My Journey as a Professional Writer, Part 6: Self-Publishing

It’s been awhile since the last time I wrote a post about my writing career. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. The last month of blog posts have mostly been about my Kickstarter campaign, which is very much a part of my writing career. But those posts were focused on the specifics of the campaign itself; this one is about me, what I’ve learned, and where I’m going from here.

Working a Kickstarter campaign had ups and downs. The ups were amazing moments where people I know–or in some cases strangers–pledged their support and made the drive a success (and if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the cover that was made as a result of the drive). There were moments I was fighting tears at seeing how wonderful and generous some people can be.

The downs, however, were there throughout the drive. One issue, which is something most writers I know deal with, is the doubt. There would be days where I wondered whether any more support would come in, and whether I would meet my goals. There would also be days when I would wonder about the scale of establishing a self-publishing career. Once the ebook is out, will it sell? How will I spread the word and market it? Will people be interested in buying an ebook of a short story as a stand-alone tale? These kinds of doubts are similar to any writer’s doubts about whether they will find an agent, whether their book will be picked up by a publisher, and whether they will ever make decent sales on the book they worked so long and hard on.

But here’s what I think about those doubts: everyone has to start somewhere, and I think this short story is a pretty strong start. The readers who’ve critiqued and commented on it so far all had high praise. I think the plot is intriguing, and offers a good glimpse into the world I’m creating for the novel “Manifestation.” And, since the ebook will be selling for just 99 cents, it’s a low-risk venture for customers. I’ve done a lot of research into ebook price trends, and I’ve come to believe this is a good move. When “Manifestation” comes out, the ebook will probably be priced low, since that’s one of the ways self-publishers work to compete with the higher-priced publications from traditional publishers. In addition to a competitively low ebook price for the novel, readers who want to see what my writing is like will be able to read a short story at an even lower price. If they like my writing (and I certainly hope they will), then maybe they’ll buy the novel as well. If they don’t like it, well, it was only 99 cents, right?

I’m also planning on publishing many more short stories in the future. “Radiance” is just the first one. The short stories are part of the reason I decided to go with self-publishing to begin with. Traditional publishers aren’t likely to publish individual short stories by an unknown author. The only way most writers I know of publish short stories is by selling them to magazines, but the vast majority of those magazines focus on “literary” stories, not urban fantasy. Because of this, the number of places I could publish “Radiance” would be very slim, and if I DID manage to get it published in a magazine, it would be a single, flat payment for publication in one issue. After that one printing, it’d likely never be heard from again.

Instead of publishing a story in a single magazine where it appears in one issue then gets buried in the back of a doctor’s office waiting room, I’m publishing it online. It will be available forever (I hope), with more stories to follow in the series. I have more than half a dozen stories already written, so one day there will be a huge collection published in this series. “Arcana Revived” will be comprised of a minimum of three novels and a dozen short stories, and probably a lot more than that, as I add to it over the years.

This is one of the ways I feel I can overcome the writer’s doubt. This project may only be my first, small start, but I have a business plan. One I’ve researched extensively, with plans for marketing, advertising, and branding. I think that’s going to be the difference between good versus bad self-publishing. Self-pub gets a bad rep a lot of the time, because frankly, the self-publishing world is filled with as many crappy ebooks as there are crappy videos on YouTube. Every once in awhile, however, you see a YouTube video with millions of hits, and a self-published author who winds up on the New York Times bestseller list. The difference between the unknown author and the successful one, in my opinion, is based on how hard you work and how much you learn about the industry. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m working to learn it. I’m not just throwing an ebook out there and waiting for a magic fairy to sprinkle pixie dust on it to make it sell. This is my job. I clock in every day and work hard to make sure it will succeed.

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