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Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



divabot posted:

yep - and accumulating a fan base who will then buy your longer works. Thinking of the authors who've started in fanfic and grown a base there who already like their stuff.

Are there any examples I could read about? I'd be really interested in seeing how they managed that, especially in regards to the length of their works.

Small Question - When we talk about targeting a market, what precisely is meant? Is the market defined broadly as "horror" or are we talking "Horror that involves cats in space fighting miniature aliens?"


freebooter posted:

It's been a long time since I published short fiction, but if you want to go down the road of the short fiction version of trad pub (magazines and journals), then Duotrope is (or at least was, circa 2015) an absolutely invaluable resource:

https://duotrope.com/

Helps you keep track of what you've submitted and where, how long you've been waiting to hear back, whether journals permit simultaneous submissions etc. Also IIRC it had a really good filterable search engine so you could be like, OK, show me a fit for my [HORROR] story of [LESS THAN 5,000 WORDS] which [PAYS] and [ACCEPTS SIM-SUBS] from [OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES] etc.

Going down this road is purely for credentials/CV/experience though, you'll barely ever make a dime off it. I think the only piece of fiction I ever published that was financially worth the time was a story I had in Daily Science Fiction, because they were paying like 5c a word and I thought up a gimmick for a piece of flash fiction, wrote it and submitted it in the space of a couple hours. That's generally why I started putting all my energy into publishing longer fiction on Amazon, though I certainly don't regret it and I imagine having a small portfolio of published work would serve me in good stead if I ever try to trad pub long fiction.


:respek:

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freebooter
Jul 7, 2009

AUSTRALIA
NEEDS
TURNBULL


divabot posted:

yep - and accumulating a fan base who will then buy your longer works. Thinking of the authors who've started in fanfic and grown a base there who already like their stuff.

In fanfic, certainly, but nobody builds an audience in trad short fiction markets. There's a Tobias Wolff story about a writer who's published "a few stories in literary journals that nobody read, including me." Looks good to other publishers, is all.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


Captain Log posted:

Are there any examples I could read about? I'd be really interested in seeing how they managed that, especially in regards to the length of their works.

Cassandra Clare. She's traditionally published and massive in the YA urban fantasy niche. She started out as a Harry Potter fanfic writer and had a bunch of viral internet things, including the Very Secret Diaries for the LOTR movies when they first came out, before her first novel came out (and I would guess that a lot of her initial fan base came from people who had already read and enjoyed her fanfics). Extremely divisive due to a crapload of controversies, but whatever you wanna say about her, she's a genius at writing to market and also very commercially successful.

Captain Log posted:

Small Question - When we talk about targeting a market, what precisely is meant? Is the market defined broadly as "horror" or are we talking "Horror that involves cats in space fighting miniature aliens?"

There are broad, umbrella market categories, then specific sub-genres. "Horror" is a genre at large, "YA" is another genre. Some of these can intersect, e.g. "YA horror". Within genres, you can have sub-genres/niches. "Dark fantasy" vs "occult" for example would qualify. A really good way to figure out what niches there are is to look at the Amazon categories. Amazon changes these over time to respond to changes in reader tastes. "LitRPG" and "progression fantasy" for example, weren't things a few years back but now it's a big portion of SFF self-publishing.

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Leng posted:

Cassandra Clare. She's traditionally published and massive in the YA urban fantasy niche. She started out as a Harry Potter fanfic writer and had a bunch of viral internet things, including the Very Secret Diaries for the LOTR movies when they first came out, before her first novel came out (and I would guess that a lot of her initial fan base came from people who had already read and enjoyed her fanfics). Extremely divisive due to a crapload of controversies, but whatever you wanna say about her, she's a genius at writing to market and also very commercially successful.

There are broad, umbrella market categories, then specific sub-genres. "Horror" is a genre at large, "YA" is another genre. Some of these can intersect, e.g. "YA horror". Within genres, you can have sub-genres/niches. "Dark fantasy" vs "occult" for example would qualify. A really good way to figure out what niches there are is to look at the Amazon categories. Amazon changes these over time to respond to changes in reader tastes. "LitRPG" and "progression fantasy" for example, weren't things a few years back but now it's a big portion of SFF self-publishing.

Excellent! Thanks for the info.

Now I'm going to be trying to google where the line is for YA Horror. The horror I write has never been particularly gory, and I've always wanted to write a horror-lite story about a restaurant in the sticks getting attacked by a roving band of Sasquatch creatures. :derptiel:

divabot
Jun 17, 2015

A polite little mouse!


