So, I’m going to be experimenting just once, to see what happens. I have released one of my unpublished stories into the world on the Kindle only, under epic fantasy, as a dollar novelette, as close to a free giveaway as I can. Novelette’s an oddball length in today’s market, and this one is strange enough that it isn’t really perfect for any market that I know of. And, with all the folks experimenting in new publishing paradigms, I could easily sit on the sidelines and watch. But, the sidelines aren’t where the action is at. I’m curious. I’m scatterbrained and curious. When a bee hits my bonnet, I’ve got to see it through, somehow.
I feel pretty conflicted by this. I’m not pro-self-publishing, as a general rule. In fact, I’m pretty outspoken against it most of the time.
What’s different this time?
First, there is no upfront cost at all. The money flows towards the writer. If I don’t make a dime, I also didn’t spend a dime.
Second, other people I respect are running similar experiments. Cory Doctorow and Jeff VanderMeer and Jason Sizemore of Apex are running some interesting self-publishing experiments. Sizemore, I think, has the right idea with the Apex books: drinks of water that act as low-cost promotional materials for the larger works. I also think Jeff’s got something very smart with cheekyfrawg because we may see the rebirth of fiction that is not between 100k-120k and designed for maximum paper printing cost-benefit-analysis. Many of CheekyFrawg’s titles look fascinating.
Third, I don’t believe in the speculative fiction marketplace regarding this particular story. The main character is gay, and lesbians and bisexuals are featured prominently. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it falls into a wordcount category that’s generally a difficult sale. Novelettes are kind of a weird length.
Fourth, the quality to crap ratio on the kindle is pretty bad. Good stuff is there, but it is often high-priced in the market, and it is drowning in crap. Because self-publishing is so relatively easy on this device, lots of people are doing it. Putting something good in this marketplace at a competitive price point seems like a good idea. in part, this is because…
Fifth, people will want to use the expensive devices they just shelled out a hundred bucks to acquire. Unlike paper books, which are flooding the market in paper, there isn’t as many books available on a Kindle as one could find in a used book store. People who buy a dedicated eReader are probably going to be sifting through the crap, if only to make their purchase worthwhile.
My experiment isn’t perfect. My cover was done in MS Paint. By me. I’m not an artist. I borrowed a line drawing from my fiance and did a quick fiddling in MSPaint to make it look cover-like. I’m competing in a marketplace with very pretty books. My interiors were done in Word. I’m terrible at describing my own work.
In this, I think, the experiment can run alongside the “Alien Shots” short story, I Am Nature, with the cover design and interiors done by the much-better-at-that-sort-of-thing Jason Sizemore. Ergo, it will still be an interesting experiment in relation to other pieces in play.
I’m curious. I’m doing this because I’m curious.
I’m not generally a fan of self-publishing. But, I keep hearing how the paradigms are shifting. It seems to cost me nothing but a couple hours to put that paradigm-shift to the test.
What will happen next?
Well, I have no intention of blogging or promoting the book in any form unless something interesting appears out of the data. If nothing happens that is interesting, I might just pull the novelette down and do something else if the mood strikes me.
Who knows what will happen?