Forging Ahead

So last night I tweeted the following, “Well so much for podcasting any of my short fiction…” Why did I do that?

Well, I was chatting last night with Zach Ricks, a man who I’m proud to be a writing partner with and with whom I hope to continue to build a friendship and the subject turned to, as it often has of late, selling our fiction projects. It seems that according to one very knowledgeable source, podcasting your fiction before selling it to more traditional venues may reduce your pool of choices. Publishers, some publishers anyway, want first publication rights and if you’ve already self published it or put it out there for free then they may not be as eager to snap it up. That came as a surprise (though I’m not sure why). My instant reaction was to pull back and go, “I don’t want to hurt my chances at selling it”, because I do, in fact, want to sell what I write. I don’t want this to be a hobby, something I just do for fun. I want to entertain, but at the same time I don’t want to do it all for free. In this, Mr. Hutchins and I are in agreement.

After an okay night’s sleep, a cup of coffee and a dose of thinking, things look a little different this morning. As I have often said here lately, you need to look at why you’re podcasting. Why do I do this? I don’t do it for the money, obviously. I do it in part to improve my writing and generate feedback. I do it in part because it is indeed a hobby. I do it as a way to get my name out there in the writing world, even if it is “only” in the small pond we inhabit as podcasters. If these are the reasons why I do it then what harm is there in selecting a few stories from the ones I’ve written and use those to do that, while selecting others to pursue more traditional venues with? None, I’d say.

I believe in the “power of free”, but this is not an either or pursuit. I firmly believe that I can offer you, my audience, some freebies in podcast form and give you the opportunity to purchase it in various forms should you so choose. If those stories are less marketable to traditional venues, well I guess that means you can expect me to be pimping those in Smashwords hardcore. Some of you have actually bought my stories sight only half seen and for you I am especially grateful. I also believe that I can pursue print publication with stories that I won’t be giving away any time soon and once those stories are available in the wild, at a price, that some of you will go out and buy those magazines or what have you. Not all of you will and that’s fine, I don’t have that expectation. Once those particular stories are sold and it comes down to selling reprint rights, I don’t see why I wouldn’t podcast those as well.

I guess I say all of this to say that I will be forging ahead. I will be podcasting some of my short fiction in the near future, starting with Bitter Release and Music Box. I’ve already self published those after all and so if any damage has been done (and maybe none has) then what’s done is done. I’m rather proud of both stories and I hope that you’ll listen and if you like them, I hope that you’ll consider buying them.

I will also continue to submit stories to Great Hites. I think what Jeff is doing over there is great and while it’s a strictly “for the love” publication, I don’t think that diminishes its value and that may indeed be the largest source for stories I elect to sell and podcast through this site and Smashwords.

Ultimately what it comes down to for me is this. I have a great luxury. I don’t have to make a living doing this. I have the freedom to give some things away completely, with no expectation of making any money. I have the freedom to elect to try and sell other things without giving them away in the near term, to see if I can indeed one day make a living with words. My friend Dave said, “You need to choose which road to publishing you are going to take.” and while I agree with what I think he meant, I don’t think there’s only one road or that we have to do anything only one way. We’re trying to make our own roads here, aren’t we? There are “rules”, but there’s enough of a maverick in me to want to try and find out which ones of those I can break, or at least fold, spindle, and mutilate.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of all of my efforts, monetary or otherwise, and be sure to let me know what you think of all this madness in the comment section. Maybe what I’m trying to pull off here is the publishing equivalent of a mullet. I think we can agree that pulling off the “business up front and party in the back” with your hair takes a great deal of moxie only truly accomplished by greats like the Swayze and perhaps the same is true of doing some free and some not free.

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31 comments

  1. I think its like you said, is it a hobby or a profession. For me writing is a hobby. I have a story to tell, and sometimes people like what I write. But I'd never consider quiting my day job for it. What I do think podcasting does is gets your name and skill out to a larger audiance than most conventional authors wouldn't get with a standard publishing deal. How many times do you go into a book store and wonder “who's this guy?” I can spend hours in a store trying to decide. But if I know the name, then my choice is easier. I really think that's the tool podcasting provides. Getting your name out there. Maybe listeners don't show the monitary love for the free stuff, but once you do get the book deal, they might just remember they loved that story they listened to last year and buy the print/download.