Captain Log posted:

Are there any examples I could read about? I'd be really interested in seeing how they managed that, especially in regards to the length of their works.

Thinking of a few I like such as Andrew Seiple, who I first saw writing a fanfic that was clearly head and shoulders above the others in the fandom - and it was a crossover between the fandom and his OC. Which if you do it wrong is just a really bad SI/Mary Sue, but if you do it right wins. His stuff is weird-ish superheroes and litRPG - nerd fodder - but he does it well enough to charge and receive money. His "Dire" series is on KU and is a rollicking read.

freebooter posted:

In fanfic, certainly, but nobody builds an audience in trad short fiction markets. There's a Tobias Wolff story about a writer who's published "a few stories in literary journals that nobody read, including me." Looks good to other publishers, is all.

lol yes there is that

Sally Forth
Oct 16, 2012


Captain Log posted:

Are there any examples I could read about? I'd be really interested in seeing how they managed that, especially in regards to the length of their works.

I have two friends who made the jump - one got her start by writing very popular (novel, novella, and short story-length) fics in big fandoms and built up enough of a following that, when she published an original novella to AO3, an agent read it, offered her rep, and then sold it for her. Since then she's published a sequel novella and her first novel's just been announced.

Second friend wasn't as well-known in fandom but when she started posting her own original novel to AO3, our first friend publicised it for her (this happened before first friend's professional career had taken off) and a similar thing happened - it was wildly popular, at least one big-name author started talking about it, and she got an agent who later sold it for her. (Not to undersell her work - it's a great story in its own right, but it might not have exploded as it did without the initial visibility).

This is all vanishingly unlikely though, and if you're not interested in fandom for its own sake, I don't think it will be a useful avenue to go down. First friend built up her audience through a decade of genuine engagement (and of course luck played a role - writing the right story to hook the right fandom at the right time).

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Sally Forth posted:

I have two friends who made the jump - one got her start by writing very popular (novel, novella, and short story-length) fics in big fandoms and built up enough of a following that, when she published an original novella to AO3, an agent read it, offered her rep, and then sold it for her. Since then she's published a sequel novella and her first novel's just been announced.

Second friend wasn't as well-known in fandom but when she started posting her own original novel to AO3, our first friend publicised it for her (this happened before first friend's professional career had taken off) and a similar thing happened - it was wildly popular, at least one big-name author started talking about it, and she got an agent who later sold it for her. (Not to undersell her work - it's a great story in its own right, but it might not have exploded as it did without the initial visibility).

This is all vanishingly unlikely though, and if you're not interested in fandom for its own sake, I don't think it will be a useful avenue to go down. First friend built up her audience through a decade of genuine engagement (and of course luck played a role - writing the right story to hook the right fandom at the right time).

I'm sorry, but what does AO3 mean? I'm old and easily confused.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Captain Log posted:

I'm sorry, but what does AO3 mean? I'm old and easily confused.

A fanwork hosting site

D-Pad
Jun 28, 2006




This is interesting

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/tiktok-taking-book-industry-storm-retailers-are-taking-notice-n1272909

KrunkMcGrunk
Jul 2, 2007

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.

so i worked with a producer/narrator to make an audiobook on ACX and I am so out of my element here. the audiobook is live, but i haven't the slightest clue how to promote or manage it, or even how to change the price.

jesus this is like publishing my first ebook all over again.

e: well! seems i can't change or set my price myself. i am suddenly feeling way less optimistic about audiobooks.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Launch day is in a few days for me. This was very much a first-time publishing thing/vanity project. Would there be any value in me posting my thoughts/processes here?

n8r
Jul 3, 2003

I helped Lowtax become a cyborg and all I got was this lousy avatar

I know this is more in the realm of bigger publisher, but has anyone gotten their book off KDP and onto vendorcentral? I’m not having any luck adding it to my catalog.

Slimy Hog
Apr 22, 2008




DropTheAnvil posted:

Launch day is in a few days for me. This was very much a first-time publishing thing/vanity project. Would there be any value in me posting my thoughts/processes here?

I'm a non-writer lurker who relays stuff to my wife who is currently writing her first book and I'd find value in it if nobody else does.

newts
Oct 10, 2012


DropTheAnvil posted:

Launch day is in a few days for me. This was very much a first-time publishing thing/vanity project. Would there be any value in me posting my thoughts/processes here?

Yep, go for it.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



DropTheAnvil posted:

Launch day is in a few days for me. This was very much a first-time publishing thing/vanity project. Would there be any value in me posting my thoughts/processes here?

Absolutely.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


DropTheAnvil posted:

Launch day is in a few days for me. This was very much a first-time publishing thing/vanity project. Would there be any value in me posting my thoughts/processes here?

:justpost: because we're all here to learn!

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



Hearing about the audio book stuff is pretty dang cool, too.

I've always thought about reading books on Youtube. Not sure if that is A Thing and my voice is probably too nasal, but it might be fun. Hearing about audiobook woes would be illuminating.

KrunkMcGrunk
Jul 2, 2007

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.

Captain Log posted:

Hearing about the audio book stuff is pretty dang cool, too.

I've always thought about reading books on Youtube. Not sure if that is A Thing and my voice is probably too nasal, but it might be fun. Hearing about audiobook woes would be illuminating.

From the little bit of research i've done since yesterday, it seems like audio is very much where ebooks were like 6 or 7 years ago. things are still shaking out, there are a lot of players, and there aren't many options for marketing. right now it seems like my best marketing vehicle is my ebook's amazon page, since the audio book is listed there. i did sell 7 audiobooks yesterday, so that was cool.

some folks also recommended https://theaudiobookworm.com/ but i haven't looked too closely at that. i guess they do blog tours? im not a huge fan of blog tours.

anyway, i paid $2k for narration of this audiobook. i'm pretty dubious about it actually paying out, but i have a few more experienced colleagues who assure me audio is worth it, even with the high barrier for entry, and investment in more audiobooks for my series is worth the money. i mean, i can see that maybe they're right? the market for audiobooks is no where near as saturated as the ebook market, but making 40% off a $17.95 cover price means selling a lot of audiobooks before i come close to breaking even.

KrunkMcGrunk fucked around with this message at 14:34 on Jul 20, 2021

KrunkMcGrunk
Jul 2, 2007

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.

As much as I bellyache about the numbers for audio, I will say that as an author, hearing my book read out loud by a professional narrator helped me improve it. it was far easier to catch awkward phrasing or repetitious words when i had the manuscript open on my monitor and listened to the audio for proofing. that helped a lot.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



KrunkMcGrunk posted:

As much as I bellyache about the numbers for audio, I will say that as an author, hearing my book read out loud by a professional narrator helped me improve it. it was far easier to catch awkward phrasing or repetitious words when i had the manuscript open on my monitor and listened to the audio for proofing. that helped a lot.

I wonder if a decent TTS program could work similarly, for a cheaper method.

KrunkMcGrunk
Jul 2, 2007

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.

Fuschia tude posted:

I wonder if a decent TTS program could work similarly, for a cheaper method.

probably. i know some people do that as a matter of course. I never have, but i'm thinking i should.

oliveoil
Apr 22, 2016


Leng posted:

"LitRPG" and "progression fantasy" for example, weren't things a few years back but now it's a big portion of SFF self-publishing.

Can people make decent money self-pubbing now? I got the impression it became so competitive that one had to be willing to spend 60hrs a week writing smut for minimum wage.

KrunkMcGrunk
Jul 2, 2007

Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit.

oliveoil posted:

Can people make decent money self-pubbing now? I got the impression it became so competitive that one had to be willing to spend 60hrs a week writing smut for minimum wage.

yes, people can make decent money. i mean, if you want to write smut (i haven't) my impression is your impression is accurate. I know people who do, and they work like loving crazy, but its def better money than minimum wage.

i write mysteries and thrillers. i haven't quit my day job yet, but I could easily put 8+ hours a day into writing if the time were available to me. There is money in it, and over the last six years, i'm lucky enough to have met and worked with people who pull in bigger salaries than i've ever had.

tbh i'm not sure what prospects are like for someone who is 100% brand new to self-pubbing. is it competitive? yes. is it a ton of work? yes. You might swing at the ball a hundred times and never hit it out of the park, but you can certainly make an impact for yourself if you're patient, tenacious, and can set your ego aside long enough to make smart moves (personally, I still struggle with the ego bit).

freebooter
Jul 7, 2009

AUSTRALIA
NEEDS
TURNBULL


oliveoil posted:

Can people make decent money self-pubbing now? I got the impression it became so competitive that one had to be willing to spend 60hrs a week writing smut for minimum wage.

It depends on your definition of "decent" money. Lots of people (long before self-publishing was even a thing) make the assumption that novelists earn six figures a year and anything less than that is failure.

divabot
Jun 17, 2015

A polite little mouse!


KrunkMcGrunk posted:

As much as I bellyache about the numbers for audio, I will say that as an author, hearing my book read out loud by a professional narrator helped me improve it. it was far easier to catch awkward phrasing or repetitious words when i had the manuscript open on my monitor and listened to the audio for proofing. that helped a lot.

I read my entire second book out loud as part of the editing process. My vocal chords are hosed by the steroids I snort to keep breathing, so this was a painful process (and I'm absolutely not attempting to record an audiobook). But I discovered bad sentences I would not have found without it.

freebooter posted:

It depends on your definition of "decent" money. Lots of people (long before self-publishing was even a thing) make the assumption that novelists earn six figures a year and anything less than that is failure.

if you can make it work, it's beer money, and in my case basically a spare half an income. (When I figure in freelance income and panels and so forth. I look forward to Covid finally being out the way, 'cos doing gigs as an Expert is totally where the money is.)

Also, I was gonna say: make writer friends. Talk up your mates. It's heartwarming and supportive, you feel better about what you're doing when you have a circle of co-conspirators, and remember: one weirdo is a weirdo - but two weirdos, that's a movement.

Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


oliveoil posted:

Can people make decent money self-pubbing now? I got the impression it became so competitive that one had to be willing to spend 60hrs a week writing smut for minimum wage.

Will Wight (https://www.willwight.com/) is a very successful self-published author, so much that I think when he went to some writing convention, he stood up and asked Sanderson if there was any value in him switching over to traditional publishing. Wight reeled off some numbers, then Sanderson (and the rest of the panelists) told him he's doing great and that it's probably not worth his while to switch over, because he would end up making LESS. His most recent release (Bloodline, Book 9 in the Cradle series) hit the NYT bestseller list. Wight earns enough to hire and pay for his own team (there's at least a part time business manager on board, don't know to what extent his other staff are employed as).

It's also very much a numbers (and catering to your audience) game. If you have enough books on back catalogue and you're releasing consistently and frequently, you should be able to build a steady income stream over time.

But building that audience is tough, because you have to keep putting out other forms of content that AREN'T books (which then eat into your time to get the next book done). I'm so behind on my second book right now that I decided to try a desperate tactic: I went and live streamed me doing the illustrations for 2-3 hours because that would a) force me to work on the book, b) qualify as putting out "content" that doesn't take time away from working on the next book, and c) experiment to see if this would be a thing people would be interested in.

I was expecting zero views so ended up being surprised that I actually had some viewers. I might experiment with consistently streaming until I finish illustrating the book just to see what happens.

oliveoil
Apr 22, 2016


Cool! Thanks, folks! That's kind of what I expected.

I don't expect a huge income from books alone and I have a day job. I just want to do something creative that could turn into food money if the stock market crashes and I get laid off one day. Ideally it would have a remote chance of being a lottery ticket.

I've been learning about digital marketing for a couple years in my free time so I feel like I might be able to do something there to increase my odds of success if I can put out a quality product that appeals to a hungry niche.

One day I'd like to combine storytelling with art to make webcomics but I'm pretty sure the money there is even more difficult to squeeze out and I want to get a process in place to make telling a proper story a habit first.

White Chocolate
Jan 23, 2007
Sweat Baby, sweat baby

Leng posted:

Will Wight (https://www.willwight.com/) is a very successful self-published author, so much that I think when he went to some writing convention, he stood up and asked Sanderson if there was any value in him switching over to traditional publishing. Wight reeled off some numbers, then Sanderson (and the rest of the panelists) told him he's doing great and that it's probably not worth his while to switch over, because he would end up making LESS. His most recent release (Bloodline, Book 9 in the Cradle series) hit the NYT bestseller list. Wight earns enough to hire and pay for his own team (there's at least a part time business manager on board, don't know to what extent his other staff are employed as).

It's also very much a numbers (and catering to your audience) game. If you have enough books on back catalogue and you're releasing consistently and frequently, you should be able to build a steady income stream over time.

But building that audience is tough, because you have to keep putting out other forms of content that AREN'T books (which then eat into your time to get the next book done). I'm so behind on my second book right now that I decided to try a desperate tactic: I went and live streamed me doing the illustrations for 2-3 hours because that would a) force me to work on the book, b) qualify as putting out "content" that doesn't take time away from working on the next book, and c) experiment to see if this would be a thing people would be interested in.

