Thursday, August 15, 2013

Athemon and the Infernal Voice

Most of what I read regarding self-publishing strategies comes from two authors: J.A. Konrath and Lindsay Buroker. Recently, I've been thinking about a few points they make, and trying to figure out a way to test their strategies on my own projects.

J.A. Konrath often mentions the idea that the number of titles available in an online store like Amazon equates to (more or less) virtual shelf-space. He reasons that the more titles you have available, the larger your virtual shelf-space; and the larger your virtual shelf-space, the more visible you will be.

Lindsay Buroker is a big proponent of making the first title in a series available for free. She believes that doing this raises the visibility of her series and gives potential readers a chance to try her stuff without financial risk. She attributes some of the success of her Empires Edge series to this.

I've come up with an idea that tries to harness the benefit of both of the above concepts. I've taken the second chapter of Blood Brothers and republished it as an eBook short story called "Athemon and the Infernal Voice", and now I'm going through the steps to try to make it available for free in as many places as possible.

Now, a free short story isn't nearly as enticing as a free novel, which means that my offering can't match the appeal of Buroker's. But Buroker has seven novels in the Empires Edge series, so she can afford to give a whole book away for free. I'm not at that point in my career as a writer--it took me almost two years to write Blood Brothers, and it might take me another two years to complete a sequel. Meanwhile, I've still got to earn enough money to balance out what I spent on cover design and formatting, and if I give the book away for free forever, I won't have a chance to do that.

It's also true that the material I've excerpted for "Athemon and the Infernal Voice" is already available online for free, in the "Look Inside" sample on the Amazon page. But my plan is to make the excerpt available in lots of other places too, starting with Wattpad (a free-reading website that Buroker uses for promotion). And, having more titles with my name on them will hopefully provide more visibility, too--or at least Konrath seems to think so. In any case, because I made the cover myself (finding the image on Creative Commons), and because I didn't get it professionally formatted, "Athemon and the Infernal Voice" hasn't cost me any actual money to produce. So there isn't an obvious financial risk.

Hopefully it'll help. At the least, I don't think it's likely to hurt. And if it doesn't somehow blow up in my face, I'm thinking about doing a similar thing with the first chapter in Blood Brothers, which works as an introductory short story for Grillis.

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