Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie Publication: Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV. Part V. Part VI. Part VII. Part VIII. Part IX. Part X.
Part XI— KDP Select and a “novella” idea.
Once I had published ALL IS SILENCE on all formats and in all major markets, I realized I was unable to take full advantage of Amazon’s considerable marketing. My idea for a solution was to write a novella set in the same universe. I expected it to take a month or so and be a short novella, about 22,222 words, or that was the goal I set. I had the idea of a story that was a prequel to a later series of DESERTED LANDS novels about a religious family that had gone off into the wilderness to escape the pandemic. It would start slightly earlier than ALL IS SILENCE and cover a longer period of time with a lot less characters. Then at a point 15 years in the future the two storylines would connect.
By marketing the novella as a parallelequel, I might gain new readers for ALL IS SILENCE, but most importantly, I could offer it on Kindle Select and take advantage of Free days and Countdown Offers. While working on the novella, working title: SAFE THUS FAR, I realized I could also begin uploading short stories to Kindle Select and submit them to Kindle Singles.
I chose my first, JUST DESERT, a long short story that I was proud of, but had no connection to anything else I had written. I did a quick rewrite, I hadn’t read it for years and had gone through several revisions when I first wrote it and a revision in order to submit to the Norman Mailer fiction competition. I was pleased with the story, so I uploaded it to Scrivener, formatted it and then added a bonus short-short story: BEGINNINGS, the opening story to the OUTWARD BOUND collection. Already free to read on Amazon by using the LOOK INSIDE feature. I thought it might offer an invitation to read OUTWARD BOUND or one of the other DESERTED LANDS works.
August of 2014, when I released JUST DESERT, also happened to be the month Amazon introduced the Kindle Unlimited program. Not surprising to me, my ebook sales dropped 90% from August to September. Now some of that was that my book had been out for 8 months, but I could read the writing on the wall. I needed more ebooks on kindle select without moving ALL IS SILENCE out of all the other markets. So, I continued working on TOILS AND SNARES [Safe Thus Far sounded too, uh… safe.] I also got another short story, ONE TIN SOLDIER, up on Kindle Select.
I’d planned on TOILS AND SNARES being in the 20,000 word range, but as I wrote I realized the story, though smaller than ALL IS SILENCE was going to be a lot bigger than planned. When I finally finished it, I had over 40,000 words. Instead of paying one editor, I worked with no less than 8 people offering me advice on the story. I also uploaded it half a chapter at a time once a week, building up to putting it on sale. It didn’t do as well on Wattpad as ALL IS SILENCE, but that didn’t surprise me; it wasn’t young adult.
For TOILS AND SNARES and all of the other Kindle Select submissions I did my own cover art. For the two short stories I used the website Canva and spent a couple hours per cover and a couple bucks for stock art. For TOILS AND SNARES I used a photo taken by my son near the area where the story is set, lifted some of the lettering from ALL IS SILENCE and then did the title art myself. None of these titles look as good as the three covers I’ve paid for, but they’ve cost me about 10% as much even figuring in time spent.
When TOILS AND SNARES released on February 28th, it had a nice solid bump. And what do you know? There was a corresponding bump in sales of ALL IS SILENCE about a week later. Now this week I’ve got TOILS AND SNARES on sale with a Kindle Countdown. I’ve managed to hit my highest Amazon author ran in all categories, but the #1056 in Science Fiction made me happiest.
What I’m hoping for now is enough reviews to get TOILS AND SNARES on a Bookbub advert and see if I can ride that wave into the release of STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS this summer.
That’s all for now. I think my next Path to Indie Publishing post will probably be a final update on my Wattpad experience where this week TOILS AND SNARES is #62, STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is #20 and ALL IS SILENCE is #1.
* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top