Despite what Oscar Wilde might have said, one day I’d like to make a living exclusively writing.
Now a niche fractal book might not be the way to do it, but you gotta start somewhere right?
Writers must experiment, in what they write and how they sell what they write
If I’m convinced of anything as someone who wants to be a self-published author is that you should leave no stone unturned. This doesn’t just mean places to sell your book, but ways of selling. You could sell a book exclusively on Amazon and possibly take part in greater profit sharing, you could publish on SmashWords and hit the widest variety of platforms (as long as you stay under 5MB), or you could try something wild like pay-what-you-want schemes or bundle distribution sites like Bundle Dragon. You can do free giveaways, bundle pricing, pay-what-you-want or charge a fixed price and stick to it.
I have a feeling no one solution is the best for all the books you’ll be writing. Working on the Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach has certainly convinced me of that. Only Amazon and Bundle Dragon are reasonably technically capable to handle the book as it is (possibly Barnes & Noble at some point). And suffice it say I’m not always that thrilled with Amazon; DRM, low profit sharing, and monopolistic tendencies make them something I’m not always willing to jump right into bed with.
It’s taken me a year to write this. How much is it worth?
An economist might say it’s worth whatever people will pay for it.
I think authors fluctuate more on this point. I think we sometimes feel that we’ve poured our blood and sweat into this thing and we wouldn’t be willing to let it go for any less than $100. Other times it’s total crap and hardly worth the electrons it’s taking up.
I think we should make this decision ahead of time. Aside from the nice Subway ring, my proposed price for the Fractal Book took into account staying in the $2.99 – $9.99 range to get 70% from Amazon (though as I wrote later this isn’t the direction I’ll quite be taking). Making your price decision makes it clear from the beginning what exactly you expect to get out of this project. I’d like to sell several hundred fractal books in the first year, but given the subject matter, I suspect this will be a steady trickle and not a flood.
Other things I’m happy to give away for free or close to it. If I’ve already written something, then it can seem harder somehow to give it away. But if it doesn’t exist yet, then it’s just something I’m doing for fun, or to experiment or just to share the love. I think my ideal model is the pay-what-you-want model. Maybe a base price of a buck or two, beat the average to get a little more. This model has certainly suckered me into buying more games than I have time for 🙂
Present and future business models for monetizing your self-publishing industry
The NPR fans in the audience have now sung a little ditty in their head.
As I said earlier, I’d like to one day live off writing, but my solution to this problem is to create more content, not to figure out ways to make money off things I’m already doing. The most successful self-published authors have written a lot of books. They haven’t made their money through blog subscriptions, or gimmicks.
I don’t mean to single anybody out negatively, but I’ve noticed a couple of my fellow bloggers have tried a number of different promotions to try and raise money. Things like blog sponsors or live chat sessions, or places in the acknowledgements. I’m not saying that any one of these ideas is bad, but to me it seems like making money at the fringes of publishing, rather than actually creating. This blog takes me about three hours a week to write (sometimes more, sometimes less). I’m glad all of you are reading. If I like your blog, I might link to you, or do a response post like this one. I’ll comment or give a like, or a follow. I don’t need a sponsor, and if any of you are in town and want to get a coffee I’m buying 🙂
Share the wealth
The model I do like is best emulated by authors like M. S. Fowle. Last month her “Share The Love” campaign featured a number of authors, with giveaways and a lot of authors helping to promote their fellow writers. Mel is always generous with book giveaways, promos, book previews, and helping authors out, whether it’s with her pre-made book covers, or by posting a review (I’ll have to take you up on it when the fractal book is finally out Mel 🙂 ).
I’ve experimented with a couple of ways of reaching out to readers of the blog, whether it’s story ideas you submit, or a story we write together, I’m always game for something new to get you guys reading. I’ll be compiling posts from the blog sometime next year, and hopefully a free style guide sometime much sooner. If any of you have something you’d like me to talk about, chances are pretty good I will.
So … yes to free books?
No … yes … maybe. I think we need to be honest about what we want to get out of writing. Wilde may be right that writing just for the sake of money holds little joy, but it’s also not wrong to ask for something when we’ve worked very hard. But money should never exactly be our aim either, and it would never be good to do things just to extract every last dime out of our fans (*cough* Star Wars *cough*). We should all work to find ways to appreciate each other and our fans, and find ways to share that love whenever possible.
And along those lines, thanks Jo for a great post. And thanks to all friends of the blog.
Now pay up.