EDIT 7th December 2017: I’m no longer using Patreon. You can read about why in this post.
I’M A FLUFFY BUNNY! Blame Instgram for this. If you provide a bunny ears and whiskers filter, I’m going to put it on my face. Also, enjoy the eyeliner smudges under my eyes because I am pure glamour, always.
Anyway, so the point of this post. I’ve been thinking a lot (I mean A LOT, in capital letters) recently about indie publishing and how I want to approach it. Last month I wrote here about my publishing plans as they were (part 1 and part 2) but since then I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that something wasn’t right, that there was something missing, something I still had to figure out. It was really bothering me. It felt like a stone in my gut and it wouldn’t shift.
A lot of the research I’ve done into indie publishing involves pricing strategy, when to make books free or discount them, what channels are best to sell through, what commission is taken by different platforms and how to shift units. Believe me, I understand how important marketing is but it hurts me in my soul to have to focus so much on sell, sell, sell. The tools people use to sell – social media platforms – are tools I use to connect with people, genuinely, honestly and openly. I don’t want to view every awesome person I meet as a potential book sale. I don’t want my friends, old or new, to feel like they’re being marketed to.
It was a friend’s birthday last weekend and a bunch of us were having an adult slumber party (like a slumber party for adults, not like “adult”), so I decided to give my brain a couple of days off, enjoy the company of lovely people and let inspiration arrive by itself.
And by the power of mead and pizza, it arrived. When I got out of the planning mindset and allowed myself to think about what I really craved for my writing, I realised that I wanted to a) make my books freely available to anyone who wants to read them, and b) not have to push buy my thing constantly. Basically, if I won the lottery tomorrow and had no need for income from any other source, I’d still write constantly and publish my own work in as many places as I could. I don’t write to sell. I don’t write for critical acclaim or prestige. I write because I love writing, I love sharing and I love reading. If I gave a shit about any of that other stuff, I’d be busting my balls to get a deal with a big publishing company, not working towards indie publishing.
So I ventured into the realm of what if?, which is a great place to visit when you’re not sure what to do next. What if I could just give my books away for free on multiple platforms? What if I could still earn an income from writing? What if I could do all this in a way that fit with my personal ethics and values, with my heart and soul as well as my brain? The realm of what if? delivered, as it tends to do when you approach it with an open mind.
If my books are free, always, everywhere, for anyone to read, I can still have options for people who have the inclination and financial means to support my work. Patreon, which I’ve mentioned here before, gives supporters the option to pledge an amount per month (I’d rather welcome per month pledges rather than per thing pledges for reasons I’ll get into in another post), even a very small amount, and in return I can give them awesome stuff. I haven’t completely decided on what awesome stuff this will be, but I’m thinking of access to character profiles, location references, drafts, news and even possibly an invitation to get involved in helping me make decisions about stories I’m writing. If I also use PayPal, people who read one of my books, like it and it want to do the equivalent of buying that book, can have the option to pay an amount of their choosing as a one-off payment. Or make multiple one-off payments as and when they want to. Flexibility is what I’m going for.
I know this is new. I know this is experimental. I know this relies on people actually wanting to support my work in this way rather than just straight-up purchasing books. I know it’s going to be hard work and even if I put everything into it, it might not work out. But it might. I’m under no illusion that I’m going to make huge amounts of money, or make money quickly. I know it’s likely to be a slow build. But “it’s going to be difficult” has never been a reason not to do something. It’s a reason to do it harder.
I believe in people. I truly believe that while some people will grab what they can get for free and not care about supporting creators, there will always be people who will want to pay for the things they enjoy. I know that there will always be people who want to pay but can’t afford to, and I still want those people to be able to read my stories. I ran my idea past friends, both internet-friends and meatspace-friends, on a couple of different social media platforms and have had really encouraging feedback, which has been wonderful! I’m ready to do this 100% and see what happens.
I need to get stuck into learning all about Patreon and figuring out what rewards are desirable for ongoing pledges. I need to work out how long all this will take to get set up properly, because I don’t want to do it half-assed just to do it soon. I need to get Stone Flowers Grow In Cold Places completely finished and ready to publish. I need to start working on Car Thieves, which is going to be my July 2017 Camp NaNoWriMo project (just casually announcing that here). I need to keep publishing short stories on Wattpad and Tablo in the meantime.
When I think about it being less than half a year since I decided to get serious about writing, it totally blows me away. In that time, I’ve had work published in lit mags and a book. I’ve written a novella and am planning a second. I’ve started using two new platforms (Wattpad and Tablo) for sharing my work and on one of them (Tablo) everything I’ve published has appeared in the Trending section within hours. I’ve fallen in love with social media again and am genuinely enjoying spending time on Twitter, Ello and Tumblr. I’m blogging here more often. I’m talking to new people and making new friends.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m working my ass off, but I’m doing it for me, for my dream, and no matter what happens next, every second of this experience is an adventure and I’m so grateful for it.
You might have noticed I referred to indie publishing rather than self publishing. I decided I like the term better. Something about the concept of independence just strikes a chord with me and makes me feel good 🙂