Thursday, September 1, 2011

Look to the Future, part 3

Okay, so I'm a published writer now, in the sense that my first book is available to the public.

So far, it has sold just one copy on Smashwords (so you could also say I've already made my first buck in this business). And as of midnight tonight [this particular paragraph was written on Tuesday, August 30], it will have been out for two whole weeks, officially.

But I didn't choose Smashwords because I expected a lot of sales there. I chose it because I was broke, and they're a free service.

And because of all the places they'll eventually distribute my book to. It's actually a pretty amazing deal they're offering.

They're very up front about your financial prospects with them, including the fact that their own retail operation is very small potatoes. 80% of your sales, they hasten to assure you right at the beginning, will come from retailers other than Smashwords itself. Keep your expectations low, they caution you, Many authors never even sell a single book, they point out.

Fair enough. But still--I'm human enough to have entertained fantasies of being an immediate breakout phenomenon with unprecedented sales right off the bat.

Sigh. Okay. So that didn't happen.

But my book has now qualified for the Smashwords Premium Catalogue, which means it will soon be distributed to Barnes and Noble, the Apple iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, and--by the end of the year--Amazon. And then there's Stanza, which seems to be a way for people to read books on their cell phones--not that I can see why anybody would want to do that, but if Stanza can earn me a few extra bucks I will gladly go along with the gag.

None of this stuff is totally instantaneous. My book has already appeared at Diesel ebooks, but so far it isn't available anywhere else (besides Smashwords), although it's been distributed to Kobo and should show up there any minute now.

I looked at my Smashwords account page earlier this evening, and my book won't be distributed to anybody else, though, until the end of this week.

So. Not instantaneous, but not unreasonably delayed, either. In my opinion.

Reports of sales won't be instantaneous either, and neither will royalty statements. But Smashwords does pay out royalties four times a year, which is much better than traditional NYC-based print publishing ever managed. And likewise, data about sales seems to be on a much faster track than it generally was with traditional publishing.

As fascinated as I am by all this stuff, none of it is really under my direct control. So what am I doing to secure my future?

Writing like mad, that's what.

Anyway, I'm planning to write like mad. Just as soon as I give my trailer a good cleaning. And wash my truck.

Oh, and I mustn't neglect maintaining my presence in the blogoshpere. Gotta keep my name out there, and all that. And there sure are a lot of interesting blog convos going on right now.

Maybe too many.

Still. The best way for me to move forward is to write, publish, and repeat--a formula I first encountered on Kris Rusch's website. So that's what I'm going to be doing.

Soon. Any day now.

At some point I'll also take the opportunity to learn more about computer art and graphics, because I do feel compelled to keep on creating my own covers.

Likewise, there will come a time when I'll need to embrace learning what it really means to be publisher as well as writer. Smashwords is certainly my home base for now, but somewhere down the line it might be advantageous for me to deal with all the various sales outlets directly.

And then there's the POD option. CreateSpace or Lightning Source? I'll need to check that out, because eventually I also want to offer a hardcover print version of my book, on Amazon, at least, since POD makes it so very possible for indie writers like me to do so.

And one of my own personal priorities will be marketing to libraries. How to do that? I'm confident that the quality of a POD book these days will be more than acceptable to potential buyers. But how exactly does one go about cracking the library market?

Wow, I've still got a lot to learn.

But I won't really need to know how to create a spiffy cover, or to make my hardcover edition attractive to librarians, until I have written--at the least--two more actual additional books.

So. Write, publish, and repeat. Let the buyers and readers find you in their own good time. And let the chips fall where they may.

That's the strategy I'll be embracing.

For now.

Just as soon as I can finish cleaning out my truck.

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