So, I have come up with a roundabout idea for not only building a fan base, but also for publishing some of my short stories. These plans are still in the works. At this point, I’m looking for any feedback I can get. PLEASE! Let me know your opinions on the plan.
Before I can explain my plan, though, let me give you a little background information:
I have written a young adult urban fantasy novel. It will be part of a published series someday – YES, I am using positive, definitive statements as a way to motivate myself! Now, I have gone about trying to get agents and publishers interested in my project via query letters and manuscript submissions. I’ve scoured listings of agents and publishers, read all the articles on how to write powerful query letters, and sent out letter after letter after letter. I was fortunate to get a few nibbles – agents asking to review additional chapters – but no one made a definitive offer. I didn’t let the first few rejections get me down, but after sending out 80+ queries and receiving loads of thanks but no thanks letters, I started to lose my momentum.
At first I was disheartened because I felt that I had loads of writing credits as a professional writer. Sure – I knew that most of my writing experience was on the nonfiction side of writing, but I’d still been through the process of working with publishers and editors to get a book professionally published. Certainly that type of experience meant something! But alas, as I said in my other blog, publishing is all about marketability. Yes, I did have writing credits as a nonfiction writer, but nonfiction fans are different from fiction fans.
I decided that the best course of action would be to figure out WHY agents reject good manuscripts, and most of that information is discussed in my other blog post. In some of my own rejection letters, however, a few agents explained that they really liked my ideas, but that they were looking for semi-established authors. Of course the snarky part of my brain was like, “why are you advertising for new authors if you want semi-established authors?” But that’s beside the point.
The rest of my research confirmed that new writers who had established fan bases were more likely to get attention from large-scale publishers and agents. So I decided to switch gears and start writing short stories that I could submit to magazines and other potential publishers.
My mission to build a fan base was in full swing.
I started out by writing and submitting a few short stories to mainstream magazines, but I didn’t get much attention. I did win a horror story competition at my university, which perked me up a little bit. Plus I was getting some of my poetry published in local area creative writing journals. At that point, grad school got really heavy, and all of my extra time went into writing my classroom papers, drafting my master’s thesis, and studying for my final exams.
My mission was temporarily paused, but now I’m back in the game.
Now that you know the background, let me explain my plan.
Ultimately, I want to publish my young adult urban fantasy, but to do so I need to build my fan base first. Sure – I can build a fan base by getting short stories and poetry published through respected periodicals, and I still plan to do so. Nevertheless, that will only develop a fan base for ME as a writer. While branding myself is important, I think it’s equally important to build a fan base specifically for my novel series.
Therefore, I think that the best plan of action is to write the side stories that would otherwise never be published.
Think about it!
What is fan fiction if not all the side stories we wished the creators would’ve written about? What I plan to do is preemptive fan fiction, in a way. I’ve been creating this world full of beautiful monsters, powerful creatures, political organizations, feuding families, multidimensional travel, and so much more. As a writer, you have to create all of this extra information just to figure out your main storylines. Many writers type out their notes about all this background information, but if it’s not pertinent to the main story it almost never gets mentioned. Occasionally it becomes a spinoff series, or maybe, if the project is successful, writers publish their notes into some massive tome for fans to drool over.
Instead of doing all of that at the end, why not do it early on? Heck, several mainstream writers, like Stephen King, turn short stories into bigger projects. My idea to start off by writing the side stories isn’t so different.
But instead of publishing these stories with mainstream magazines, I’m going to do some self-publishing and self-promotion to keep all the stories in one place. This way I keep the stories on my own webpage to boost my fan base. Not only can I include links to the e-book copies of my short stories on this page, but I can also do promotional campaigns about myself as a writer and my fiction writing. Teasers about the novel series would also go well here. Oooh!!! Maybe I’ll publish some gorgeous artwork by some of my uber-talented friends. Promote the vision of my fictional world and allow my friends to increase their portfolios!
It’s a lot to take on, but I want to keep my momentum going. Publishing my work on a webpage and updating my own personal information on a regular basis keeps me writing. One of the big lessons I’ve learned as a freelancer is that when you are your own boss, you have to keep a strict schedule. Making this webpage and posting short stories connected to the world of my novel will motivate me and give me a set of deadlines to keep. If it happens to build a fan base simultaneously, you won’t find me complaining!
So I open the floor to all of my readers – does the idea sound ludicrous? Any recommendations on self-publishing platforms? Other comments?
I await to hear your responses :0)