2.08.2012

How Free Ebooks and Hobbes End Publishing Have Brought Happiness to My Universe

When I started offering some of my work up free of charge through Amazon, a lot of people thought I was nuts. Many writers go by the credo of not giving anything away, but I was sick of seeing my work wither away with nary a download or review. Were people not buying it because they thought it was bad, or because it just wasn't visible enough or because I was an indie with not much of a proven track record? Maybe it was all of the above. I wouldn't know until people actually read it. At any rate, I decided after nearly a year of waiting for something to happen that it was time to just throw the stuff out there and let the readers decide. And decide they did. The response to my work has been quite positive overall, and it has affirmed that I'm on the right path. In the process, I've gained a number of new "regular" fans that have made the leap to buying my paid downloads, and their reviews on Amazon have been influential enough to attract new readers. My short story "Vermin," just got its 20th review on Amazon today, and my following on GoodReads is growing by leaps and bounds.

The coolest publishers wear shades.
Enter Vincent Hobbes, writer and founder of Hobbes End Publishing. He happened to be one of the thousands who downloaded some of my free stories, and he was particularly taken with "Dust." To the point where, when he reviewed it and started telling his circle of readers and fans about it, the story quickly became my most popular download. My sales on Barnes & Noble also increased. Mr. Hobbes also read other stories in my collection and after I contacted him on GoodReads to thank him, we started talking a bit. I showed him a few of my unpublished works, and he then passed on some of that work to his colleague Jairus Reddy, who runs the ship at Hobbes End.

Concept Cover for Novel in Progress
It wasn't long after that I received an offer from them to buy two of my stories for the second volume of their Endlands anthology. One of those stories is an oldie but goodie, "Under the Scotch Broom," which continues to astound me with its longevity after nearly 20,000 downloads since September. The other is one none of you have seen yet, a science fiction-meets-Twilight Zone tale called "The Shiva Apparatus." I'm particularly excited about this one, because it is also a prequel to a novel I plan to finish and shop around later this year called The Shiva Paradox. Additionally, both short story and novel are set in the same universe as "Scotch Broom" (though you only get flashes of this through some strategically placed Easter Eggs).

We likes the cover!
I'm not sure when The Endlands vol 2 comes out, but it's currently in production. You can buy the first volume right now and check it out for yourself. The quality of work in it is fantastic, and I'm thrilled that the guys at Hobbes End made room for me in the second volume. I will be proud to have my work alongside some pretty amazing talent.

So has there been some benefit to giving my work away on Amazon? That's an affirmative. Believe me when I say that when thousands have access to your work, there can be some pretty influential people paying attention. Hobbes and Reddy truly "get" the kind of writing I do, and that is refreshing to someone who has always had trouble finding publications that are the proper fit for my work. Also, I don't believe I ever would have crossed their paths if not for my decision make my work free in the place where the vast majority of folks with ereaders go for reading material.

Publishing is changing at light speed, and you're making yourself a part of a pretty incredible talent pool when you decide to go the indie route. While it can hurt the pride a little bit at first to see all that potential money go out the door, I think the long term dividends of free downloads are far greater. I look forward to letting you all know when the The Endlands vol 2 hits stores!