That's certainly comforting to hear, as the royalties are much better, and you can spend more time directly with the readers for their feedback, rather than going back and forth with a publisher. However, it sounds like you can't just throw some books on Amazon.com and expect them to sell. Therefore, a campaign of shameless self-promotion is needed.
My goal this year is to get two or three novellas in e-book form on Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles new PubIt program, and Smashwords. To ensure they don't get lost in the ether with no sales, I need to have a plan to get my name out there.
Luckily, I have a bit of experience with PR/marketing/schmoozing/networking as part of my day job with my boss, who is somewhat famous in Thailand. It's just accepting the challenge of working for myself instead of waiting for someone to tell me what to do.
Let's have a look at my plan. If anyone who has experience thinks this plan is terrible, please let me know:
1) A Website and Blog with Decent Traffic - Back in my previous life, I used to blog a lot, and I managed to get about 300 hits/day before it fell by the wayside. The reason it got somewhat decent traffic was because:
a) It had unique content
b) I talked a lot with other bloggers in this particular community (milblogging)
c) I left comments on a lot of blogs with high traffic
d) It was controversial and at times offensive
There's no surefire way to get traffic, but those four seemed to help. At the time I had a handle (LT Nixon), since I did not want to feel the wrath of my superiors in the military for talking shit about the current state of political affairs. So being obnoxious and controversial was no problem. Now that I use my real name and have probably grown up a bit, I pledge to not be a dick. This will hopefully not result in me being boring.
2) Getting Flash Fiction and Short Stories Out There - Over the last week, I've found a lot of great websites that publish e-zines or in blog format flash fiction (<1000 words) and short stories (which SFWA defines as up to 7,500 words). So far I've submitted one 500-word piece to Everyday Fiction, and one to Micro Horror. Even if they get rejected, I can always fix it up and try somewhere else. Getting some stories approved by the editors of these various sites will generate some interest and some traffic back to this site. It certainly can't hurt traffic.
3) Developing Rapport with Readers - Like any business, writing has customers (aka readers). One thing I've learned helping my wife run her internet cafe businesses is that if you're not dong whatever it takes to make your customers happy, you might as well close up shop and go home. For writing, my goal is to respond to most emails, comments (good or bad) on this site or elsewhere to help develop a relationship. This will also help improve my writing, which is essential.
4) Social Media - I really do not like Twitter very much, but it seems like it is a prerequisite for anyone trying to build up their brand name. Luckily, I know how to use it as part of my day job (Mechai Viravaidya's Twitter is here if anyone is interested). I intend on getting a Twitter account in the coming weeks and trying to build up some followers amongst the general English-speaking public in Thailand and the writing community. Regarding Facebook, I need to think about how to make this interesting for readers, because right now it is only geared towards friends and family. I have about 400 friends, but I'd always welcome more. Most of the personalities in Thailand only have Facebook fan pages if they are really famous. Creating a Facebook fan page for myself would be incredibly presumptuous and pompous at this stage in the game, but if anyone wants to friend me and see pictures of the family eating dinner and my wife's Farmville status, please feel free. Will have to think some more on that one or perhaps see how successful authors are doing it if they utilize regular pages instead of fan pages.
5) Professional Contacts - At my day job, I have over 2,000 contacts in my Outlook. However, it would be tremendously unprofessional of me to send out a blast e-mail hawking my e-books to these poor people, as they are my contacts because of their relationship with Mechai Viravaidya and our organizations, not with me. But, it never hurts to occasionally "mention" at various functions that I'm getting into the writing racket. Will have to learn as I go on this one and not piss anyone off. I mentioned to Khun Mechai and one of our directors that I was going to try out writing, and they seemed quite supportive.
The initial promotion is important, because no one is going to buy what you are selling if they don't know you exist. Nothing in life is easy, especially when it comes to making money. We do our best to make ends meet and hope that things end up okay. Probably the only easy money is if you are born into it, and if you were, send some over here, Thurston.