Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can You Help with The Big Experiment?

Anyone who has followed JA Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing knows he's been talking up the power of e-book sales for a new generation of "indie published" authors--indie being the new term for self-published.

For years, the power-brokers in publishing have made the phrase "self-published" a big no-no, one of the few bad words we still have left. You were dirty if you were self-published. A hack. Stupid, too. You couldn't cut it with the big boys.

Now, Konrath says you're stupid not to.

I've waffled on this topic for a long time. I've stutter-stepped into Indie/self/whatever publishing with The Bottom Feeders, which surprisingly, has sold three copies this week to people I don't know. I've put Rock Gods and Scary Monsters out there. I've taken it down, fixed a few issues, and put it back out there (should be up again in a day or so).

I have two more books I'm planning to upload before the school year is out: The Last Days of the Springdale Saints and Borrowed Saints. All set in Springdale, my fictional home town. I had an offer from a small press for The Last Days of the Springdale Saints and I said no. I still plan to offer Borrowed Saints for free (because I made a promise), but it will be available to purchase, possibly with extras, on Kindle. All will be available through Smashwords. There might even be another self-released story collection next year or so. I'm going to release then in paperback, too, because I can and it's stupid, just plain stupid not to offer what I can to a potential audience.

I'm going to post monthly updates of my earnings and progress for the world to see. Because a) I have no shame and b) I'm sure plenty of people are curious about the experiment, too.

But I need help to make the big experiment work.

I noticed the strange uptick in sales of The Bottom Feeders after receiving a couple of reviews. Do reviews sell books? My results are inconclusive, but seeing stars under a title in Amazon.com does draw the eye. Besides, reviews, good or bad, gives an author something to talk about. If people are going to spend their money on your work, especially as an unknown, they need to hear your name a number of times before they give in. An author simply must talk about his/her book for readers to find it, and they have to find it before they buy it. I spent way too long feeling some weird shame spiral when I talked about writing. Whether this is my nature or a side-effect of the submission/rejection machine, I don't know.

But I think I can tell a good story, on occasion.

I'm looking for some brave souls to write reviews for my soon to be indie/self-pubbed books and post those reviews on Amazon when the titles are available. I know some of my dear readers don't feel all that great about self-publishing. I understand. Trust me. But I have to make my decisions based on what is right for me, right now. The future is the future, and no one knows how that will play out.

If you're interested, email me: aaron.polson(at)gmail.com. Sign up before the end of the month, and you'll be entered in the contest drawing.

Thanks. And good luck.

17 comments:

Barry Napier said...

Preach it and shout AMEN.

I have basically decided to give it a go, too. As we have sorta discussed lately. Your decision only makes me more confident in mine.

Kudos and godpseed!

onipar... said...

I'm still undecided on the whole e-book self publishing route. Since buying a Kindle I've perused the Amazon Kindle forum and found *many* authors there posting about their kindle books.

Part of me worries that it's so easy to self-publish, and another part is happy about it because it may lead to better, more experimental, and "fresh" fiction.

Either way, I always support fellow writers when I can. I actually already purchased a copy of Loathsome, Dark and Deep last week for my Kindle.

I'll definitely throw a review up on Amazon once I have some time to read it.

I'm very curious to see how your sales go too.

Aaron Polson said...

Barry - I want to support you in your endeavors, too. Don't forget about me when it comes time for pimping your novel.

Thanks, Anthony. I'm not sure about it, but I've decided I like to steer the canoe. Maybe I'll go over the falls, but at least I was steering...

Mary Rajotte said...

I'm very interested to hear how things progress for you. I've done my fair share of lamenting about the waning interest in "real" paper books, but after recently winning an eReader, I've been "trying out" works by authors I may not have experienced before. Maybe the lower pricing makes my purse strings a little more loose, I don't know.

I'm of the belief that the love of print books will never die. I enjoy eReading but there will always be those authors whose books I would rather have in print. Same with CDs. I digitally download music, but I have a core group of artists whose music I *must* have in hard copy.

My philoshophy? I love reading. Whichever format it comes in is all good. And as authors I think we have to stop wringing our hands and embrace the way other people read. By offering our work in more mediums only opens us up to that many more readers, right? At least I hope!

My plan is to dip my toes into digital publishing this year too. And I'm stoked that you're getting more sales. GO YOU!

Aaron Polson said...

Mary, I won't break any records, but every little bit helps. This is a topic akin to politics and/or religion for some people. I understand. Thank you for the kind review.

Cathryn Grant said...