I was expecting zero views so ended up being surprised that I actually had some viewers. I might experiment with consistently streaming until I finish illustrating the book just to see what happens.

If only it hadn’t been near midnight in my local time zone I would have been on it.

oliveoil
Apr 22, 2016


Has anyone paid attention to litrpgs? Wondering what the best examples of the genre are. From both quality and popularity, if those are different in this genre.

Edit: lmao why do half of these have women with huge boobs on the cover? Did I just stumble on the male-audience equivalent of alpha male shape-shifting billionaire romance novels?

oliveoil fucked around with this message at 21:13 on Jul 23, 2021

Paladin
Nov 26, 2004
You lost today, kid. But that doesn't mean you have to like it.




oliveoil posted:

Edit: lmao why do half of these have women with huge boobs on the cover? Did I just stumble on the male-audience equivalent of alpha male shape-shifting billionaire romance novels?

Probably a good idea to lurk out the Web Serials Thread in the book barn and get a feel for recommendations, I think one of this thread's authors (Angel Opportunity?) tried branching out into LitRPG and found that the audience has very specific preferences and expectations that can be tricky to work around.

Are you looking at web serial fiction in general, or specifically LitRPG? LitRPG does seem like a genre where audience pandering cover design would boost readership by 20%.

Paladin fucked around with this message at 15:11 on Jul 24, 2021

oliveoil
Apr 22, 2016


Paladin posted:

Probably a good idea to lurk out the Web Serials Thread in the book barn and get a feel for recommendations, I think one of this thread's authors (Angel Opportunity?) tried branching out into LitRPG and found that the audience has very specific preferences and expectations that can be tricky to work around.

Are you looking at web serial fiction in general, or specifically LitRPG? LitRPG does seem like a genre where audience pandering cover design would boost readership by 20%.

I searched litrpg on Amazon and started clicking on some of the results. A few of them had a bunch of also-boughts with big boobs on the covers.

divabot
Jun 17, 2015

A polite little mouse!


oliveoil posted:

I searched litrpg on Amazon and started clicking on some of the results. A few of them had a bunch of also-boughts with big boobs on the covers.

it's nerdy nerd genre pulp for a particular variety of nerdy nerds who know precisely the sort of nerdery they like. Mostly it's pulpy trash, but a good writer can write it well and interestingly. So if you decide you like this sort of thing and think you could write a really good one, by all means go for it. I don't know how big a genre niche it is, but there's always room for more good books.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


oliveoil posted:

Has anyone paid attention to litrpgs? Wondering what the best examples of the genre are. From both quality and popularity, if those are different in this genre.

Edit: lmao why do half of these have women with huge boobs on the cover? Did I just stumble on the male-audience equivalent of alpha male shape-shifting billionaire romance novels?

Take this worth a grain of salt, but LitRPG shares an audience with the Iseakai genre and readers of Reader Player One. Typically anime has explored the litRPG before, .hack/Sign being a great example. Since that makes your audience pre-dominantly male, maybe that's why they are advertising with some TNA.

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


Hey my ebook/paperback released, and I wrote up a quick guide on how I did it! Feel free to critique, or offer pointers!

Who this is for?
This is for people who want to know how to format their manuscript into an ebook. We won’t be covering how to write, I am going to assume you already have your manuscript written. I am going to admit that I didn’t do this for the money, though some of these stories had already sold. Mainly I wanted a small book to give to my family members and friends.

TLDR - just tell me what resources you used]
  • Scrivener - To write and compile manuscript to .epub format
  • Libre OfficeWriter - To convert manuscript into PDF
  • Kindle Previewer - To review the .epub
  • https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201834230 - To grab the proper size template for my paperback
  • Fiverr.com (NicoleClare91) - Cover
  • BookSideManner - Copy Editing
  • GIMP - Converting Cover to 300 PDF DPI

Formatting The Manuscript - Epub
I use scrivener for writing, as I find it helps me keep organized. When it came to formatting, I found it useful for the ebook format, less so for the paperback. A quick note about formatting, keep in mind I just wanted a basic-rear end book. I didn’t incorporate any themes.

Within Scrivener, I setup each “Chapter” into it’s own folder, and gave the folder a name.


Each Scene is the full story, with scene breaks manually denoted by ***



Front Page matter (Dedication and Cover) I let Scrivener setup in their own folder. Amazon overwrote the "default" cover, so that was good. For now I was mainly focused on turning this into an ebook. To do that I used Scriveners compile method.



