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Friday, March 21, 2008

430 Strong and growing...

The latest stats since The Unearthing was released as a free ebook download are quite encouraging. At least 250 people have, as of this posting, downloaded The Unearthing from its seed with WTL's website.

Today, I learned that the MemoWare ebook store is now also hosting The Unearthing as a free download, and that I can add a further 180 readers from their website to my totals, bringing the grand total readership to 430 people.

Thank you, one and all; I sincerely hope you are enjoying what you read!

That means that in the seventeen days since deciding to release it as a free ebook, The Unearthing's readership has increased fifty-four times over the total sales of the novel's initial eighteen months. For those of you who are as good at math as I am, it means that in the first year and a half since it was initially published, I only sold 8 copies.

Not only that, readers of the book at MemoWare have rated it 5 out of 5 stars; over at Ebook Miner, which links to the WTL seed, readers have given it a 4 out of 5 star rating.

Few authors, even among the best-sellers, can actually make a living from writing. So the first thing any writer aspiring to become an author must ask themselves, is what is more important? Being read or being rich? If the answer is being rich, become a lawayer or a video game designer and write books in your spare time.

If the answer is that you want to be read, then there is no reason to take rejection from the allegedly "legitimate" publishers lying down. Rejection doesn't mean your book's not good enough, just that your connections aren't.

Of course you have self doubt. And it is likely that some (though I don't believe for a minute that most) of you aren't yet writing something really good enough to be read. If you want to know for sure, find people who aren't related to you to read your stuff. Find people with the time and the patience to actually give you feedback as you're writing, LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY, because they are probably right. Take a writing class with a teacher who is more than willing to absolutely fucking savage your work. Once your ego is torn down you'll begin to write well.

I speak from personal experience.

So, you've gotten your writing up to par. You've gotten so many rejection letters from publisher and agents and done so much research that you've realized how closed and sequestered a society "legitimate" publishing is. You've decided to self-publish. Now what?

Do your homework: research, research, research.

There are plenty of print-on-demand publishers out there who will be only too happy to publish your work Stay away from any of them that want money from you. A legitimate POD publisher makes their money selling books...oftentimes to the authors, themselves, who then re-sell them, but if they're asking for money up front, it's a scam.

But, you say, some of the pay-us-to-publish-you "publishers" are associated with big name publishing houses. Yes, yes they are. And for them it's a lucrative way of finding potential new talent and bilking small fortunes from naive individuals. "Scouting" might start at their in house "self publishing" stable, but they have people who read stuff online, who read self-published material, who are paid to read stuff from us independents and small-timers, all to find someone whom they think will be potentially profitable enough to bring into the fold.

I've outlined a few easy steps you can follow, to help you find the right POD publisher for you. You can link to them through the Chronicles of an independent author sidebar on the left, or click on the links below:

002---Vanity and Self-Publishing
003---Online Publishing
008---The Experiment : The Print On Demand Controversy

That should get you started in the right direction.

So, when you have found a POD publisher you feel comfortable enough to work with, you now proceed to the next phase of operations: getting your book approved and getting it published. Chances are good that when it is published, while the book will be listed with and other online retailers, you won't find many bookstores willing to carry it, and very likely, the POD publisher will not be doing that much for you, in terms of marketing.

Here's where you should expect to lay out some money. I recommend online advertizing; the social networking sites, message boards, anywhere you can afford to.

And if you can't afford to, you've gotta go viral; spread the word of the book yourself, on message boards, social networking sites, etc. A lot of professional bloggers will tell you you need to invest 4-8 hours a day at this. The reality is, if you have 4-8 hours to invest a day, brilliant. But most of us don't. Do as much as you can, where you can, when you can.

Although I've not yet seen whether the ebook release will generate much in terms of sales of the novel, I expect at least a few people will buy a print copy. Time will tell, in about 90 days (That's when the next quarter's royalty cheques are sent out). If you decide to release part or all of your novel as an ebook to help promote it the print book, be sure of one thing: SECURE THE ELECTRONIC RIGHTS TO YOUR BOOK BEFORE YOU SIGN THE PUBLISHING AGREEMENT. I did. Very likely if I hadn't, my publisher would be sending a lot of lawyer's letters to a lot of people, myself included.

The great thing is the publisher is likely to send you an electronic galley copy in PDF form, so if you track the changes and corrections made to the book before it goes to print, you can use a PDF writer to update the galley and Presto! You have a ready-to-go ebook!

Once you have a self-or-independently published novel and an ebook ready to go look into Creative Commons licenses, and put the appropriate license disclaimer into the beginning of your ebook. I say appropriate, because there are different types of Creative Commons licenses out there, depending on what you want to allow to be done with your work.

Once all that is done, my friend, it's just a matter of finding somewhere to host the file, and finding ebook distributors (many) who would be interested in distributing your ebook (most). Network on writers' message boards, network on readers' message boards. Find blogs by other writers, comment on their work, and get into a dialogue with them and their readers.

If your primary goal as an author is to have your work read, this is all you need to do, to be successful. From then on, you can learn how to build up your audience, and who knows? Maybe one day, you'll even be able to make a living off your writing.

Just remember: never give up. And if the establishment's rules are keeping you from getting ahead, stop playing by their rules. Kobayashi Maru scenario: the only way to defeat the no-win scenario is to change the conditions of the scenario itself.

Think you can do it?

So do I.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight.

Terry Finley

Steve Karmazenuk said...

Thanks for reading.