Sunday, May 15, 2011

What I learned by e-publishing a short story

Each day I draw a little bit closer to an exciting and scary milestone: self-publishing a novel. I've been writing every day for about 2 months now and the first draft is 80% complete. It's a huge, rewarding undertaking but for someone so goal-oriented it's a very hard one as well.

I love lists and check marks (or rather 'strike out' lines in my case). I love completing even minor tasks in order to feel the flush of progress.

So, I wrote a short story in two days. Edited it in 3-4 (with the help of lovely family and friends), designed a cover in a day (with the help of my super-lovely husband), and then published it - 1 week from first word to pub - on Amazon and Smashwords.


I won't lie and say I didn't have some hope it would take off but I knew the publication was more for me than anything. I needed to know something was out there. I needed that experience.

It didn't take off. The highest it's been on Amazon is around 40,000th place. (Yes, I did mean to include that many zeros). But I did learn from it. A lot.

First, I learned the technical aspects of publishing it. That's invaluable. I learned how to create a cover, how to format for Amazon and then do the opposite for Smashwords. I learned how to set up author pages, payee details, and set up a Facebook page which is largely incomplete still - I can't even get a url until I get enough likes. I learned so much more that I've already forgotten.

More importantly, I learned about 'sampling.' I had naively focused on telling a story (hah) and not on researching how people discover stories (still get low marks on that one) or how they make the leap into actually paying to read it. Smashwords requires you to allow sampling and with a story that only truly makes sense at the end, it has hurt me a lot. It is important to remember, however, and I already know how I will rework the beginning of the novel with this in mind.

Lastly, I learned that I know nothing about marketing. But that will come as I don't think pushing a short story will get me far anyway. That will be a tough lesson when the novel, something easier to market, is ready to read.

Many learning experiences will come (such as how to get people to actually review what they read) and I look forward to the journey.

"Novel-of-40-names" is coming soon....ish

Never soon enough for me!

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# Pieces Written

Scripts - 3

4 if you count re-writing Sleeping Beauty, Hillbilly-style, in High School

Novels- 1 + .1 + .7

Can I count my 14 or so mentally composted story ideas? No? Drat.

Short Stories - 2

I'll say two officially, so far (one of those still needs to be typed up)... I lost at least 2 of my old ones and I've wiped the slate clean.

Poems- 3...4? 42?

I won awards for 3. After that I lost count.