This last week Scott William Carter and I taught a workshop on indie publishing called “Think Like a Publisher.” Four wonderful days with twenty-five professionals talking about all aspects of indie publishing from tricks to holding formatting to promotions and web sites. Fantastic fun doesn’t even begin to describe it. And I learned a ton.
And I am exhausted.
So here I come trudging back to my little office overlooking the ocean and suddenly popcorn kittens exploded everywhere. If you don’t know what I mean by popcorn kittens, read my wife’s blog from last week. (Kristine Kathryn Rusch) And watch the video she links to. Trust me, as an indie publisher, you will understand instantly.
In short, the term popcorn kittens means that suddenly you want to do this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and…. You get the idea.
I wanted to get up WMG Publishing website and get the bookstore running. I wanted to get every cover on this blog linked to sales sites. I wanted to get the gift cards done and the hangers printed for them for the upcoming August convention and I wanted to do a catalog and a dealer discount sheet. I wanted to get published a couple more books and get them through POD. It got so bad that in a vain attempt to control the kittens I did up a page-long list and tried to put the items in order.
And then I stopped and got up and left my office and didn’t want to come back. And damned if I couldn’t figure out the problem for the longest time.
The problem? There was no writing on my list. Just as I had done in 1988, I had shoved my writing aside and became a publisher again.
AND I HATE THAT!! (I hope that’s clear. (grin))
So I have spent the evening kicking out one popcorn kitten after another and working on getting back to having fun.
Here is what I think is important. You all can make up your own list, but trust me, this list of mine comes from many years of mistakes over the past thirty years.
If you don’t make your writing original work come first, what’s the point? You can promote all you want, but eventually it will mean nothing if you are not writing.
#2… Publishing New Product
I have more backlist than I care to think about, my wife has more. And if I am writing all the time, I’m creating new product to publish as well. We will be up over 700 books and stories when we get through everything we want to have available, not counting the new stuff like my challenge stories or Kris’s new Retrieval Artist novel coming in December.
I might make a few more sales if I do basic links and such and as a few people have told me, it doesn’t take too much time. But it does take time. Doing links and bookstores and such is great for writers with only a few products, and eventually Kris and I will have a bookstore up and running. But right now I have 192 books and stories up for sale and they are selling just fine. I think I’ll go for 400 by this time next year. Including the stories left to write in the challenge.
I am going into the World Science Fiction Convention this year to have fun, play some poker, and be there as a writer, not a publisher. I will have a gift card to give away for one of my Poker Boy collections, Kris will have a gift card for the first book of the Fey series. And I will have a basic flyer for bookstores in the dealer’s room. But that flyer is as much as I’m going to do as a publisher. I am going to Worldcon as a vacation. And as a writer.
I’ve got a bunch of challenge stories to write between now and then as well. And that’s going to be great fun.
#4- #9… The publishing and writing job list goes on… teaching, having lunch with other writers, reading novels of other writers, and so on and so on…
At some point I’ll get to that stuff. Maybe. I’ll get covers linked, I’ll get up a bookstore site, and so on. It’s all important I know. And more than likely I’ll hire an employee to do most of it because I will be making enough from all the stories I have written and put up without much promotion. If you only have a few products, between writing more stuff you can spend the time to link.
Scott and I taught all this stuff. I just forgot what was important to me. So I had to make my list and get back on track for me. Every writer is different. Make your own list.
But that’s my list. The top three and where I think promotion of books ranks. I have a hunch I will move it farther down the list as time goes on. I never did an ounce of promotion on my books from traditional publishing. I can’t imagine why I would do much more than that now. For some reason I have just trusted my own writing to bring readers and made a living with that belief for a long time.
I really do believe that just like in the old days of traditional publishing, writing comes first. Getting that writing up and published for readers to find is a strong second. And having fun.
Hmmm… maybe I should move having fun up slightly. If you can’t have fun and keep writing while doing this indie publishing stuff, what’s the point?
But what is really wonderful about this new world is that being able to get your work up and published without all the pain of dealing with New York is great fun as well. Enjoy the process, then get back to writing the next thing.
And the next. And the next.
(photo by Eriklam/Dreamstime)