This Week in Self-Publishing: On Pronoun, Patreon, and Not Owning Your Distribution

This Week

Books sold: 2 ebooks

Money earned: $5.38

Money spent: $0

Total

Books sold: 346 ebooks, 144 paperbacks

Money earned (book sales): $1,404.39

Money earned (Patreon): $6,909

Money spent: $4,855.71


So I’m not going to recap the Patreon thing because you can go look all of that up on Twitter if you aren’t already familiar with what’s going on, but the point I want to make—and I’m just going to get to the point—is that we don’t own the outlets through which we self-publish.

I mean, obvs.

But that means that Pronoun can shut down, and Patreon can announce that its $1 pledges will now cost individual patrons $1.64 or whatever it is, and even if I were to say “well, I’m taking Writing & Money and putting it on Simplecast so everyone can listen for free”—which I am thinking about doing—then Simplecast could go and change the way it works.

Or iTunes.

Or Amazon.

Or Goodreads—remember, it just announced that it was going to start charging authors to run giveaways.

The whole point of self-publishing was to own your work and to distribute it in a way you thought was fair both to you and to the audience. I priced The Biographies of Ordinary People ebook at $3.99 because I wanted as many people to be able to purchase it as possible (while ensuring I earned enough royalties to make it fair for me too), and then I did the $1.99 sale so even more people could buy it, and I set myself up for library distribution so people could read it for free.

I do own my work.

But I forgot that I don’t actually own the distribution.

And before you’re all “that’s why you trad publish,” sure. But even when I queried agents there were situations in which people were moving around from one publishing house to another. Agents and editors can quit, publishers can shut down, etc.

The whole thing is dependent on the stability of an outside entity, and the thing I forgot, as I was busily racking up my sales and reviews and honors, is that I was also dependent on other companies.

For my book and my podcast.

And my freelancing work.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with Writing & Money. Would it be a viable model for me to go off Patreon, release the podcast for free, and suggest that if people like the podcast, they sign up for my freelance consulting services? Not everybody is going to be able to afford $90/hr, but some people might.

Or I could just release the podcast for free and say HEY, IT’S FREE, but part of the point of Writing & Money is that I’m talking about how to earn money from your writing, so… I need to earn money from this.

(Also I need to earn money for financial reasons. My income appears stable but I keep it that way through constant hustle. Maybe that’ll be the subject of the next podcast.)

I also haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do with Biographies, because I haven’t heard back from She Writes Press, but I am going to transfer Vol. 1 over to Amazon before Pronoun stops distribution, because… again, I need to earn money from this.

(Also, I’ve heard y’all like the book. Library Journal just named it a Self-e Selection!)

But I guess I’m wondering when the next thing will change; all of us creative indie self-pubbers are building these support structures for ourselves, but we’re building them within other people’s companies so… it’s only a matter of time, right?

And on the other hand, it’s like, well, I’m not going to NOT make anything. I have been making art since I was old enough to hold a pencil and mash go on a tape recorder.

So… that’s what I’m thinking about this week. I think a lot of people are thinking similar things. ❤️

 

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