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Monday, January 26, 2015

A Mighty Failure

Once upon a time I wrote a book for fun, and amusement, and to give away for a blog hop, and because I really loved the universe and wasn't quite ready to give it up. The story wasn't commercial, it was full of inside jokes exactly 12 people understood (and I don't think all 12 read it), and it was sloppily put together.

It was my first 100% self-published book: FEY LIGHTS.

I bought the stock art, made the cover myself, had a friend edit it for free, did the formatting myself, and threw it out into the deep sea of the e-book world to see what happened. And that, more or less, is the complete story of FEY LIGHTS.

For several years it wallowed, forgotten by everyone. Anyone who wanted to read it showed up at the blog hop and got a free copy. The other people who read it (less than 12 as far as I can tell) bought it and forgot it. One lovely person in Germany bought it (danke!) and approximately 900 people downloaded it from a pirate site before I managed to get it taken down. None of them left reviews *sigh*.

In truth, I forgot about it. The Heroes and Villains series was picking up fans, I was sending queries out, and I had my back-up series in progress and seven more novels sketched out and waiting for attention. FEY LIGHTS was off my radar... which turned out to be a really bad thing.

Like most my self-published work FEY LIGHTS came out several years ago, which in my personal timeline means five states and three computers ago. Somewhere between Alabama and Alaska I lost the original files for FEY LIGHTS, SEVENTY, and REAL LIES.

Everything that's gone through a publisher I kept in nice, neat folders with older drafts and author copies. I didn't keep my self-published work in the same files. Why? I honestly have no idea. I didn't even set up my promo folder until EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE came out. I had too few books and didn't feel a need to keep track of them. But with age comes wisdom, and remorse.

Last week I did a giveaway. It was midnight on the east coast and I felt bad for two of the participants who were up well past their bedtimes, so I offered them free copies of FEY LIGHTS as a gift for staying up to talk shop with me. And then - you guessed it! - I found I didn't have the files. I bought the lovely ladies their copies and went to my crit partner in frustration. Turns out, no one had a copy of the final edited copy.

Self-publishing is an increasingly competitive field to enter. There hasn't been a kindle millionaire in the news recently (probably because the Amazon imprint scoops up promising authors), and self-published authors have noticed a slump in the past year. It's a tough place to make a buck.

If you're going to self-publish right, keep track of your files. Keep your cover art, author copies, and originals not just on your computer but backed up on the cloud and in off-site storage like an external hard drive. Update the files as you move between formats. Keep things current. And don't abandon a project just because it's on the shelf.

Long story short: smashwords had a downloadable RTF file that became the .doc that is getting some updated formatting and going back up on Draft 2 Digital along with the rest of my self-pub backlist. Not because I had free time, but Amy Laurens did and she was bored and apparently uploading her backlist wasn't enough to she put mine up too under our Inkprint Press logo. Because why not?

Who knows, the intrepid explorers of FEY LIGHTS might even have a special edition print run. It'll be a very thin book, but it will mean Meemaw can finally read my story with the flying jellyfish that I told her about.


  1. What, Goodreads comments don't count?

  2. Glad to hear you're getting things worked through though.