Exploring Self-Pub Options

I like writing shorts. I’ve submitted several 800 word stories to Woman’s World magazine and been fortunate enough to have one printed. (September 2010 – find the unedited version on the Short Stories page.) I’ve oft lamented that I’m not one of those mesmerizing writers with the gift for fluid, beautiful prose. My prose is more functional than fluid.

But functional comes in handy when you need to tell a story with less than 15K words. Some writers I know cringe at the thought, but not me. Why am I babbling about short stories? I’ll tell you.

A writer friend put a bug in my ear tonight. Why not put some short stories out there for the world? Not just on my blog, but self-published them.

I do not have a black & white opinion on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. I embrace all the options and think every writer should get to choose for themselves which road to take. Not my place to judge either way. But let’s face it, the majority of successful self-published authors right now are those who made their name and established a base readership through traditional routes. Yes, there are the exceptions, but not many. Even one or two books traditionally published can give you a better chance.

Though I still intend to pursue traditional publishing for my novels, this short story self-publishing idea has merit. There’s just one problem.

Self-publishing scares the geewillukkers out of me.

The technical aspect makes me want to run and hide. I know my way around a computer and am pretty confident in my ability to learn just about anything. But I have to be SHOWN how to do things and unless I sit down with some formatting guru, I’m not sure how I’d figure this stuff out.

Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. Maybe. This idea literally came along moments ago so much more thought and investigation is needed. One pro for this endeavor is something I read an agent blog this summer. She said something like self-published work is the new query. Paraphrasing, of course. Couldn’t hurt to send a query with the bonus line “…and I’ve sold 3000 copies of my short stories on Smashwords.”

Anyone have any input on this? Tried self-pubbing short stories? Success? Not much? Would you do it? Am I the only writer feeling like she’s crossing this publishing pond one lily pad at a time and the dang pads keep moving or disappearing all together??

6 thoughts on “Exploring Self-Pub Options”

  1. *snort!
    Lilypads are right…it’s another one of those wack-a-mole games right now!
    Maybe there is an online course somewhere on the whole how-to-format issue, plus putting together a good cover, etc.
    I haven’t looked, but maybe Smashwords has a tutorial?

  2. Terri Osburn says:

    Yes, more research is needed. But my luck, any course I find will be obsolete by the time I finish it. LOL!

  3. P. Kirby says:

    For the time being, I’ve posted one of my favorite (unpublished) shorts on my webpage/blog. When I get the time–WHEN–I’m going to stick it on Smashwords. From what I can tell, the formatting isn’t that hard to do. The primary issue is a cover, since even shorts could benefit from an interesting cover. And I need to time to make one up.
    One caveat. Once you’ve posted your story online, you’ve popped it “First Publication Rights” cherry. I.e., if a market comes along that seems perfect, but only wants unpublished stories, you may have screwed the pooch, so to speak. I wouldn’t post a story until I’ve given up on selling it to a paying market.

  4. Terri Osburn says:

    Good point, Pat. These would likely be stories either rejected by the few lines I’d be willing to go with, or ones that don’t fit anywhere.
    I subbed a short story yesterday to a new epub line for stories under 15K. I’d definitely try that before taking this route.
    You’re doing your own cover? What software do you use for that?

  5. P. Kirby says:

    For “Keep Away from Naked Flame,” I will probably draw a cartoony cover, then do the finish work, design, lettering, etc, in Photoshop.
    In general, Photoshop is my graphics program whether I’m working with my own art, or using stock photography.
    Photoshop Elements, PS’s cheaper cousin might be an option if you can’t afford full-flown PS. (Somebody gave me my copy.)

  6. Terri Osburn says:

    I’ll keep an eye out but that looks like something I’d hire out for. Afraid I’d never manage a really good looking cover, and I believe the cover plays a huge part in getting the reader to at least check out the blurb. Online or in person.

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