E-publishing – playing the Amazon Self-Publishing game

My latest publication. Which sounds much grander than it is. Get it while it's FREE, folks!

In my last post, I looked at the books I had on my kindle and mentioned whether or not the free offer had given any extra incentive to make further purchases. Following that post, it was only logical that I should jump into the publishing pool myself.

Though I’ve been a playwright for over a decade, I did put in a lot of time writing short fiction (and long fiction. Long, long, tedious, boring fiction, as it turns out) and I sold a couple of my short stories. A couple more won competitions and some ended up in anthologies. None of them made me rich, obviously. But those successes still left a huge…what, heap? Pile? Herd? Of stories, lying around on my hard drive. One that stuck out was a Sci-Fi short I had written in four episodes. It was a for a competition run by a coffee company, who wanted four-part fiction to print on their coffee tins, so people would buy new tins for the continued story. Maybe the coffee wasn’t that good?

Whatever the reason, I didn’t get the job, but my four-part story was written. It was a “Flash Gordon” style, Golden Age of Sci-Fi piece of fluff, but I liked it. I liked it so much that I went back to the story years later and wrote a play about a group of people who were working on the film version of the story. It’s called “Waiting for Twist Stiffly” and people have bought and performed it. If you’re one of them, let me know and send some pictures!

The cover for "Twist Stiffly". Yeah, yeah, I know. It's awful.

So I dug out the story “Twist Stiffly and the Hounds of Zenit Emoga”. I followed the KDP guidelines on formatting (ridiculously easy, fortunately) and I cobbled together a cover (harder than formatting, and a much less satisfactory result.) And then I published it. The entire process took about the same length of time as it takes to write a blog post, except at the end, I had a product on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.Fr….It’s crazy.

That week seems to have been a watershed week for authors, or maybe I just have a lot of writers in my G+ streams. There were dozens of books being put out on free trial offers, and I didn’t want to dump something as low-rent as Twist Stiffly in with these genuine novels. So I put it out for $2 and warned people it was really bad. Naturally, a couple of friends bought it out of curiosity, and some of my G+ acquaintances bought it. I’m grateful, but also apologetic. To make up for it, I collected together some of the short stories I wrote for Ladies’ magazines years ago and worked a little harder on the cover (It still looks terrible, but shows I worked hard. I simply don’t have the gift.) Now Coffee Time Tales is on sale for $0.99, but I am running the free offer for the weekend of 17th Feb to Monday the 20th.

Am I expecting to get rich? Not from these books. I have a vague idea of spinning off maybe two other volumes of Coffee Time Tales, and a Science Fiction Shorts special, all at $0.99, but they’re not going to be money spinners. I’m publishing these stories because they still make me smile, and it seems a shame to leave them mouldering on my computer when they might make SOMEONE ELSE smile.

In the meantime, I’ll stay a playwright, and work on my screenplay. And buy more lottery tickets.

Have you tried the self-pub route? Are you rich yet? Are you too nervous to try? Do you want a step by step guide to getting your text into e-print? Seriously, folks, the publishing is the EASY part. The difficult bit is getting anyone but your parents to buy it.

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3 responses to “E-publishing – playing the Amazon Self-Publishing game

  1. I got the sample for my Kindle and I’m looking forward to getting and reading Twist Stiffly. I’m very intrigued by the story.

    I also got the freebie short stories and will be checking those out, too.

    It’s awesome you’re getting your work out there for others to enjoy.

    • Thanks Angela – looking forward to seeing what you think of them! I like to think I’m still playing at publishing, using old material to see how the process works and what the uptake is. “Twist Stiffly” has had sales in the low single digits, but offering the other collection free has resulted in 150 copies being downloaded in two days. I’ve only pushed it on G+, Facebook and here… Whether those readers would come back and pay another $0.99 for another five stories – well, that’s a post for another day!

  2. Pingback: How things change. | Damian Trasler's Secret Blog - Do Not Read!

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