At some point in the next 24-72 hours Dog on Fire will be for sale as an e-book through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. At least that’s the plan.
I’ve published a bit in the analog world; a novel, a few non-fiction books, several short stories. I’ve been included in a few anthologies (including Otto Penzler’s Best American Mystery Stories 1999 and Alfred Hitchcock’s 50th anniversary anthology). I’ve ghosted a number of books for other people. I’ve put out a buttload of words in actual print. But this is the first thing I’ve done specifically for e-publication. (To be accurate, some of the stories in Dog on Fire have already appeared in print, but the stories presented as a collection is something new.)
I think of this as indie publishing. A lot of other folks think of it as self-publishing—which is generally seen as a sort of lower species of publishing. What’s odd is that many of those same folks regard independent cinema as very cool, and they see indie music releases as bold and ballsy. But putting your own writing out there seems to spark a bit of skepticism. There’s that silent but underlying question “What…you can’t get a real publisher to release your work?”
My initial response to this is “Yes, I can, but fuck you very much.”
I have to admit, there’s basis in reality for that skepticism. Technology has made it possible for a LOT of people who couldn’t get published in a traditional venue (and let’s face it, people whose work doesn’t really merit broad publication) to bang out something and put it up for sale on B&N.com and Amazon.com. And a lot of ‘real’ writers will complain—with some justification—that the amount of noise emitted by those folks makes it more difficult for their own work to find an audience.
My initial response to them is “Yes, you’re right, but also fuck you very much.”
The democratization of publishing is a good thing, even if it makes it harder for the rest of us to earn a buck. Some people will claim good work will always find an audience—which is completely delusional. A lot of good work will get lost in the noise. The odds are that’ll happen to Dog on Fire too. It’s just the reality of the situation.
And then there are the folks who say something like “But you’re not really doing this for the money anyway.” Want to guess what my initial response is? “I am most certainly doing this for the money, and fuck you very much.” If I sell a short story, I get paid once. If that story gets anthologized, I get paid again. And that’s it. With an ebook collection of short stories, I get paid every time somebody buys it. I get paid less, of course, but the idea is that volume will make up for it. If the ebook gets lost in the noise, that may not work out. But if that happens, the fault doesn’t lie with the noise.
So I consider this something of an experiment. Experiments sometimes fail. Often fail. If this one fails—well, what the hell, I’ll probably try it again. I may be in this for the money, but if money were the primary consideration I’d have a straight job.