Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Escalation of Work

A few years ago, after I got serious about writing, I started querying agents to try to get my work published. It was a demoralizing and time-consuming effort. Worse, the more I learned about the traditional publishing process, the less I desired to be published in that way. For one thing, it is a horribly time consuming and unfair process, and it is very bad for the environment. It is costly and wasteful.

From the outset, I liked the idea of eBook and Print-On-Demand publishing, even though I was mindful of the stigma of "vanity publishing."  After doing some reading about the abysmal state of the publishing industry right now, I decided to focus on writing stories and not worry about landing a book deal. I published all of my inventory at the time on Smashwords, initially for free.

Within only a few months nearly 10,000 copies had been downloaded. Three readers sent me messages indicating that they liked my work and thought I should charge for it. About the same time, I read a blog post that said anything you give away for free may be deemed to have no value.  I realized that's how I felt. I thought that free books were "bad" books, and -- for my own personal reading -- I stuck with traditionally published books from the library.

I decided to post a small charge for my books. Around a dollar. I thought that would give me the satisfaction of earning some money for my labor, but it wouldn't be so much that the buyer would feel gypped if there were typos or stylistic errors in the text.  A few months later, I got my first royalty check from Smashwords. It wasn't a big check, but it was actual money that people paid to read my work. I made a copy of it. And framed it. (After I finished crying.)

For three subsequent quarters, each check doubled the previous one. It's still nothing more than "mad money," but it's "mad money" to a person whose normal budget does not include "mad money."  In the spring, I was able to buy some much needed software for my computer. This past August, I earned enough to buy a Kindle and a whole bunch of eBooks. That set me off on a different course for this blog.

I started reviewing indie books and communicating with other Smashwords authors.  Traffic on this blog and my website started to increase, incrementally but steadily. Ebook sales increased as well.

So. I realized I needed to improve the quality of my marketing materials. My website stank and my blog was turning into a mess. I spent one entire weekend in September overhauling both. In the process of posting sample chapters on my website, I realized that my novels, especially the early ones, were still in need of editing.  I should revise them and publish "Second Editions".  I should blog and interact with other authors on Facebook. I should use Twitter.

It's all so much work and so overwhelming! I try to keep up, but the task is daunting.  I guess that's the price to be paid for going solo.

It is November. NaNoWriMo.  That means no blogging. No Facebooking. No Tweeting.  No nothing except writing like a maniac to finish a first draft of a new novel in a month.

Self-publishing is a lot of work. I'm taking a break in November to do what I really love.

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