Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Watch and Learn (or, don't make my mistakes)


Halo, fine friends! And welcome to 2nd Wednesday's Indie Life
In which Indie authors share their support and wisdom.

Not feeling very wise at the moment, but I'll give it what I've got.

So I've been releasing a serial since September... 7 episodes are out... I started off promoting each time, but it was for not much, so I've sort of petered off... see... I've heard enough people say for things like that they wait until it's all there, and all will be 12 (pace to finish is about one a month)... nobody is beating down the door. I'm losing money because I am paying editing and cover costs... I made all of $39 last year or some such thing... less expenses... which puts me way in the hole.

Now I have faith. Once they are all out, I will push hard, but I sort of feel right now like it is a lot of effort for naught to do it every book.

So what would I do differently next time? 
I'm glad you asked.


1)  I would NOT have a serial be my first thing out the door. I would have a backlist of three or four books so if someone read the start of the serial and loved it, they could READ ME while WAITING FOR ME. The other advantage to this is you get the practice formatting and publishing without the time crunch of NEXT ONE NOW looming. And you can learn all the OTHER formatting venues, so you aren't stuck with just one—not that Amazon isn't great, but I'd like to be everywhere. I just haven't had time to learn all the other formats because I've been WRITING (and having a full time day job that has exploded since last summer—used to be able to do little things there—no more)

2)  I would write my WHOLE first draft (all the books) before I started publishing. (in fact I'd have the first reader beta job done, too) I think there is time between optimal book release to EDIT, but not to write and edit and polish... because a month apart is too long (which gets to my next)

3)  A month apart is too long. HA! See how I did that? I'd say 2 weeks is good. 3 maybe.


Did I do anything right? Why YES, as a matter of fact I think I did...

1)  I am pleased with the length. A penny a page seems like good value to me I think the sweet spot for these is 60-100 pages. It is long enough for a nice, meaty piece of story with some ups and downs...

2)  Giving away the first FREE is good.

3)  I also think my offer to give the NEXT to my first 10 reviewers is a good idea. Maybe it is 20 reviewers... Though I still only have more than 10 reviews on the first book.


But for a little perspective, I have a TRADITIONAL book (Keeping Mum) coming out March 4 and the work I have had to do for that (post writing) is SO microscopic by comparison. I mean I had my beta readers—always do. But They do all the art, formatting, prepping. I even have a publicist who has arranged a blog tour and giveaway—I wrote a couple posts but ALL that organizational stuff SHE is doing.

I really think for the part time author, traditional is a much EASIER route (not getting in—I know it's very HARD to get in). And I know it isn't the same money once you get going, but I will count those sales in the thousands, not the dozens. If I didn't have the day job, I could do a little of both, but since I DO, I really can't both write and promote at the same time. It just seems SO MUCH EASIER to be carried on the water and obey when they say jump. Now I KNOW that isn't for everybody. In fact it probably isn't for ME eventually... but in conjunction with the full time job? I will keep the traditional in my mix.

9 comments:

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

You learned a lot by actually doing, by setting out to do what you said you would. How many people just talk and don't act, don't even try? Thanks for sharing it all with us! :)

Sarah Ahiers said...

This was a GREAT post Hart! Both the what you learned (which was utterly fascinating and stuff i wouldn't have thought of myself) and your comparison between your traditional and self pubbed work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Have patience with the sales. They will come!
I agree it seems easier when you are with a traditional publisher. I do set up my own blog tours but my publisher does so many other things that I just wouldn't have time to do.
I do wish I wrote faster though...

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Totally agree with you on the hybrid thing. I think now I'm *starting* to get to the point where I might turn down a trad pub contract--but that's with 10 trad pubbed books by the time my contract runs out. Definitely a slower pace with trad pub and they do all the heavy lifting, for sure.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Interesting perspective and analysis, especially from your vantage point. It's always good to get this view from hybrid authors.

Tracie said...

This is so helpful, Tammy. I'm finishing a book now, and I just went through the whole "Indie or Agent" debate for myself. I decided on agent, for all the reasons you said. Maybe once I'm more established, I can go it alone. But for now, it's just too much work with a job and two kids under five.

Andrew Leon said...

I released mine every two weeks until I got close to the end when I moved it to every week. I did have almost the entire book finished before I started releasing. I didn't want to get stuck not having a release because I wasn't finished writing.

Don't pay for anything! Unless you just have extra money lying around, you're going to lose money by paying for services. Find someone to trade skills with.

Michael Pierce said...

I agree, it is so hard to write and promote while holding a full time job. That's my biggest struggle...time and balance. That's good advice for a serial, which is what I want to try after finishing my current series. I believe Hugh Howey released his recent Sand serial every 2 weeks, so it seems like a good way to go.

Helena said...

Working full time plus writing plus self-publishing plus trying to promote your stuff -- talk about doing the impossible! I'm trying to go the traditional route with my current manuscript, and it's good to know that indie is there as a back-up. But I'd love for once to have someone else handle all the support for my writing like artwork, publicity, distribution...

Yeah, I know. Dream on. But hurray for your pending March 4 release!