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Another of Jim’s Self-Publishing Plans

Kind of a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I’ve been thinking about another way I might self-publish.

I’ve got an anthology invitation sitting in my Inbox.  These days, I rarely write short fiction without an invite.  Much as I enjoy short stories, I just don’t have the time.  But even with an invitation, there are no guarantees.

I’ve worked on some invite-only anthologies where the approach was, “If you’re invited, you’re in, no matter how much we have to work with you to get you there.”  I’ve seen others where a large number of invited authors were rejected.  (I remember the outrage from some big name authors who were rejected from Sword & Sorceress XXI.)

So with this invite, I know it’s not a sure thing, and that makes me nervous.  I’m planning to do a goblin story, and I know one of the two editors is a big goblin fan, but what if the other one hates my goblin humor?

And then something clicked.  Jig the goblin has a good-sized fanbase.  I could always set up some sort of crowdsourced funding model online.  Maybe micropayments of $1, or I could post the first half and see if people will pay enough to match the 5 cents/word rate for the anthology, or just post the whole thing with a PayPal tips button, or who knows.  My guess is, if I do it right, I could probably make as much or more than I would from the anthology sale.

Wait, what?  Is Jim C. Hines saying you can make more money self-publishing than by selling to a commercial publisher?

Maybe.  In this particular case.  And I obviously don’t know for certain.  But there are several factors to consider:

  1. I’ve built up a bit of an audience with my commercially published fiction.  There are people who trust me as a writer, and are therefore willing to pay for my work.
  2. The Goblin Quest books have sold tens of thousands of copies, and a lot of people would love to see another Jig story.
  3. I don’t have the biggest blog on the Internet, but I’ve built a pretty good following, so I have some means to get the word out.
  4. I’ve only outlined the story, but if all goes as planned, there will be zombies.  And few things pack more messed-up entertainment value than goblins vs. zombies.

I doubt this would work as well if I posted an original story, one not related to my books.  I know it wouldn’t work as well if I were an unknown author, or one without any sort of readership.  But in this situation, I suspect it could work.

It’s probably a moot point.  While I’ve been rejected from invite-only projects before, it’s the exception rather than the rule, which means the goblin/zombie tale will probably show up in a year or so when the anthology hits the shelves.  But if it does get rejected, I’m no longer worried.

It could even be fun.

What do you think?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 8th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
haikujaguar publishes in this manner (and not only that, but she then puts her crowdfunded pieces into paper copies and people buy those as well - they are POD).
Sep. 8th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm definitely trying to pay attention to the people who make it work.
(no subject) - arielstarshadow - Sep. 8th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zhai - Sep. 8th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Sep. 9th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - arielstarshadow - Sep. 9th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC) - Expand
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Sep. 8th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Like I said, I suspect there's a good chance this one will be accepted, and this will all be a nice, hypothetical conversation. But I'm sure I'll be experimenting a bit more in the future, one way or another.
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC)
I know a lot of people who would love to see more Jig adventures, or something set in that world and the paypal model is certainly conducive to enabling that kind of (oh so fun) addiction.

Heck, this arachnophobic reader would LOVE a short story featuring Smudge, that's for sure. ;)
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
I don't want to talk too much about a story I haven't even started writing yet (though the outline is done!), but both Jig and Smudge will be in this one :-)
(no subject) - meallanmouse - Sep. 9th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC) - Expand
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Sep. 8th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
I think the idea started with another smart-ass throwaway comment on LJ or somewhere similar. And then the wheels in my brain started turning...

In general, I feel like the zombie thing has been milked a bit too much lately. But in a way, that's what makes 'em perfect for a goblin story :-)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - jimhines - Sep. 8th, 2010 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
The hardest part of self-publishing is getting people to give your stuff a look. After that, the rest is process.
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
Yep. That's where I think the commercially published stuff (which already has distribution and allowed me to build some readers) and the blog/online presence could make this work.

Even if this particular story sells to the anthology, I may give something like this a shot one of these days just to see how it goes.
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
I agree. This is an approach to self-publishing that is both thoughtful and mindful of quality. I say go for it, too. :)
Sep. 8th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
We'll see what the editors say when I turn in the story. (Of course, I have to actually write the silly thing first.)

The more I think about it, the more I'm tempted to try this little experiment. Even if this particular story sells, I could always write another one, just to see how it goes.
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I think, that, if I had your fan base and an unpublished story, I might go the same route, but then again, I might not. A lot of mid-size publishers would KILL to have an original goblin story, and you could forget about the marketing aspect of the whole thing.

But you might make more money by self-publishing - and all the usual complaints wouldn't apply to you (they still apply to almost every other SP author, especially the ones who think it doesn't apply to them!), although you might want to have an editor look at it first.
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
That's where it gets interesting to me. I honestly don't know which route would earn more money or be read by more people at this point. In this particular situation, I suspect self-publishing might actually pay more.

On the other hand, the anthology would probably reach more new fans, people not already familiar with my work ... maybe. Depends on how much word-of-mouth for the self-published story spread beyond my own blog and readership.

But it's kind of cool not knowing, and it makes me want to write a few stories and experiment.

Now if I just had more time to write the stories....
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Zombies! Yay!
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Even if you don't go the self pub route you should have a donate via paypal or similar button on your page. Every author/artist should.
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
Why? If people want to support me, it's easy enough to buy my books. If I'm posting something new that people can buy, that's one thing. But just handing me money that I don't particularly need right now? There are far better things for people to do with that money.
(no subject) - brendanpodger - Sep. 8th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Sep. 8th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 8th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Sep. 8th, 2010 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 8th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Sep. 8th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - brendanpodger - Sep. 8th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Sep. 8th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 8th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
I think a paypal/donate button would work. I swear I remember reading another author's blog (I think it was Ilona Andrews, but I couldn't find it on their blog so I could be wrong) put up a donate button at one point. They took it down because they felt weird about receiving $100 donations from individuals. (I'm paraphrasing this from memory.)

Sep. 8th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah... it could be nice to have random people sending me hundreds of dollars, but I'd definitely feel weird about it.
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
I think this is a really interesting idea, and I know I'd pay a dollar (or more) for some gobliny goodness.

Plus, it seems like there are a fair number of known authors who do these kinds of projects now and again, and it benefits fans and them alike. It's like EPs or bonus tracks or collectible shinies. Plus, you'll always have that story in reserve if the right reprint opportunity comes around.
Sep. 8th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that too. Even if the story was published and free on my site, maybe I'd be able to sell it to Germany or something :-)
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
I know someone else who is doing something similar, and I've been happy with the results. It's a good idea. Go for it.
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
Sounds fun to me. I know Lawrence Watt-Evans has been doing his Ethshar novels as online serials for quite a while now and it seems to work pretty well for him. http://www.ethshar.com/thefinalcalling0.html

(I've not actually read them online since I don't have PayPal and don't really like reading longer works on the computer, but I talked my local library into buying the print version of The Vondish Ambassador. It was pretty good.)
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
I think you should check in with Liz Williams, who has been marketing some of her work on her LJ - see http://mevennen.livejournal.com/803159.html for an example. She's also recently done a limited edition e-offering of several short story groups - might be worth talking (or pixeling) with her about how that's working.
Sep. 8th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
Barbara Hambly did this. I'm not sure how well it worked out for her, but I bought a story.
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