A “Real” Book

My first paper book: “Fuzzy Words: The Con Fluff Collection,” is now available for purchase on Amazon!

It has always been my goal to create a paper book.  Thewriting problem with doing so is that my short stories are so short that I had to accumulate a pretty good number of them (27 in all) in order to have a book of reasonable length printed.

Naturally, I encountered a bit of a learning curve in publishing something physical.  In the digital world, there is no concern about margins and fonts and all of that stuff, because the screen that your book is going to be read on may be of any size and the reader can adjust the text font and text size to their liking.  In the print world, you have bleeds and gutters and covers and inches and all sorts of things that need to be done the right way.

Things have certainly changed for the better:  Way back when, if you wanted to print a paper book on your own, you had to go through a vanity publisher, which meant paying to have a few hundred (or thousand!) copies printed.  This meant that you took a big risk of being stuck with boxes of books that nobody wanted to buy.  Thanks to modern print-on-demand technology, paperbacks can be printed as they’re ordered, so just like in the e-book world, your cost of entry is nearly zero, save for the purchase of proof copies.

I gave both CreateSpace and NookPress a try, and ended up going with CreateSpace because of their expanded distribution options.  Also their books seemed to be of higher quality and they offered a better discount to authors purchasing their own copies.

A funny thing happened as I showed friends my print proofs; I repeatedly got this ‘so you’re a real writer now’ vibe (and a comment or two) from them.  Never mind that I’ve published quite a few digital ones.  Oh well, what can you do?

In any event, now that I’ve finished my first one, I can’t wait to do another!

Working My Way To the Top (of the page)

covers4

Bottom, bottom, bottom…

I forget which short story collection I was working on and discussing with a friend, but he posed an interesting question as we were chatting:

Why is your name always at the bottom of your covers?  Shouldn’t it be on the top?

While I may not completely produce my own covers anymore (for the better, as you can likely tell) I do place the text atop the artwork.  The decision to de-emphasize myself was a conscious one and I did it for a very simple reason:

Nobody knows who I am.

It’s a harsh thing to admit, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If I put “Eduardo Soliz” on the top of a cover, a potential reader might think that the book is about a guy with that name, or they might even think it’s in Spanish.  Either way, my name (right now, at least) is not a very big selling point.

Stephen King and James Patterson and those guys, yeah, they can put their names up top because people will recognize then as authors who’s work they enjoy so they’ll be more inclined to pick up a book with their name on top and buy it.

Someday, I’ll be ‘big enough’ to have the nerve to put my name at the top of the page, but until then, I’ll have to play second fiddle to the books themselves.

Then again, maybe that’s how it should be!

Three Years and Many Words Ago…

meOn October 27, 2011, I uploaded One Sheet Stories to Amazon.com, which marked the beginning of my adventures in self-publishing.  Three years later, I have self-published a total of six e-books to the tubes so far: one non-fiction book and five super-short story collections.  My works can be found on Kindle, nook, iTunes, and Kobo.

Like many other creative persons, I hoped that my creations would be well received.  While the number of copies of One Sheet Stories that were sold that first year could be counted on one hand (it’s free now), my second book, The Rules of Tech Support, has sold over one hundred copies and was downloaded over four hundred times when I gave it away on Amazon.

One reason I write is in the hope that this endeavor can result in financial independence, but realistically it will take some doing.  I have received a small amount of royalties.  Not much, but enough for me to let Uncle Sam know, for what that’s worth.  There are definitely no plans for me to quit my day job anytime soon.  I have, however, gained knowledge from my successes and failures that I have begun to share with others.

I like to think that my writing has improved over those three years; the fact that I give away some of my earliest works for free now is a reflection on how rough some of those early stories were.  As evidenced by the slow start, I may have been a bit premature in attempting to sell my works.  If nothing else, I learned that I needed to package at least seven stories to justify the ninety-nine cent price tag.  Lessons learned and all that.

My attempts to sell paper copies of my books were met with what I can only describe as a fantastic level of indifference (insert lamenting about how ‘nobody reads anymore’ here), but the opportunity to spread the word about my work and talk to like-minded individuals have made up for the lack of financial success.  Luckily the financial costs are low and the potential for higher levels of success are there, so I press on.

Of course, there are things that I still need to work on; length in particular is something that still vexes me.  I have at least one idea for a novella that I would like to complete someday, but only a few partially finished chapters sit unloved on my hard drive.  I have also taken a few tentative steps towards writing different kinds of stories, but the majority of my works are still humorous (I hope).  Marketing is another challenge that I am looking forward to addressing in the future.

As I enter my fourth year of being a self-published author, I can only hope that as I write and publish more, I sell more and who knows, maybe someday I will get to really say ‘take this job and shove it’ for good.  As my fourth year begins, I have two follow-ups to The Rules of Tech Support in the works as well as another science fiction collection and of course, more furry stories.

Writing and publishing has been an adventure for me so far, and I hope that you (and many others!) will join me on what should be a fun ride in the years ahead.  Thanks for reading.

Sheet Happens

I recently published my first e-book: “One Sheet Stories” on Smashwords.com. It is a collection of five very short stories, each of which fit on a single sheet of paper.  I’m not making a big fuss about it yet, I’m waiting for it to be approved for inclusion into their Premium Catalog, which would put it on the iPad Bookstore, Sony Reader, Nook, and lots of other places it will be easier to find.

It was surprisingly easy to do, or at least it was after reading over their style guide a few times to make sure my Word doc survived their affectionately named “Meatgrinder” program.  I had fun putting it together and now I can get to work on future books.

I’m also going to work on this website, so if things look weird the next time you drop by, well, that’s just me kicking the tires on some new themes.