History => Future

>> Saturday, November 23, 2013

So, I came up with a self-publishing plan, taking wisdom from the suggestions from the Smash Words site founder (and my friend, Darrell Nelson, who pointed me to Smash Words and gave me other advice) and taking advantage my own considerable backlog of written work. Several books on how-to write/market ebooks on Smash Words are available for free and are recommended (by me): Smash Words Style Guide, Smash Words Book Marketing Guide, and The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success. Now this seems all Smash Words heavy (and it is, because that's the direction I chose to go, but I really appreciated the philosophy I saw and heard, so I was sold), but, by all means, do your own research and decide for yourself if you're interested. This is what I found that seemed most useful.

Among the many things I learned:

  1. Keep expectations low and be prepared for the long haul. Long term practices can be more effective for e-books than are allowed for print books, since they don't turn into pumpkins after X amount of time. 
  2. Multiple books out at once is useful since people who like one book will likely look for more under the same "brand" - your name. That's cool, too. I have several books I feel are publishable now. 
  3. Longer works do better (unless they're bloated and clumsy - see below). Woot! My books mostly clock in at close to 100K or longer. 
  4. Free books or books free for a period of time can rapidly expand readership. Free books get downloaded the most. 
  5. Smash Words publishes ebooks in formats that are copy-protection free, noting that freaking out over thievery/piracy is counterproductive. I totally agree. Will probably write a whole post on my view on this at a later date.
 Things noted that I already knew.
  1. The essential element for any chance of success is a good book. Write a crappy book and the optimum price, formatting, marketing, etc won't make it popular. People don't want to pay for something unless they feel they get something in return. Even with free books, hey, a reader's time has value, too. If your book is garbage, self-publishing won't change that. I love that Smash Words put this obvious (but frequently ignored) wisdom front and center. 
  2. Don't plan to get rich (which is fine -  have a good day job), but this can give you an opportunity to share your vision, your reading, your stories with others - which is all I ever wanted.
So, I changed my original game plan.

Rather than pop out with my Bete novel series (what I consider my most "marketable" work), I want to build readership and, with luck and hopefully my actual work, build a readership and learn from them. So, to start and to put a free book out there for people to "check me out", I thought I'd put together a book of my short stories.

I loved my short stories and they were a huge part of my learning to write, teaching myself skills I use in my novels today. Marketing them, however, is more than I was willing to take time for. Putting them in a book not only gives me something to allow people to see my style and writing (in relatively small doses), but allows these pieces to be shared. And I can also show how my writing has grown and matured over time (though that didn't cross my mind until I started putting it together).

I'm actually pretty stoked. Clock is ticking it down; hopefully, I'll have one or two books available publicly by the end of the calendar year. I'm just waiting to see if I can get some decent covers.


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