I don’t expect to have any real success with my first book, To the North. Sure, I sometimes find myself imagining what it would be like to sit back and watch the positive reviews flood in, of being suddenly and unexpectedly swept away because my words struck a chord with millions.
But I have always been a pragmatist. The fantasy is a fun indulgence, but I know that if I want to actually make it as a writer it’s going to take good old fashioned elbow grease. I’m going to have to work at it.
One of the things I considered as I started putting more thought into launching my writing career a couple of years ago was how I would reach an audience. Networking is, and I say this without a trace of hyperbole, the worst fucking thing on the entire fucking goddamn planet. I can’t do it. I refuse to do it. I find the entire concept vile. I know myself well enough to know that I will never be one of those people who is willing to shill herself, or shove manuscripts into peoples’ hands at parties, or join a group of other writers so that we can all use each other for favors.
Is it valuable? Of course. Is it effective? Absolutely. Would I rather light myself on fire? You betcha.
So what are my other options? I can publish my book and watch it gather digital dust on a shelf next to the tens of thousands of other self-published books from authors nobody has ever heard of, or I can try and get my name out there somehow.
One of the things I’ve decided to try is to have multiple titles on my author page when my book launches. It will make me look more established, give me a bit more credibility, and more exposure. However, I don’t have more books written yet (although I have the other three in the series planned out to varying degrees), and I don’t really want to wait until they’re all done to launch the first one. And so, I’m putting the finishing touches on some short stories.
Amazon has a program called Kindle Singles that features shorter stories – generally between 5K and 30K words. I have a half dozen or so short stories in my working files, some more complete than others, and a few that I think would make good novellas. So what I’m going to do is publish these first on KDP, and then submit them for consideration into the Kindle Singles library.
There are pros and cons to this. Kindle Singles have their own store, which Amazon markets to its customers. Of course, their marketing efforts are for authors and stories that they have hand-chosen, so pure independents like me aren’t going to get a lot of ink in their newsletter, but having a book available in their store has its perks. The biggest downside for me is that Kindle requires that Singles cost at least 99¢. I would prefer to offer my short stories for free. However, the approval process takes a while, so I plan to launch it at no cost and leave it there unless it gets picked up by Kindle Singles.
I have another reason for this: it’s kind of like a practice run. I want to go through the process of setting up a book for digital publication with something that I’m slightly less attached to on my first go-around. While I still feel proud of the short stories, they don’t feel as much a part of my soul as To the North does. I lived with that book and its characters for a couple of years, and it’s an epic sort of story inspired by a deep mythology that I really got buried in. The short stories are much quicker, generally much more simple (at least in terms of narrative), and I feel much more confident that they work – because let’s be honest, the expectations are lower.
Right now I’m editing the first of these short stories, “Grime“. My goal is to have the edits done this week and start exploring the dark recesses of self-publishing this coming weekend. With that said, “Grime” is a very, very different story than To the North in every conceivable way. It’s contemporary, it’s dark, it’s real-world, and it’s definitely skewed adult. So I’m also planning to launch at least one more short story, which is as-yet still untitled (an old writer friend of mine would laugh forever if he knew how much I still struggled with titles), and is sort of a bridge between the two. It has a touch of the supernatural, like To the North, but it’s also contemporary and a bit gritty, like “Grime”.
My hope is that having these three different titles show up under my name when it comes time to start promoting To the North will go a long way toward getting some more exposure.
Back to editing!