A Few Personal Thoughts on Publishing

Hi Folks,

Note: This post was originally published in slightly different form on my Journal a week or so ago.

“Seven Minutes in Belfast” is my most recent short story, one written in the Blackwell Ops world of the series by the same name.

As I was adding that story to my inventory, I realized I didn’t publish anything at all during August, September and October of this year. That’s the longest I’ve gone without publishing something for the past 5+ years. (grin)

Yet I finished two other short stories (derived from my latest novel in progress) and I should have also finished that novel during that time. The point is, that’s at least three more publications that should be available to readers and earning me money. But they aren’t because I fell off Heinlein’s Rule 4. (For a free annotated copy of Heinlein’s Rules, click Heinlein’s Business Habits For Writers.)

Not publishing in a while also means I’m also out of practice. It took me almost two hours to find the art and design the cover, and another hour to upload it to D2D, Amazon and Bundle Rabbit.

If that seems fast to you, it isn’t. The entire process — finding the art, creating the cover, and uploading the publication to several venues — usually takes me less than an hour. If it takes you longer than that now, your speed will improve with practice.

And those two unpublished short stories that I derived from my current Blackwell Ops novel? I hope to get covers designed for those and get them published by the time you read this. Of course, my patrons will get those as well, free.

Note that I didn’t mention publishing my short story to Smashwords for distribution. I still publish my longer works (novels, novellas and collections) there, but I generally don’t publish individual short stories to Smashwords. Too much work for too little return.

In addition to the clunky user interface and the time it takes just to publish there, you also have to take additional time to add a Smashwords ISBN. Then you have to go to the Channel Manager and check Do Not Distribute to all the places the story will be distributed by D2D. (You can’t have more than one distributor sending your work to the same stores.)

So the upshot for you is this:

1. Write and finish.
2. Learn cover design (or have it done) and publish.
3. Repeat.

I recommend you set a goal to publish at least one new publication every month. If that’s too much, go for every two months, or every three. But set a goal and adhere to it. Of course, to publish them, you have to write them. (grin)

To get myself fully back up on Heinlein’s Rules, from now on I won’t call a story “finished” until it’s published and distributed.

I’m heartened that Robert Heinlein himself admitted to falling off his own rules. The trick isn’t to stay on. The trick is to get back on when you fall off.

‘Til next time, happy writing and publishing!


Note: As always, this Pro-Writers blog and my Daily Journal are free and funded only by your gracious contributions. If you got something out of it, why not toss a little change in the kitty? (grin)

To make a one-time donation, click the Donate button under the clock at the top of the Journal page. If you’d like to become a patron (see last week’s post), click Patronage and have a look at the rewards. If you can’t make a monetary donation, please at least consider sharing this post with your friends. Thanks!