It was one year ago, October 2010, when I started “indie publishing,” determined to get my backlist out into the world again, and hopefully make a little income on the side to support my writing habit.
That first month began with a stint of designing book covers for The Nanotech Succession novels. I started with the covers because I figured that would be the hardest part of the ebook creation process. I spent a lot of time, had a lot of fun, and then later tossed them all out and replaced them with the vastly superior Bruce Jensen covers that the books now enjoy.
In the year since, I’ve published ebook versions of my six backlist novels, one novella, two short stories, and two original novels. I’ve also done print-on-demand versions of the four Nanotech Succession novels, The Dread Hammer, and my young-adult novel Skye Object 3270a.
Was it worth all the time and effort?
Looking only at return on investment thus far, the answer has to be “No.” Whatever pixie dust it takes to get sales rolling has not been sprinkled on me yet. I could have made far more money putting in the same hours at a minimum wage job.
But looking at it emotionally? Then the answer is “Hell, yes, it was worth it!” I feel like a writer again. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, I’m happy to have it available, and I have a lot more confidence in my future as a writer than I had last year. Confidence is a good thing. I don’t write well when I’m stressed, worried, and unhappy.
If you’re a midlist writer putting up your backlist and you too are feeling underwhelmed by sales, remember this: all this prep work is an investment, and investments don’t necessarily pay off in the first year. Being set up, poised, and ready for the day the buzz starts murmuring your name (or your pen name) is a good position to be in.
My goal now is to write more and try to generate that buzz. Part of that strategy is to knock on the doors of traditional markets and try to get back inside—but with eyes wide open this time. My newly adopted buzzword for the upcoming year: “Hybrid writer”—a combination of indie and traditional publishing with the united goal of making a living wage.