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Author: Varlot One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 4867  
Subject: Marketing a Novel as an Ebook - Prelude Date: 2/22/2012 11:38 AM
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Since this is the sort of thing I would myself benefit from reading, I am going to write a series of posts detailing my experiences publishing and marketing an ebook. First, a bit of background:

I am a previously published author under what is increasing coming to be known as legacy publishing. That is, works created and sold by traditional publishing houses. I co-authored a novel with a friend, an established fantasy author by the name of Holly Lisle, which was published by Baen Books. This credit was sufficient to entitle me to membership in SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), which -- with one break -- I remain a member of to this day.

After the aforementioned publication, I worked on a solo novel titled The Caballa for quite some time. This was a project I *had* to do (something only another writer can likely understand), and it did not come easy. In addition, I found myself concerned the work might have a problematic audience, at least for a the typical conservative publisher concerned about how to market a fantasy novel featuring young people just barely into their teens, but told from an adult perspective.

So I set The Caballa to the side for the moment. Writing it had been both painful and draining, and I found myself wondering about the plausibility of making a living doing something this hard. Even if I had sold the novel, and if it had become something of a success, did I want to go through that same experience again, and again, ad infinitum?

It was then that I decided that I was going to write something just for myself, a work composed with nothing more in mind than the simple joy of its creation, with no predetermined audience to market it for.

So I started writing a vampire novel.

Okay, I'll allow a minute for the snickering. Come back when you're done.

Finished? Okay. While making claims to ignore the market by writing a vampire novel sounds ludicrous, understand that much of the modern vampire fiction I have read does not make a lot of sense to me. The first thing I wanted to do was write something that did make sense. Also, anyone who has ever known me has also known I have a great fondness for the genre that goes way back beyond the days of Twilight, etc.

So, after one false start, I reimagined my concept and just let my fingers do the walking.

I have wanted to write since my junior high school days, mumbly-mumbly years ago. And during that time, I would occasionally in my reading come across writers who spoke about composing stories that almost wrote themselves. These tales stuck out in my mind because, for most folks who write, the typical storytelling experience is more along the lines of (as one author once described it), "Bending over a typewriter and bleeding onto the page". An experience I can certainly attest to having shared.

But not this time. For once, I found myself in a zone experienced by the aforementioned. Granted, it did not always go like that. There were periods when I stopped writing because I literally did not know what happened next. So I allowed time for my subconscious to parse out whatever problems or sticking points there were. Sometimes that worked, and other times I simply went back to the writing without any sense of knowing what came next and discovered -- to my surprise -- that the words would come pouring out anyway.

I think everyone experiences moments in their lives when they come face to face with something that feels right. I imagine the Gardner brothers probably felt the same way when they came up with the idea for the Motley Fool. Please understand, though, I am not trying to say I knew I was writing some theoretical 'best-seller'. That is not my point.

My point is that I was doing the kind of work I could easily imagine doing for the rest of my life, and insofar as any commercial success that might come my way, that was a bonus. Granted, the idea that this novel could disappear into a black hole in the public marketplace is not at all pleasant to contemplate. But if it did, I could live with that. Not happily, but I could. Because I have experienced something I believe far too few ever have the opportunity to experience, a profound joy in doing work that almost seems like play. And since I plan to produce another eleven novels following this one, making a series out of them, I will have ample opportunity to experience said joy again.

I'm including the word 'Prelude' under the subject header for this post because it does not really concern itself with the producing and marketing of an ebook, but I wanted to allow for at least a bit of background. Following this, I will (at least, for the most part) restrict myself to such, and will be producing a running narrative detailing my experiences in getting this project into the public marketplace.
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