Selling your writing in 13 weeks, week 9

Launching a book is like launching a rocket.  You make sure you built it right and have the right fuel mixture, and then you hope it won't blow up in your face.

Launching a book is like launching a rocket. You make sure you built it right and have the right fuel mixture, and then you hope it won’t blow up in your face.

There is something magical about taking a book you finish and letting it out into the world. There is something very scary too.

Back when I was doing only traditional publishing, or as I call it non-Baen publishing (since of all my traditional publishers Baen is the only one I continue to work with because they aren’t like the others) the process often resembled taking your infant and feeding him to the volcano god.

In the later days of the push model – before Amazon forced bookstores to stock in accordance with what was selling and not what the publisher said would sell – you often submitted a book in order to see it endowed with the most absurd cover or edited by a process that made Smashwords’ meatgrinder look good.  And then…  Nothing.  It just vanished without a trace never to rise again.

To call the process soul-killing is to understate the truth. For those of us making a mid-list living and often feeding three or four books – or more – a year into this machine, it became an abusive situation that gave us a feeling of combat fatigue. I found, recently, while looking over my books delivered towards the end of that period, (i.e. when I’d been doing it for a long time, and there was no prospect of indie in sight), that I’d started playing elaborate games with myself, such as including some outrageous detail and wondering if anyone else would notice it. This was, in retrospect, reckless and often stupid behavior. (And no, they were never discovered by the publisher, but that means now I need to discover them myself. No, I didn’t remember most of them.)

So – thank heavens for indie, right?  Where that never will happen?

Well, to quote a line from one of my favorite movies (Independence Day) “That’s not entirely accurate.”

Hence the comment about how putting the book out there is very exciting… and very scary also.

Anyone who has put a few stories or novels out there has experienced the weird release that just won’t sell.  This is particularly puzzling when you have a following that – generally speaking – will buy at least a few copies of anything you put out.  You put the short story or novel up on amazon and… nothing.

Sometimes this is a temporary condition, fixed later as the novel starts selling. And sometimes it just stays that way, and you have no idea why.