I think it might be safe to say I’ve overcommitted myself recently. Or, perhaps, my impulsiveness overtook my common sense and my pre-planning skills took a nosedive in my excitement.
The short version: I committed to producing a short story a month for a year, with a public release and quasi-marketing; treating the project like the preliminaries in a grudge match against traditional publishing. I thought to myself initially, “Let’s just see what it might be like to self-publish some small stuff instead of a whole book.”
Crackers. I am crazy crackers.
It’s month four, and on the bright side, I’ve been learning the lessons of self-pubbing by trial and error with these releases. Given that I have virtually no blog audience and my mailing list is minuscule, it’s been a good experience realizing early on that I NEED MORE FOLLOWERS IN EVERYTHING OMG. Otherwise no future books are going to sell.
The result: more homework! Search term: “how to build bigger blog following.” Yeah seriously; I googled that a few times.
I began looking into free distribution sites for fiction. Specifically horror fiction. Dark Fantasy. Anything in the speculative fiction category that carried a supernatural driver and could fit into the horror category — the place where my stories want to live, so to speak.
I found stuff. I found some very interesting stuff beyond the standard Wattpads and Figments.
FUN FACT: Did you know The Martian — that blockbuster film starring Matt Damon — originally started off as a story on Wattpad? The film’s domestic total as of today’s date: $226,111,022. Just saying.
ANOTHER FUN FACT: “Indie authors earn a median annual writing income of between $500 and $999, well below the $3,000 to $4,999 reported for traditionally published authors, according to a recent Digital Book World survey.”
I expect I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon, self-published or not. Regardless, I will continue making efforts in the notoriety department. Because maybe, just maybe, I will someday write something better than The Martian and they’ll make a movie out of it. Or maybe I will make a movie out of it. Who knows.
I should really look into taking up animation.
Phase one: getting the word out there
The problem: Virtually no following to distribute my work to. (Although I deeply thank the 37 people on my mailing list for not unsubscribing yet.)
The first solution (though not the last): Free-for-use websites with large and upcoming horror categories to plonk my work into, interact with other horror writers, and generate interest.
Resources for Authors: Free Sites for Horror Writers
I found a small but diverse selection with a few surprises and potential for future application.
“We love discovering great stories. Even as the publishing industry evolves, the way we connect with a great story remains unchanged. With Tablo, we wanted to create a home that revives some of the simple joys of publishing. Tablo is nothing more than a place for writers to write, for readers to read, and for each to discover one another.”
Notes: You can write, you can read, you can use their mobile app, and you can publish to amazon when you’re done. Also, if you purchase a paid subscription you can track how your stories are performing with your readership.
“The entire publishing industry has always relied upon the subjective and emotional opinions of their decision makers. This is why Harry Potter was rejected by 13 publishers, Twilight by 14 and Carrie by Stephen King was refused by 30 publishers.
We created Inkitt with the mission to change this – to ensure fair publishing and objectivity for authors. Who are we or any editor in the world to judge whether your book is worth publishing? We don’t think that we or any so-called “expert” is in a position to judge your work. You write your book for your readers, and the most important factor is whether your readers like it or not. That is what we measure at Inkitt.
This is why we built artificially intelligent algorithms that have the ability to analyze reading pattern data and engagement levels. This allows us to make objective and data-driven decisions regarding a story’s potential to become a bestseller.”
Notes: Inkitt lets you sign up free and publish your fiction to the community. If your story gets a significant amount of interest from the community, Inkitt becomes your “agent” and facilitates the handoff of your book to the world. Cons: I received several emails regarding guideline violations when I tried to publish with them — minor infractions that violate their guidelines like no notes in the story copy, to more annoying things like reformatting my graphics and removing the text from the images. (Dude, that’s my title.) I got fed up eventually and gave up on trying to put my short stories onto the site, largely because I’m trying to keep my monthly processes streamlined. For isolated fiction, like, I dunno, a novel maybe — I’d probably fiddle with it. They are running some interesting contests, that they will tweet you about directly if you’ve got “writer” listed in your Twitter description.
“A community to share writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors.”
Notes: Similar to Wattpad but under different ownership. Also likes to plug their traditionally published titles. The community is largely teenagers requesting swaps: read and review my work and I’ll read and review yours. Surprising how straightforward those requests posted to my wall are. A+ for being direct about what you want.
No description offered.
Notes: Looks exactly like Fanfiction.net, but with red highlights instead of blue. o.O
“Turn your idea into a draft: Feel good about your idea? Upload a sample chapter (if you have one). We’ll use your writing sample to build your draft page. If you don’t have a sample, no problem. You can upload one later or sketch out your draft on Inkshares. Get feedback: Do people like your idea? Your writing? Ask readers to help you improve your draft and build a following along the way. Many authors will stop at this step, which is perfectly fine. Sell Pre-Orders: When and if you’re ready to turn your draft into a book, we’ll start to sell pre-orders. You’ll run your pre-order campaign from Inkshares. We’ll publish your book if you reach at least 250 copies pre-ordered. We Publish: When you reach your pre-order goal, we’ll start the publishing process with you. We’ll edit, design, print, distribute, and market your book where the intensity of each is based on your goal level. We are your publisher. You’ll make 50% of gross revenue for each printed book we sell, and 70% for each ebook.”
Notes: Crowdfunding… but for books! Neat! Might give this a shot at some indeterminate point in the future.
“Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience. We’re the writing group to join if you want to get the best feedback around, to learn how to get published, and to be a part of the friendliest and most successful writing workshop online.”
Notes: Share you stuff and workshop it so you can make it better. Two options for signing up: free and subscription-based. I hate workshopping, but this I might actually give a shot. It appears that users from the site do get their work published. I suspect this will require some time and effort if it’s intended as a reciprocal service, though. Better clear off a chunk of production time if you want to do it right.
Whew! That’s a lot.
So let’s wrap this up folks:
Who’s using these services? Because now is the time for you to plug yourself in the comments and share your profile URLs if you are. We could all use some new writing friends.
My profiles are listed below:
As for the project that started this initiative, you can find Short Fictions & Curiosities here.