I just stumbled across your blog, and then jumped over to read "The Sub-Basement" -- very chilling. (I'm sure I'm not the first to say that.)

I'll also be following your experiment. I recently ended months of self-debate and started down the Indie Author path. Since my flash fiction found some fans at EDF and on my website, I finally agreed with Konrath (and you): it's stupid not to "offer what I can to a potential audience".

I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.

Cate Gardner said...

I will remain a fan of your stories whether they be traditionally published or self-published until I go to hell and even then I'm sure I'll crawl out and update my kindle.

I wish you all the luck in the world (well, I might save a little for me and my other writing buddies but you can have a major portion) and am interested to hear how you get on. Self-publishing isn't for me though (ha - tune in next week because I've gone and said it now), I need an editor and I need to know someone wants to publish it as much as I want it published. I don't trust my judgdment re my own work.

I assume you're still going to be hounding the big publishers / agents because I'm certain a very good deal is in your future.

Aaron Polson said...

Hi, Cathryn, thanks for stopping by. Funny how little stories like "The Sub-Basement" just keeping on going, and going...

Cate - Thanks. Self-publishing isn't for a majority of what I write. I've tried to play it "safe". I worried about alienating myself from publishing or burning bridges. Now, I think those are my bridges to burn. Will I be hounding big publishers/agents? I don't know. I'm going to keep writing. I know that much. (and I'll keep reading your stories, too)

Daniel W. Powell said...

Go get 'em, brother! I'm looking forward to hearing your views on it, and I think you're going in with the right attitude. For a segment of the work, this is a great outlet. Creative control is huge, and shouldn't be discounted.

That doesn't mean you don't stop writing for larger markets and other publication channels.

Good luck! I should be starting my copy of Loathsome soon...

Aaron Polson said...

I hope you find something to like in Loathsome, Daniel. It always feels funny to say that...

Creative control is huge, and it would cost more than most are willing to pay for me to give away too much of that control.

I look forward to keeping everyone posted.

Jameson T. Caine said...

I've always been wary of the self publishing route because I will be the first to admit that my writing needs a good editor. I simply don't trust myself to polish the final product to a satisfactory degree. That said, I think the idea can work because despite the fact that "anyone" can do it, I think a good writer will more often than not get noticed with the proper promotion and word of mouth. Good luck and I look forward to hearing how it plays out.

Katey said...

I, like Cate, don't care how your fiction ends up out there. I'll read it, for sure. But I'll also review it when I do. I have The Bottom Feeders--and finally got an e-reader so I'm making my way through the e-reader backlog I've built up.

But I don't believe in shame. It's one thing to be polite in public--that's a good idea. It's another to feel like we should be sorry for what we love or what we do. That's not right, and doesn't help anyone.

Aaron Polson said...

Jameson - Thanks. Word of mouth is every writer's friend.

Katey - Part of me wishes I'd started writing twenty years ago...well, aside from being fifteen...all this talk wouldn't even be necessary. Change is scary. I'm supposed to like scary things.

K.Hinny said...

Wow, it has been forever since I've been here! Good for you for trying something new, Aaron! I think that people always tend to shy away from things that are new or uncomfortable, because we tend to build it up in our heads that it will be harder than what it really is. I think that is the tendency for many things (the rumor-syndrome in high school, for instance once you hear something small...the next time you hear it, the science lab blew up and seventeen people drowned in the swimming pool trying to put the fire out...)

Good luck with the self-publishing! I do think that self-promotion is a part of the biz whether or not you are backed by a big name publisher or are going it alone. Be proud, talk it up and if you need anything, let me know!

Happy writing,promoting,publishing
Kara

Milo James Fowler said...

Buena suerte in this endeavor, Aaron. I'll be watching with keen interest. For me, the jury's still out on self-publishing. With the surge in popularity of eReaders, this may be the way to go in the coming years; but I sure gain a lot from editors' input.

Aaron Polson said...

Appreciated, Kara. I'll be in touch.

Milo - I've found editor's input to be a mixed bag. Some editors are amazing to work with and I've learned much, but sometimes, I'm left feeling confused. I've had ying/yang feedback on some pieces, too. (e.g., I hate the ending/I love the ending) Just keep writing, I guess. Keep writing.

Benjamin Solah said...

I've bought both books for my Kindle. My Kindle came in on Tuesday so will get to read both of them soon but my 'father-in-law' (me and my partner aren't married, but close enough) has already read 'Rock Gods and Scary Monsters' when he was playing with my device and he said he liked it.

I'll be sure to post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and my blog when I read them. Always want to support another author especially since I'm experimenting with eBooks and all that myself.