The Year in Self-Publishing

This post, from V.J. Chambers, originally appeared on her In The Gray Twilight blog on 12/23/09 and is reprinted here in its entirety with her permission.

It’s been a little over sixth months since I decided to give this indie publishing model a go. What have I learned?

A-When people tell you that self-publishing fiction doesn’t make you any money, BELIEVE THEM. Seriously. 🙂

B-Writing for an audience is about seventy zillion times more rewarding than writing stuff to send to agents and then shelve indefinitely. Rejection letters don’t prompt you to get words on a page. Myspace comments exclaiming that your novel is better than best-selling novels do. 🙂

C-Serial fiction may be the current model that everybody and his brother is going for, but it doesn’t work for me.

A (expanded)–Here’s my money earned from my books this year. Okay, first, the expenses: $275 for a block of ten ISBNs from Bowker. $40 for the Pro Plan from Creatspace x 4 = $160. $20 for registering my domain name and for web hosting service for the year. For a total of: $455. Darned cheap, if I do say so myself. 🙂

Earnings: Createspace & Amazon (print books): $273.62. Kindle earnings: $56.54. Smashwords earnings: $307.32. For a total of: $637.48.

Meaning that my total net profit is…. $182.48.

Do I have to mention the $1.50 I’ve earned in ad revenue from Project Wonderful?

There you have it kids. Writing doesn’t pay bills. 😛

C (expanded)–I’ve decided not to post my books as serials anymore. There are two reason for this. The first is that my books are not serials. I never wrote them to be broken up into chapters and posted piecemeal on the internet. I wrote them to be read all at once. (In one sitting, if you’ve got the time. I certainly aim to make them as page-turny as possible.) Breaking them up into episodes, I think, only serves to stunt the forward motion of the plot, and does next to nothing for the experience of the book.

The second reason is that posting serials is a little tiring. Updating twice a week may not seem like a big deal, and honestly, most of the time, it isn’t, but it does mean that I’m constantly trying to think about the book that I’m updating. It divides my mind between the book that I’m marketing and the one that I’m writing. (Well, okay, I haven’t written a book since Tortured, but, still, theoretically…) Anyway, I feel like if I weren’t constantly trying to update my website, I could spend more time writing, which is important, because that’s the whole reason I have a website in the first place.

So…what to do? I’m going to play with some ideas, but what I’d like to be able to do is this: Keep all the J&A books up for free on the site. Post 50% previews of Mischief, Death Girl, and Brighter. Leave the website like that for…months. So, if you like the new books, you can buy them. If someone new stumbles across the site, they’ve got three free books to read. As I get some new stuff written, I’ll transition the preview books to free books.

I’ll be starting an email list for those people who’d like to receive updates from me. That way, once you’ve read everything I’ve posted, you can go on your merry way until I send you an email, telling you that a new book is up.

On the marketing front, I’m toying with the idea of allowing my readers to help me market. Some people, I understand, don’t have the money to buy new fiction. So, if you’ll instead plug my stuff–write blogs, facebook notes, reviews on Amazon and smashwords, etc–then I’ll send you free ebooks. I haven’t worked out the details on that yet, but it will be coming soon.

So, that’s it. The year in self-pubbing. It’s been an adventure guys. 2010 is going to be even cooler.

V. J. Chambers decided to chuck the mainstream sometime the spring of 2009. Since she’s an indie author, she makes a living teaching high school. She is also fond of snakes, cheesecake, her boyfriend Aaron, Stephen King books, Buffy, and corduroy pants (although not exactly in that order). She lives in Shepherdstown, WV. You can learn more about V.J. and her work on her website. 

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