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Saturn Ring Blues
To the ongoing debate on whether it is better to self publish or to find a more traditional mode of publishing (i.e. anyone other than you), I offer this data point: last week (that's seven days, for those who are counting), Kindle released 239 science fiction Kindle books.

I read an interesting blog post today (that I can't find now) from an author talking about the diminishing returns on what she had found to be a cool digital marketing technique, which was releasing a free version of her book for a week to start word of mouth buzz, and then to charge for it after the free week was up.  The first book she did that for generated a ton of free downloads and then a gratifyingly large number of sales, but the later ones haven't.  Even during the free week, her download rate dropped precipitately.  Her conclusion was that when she first did it, it was a novelty, but now that other writers have figured it out too, it has become common.

I'm certainly NOT saying that traditional publishing with paid editors, professional marketers who spend all of their time figuring out how to sell books, and established contacts in the book distribution world is the ONLY way to publishing success.  What I believe we're seeing now is a constantly evolving and shifting publishing landscape.  I also think there's a good chance that we're not going to settle into a new "normal" for publishing in the foreseeable future.

What I don't see is that the road to self publishing success will get easier.  The publishing part is easier, but the success part is growing more and more challenging.  The signal to noise ratio is increasingly skewed to the noise side.

The writer's key task won't change: write the best damn stuff possible, but the marketing of the work after it's composed is going to keep changing.

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