Category Archives: Indie Publishing

Should Indie Writers Give Away Their Work?

The debate rages all over the internet. Should indie writers give away their work in order to gain more readers?

I tried it last week. I did a 5-day promotion, setting my literary short story This Thing with Henry to give away for free as a Kindle download. (It’s now back to 99-cents, but still free to borrow for Prime members.) I thought about doing an all-out marketing push, but I only have one other story published digitally under my name. (I have others under a pen name). Before I start marketing, I’d like to have something for readers to look for once they’ve finished the free story.

Some indie publishers argue that you should never give anything away for free. They think it’s bad business. But for those of us who don’t yet have a following, it may be a good way to to begin to build a readership.

My story reached the top 20’s for free kindle books in two sub-categories. That’s not so impressive, but there are now over 400 people who have the story on their kindle. Those 400 people had never heard of me before the promotion. If Henry is to their liking, perhaps some of them will click on the link to purchase The Morning Man. Perhaps they’ll look for more of my work in the future.

I can’t pretend to have the marketing side of indie publishing figured out. I know how to write and craft a solid story. I’m fortunate enough to have access to a great cover designer. Formatting for digital publishing is fairly easy now that I’ve done it a few times. Given the choice, I’d focus exclusively on writing, and let marketing take care of itself. But I’m afraid that would mean writing for an audience of one.

I’ve published several stories under my pen name (more on that later), so for my next experiment in late April, I’ll set one of those to the $0.00 and spread the word a little more. Here’s hoping it finds the right readers and they come back for more.

Go write something!

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Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Career, Indie Publishing


How to Remove the Stigma from Self-Publishing

I sometimes buy books out of compassion for the author.

I see an author sitting at a table in a bookstore, or in a kiosk at a book fair, waiting patiently next to a stack of books. She or he is there to sign and sell books, but for whatever reason, no one has shown up or expressed an interest. I feel compelled to strike up conversation with these writers, to make them feel less awkward and alone.The response is almost always positive. They’re eager to discuss their work and sign it with a personal note penned just for me.

Almost every time I do this, over the course of twenty years or so, I get the book home and find it not worth reading. This assessment is subjective of course, and it’s never based on the subject matter, but always on the way the author treated the subject, used language, or crafted the story. I can never bring myself to dispose of the books, so I donate them in the hopes that they’ll find the right readers.

Many of these books were self-published, and some were published by big name publishing companies. There have always been self-publishing success stories, just as there have always been conventionally published books that were pure dreck. (Don’t tell me you’ve never picked up a book in a bookstore and wondered how that writer ever got a publishing deal.)

Self-publishing earned the reputation of not being able to pass muster with the publishers. Anything good to come out of that was considered an exception. Fortunately, that’s changing. Seasoned authors are taking advantage of the indie publishing and self-publishing opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago, and holding onto more of the income their books generate. New authors are using self-publishing as a means to garner recognition, and perhaps a contract, from traditional publishers.

There will always be poorly written books for sale, and now that self-publishing is easier than ever and can be done for free, we can expect thousands more unworthy books to hit the virtual shelves. The best way for serious writers to continue to diminish the stigma that taints self-publishing is to self-publish the best work possible. Many readers sitting at home downloading books on their kindles and other electronic reading devices don’t care who published the book. They just want it to be good.

Here are my latest indie published offerings.

Go write something!


Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Career, Indie Publishing


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4 Reasons to Publish Your Short Stories for E-readers

Are you writing strictly for your own pleasure, to impress some anonymous editor, or to share your work with readers?

If you’re like most fiction writers I know, you’ve got a few short stories, or abandoned novel chapters that could be shaped into short stories, lingering on your hard drive.

Let me suggest you take a leap into the digital world and publish those stories yourself on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and the like. (I’ll address submissions to literary journals in a separate post.)

For most of my writing career, anything that smelled like self-publishing was considered the “kiss of death.” After all, if you needed to pay exorbitant prices to a vanity press, you probably didn’t have the talent or mastery of craft to make it in the traditional publishing world. The times they are a-changin.

These days, many successful writers are jumping into indie publishing, either as an addition to or as a replacement for traditional publishing. New writers are launching their short stories via indie publishing in an effort to expose their work to the reading public.

4 Reasons to Digitally Publish Your Short Stories:

  1. Publish in a day.You can submit a story to journals for months or even years before you get an acceptance and publication date. Once you create a cover, format the text, and write a descriptive blurb, you can have your story available for sale via digital outlets within a few hours.
  2. Make money now. If you write in genres like sci fi or horror, there are several magazines that will pay for your stories. Literary magazines, on the other hand, rarely pay anything more than a copy or two of the journal itself. For those of us who aren’t independently wealthy, the extra money we can make from publishing and marketing our stories independently, may be worth the effort.
  3. Build a readership. If you’re working on a novel or story collection, you can start to find readers for your work well before your longer piece is ready. If your work is good, and you give people the opportunity to find it, those same readers will look for your next work. Just don’t make them wait too long.
  4. Credibility. Sure, publishing in a highly reputable journal builds your credibility as a writer, but sales can do that for you in a much more direct way. Some writers may be in the industry as a hobby or part-time job, but few agents or publishers are. They need to make a living, and if you can demonstrate a successful sales record with your short stories, they’ll give you a serious look when you’re ready to sell your novel or story collection (assuming you don’t decide to indie publish that as well.)

