As the publishing industry continues to evolve, everyone —from big publishing houses to tiny indie imprints—has asking: What does self-publishing mean for the future of literature? Stranger Fiction was created as an answer that question.
My partner is a writer, and back in late 2016 we decided to give self-publishing a shot with his sixth novel. We had a skillset that complimented the task nicely and would be able to manage everything but the print production ourselves. There wasn’t a good enough reason not to at the time, so we jumped right in.
As we began researching the industry, we discovered an overwhelming amount of misinformation. Advice was heavily biased and not well sourced or supported. We kept running into self-proclaimed gurus promising false secrets to success and any insight that actually proved legitimate wasn’t easily discoverable. And so, as we continued down this path, we felt like there had to be a way to take all of the things we were learning and vetting and make them digestible for the average self-publisher. And thats where Stranger Fiction began.
At the time, with both of us being full-time employed, this side project was quite the challenge. Shortly after publishing the book, we began outlining plans for the site. We cataloged topics to cover, wrote 25 initial articles to publish, and created a brand experience. The site was intentionally copy-centric, both as a brand and structural choice, to drive traffic to the site through SEO. And the benefit to us in all of this would be the exposure of my partner’s novels and the opportunity to create and build up a community of writers.
In late 2017 we brought a developer on to custom develop the site. And that was where we made a big mistake. The site was built and launched in early 2018, but we struggled to generate traffic due to the nature of the build. Shortly after launch, when we weren’t being indexed by google and SEO wasn’t being recognized, we knew something was wrong, but we were out of our depth. After some investigation we discovered the framework the developer used to structure the site (Vue) packaged the site in such a way that our content was never exposed for search engine crawlers and therefore none of our content was being indexed properly.
Once discovered, we employed a static site generator to fix the issue but this was just the one of a few problems we were having. We realized after a few months and several headaches later that we weren’t able to maintain the project in it’s current state and decided to pump the breaks on the site for now.
But the project isn’t dead yet.
We decided it would be a smarter move to publish our content on an already established platform (Medium) for starters. That way, we’ll be able to test is out in a more easily maintained environment. Excitement got the best of us in the beginning but we still think there’s good here to share. After a pause to reassess the project, we’ll be picking it back up mid-year (we’re focused on publishing a second novel right now).
Art Direction, Product Design, UX/UI, Strategy, Branding, Marketing, Animation, Illustration