A lot of the nay-sayers keep saying (ad nauseum) that writers make more money with the traditional/commercial route. We’re apparently all ripping ourselves off and selling ourselves short by going the indie route…and that we’d be better off “trying and trying…and trying again” with traditional publishers before jumping into the icy cold water that some view self-publishing.
What some of these pro-traditional types are blind to is how a short story author and/or poet can benefit from self-publishing. Poets (published traditionally) make virtually nothing. My first contributors fee for poetry was $10.00 and that was for 2 poems published by a small press periodical.
As a short story author, usually you are paid on a cents-per-word basis and a couple free copies. Unless you sell your story to one of the bigger, well-known publications you won’t make more than 1-5 cents per word. Some pay nothing (and I do have a whole separate rant on non-paying markets; One of several pet peeves.)
I’ve made a whopping $20.00 off of my shorter works. WOW! I really got rich doing things “the traditional way” didn’t I?
Flash forward to 2008. People were asking me “If I ever had anything published” and “where they can get their hands on a copy of a book.” Well, I didn’t have “a book” I had several periodicals. Most of which were now out of print (publisher folded) and some of which…well nearly impossible to find and order any back issues.
Honestly, I had already contemplated self-publishing for my novella Wishful Thinking, which at the time was a work-in-progress. I was, at the time, exploring my options. I came up with the idea to publish some of my shorter works in an anthology. I knew I’d be hard pressed to find a traditional publisher for it; especially considering that I was an unknown writer and some of the short stories were published elsewhere.
So I commenced with self-publishing my first anthology Facets, Volume 1.
I confess to knowing very little about DIY publishing at that time; and I could have done a much better job at formatting. But I did make money off of it. In fact, I made more from the anthology than I ever did by selling individual stories and poems to other publishers. If I had done things “the right way” I’d probably have profited even better. Which is one of the reasons why I am putting out a second edition soon (the other reason being that I‘m a control freak and perfectionist).
I also put out Carousel in a stand-alone Kindle edition. The Black Widow and Other Tales (short horror stories) will also be published on Kindle. I have a whole ebook series planned around my shape-shifter character.
One of the things I LOVE about indie authorship is there is no “You can’t do this” or “You must do it X way.” So, I can do whatever I want with each of my short stories. I could compose an anthology for each genre. If I wanted to put each story out as an individual ebook I could. Not that I am planning on doing that–just saying that I could. I have no marketing/editorial execs to tell me that’s a “no no” or why it wouldn’t be prudent and/or wouldn’t sell.
Shorter fiction definitely has its place with indie/self-publishing. It has opened up a whole new world for me. Possibilities seem endless.