Scrivener lets you compile your manuscript into many different formats, epub included. So I choose to use Scrivener, messed around with the section layouts, and got a decent .epub version out.

Reviewing Manuscript - EPUB
With the .epub version done, I was able to download Kindle Previewer and check through the manuscript. I had to recompile a few times, either due to spacing errors, or just not liking what Scrivener did with sections. Once I had what I liked, I then uploaded my .epub to Amazon, and went to work on the Paperback version.

Formatting The Manuscript- Paperback
I had a devil of a time getting Scrivener to work with Paperback. When I tried to upload a formatted .docx, Amazon disliked that, and some of my text even bled over the pages. I decided to use Amazon’s paperback templates, and decided to use standard 6”X9” size (this later proved to be a problem).

So, now that I had the template, what I did was go into Scrivener, compile my manuscript into .docx, then manually copy and paste into the amazon template. Are there better ways to do this? Yes, oh god yes. Did this work? Yes.

I had to mess a bit with my table of contents, and fix some of the spacing and headers, but eventually I got my manuscript converted and ready to go! I promptly uploaded my .docx to amazon, and immediately hit issues.

Turns out, that converting it to a PDF was the way to go. I followed the documentation here, tweaked LibreOffice Writer to convert it as PDF, and uploaded. Finally I had it working, and it looked decent.

Reviewing Manuscript - Paperback
Amazon is rather helpful for the paperback version. After you upload your manuscript, you are forced to review the paperback. It shows you your cover, your pages, bleedthrough and other things.

Making Sure I Can Sell my Stories
Before we move further, just a quick note. Some of these stories were sold to magazines. I had to read the contracts to verify I could publish those stories in my own collection, and even reached out to the editors of the magazine. The editors were very helpful, and if you are in my situation I would recommend you ask the magazine first, rather than take my advice.

When reviewing the contracts, the stuff I had to pay attention to was:

Please note that 1 week is not standard, the magazine was incredibly generous :).

Editing/Critique
Another quick note, make sure whatever you are publishing is critiqued. I am fortunate enough to have a few writer friends that critiqued my work, and that I trusted to give me honest critique.

As part of that critique, questions of whether or not I was still in third grade came up, so I used Bookside Manner (Thanks thread!) for the copy edit. Their service was great, and I am going to use them again.

Theme and Title
Allright, now that the editing, critique and legal stuff is out of the way, I immediately ran face first into a wall. That wall was “What should I title this thing.” and “What is my theme.”

*Cough* We are going to get moopy here for a second *Cough*

I highly suggest you leave your emotions in the dedication and in the stories, not in the title and theme. Don’t do what I did and come up with the title during a time of family-crisis.

I would say this is where my problems started. My aim for the theme was “feel-good” stories, kind of like Chicken Soup for the Soul,and the title was supposed to involve silver lining in clouds.

Instead what I got was a title more akin to a christian novel, and it didn’t help that another author with the same name wrote a how to masturbate guide for christians. When I do this again, I will spend a lot more time on the Theme and Title.

Cover
So, now that we have a terrible theme and a terrible title, its time to get a cover! This was actually the most frustrating part of the process (That 6” by 9” paperback formatting is going to bite me in the rear end)!

Before we delve further, I want to point out how much of a pain in the rear end the cover was.

  • First, I decided to do a collection of short stories, which meant I couldn’t do the standard cool person standing definitely in a cool stance cover.
  • Second, a lot of short story collections have the authors name in FULL BOLD PRINT on the cover, to try and get your attention. Nobody except my Mom and Dad cared that Mike McArthur wrote this. So my comp covers were few and far between
  • Third, I ignored a lot of advice given in threads and online. And if you are going to do that, you don’t get to belly ache about the your sales number, or quality of work.

What I did do, was find some covers I did like, and noticed that I was going towards a more artsy cover, rather that design focused. This helped me narrow things down, and provide examples to designer creators.

So I promptly went to a custom cover creator, put some money down, laid out some instructions and waited… and waited… and waited.

Then I found out the cover creator got covid. With not a lot of time left (More on that in marketing) I decided to go to Fiverr. I tried out a few people, and found that my ill decisions on theme and title were causing some people some grief. Lot of covers with lightbulbs, or seagulls and lens flares. (Again, this is MY fault, not the designers fault).

