Putting My Time Where My Yammering Mouth Is

When You've Been Bad: Three Dark TalesOkay, so the blog withered on the vine for a bit. The Shiny New Devil You Know will be back on Sunday, May 12th.

What happened? Oh. So many things.

The publishing world underwent so many changes for a few weeks there that it just wasn’t possible for me to keep up.

This is one of the things that happened. After the entire interwebz lost their minds, it was followed by this.  BTW, since Scalzi’s such great fun to read it’s worth checking out his take on eBooks and the like here. David Mamet rocked the publishing world with this announcement — although, did he really? Writing is a business, after all, and if everyone in your industry who’s in a position to partner with you is actively lining up to screw you then it’s time to strike out on your own – although, did he really*?

*Because: this. Mamet’s agency is in bed with Argo Navis, a “self-publishing” company that sends royalty payments to agents rather than authors and charges a hefty fee for the privilege. This terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea was still better than the treatment he was getting from his publishers.

TL;DR: 

  1.  Traditional publishers are trying everything in their power to make up money that they lost during the early days of what shall forever be known as the Digital Revolution. Their strategies encompass every ought-to-be-illegal trick from retroactive rights grabs (you heard me) to locking down royalties for the life of the copyright (yes, really) to locking down rights for distribution on platforms that don’t even exist yet.
  2. In response to the publishers’ bad behavior, authors everywhere — even really big names who’ve been treated well, as far as such things go in publishing — are running from traditional publishers the instant their contracts run out.

There will be oh so much for us to talk about in upcoming weeks.

Another major-ish thing happened: I put out my own self-published eBook.  This will be the first of many, and is part of a long-term marketing plan to get my name out there before the launch of Uncurled later this year. When You’ve Been Bad: Three Dark Tales is available through Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords. It’s 99 cents on every platform, although if you don’t log into your Amazon account and clear your computer’s cache before searching for it you may be able to get a copy for 97 cents. FYI, you have to deactivate the adult content filter to even find the book on Smashwords because there’s a dirty part in there, kinda.

Learning to convert the book took less time than I thought, and the stock photo for the cover cost an entire $1.45.  I’ve already sold a ridiculous number of copies considering the near-zero publicity I’ve done: I mentioned it once on Facebook a few weeks ago and my daughter and three friends shared the post.

That’s it.

Of course, many of those early purchases were of the friend-and-family variety, but here’s the thing: I sold copies before advertising it at all. I sold the first copy within two hours of uploading it. Most of my friends and family members who would ever buy anything I write have already purchased this book, and I’m still selling copies. Not many, but this tiny little collection that I threw together just to see how long it would take (if we’re being honest) and to eventually act as a loss leader for longer works (if we’re being very honest) is still moving off the virtual shelf. More importantly, it will continue to sell copies for as long as I leave it up there.

Dude, everyone who can write should be doing this.

The platforms listed above have regular payout days, and I will receive actual royalties from two of them on my first eligible payday with essentially no publicity and no post-writing work on my part aside from learning how to upload the thing. I won’t tell you how much the payments will be (let’s continue to be honest and admit right now that they won’t be large) but the fact is, I could never sell another copy and it would still be 100% worth the ten hours I put into formatting, minor cover pic manipulation and overall design, and blurb-writing time. Hell, it’s even worth the $1.45 for the cover pic.

Get a copy if you’d like, the people who are into twisted magic realism and creeping terror seem to dig it. If you aren’t a fan of that sort of thing, we can still hang out.

That weak little sales pitch isn’t really the reason I’m mentioning the book here, anyway; the point is, dude if you can write at all you need to do this now.

Okay, maybe not now; you may not be ready yet and it won’t help anyone if you actively contribute to the general suckification of the interwebz. But, dude: start making plans to get this done soon.

How? Check in on the 12th: we’ll go over what I did with this book and begin walking through my next one together.

5 Comments

  1. Great info. I hope other writers appreciate this info as much as I do. It kind of ties in to what I’m doing on my blog, which is discussing the aspect of pay or no pay for work published in journals, especially literary journals. Amazingly, the mentality for many writers on the lit side is, “we write for the love of writing and we don’t care if we’re paid.” That’s a lot like saying “we picks cotton under a hot sun all day for the love of it, and we don’ts care if we’s paid.”

    That attitude conditions writers to believe they don’t deserve to make money from their writing, and helps make it easier for publishing companies to keep straight faces while offering Draconian contract terms.

    Writers need to realize that while writing is an art, it is also a profession, not a hobby, and should rarely be given away.

    • Thanks for the comments! I checked out your blog (it’s here, if y’all are interested…and you should be, there’s good stuff there). You raise some good points there…unfortunately for those who need paying work (all of us), the arts in general have long apprenticeship periods. This helps increase the likelihood that those who stick with their art career of choice will be very very good at what they do twenty years down the line and may even garner some recognition by then — but years one through eighteen or so are often pretty lean.

      I’m just excited that now there’s a way for people with the talent and the work ethic to make enough money to at least cover some basic business expenses (if not more) while they develop their skills. Like most writers, I’d love it if readers of my genre(s) of choice waited anxiously for every new book — but, also like most writers, I’d be pretty damn happy to just not have to take printer ink and trade publication subscriptions out of the food budget.

      I’m looking forward to the Very Big Plans you alluded to in your blog. I’ll keep checking in!

  2. I love this format. It’s accessible, it’s fresh and it’s cheap. Oh, and it’s pretty damn great reading. I mean, none of this means anything if the writing isn’t worth reading, and your book is. I’m looking forward to the 12th and your next installment.
    Jpon, your blog sounds interesting. What’s it called?

    • You’re a doll 🙂

      For those who weren’t aware, JZ & I know one another IRL and I still can’t believe he’s willing to admit that he knows me. If I ran into me on the street I’d probably pretend to be interested in the pigeons.

      Jon also has a self-published book out. It’s the total antithesis of mine (warm and fuzzy but not totally un-ironic, think Garrison Keillor without the backup singers and with a bit more pep). It doesn’t suck; y’all can find it here.

  3. Pingback: Pay the Writer, Part 3: Changes in the Writing Industry and How They Affect a Writer’s Economics | The Saturday Morning Post

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