Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Pricing Paradigms

Mind the Thorns has finished it's giveaway period on Goodreads, the books have been out in the wild for a week now and many have landed at their destinations.  Yay!  One kind reveiwer has already spotted some typoes that slide past me, my editor, or both of us.  More than likely my editor caught them but I didn't make the transition over to the document from the one he sent me.

This, dear readers, is the glory of Google Documents.  There's no file swapping.  He makes comments and they're right there for me to make the required changes.  It's glorious.

Now that all said there was one little thing I feared would come up, and I'm glad it did because the reviewer was very kind about broaching it.

It was a quick read (about an hour), and the author sets it up for a great series (though I think it would be better to compile it all into one whole book rather than a lot of self published novels). 

So I'm going to, if you'll indulge me, lay some cards out on the table.

Mind the Thorns, a web novel, will be free, always, on the website.  This is a fundamental fact about it.  It means that there will never be a pay wall keeping readers from enjoying the full series.  The story will always be there for people to come, step into, catch up with, and add to with their contributions, comments and votes.

One thing that I did struggle with was how to make the story available in other ways.  Ultimately I decided on three chapter "issues".  Each issue represents a fair chunk of story (between 9k and 12k words), with usually a good deal of character development and interaction.  Like a comic or graphic novel series, the story is always advanced but mostly just enough to keep you interested.

These Issues are available on Amazon.com (both in print and Kindle format) and on Smashwords.  I have kept the prices as low as I could to encourage people to buy them to show friends, have on the shelf, and leave at coffee shops.  Overall, though, these are not money makers, given the amount of money charged by Amazon and Createspace for printing and listing.  

So why did I settle on 3 chapter issues?

To be honest the flow and the timing feel right for it.  Coming out a little more often than once a month, and costing only a dollar to add to your eReader (now that they are listed on Smashwords) I felt that was enough to encourage people to keep up, without taking more than an hour or two to get caught up if you went a month between reading issues.

But because of the nature of the Web Novel, I'm not entirely sure when the story will end.  In theory, if the readership keeps Regan from achieving her goals, resolving her plot points, or any other way to keep the story going, it could be years before I finally type "Fin" into the computer and post.  While I understand the value of spending a good deal of time on a finished work, I think it does not fit with the format I'm going for with this particular project.

I found myself roped into many many conversations about piracy of books and other media while I was hanging around the groups on Goodreads.  By and large there was the insistence that free content was the future, and that quality writing would be rewarded.  That is one of the reasons that the core of Mind the Thorns remains free.

It is a multi-faceted experiment.  How will a reader-driven novel go?  Will it grow with audience or will the novelty of voting on the path of the main character wear off and leave me with a dead website?  Will this become something that can support itself with subscriptions? 

I'm only 9 weeks in and so far I remain optimistic.

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