In 2019 I wrote a novella. It was a fun little project based that I wasn’t sure I’d do anything with. But, as I wrote and rewrote and edited and then rewrote some more, I felt like I had something pretty good. Last year I decided to play around with Wattpad, so I posted a few chapters (until I realized that I needed to rewrite some of it again and stopped).
The story was never meant to be more than ~25,000ish words. That posed a problem for me. It’s probably the most publishable thing I’ve ever written in terms of quality if not content (it’s not exactly mainstream–I was heavily inspired by Haruki Murakami’s brand of weird). But something that short as a debut would never gain traction with agents or publishers. So, already that pushed me toward self-publishing as my only real option if I wanted to get this in the hands of readers.
But I also saw it as an opportunity. For a long while I’ve wanted to be a “hybrid author,” or an author that is both self-published and traditionally published. My thinking is that I would write stand-alone novels and maybe short story collections for the traditional market, and release weird little novellas and less mainstream series as a self-published writer. So, with this novella that I’m quite proud of I decided to take the opportunity to learn how to self-publish.
It’s not hard! It’s also not super easy, and I made a few mistakes that cost me time and money. I’ll go into more depth about those in upcoming posts on working with an editor, working with a cover designer, and working on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
My ultimate goal is to put myself in a position where I can be a full-time writer. As I get older that gets more complicated. I mean, in just the past year I’ve added a house and a child to my life. Who knows what’s next? Author Nicholas Erik has a great resource on his site on book marketing for self-published authors. There, he describes his theory of the “Indie Trifecta of Success.” Essentially, it’s a pyramid where the base is productivity (how much content are you generating?), the middle is craft (how good is your writing?), and the tippy-top of the pyramid is marketing (how are you finding readers?).
The common wisdom is that to be a successful indie (re: self-published) author you need a huge backlist of work that is available to buy. You want someone to read your work, like it, and look to see what else of yours they can buy. For the past year and a half or so a large focus of mine has been just that. The vignettes I write every month help me to hit the bottom two tiers of the pyramid. I’m generating content I can reuse later while also practicing my craft. ANH NGUYEN AND THE DISCORDIAN is my first attempt at generating income from my writing. The key now is to up the productivity while continually improving my craft so that I can publish more in the future. At that point, I’ll have multiple products with which to market.
In short, self-publishing ANH NGUYEN AND THE DISCORDIAN is the first of many steps toward becoming a full-time writer. I’ll still pursue traditional publishing as part of my goal of being a “hybrid author,” but for now going indie gives me the most control, most ROI, and is the most fun I can have with it.