What’s it worth to ya, ay?

So, there’s this bloke.

Selznick, Matt Selznick.

He’s doing fairly well at this author lark. Been going for a while, put out a fair wodge of books and other creative materiel, and is altogether open about his experiences therewith.

So far, so good… So what? You might be thinking. (Especially if you’re an old Megadeth fan, like me.)

Well, he’s trying out something which has been pootling around the sub-basement of the creative world for a while, but no-one’s really making a huge noise about it.

The concept is Pay What You Want.

There are several things out there which approach this:

– Kickstarter has different levels of reward if you throw more financial support to a project;

– Patreon lets you  support creative people in whatever they do at various levels for which you get the works and some rewards;

– The various bundles (Humblebundle, Storybundle, Arcane Bundle, etc.) let you get a few books for cheap/nothing and if you pay more you get some extras.

At first glance it seems like a daft idea. But it’s actually sensible.

Short-term, any fans you already have are likely to over-pay, if they can, because they want you to keep on writing; any you give away for free/cheap would most likely have been pirated in any case, it’s a fact of life we might as well embrace whatever your views on the morality of it.

Medium-term, you’re looking at an easy way for people to try out your stuff who might have been unwilling to pay full-price for someone they haven’t read before. They like you and they are more likely to come back at full price, later. Also, if you have a series running, the odds are that you’ll be looking to get sales bumps on the older books as the new ones are released, if someone can pick up the series for an amount that covers your costs, all well and good.

Long-term, the people who are/were fans but who weren’t in a position to pay top-dollar in the short-term scenario are back with a bit more cash AND they’ve told their mates about how good your books and, and what a nice author you are to have helped them out with reading materials when they were low. Can’t get better than readers who talk to their mates about you. It beats any marketing budget hands-down for building your career.

And that’s what this is about. This isn’t a gimmick to sell A book, it’s about building a career and a relationship with the people who ultimately support your career: the readers.

Is it a somewhat brave stance to take in a still-uncertain climate? Sure.

Do I have the balls to do this straight off the bat when I start publishing? Probably not. Wish I did.

But this guy does. His name is Selznick, Matt Selznick. He’s a career writer.

Go and have a look at his piece on the matter over here.




2 responses to “What’s it worth to ya, ay?

  1. Thanks so much for this critique of the new pay what you want paradigm over at mattselznick.com!

    I like that you mentioned some cousins to the pay what you want model… here’s where I see a difference in what I’m doing:

    Kickstarter is pure patronage — patrons support a project with their dollars before the project is completed. I love it — I’ve been a patron of many crowdfunding projects, and ran my own — but it’s not “pay what you want.”

    With Kickstarter and, I believe, most other crowdfunding platforms, the prospective patron is presented with a range of pledge levels, with corresponding rewards for each. The patron doesn’t get to set their own price for a product or service… they’re providing support for a project, not buying something.

    I’m letting folks pay whatever they want, from as little as a dollar to sky’s-the-limit, for actual products (and, soon, services).

    Patreon is awesome… I’ve written about it, and I know a lot of indie creators have employed the platform in one way or another.

    Patreon gives a creator’s community the opportunity to “tip” whatever they like every time the creator releases new content. I like that a lot, as it taps into recurring income streams (something I’ll be incorporating into my own site eventually).

    Patreon’s little barrier to entry is that it requires potential fans to make effort in advance. Also, the infrastructure depends on there being a Patreon in the first place. Ultimately, I’m a little leery of putting those particular eggs in one basket.

    The advantage of having a pay-what-you-want structure on your own website is that anyone — from a die-hard friend or fan, to someone who’s just discovering you — gets the same chance to set their own price. Fewer steps = better conversion.

    Finally, I really love Storybundle (I was fortunate enough to contribute to one earlier this year) and similar platforms. The model is very close to pure pay-what-you-want.

    Bundle platforms add a sense of urgency to each offering by making them time-limited, which is great for marketing and forcing folks to decide to act (or not).

    I’m shooting more for the long haul. As you mentioned, I’m interested in building a community of folks who come back again and again, and, even more importantly, bring others into the fold at any time.

    Thanks for acknowledging that what I’m doing could be construed as “brave.” Or foolish, maybe. We’ll see. I’m committed, though.

    I’ll be writing about how I came to take this step… and how things have been building toward this for years… in the next post on my site.

    Liked by 1 person

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