I’ve been writing stories for a long time, but have only recently begun publishing said stories, and I’m beginning to grow confident enough to think there might actually be value in what I write.
As such, this is my first post towards changing my hobby into a business, as crass and pedestrian as that sounds. Indeed, that was – and is – my chief concern in embarking upon this journey; how could I possibly have the arrogance to assume my work is worth anything to anyone?
Well, maybe I should start from the beginning.
Hi, I’m Winterwisp, someone who likes writing, and fashions himself an author. Since October of last year, I have written and published the story Divine Construct on Royal Road, a project – I’m proud to say – went as far as to become the unofficial winner of the 2019 Royal Road writeathon competition.
It’s a dubious honor, since the truth is I knew I would not be eligible to win due to technicalities in the rules. I made sure to point that out when I was offered first prize anyway.
Why am I talking about that? Well, I guess I’m a little disappointed I could not call myself an official winner after getting that kind of recognition. I’m going to return for the next writeathon stronger than ever, aiming for first place for real this time!
*Insert evil laugh here*
Ahem, anyway. What I mean to say is that, between the recognition of being an ‘unofficial’ winner in a competition between talented writers, and the response I have gotten from my readers and the community at large, I have begun to feel more entitled to claim the vaunted title of ‘author’.
Which brings me to more recent events. After a very difficult start of the year, where I managed write zilch the first two months, the strange times we live in now have managed to create a window of opportunity for me, and it has led me to be more productive than ever.
I want to point out from the outset that I am not in any kind of financial or personal trouble due to the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, you could say I have purely benifitted from it. That reads a bit ghoulish, since I know there are a lot of terrible things happening out in the world.
That being said, there is no crisis without opportunity, and for me, this crisis has opened up the possibility to change my hobby of writing into the business of an author, as per my descriptive title.
So, after walking around this bone for a long time, let’s get into the meat of it. Here are the questions I found necessary to answer before I could begin this process.
Why do I think my work has any worth at all?
Well, because I see people reading my stuff from the moment I release it. I see my number of readers grow, the interactions increase, and I’ve even got PM’s from readers who want me to release faster. All of that suggests that there, at the very least, is some sort of demand out there to be met.
Why should people pay to read my work?
This one is tough, because I honestly don’t want people to pay for my work at all. I know that reads as counter-intuitive, but please hear me out. Everything I write, at the moment, I write with the premise that I am a ‘novice’ at best.
I am offering up my stories for free, since I need people to read them and enjoy them, more than I need money, at the moment. That may change in the future, once I have the gall to consider myself a ‘professional’, but until then my work stays available to all.
So, why should people pay? I think people should be allowed to contribute to something from which they derive some kind of value. What that value is, and how large a contribution it suggests, I believe should be up to the individual.
Is it just greed driving this change, or is there an actual creative reason?
After thinking about this, I believe there is a creative reason for this to justify the change. There is the obvious idea that being paid for my work means I can devote more time to producing more content. While I suppose that is an acceptable reason, I don’t think it is enough to avoid the charge of – well, greed is such a crass word. Let’s call it ‘opportunism’.
The reason I have landed on is this: while more time is certainly a good incentive, I believe the monitarization creates an even better incentive for me to focus on the quality of the story I write, not just the quantity.
To explain, I’ll have to go back a bit again. I know I’m being long-winded here, but stay with me, I’m just trying to cover all my bases.
So, recently I went back and revised the whole first part if my story. When I initially wrote it, I wanted everything to happen at once, and then get to the reveal as quickly as possible. This meant the pacing was out of whack, there was no real character work, and the whole thing felt rushed.
In going back and redoing the whole thing – and I mean redoing everything – I have had the opportunity to face my own mistakes, see where I went wrong and rectify these issues. Hopefully, this will prove an experience of growth for me as writer.
While I redid this, I began to grow excited at how good I thought the story was getting. I’m a bit ashamed of that, to be honest, since I am really hesitant to label anything I do as ‘good’. In any case, you have to have confidence in your work at some point, and, in my revision, I began to grow confident in mine.
Before this, I might have been inclined to simply write in order to get my chapter count rising, but in going back and changing my work, I found value in the quality of the story. This quality, though, comes with a price tag of time. I invested a lot of time in going back and changing everything up like that, because I thought it important.
So, let’s see if this analogy works. Like how I, as the writer, invested time and energy into redoing my work because I thought it important to quality check it, I believe a reader who give their support, do so because to offer the author the time and energy it takes to create this quality.
The further I get along the story, the more focus it takes to keep it consistent and avoid screwing up the logic or established rules. Don’t get me wrong, I will keep making errors, but with an incentive to take the time to improve, I hope to reduce the amount I get wrong.
If it seems I’ve gone full circle and ended up where I started, I understand the confusion. However, I think my reasoning goes a slight step deeper than the initial propersition, or so I stubbornly choose to believe.
What about your hypocricy, though?
This one is a doozy, because I am absolutely a hypocrite when it comes to supporting authors. In my meager defense, I do not have a lot of disposable income, however it is not much of an excuse. So, in all honesty, I do not support a lot of authors or creators.
When I do, it is usually through some sort of tangible exchange. I buy physical books or e-books of stories I support from time to time. My most significant example would be the Spellmonger series, which I have ardently supported by buying both all the e-books and several of the audiobooks. Honestly, that series is gold. Please… please… please let the next book come soon, I’m dying here…
*Cough cough* Sorry, I’ll get back to the point. So, how can I expect readers to support me, when I don’t even offer the minimum product I myself look for when I support others?
Well… I can’t do anything about the past, but I might be able to look towards the future. I don’t know how exactly to go about it, but I am envisioning something like a ‘pay-it-forward’ policy as I get more support. Since I’m still at the baby-steps faze, I’ll work out the specifics later, but if I ever get above the mind-bending milestone of a 100 patreon supporters, I’ll make sure to set aside a certain amount to support other authors who are starting out, like my current self.
And that’s it. Those are the four concerns I had in beginning this journey, and these are my answers. