On Demand Video Self-Publishing Course: Yay or Nay?

10 May

It’s Blog Reader Focus Group Time!

Do you like answering questions? Do you love a good survey? Do you delight in being asked for your opinion? Then step right up! Because I have just the thing for you….

As you’ll already know, I don’t just blog and write about self-publishing: I talk to people about it as well.

These speaking engagements are usually either a full day’s course, which is just me taking the participants through self-publishing from A to Z, or smaller, introductory style things, where I might aim to give an overview of the process in an hour and a half or two. I always aim to achieve at least what I consider to be the most important thing: to give the soon-to-be self-published author a roadmap, to give them the whole picture so they know the repercussions of, say, not choosing a cover design that works in thumbnail size and black or white, or why the actual self-publishing bit isn’t at the start of the process, but just after the middle of it. That’s what I wish I had back when I started self-publishing. Because although the logistics of self-publishing, like formatting an e-book, are easy to find laid out step-by-step online—including on this blog—it’s harder to find someone who will say ‘Well, first you must think of this…’ and ‘We do this now because we’ll need that later…’ and ‘For the love of fudge, don’t use tabs!’ Even before we get to that, it’s much easier to take things in when someone is telling you them. Scrolling through the internet is nowhere near as much fun.

presentation

But I’ve only ever done these talks here in Ireland, or in London. So if you live anywhere else and your self-publishing budget doesn’t consist of blocks of gold bullion, it’s not really possible for you to attend. Then when I was in Orlando in February and I met up with the lovely Duolit girls, they told me about Udemy, a service that allows you to upload and sell video courses online, which the buyers of can then access whenever they want.

I’m thinking of doing this, and I want to gauge whether or not you think it’s a good idea, whether or not you’d be interested and how much you think is a fair price to pay for it.

Warning: I may ignore every single thing I learn from this post, and do what I was planning regardless. We’ll see.

So, please read the information below and then answer the questions. You can also tell me what you think in the comments below. Thank you in advance!

The Plan

Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Online Course to Self-Publishing will consist of three parts. Each one will stand alone, or you can get all three for the full experience. They’ll be based on the full-day self-publishing course I do in person, and will break down into three parts:

  • Preparing to Self-Publish
  • Self-Publish an E-book and POD Paperback
  • Launch and Sell Your Self-Published Book Online

Each of these will consist of a ‘main’ video (i.e. me talking to you) and supporting course materials in PDF (i.e. instructions for to print out and refer to if need be). The PDF materials will include Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing. The videos will include on-screen, real time, step-by-step, click-this-button-and-then-click-that-one type instructions.

Before anyone says it: I’m not going to make an e-book only video. Producing a POD paperback is just an add on to the e-book process, really, and so it doesn’t warrant a video of its own. Everything ties in, so they go in one video.

There will also be a free to view preview video to give you an idea of what the course content is like.

The Pricing

Each video will be around 1.5 hours long and cost $49.

That’s about £29 or €36, per video.

To compare, my full-day course price ranges from $160 to $255. (The prices are set by the organizers, not by me.) That’s a range of £102 to £164, or  €125 to €200.

So one day with me telling you in person: anywhere from $160 to $255.

Four and a half hours of me telling you via the magic of video: $150-ish. Plus you get lots of extra materials, you can go through it as many times as you like, and you don’t have to leave your house.

You’ll also be able to buy all three videos in one for $125.

The Credentials

Please take into account that I’m experienced at this—both talking about self-publishing and doing it myself. I’ve done events for:

  • Faber Academy (London)
  • Publishing Ireland
  • The Inkwell Group (Dublin)
  • Chipping Norton Literary Festival (UK)
  • Waterford Writers’ Weekend (Ireland)
  • Mountains to Sea Festival (Co. Dublin, Ireland)
  • Irish PEN
  • LitNet NI (Belfast)
  • National Union of Journalists (Ireland)
  • Women in Journalism (UK)

and this summer, I’ll be doing a Guardian Masterclass in London too.

And here are some things people have said about Self-Printed:

  • “The BEST book on self-publishing … Seriously, GET THIS NOW!” –David Wright, co-author of the bestselling YESTERDAY’S GONE series
  • “The best thing about Catherine is that she not only lives the dream, but offers you a stepladder up to join her. The advice she gives is utterly practical and the whole [book] is suffused with humour. I am a fan.” –Alison Baverstock, author of IS THERE A BOOK IN YOU? & senior lecturer on the Publishing MA at Kingston University (UK)
  • “An exceptional breath of realism, real knowledge and hard experience–don’t dream of self-publishing your book without it.” –Nicola Morgan, award-winning author of 90 books–including the Carnegie-nominated WASTED and WRITE TO BE PUBLISHED– and the blog Help! I Need a Publisher!

