The History of “How It Ends”: Part 5 – The Decision to Self-Publish


In Part 1 of the History of How It EndsI talked about where the idea for the novel came from.

In Part 2 of the History of How It EndsI talked about what drove the writing forward and the genesis of some of the character names.

In Part 3 of the History of How It EndsI talked about the onerous task of editing the beast.

In Part 4 of the History of How It Ends, I talked about how I procrastinated about which direction I should go in trying to get the novel published.

It was a long a difficult decision to self-publish How It Ends on my own.  I found myself so terrified of making a mistake when I published it that I didn’t do anything at all. If I had to describe this, I’d called it “self-publication constipation”. I felt like the quality of the publishing would be a direct reflection on the book, and eventually on me, and if I produced something that was total crap, then I’d never get a second look by anybody.

So I decided to test the waters a bit. I took a short story (like, really short. Like fourteen pages short.) and put it on Amazon. I created a cover in an old version of PhotoShop and packaged the whole thing up. I posted it online. That was when I hit the first reality check. Price point.

For fourteen pages, I wanted to charge a quarter. After all, it’s only fourteen pages, and it’s the kind of material that doesn’t appeal to everyone, sort of a slasher short, so I had planned to charge twenty-five cents. I was a little dismayed to find out that I couldn’t. The best I could to was to charge $.99 for the story. I couldn’t go lower than that. Already, out of the gate, I was running into trouble. But I had to continue with this first effort. I had to get a sense of how it all worked, because I figured once I pulled the trigger, I was stuck.

519FXNQgakLI finally got the short story, The Girl In The Red Hoodie, published. It was a pretty proud moment. I’d finally really put my writing self out there. I was ready to go forth and conquer with How It Ends.

Except I wasn’t.

I spent the next year hemming and hawing. Like my editing, I found excuses not to sit down and go through the process of publishing How It Ends. I couldn’t afford a cover image (you can get two images on stockphoto websites for about $20), I didn’t have a final edited version (all I was doing was moving words around at this point, shuffling between thirteen different ways to say “love”), I wanted an agent (I sent out zero submissions to agents during this time frame). Lots of excuses, none of them good.

I reached back out to Paul, asking him if he’d be willing to print How It Ends, while I retained digital ownership. His answer, rightfully so, was no. Why would he waste money on a print edition when he couldn’t get any decent sales on them without having the digital edition as well? Print had become a loss leader for him, as I expect it will become for many small indie publishers in the near future.

I waited some more.

91qqolPllyL__SL1500_I don’t remember exactly when I made the decision to finally publish it, but I do know it was related to my discovery of Hugh Howey. Hugh Howey, for those who don’t know the name, made a name for himself serializing his now best selling Wool series. The series didn’t start as a series, but rather as a long short story. After having two books published by small presses, he decided to put the first story in the Wool series on Amazon himself. A few months later, there was a clamor for more. He began writing more and suddenly he had a phenomenon on his hands. And that was the point where I said “A-ha! I’ll serialize it!”. I’ve written before about how Hugh Howey is to blame for the reason I serialized How It Ends.

Before jumping forward, I ran the idea past my friend Russell. He’d been my editor for How It Ends and a sounding board for some of my ideas for years. His first question was whether I thought there were logical breaks in the story. I told him I thought there were and explained where each one would be. He considered this and replied that the breaks I had in mind would work pretty well. And, of course, since I was embarking on this self-publishing trek before he was, he was dying to know how it went.

I broke How It Ends into four distinct parts, each where I thought the most logical break would be. I reached out to Paul to let him know what I had decided. He congratulated me on the bold move and praised the decision. Turns out he had started to steer a lot of writers toward self-publishing as well, given that this seemed to be the direction the wind was blowing.

So here I was, self-publishing How It Ends, as a serial, yet again. I revved up the ol’ self-motivation engine, striped part one of How It Ends out of the main work, slapped a cover on that bad boy, and clicked Publish. Scariest damn thing I’d done all year…

Tomorrow: The mechanics of self-publishing.


A New Contest For Self-Published Novels

To anybody who has self-published a novel in the last few years, it should come as no surprise that the world of self-publishing has been getting more and more legitimate as it grows. And if you had any doubts about that trend, then a new contest for self-published novels should help convince you.

The Guardian newspaper has become the first major newspaper to recognize the fact that self-publishing is the new frontier of publishing with a new monthly contest.

This contest is a monthly contest open to works of 40,000 words or more. You have to be 18 to submit, and your book has to have been published by you and not some third party publisher, independent or otherwise. There are a bunch of other rules and terms and legal thingies that go along with the contest. Read them here.

Did I mention this is a monthly contest? So if you miss the deadline for this month (and for April I can tell you that you have indeed missed it), no worries. Submit it next month.

So do you have a DIY novel on Amazon? Then what are you waiting for? Get submittin’!

Places To Send Your Sci-Fi Novel

penguin daw

Did you know that you can actually get into a relationship with one of the big publishers, Penguin, without an agent?

It’s true. I swear.

Know how? DAW. That’s how.

What’s DAW? They’re a book publisher. Started back in the 70s by Donald A. Wollheim (get it? D.A.W.? DAW?) and his wife Elsie, they were devoted exclusively to science fiction and fantasy. And they’ve published some serious science fiction talent. Names like Tad Williams, C. J. Cherryh, and Mercedes Lackey.

They’re still a private company. They’re headquartered at Penguin, and have a distribution partnership with Penguin, but still private. I’m not sure how that all works, but I don’t have to. And neither do you!

DAW has been accepting unagented submissions for years. I first stumbled on this over a decade ago. At the time, I didn’t have anything to submit to them. But I tucked away the knowledge that they didn’t require an agent for when I did have something ready.

So if you have somthing ready to go and you’re banging your head against the wall looking for an agent, why not go right to the source?

Weird Tales Is Opening Its Doors

Ever wanted to appear in a magazine along side names like Peter S Beagle, Brian Lumley, or even possibly Stephen King?

Well now is your chance!


Weird Tales is opening itself up to submissions this Friday (11/22/2013). And it looks like it might stay open for a while.

A new submissions editor has taken the reigns and is looking for your weirdest short stories.

And while they’ll consider any weird short story you’ve got, they have a couple of themes in mind:

  1. Tesla. Yeah, that’s right, the guy who invented the radio. (Okay, maybe not invented the radio, but had a strong part to play in the development of wireless transmission). Stories with him as a central character, or at least a focus.
  2. Ice. If it’s frozen, they want it. Whether it’s a Hoth-like planet or a Hoth-like meat locker.

Check out the link for more info: