Welcome To The Dark Side

At 12:28 this morning, I crossed over to the dark side.  In other words, the non-fiction book I decided to self-publish went live on Amazon.

I’m not going to link to it here, because, even though it’s also published using a pen name, the pen name is a very gendered pen name and this blog is still gender neutral.

I don’t expect the book to do well, because I am not planning on promoting it in any way.  Not even on my personal Facebook page.

So, why do it?

A number of reasons.

First, I felt compelled to write this non-fiction book back in June and then I wondered what the hell I was going to do with it.  As long as it was sitting on my hard drive it wasn’t doing me any good.  (Other than the fun of writing it…)

Trade publishing didn’t seem like an option.  The book is about 15,000 words long and I have no particular credibility when it comes to this topic other than having been there done that before.  (But so have many, many others.)

And, while I believe that a no-name nobody can break into fiction writing through agents and trade publishers, I think in non-fiction you really need to have a built-in reader base or reason to be considered an authority.

As much as I know that I’m brilliant and wonderful and everyone should listen to me, that probably isn’t going to translate to complete strangers.

So, there was that.

Second, I think the book is relevant now, but I’m not sure how relevant it will be in two years’ time.  It deals with a popular cultural issue and terminology and forms of communication change so fast that what I pointed out today could seem quaint and dated by the time the book fit into a traditional publication schedule.

Third, after my little epiphany that I’ve been coasting in my day job and not really treating it as a business, I started thinking long and hard about what I’m doing with my life.

(Hence the radio silence for the last month.)

I decided I could go in a few directions.

One, start treating the consulting as a business and go hustle new clients.  Two, go get an office job.  Three, find a way to treat my writing as a business venture.

I wanted to choose option three, but that meant turning my writing from something I do for enjoyment that doesn’t need to generate income into something that can pay my bills.

So, really, I needed to start treating writing as a business as well.

Which meant I had to crunch some numbers.  And crunching those numbers, looking for income to pay my bills in the short-term, led me to put some serious consideration into self-publishing.

With trade publishing, let’s say I sell a few stories in the next year and land a contract for one of the novels.  That’s maybe $1,000 from the short stories and $5,000 from an advance.

With self-publishing?  Who knows.  I could make nothing.  Or I could make more than $6,000 for a year.

Likelihood is that I won’t make all that much, but the upside is probably much more significant than trade publishing.

I love my two novels.  But I don’t expect either one to earn me a six-figure advance.

For an idea of some new authors (published for a year or two) and what they’ve made, see here.

(I’m sure there are other places people have talked about this as well, but that’s one I look back at from time to time.  Of course, those numbers are not what I would consider enough to live on…)

So, I tentatively came up with a plan for self-publishing my short fiction after giving it six months with the pro markets, but I still had this issue of three books in three separate genres/markets.

Two of the books are of a length to publish the traditional route.  But that third one was just a misfit.

So, I decided it was time to try this self-publishing thing out.  And why not do so with the non-fiction book that doesn’t really have a home in trade publishing?

It only needed a simple cover design that I could easily do myself.  It doesn’t rely on story-telling to work, so if I still have craft issues to work through, those won’t affect its viability.

It seemed like a good learning opportunity.  And, who knows?  Maybe it’ll take off.  I submitted it to Kindle Singles last night, although I suspect they won’t take it.

Good thing is it’s not in a crowded category.  I looked at sixteen books that are in the same category and nine of those are in the top 200,000 paid rankings.  Which isn’t amazing, but represents steady sales from what I understand.  And some of those have been out for a few years already.

So, we’ll see how it goes.  I expect to sell about ten copies.  (Probably five of those from people I know that do know about the book being out.)

If I sell 1,200 units, then I’ll have made as much off of this book on an hourly rate basis as I do at my day job.  I would be ecstatic with that result.

I know this is not the way to self-publishing success, but I did learn a ton in the process.  (Including changing my paragraph lengths based upon readability on the Kindle.  I already write in short paragraphs, but I ended up making them even shorter.)

And I will post at some point the game plan for the short fiction.  I was going to discuss it here, but that just made too long of a post.

And that will be under this pen name, so you will get spammed with links when those stories finally start going live.  But that’ll be a while yet.  I need enough inventory to make it work.

Which means back to writing!







About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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2 Responses to Welcome To The Dark Side

  1. Tom Elias says:

    Good luck!

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