So, taking all this into account, please answer the questions below…

And please do add your comments below…

20 Responses to “On Demand Video Self-Publishing Course: Yay or Nay?”

  1. writeonthebeach May 10, 2013 at 08:12 #

    I@m guessing it’s the limitation of the survey mechanism but I would have liked to have given more than one answer to the last question. I guess I’m a belt and braces gal. I like to have the instant fix and then something to refer to later. Also, teeny point the word “know” is missed out of the 3rd question. Look forward to hearing the results. :)

  2. Russell Phillips May 10, 2013 at 08:36 #

    I was going to say that my ideal answer to the last question would be video, ebook and blogs. Then I remembered that the video course will include downloadable PDFs, so I guess you’re effectively offering video+ebook.

    Side question: You say “The PDF materials will include Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.” Does that mean a copy of Self-Printed as a PDF only, or would it include Mobi/ePub as well? Anyone with an e-reader will probably prefer want it in Mobi/ePub, since most e-readers don’t handle PDFs very well.

    As for pricing, I’ve only bought one Udemy course. It cost me $25 for just over 2 hours, but that was a special offer price (I think it’s normally about $100). Udemy seems like a well-designed site, I’d happily buy future courses from there.

    One last point – the course I bought allows me to download each video as an MP4 file. I don’t know if that is something that Udemy always does, or if you’d need to enable it, but it’s something that I like. I’m paranoid about stuff I’ve bought only being available on someone else’s servers, so I like being able to download my own copy. It also means that I can view it on my tablet or phone when I’m not connected to the internet.

    • catherineryanhoward May 10, 2013 at 10:46 #

      I think the the videos are always downloadable, and I’m make it that way if I had a choice. I think the beauty of this is that you can watch it all in one go, to get your overview, and then go back and replay the step-by-step when you get to doing that actual bit.

      Re:Self-Printed, it’ll only be a PDF. The idea is not that the course includes a copy of a book but that the supporting material is so extensive it includes the entire text of the book.

  3. MishaBurnett May 10, 2013 at 11:09 #

    Personally, I am a self-taught learner, so I wouldn’t get much out of such a course. However, the pricing seems high to me, considering the cost of DVD duplication these days. I realize that you are selling the content, not the package, but I suspect you’d move more at a lower cost.

    • catherineryanhoward May 10, 2013 at 11:12 #

      I’m not sure how DVD duplication is relevant…? It’s only accessed online. It’s true that you’d move more of anything at a lower cost, but I think when it comes to information, you don’t want to go to the lowest bidder. I also have to consider whether it’s worth it financially for me to plough hours/days/weeks into planning and creating and recording this.

  4. Nick Stephenson May 10, 2013 at 12:20 #

    Nice ideas Catherine, if the market is there, go for it!

    My initial thoughts would be:

    (1) comparing a video to an in-person course – sure, it’s you talking, but people go to a course for the social interaction, and the “day out” feel. it’s special to them – they are prepared to pay up to $250 in this case, because they get to go somewhere cool, meet awesome people and get in-person advice, interaction, and networking opportunities.

    With a video course? You’re really only offering the content aspect, arguably of lower value than all the other aspects of a course I described above. So, really, you should do a price comparison between video and book – what does your $125 video course offer that your $4 ebook doesn’t? That’s where I’d need convincing as a potential customer here – sure it’s got you talking and some nice visuals, but does that justify the $121 premium?

    (2) platforms – udemy has 0.5 – 1 million monthly users (depending on how you define “user”) but youtube has 160 million monthly users. You could promote your video content on youtube to make the most of that site’s user base and SEO power, then link to a squeeze page to get the sale of the full course – then you could keep 100% of your profits, rather than 70%. Or, obviously, do both if you can – don’t know whether Udemy has an exclusivity clause or not.

    Just some intial thoughts, and good luck with the development – I’m sure you can pull it off!

    Nick

  5. Jennifer May 10, 2013 at 14:30 #

    I think the price sounds pretty reasonable, just because I know what other places charge. Courses like this can cost a lot.

    I’m not sure I’d buy this particular course because it sounds like you’re just covering the basics I already know. I’d buy a course that was an in-depth look at the right way to use social media for marketing or something like that. Maybe in the future? :)

  6. Judy Millar May 10, 2013 at 18:03 #

    I fiound the pricing on the high side and somewhat prohibitive, but not so absurdly high that I felt comfortable calling it a “joke” so my only available choice was “about right.” An intermediate response choice would have given you a more accurate read of my opinion (and perhaps, others’ opinions) on this important question. Good luck, Catherine.

