I wrote my short story "Illegal Alien", which features undocumented immigrants from Mexico encountering extraterrestrials (yes, it's a bad pun) in 2004. This was back when illegal immigration was a much bigger political issue. By the time I gave up submitting to the declining number of paying markets and self-published it on Amazon, things had changed--the recession apparently caused (or helped caused) a net reduction of the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico in the United States. After all, they were here for the jobs and if there aren't as many jobs, why stay here? Consequently, "Illegal Alien" has not been that great of a seller even though it has a beautiful cover.
Well, I follow al-Jazeera America on Facebook and found they're running a series entitled "Borderland" about people who've died trying to immigrate to America by illegally crossing the southern border. If illegal immigration from Mexico is becoming an issue again, maybe there'll be more interest in the topic and I'll make more sales.
(This is not to be flippant about the deaths of border-crossers, which is tragic.)
I've considered writing a blog post about how Kindle Direct (or other self-publishing platforms, like Smashwords) are best for stuff that's timely, since publishing takes awhile. I guess now's the time. :)
I've sold a few short stories and it was months before they were published. George Scithers, the late editor of Weird Tales, told me that publication lead time makes it hard to cash in on timely things--in that case, I had a Lovecraftian King Arthur story that I was trying to pitch when the Clive Owen King Arthur movie was in theaters. Meanwhile, Roger Corman once shot a movie in a few weeks to cash in on the Sputnik launch. He was the publisher as well as the writer, so he could do that.
So if you've got a story you wrote to cash in on a current event and especially if you've got one trying to cash in on a movie that's out, you're better off self-publishing it. Your window of opportunity to make money won't last long.
Hmm...I had an idea for a story set in the future where Japan, having shut down its nuclear plants, invades Indonesia again in order to secure the fossil fuels it needs to sustain its economy. Since people are going to forget about the tsunami, how Japan went (hopefully temporarily) nuclear-free, etc. pretty fast, that's something I'd Kindle if I intended to actually write it.
(I probably won't, so if you want to write it, go ahead. Pro-nuclear speculative fiction for the win!)
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