I started posting stories at SOL around 2005. It was on a lark, mostly. And I had preconceptions about the kind of people who might read what I was posting. It took me less than a week for those preconceptions to be blown out of the water. The people who hang out at SOL are bright, interesting, as normal as the day is long, and intelligent folks. Most of them are basically nice folks too.
My readers started helping me out almost immediately. And they have continued to do so since then. It was the readers who were responsible for me trying a few longer stories, after the first seventy, one or two chapter stroke stories I started out with. It was the readers who told me what they liked, and didn't like, what was good about a story, and what wasn't. It was the readers who spotted errors I'd missed, so I could correct them.
Basically, it was the readers who made me a better author.
Eventually, the readers suggested that some of what I was writing was good enough to be published, and urged me to do that.
So I tried that. I sent Mistrusting a Memory to two different publishers. That was the book I thought was my best. I also sent in For Want of a Memory and Read Dirty To Me. They all got rejected. I was told I used the "storytelling style" of writing, which was out of date, and no longer of interest to "the savvy reader." I was told I used the word "was" too often. I was told the only things that could be revealed to the reader were what the characters could see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. In other words, saying "Her eyes widened as she peeked through the window" was completely unacceptable. Who saw her eyes widen? Nobody. She was peeking! It was kindly suggested that should be rewritten as "She felt her eyes open wide as she peeked through the window."
I actually rewrote one of the books, following the guidelines the editor suggested, but she still wasn't satisfied.
So I explored the world of self publishing at Amazon.com, and another site called Smashwords.com. Remember most of 2011, which I took off to write longer books? Well, it took me almost the whole year to set things up at Amazon and Smashwords. Neither will publish anything where a character under 18 has sex, so every character under 18 had to be rewritten. Amazon won't publish incest, so every sister had to become a step-sister and on and on and on.
And books started selling. Some of my SOL readers bought books, just to support me, and some of them left reviews to help me too.
Apparently, the publishers I had communicated with aren't as up on things as they think they are. I know this because 2012 was a decent year for sales.
But A lot of what I write can't be published, for the reasons listed above. That didn't bother me, because I like writing for my SOL family, so I just wrote and posted things there. And the 2012 income, while not making me rich by any stretch of the imagination, made it look like I could retire at 62, instead of 65. The sales income combined with Social Security, would allow me to get by with dignity.
So I retired in January of 2013 and looked forward to writing full time.
And then, right after I retired, I noticed that sales fell by half as compared to the previous month. It happened again in February. In March, I found out why. I got an email from a customer who bought some of my books at Amazon, and then Googled my name, to learn more about me. That led her to my website, and SOL, where she discovered she didn't have to buy my books at all, because they were available for free at several places.
You see the problem.
My website is being altered as you read this. The books that are published will be able to be previewed at my site, and at the end of the preview, the reader will see a link to a retail site where the book is for sale. This represents only seventy of the over 200 books I've written, but that's still a lot, and they are the books that you SOL readers have made the most popular.
The problem is, that I have to remove them from SOL too. I don't want to do that. I want my SOL family to be able to have them like they've always had them. But I can't do the preview thing at SOL, because SOL is a non commercial site. So the only thing I can do to defend sales is to remove those 70 books.
So that's what I'm going to do. I'm telling you this, so you can go get the ones you want to keep, while they're still available for free. I'll need to start removing these 70 books this week, so don't lollygag around. Also, if you have the address to my old ASSTR site, those stories will be there for another week too before I wipe that whole site clean. I actually bought a domain name, and moved my personal site to www.robertlubrican.com.
Now, I know this is going to make some people unhappy. Please don't be, because here's what I'm going to do. I'm still going to post everything I write at SOL first. If it's not something I can publish, then it will stay right there, and at my web site, free for everybody. If it can be published, I'll leave it at SOL for a while after it's finished, a week or two, probably, and then pull it to publish.
So you'll still get everything for free. You'll just have to watch the boards, and download when you see something new.
I owe my SOL family that much.
Because you made me what I am today.
Thanks for reading.