There are lots of blogs out there on the publishing business, and writing in general, but I thought there was room for one on indie publishing from the perspective of an international writer.
First, a little about me. I am a 33-year-old Irish writer, living in Stockholm. Notice I said writer, not author. My mother always said I was a writer, authors get paid. I got paid $100 last year. She said I need to be making more than that. And you know what? She’s right.
I’ve written a bunch of short stories and had two published, one online and one in a print magazine. In fact, it’s the same story, I didn’t get paid the first time it got published, but I managed to snag $100 for the reprint rights. This story will also be appearing in a hardback anthology, due out in a month or so. One of the things we will talk about on this blog are the different ways you can sell the same story.
I have also written one novel – América! – a fast-paced historical adventure solving the mystery of why Jose de San Martín, who led a bloody, twelve-year campaign to liberate South America, resigned and allowed Simón Bolívar the glory of the final victory.
Sounds great, right? But it has stubbornly refused to attract a publishing deal, despite 18 months of emailing agents and rewriting the novel (over and over and over).
In fact, like most writers starting off, I became obsessed with getting an agent (for those who don’t know much about the publishing business, it’s not possible to submit to most major publishing houses without one). I would spend the vast majority of time reading about agents, researching agents, emailing agents, worrying about agents, posting stuff to agents, and my writing suffered. On Sunday, after a week in bed with the flu, I had an epiphany. From now on, that time would be spent writing stories.
I had been reading the blog of Joe Konrath for some time. For those that don’t know, Joe is something of a hero in the indie publishing world. A solid mid-lister who took the plunge into self-publishing a couple of years ago, and has made a ton of money, most of it on stuff he couldn’t sell to the NY publishing houses, wiping the floor with more established writers who have all the muscle of corporate publishing behind them. His blog is a great introduction to indie publishing, has a ton of practical advice, and anyone interested should read it from April 2009 to finish.
There were two news items I caught up with that week. First, internationally bestselling thriller writer Barry Eisler walked away from a $500,000 two-book deal to self-publish. Second, indie writer Amanda Hocking signed a $2,000,000 deal with a New York publishing house. Joe Konrath has a fascinating discussion between himself and Barry Eisler on his blog about all of this.
A few things came together in my mind, and I decided to test the waters in digital publishing. The plan is this: write a bunch of short stories, publish them online, sell ’em for 99c each, kinda like singles. People will be able to read them on their iPhones, their Kindles, their iPads, their laptops, whatever. When I have a five or six stories together, I’ll release the album, a collection, for maybe $2.99.
If it fails, if no-one buys them, at least I will have learned a little about digital publishing, and I can always sell the reprint rights to magazines. If it is successful, then I can consider publishing my novel that way. I will post all the figures as I go along, so you can see how I am doing for yourself.
I already have two stories ready to publish, a third I am just finishing off, and people are helping me with covers and formatting and all that other stuff I need to learn. I want to do this as cheaply as possible, and blog about the experience along the way so that if you want, you can try it yourself.
As I said above, there are great resources out there already on what you need to learn, and I will talk about those as we go along. However, doing my own research for this, I have found that there are a couple of extra hoops for non-U.S. authors to jump through, and the information is harder to find, so I thought it would be helpful if it was all gathered in one place.
I don’t know where this will all lead, and I’m probably going to make a bunch of mistakes along the way, but you know what? It’s going to be fun.