’t do much with them and eventually Udemy asked for tax information but in such a way that I couldn’t figure out how to give them an EIN for a sole proprietor so I just unpublished them rather than deal with it.

Me being me, once I put those courses up on Teachable I realized that I should also complete the circle and put together a video course on Excel formulas and functions to correspond to 50 Useful Excel Functions and 50 More Excel Functions, so there is now also a video course available on Teachable that covers the content of those two books, Excel Formulas and Functions.

(It’s a long one and if I never have to talk about another Excel formula or function again I will be a very happy person. Of course, I say that but then I’ll get all excited about some new formula or function and want to do so anyway.)

I’ll probably put more content up later but I’m writing a novel for NaNoWriMo this year, so those are the only ones for now. But for anyone looking to learn Excel who learns better by seeing, you do now have those courses available as an option.

Use code MLH50 to get 50% off on most of the courses. (Not on the individual Easy Excel titles like Formatting, IF Functions, etc. because those are priced cheap already, but it should work on the longer courses.)

The Grind Stage

A few weeks back (maybe, what is time anymore) I watched a Wharton seminar where they interviewed a couple of very successful entrepreneurs. And one of the comments from that session was that to succeed in business you need a lot of persistence.

I think about that often. (I also think about Seth Godin’s The Dip often.)

Because probably any successful venture has what I’m going to refer to as the grind stage. You’ve started out, you’ve chosen a direction, and now you have to get to the top of the mountain. Which is a bunch of putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.

I hiked a 14’er once. (That’s a 14,000 foot mountain.) We had to go up 3,000 feet in elevation to get to the top. I was not in good shape. I wasn’t in bad shape, but it was not an easy hike for me. The guys I was hiking with were in good shape. This was not their first. And they eventually left me in the dust.

But I got to the top. By pushing through each and every single step forward. Literally. Sometimes on that hike I would take only three steps before I paused for another breath.

But I got there eventually.

Was it worth it? Yeah, probably. The view at the top was gorgeous. I recovered after a few days. And I can always say I did it. No one can take that from me.

But to get there I had to go through the grind stage.

Publishing I think is like that, too. Or maybe on a broader scale, being a writer is like that.

You have those early bright moments. That first book in your hands. That first person who loves it. That first big promo that gets you that pretty best-seller tag for an hour. That first fan email asking for more.

But then the shine kind of wears off.

Sure, more people love it, but some don’t, right? Or you get another promo and you’re happy to get it, but you know that as high as you’re flying today, you won’t be tomorrow.

Or maybe you get the fan email that says they’re never going to read you again because you took too long to write the next book or you killed their favorite character or you included the wrong kind of character or whatever their personal peccadillo is.

That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s where you have to show your mettle. When it’s not shiny and fun and new anymore and there’s 2,500 feet of mountain still to go to get to the pretty view.

That’s the moment when you need to put your head down and force yourself to take the next step. That’s the moment that sets apart those who make it to the top from those who don’t.

(Unless, of course, you’re really not on a path to the top of the mountain at all, which, well, yeah, that happens, too. What’s that they say about the journey being worth it? It better be, because you may never get anywhere you were trying to go. Haha. Sigh.)

Anyway. Perseverance. It has to kick in at some point if you want to make it somewhere that’s hard to reach.

(This post brought to you by my first box set promo with Bookbub that’s coming up tomorrow. I actually felt a little shiver of excitement about it today and realized how rare those moments have become now that I’m in the grind stage. The first in series has had a handful of Bookbubs at this point, but this will be the first one for the box set. Fingers crossed it does well even though there’s nowhere for readers to go because I sit around having deep thoughts or taking side paths into mountain meadows instead of writing the next damned book.)

Random Thoughts

I currently have the first title of my cozy mystery series available for free until the end of the year and my YA fantasy box set on a 99 cent sale in anticipation of a Bookbub. And I am reminded once again that the best possible promo is when one of the stores picks the title up for promotion.

I was lucky in February to (I believe) have Apple promote the first in series of the fantasy series when it was free, and I’m pretty sure they’re doing so right now or just did so for the cozy.

It’s sort of a black hole where you tell them, “Hey, I have this set to free” and then you suddenly see a spike in downloads on that one store and have to assume that’s where it’s coming from.

