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Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Question for those that self-pub short stories:

Is there any downside to submitting them to print publications first just to get publishing credits and such? I have to admit it would be awesome to see something I wrote in print in a physical magazine or journal. It seems like most legitimate print sources revert rights back to the author after a certain period of time, at which point you could self-pub it. Is it worth doing that way? I'd love to hear anyone's experiences with this.

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Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





How do you guys handle backmatter? I know some self-pub platforms have different rules about it, but in general what should I aim to include? I don't want to clutter it up and look like I'm just shilling, but I also don't want to lose potential sales.

Links to your author page for each platform seems obvious, but what else? Do people put excerpts from other works? Links to blogs / facebook / twitter?


edit: ^ How to you go about advertising on genre-specific facebook pages? I always figured it would be considered bad form to show up on another author's page and advertise your own work. Or do you mean something more generic, like just a page for fans of fantasy novels or something?

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 14:39 on Jul 11, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





That is super helpful, thanks! I'm literally just starting out, so should I still be worrying about a mailing list, or is that something to bother with when I actually have a few works published?

Also, how do you offer free stories? I was under the impression that only Smashwords had free codes, and that a lot of people never use that site for whatever reason.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





So this talk about going from self-pubbed to an actual agent has me curious.

I'm still a long ways away from having a finished product ready to shop around, but I'm trying to learn as much as possible in the mean time. Right now I'm focusing on short fiction, so it sounds like the best course of action in an ideal world is:

Send the stories out and try to get them published in magazines and such. Then, after the first printing rights expire, I am free to self-pub the collection, hopefully using the publications to add some credibility / free advertising.

I'm not entirely sure how agents handle short story collections, though. Most of the collections I read have a page explaining where each story was first published, so I assume that's kind of common. However, I'd imagine going from magazines to self-pub to an agent is basically unheard of, correct?

Basically, if my end goal is a collection of shorts, what is the best course of action to take to ensure that I at least give myself the best chance at making it successful?

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





ravenkult posted:

Nobody's gonna take you on, or even publish, with a short story collection. They sell like crap too.

Is that true for self-pubbing too? I mean obviously some people manage to get published, short story collections are mostly what I enjoy reading and often they are by relatively unknown or even first-time authors. I don't have any starry-eyed expectations of getting rich from short stories or anything, but there are a decent number of authors who choose not to write novel-length fiction.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





ravenkult posted:

They don't sell well at all. Unless you're well known for your short fiction (short story sales in top magazines) or have a bunch of novels out, you won't move copies.

Good to know! Guess that gives me some incentive to finally pound out a novel. I honestly much prefer reading and writing short fiction, but my dream is to eventually turn writing into a career so if that's what it takes, so be it. I need the practice anyway!

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Bobby Deluxe posted:



e: side note so as not to double post. You can swear in Kindle titles, right? Specifically the word 'bastard'

I imagine dropping an f-bomb will probably get you filtered, but a quick glance shows a decent number of books with "bastard" in the title, both self-pubbed and trad-pubbed, so I can't see that one being an issue. Someone with more knowledge of Amazon's inner workings can probably chime in, but I'm guessing there are certain words which will automatically hit you with an adult filter, and some which depend on the context in which they are used. If your title isn't super vulgar it's probably not an issue, though.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Paying for half of the printing costs seems a little odd. Is it Print-on-Demand, where you wouldn't be paying for anything unless there was a guaranteed sale, or would you be paying out of pocket for a set print run and hoping you recoup the costs out of future sales? The former may be a valid way of doing business for small / local publishers (I don't really know anything about that tbh) but I'd be wary of a contract that made you pay for, say, a 5k print run with no guarantee that you'd ever make that money back. Unless you just want to see something of yours in physical print and the cost is something that you don't mind eating in a worst-case scenario.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





It looks like they mostly fall into a couple categories:

Established authors who have enough fans / cred to get funded.

Magazines / anthologies / small publishing companies that have some long-term prospects.

Random people with really small goals that just barely get funded, probably due in large part to friends / family.

There's a few on there that don't fall into these categories, and most of them are just really good at selling their project and have good rewards. There's also a few that just got lucky I guess, because nothing about them seems intriguing or polished.

