All-Purpose Writing Thread!


Congrats. Sounds like it will be a great night.

What is a “SFnal retelling”? Is that song Mack the Knife? Probably not, but that’s the only song I know from Threepenny.


SFnal = Science Fictional. The song is the revenge-fantasy “Pirate Jenny”, which within the musical’s larger story is the creation of the vicious character Polly Peachum to be sung on her wedding night as entertainment for the criminals in Mackie’s gang, or (in some versions) is sung by Mackie’s lover Jenny Diver later on before she rats him out to the cops.

Nina Simone (or possibly Marc Blitzstein) changed the lyrics in translation from a “ship with eight sails” to a “black freighter”, which was also the source for the embedded comic in the Watchmen, among many other adaptations of the original song. My story is about a gynoid in a tavern on a space station waiting for the pirates who will someday come to take her away after raiding the station vault and slaughtering everyone on board.


And my vicious political SF story Not the Brightest of Timelines is in the Unrealpolitik anthology out from JayHenge Publishing on Amazon today:


I had a blast in Vegas a few weeks ago at the 20 Books to Vegas convention at Sam’s Town. About 700 indie authors gathered together to talk shop, network, and there were a number of genre meet-ups. I spent the most time either learning everything I could about Facebook ads, or drinking in the casino. LOL. Anyway, was anyone else there? I should have posted this before the event.


My Dumas-Fritz Leiber mashup story Clashing Blades is out now in Swords and Sorcery Magazine.

And this is the archival version of my story The Freighter at Liar’s League NYC.


My father-in-law wrote a great [1] memoir and would like to publish it. The publisher he’s working with said they will publish on Kindle and Amazon and what-not, but they stipulate that the book must sell for $2.50. That seems like it’s possibly right in the sweet spot for books such as this. Do any of you have any insight into such a thing? Or know of any research done about this?

[1] in my opinion!


Dave, that sounds about right. I think you might mean a 2.99 price point. That’s the point where Amazon let’s you collect 70% royalty but you have to pay a small delivery fee.

When you say research, do you mean about the price? If you get an Amazon account and go through the wizard for selling a book, they have a thing that shows you research on price points. I’m not doing memoir, but everytime I use it for something, it tells me 2.99 is the sweet spot for the book I intend to publish (and shows me results for books priced higher and lower, or using a different royalty rate).

If he’s working with a publisher, I would assume they already know all this, but in general I think he wants:

  1. to have an attractive cover that looks similar to other covers for what he is writing.
  2. some sort of promotion plan for release. Maybe look into Amazon or Facebook ads (an elaborate plan), or maybe just send an email with a link to the book to EVERYONE you know and post it on EVERY social media platform (what most people do).

I’m sure others who have done more will post other stuff. This is a good start. Good luck!


Thanks so much @TimElhajj!


If he sells it at $2.99 he gets 70% of each sale. If he sells it at anything less than that he gets 30% of each sale.

The other thing he can do is make it exclusive to Kindle and then he can enroll it in Kindle Unlimited and anyone who subscribes to that can read his book for free and he gets paid by the page-read.

He should also look into making it available via Create Space for print on demand via Amazon. That way people can buy a print copy.


Again thanks @Mark_Asher, and thanks in advance to anyone else who replies.


Is he publishing with a small or large publisher, or is he going indie? Hopefully he’s not working with a publisher that plans to charge him to publish his book.


I’m not sure, but I will ask him.


Yeah, that’s a good question. I just assumed he was working with someone that was publishing it for him indie style.


Unless he has a book deal, he will have to shell out some money for a cover and editing, but he shouldn’t pay someone to publish his book. Just making sure he hasn’t been suckered into something like iUniverse. The cost of paying people to do cover art and editing varies greatly, but it can be done for around $500 with some frugal shopping around. If he is looking for some resources let us know. I’m sure that between the writers here we can come up with some creative solutions.


Paying for a cover and editing for yourself as an indie writer is of course routine.

However, an actual legitimate publisher, small, indie or whatever, will never charge for production. Because they have selected a book for publication they are confident will make some money, and they are investing their own funds up front in expectation of future sales. Such an arrangement naturally results in the publisher spending on marketing too, and doing real work to promote the book, because they want that return on investment.

There may possibly be legitimate indie book production service providers that take fees to combine editing, cover, and other aspects of ebook publication (most are quasi-vanity scams that grossly overcharge for their service), but they are not publishers. Going through such a service with a memoir (notoriously the most common target for vanity publishers) will likely result in 0 sales apart from those that the writer promotes independently.

So if the person in question really has a legit publisher, great, more power to them. But if they are being asked to pay to get their book out there, they shouldn’t expect sales even to cover their costs.


There are also services that claim to do promotion, even to the point of getting reviews for your book. I’d be especially wary of them.


So currently he’s most interested in this approach, but he’d also like to release an audio version. It seems that Kindle Unlimited and Create Space are already linked together as business models, but is there also an audio component to the model?

He’s so amazed by your help so far, you guys!

#1198 is the place.

He’d have to pay a professional narrator to read it. It won’t be cheap. Some narrators work on spec, with a split of royalties, but rarely for a first time writer with no sales.


I don’t know anything about audio but here’s an article about doing your own recording, which would save Dave’s father-in-law money. It uses the ACX you mention:

As a keepsake for relatives Dave’s pop-in-law recording his own voice could be cool.


Absolutely, using his own voice would be cool for relatives. However, for reaching a wider audience, using a non-professional as narrator is a certain path to bad reviews.