I am now entering month 5 of my Experiment in Publishing, a decision to try both traditional and self publishing at the same time. What seemed like a good idea is definitely stretching me in multiple directions. I can't decide if this is a good or bad thing for an author.
SELF PUBLISHING MODEL:
All three parts of my novel, Walls of Wind, plus the complete trilogy e-book and the print book are now available on Amazon. In June, they will be available on Kobo, B&N and other e-book sites.
I ran a free giveaway of part 1 of my self-published novel the end of February, and it did result in increased sales. Surprisingly, the increased sales after the giveaway were more apparent in the book offered for free for three days, than in parts 2 and 3 of the series, although all sales increased. Yes, giveaways do increase sales.
Another surprise is, sales of parts 1, 2, & 3 outstrip sales of the complete trilogy, even though buying the e-books separately is more expensive than buying the single e-book trilogy. This is likely because of Amazon's logarithms: when "Walls of Wind" is typed in, part 1 shows up, along with "readers who bought this also bought parts 2 & 3", but the trilogy doesn't show up. Whether Part 1 shows up because it was the first one published under that name or because it has the most book reviews, I don't know. Amazon is improving their method of linking books in a series this month; perhaps that will make a difference.
From May 11 at 8:00 a.m. until May 14 at 8:00 p.m., Walls of Wind: the complete trilogy, will sell at a 34% discount on Amazon. This is a sales option offered by KDP, which I'd like to try.
In mid-May I'm also offering a new story, a Dystopian Science fiction short called Concerto in Black, for 99c on Amazon.
I will never know if Walls of Wind would have done better if it had been offered through a traditional publisher, but I do know that in traditional publishing you are given 3-4 months to sell, at which time book stores and publishers give you a long, hard look that doesn't bode well for your career. The fact that my sales continue to gain every month would be irrelevant. With s-pub, time is on my side; with t-pub, it's against me.
The key to being found on Amazon, and making money at it, lies in having a number of books on offer as much as in marketing. Meaning I have to write another one.
TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING MODEL:
My t-pub collection of short stories, Connections, continues to sell, especially through speaking engagements. Fortunately, the publisher, an independent small press, is willing to give it the time to grow. This is an advantage of a small press.
As for the two manuscripts on offer with my agent - one had a very near miss with Sourcebooks. I can't decide whether a near miss is, in the short run, more or less frustrating than no interest at all, but in the long run it is a good thing - the editor is interested in seeing another book by me. Meaning I have to write another one.
JEKYLL AND HYDE:
I did not anticipate feeling so divided. As you can see above, both publishing venues at this point require me to write another book. And I know exactly what I want to write for each. Some authors can write several books at the same time; I need to focus on one project at a time.
It's not a terrible problem to have--too many cool projects to work on--but it does leave me feeling torn.
Furthermore, the books are in very different genres, which means reaching very different audiences. To some extent, any marketing I do increases my overall platform, but this effect is lessened by writing in different genres. SF readers are unlikely to be interested in my memoir of PTSD, and the two groups hang out in completely different places. But I love science fiction-- AND I love historical fiction and literary fiction. There's a bit of Jekyll & Hyde in all of us, and when you deny it, you kill a part of yourself. Which many writers do. It's called branding yourself, and it's as painful as it sounds.
I'm eager to write that next historical fiction book, and I want my agent to know I'm all in with her. But I also want to write that next SF novel, and it's nice to work on a project I know will be published and read. It's an ethical as well as a professional dilemma.
So tell me reader, is there a way for Jekyll and Hyde to co-exist peacefully, or are they mutually exclusive? If so, Which one should I choose? What would you do if this were you? I'd love to hear your replies.