For all those reasons and more, I’ve published my first short story via digital avenues. The Morning Man is published for Kindle, Nook, pdf download and all the other ereader formats. There are more stories to come, including several which I’ll publish under a pen name, since they’re a complete departure from my normal “literary” genre.

Have you self-published? Leave me a comment, and let me know where I can find your work.

Go write something!


Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Career, Indie Publishing


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My First Indie Publishing Venture

On sale for $2.99 in the Kindle store

My first indie published ebook is out in the world. I published my non-fiction booklet, The Raw Food Difference: 10 Easy Steps to Beauty, Energy, and a Smaller Butt!. It’s a guide to adding more raw vegetables and fruits to your diet and the benefits you can get, if you do. (Among other things, I lost around 60 pounds, and I still get to have dessert.) Having shipped that first project is a great relief and a bit of a thrill!

I spent hours on my laptop trying to get formating just right and going through the process of uploading to Amazon’s Kindle store. Since I’d done so much of the work for Amazon, uploading to Nook was much simpler and easier. (Barnes & Noble hasn’t yet released it.) Neither was as complicated as I expected it to be, though I expect things to be a bit tougher when I have a full-length book ready for a print option.

The ebook is priced at $2.99. I kept the price low, because it’s a booklet. It’s 37 pages, as I state in the description. I didn’t start off at $.99, because it’s packed with information and resources that are valuable to a reader with interests in this area. I kept it very focused and left out the usual fluff. Over time, I’ll see what happens and adjust the price accordingly.

Marketing is a completely different beast, and I haven’t yet attempted to tame it. I’ll add a link to my current and older blogs, The Raw Difference and Rediscover Raw Food. I’ll figure out how to do some marketing on twitter, but in-you-face marketing isn’t really my thing. My longer book non-fiction book is almost finished, so I’ll try to wrap that up soon. Claiming more virtual shelf space is always a good thing, but I’ll have to figure out other ways to get my work in front of readers.

I’m doing final rewrites on my novella, and I have a much more specific plan for marketing it. “Shipping” is my theme for 2011. I defined the term as completing and releasing projects. It’s time to factor in the audience.

Go write something!



Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Indie Publishing


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Wading in to Indie Publishing

Thanks to the dedication, hard work, and success of my writing partner, we have a book deal with a major publisher. I’m the writer on this project, and my partner is the author. I worked extremely hard on the proposal, and I’ll put even more into the writing of the book. Still, she gets a bigger pay-out and a larger credit, because this is a cookbook and the recipes, as well as the platform, are hers. The project wouldn’t exist without her.

I feel privileged and well rewarded for my hard work on the book proposal, but I’m also ready to make a foray into indie publishing. It’s time to release something under my own banner. My monster novella and a non-fiction book are near completion. Instead of waiting until they’re done, I’ve decided to publish an e-booklet.

This 30 page booklet treats one of my favorite non-fiction passions. It’s a how-to for people looking to try out a raw food lifestyle. I maintain a raw food blog, and have eaten this way for some time. I make it clear I’m not a 100% raw foodist, but it is the way I primarily eat.

Barring technical difficulties, the book should launch by the end of this week. I hope it’ll be a good resource without all the fluff that’s added to many lifestyle books in an effort to pad the page count.

I’m pushing myself to publish this because it’s good and it’s nearly finished. A longer or more complex project will provide lots of excuses to put off publication, and just one good excuse could keep me from publishing anything in the near future.

It can be scary to risk failure in such a public way. Publishing this booklet will be my leap of faith–faith in my competence, knowledge, and work ethic.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Go write something!

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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Indie Publishing


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Indie Writers – Competition or Collaboration?

I don’t want to be one of those writers who guards his secrets, refusing to share or discuss how he connected with this person or how he reached that market. I try, not always successfully, to be generous in my personal life, so why should my career be any different?

Some indie writers blog that they won’t share all their marketing channels or discuss how they set up their blog tours, because they consider other writers their competition. That’s a legitimate way to look at things, but even with the traditional publishing, traditional bookstore model, I don’t think it holds true. Many of the writers I know who found success under that old model make it a habit to share what they’ve learned and help other writers make connections with agents, editors, and other resources. Many indie writers have done the same.

Books like The Long Tail, which I’m in the process of reading, have convinced me we’re really not competing against each other in the way some might think. Sure, there are only so many readers out there (millions!), but there’s limitless shelf space these days. The readers who couldn’t find you before, because you weren’t prominently displayed in a big bookstore, can find you now. If you produce enough work, tweak things correctly, make an effort at marketing, and have enough luck, you may be as easy for readers to find as some of the authors with major marketing dollars behind them.

Folks are still willing to spend five bucks a day ($150/month) on coffee. I have to believe that those who are interested in reading your work will still want to read it, and be willing to pay for it, after they’ve spent five bucks on mine.

I have a conventionally published book coming out in 2012. Though I’m more than thrilled about it, I’m just the writer for another author, and I have no influence on how it will be sold or marketed. But I have at least three, books I’ll publish independently this year. When I do, I hope I’ll learn something worth sharing with other writers. Authors, like Kiana Davenport and Jennifer Willis, have openly shared resources and suggestions, and helped me get closer to done. The least I can do is pass on the favor.

Go write something!


Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Indie Publishing


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