  2. Thank you for putting these ideas out there, and thank you for the comments about greathites. Both mean a lot, and not just to me. So now that, that is out of the way. Here is what I have to say about the whole thing.I have made it clear that I am in this for the love of it. I enjoy writing stories and sharing those stories with other people. If it makes other people happy to read or hear my stories then I am happy. If by some chance I manage to sell a story or two that is a bonus.That being said I think it is fair to say that these are my goals and I am smart enough to understand that they are not everyones. I know that other people are out there want to make a living doing this. I am also enough of a realist that if the opportunity presented itself to me to do this (writing stories) for a living I would not turn it down, but again that is not my goal.So what am I trying to say here. I suppose you would like to know, me too. If you can publish and get paid for it do it. If you love to write, Do it! If you want to podcast that writing because you enjoy that aspect of it, do that too, and don't necessarily worry about if it is going to hurt your chances to get things published later. This can't be an all or none thing, and if it is it really should not be. I can't say this enough, if you enjoy writing do it! If you want to make that your life great, good for you, wonderful, I am happy for you, go out and concur the world. But don't loose sight of why you are doing it. (hint: if you enjoy writing then write because you enjoy it.)

  3. I think its like you said, is it a hobby or a profession. For me writing is a hobby. I have a story to tell, and sometimes people like what I write. But I’d never consider quiting my day job for it. What I do think podcasting does is gets your name and skill out to a larger audiance than most conventional authors wouldn’t get with a standard publishing deal. How many times do you go into a book store and wonder “who’s this guy?” I can spend hours in a store trying to decide. But if I know the name, then my choice is easier. I really think that’s the tool podcasting provides. Getting your name out there. Maybe listeners don’t show the monitary love for the free stuff, but once you do get the book deal, they might just remember they loved that story they listened to last year and buy the print/download.

    1. Yeah, for me it’s one trying to become another. Podcasting can be useful in that, but I don’t want it to be my only tool.

  4. Yeah, for me it's one trying to become another. Podcasting can be useful in that, but I don't want it to be my only tool.

  5. You're welcome Jeff.Doing it for the joy it brings you should indeed be thing one. The trick is finding out what you want to do with it after you've written it.

  6. The question is not what you want to do with it. The question is can you get more joy out of seeing it in print, giving it away, sticking it a drawer. What brings you the most joy, or if it is what you really want, what brings you the most money if that equates to joy.

  7. Thank you for putting these ideas out there, and thank you for the comments about greathites. Both mean a lot, and not just to me. So now that, that is out of the way. Here is what I have to say about the whole thing.
    I have made it clear that I am in this for the love of it. I enjoy writing stories and sharing those stories with other people. If it makes other people happy to read or hear my stories then I am happy. If by some chance I manage to sell a story or two that is a bonus.
    That being said I think it is fair to say that these are my goals and I am smart enough to understand that they are not everyones. I know that other people are out there want to make a living doing this. I am also enough of a realist that if the opportunity presented itself to me to do this (writing stories) for a living I would not turn it down, but again that is not my goal.
    So what am I trying to say here. I suppose you would like to know, me too. If you can publish and get paid for it do it. If you love to write, Do it! If you want to podcast that writing because you enjoy that aspect of it, do that too, and don’t necessarily worry about if it is going to hurt your chances to get things published later.
    This can’t be an all or none thing, and if it is it really should not be. I can’t say this enough, if you enjoy writing do it! If you want to make that your life great, good for you, wonderful, I am happy for you, go out and concur the world. But don’t loose sight of why you are doing it. (hint: if you enjoy writing then write because you enjoy it.)

    1. You’re welcome Jeff.

      Doing it for the joy it brings you should indeed be thing one. The trick is finding out what you want to do with it after you’ve written it.

      1. The question is not what you want to do with it. The question is can you get more joy out of seeing it in print, giving it away, sticking it a drawer. What brings you the most joy, or if it is what you really want, what brings you the most money if that equates to joy. I should say, if being able to do it for a living is what brings you the most joy…” Not that money equates to joy.

  8. I think its like you said, is it a hobby or a profession. For me writing is a hobby. I have a story to tell, and sometimes people like what I write. But I'd never consider quiting my day job for it. What I do think podcasting does is gets your name and skill out to a larger audiance than most conventional authors wouldn't get with a standard publishing deal. How many times do you go into a book store and wonder “who's this guy?” I can spend hours in a store trying to decide. But if I know the name, then my choice is easier. I really think that's the tool podcasting provides. Getting your name out there. Maybe listeners don't show the monitary love for the free stuff, but once you do get the book deal, they might just remember they loved that story they listened to last year and buy the print/download.

  9. Thank you for putting these ideas out there, and thank you for the comments about greathites. Both mean a lot, and not just to me. So now that, that is out of the way. Here is what I have to say about the whole thing.I have made it clear that I am in this for the love of it. I enjoy writing stories and sharing those stories with other people. If it makes other people happy to read or hear my stories then I am happy. If by some chance I manage to sell a story or two that is a bonus.That being said I think it is fair to say that these are my goals and I am smart enough to understand that they are not everyones. I know that other people are out there want to make a living doing this. I am also enough of a realist that if the opportunity presented itself to me to do this (writing stories) for a living I would not turn it down, but again that is not my goal.So what am I trying to say here. I suppose you would like to know, me too. If you can publish and get paid for it do it. If you love to write, Do it! If you want to podcast that writing because you enjoy that aspect of it, do that too, and don't necessarily worry about if it is going to hurt your chances to get things published later. This can't be an all or none thing, and if it is it really should not be. I can't say this enough, if you enjoy writing do it! If you want to make that your life great, good for you, wonderful, I am happy for you, go out and concur the world. But don't loose sight of why you are doing it. (hint: if you enjoy writing then write because you enjoy it.)

  10. Yeah, for me it's one trying to become another. Podcasting can be useful in that, but I don't want it to be my only tool.

  11. You're welcome Jeff.Doing it for the joy it brings you should indeed be thing one. The trick is finding out what you want to do with it after you've written it.

  12. The question is not what you want to do with it. The question is can you get more joy out of seeing it in print, giving it away, sticking it a drawer. What brings you the most joy, or if it is what you really want, what brings you the most money if that equates to joy. I should say, if being able to do it for a living is what brings you the most joy…” Not that money equates to joy.

  13. I've wrestled with some of the same issues, Scott, and you bring up some good ones. When it comes to my own podcasting, I suppose my ultimate goal is to simply build up an audience. It's certainly not the endgame. And in the case of what I'm about to podcast, it's a work that has already seen publication once, and I reacquired the rights to it. “First publication” isn't an issue. But I have thought a lot about whether to go ahead with audio versions of things that I think may be more commercially viable.I think I'll have to take it on a case-by-case basis. I'll podcast if I think it works for that story, and if I feel like I've exhausted other options. I truly believe in the model, but I also recognize that the model can't work unless you've got a publishing partner willing to take the plunge with you.

  14. I’ve wrestled with some of the same issues, Scott, and you bring up some good ones. When it comes to my own podcasting, I suppose my ultimate goal is to simply build up an audience. It’s certainly not the endgame. And in the case of what I’m about to podcast, it’s a work that has already seen publication once, and I reacquired the rights to it. “First publication” isn’t an issue. But I have thought a lot about whether to go ahead with audio versions of things that I think may be more commercially viable.

    I think I’ll have to take it on a case-by-case basis. I’ll podcast if I think it works for that story, and if I feel like I’ve exhausted other options. I truly believe in the model, but I also recognize that the model can’t work unless you’ve got a publishing partner willing to take the plunge with you.

    1. Yeah we need to be flexible and work with any publishers we do find. Hopefully they’ll learn about the power of what we’re doing.

  15. Yeah we need to be flexible and work with any publishers we do find. Hopefully they'll learn about the power of what we're doing.

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