Best Practice vs. Reality (Some Self-Pubbing Thoughts)

In my day job we throw around the phrase “best practice” a lot.

Basically, we tell clients that something may not be required by law or regulation, but that it’s a best practice to do it.

A lot of times best practices come with increased costs.  Most laws and regulations result from a series of compromises based upon what the majority of those subject to the requirement will actually be able to do on a consistent basis.

It’s never anyone’s ideal solution.  And almost never the highest standard possible.

Which is where best practices come into play.  On a voluntary basis, an organization can choose to perform to a higher standard.

But they don’t have to.  They can “get by” with less effort.

(Until their competitors all adopt the best practice and regulatory expectations shift to the point that it might as well be a written requirement.)

Anyway.

I’m five days from releasing the first short story and I’m thinking about how I would ideally like to handle my short story releases versus how they’re actually going to work out.

Ideally, I’d have enough product to issue a new release every two weeks after having shopped those stories to the pro markets for six months.

In reality, I have enough product for eight releases.  If I release every two weeks, that’s four months of releases, so not enough time to shop them to all possible pro markets.

(That’s ok, some of those pro markets don’t like me as much as others.  And some of my stories don’t really fit with any of the markets.)

Ideally, I would establish a release schedule at the beginning and stick to it religiously.

(For example, “I will release a volume in Series A and a volume in Series B in alternating order every three weeks.”)

In reality, I’m going to front-load the release schedule because I want what I do have available out there before Christmas.

(Momentary recognition here of all other December-based holidays. But Christmas is the most consumer driven of the bunch, so the one that will drive sales if anything does.  Since we’re talking e-book sales, I’m thinking I need to have everything out by December 25th.  I could be wrong.)

The current plan is seven original releases between October 1, 2013 and December 19, 2013 followed by four collection releases in the week before Christmas for a total of eleven products available on Christmas day.

That means January will most likely be dead, because I won’t have new material ready to release since it will be making the rounds of the pro markets.  (Assuming I write it…)

Ideally, I would have all of the stories I want to publish back from pro markets before I begin, or know that I’ll have them back in time for their scheduled release date.

In reality, I have the stories for the first two releases back, but am missing at least one story from the other five releases.  I should have all of those stories back in time, but…some of the markets they’re at have wonky response times and I just don’t know if those stories will get back in time.

(I could also have the good/bad fortune of selling one of those stories, which will mean I have to adjust on the fly.  Trust me, if that happens, I’ll gladly accept the challenge.)

Ideally, I would have professionally designed covers and a snazzy marketing campaign to promote this.

In reality, I’ll post about it here, on AbWrite, and on kboards.

And, as for my covers…well, let’s just say they aren’t going to be what everyone recommends.

I figured I could try to do artsy, genre-specific covers that would most likely look like amateur hour or I could do covers that are easy to read and clearly by me.  I went with option B.

Partially because a lot of what I write doesn’t fit neatly into a genre bucket.  And I’d rather promote what I’m doing as “short stories by M.H. Lee” so they’re all tied together than “science fiction short stories”, “fantasy short stories”, and “who-the-hell-knows short stories”.

Maybe someday it’ll help that they’re all branded. But when you’re a nobody, that’s probably not the best route to take.  (In other words, don’t do what I’m doing.  Not a best practice.)

On the other hand, it was cheap (free) and they do cover the basics–title and author.

Yeah, so there you have it.

I’ll probably torture you all with a few more release-related e-mails this week.  Probably one on the stories I’m planning on publishing (because my goal is to let my blog readers have one for free and I’d like to give all y’all enough information for you to choose which one without running afoul of Amazon’s price-matching). And probably one on the covers, because, ooh, pretty pictures!

So, feel free to tune out for a bit if all of this is annoyingly self-promotional and boring.

 

 

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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