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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Privateers book release: after-action report


With PRIVATEERS OF MARS released and selling, it’s time for some reflection on lessons learned.

1. It was nuts to plan to release both PRIVATEERS OF MARS and STUPEFYING STORIES #23 on the same day. Admirably ambitious, yes, but nuts all the same.

2. I must remember to build time into the schedule to absorb the shock of unforeseen external developments. We had all our ducks more or less in a row for finishing up SS#23 over the holiday weekend, but real life intruded. Assertively.

3. I must remember to build more time into the schedule for the dreary tail-end pipeline processes of publishing. I’ve become so accustomed to being able to click the Publish button and have content go live in seconds on other platforms that I forget that publishing to Amazon requires extra patience. Next time I need to allow at least two days for “soak time” after I upload the book to Amazon and before I announce that the book has been released.

4. Fortunately, there is a relatively easy way to build in that buffer time: create the print book listing first, and upload the print content first, and then create the ebook listing and upload the ebook content. Amazon’s sloth-like print approval process not only builds in the requisite soak time automatically, it has the unexpected benefit of linking the print and ebook listings right from the start. No more waiting a week for Amazon to figure out that they’re the same book and then to link the listings!

5. Consequently, rather than burn the midnight oil to rush SS#23 out this week, I’m going slide the SS#23 release into next week. Precise date TBD. Stay tuned.

6. I really need to do a better job of selling the Stupefying Stories Presents concept. SSP is our experimental platform: in this line-up you’ll find standalone novellas, single-author collections and story cycles like The Book of Judith and Privateers, overt experiments like Jimi Plays Dead, one-shot theme anthology projects put together by guest editors (yes, Guy Stewart, that means you), and even some genre-germane non-fiction titles. In short, SSP is our platform for publishing things that don’t fit into the context of a regular monthly SF/F magazine (which is, after all, what we’re trying to make Stupefying Stories evolve into), but that are too good not to publish.

Fortunately, as the Amazon marketplace continues to evolve, they’re giving us better tools for promoting this idea. E.g., the new Stupefying Stories Presents catalog page. I’m rather pleased with how it turned out.

a. One thing the catalog page does for us that I really like is that if you open the listing for any one of these titles, you get a banner of links to the other titles in the collection.

b. One unexpected discovery was that if you’re not using the catalog page to promote a series of books that must be read in sequence, Amazon doesn’t give a fig about volume number. I guess that simplifies cover art considerations.

7. Finally (for now), I really need to do a better job of selling the co-op publishing concept. For example, the reason why Privateers is priced as it is is because Matthew Castleman agreed to take a smaller payment up front in exchange for a much larger share of the sales. To me this seems to make perfect sense: I’d cheerfully pay a little more for a book if I knew that that extra markup was going directly to the author.

But then, I’m an author, so perhaps my perspective is skewed.

That’s all for now. Upward and onward,


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