  7. Crissi Langwell May 10, 2013 at 18:22 #

    This is off topic, but I had to let you know that I’ve often come to your blog since you have so much insight on self-publishing. And I’ve just nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Come check out my blog to see details: http://crissilangwell.com/2013/05/10/the-sunshine-award/

  8. Melanie Marttila May 11, 2013 at 02:27 #

    Catherine,
    Love your idea, but I’d like to throw a few things by you. Feel free to disregard.
    My day job is one in learning and development and I know video is the way to go.
    In fact, you may want to go for even smaller pieces. I know you have to make a living, and I will definitely support that living if the vids are $49 (I’ve spent more on courses that I don’t know I’d get as much out of), but I will direct your attention to the Sal Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/
    He started off just giving his younger cousins web tutorials and started doodling. Now, it’s his full time career, making vids that are used in schools, and by people like Bill Gates (for his kids). He got seed money from a couple of key investors (including Google) and can support himself from the donations he receives. He’s got a whole team that works on translating his videos into different languages.
    The key is to put something into a bite-sized piece and to make it fun (visuals reinforce learning). Think about how you learn to do something. You might read a book or seek out an expert, but usually, you Google it, and then half a dozen YouTube videos pop up. You may click on a few and soon you feel confident enough to try whatever it is yourself. If you get stuck, you can always watch the video again, or rewind and watch a critical piece again.
    You might be able to make more, but shorter videos, price them accordingly, and go from there. You might even be able to use your own videos in your longer courses. (Here, watch this video to set up your next assignment and I’ll circulate if you have questions or need clarification. You can let the videos do the ground work and you can get deeper into the topic. Or you could send them out like a pre-conference prep-course and get to the juicy stuff in session.)
    Learners like autonomy. They have shorter and shorter attention spans. They want on-demand, and to be honest, they prefer free. Maybe Kickstart to get the funds you need for production up front. People will still pay for what they want, especially if they know they’ll get awesome product on the other side.
    Just a few thoughts from the day job.
    All the best, and yes, I will likely buy your videos however you produce them. This is just where the training industry in general is going and like the changes to the publishing industry, it’s sometimes good to pay attention.
    The Learning Mutt

  9. marilynslagel May 11, 2013 at 05:13 #

    I think this would work well, Catherine. I’ve learned so much in the last year from online blogs, conferences and others who have self-published. I would gladly pay $125 for the online course. Having it all in once place on demand is such a timesaver.

  10. babyfacedpreacher May 11, 2013 at 08:57 #

    I think this is a wonderful idea, and certainly will be useful for those not in Ireland or the UK, the only thing is, alot of the time I go to these courses it is to interact with others who are at a similar stage in the writing process than me…it’s kind of a networking exercise…I think personally I’d miss out on that aspect, but a great idea to broaden your market base…now off to do the poll!

  11. Darlene Elizabeth Williams May 11, 2013 at 21:02 #

    I’m in! Geography is an issue (I’m in a small city in Canada) so this is great. Plus, I will be self-pubbing my non-fiction book late fall. I’m trying to learn all I can in advance.

  12. John Dwyer - Author May 14, 2013 at 17:00 #

    Hi Catherine,
    Just finished your book about self-printing and loved it. Best book I’ve read in ages about the realities of self-publishing. Anyway, I feel an online course would be a great idea. The price is low considering what you get in return.
    Best of luck,
    John

  13. T.K. Marnell May 14, 2013 at 18:03 #

    I personally wouldn’t pay that amount for the video package. Attending a workshop is different because you can interact with your fellow writers and the lecturers directly, asking questions, etc.

    But then I’m also the sort of person who thinks it’s silly to pay $30k for an MFA when you could just study and write on your own. If there’s a market for it, you might as well try.

  14. charmaineclancy May 24, 2013 at 10:39 #

    I like the idea of video tutorials, there are a lot of good ones out there, but you’ve built a good reputation with your blog and books. I think you should consider the wording of your poll a little more. The question on pricing is not really inviting honest opinions. I suggest $49 is too expensive for a 1.5 hr video, and if you need all three videos to complete the task of self-publishing, then it is a lot to pay. By reducing that cost, quite a lot, you will drastically increase the number of downloads you attract. Or, give the first video away free, and charge (less than $49) for the next two.

    Good luck with the venture, I’m sure you find the right balance.

  15. Lee Fitzsimmons May 24, 2013 at 16:44 #

    This sounds great. I have paid more for trainings that offered me so much less. Self Printed has become my go to book as I wade through the morass of self publishing. I enjoyed your wit so much I have now bought your other books. They make me laugh.

    The idea of sitting through an 1.5 hour video does make my brain go numb. Are you planning on having content breaks so a person could watch a segment then turn it off and easily return to the next segment? As to pricing … I would be one of those who took the deal on all three videos. I already have Self Printed for my kindle so maybe a price break on the entire package if you already own the book.

    And of course with the age of ebooks, I want instant gratification and I want it now. So can we expect this soon?

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