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One of the bad things about being a writer is that you are your own workforce. If you take time off, no one picks up the slack. You also have to live with your decisions, good or bad.

One of the good things about being a writer is that you are your own boss. You set your own goals, your own hours. You want to take a week off, you don’t have to ask anybody. And if you want to change your business model, you don’t have to run your new plan by a committee.

So I’m changing my business model. And while I don’t have to run it by a committee, since it’s sudden and runs smack into the plan I was publicizing as late as a week ago, I felt like I should say something.

I am taking an indefinite hiatus from self-publishing. It’s for the obvious reason: economics. I have proven to myself that, given the proper motivation, I can write a lot faster than I had been, which is essential to self-publishing. You have to push a lot of product to the market. Unfortunately, this is only half of the equation, in that once you have put product on the market, someone has to want to consume it. And therein lies the rub.

The most formidable obstacle to successful self-publishing is discoverability. This is not a writing problem, this is a business problem. According to the numbers, I do not have the business acumen to make a go of self-publishing. It takes about twice the time I was putting in before, and it provides about the same money. I may not be a business genius, but even I can see this makes no sense.

So I’m going back to writing short stories, and with any luck I’ll be able to apply some of the lessons that I gleaned while learning to write a novel in two months. My backlist will remain in print, of course, so theoretically I will soon have two income streams.

Being the boss means sometimes you have let go of an employee. Or a business. I’ll miss being a self-published writer; I just won’t miss being a self-publisher.

Okay, I’ve got to go. My boss is yelling at me to write something. Short stories or novels, some things never change.

#SFWApro

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Sometimes, a subject will just leap out of the closet at you like a hatchet-wielding maniac and force itself on you. It’d better not do in a bookstore in California, though, because that could be illegal.

You can’t make this stuff up. In California, it is illegal to require someone to buy a copy of a “horror comic book” as a condition of selling him a different book or magazine. (Business & Professions Code Section 16603.) On the one hand, I guess it’s comforting to know that we’re protected by law from demented magazine vendors trying to force their wacky “horror comics” into our kids’ hands. On the other hand…really? This is a thing?

As anyone who has any familiarity with the history of comic books will have surmised by now, the law was passed in 1955, after the bizarre Seduction of the Innocent scandal. Violation was punishable by a $500 fine and six months in county lock-up. But if you think that was strange, the law was updated and the fine doubled in 1984! (Wait, 1984. Why does that year ring a bell?) And if you live in California, you understand how odd that statement truly is–the Legislature actually voted on a bill?

You might think that I’m just throwing this out because it struck me as a weird and interesting blog post, but you’d be (partly) wrong. I’m putting this up as a public service. I mean, I know a lot of people who are planning to go into the burgeoning magazine stand trade, and I wouldn’t want them to stumble into a legal quagmire without any warning. Think of this as a signpost: “Warning! Horror comic book quicksand!” I know I will sleep better tonight because I’ve done my bit to make the world safer for booksellers.

So next time Amazon “suggests” that you might want to buy an EC comics anthology just to “bump up your purchase to qualify for free shipping,” don’t fall for it. And if you live in California, you might want to think about calling the cops.

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