Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

I really hate the big New York publishing houses. I started off here with two pages going into all the reasons I hate them, listing all the ways they screw authors these days. Then I read it and decided that I was sounding like a whiny little bitch, so I tossed all that. Suffice it to say that, what with the mergers where big companies became even bigger and other factors, everything that has happened for the last decade has been bad news for all but the guaranteed best-selling writers.

So what can I do about it? Well, avoid dealing with them, for a start. But how do you go about that? Self-publishing seems the obvious answer. So how do you make money doing that?

Cory Doctorow and others have been pushing the idea that the era of copyright is over. I won’t go into all the arguments they make in favor of that idea. Bottom line, he claims that he has done well just putting his stories out there on the World Wide Web or the cloud or whatever, and asking people to pay whatever they want to pay.

I’ve been quite dubious, but I’ve decided to give it a shot and see if it works. Here’s what I’m going to do:

I am putting together a collection of my short fiction that won the Hugo Award … and those that lost the Hugo, as well. The winners would be a fairly slim volume, but I got nominated a lot. In fact, at one point in my career I estimated that I had lost more Hugos than any other science fiction writer. Ever. (Don’t know if that’s still the case. Don’t care to find out, either.)

The title of the collection will be And the Hugo Goes to … In addition to the stories, all of which have been published in other collections of mine, I will write an introduction to the book, as well as introductions to each individual story. I will talk about what led me to write it, what my life was like at that time, what the competition was, and (in the case of the losers) who won that year. Plus anything else that pops into my mind. It will be chatty and personal, like the introductions I wrote for The John Varley Reader some years ago.

That will be the original material, on the strength of which I hope I can find potential buyers.

I have, in fact, already written the overall introduction. And here it is, right here on the website. The price is …

Free!

Or … whatever you want to pay. You are free to read it, no charge. If you want to pass it on to other people, I can’t stop you. It’s now out there. It’s free. Really.

Or, you can choose to pay me a little something. How much? Completely up to you. I would have no idea how to price such a thing. $1? $3? 0$? $5? I don’t have the temerity to suggest any higher price, but if you feel moved …

Right here on the website, just above the box where this is appearing, you can see a little yellow button. If you press it, it will take you to PayPal where you can choose your own amount.

Again I say, you don’t have to pay anything. No one, including me, will ever know if you decided to read it and not pay. Your reasons are your own. Maybe you’re strapped for cash, like we are right now. Maybe you’re waiting to see the whole book, and don’t think this is enough of it to pay any amount for. Or maybe you think it just stinks. Whatever reason, you get to sample before you buy. What could be fairer than that?

In a week or so I will report on whether this experiment was a success or not. I won’t be giving out totals. I’ll just say it worked, or it laid an egg.

John

June 3, 2019
Vancouver, WA