Week 1: I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

So if you haven’t read my lengthy preamble, I’ve decided to shit or get off the pot in regards to trying to write for a living.

My plan is this: For now, I have five finished short stories and very soon I’m going to begin submitting them to good paying markets. This means I’m avoiding getting paid in contributors copies, bumper stickers, coasters, posters, or what-have-you.

Then I have Sketches of the WigwamLike any small press author, I’m of course pushing the novel anywhere I can and have been for almost a year now, for all the good it’s done me. The Wigwam has a whopping eight reviews on Goodreads despite me sending it to every book blogger imaginable.

Ah well. To tell you the truth, I’m grateful for every one of those reviews, especially the bad ones. If nothing else, it lets potential readers know that I’m not spamming Goodreads stats with bullshit reviews from my mom. (Though I’m sure she’s more than willing. Mother loves me and she’d likely kill you if I asked her nicely. Not that I would…yet.)

And to be absolutely honest — and I’m not calling out anyone by name — I have one very positive review that, I’m quite sure, came from someone who never read the book at all. I’d rather have an honest bad review than a bullshit good one.

So I’ll chug along, plugging the Wigwam where I can, sending it to whatever reviewers are willing to read it, but at this point it’s not working. Sales have been dog shit. Perhaps I should come up with a new plan. (Like I said, I have no idea what I’m doing.)

I wrote in my aforementioned preamble that I’ve delineated levels of income. I’d like to start this quest off by making the writing equivalent of a living wage, not panhandler money. Though I’m open to it if that’s all I can get.

And while I do have those five short stories that I’m ready to fire off to horror rags, I have a sixth and, possibly, a seventh that I’m considering self-publishing, as I did “The Journey To Mount Kill Yourself” and “Never Chase Space Potatoes With Teenage Girls.” Though sales for those have been dog shit as well, mainly because it’s difficult to find review outlets for short stories.

I’d love to make enough cash off one of these magazine-bound stories to make a car payment. Yes, that’s what I think about when it comes to success in writing. Not speaking at a college. No appearances on popular podcasts. No douchey photo shoots in Writer’s Digest. Just a fucking car payment.

I dream low, folks.

To start, I’ll be utilizing Dark Markets to find short story outlets. Guys, if you’re a horror writer and you haven’t used Dark Markets, just stop and go to that site now. Chuck that fucking outdated Writer’s Market book, please.

Mini-deviation: Why on earth would anyone purchase a Writer’s Market book these days? You can find all that shit online anyway. It’s a glorified phone book for writers.

And though I write on Horror Novel Reviews as a labor of love, I will continue to use it to link back to the Wigwam and my both of my short stories on Amazon. But this will only be for my feature work, like ‘Horror and Hangovers‘ and stuff like that. I’m not that much of a whore that I’d spam links to my personal shit in a review of someone else’s work.

Karma, people. It doesn’t exist, but the idea is important.

I’ve also decided that, no, I don’t want any advice. The myriad strategies to making a living from this shit are maddening, if only because I don’t think any of them really work. Various sources advise you to advertise on social media, price your books strategically, or just review-swap your way to a fuck-ton of five-star Goodreads reviews.

I don’t buy any of it. Some of these strategies might work for a handful of lucky authors, but it certainly doesn’t work for everyone.

Also, I won’t say where or how I saw it, but I was privy to an online seminar* wherein the speaker urged authors to aggressively review swap. This supposed industry professional tells authors that exchanging glowing reviews with other authors is a sure bet to becoming the next best-selling author.

Bullshit, for two reasons. One, everyone does that already. Two, the very act of review swapping has made gauging reviews for self-published and small-press books worthless. I’ve purchased enough five-star indie books that were utter dog shit, thank you very much. I’d rather not add to the problem.

I also don’t want to become a book factory. Author Annie Bellet spoke on this podcast about her success in self-publishing her books, making upwards of half-a-million bucks in one year. Good for her. I’m not hating, but her strategy was to price the first book of her series at 99 cents (not that I’m opposed to that) then cranking out sequel after sequel, each priced higher.

Bellet’s logic is this: Readers buy Volume 1 dirt cheap, get sucked into the story, then don’t mind paying a higher price for the subsequent volumes. That’s all well and good, but Bellet explains how she had to churn out books, several in a year, to keep her sales up.

Look, I’m not knocking this woman at all. I’m glad she made some bank and I’m sure her readers enjoy her books. I’m just saying that, for me, I would NOT be able to write several books in a year’s time while maintaining any kind of quality.

I’m not saying Bellet’s books suck, but I’m saying mine would if I cranked them out at that rate.

Oh, I’m also sick of everyone having a series. Every goddamn indie book I read is “Part 1 In The (Whatever The Fuck) Saga.” Seriously, if Hemingway were writing today, The Sun Also Rises would be “Part 1 In Jake Barnes’ Journey To Get A Boner Again.”

No thank you.

Ah well. So my current plan is this: Combine traditional publishing, in regards to short stories and book publishers, with pushing self-published work. Perhaps I’m throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks. I won’t deny it.

Then again, I already told you that I have no idea what I’m doing.

Pic of the day: Rolling Rock cans and cheap smokes. 



Song of the day: “Give Up” by Mishka Shubaly. 




*  I said “web seminar” because “webinar” sounds super douchey. If you disagree, you might be a douche. (Or you could be an incredible, loving, wonderful person. But you still sound douchey when you say it.