But that promo right there moves the needle more than any amount of paid newsletters or CPC ads can for me, especially since, you know, it’s free when they do that.

So if you don’t have the Kobo promo tab, the Nook promo tab, or the Apple contact info, look out for opportunities to get that. (Apple you have to attend an info session or a conference, generally.) And then apply when it makes sense to do so.

Of course, that’s also the argument for writing more content. Because they’re great about including books they think will sell, but ain’t no one wants to promo the same tired batch of books for the next five years. Which means you need to be giving them new material to promote.

(A lesson I can know and still not follow year after year because from what I can tell they rarely have an interest in promoting non-fiction.)

Another random thought I’ve had as I had to update a couple of screenshots in one book and a description of a function in another that were published years ago is that (a) I hate making mistakes, and (b) I kind of hate that no one else notices when I do.

I mean, it’s very possible someone noticed and didn’t think it was worth bringing to my attention. That’s absolutely an option.

But when I was full-time in an office with multiple levels of supervision and a team around me I would catch errors I’d made months earlier and no one else had noticed in the meantime.

Which meant it always felt like I was out there without a net because no one was going to notice the things I screwed up. And we all screw up. None of us are perfect.

And then I’d have the fun moment of “no one noticed but me, but I really should tell someone” which, depending on your boss, can be an “oh, good catch” moment or a “why did you do that wrong, how could you mess that up?” moment. But it had to be done either way.

Man do I not miss that.

I also realized this last week as I recorded a video course on Excel formulas and functions that to me Excel formulas are a language. I read them like I do English. I form all those little commas and parens into complete sentences in my head. I think I do the same thing with computer languages, too. It might be why they feel intuitive a lot of the time for me. Because I’m not seeing cell references and numbers, I’m seeing a written sentence.

Something to ponder. And maybe something to try for those who struggle with either one.

What else?

I think the paper shortage is going to hurt at least me personally. Some of my titles are probably 80% print sales and since they’re printed when sold that means there’s no inventory sitting around to draw from if Amazon or IngramSpark run out of paper to print with. Which on one hand justifies doing some video courses right now, but on the other hand probably just means lost sales.

Oh, and FB sucks. At least from an ad perspective. Not because they aren’t effective. Those ads can be great. I was getting 10 cent clicks on my cozy freebie. But then they disabled my account and I said I didn’t know why so they gave it back. And then I copied the exact same ads for a new audience and they disabled my account and I said I didn’t know why and they said “tough, can’t help you” and I said, “but I don’t even know what I did wrong” and they gave it back again. But never told me what I’d done wrong, so now I feel like anything I do may make them disable it again.

And I’m pretty sure they did it over either a checkbox image in the ads or a series of questions in the ads. Like, why is that an issue? What is your deal. Anyway.

There are days I miss nice, steady paychecks that get deposited into my account every two weeks as long as I show up at the office and don’t anger anyone enough to get fired. (I did far more than that, of course, but really those were the basic requirements.)

But for some reason I like this whole creating things out of nothing gig more. So, onward.

Video Courses and Affinity Templates

Those who’ve been around here a while may remember that at one point I had Excel for Beginners, Intermediate Excel, and the Easy Excel Essentials content (Printing, Formatting, Pivot Tables, Charts, IF Functions, and Conditional Formatting) available as video courses through Udemy.

I pulled those courses when they introduced a nonsensical tax form that I couldn’t fill out. But I still had the videos. And when I went back and looked at them this week, they were actually good.

They use the whole “I will tell you, then I will show you” approach which is not my personal favorite, but it is theoretically the best way to present information for a large audience, so that’s why I did them that way.

Anyway. I have now added those videos to the Teachable store I set up. So if you prefer to learn visually that is now an option. Use code MLH50 on Excel for Beginners or Intermediate Excel to get those half off. The individual Easy Excel Essentials courses are also available for just $15 a pop.

I expect I will add more video courses. I’ve started prep for an Excel formulas and functions course and know I definitely want to do that one to complete that series of videos, but not sure what will come next. So if there’s some topic you’d really like to see covered, now is the time to let me know. No guarantees I’ll cover it, but if it was already on the list it may move higher.

Also, when I put together the Affinity Publisher for Fiction Layouts content, I decided to put templates that people could download up on Payhip. So if you want an Affinity Publisher file that already has the master pages and text styles created that’s where you can find them. It saves some time, for sure, but you still absolutely need to know the basics of working in Affinity Publisher for a print layout to effectively use them. They’re not for an absolute novice.