I think trying to fund a book through kickstarter could be successful if you had some marketing know-how / charisma, writing samples, and a good pitch. You'd probably need to be pretty social-media savvy, too. The biggest thing seems to be having a really clear layout of where the money is going. Looking around, there are a lot of unsuccessful fiction kickstarters where people have half-baked ideas and they are just asking for money to pay their rent while they write full-time or something. On the other hand, the people that have put a lot of work into their campaign prospectus seem to have pretty decent odds of getting funded, even if the writing itself is mediocre (and sometimes downright bad).

edit: Also looking at these projects made me realize that someone successfully raised $30,000 to replace every instance of the n-word in Huck Finn with "robot." :psyduck:

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 01:07 on Oct 23, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





I am baffled as to how the hell either an author or a reader could look at the first line of that blurb and go "yep this looks good!"

edit: To actually contribute to discussion, I've got two tiny questions dealing with design / layout:

Are drop-caps still considered a thing? I see them occasionally in self-pubbed stuff, but not very often. It's a lot more common in trad-published writing, but even then I seem to see it less and less often. Sometimes books just lead in with the first few words of each chapter / section / story in all caps, as well. Is it purely a stylistic choice, or do you run into issues like e-readers not rendering it properly or formatting getting all messed up when converting to e-pub, etc.?

And slightly related, but what are the fancy symbols that people use for scene breaks called? I'm talking about like the ornate swirls and stuff. That's another thing I see way more often in trad-published works and I'm kind of curious if there's a reason (I would guess font compatibility issues?) or if it's just a thing that isn't common in self-pubbed writing for whatever reason.

The little flourishes and formatting oddities that go with publishing have always kind of interested me, so it's kind of cool seeing what sticks around and what new stuff emerges from new publishing mediums.

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 21:33 on Nov 1, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





All Else Failed posted:

"I am great" is usually the number one indicator that someone sucks, and this is most true when it comes to writing because stringing words together is something everyone does. I in no way, shape, or form have an interest in proving to you that I have an innate talent for the written word and a vast amount of unlocked potential as a writer.

I know you don't know me, but it is vastly out of character for me to sound the way I do in this thread w/r/t an emphasis on business over creativity, so I am indeed keen on acknowledging what is working for authors that are selling -- my entire aim in the beginning is to exploit that. Deep down, though, I am of the opinion that the average mass media consumer is a loving moron with bad taste. This will work in my advantage for once since I have chosen to accept and exploit it.

Just my own .02 here, but the attitude of "my customers are morons with no taste" is probably not going to serve you well going forward. I imagine erotica is more forgiving than most genres in terms of what readers expect / are willing to put up with, but you still need to realize that these are human beings that are (hopefully) willing to pay money out of their pockets for something you wrote. Putting in a bit of effort is always going to pay off in terms of sales / reputation / marketing.

Some other things to consider:

It kind of sounds like you don't even enjoy writing. Regardless of how good you are or how much potential you may have, if you hate writing, you are going to burn out. Self-pubbing for a paycheck still requires you to sit your rear end down in a chair and write for hours a day, just like any other job. Some people see being your own boss, not having a set schedule, etc. as a perk, and it is. On the other hand, if you have any issues whatsoever with personal accountability and work ethic, it's probably not going to be pretty. I've know a good number of people that I think are pretty good writers, but they can't force themselves to stick to a consistent schedule and actually put words down. They get distracted or start doing chores around the house or say "let me just watch one more episode of this show first" and pretty soon they've got nothing done for a whole day.

What I'm getting at is that if you don't enjoy writing, it's going to be even harder.

Also, I didn't see it mentioned yet, but as far as I know, you probably aren't going to see a paycheck for the first two months, and when you do, it's probably going to be like $20. Places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc. pay you a month after each month of sales (i.e. you get paid for the stories you sold in July at the end of August / beginning of September) and those sites usually have a minimum threshold you have to meet. Usually it's like $10 or something so it's not really an issue, but just something to consider. If you are trying to jump into self-pubbing to make some quick money, you are going to be disappointed.

I don't write it so I can't really comment with authority, but I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of people self-pubbing in erotica and romance still have day jobs. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them were making in the $300-500 a month ballpark after a whole year of writing, based on anecdotes I've seen tossed around here. If that's enough for you to live comfortably on and you have the time to get to that point without being tossed out on the street, then go for it.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





You just have to accept that you need to buckle down and do some of the basic research / marketing / practice required for whatever you want to make a living at. I know everyone thinks they can be a self-pub superstar just because they are native English speaker, but there's a hell of a lot more to it than that.

