Monday, September 21, 2015

Four years in the self-published marketplace

Today, I realized that I have been in the self-publishing marketplace for four years (well, almost four years). My first ebook, Pizza Boxes on the Floor, went live on Smashwords on October 15, 2011. And my first dubious erotica self-published offering, CBM1LA (yes, that is code because I do not share my erotica pen-names with the public), went live on Smashwords on October 30, 2011.

Now, I had been thinking about self-publishing for a long time before I went the self-published route.

I started writing for profit in 1984 when I realized at a truck stop that someone had to be getting paid for writing dubious erotica. (I had written some extremely bad science fiction and fantasy stories in high school--based on The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy and The Hobbit.) And my first check for dubious erotica was cashed in 1985, a whooping twenty-five dollars.

The first time that I considered going the self-published route was when a traditional occult publisher rejected one of my ideas, stating that my potential market for the idea was only a hundred people. At that point, self-publishing meant shelling out money to have a print shop (or vanity publisher) run off a hundred or more physical copies of your book---books that you then sold and shipped out of your basement. Working in food service, I never could scrape together the bank roll to make the initial investment.

The self-publishing market changed drastically on November 19, 2007 when Amazon released its first Kindle. While there were ebooks before this point (pdfs are ebooks), it was the creation of ereaders that made the current self-publishing environment viable. Smashwords, which went live on May 6, 2008, is a success because of ereaders. Without ereaders, the current self-publishing market would not exist.

Now, I will admit that I was a late adopter of the ebook market (late as in I missed the initial gold rush). When I became unemployed in October 2004, I tried to make a go at it as a full-time professional writer....but that was a complete failure.

There were (and are still) problems with the print market. For instance, the pay rate for short dubious erotic stories was twenty-five dollars in 2004---the same amount that was being paid in 1985. And acceptance and rejection letters were a long time coming. I once got paid two and a half years later for one story that got accepted---the first indication that the story had actually been accepted. Most of the time, one had (and probably still has) no clue if something was rejected or not (maybe a tenth of the erotic magazines send out rejection letters).

When the new ebook market started, I was in community college, and pretty much missed the news. It was only when I started to get ready to graduate that thoughts of getting back officially into writing occurred. Not that I ever really left writing, at that point I was writing for pay-by-the-view sites (most of which are now dead). Reading various blogs and websites, I became aware of the new marketplace.

Now, my decision to enter the new ebook market happened in December 2009. It just took me awhile to actually enter once I had made the decision. The article collection Pizza Boxes on the Floor, was from the onset of me deciding to write a monthly column for Hearthstone Community Church, meant for republishing in the ebook market. I didn't actually put the ebook of the 2010 HCC newsletter articles together until October 2011.

Of course, I also decided to put up one of my dubious erotic short stories up. It was a test. In the first quarter, I made a whooping ten dollars from that single story. And since then, I have collected some loot every quarter from that story.

Please note that the erotic ebook market has suffered several setbacks since then. Apple has removed almost all of my dubious stock, as has Kobo and several others. And let's not talk about the antics of Amazon.

But the decision to go self-published, despite the potholes that have developed in the market, still looks like a good decision. Even in a non-working quarter (I had mental health and personal issues), I make as much as I would have in a hard-working quarter in the print market.

Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year
My latest unsuitable for the traditional print market ebook is the Rite of the Magical Images of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It is a ritual that I created and performed at the June 2013 Hearthstone Community Church Open Full Moon ritual. It is available on Amazon. (As well as Smashwords, and (probably--I haven't checked yet) Kobo, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Oyster, and a couple other outlets which names escape my memory at the moment.)

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