Sunday, 3 April 2011

The common sense test

A week tomorrow, I'm going home to visit my parents for a few days. I haven't quite told them yet of my plans to self-publish. Being avid dead-tree-lovers, I suspect they'll be slightly hostile to the idea. I think they'd be horrified if they realised how much work I was intending putting into it.

However, my father is the best purveyor of common sense I know, so I'm going to sit down with him for an hour or two while I'm at home, discuss my plans with him in detail and see if he thinks they make sense. If the plans pass this test, I'll feel comfortable putting in the time, effort and, particularly, money to make my books sell.

Of course, that means I need detailed plans. I need a detailed, evidence-based case for self-publishing, based on sales figures for authors in my bracket and genre, and I need to know what the ones who have succeeded have done to generate that success. And I have just a week to find out.

So, obviously, if you know any relatively new speculative fiction writers successfully self-publishing online, please let me know. Also, if you know any good resources for aggregated statistics on ebook sales (particularly if you can get a breakdown by genre), I'd appreciate it.

What other sorts of things will I be looking at? Well, among other things, I need to do some costing. I've got a total budget, if the plans get the go-ahead, of about £800. I need to get two novels ready for sale, which means I need a(t least one) full edit on both, plus market research - which I should be able to do almost for free, because it's the future, stupid - and cover design and artwork. I've seen some places advertising cover art as low as around $250 (about £155), but I think I've got some shopping-around to do.

I also need to learn my way around formatting for ebook release, though with such short books, plus a fair deal of coding and HTML experience, I'm expecting to be able to do this myself, provided I leave myself enough time to get it done.

The last thing that I need to be able to outline a plan for is networking, and I'll happily admit I'm bad at this. I'm bad enough at being sociable, face-to-face, with people I know and like, never mind people I don't like who might be in another country.

Anyway, I'll be dedicating the coming week to some basic research on these points, and I'll share my findings as and when I have any. I don't know what I'll be able to manage tomorrow, as I'm not sure I'll have a single moment to myself - work all morning, then a philosophy colloquium in the afternoon, and I'm going straight from that to a gig my band are playing at. I'll probably get home around midnight. A long lunch-break is my only chance to get anything done. Wish me luck!

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