If you hate the idea of writing erotica / romance, then yep, it's going to suck to sit down and research those markets and read examples to see what people are buying, but it's the smart thing to do. Even if you could make some sales without doing all that, you are going to make more sales if you do. I mean, even if you get a job at McDonalds, you have to learn how to operate the deep fryer. I can't think of a single job that doesn't require you to learn at least a few basic skills, so why would writing be any different?

Keep in mind that making a living from self-pubbed writing means you are, as far as the government is concerned, an independent contractor. Not only is Amazon et. al going to be taking a slice of your sales pie, but you are going to be paying higher taxes on your income, too. You also don't get employee health insurance options,employer 401k matching, all those things people in a normal dayjob never really have to think too much about. I don't know if you have another job or what your situation is, but these are all important factors, especially early on when you are probably going to be barely making enough for beer money each month unless you are insanely prolific and / or lucky.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Reading is definitely part of it, too. A lot of the people who never seem to improve also don't read much, or don't read outside of a very narrow range.

There are also some people that just can't handle challenging their own preconceived notions. I mean there are still people that legitimately believe the earth is flat or that global warming isn't a thing. They just plug their ears and keep goin' regardless of what anyone else says. I imagine the same thing is pretty common with art, maybe moreso because it's something you create yourself, which means some people take criticism of it very personally. I think it takes a certain level of maturity to have someone tell you something you made sucks and to absorb the constructive elements of that criticism.

Then of course it depends how serious someone is about writing, too. If a person never wants it to be more than a hobby, there's less impetus to improve. It's like the dude who buys a guitar and never learns more than enough chords required to get into somebody's pants. A person who wants to make a living out of writing or who considers it part of their identity is going to be more motivated to strive for improvement.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





I don't think anyone in here thinks you "have" to emulate bestsellers. You came in here asking specifically about making money writing erotica, though, so that advice is what ends up being applicable. The vast majority of people in this subforum are writing for personal enjoyment, maybe making beer money once in a while by getting a story in a magazine. But if money is your goal (which is the case for 99.9% of people self-pubbing erotica), you definitely have to approach it from a different direction or you'll never get anywhere.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





All Else Failed posted:

I should have qualified that by saying "stuffy internet nerds who are openly hostile at someone they think is them seven years ago". My bad.


Awww. I wouldn't quit your day job to write comedy, my friend.

I wouldn't quit your day job to write erot....oh.

Anyways, his criticism is perfectly valid. It sounds like you have exactly the kind of issues that make writing for a living a non-starter. I think you are going to end up realizing that writing a bunch of words you hate for audience you look down on is not exactly going to be a fulfilling career. Spending like half a year before you even have the tiniest sliver of a chance of paying your rent isn't all that stable of a career plan to begin with, but you said you have a ton of time to get set up so I guess that might not be an issue. (But for real, the majority of self-pubbed authors, even in erotica, would be making more money flipping burgers.) I know you said you wanted business advice, which you've gotten tons of - or as much as anyone could really give you until you've actually finished writing something - so I'm not sure what more you are looking for.

But yeah, waving your dick around going "I'm a great writer but nobody in here (the people I'm asking for advice on how to sell my writing for money) is qualified to look at it" is probably not going to garner a lot of sympathy. The people in here trying to help you are, like, doing what you are trying to do, dude. The reason people are harping on it is that "being a decent writer somewhere other than your imagination" actually is an indicator of success in a writing career. You may very well be a good writer, but I'm sure you can understand why people would be skeptical.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





All Else Failed posted:

Don't be like me and, uhhh, I dunno, be honest about your subjective life experience in the cold, vast expanse of an online messageboard as you try to muster the effort to apply the small skillset you have in the twilight of your productive years.

There's a whole sub-forum for this, btw: http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=214

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Out of curiosity, what is the worst that could happen, provided you have an expert looking it over to make sure it's not a total scam? I can't imagine even the most successful self-pubbers are moving a ton of books in Hungary (assuming it's restricted to foreign rights only in that country). Or is it just that it's never not an obvious scam?

