Hello, dear readers, and welcome!
Today I have an "update post" about publishing, and what I'm working towards, some tips (or information rather) that I've picked up recently, as well as a small bit about InkTober and my goals for it.
First off, I'll start with the publishing. As you may have noticed, I've made some changes to the website -- which weren't supposed to be live until this post aired, but went live last week due to an issue (sorry about that). If you haven't yet seen the changes, if you take a look around you'll see that the free-read stories are gone -- and soon you'll see links for sites like BN and iTunes reappearing.
This year has been filled with a lot of transitions for me, especially in publishing. The year has seen the splitting of my books under two names, the remerging of those names, the move to Patreon and free reading...and then the full circle back, somewhat, to where I started. In short, this year has been an experiment for me, and thank you readers for sticking by as I've worked to solidify just what it is I want to do in this business.
My dear friend M said the other day that publishing is not a lucrative or easy business, and I can certainly agree -- one might even say it's less lucrative and easy than it used to be, arguably. But when I think of what I want to do, publishing books is still it. As you may know from reading, my 4 year publishing anniversary is coming up (more great tips to be shared then), and this has been a really wonderful time for me to reflect.
My biggest struggle, perhaps, has been finding out what works for me as a person, and therefore what works for my business. I'm still working on discovering what exactly is the best for me as a writer, but I've learned some new things recently that will hopefully be of help to some of you.
A Bit About Patreon (or Crowdfunding) ~
Some months ago now, I started a new leg of my experiment: I put my books up for free read on my website, as well as kept e-book copies on Smashwords and paperbacks available, and I signed up for Patreon. For those unfamiliar, Patreon is basically a crowd funding site, only unlike some of the others they employ a longer-term patron method: creators create creations, post them, and through Patreon fans are able to support them monthly or by post, usually for only a few dollars.
I have seen others do extremely well with Patreon -- usually, I will admit, comic artists or Youtube users, and sometimes podcasters; not many writers, but perhaps it's the platform -- but after trying it out for myself, I learned that it didn't work for me personally. I think it's a good avenue for some people, but if there's anything I've learned about myself through this experiment, it's that I work better slowly, sometimes what might be considered snail's pace compared to others. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but I don't believe that sites such as Patreon work well for everyone in this situation.
So, if you are considering a crowd funding avenue, take a glance at how you work before trying it. On Patreon at least, most people post things regularly -- weekly or bi-weekly, though quite often there are daily posts, as well. People have been successful by posting once a month, but that might depend on your following, and the type of work you do. Generally, it seems that those who post more have a bigger following.
Putting things up on the "patron only" feed is another thing that didn't work for me, personally. On the "patron-only" feed, you are naturally meant to post things that only the paying patrons will see. I think it's a good idea, if you're someone who likes to give behind-the-scenes info on your work, such as production notes, etc., but if you like to throw everything out there for everyone, then it might become frustrating.
Also, something else to consider: it's a bit tedious to keep up with posting things on Patreon, your website, and other social media; you want to keep on top of it if you're going to use it, and make sure you spread the word as much as possible. People are still new to crowd funding sites, and this website has a bit of a different method, so be sure to let your fans know how it works up front.
A Bit About Free Books --
I've declared my frustrations with free books before, but it remains true that they are a good marketing tactic, and that plenty of readers wouldn't find your work without them in our overly crowded marketplace.
As part of my research, I placed these free reads (in Scribd. PDF format) on my website instead of on retailers in e-book format (for free, that is; I asked readers to "donate" through the purchasing of the e-book on Smashwords, if they didn't want to become a patron on Patreon). I was curious to see what the influx of visitors to the site might look like, and if my e-books sold better or worse after readers read on my website versus read via e-book.
The results were interesting.
It was the end of May that I switched over to free reads and Patreon, and from what I can tell by analyzing the numbers, I really didn't have much of a spike in visitors, despite the free reads, which I posted about on my social media accounts. The real spike didn't come until I started writing and sharing more blog posts and writing tips, interestingly enough. The number of visitors has increased quite a bit due to my posts, and that makes me very happy, as I like sharing advice with other writers.
As far as book sales, I won't go into numbers, but I can say that sales decreased when books were offered for free on my website, versus free to download on retailers. I find this a bit odd, because the readers were reading free book either way -- the same text and everything -- but perhaps it simply means that readers prefer to download the book, versus access a website.
Going Back To Basics...Or Not --
I've learned a lot this year, some of which will be explored further in my publishing anniversary post (October 14th), but though I'm sort of back where I started, I don't really feel like I'm back where I started at all. Taking a "break", in a way, has been very good for me. Through stepping back and trying something new, I've found some of the connection with my work that I felt had been lost.
Working tirelessly trying to get readers to my book, write and publish quickly, was exhausting, and fueled for me a hatred of publishing that was growing much too close to a hatred of writing. Through stepping back and opting for a more "organic" approach, I've had time to focus not only on what I want to write, but on how I want to write it. I've rediscovered and rekindled my need to do things my way, despite what some of those self-publishing books might tell you about writing and publishing quickly, quickly, quickly. By stepping back, I've realized that I really can't change the publishing model we have, the parts I both love and hate, but I can change how I myself work and function through it.
I'm back in the game, but the game is no longer the same. I have a fresh view that translates heavily to this: don't just publish, but publish the book you want to read; cherish your journey, and don't rush; take every step you can to make your work the best you can, and every step you can to be yourself; work at your own pace, but it fast or slow, and don't feel like you're doing it wrong if you're doing it differently than everyone else.
Welcoming October -- and InkTober!
Now that my "break" is over, I'm ready to get serious again! Autumn is here (though it doesn't fully feel like it in Florida), and it's creative time for me.
NaNoWriMo is swiftly approaching with November, but before that I'm trying something new in InkTober, where I will be creating an ink drawing every day (or at least I'm going to try for every day), and posting it here on the site. Please check back to see my work!