Saturday, October 17, 2015

What I Have Learned in Six Years of Digital Publishing.

Louis Shalako

Here’s what I’ve learned by publishing my own works, as well as making submissions of novels and short stories since January 1, 2010. That was almost six years ago. On that day, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to publish a book, ‘…no matter how bad it was, no matter what it took or what it cost, no matter what anyone said, no matter how hard it was, no matter how painful success or more likely failure might be…’

That book still sells in minute numbers and has a few nice reviews. That’s quite an accomplishment for a kid who originally dropped out of school halfway through grade ten.

During that time I have made approximately 1,031 submissions, mostly short stories, although there were at least 125 novel submissions. Those would have mostly been my first six manuscripts, which I already had, on that New Year’s Day.

I spent ten months editing two books side by side and digitally-published them around the end of September 2010. In six years, I've learned a lot about editing.

Since that time, I’ve sold a few books. I’ve written twelve more novels and I’m just in the middle of writing another. I written almost a thousand blog posts and hundreds of short stories. Over the five or six years, I’ve written something like two million words. Back in 2010, my writing wasn’t necessarily bad. It was loose and undisciplined. I knew nothing of literary style—the use of punctuation, apostrophes, and those little marks that help to make sense of the text on the page.

I've learned a lot more than I can put in one blog post, that's for sure.

Six years later I’m a phenomenal writer. I’m a fantastic writer, ladies and gentlemen. This only comes from training and experience. It is not a matter of luck. With a hundred and twenty-seven products, maybe more, plus another twenty titles issued in paperback, you have to admit that I have gotten some experience.

I’ve learned a lot about the business. I’ve had contracts offered to me, and have had a partial requested, and I’ve had short stories published in for-pay markets. Some of them have since gone defunct, and pretty much all of them are obscure.

I’ve learned how to format a simple ebook and design a simple cover. I’ve learned how to write an effective blurb, I’ve learned a lot about metadata. I’ve learned a lot about social media. I’ve learned a lot about a dozen different publishing platforms.

I’ve learned how to write, every day, and produce a new book in two months or less in some cases. I’ve learned about the internal logic of the story, and the internal logic of the series. 

I’ve learned how to keep going when things aren’t going well. I’ve learned how to finish the damned thing, walk away, don’t look back, and get on to the next one.

I’ve written and published a couple of online serials. What was really challenging was to begin publishing something in installments when the thing wasn’t done—I still had twenty or thirty thousand words to go and I didn’t even have an ending.

Those serials were illustrated, something I’d never done before.

I have built my own digital publishing machine, and learned how to use it.

I have learned much by reading other people’s opinions, testing my own theories, and watching my own analytics and statistics. I have learned how to listen and when not to listen. 

I’ve learned how to spot a phony.

I have learned how to tell a good story. I have learned how to create a living, breathing character, and ultimately, I have learned how to build a whole new world.

It’s a pretty darned good world, and that’s a good thing, because I built it, and I am still building it, for you.

Thank you for reading.


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