Next Steps: Writing Craft, Gift Economy, and Blogging

As you may, or may not know, I had a Kickstarter campaign to try and raise money to do a really nice professional cover, professional editing, and marketing for the fourth book in “The Casitian Universe Series.” It failed, rather miserably.

I've had a love/hate relationship with book marketing ever since I started to think about bringing my novels into the world (well, honestly, it was 99% hate now that I really think about it.) I got swept up in this idea that I should spend effort and time with marketing to sell my books – something that doesn't at all come naturally to me. And, if I couldn't do it, I should hire someone else to do it (hence the need for the Kickstarter campaign, since I don't have that kind of spare cash laying about.) I read a ton of blogs and blog articles about 30 minute marketing, eBook marketing, 10 steps to a million copies, blah, blah, etc. etc. I hated to think about it, and I only managed to do a little.

In light of the failure of the Kickstarter project, I took a good hard look at the whole thing – my relationship to writing, marketing, getting my books read, etc. And in that look I realized that I'd been going about this the wrong way… for me. I was entering into a paradigm that wasn't the right paradigm that made any sense for me.

I've been a small business owner and/or an independent consultant for most of the last 14 years, and have always done only the barest of necessities around marketing myself (website, blog and business cards,) and I've done well enough. I've done well enough primarily because I spent a lot of time (and I still spend some time) paying it forward. I blogged about technology, giving folks comprehensive information and advice for free. I always gave away hours of consulting time, did free (or very low cost) websites, I always had really reasonable rates. I volunteered my time at conferences to give talks. I wrote articles for free. And it has been enough.

For some reason, I thought that it made sense for me to do something differently, more mainstream, with my books, but I know now that I was wrong about this. I knew enough about myself and my own philosophy about things to license all of my books with Creative Commons licenses, a form of paying it forward by allowing people to reuse and remix the work freely. But I didn't go far enough.

So, what's next, you might ask? Well, I have the answer, right here in this here blog entry.

First, I'm going to focus on my craft. I would like to work with an editor, primarily to make my craft better, and make it so that I can edit my work well in the future. I'm not exactly sure how that's going to happen, since editors cost money, but it is something I want to do. I will spend most of February and some of March editing my fourth novel, and publish it sometime afterward, with a very modest professional cover. I have two more complete novels that I will be editing and putting into production later in the spring and summer. I have a seventh novel that is currently in process that I hope to publish by the fall sometime.

Secondly, I have decided to give my books away. I'm changing the pricing for eBooks on Smashwords (which will propogate to other retailers) to free. On Amazon, I'm putting the first three books at $0.99 (can't make them free on Amazon) and I won't publish any more on Amazon directly. I'll be giving away all electronic formats on my website. For paperback, I'll be pricing them on Amazon at their minimum, and I also won't be publishing anymore on Amazon. In addition, if people want to request paper copies, I'll give those away as well. There will be a nice shiny donation button if people want to donate, but the books will always be free (and, of course, still licensed with a Creative Commons license.)

Thirdly, I'm going to blog about writing, science fiction, and book publishing in the 21st century. (But, you might say, you already blog about that stuff! Exactly.)

Fourth, I'm going to stop reading the marketing blogs, and focus on what I know I'm good at: writing, and paying it forward.

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