So the good news is that after taking about a year off after writing the first two thirds, I've finally finished my first novel.
The better news is that I'm going to be taking the next couple of months to edit and revise it (with the help of a couple of test-readers), and then I'll be e-publishing it for Kindle, Nook, iPad, and about a million other little devices rather than waiting years for it to get picked up by a regular publisher.
I thought I'd go over the plans and decisions that I've made, so that other writers can chime in with suggestions, or hopefully take away some inspiration.
What got me started on the e-publishing idea? Joe Konrath, of course. My boyfriend found his blog about a month ago when it was linked off of Slashdot, and had to immediately bring it to my attention. I've been working on my novel for about a year, because it was this time last year that I completed my MA in history with an exam rather than a thesis because of certain difficulties in working with my advisor. I've wanted to write for a long time, and have the plans for at least 4 or 5 novels in three very different settings backstocked, but what really got me started on The Nativity of St. Genevieve was the realization that I wasn't going to be able to (wasn't going to be allowed to) write a thesis, and the desire to prove that I could actually manage something of that length, difficulty, and scope. Never mind that a novel is more like a dissertation than a thesis anyway.
Before finding out about the wonderful world of e-publishing, my plans were to get my name out by publishing short stories in periodicals. Not a bad idea, except that the professional-grade, important periodicals don't take stories of the type I was writing. Genevieve is fantasy and alternate history, but recently I've been writing short stories set in my planned next universe after I finish the first Genevieve trilogy. It's Appalachian Steampunk. Kind of a niche market, not the kind of thing it's easy to get published.
In the past, typical advice would've been for me to get over myself and write something that would sell. I'm honestly quite happy that now I can write what I like, and deal with the fact that it won't sell as well by recognizing that all the sales are going to be pure profit for me, and that I don't have to worry about a publisher axing me for it. Steampunk may be a niche market, but it's growing, and the more good stories we can get out there, the faster it will grow. Makes authors happy, makes readers happy. And all we have to do is ignore the publishers.
So, what's my plan, and why have I laid it the way I have?
Sometime during this week I'm going to start a Kickstarter project, asking for $600. This is to cover paying Lucky Bat for formating, cover art, and an ISBN (since you need an ISBN to sell in the Apple store). I'm slightly daunted by the task, but I'll be advertising here, on facebook, on twitter, and at local indy bookstores and coffee shops. When I break down the math, I only need to convince 60 people to give me $10 each, and that doesn't sound so hard. I'll keep updates here on how it's going.
If I have to find a way to raise the money to pay up front, why am I going through Lucky Bat? Why not Smashwords, since they'll format for free and I can get decent cover art on the cheap? Mostly, because I'm familiar enough with computers to be comfortable managing my listings through the various stores for myself, and because I feel like the extra hassle of having to manage those myself is worth not loosing a cut of the royalties.
This isn't to say that I think Smashwords is bad. They're very reasonable in the cut they take, for what they offer, and it's a great choice for authors who don't feel that they have the time or the savvy to mess with all of the set up on their own. Personally, I expect that I'll be going through Lucky Bat for all of my novels, but the short story collections that I'm planning will all likely come out via Smashwords. Partly because I don't expect them to sell as well, so I'm not as concerned about loosing a percentage, and partly because since they're much easier and quicker to put together, I'm less inclined to waste a lot of time and effort worrying about them when I could be working on my next novel. The most likely format is going to be four ~4k word stories bound together as a bundle; I'm not famous enough yet that I see a need to make them available individually, and I intend to primarily market them as fun little side excursions into the worlds of my various novels.
So. Another young author hopes to make her splash in the world of e-publishing, with thought-provoking novels of sorcery and intrigue in the style of Katherine Kurtz and Mercedes Lackey.
Wish me luck!