It took me long enough, but I finally went to the Kindle Direct site and posted a mini e-book http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E7NCCGQ, bringing together my two dark fantasy stories, "Surfaces" and "The Ambiguities." To be followed by three more mini books, the next one containing "Auteur Theory," "The Cthulhu Orthodontist" and "Where We Go." Then, one with "Last One Close the Door" and "The Button." The last one will contain "A Man Makes a Machine" (my first pro sale) and "Getting Along with Larga" (the winner of the first ISFiC Short Story Contest Prize and my "return" to science fiction after my apprenticeship in the literary salt mines).
It's been interesting. KDL says they support Word docs, so I worked in Word, even got fancy. My preview of the e-book doesn't show half the cool stuff I did, and it seems that the KDL format doesn't support the kind of layout I was doing (I threw in an illo preceding the start of each story, as you might in a print book, which would look good, except that the illos were by me, so they didn't look that good anyway). It seems they really want you to focus on the text. I can do that. This first book will look a little messed up, if the preview is any indication. I don't own a Kindle. Go figure. If I sell a few books, first I'll buy a char-dog at Phil's Last Stand on Chicago Avenue, then I'll buy a Kindle. One has one's priorities, you know.
I have given myself the option to make mistakes. Where I came from, the people I came from, you couldn't make mistakes. If you screwed something up you were a screw-up for life. I was a screw-up for life from about third grade. Which is probably why I hesitated so long in getting this first book out, and why I've been suffering a migraine all day. Old wounds run deep. They kind of feel like all-day migraines.
Yeah, I've got a Nebula. Yeah, I've had stuff in F&SF and Amazing and Hartwell's Year's Best SF series. When you go to KDL, you're self-publishing, and you feel like you're self-publishing, because that's what you're doing. It feels a little funny, but it also feels kind of interesting. I never started a small press, though I was always interested in doing so (though not for publishing my own stuff). The printing and storage costs were always unaffordable. The ISBNs are still unaffordable. But hey, I can go back. I can fix things. I can do the next one better.
Speaking of "doing the next one better": it's a weird experience reading your old published work, especially when you feel the urge to jump in and revise it. Well, there's nothing wrong in revising. Many writers have done just that when they prepared their old work for new publication (or in this case "publication" -- in some respects this still feels a little like a game instead of "REAL" publishing, because . . . it isn't "real" publishing). It's probably not a good idea to do too much revising. Save it for the next story. It's been my experience, so far, that I wasn't half as bad a writer as I thought I would discover -- though I wasn't as good as writer as I know I can be now.
That last sentence sounds suspiciously like the kind of thing a writer tells him/her-self when you know you have to give yourself that little inspirational sermon just to keep from throwing all your printouts out the nearest window (you can be fined for littering if you do that).
When you've been fighting a migraine all day, that can happen. Then, if you really want to mess yourself up, when your wife sends you off to search the shelves for the most recent edition of The Elements of Style, and you end up pulling a couple of story collections off the shelves, and you start reading (because, hey, the book is right there in your hands) some of Greg Frost's stories from Attack of the Jazz Giants, or something from Howard Waldrop's Things Will Never Be the Same . . . and you were already reading all these great stories in the latest Dozois-edited Year's Best Science Fiction collection for your fall semster reading list, that little voice in your head, that little editor, starts to shout at you, "You are such SHIT! How could you even think you could write anything even passably competent?"
And whatever happened to that Elements of Style anyway? I can hear Pam shouting from the dining room.
So, here I am, with an e-book, and now I'm supposed to go annoy people on Facebook and ask them to plug it, or post links, or do all the sorts of things that when I see other people doing it I just want to turn away to save them embarrassment (unless they're really good at it, and some folks really are).
It's been that kind of day.
But hey -- I've got an e-book! And that's one of things I set out to do this summer (along with starting a blog). I'm making some kind of progress.