Above the noise

I’ve been experimenting (if that’s the right word, since I lack a control run) with indie publishing some of my previously published stories that I hold the rights to, as well as some new stories. To begin with I’m putting the stories up with Smashwords since their system is fairly straightforward, and it pushes the items out to other books stores.

Yesterday I uploaded a new story, under a pen name. By today there have already been another 200 or so items uploaded to smashwords (their site loads chronologically, so the latest uploaded item comes to the top – it’s easy to see how quickly you get bumped down the list). How do I, as many writers are saying, rise above all that noise?

Here’s how I see it, with my limited experience. Most of those items aren’t competing with mine – there are self-help books, music scores, young adult novels, romances, free how-to guides and so on. Lots of the rest have lousy covers (sorry to those enthusiastic writers, but seriously, the cover can make a difference). My covers do feel a little rough, but I think I’m doing an okay job with them (especially Lizard Brain). Of the rest, there’s often a dreadful description – something like “Gwilliam the forest gnome makes posies for the fairy picnic, but he’s lost his hat and the kettle’s on the boil so he has to hurry home”. I’m still learning about writing a good blurb, but I want to write something that gets a reader’s interest, not just glosses over the story.

I’m learning and practising, and I think that’s part of the rising above – keep striving, keep writing better, keep thinking. I don’t know why, but an odd story I put up last week, with a very rough cover (low resolution and lumpy), and a quick description is my second-most downloaded (samples only, sales are slim, as in zero) item: more than some items that have been up for more than a month. There might be some things to learn there, I think.

Disclosure – 3am Persledt Eight = 14 sample views since December 13th, Suitcase Nuke = 13 sample views since November 10th. I think Suitcase Nuke is a better title, but who knows. I take another look at the blurb. Maybe that pen name works better than my real name. This is all experimenting anyway.