Thursday, April 7, 2011

Writer's Block for Non-fiction Authors, POD and Kindle Books

Writer's block seems to be the baine of fiction author's existence. As a non-fiction author I have experienced it is as well. Truth be told, I simply got tired of working on a project and just stopped, making what I experienced more of writer's fatigue than actual writer's block. When finished, my next "big" book will be around 250 pages in a 6x9 trim size book. For a non-fiction book aimed at my particular market, that is a good sized book.

The chapters are short and meant to be read in any order. The reader can pick up the book, open to any chapter, read it in 10-15 minutes and have information that can be used immediately. The more I work on the book, the more chapters come to mind and I add a new "chapter" to my working list. The result in the end will be a much more useful book for the readers who purchase it. Unfortunately, the more I work on the book, the longer the book appears it will be. My resulting attitude towards the book is it will never get finished (that won't happen, God willing, because the wife says I have to finish the book and I know what is good for me). The more I work on it, the more work, it seems, I have to do.

Fortunately, self-publishing allows escape from the tedium and with the technology available today, it also allows for quick publishing, at low cost, of short books that are really chapters of a much longer book. Like most authors who self-publish, I always get a kick out of seeing the proof copy arrive and it provides me with a burst of energy and enthusiasm to get the next project rolling.

It ocurred to me one of the chapters I had completed would make a good stand alone book that is short and would make a good Kindle book with a matching low price of $2.99 and will sell some copies as a low priced POD paperback. With the low entry price offered by CreateSpace to get both versions of the short book, it is 56 pages long, it makes perfect sense to take a break from the larger, energy consuming book, and publish this one excerpt as a stand alone volume.

For about $150 I will be able to launch this short book on Amazon in both a POD paperback and a Kindle version no later than June 1. I am confident within a few months, perhaps longer, I will earn back the money invested and this small side venture will earn a few dollars a month for my tiny publishing empire. It will also give me a needed boost to finish the larger, and hopefully more lucrative book.

The technology of POD and ebooks today makes this practice not only feasible but affordable for self-publishing authors who write non-fiction. With traditional off-set printing and the costs involved, I would never take this approach unless I was certain the chapter used as the basis of the spin-off book was certain to sell and sell quickly. 

If fiction authors can sell short stories to get a feel for the viability of fleshing out the story into a novel, why can't non-fiction authors sell chapters of a larger, but incomplete work, to generate some income, test the waters for the larger book and get a break from the drudgery of working on the larger manuscript?

If this venture pans out and earns back the money invested in it and sells reasonably well, this might be a practice I engage in on a regular basis.  Once the little book is in print I will keep the readers of this blog informed on its progress and if this experiment is a success or failure along with what I learn in the process.