Alright then. That’s it. Hope you’re all doing well.

Affinity Publisher for Fiction Layouts

I mentioned my newest project the other day and it’s now done. Affinity Publisher for Fiction Layouts is available in ebook, print, AND video.

So what is this book about? Can you guess from the title?

Basically, it walks a new user through how to use Affinity Publisher, one of the Affinity suite of products, to format a fiction title.

I actually started using Affinity Publisher for my non-fiction because I ran into an issue with using Word where the resolution of the images that exported into PDF weren’t what I wanted them to be and the only way to fix it was to use a paid Adobe product.

I’d heard a lot of buzz about Affinity so decided to give it a try and loved it.

They have great instructional videos on their website which is what I used to learn the program, but for me the videos just weren’t in the order I needed them to be. So I was 80% of the way through them before I knew that they covered everything I needed. Also, there are just certain things that are specific to self-publishing (like exporting All Pages not All Spreads) that trip new users up.

So in my latest “I don’t know what to write next” funk, I sat down and started to write up how to use Affinity Publisher for a print layout.

175 pages and 100 screenshots later, I had a book and hadn’t even touched upon how to use it for non-fiction. And then I realized I should probably do videos as well.

Sixty-plus videos later…I now have three video courses listed in addition to the books.

The video courses can all be found on Teachable. And if you use code MLH50 you can get them for 50% off.

Affinity Publisher for Fiction Layouts is the video version of the books. There are about eighteen videos and about 90 minutes of content.

Affinity Publisher Quick Takes is basically a reference library for when you’ve forgotten how to do something and need a quick one-minute refresher. That one currently has fifty videos, but most are a minute or less.

And then there’s a bundle that lets you get them both at once.

I’m new to Teachable so if you see something that looks unfinished, please let me know. There were lots of moving parts on that one.

Anyway, hope this is something someone out there can use. I know I would’ve certainly appreciated having it when I was getting started with Affinity. (Not that I would’ve bought it because I’m that do-it-yourself-as-cheap-as-you-can sort of person, but ya know.)

Knowing me there’ll probably be a non-fiction supplement at some point as well as one for basic cover and ad image design. Hard to believe that there’s still that much content left to cover, but it really is an amazing and versatile program that I’ve found invaluable over the last year.

Learning Curves Are Time Consuming

In my infinite wisdom (not), I decided to create a video course to go along with my latest book. (Upcoming, more on that probably Tuesday.)

I figured I already knew how to do this. I had the software, I had the microphone, I’d created video courses before. Should be easy enough to record, edit, and get those puppies up and done.


I decided I’d post the videos to Teachable, a platform I hadn’t used before. And I’ve moved since I last recorded videos and my current location had more sound in the background than my last one. And with video you basically have to wait the length of the video each time you export the video.


I edited the video. I exported the video. I watched to the video. I made edits to the video. I exported it again.

Then I uploaded to Teachable when all the videos were ready. Except when I listened to them on that site I didn’t like the sound.

So I tried to fix them. And then exported the videos again. And uploaded them again.

But some still didn’t work. So I edited them again. And exported them again. And uploaded them again.

But I still wasn’t happy. So I did some research and decided that the best option was to actually export the sound file, edit it in a different program, reimport it into the video program, and then export again. And while I was at it I decided to make some sound adjustments to all of the audio so they’d be consistent.

So I did that. For 75 videos. About three hours of content. Which I then had to reupload. That means five exports for most of the videos, or fifteen hours of export time alone.

I now have a process. I know what I’ll do for any videos going forward. I think it works. (I hope it works, because seriously…)

But that learning curve cost me about three extra days’ worth of effort to get to that point.

And then there was a couple more hours spent figuring out all the little issues with publishing on Teachable. Like I thought I’d published the course, but it didn’t publish. And I’d done images for the course page, but not my main page. Those sorts of things.

Lots of learning and trying and figuring it out. (Which as a Learner I kind of crave in the abstract. I like to master things. It’s just the wasted time that kills me)

But hopefully I’m good now and can finally publish the book that prompted the existence of that course.

(And hopefully when I go back to those older courses I don’t hate them so much I think they need to be redone…Hopefully…)