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





As far as I know, if you are buying them from a stock photo site you shouldn't really have to do anything. Each site should have a breakdown of the licensing agreements if you want to be absolutely sure, but you basically have free reign with a photo you purchase outside of reselling the file or something obviously unethical.

Then you have to buy an unlimited usage license if you end up selling like half a million copies or something insane, but if you are at that point then you are probably hiring a team of professionals to handcraft every detail of your cover so eh.

Technically there are clauses that state you shouldn't use photos for things that might be objectionable (politics, religion, sex, violence) and I think maaaaybe you could argue that if you are writing erotica and a model finds it and freaks out, but I've never heard of that happening. Maybe someone that publishes erotica could clarify.

I don't know if there are any major differences when you are talking about free photos, but so long as they say free for commercial use, I can't imagine the terms would be all that different. Thought honestly if you are worried, I'd just recommend buying a photo. Most stock photos are like $3-5, any paying that one time to get a photo with a very clearcut license agreement is worth some peace of mind imo.

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 15:59 on Nov 23, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Sulla-Marius 88 posted:

I have a question, why would a book sold at $USD 2.99 on the 'Amazon.com' marketplace only return a royalty of $USD 1.05? Why is the American store sometimes 35 and sometimes 70?

That just means someone from a country outside of the 70% royalty zone bought it on the US site. Certain countries are always 35% unless you are enrolled in the KDP Select program.

edit: v- whoops, yeah, left out a word.

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 01:37 on Nov 30, 2014

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Thought Brazil, India, Japan, and Mexico all went to 70% in KDP Select?

edit: Not that those are likely to be big markets for English self-pubbed books.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Yeah, I was just wondering if any countries aside from the ones I listed went to 70% on KDP Select. I thought those were the only ones. I don't doubt at all that it's pointless to worry about them, especially for someone just starting out, just trying to explain why a sale might fall under 35% royalty despite being purchased through the English Amazon site.

Wasn't 35% the de facto royalty rate for everyone a good while back? Was it just increased competition that drove royalties up, or what? Seems like a large jump considering Amazon seems to have kind of a strangehold on the self-pub market still, but I don't know much about the history there. I just remember some writing friends freaking out about getting 70% cuts.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





I don't have a dog in this fight either way, but I've always wondered why they didn't just implement some system based on how far into the book someone has read, since they evidently have ways of tracking that.

I don't see how saying, for example, "If you've read at least 50% of this book, you can't return it" would be all that unfair. It's kind of like eating at a restaurant: if you take one bite and send it back, cool. If you eat half of a steak and then decide you don't like it, you probably aren't going to get it comped.

That lets people return a book if they have second thoughts or read a few pages and realize it's not for them while filtering out the people that are buying a book, reading the entire thing, and then returning it. I kind of doubt the latter group is even a large enough subset of the purchasing population to worry about, but who knows. I suppose it would still be a potential issue for really short books (so erotica, basically?) where a couple pages constitutes 50%, though.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Agreed that the cover just isn't working. It looks a bit too cartoonish instead of the minimalist vibe you are going for.

Maybe something like this? Forgive the sloppiness, I literally just stuck some sample photos together in like 30 seconds and I am terrible at photo manipulation.



You could run it through some filters, add a kind of creepy picture to the polaroid, mess with fonts and stuff, etc.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Had a couple spare minutes and I don't really know much at all about cover design but if you are dead set on the yellow / orange text, maybe you could use a gradient to darken the top part of the image? There is already some natural shadow there, so you could just ramp that up a bit:



Honestly you could probably go even bigger on the text / play around with colors to tweak the contrast, etc., but just throwing out an idea.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





The Challenged Reading thread in TBB has a bunch of goons posting their goodreads accounts, and there's a better chance of those people being active.

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Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





ibts posted:

nah that's chill. thinking about it more its def a thing that, while technically the same thing, functions way differently and has a completely different purpose overall (since making a living from poetry requires a bigger variety of sources than just book sales)

thanks though

If it helps, I read a year's best poetry anthology a few months back and every single contributor was also a professor, a translator, or both. I think there was one guy whose bio made a half-joking remark about being a kept man.

Though I guess "marry a rich person who will put up with your poo poo" is technically a pretty good self-pubbing strategy.

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