Fortunately, one person got what I was looking for, mainly thanks to my comparative titles. I received an awesome cover! It’s not a “Buy me” cover, and admittedly goes against a lot of the advice, but it was a cover I liked.

So with the cover ready, I promptly attached it to my ebook and it worked great. When I went to add it to the paperback, two things came up

  • I had to convert the image to a PDF, using 300DPI
  • I had specified that my book was 5” by 8” for page count (Smaller area == more pages) and for image quality (5” by 8” is typical ebook size, so I wouldn’t have to expand the cover)

So I immediately had to reformat my paperback version to accommodate the size. After an hour or two of fighting with Libre Office, I got it done.

Marketing
DO NOT USE REDDIT, UNLESS YOU HAVE BEEF, OR AN AMAZING COVER

First off, anyone hoping to learn the marketing secrets and how to make $100 off ebooks is going to be very sad. Please note this was mainly a vanity project.

I am fortunately enough to be known in my regional writing circle, and was part of a live-reading. This was going to be my primary form of marketing, and I was okay with it. During the live-reading I read one of my stories from the collection, and announced the preorder of my book.


This was well received and I immediately jumped to #3 spotlight in Fantasy Anthologies (For approximately one hour), which just goes to show you should be skeptical when authors announce “I’m #1 in XYZ category”. I had 11 preorders to get to that spot, and I was very grateful to be there.

When the book launched, I advertised it via word of mouth to the writing groups I am in, as well as facebook. Again, mainly selling to an audience of my friends and family.

What happened next was weird. I had another 2 orders from the ebook, and promptly got roughly 30 orders for my paperback. The paperback orders only show up when they ship, while the ebook versions showed up immediately. This made figuring out how many books I sold a bit cumbersome, but I was very grateful never the less.

Sales Numbers and Royalty Rates

So in total, I had about 45 orders of my book. My Kindle Edition Normalized Pages was about 56 (I have no idea what this graph is trying to tell me)

I am going to assume 56 pages is great for a first-time, no marketing, book, and would like to pre-emptively thank my mother for reading it.

My pricing structure was as follows
Ebook: 2.99
Paperback: 5.99

I’ll comment on the pricing a bit later. The actual royalty rates were
Ebook: 70% , so 2.06 a book
Paperback: 60% but Printing costs are deducted first. 5.99 - 2.82 (Printing Costs) * .60 = .77 a book

Since my primary marketing method was word of mouth, it made sense that everyone wanted a paperback version. I think this is also where I did a bit of a oopsie. Next time I'd offer a bigger book, and price it around $8.99. Also for anyone going the same route, figure out what you are going to write in your signature BEFORE you sign the book.

What I Would do Differently

Theme and Title. I would first come up with the theme, then write stories to fit that theme (Instead of diggint into my collection of well-received stories and coming up with a theme). On the creative side of publishing, this was the biggest thorn in my side.

Page Length/Story Count: I don’t mind selling an ebook for 2.99, but a paperback for $5.99 is too expensive (For only 5 stories). Next time I’ll try and do 15 stories in a collection, and bump the paperback to $7.99 or something.

Formatting: I would love to play around with ebook and paperback formatting. Maybe add some cool crows at the start of every story, and have a nice looking Table of Contents.

Editing: Maybe, just maybe, there was a typo in my cover/blurb. I maybe had to manually edit the PDF cover and correct that typo. What I would do next time is triple check my work :P

Marketing: Next, I wouldn’t mind dipping my hand in Marketing, although I have to take a good look at how to market a short story collection.

The Actual Product
SHILL MODE ACTIVATED

If you want to see the cover of my book, you can see it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Light-Shines-Through-Mike-McArthur/dp/B099JTMSSB

DropTheAnvil fucked around with this message at 00:01 on Jul 26, 2021

oliveoil
Apr 22, 2016


drat, you really put a lot of thought into that. Thank you!

For me, marketing always seems like the biggest issue. Why do you say not to use reddit? Or was that just a warning not to use it the way those first few examples did, where they just dumped a link and ran away?

DropTheAnvil
May 16, 2021


oliveoil posted:

drat, you really put a lot of thought into that. Thank you!

For me, marketing always seems like the biggest issue. Why do you say not to use reddit? Or was that just a warning not to use it the way those first few examples did, where they just dumped a link and ran away?

I'd be interested in everyone's opinion about using reddit.

