August 30, 2012

Wherein Isaac cuts me a break and lets me squeeze in a blog post

Posted in goals, publishing, writing tagged at 10:05 am by z. l. sasnett

Courage is nothing more than taking one step more than you think you can. – Holly Lisle


Yesterday saw my first efforts at self-publishing getting uploaded. In the process I broke the internet and caused a power outage here.

I’m joking. Mostly. I should mention that Isaac is currently blowing around to the south and west of me. We’re still feeling his effects as he moves through with high winds and some rain, but not to the extent that those in his path are feeling it. My thoughts and prayers go out to them. I wish he’d stop making the power go out, though.

I’ve been keeping all the behind the scenes stuff pretty quiet. I realize this is a blog and I should be talking about things! and stuff! In the end, it was write a blog or write fiction or deal with life.

Clearly, life, then fiction, won out. I won’t bore you with the life details except to say it’s been a rocky few weeks for me. This means the Coursera course I’d signed up for got dropped by the wayside. Believe me, I feel pretty dreadful about it but something had to give and that was it.

Never fear, I do have other irons in the fire and I’ve been making slow, steady progress when life has released me from its stranglehold. I had a few short things started and finished but I was not confident these were stories I wanted to self-publish. It didn’t matter if it was under a pseudonym that even my mother doesn’t know about (and I tell my mother pretty much everything).

I’m not putting out crap if I can at all help it.

To be a little more specific about the SuperSecretProject, it will be erotic short stories. There are a number of reasons around why. I’ve talked about them before, so let me sum up.

The first being, I wanted to try my hand at it. Erotica (beyond fanfiction) and self-publishing, that is. There is a lot of buzz around self-publishing these days. A lot of anecdotal testimony that may or may not be reliable and certainly what appears, through my conversations with industry professionals, to be misinformative and incorrect, on both ends of the spectrum between trade publishing and self-publishing.

So, I’m testing the boundaries of self-publishing. When my novel is finished and ready to start querying, I’ll be testing (and blogging) those efforts, too!

On the self-publishing front.

Once the story was ready to go, I had a blast figuring out how to code up the html to turn my words into a .mobi and .epub format. Guido Henkel’s ebook formatting guide was invaluable and once I got the hang of what I was doing, it was a snap. The process turned out some really smart looking ebooks for Kindle and the Nook, and I’m very pleased with the results.

Word did a halfway decent job of converting to a .pdf but I’m still not satisfied with the results as they appear on my Nook Tablet. It looked fine on my laptop. So right there is one aspect of self-publishing I will want to work on. Not high on my list of priorities right now.

Smashwords wasn’t quite as intuitive, and even after following every one of their directions to the letter, I was still unsuccessful in getting the formatting ‘right’ enough to be included in their Premium Catalog. As this was my first attempt, I’ll give it another go with the next one. I disliked having no choice but to use their meatgrinder process to produce all versions of my story but, hey, their site, their rules.

I’ve decided to stick with those big three to start with. Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. That’s where my tracking is going to focus.

Current thought for my SuperSecretProject is to have written and uploaded a short story every two weeks until the end of the year. By December, I should start seeing some numbers to get a feel for how it’s going. I may adjust the timing on when I put something new out. The Spreadsheet will tell me more when the time comes.

Now, I just need to set up The Spreadsheet to track all this. :/

One thing that I came away with is it takes me about two days to get a book formatted and uploaded. I hope that process moves along faster the better I get at formatting, because that was two days of writing lost. Not really happy about that.

The second reason is, to be perfectly honest here, mercenary. I came across a Reddit IAmA discussion with an Erotic Fiction writer. In it, she discusses talks frankly about the issue. It was an illuminating read. Also linked in there was another discussion over at the SomethingAwful forums along the same lines.

This wasn’t the first time I’d run across this very thing. Write short fiction about sex/erotica/romance, with little-to-no marketing, and post it at KDP and watch the money roll in.

In many discussions about self-publishing and how many authors go unnoticed no matter how much they try to market themselves, and how many self-publishing authors never make more than $500 and the breakout self-published authors are the exception and not the rule (none of which I necessarily disagree with, by the way) it still struck me as being counter-intuitive to the conventional knowledge out there that these writers were making this kind of money writing what was, in essence, one-handed reading.

They say sex sells, right? According to these two threads, that’s exactly what they’re saying.

However, I’m not the kind of person who can just put out any old crap and so the process is taking a bit longer than pounding (hur hur hur) out a 3k word story and tossing it up on KDP. Getting feedback from betas and trying to have some kind of plot to go along with the (hopefully) steamy sex is slowing me down. Maybe, like the formatting issues, the more I do it, the better and faster I produce.

There it is. Curiosity and money: My two biggest motivators for this SuperSecretProject.

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