Currently, I have 6 stories up at Smashwords, all but 1 of them priced at $0.99 each (the odd one out is a free vignette of less than a thousand words). The free one I've even gotten some good, not glowing, but good, reviews of. Not surprisingly, it's the free one that's generating the most downloads and it doesn't even have a cover (yet).
Of the nearly 100 downloads or partial downloads, over half of those have occurred in the last 4 days since I got serious about this whole deal and added some of my better stories and created covers for them. Creating the covers was easy, and free if you don't count my time required to find just the right free photo and add a title and author byline to it (usually less than half an hour and that's going to decrease as I start taking photos myself to use as book and story covers).
Now, two of those 6 stories still require some modification for Smashwords to put them in their Premium Catalog (covers), and I've already made some mistakes that I'll try to be more careful about in the future, but overall it's a start. It'll likely be about 2 weeks before everything's available across all platforms, but in those next 2 weeks I'm going to start working up the same stories for PubIt and Kindle (even though Smashwords has access to those platforms, or at least formats for those platforms it will likely pay me to do it myself and make sure the stories get up there too).
Titles thus far are as follows,
The Light of an Oncoming Train
After Action Report
Knock On Wood
Night On A Boat
All of these stories are horror or at least horror-themed. Night On A Boat is the free vignette. Go read it. I'll wait.
Back? Okay. How'd you like the story? While I hope you enjoyed it what really counts is that it's out there for you to enjoy and I wrote it, finished it, and put it out there for anyone to read or slam. I don't care if someone slams it. I will not, per the sage advice of James MacDonald over at Absolute Write, respond to a negative review (heck, I probably won't respond to most other reviews either). I know there are a couple things in the story that shoul probably be fixed, and maybe one day I'll fix them, but for right now it's proving a point and teaching me lessons - always spell check your manuscript and always give it a read over before putting it up for publication.
Now, here's the thing - Dean Wesley Smith is doing the same thing with his 2011 Challenge and Guess What?
His stuff has errors in it too - misspellings, errors of omission, plot holes big enough to drop a supertanker into.
Does he care?
No. In fact, he cares so little he has disallowed comments about his challenge stories because people were focusing on the mistakes instead of the fact he's actually getting work done, publishing stories, and making a buck or two on it as well.
I'm not DWS and, thus far, I'm not making even a buck or two off these stories, but I've only just really started and really started getting serious about it all. I hate retail sales, but that day job is going to keep me with a roof over my head and food in my stomach until sometime, somewhen, somehow, my stories start to sell. And they will. And there will finally come a day when I can shake off that day job and concentrate on what I really want to do for the rest of my life - write great stories that entertain people.
See, that's the thing. I'm not the best writer on the planet, but I'm not the worst either. I'm going to keep writing and putting my stuff out there for people to read until I do start to make a buck or two on my writing. The new world of digital publishing has opened doors to me I never would have guessed were even there 15 years ago when I first started self-publishing my Fire On The Suns rulebooks and tech manuals. Back then it was desktop publishing all the way and it was expensive and sometimes tedious beyond description. I made beer money on that game for years and one day I'll republish some of the old stuff along with my friend Jeff Engel (the FOTS heir apparent who's currently rewriting the core rules manual and several of the tech manuals). Along the way I also learned a helluva' lot about formatting and cover design. I think I make a pretty decent cover and I've used lots of programs over the years to try to build cover images so I've learned a lot along the way there too.
I haven't finished learning yet, though. Because of my experience in self-publishing I was reticent about outfits like Smashwords and PubIt. I was leery of scams and scanners and vanity publishing. I'd tried to go the traditional route and run into self-absorbed, conceited editors who thought they were God's gift to writing and writers. Maybe they are, I don't care anymore.
In this new world of digital publishing I don't need them.
Maybe I never did.
With money and time I believe I know enough right now to publish an electronic magazine. But I don't know enough to edit one - and I don't have the time or the money (there's that day job thingie that gets in the way not to mention the bills I still need to pay). But there are people out there who do and who can and who will.
We live in a new world of digital publishing. Outfits like Smashwords are making publishing easier and more convenient and even profitable (for some). That's going to increase geometrically as more and more smart people start to realize they no longer need to go the traditional route to getting published or worse (shudder), pay some scam outfit to publish their stuff for them.
Everyone on the planet these days ha a digital camera, a cell phone with a camera in it, or some other way to take photos. those photos can be your stories covers. There are free photo-editing programs available which you can use to resize and add cover blurbs to. I used to do this with something like 6 different programs. Today I can use 2 or 3 if I really want to go wild and add special effects.
There are free 3D modeling programs such as POVRay and Moray and DoGa and more which allow you to build and light and add special effects to a cover image and render it in real time (you'd be amazed at what an expert can do with any of those). I used to use a program called Universe which allowed me to create a render an absolutely amazing variety of space shots and effects.
The fact is, this amazing new world of digital publihing is unlocking and opening doors to people that might have once believed they wre barred forever from achieving their dreams.
I'm telling you, those derams are within your reach, right now.
All you have to do is stretch out your hand and grasp them.
Like I am.