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Inspired by Max Booth III’s post dissecting a small press author agreement, which he calls a “bullshit contract,” I’ve put together some information culled during my 10 years as a writer trying to become an author in the small press world. Warning: the following contains hard truths.

Who is this article for:

  • Writers/authors looking to get a short story published with a small press either online or in print (small press = a publisher that most people haven’t heard of)
  • Writers/authors who think having stories published with small presses will generate a sustainable living

Who is this article NOT for:

  • Writers/authors who have an agent (the agent should be doing the job of filtering out a publisher’s potential, not you)
  • Writers/authors who are not interested in small press publishing. If you are 100% committed to publishing (novels or story collections) with the traditional publishers (HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, etc) then you can skip most of this article.
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Caleb J. Ross TIME MagazineMe: Author of 5 books of fiction, creator of funny video content, Twitter following cultivator, YouTube personality, crowd pleaser, book seller, and proponent of the Oxford comma.

You: Publisher looking for an author who knows all about platform building, book selling, and people pleasing. Dollar signs turn you on. Command of the English language turns you on more.

Lovely to meet you, publisher. Up front, I must admit to a bit of a situation. My publisher and I recently separated. Please, don’t assume this split is indicative of our relationship. We had a lovely relationship, actually. Unfortunately, due to matters beyond our control, the publisher has closed its doors completely. As of September 12, 2013 I am officially single.

This leaves my novel, I Didn’t Mean to be Kevin, unattached as well. Thus, this literary courtship.

I know, you’re wondering, “why should I take a chance with you?” It’s a fair question.… Read the rest

Yesterday I had the delightful pleasure of talking with Evo Terra and Jeff Moriary of ePublish Unum‘s Books and Beer series about my efforts as a “YouTube author” (quotes unnecessary; nobody actually used the term YouTube author during the entire chat).

We talked about how I (and other authors should probably) use YouTube not as a vehicle for pushing my books onto unwilling buyers, but as a way to showcase my personality. You know, lube the audience into acceptance. I had a ton of fun talking with these guys. After watching my video (below) be sure to check the ePublish Unum site for a ton more great author videos.

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The people in my head often ask me, “Caleb, how are you seemingly in so many places online at once?” The simple truth is: magic. But not everyone is born with this gift (or curse, depending on which side of the superhero spectrum I’m internally agonizing over at the time). Over the years I’ve built up a failsafe system, though, so should Cash-4-Kryptonite stores suddenly saturate my suburb, I’ve got measures in place.

Here’s my method.

1. Establish a “content spring”

I’m an organization nut. I need structure to survive. Online, when new social media networks materialize daily, organization can be tough. It is important to establish a “content spring,” a source from which most of your content will originate. The goal being to focus content creation efforts in a single place to avoid feeling overwhelmed by so many points of entry. In a perfect world, with perfect organization, you would be able to syndicate your content throughout your social networks with a single push of the “publish post” button.… Read the rest

Does giving away your books lead to more readers, and in turn, more fans?

A few weeks ago I conducted a pretty in-depth study regarding the effectiveness of a book giveaway in which I found that 93% of entrants had never heard of me and 88% planned on reading my books. Couple that with 51% of entrants signing up for my email newsletter, and the giveaway was well worth the two books I sacrificed.

Science must be repeatable, right? A couple of weeks ago I ended yet another giveaway.

The Setup

I listed a 2 copy giveaway for I Didn’t Mean to be Kevin to take place between 3/14/2012 and 3/31/2012. During this time the giveaway received a total of 378 entries. After the giveaway was closed for entries, I sent a 9 yes/no question questionnaire to 222 entrants. 156 entrants could not be sent the questionnaire, either because I know them personally or because they entered the previous giveaway.… Read the rest

It’s been only two days since I started my Annoying Links test, and though I originally intended to stretch the test for a full week, I am going to cut it short. Why? A couple of reasons. One, I simply feel dirty posting links everywhere (even though I stated very explicitly up-front that the links were for study purposes only). Two, though only two days have gone by, the test isn’t looking too positive.

The abbreviated results

Will posting self-promotional links in social network comments lead to book sales? Maybe. But is feeling like a dirty sales person worth it? No.

The process

Over the course of 2 days, I posted a total of 42 comment replies on Facebook and Google+, each containing two links at the end of the post. The posts themselves were genuine responses to comments, things I would have posted even if I weren’t conducting a test.… Read the rest

UPDATE: The results of this annoying link test can be found by clicking here

(If you got to this page via an annoying social media or blog comment link, keep reading. This is all for the sake of science.)

I’m a data nerd. I’ve gone record stating such, and I’ll go on record again. Something about seeing charts and graphs and trending lines and mapping the effect of X to Y and…let me pause to catch my breath a bit. I am fresh off a really successful user study thing, so I’m itching to get back to the spreadsheets.

So why tell you this? I am going to conduct a week-long test of sorts that will probably be a bit more intrusive than most of my other studies. I’ve noticed a lot of incessant product whoring on forums, blog post comments, and social status updates. You know the kind: “BUY MY BOOK HERE,” and “IF YOU LOVE VAMPIRES CLICK HERE.” Annoying right?… Read the rest