I just may be the lunatic you’re looking for.
Keep that in mind as I explain what I’m doing now.
A few weeks ago I got swallowed by a whale of an argument about self-publishing versus traditional publishing, at the end of which I felt myself vomited upon the shores of Ninevah.
When I read the biographies of the people I consider to be truly great authors–George R.R. Martin, Harlan Ellison–they mention getting their start by submitting short stories to magazines like Ellery Queen and Isaac Asimov. Other writers have talked about how we just don’t have the same opportunities now.
But we do. It’s staring us right in the face and it’s called “Self-Publishing”.
Back in my own personal history, in the time I like to call BGS–Before Getting Sick or “My Other Life” or “Back In The World” I worked a lot of different jobs. Many of them were at the same company, where we made products like photo albums, paper plates, gift books and stationery. Most of our products were sold into multiple channels. There was the High-End stationery for gift stores that had thick,quality paper, and was packaged in a fabric-covered box. We’d wrap the note paper in a satin ribbon and design the envelope liners with four-colour artwork and foil stamping. It’d sell for $16 a box. When we’d sell the stationery to Walmart it’d be thinner notepaper wrapped in a grosgrain ribbon and packaged in a cardboard box printed one color. The envelopes would have one-color lining. We might have 16 sheets instead of 24.
Most customers aren’t going to notice the subtle difference between the High-End product and the Wal-Mart product. They’re both nice products; the Wal-Mart one is just less expensive and has fewer details. Honestly, I’d always prefer the high-end stuff, but the Wal-Mart products sold as many as a hundred TIMES the units. We’d sell 2500 units of the nice stuff. 250,000 units of the less expensive.
I’m combining the two lessons into my own business plan. After all, I write two kinds of books. There are the books that are long and heavily-researched and packed with detail. Those are the books for beside the fire with a cup of tea, the books to get lost in. Then there are the stories that are more fanciful, meant to be read in a hammock. They’re light and easy and more straightforward. I still think they’re well-written, of course.
Years ago I had meant to sell those books in the mainstream under a pen name, through Mira or another Romance imprint. To be honest, I have come to rather like working for myself. If I sell my e-books under my own power I can set all the deadlines, all the marketing plans. All the prices.
And that’s the plan: to write and sell books that are impulse buys affordably priced and readily available to anyone with a computer, smartphone or e-reader. Yes, it’s a sort of Ninevah…a calling I was fleeing from out of misguided prejudice.
Now I’m just hoping my vine doesn’t die.
This would be an example of “less than stellar” writing. My lack of sleep and abundance of pain are showing. I was going to edit it, but then I figured that counting the number of times I use the word “product” could be a fun minigame! As the kids say–bug or feature? It’s a feature!