Now, before we all get too excited, I have one thing to say: If you are a friend or family or coworker who didn’t know I wrote fairly smutty stories occasionally, feel free to exit stage left now. I don’t especially want to chat about porn in public. It’s why I will laugh about the craziness of the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, but can’t really deride it much further since I’ve certainly written worse in my day.
So, with that caveat in mind, I will admit to taking a foray into self-publishing. In May this year, 2012, I made it a goal to have “something” up on Smashwords.com by the beginning of June. This was not much of a firm goal, particularly, but one I actually took seriously. I’d been perusing the guidebooks for publishing on Smashwords and had been playing with a few old stories that were more-or-less publication ready. I’d been doing a few edits on these stories, though I would have considered them finished several years ago already. At one point I had a website with these stories, but I let the page go defunct. So, with selected works ready to go, I took the plunge.
The first work I put up was a dirty, vaguely historical story called “Cowpoke.” I set myself up with some credits at Dreamstime Stock Photos and Paint.net and set to work. I found the formatting fairly easy, though some of the requirements went totally against my ingrained typing skills. I played around with the stock photo I’d chosen and some fonts I downloaded from Fontspace. I made what I consider a respectable cover. I like it quite a lot despite a certain unprofessional cheese factor.
I mean, I’m no graphic designer, and that definitely shows, but I just like the image.
Anyway, after some success with immediate downloads (hey, I did, and still, offer it for free), I began work on another. “Tribute” went up a few days later, also for free. This story I had written years and years ago as an offshoot of a novel I wrote my sophomore year in college for my friends. The story was written after that, as a piece of a conceived sequel that never made it to paper. I submitted this story to a vampire erotica contest on Oysters & Chocolate in 2009 and won third prize, for which I got about $35 between check and gift card. I was vastly pleased with that at the time.
About this point, though, I was thinking that, while I could publish this work for free, I really was interested in publication with the goal of earning money. So my third item was Those Who Howl, a collection of three short stories I’d written over the years. I chose one werewolf, one vampire, and on incubus, with the original intention of having about six stories. The trio of stories I kept back were generally werewolf stories and I didn’t want the collection to be wolf-heavy, despite the title. I priced this trio of stories at $1.99, while keeping the singles free. For this one, I used a photo of a painting of my own as the cover instead of a stock photo. This is also the only piece I’ve also published directly with Amazon.com (since I can’t figure out how to publish free materials there and Smashwords does not currently ship most things directly to Amazon). These, and a fourth, Winter Nocturne, have all shipped to bn.com and should be able to be purchased directly on nook. (And I admit, today was the first day I noticed that they arrived after several weeks of waiting, and I had to squee! a little.)
So, to get to my title reference, I’ve sold two copies of Those Who Howl to date. I’ve made a whole $2.95, which I won’t see unless it goes over $10, but the money isn’t the thing. The thing really is that I made an effort to try something new. I put together covers, formatted text, learned a few things, made a few mistakes, and did something, for chrissakes! 🙂 And that last month of work amounted to something, stats, if nothing else.
Stats. These are kind of horrible, and I check them obsessively like every other writer, I’m sure. So far, “Cowpoke” has been my most popular download from Smashwords, with over a thousand downloads since I put it up. Keep in mind that a single user might download something as many times as they wish, for multiple devices since Smashwords sells around eight different formats to cover Kindle, nook, sony, ibooks, pdf, and a few other things to cover pretty much any device you can think of. “Tribute” and “Winter Nocturne” are about half that, with Nocturne slightly edging out the other. I find this strange because not only did “Tribute” come out two weeks earlier, but I find it a more interesting story. Those Who Howl brings up the rear with 14 downloads consisting mainly of the free sample. I tried to design the free sample so that it would consist of the whole first story, but perhaps I should cut that in half. 🙂
The other stats I check in a day are at Literotica.com, where I’ve also posted a couple of stories. I recently posted “Cowpoke” there, and about a month before, I posted a story called “Anniversary Gift.” AG has had over 15,000 views (!) and CP over 8500. Unlike on Smashwords, AG is favored much more highly than CP, with a significantly higher rating. This was partly my attempt at advertising. I have a few other things in mind as I get more work out there, so we’ll have to see how that goes. At the moment, I have more work to edit before I can look at putting a new listing up. I think it will be a 99 cent listing, with Anniversary Gift (as the free sample as well) and a gigolo story I liked quite a bit when I was in my 20s but needs a bit of an overhaul now.
I have a lot more to say on this topic, but I’m hitting 1000 words here, so I will save that for another post. I should get to work editing!