Slow and Steady: ROW80

This week’s been a bit different, you will have noticed. Last weekend I spent a lot of time doing my cover image for The Ancestor and Other Stories, and planned to do a blog post Monday about the process. That got split into two, which you can find here and here. After that post, I wanted to concentrate on getting my book released–my personal deadline was October 23–so I didn’t have much time for a post on Wednesday, opting for a simple update and inside look at my next project. No post Friday.

This morning is the Sunday check in for ROW80, so that’s what I’m here for. An odd schedule this week, but there you are. Hopefully back to normal next week.

So, an update: I had the day off on Friday, so I had some solid time to devote to writing. Before 10:00 AM, I’d plowed through 3000 words, and finished the first four stories of the sixteen planed for this phase of the project. In a rough draft, mind you, but still.

I also worked out a kink in the story that was bothering me, and wrote myself out of that corner I mentioned last time (I think). The characters are also coming out a bit more, and I’m learning about their habits and personalities. (My characters tend to start as an idea or even an archetype, and develop as I write into fully fleshed beings). I’m learning who the major players are–not necessarily the ones I’d thought, which means a bit of plot restructuring!–and this will make things easier going forward.

A Quick Note

This weekend, fellow writer/blogger Ryan Casey did a promotion through KDP Select for his book Something in the Cellar. There was a great response, pushing the book to #1 of the lists in the short story category. If you haven’t picked it up yet, you can do so here. It’s a great book, and I’d certainly recommend it.

The reason I mention it is because I’ve been thinking a lot about KDP Select over the last week–and specifically, about an article by Mark Coker of Smashwords about Amazon’s treatment of indie writers. Check out his article Amazon is Playing Indie Authors Like Pawns. It’s a very enlightening article, if not for the content itself rather than the comments. Coker is a direct competitor to Amazon, and although he says he supports the Kindle store, he seems to put KDP Select in a corner. The comments get even more enlightening: they mostly centre around the Shamshwords “Meatgrinder,” and how difficult it is to get a quality product out of it. Coker’s response is generally that people aren’t using it right if they’re having trouble, but I won’t get into that…

My point is that there are two very different distribution options highlighted here. KDP Select gives you great visibility and promotion on the biggest eBook retailer out there, but keep you tied to it exclusively. Smashwords gets you out to numerous retailers, providing a wider visibility, but has an arduous application/formatting process that some writers claim mangles their work. Smashwords also requires you to put their name on your copyright page–ostensibly they say it’s only as a distributor, but many readers would easily mistake that page as meaning Smashwords is the publisher, not the author.

Personally, I’ve kept away from Smashwords, mostly because of Meatgrinder. I’ve stayed away from Amazon because of the exclusivity requirement. But, as a writer trying to build a platform and get some visibility for my work, I know something needs to be done besides the regular Amazon store and the Kobo store.

Anyway, Ryan’s success with KDP Select (which isn’t restricted to this past weekend’s promotion,) is making me seriously consider pulling The Ancestor and Other Stories from Kobo, and offering it through KDP Select. I’m also considering giving Smashwords a shot with The Astrologers–because it’s the only way to get a $0.00 price point into the Amazon store without a lot of price-matching mumbo-jumbo.

I haven’t made up my mind yet, but lok for some new adventures around the corner!

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4 comments on “Slow and Steady: ROW80

  1. Ryan Casey says:

    James,
    Great post. Some interesting articles from the Smashwords perspective, and its good to hear your thoughts on the process. Personally, I think KDP Select is the best way for a new author to establish themselves right now, and not the evil many claim it to be.

    The fact is at Something in the Cellar is on approximately 5,000 more Kindles than it would have been if I hadn’t gone Select. Silhouette has not been quite as successful, but I put that down to a general lack of promotion on my part. Even so, it’s on hundreds more devices than it would have otherwise been.

    One day, I imagine I’ll distribute through all platforms again, but at the moment, the best way to gain visibility seems to be Select. I’m fond of Smashwords, but they don’t enable HTML/ePub uploads, which is a huge turn-off for me. Plus, I didn’t get many sales through Smashwords when I was using them. Maybe I will when I’m more established, but that visibility needs to be earned through programmes like Select beforehand.

    Some people really don’t like my stance, and will no doubt criticise me for contributing towards ‘Amazon’s dominance’. Maybe that’s the case, but its got me and thousands of other writers into the homes of so many that wouldn’t have heard of us otherwise, so I don’t see why a temporary investment in Select is so evil after all.

    Again, great post! Enjoying your releases by the way.

    Ryan

  2. James J Parsons says:

    I’m with you; watching your success with the promo is making me think twice about KDP select. And there’s nothing keeping me from doing that for three months, and re-distributing elsewhere after that. Coker’s point was that you’re tying yourself down, and therefore lose visibility–but in practice, it actually seems to gain visibility because Amazon is actively promoting. And the visibility they give you can certainly help put an author on the map. Smashwords can’t claim that, as far as I’ve seen.
    As for Smashwords, I think it’s best to hold off until they accept ePubs. The more I look into it, the less appealing it looks for what I want to accomplish.

  3. Interesting post…gives me a lot to consider. I haven’t tried Smashwords…and only worked through Amazon on my previous publications. I have five print books out…and one Kindle version of one of the print books.

    With my current WIPs, I’m considering whether or not to go straight to e-book. But not Smashwords!

    Here’s MY ROW 80 CHECK-IN POST

    • James J Parsons says:

      e-Book publishing is relatively simple, if you apply yourself to learning the ins and outs–and with the popularity of digital books skyrocketing, I’d certainly recommend selling your books that way, even before making print copies. Once Smashwords starts accepting ePubs, they might get a lot easier to use too!

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