And yet, since publishing I've become much more knowledgeable about self-publishing and all it entails. The benefit of self-publishing is that anyone can do it. The downside to self-publishing is also that anyone can do it. When you can upload a document and click "publish" without any forethought, you are destined to fail (yes, I said it).
However, since I've been studying self-publishing and anticipating my next book (still in the first draft phase), I have so many more resources to utilize to -- hopefully -- become more successful in self-publishing. Here is some of what I learned.
Editing is one area that, even if you are a trained editor (even if editing is your full-time job) you are better off hiring out. At the very least, hire another set of eyes to proofread. I thought I had done a good job with editing my first novel, and I still found several typos when I went back recently and re-read my book. (Check out my post on the costs of self-publishing.)
He's right. Very few bestsellers are in short stories and even if they are, they are from the authors that are known for their short stories. It's not a terribly profitable market, and it carries over to self-publishing.
However, short stories do not mean short fiction. In self-publishing, short fiction is fairly marketable. This is due to two things: the market and the audience.
When you publish on Amazon, you designate the categories into which your book will be "shelved." Because the short fiction "shelf" isn't as large as, let's say the "romance" shelf, your book will become more easily visible because it isn't competing with as many other books of a similar genre. And because it's digital, you can be shelved as both a romance and a short fiction, to appeal to both sets of customers.
Additionally, people who prefer to e-read traditionally like shorter books. Stories between 20,000 and 25,000 words are a perfect size for e-readers to consume in about two hours. Based on the research that's been done, two hours is the sweet spot for this audience.
Another benefit is volume. As a self-published writer, the easiest way for you to generate money is to publish as much and as often as possible. It's a lot easier to crank out four 25,000-word books than it is to publish one 100,000-word book, and you'll likely get a higher payout for it.
If you do publish in short fiction (20,000 to 25,000 words), I wouldn't publish each story as its own paperback. Rather, in those instances I would publish individual stories as e-books and then bundle a few of them together to sell as a paperback. Remember, publishing is a business. Your goal, as the businessperson, is to provide value to your customer via a product (the book) in exchange for their value to you (their money). Let's say you have four 25,000-word stories that each sell digitally for $1.99. Bundling all four of them together into a single paperback and selling for $6.99 will likely increase your sales. You're able to provide an additional value to your customer by selling four books at a slight discount, and you'll get sales you might not have gotten previously from a customer who prefers reading paper books.
What are some other things you wish you'd known before publishing your first book?