Typically I find that self-published authors get raked over the coals. The LJStanton reddit post had a lot of interaction, but got removed due to self promotion. A lot of subreddits do not allow self promotion, and you see posts in /r/pics get demolished as soon as people find out its self-published. It's hard to come across as genuine, and unless you know the community and are a part of it, it feels like the water is already poisoned by others.

I know the author of "order of the magi" did well in their post in /r/fantasy, but I also LOVE their cover! So in short, self promotion is banned in many subreddits, and even if you do get past, a lot of people dislike self-promotion/self-published works.


I had a question about, well, hiding your self-published status. I have noticed a common theme of authors (See the ljstanton post) making their own publishing company, to obfuscate the fact that their book is self published. I am privileged to not have to make a living off of my writing, so I don't want to bash this behavior, but I would love to get some more perspective on it.

DropTheAnvil fucked around with this message at 02:16 on Jul 26, 2021

Captain Log
Oct 2, 2006

Captain Log posted:

"I AINT DYING! Choo choo motherfucker!"
:toot::birddrugs::toot:



I'm curious as to why people would hate self published stuff?

I know it can often mean complete word salad trash, especially pre-internet decades ago. But in today's age, where you can read a page and gauge the competence, why would it receive a negative reaction?

Here is a bad example I've personally encountered - I remember working with a guy in a warehouse who started cranking out self published zombie novels. This was a decade ago, so he did much better than the work warranted. It was really, really bad writing and the dude walked around all :smug: saying, "You know, I AM a published author, so..." and then prattle on with the stupidest poo poo you'd ever heard.

But on the other hand, there is a whole lot of great self published stuff. Especially today, where excellent authors can cut through the Literature Scene and start making copies?

Does everyone just assume self published equals being That Guy who I worked with ages ago, while magically not naming and of the good ones?

freebooter
Jul 7, 2009

AUSTRALIA
NEEDS
TURNBULL



FWIW I think your cover and blurb are really good and if you've been published in short fiction magazines then you know how to write. You've said this is mostly a personal project and I'm sure you're aware that short story collections don't sell well, but you should definitely try putting out longer fiction in the future if you're so inclined - I think you'd do well.

Captain Log posted:

I'm curious as to why people would hate self published stuff?

I know it can often mean complete word salad trash, especially pre-internet decades ago. But in today's age, where you can read a page and gauge the competence, why would it receive a negative reaction?

Here is a bad example I've personally encountered - I remember working with a guy in a warehouse who started cranking out self published zombie novels. This was a decade ago, so he did much better than the work warranted. It was really, really bad writing and the dude walked around all :smug: saying, "You know, I AM a published author, so..." and then prattle on with the stupidest poo poo you'd ever heard.

But on the other hand, there is a whole lot of great self published stuff. Especially today, where excellent authors can cut through the Literature Scene and start making copies?

Does everyone just assume self published equals being That Guy who I worked with ages ago, while magically not naming and of the good ones?

A much higher proportion of it than trad published books is still trash. And the rags-to-riches stories like Hugh Howey and the 50 Shades of Grey writer revolve around writers "making it" by getting a trad publishing contract, so lots of non-writers still assume that if anyone is any good then they'll inevitably end up in trad publishing, so if you're still self-pubbing you must not be any good. Anecdotally, I've heard the opposite - plenty of trad published authors who were only ever making maybe 10k in royalties a year and still had full-time day jobs (which is probably like 90% of authors with books on shelves in stores) have started self-pubbing instead because it gives them far more control and a bigger share of their profits.

White Chocolate
Jan 23, 2007
Sweat Baby, sweat baby

Oh that is interesting can you talk about your decision to go on kindle unlimited?

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Leng
May 13, 2006

One song / Glory
One song before I go / Glory
One song to leave behind


No other road
No other way
No day but today


DropTheAnvil posted:

A very good post that should be linked to in the OP

There's another goon that self publishes short stories...I can't find the user id on my phone but I'll have a look when I'm back at my computer.

DropTheAnvil posted:


I had a question about, well, hiding your self-published status. I have noticed a common theme of authors (See the ljstanton post) making their own publishing company, to obfuscate the fact that their book is self published. I am privileged to not have to make a living off of my writing, so I don't want to bash this behavior, but I would love to get some more perspective on it.

That can be one of the reasons but it's a terrible reason. The other reasons are for branding and a separation of your business interests from your personal affairs which is a generally good idea to do if you're serious about things. You do not want personal screw ups interfering with your professional assets (or vice versa).

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