A Flawed but Earnest Study of Publishing Methods

I have begun an unscientific experiment in publishing. It’s unscientific because the sample size is statistically insignificant, and I am comparing a nonfiction guide to a novel. But bear with me.

Participant A is my yet-unpublished novel, THE IDIOT’S TALE. I know you won’t take my word for it if I told you it’s a good book, so I’ll just say that by my own measures, it is a manuscript that I will still be proud of in ten years. Much like an intergalactic space probe, it is traveling through a great silent void known as the New York publishing industry, and we hopeful scientists can do nothing but wait a long time for word of its happy landing somewhere.

Participant B is my soon-to-be-printed THE EDITOR’S LEXICON: ESSENTIAL WRITING TERMS FOR NOVELISTS. It is a very brief dictionary of writing terms meant for fiction writers who have not studied writing in school, and early reviews by other editors and writers are strongly positive. I have decided to publish it independently, as an e-book through Smashwords, and as a print book through Lightning Source. My sole companion on this journey is my friend, client, and now publisher, William Campbell of Glyd-Evans Press.

As a writer, my three main goals are to (1) dedicate as much of myself as possible to a craft without losing my sanity, (2) be read, and (3) make a living at it. Therefore, this experiment will take many years to complete. It will compare ease of publication, the effort and expense to promote each book, profit, and my overall satisfaction with the final result—in other words, “Was it worth it? Should I have done it differently? Do I feel like I’ve connected with an audience? Which route would I recommend to others?”

Right now, I can only collect data from Participant B. I will be posting it over the next few weeks, as THE EDITOR’S LEXICON approaches its publication date. As for Participant A, it has entered a shaky orbit around one particular agent, but it’s traversing the dark side of that moon and we can only hope that a positive signal will reach our satellites by this time next month.

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