Today's guest is Mike Monson, who recently published his first story collection. I invited him to DSD to talk a bit about it.
Earlier this month, I self-published a book. While this has not made a dent in my shrinking bank account, so far it has been a wonderful and completely satisfying creative experience.
On July 9, I was fired from my job as a server for a hip gastropub in Kona Hawaii. This was very upsetting and humiliating (read all about it here in my blog How to Get Fired). This event gave me an immediate burning desire to undertake some kind of money-making project that was related to my real passion: writing. I wanted to do something that was uniquely me, something that would be way different from my grossly incompetent performance at the restaurant.
I’ve written 23 stories during the last year, 17 of which have been published online or in print anthologies. Most of these are crime stories set in Modesto and other locations in California’s Central Valley. This gave me a basic theme, I thought. I picked out the story that best reflected that theme, Criminal Love, and made it the title story. I figured I could put them all together somehow into a Word document and then just plug the whole thing into an Amazon program and—boom, instant e-book. I decided to call it Criminal Love and Other Stories: Tales ofLove, Sex, Crime, and Death in California’s Central Valley and Elsewhere. Strangely enough, except for a few minor glitches, it was almost that easy, and I had the book up on Amazon by July 12.
I am not one of those super-sophisticated social media/technology-savvy writers. No way. Yes, I have a website/blog, a Facebook account (just a regular account not a writer page), and, I Tweet. But, I really have no idea what I am doing. I just review books on my blog and post them on FB and Twitter. If I get a story published or get interviewed somewhere, I’ll post a link to that too. I’m always wondering how annoying I am being (it is never a question of whether) and I will often quickly delete self-promoting Facebook posts because I become convinced that, this time, I’ve gone too far and everyone is really going to hate me.
I have no plan, no strategy.
Sure, I’d love to make a living as a writer. I’d love to be able to stop having to work boring awful frustrating jobs. And, I’m doing what I can to that end. I wrote a novella that just may get published soon by an actual small press, and I am in the middle of a full-length novel. So, maybe, I’ll make some real money someday—but probably not. Right? (I know the deal.)
But, I must admit, the main reason I write is to get readers. I want people to read my stuff and then I want them to talk to me and tell me how they liked my fiction. That really, is my main motivation. Knowing that a human has read what I wrote and knowing that they liked it makes me happy. Very happy. And, guess what? As of this moment, 52 people have bought Criminal Love and Other Stories and six of them have posted comments on Amazon—kind, enthusiastic, and complimentary comments. I like this. I like it a lot.
For some reason, those two numbers must be my current sweet spot. Sure, I want more sales (the 52 purchases only earned me $17.49) and I’ll take as many more nice comments as I can get (I realize I may eventually get slammed by someone in a way that ruins my day or week), but, presently, I am very pleased with this self-publishing experience.
Now, if only I could find another job.