Something I was pondering last night. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
I’d like to evolve my writing model a bit, for the project I’m hoping to start in 2012.
I started out with 100% free releases on the web (Sailor Nothing, Unreal Estate), which was fun, but definitely rooted in the “fanfic / amateur” mentality. Of course, that was also in the era in which the only way to get a book in print was to beg a big publishing house to pay you the slightest bit of attention and maybe, just MAYBE give you a contract which you barely see a dime from.
Then came anachronauts, and with it, the viability of the self-publishing era. So, I split my work 90%/10%, with 90% for free and 10% as retail bonus material. It worked reasonably well, I sold some books, and I got to do it on my terms. But I’d like to see how much further I can push this while remaining independent.
My current thinking is a 10%/80%/10% split. Here’s how it’d break down.
10% FREE SAMPLE CHAPTER(s): Anybody can walk up to the web page and read the first chapter or two of each book, which gets them hooked and interested.
80% REST OF THE MAIN STORY FOR REGISTERED PREREADERS: Here’s where most of you could come in. Joe Q. Webdude would not see this part of the story — but anybody who’s been following my work for awhile can register to be an official prereader, getting access to the complete plotline for each book. This would be free of charge, with the assumption that if you’ve been following me enough to find these words on my blog, odds are you’ll be interested in leaving feedback and helping me grow as a writer. Likely, I’d allow a “friends and family” alloitment (5?) per registered prereader, to let them in through the green door as well. (Folks in as “friends and family” couldn’t in turn invite more friends and family, to keep it from chaining forever.)
The blog itself where I collect prereader feedback would be open for all to read — not much I can do about that. But, it wouldn’t really make any sense to someone who wasn’t in the Prereader Club, so I don’t think it’s classified intelligence or anything worth guarding jealously. The STORIES, those I can guard.
10% RETAIL EXCLUSIVE BONUS SHORT STORY: Like anachronauts, I’d keep a bonus chapter (external to the main plotline, but deeply related) as retail-only. For the super deluxe experience, prereaders would still want to order the books… which would include 100% of the material, and would be available in paper, ebook, or donation-gift formats that suit any device you happen to prefer.
I think I’m at the stage in my writing where I should stop giving away the cow for free with the milk, but I can be very generous with allowing backstage access to the cow for selected dairy farmers. … that is a silly analogy. But, you get my point. All you’d need to do to enjoy the Secret Cow Show is fill out a short form and drop me an email. And I can trust you guys on the honor system not to spread your login/passwords around.
WHY NOT KICKSTARTER OR OTHER CROWD FUNDING? Well, my expenses just aren’t high enough to justify it, and I couldn’t do reward tiers with physical books in them without monkeying around in Amazon with varying shipping costs and more weirdness. About all I could fund would be purchasing an ISBN, hiring a fanartist to do character profiles, and… um… that’s about it. I don’t think this is a good match for that.
WHY NOT SEEK A TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER? Partly because I value my independent spirit, partly because I can’t be arsed to go through all the rigamarole of agents and solicitations and whatnot, partly because I doubt any of them would care, partly because I fear rejection. I’d rather stay in control and forge my own path. It won’t lead to megabucks but it’ll enable me to run the show however I please, including allowing prereaders at all.
So, what do you think? Good compromise? Points you disagree with? Suggestions for how best to handle it?
BTW, this would probably not be for the “postmortem” project. I still dig that idea but I don’t think it’s what I want to write right now. I’m still kicking around ideas for what project I’d apply this to.