Thursday, October 16, 2014
Inch by Inch
It’s official: Little by little, I’m working my way toward self-publishing. I have a finished story. Yeah, it’s some porn I intend to slip past Amazon, but it’s a start. I’ve read the Smashwords formatting guide and practiced on a file, though I didn’t get around to uploading. Uploading a file is the only true test of self-publishing. The porn file is a lot shorter than the book I was practicing on. I’m hoping that means fewer glitches.
Why the sudden urge to plunge into the self-pub pond? Mostly for the shot at a little extra income. And I do mean “little.” I’ve been skimming through other writers’ self-publishing diaries over on Absolute Write. Some haven’t done very well. Others have. A lot are having better sales than I have, and I’ve got a publisher. I don’t know what that says about my marketing efforts, or my writing ability. I can see I have a lot of aspects to work on.
However, nobody’s earning in the Stephen King ranges, and I don’t hear about too many people making a living at it. Essentially, it works out to gas and grocery money. That’s fine. I always need gas and groceries.
On the other hand, there was the contestant on Jeopardy last night, the (male) romance novelist. He said he wrote his first book to get a couple extra bucks to pay for an engagement ring. His second book paid for the wedding. He’s been writing romance ever since. I’d love to know under what name, and for which publisher, if any. Enough success stories like these make the news to give the rest of us hope. In a lot of our cases it may be false hope, but it’s hope nevertheless.
What will I be publishing? My usual genres, romance and fantasy/SF. Any Talbot’s Peak novels I write need to be legit publisher-free because of copyright reasons. What happens if I write a TP book and it becomes a hit? I didn’t create that world. Guess we’ll worry about that after I actually finish one of my TP books. I also have over a dozen old fantasy short stories I wrote and had published in magazines and anthologies back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. I’m pretty sure I own the copyright to those, but I can check with the publishers and make sure. A little reworking and I can put them up on Smashwords and Amazon for a buck apiece. Anything I get from those is gravy.
And, of course, the porn. I think I may have finally come up with a name nobody else has. All the Anita Dicks in the world are now safe. They should thank me.
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Another minor concern came up while I was researching covers. There are sites from which you can download stock photos, and free formatting programs are available. However, I think I’ll leave cover design to the designers for now. For the Talbot’s Peak books we have two designers in the group, so I’ll turn to them when the time finally comes. Anything else, like those short stories or porn, I’ll have to buy a cover for. That’s okay; I have a PayPal account that’s just sitting there. Just as long as I don’t have to spend too much for it. I mean, it’s porn and reprints, after all.
Luckily, there’s a site called Fiverr where you can buy services for five dollars or so, and that includes ebook covers. I figure that’s good enough for porn.
I started looking into artists and their portfolios, and that’s where I hit a snag. Quite a few of those cover designers, especially those with the highest ratings, are home-based outside the US. We’re talking India and Barbados and places along those lines. It’s always India or Barbados. Why don’t graphic designers live in Ireland or Wales?
Normally I don’t object to artists making a comfortable living. That’s my goal, after all. But this hits a personal sore spot. My best job ever was a home typing job for a printing firm. I lost it when the company shipped it to India. I lived maybe three blocks away, and it was still cheaper to send the work overseas. A hundred and thirty women were cast out in the street. Years later I went back to work for that company again, as a copy editor. That job lasted less than a year when the company’s biggest customer decided to—yeah, you guessed it. That company’s gone now. Out of business. The whole industry, my main reason for moving to Lancaster County in the first place, is pretty much extinct.
That’s both the blessing and the problem with computer-based jobs. You can do them anywhere. When I see them being done in India, it triggers a lot of bad feelings. Therefore, no offense to any talented artists who might happen to live in or near the Pacific, but I’m going to buy American. Nothing but American-made covers for my porn. USA! USA!
Unless I find a cover designer from Ireland. My family’s mostly Irish. I don’t mind giving my green to the Irish. You guys rock!
That pretty much does it for all my excuses. Now all I need is the guts to take the plunge. When I do, you’ll hear it here first.