Mark Budman

Mark Budman
May 31
Mark Budman was born in the former Soviet Union. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in such magazines as Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Daily Science Fiction, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney's, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Sou'wester, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, the W.W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, Short Fiction(UK), and elsewhere. He is the publisher of a flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press to wide critical acclaim. He co-edited flash fiction anthologies from Ooligan Press and Persea Books/Norton. He is at work at his novel about Lenin running for the president of the United States.


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FEBRUARY 3, 2011 11:32AM

A Pseudo-Scientific Experiment

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As someone who has been published in the traditional way (a novel by a mid-size publisher, an anthology by a university press and about a hundred pubs by print magazines and e-zines) I had little interest in self-publishing. But since the buzz around it is deafening, I wanted to take a look.

It looks to me that self-published books have a stigma the size of Everest to overcome. So much dreck is out there that it affects even the good material. How can the reader tell a diamond from a shard of glass when they all are piled up together? Even decent self-published material is hard to sell because it’s hard to find.

I did a low-level pseudo-scientific experiment: I put up a 3-story collection on Kindle with the reprints from Mississippi Review, the London Magazine and Pank. All decent, traditional publications.

I advertised on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads and on other writers’ forums. I put an average price for this size mini-collection: $2.99. How many copies did I sell? You are right. Zero.

 Maybe the genre was wrong? How about fantasy/magic realism for $0.99? Same result.

Of course, this is anecdotal evidence. There are plenty of self-published writers with better marketing skills than me and with better books, but the point is that for an average Joe like me, self-publishing is not a venue. I’d rather stick to mid-size and university presses.






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Your mistake was the genre. You took stories published in (very) literary magazines. That audience would most likely not buy a self-published book. They are snobs :)

Steve Almond and Warren Ellis both self-published and did very, very well. Okay, granted, they are famous authors with huge fan bases. But take a look at the genre(s) they chose to was not high art.

I'll be performing a similar experiment soon. We'll compare notes.
Good point, Robin. I forgot to mention the fantasy/magic realism story. Updated.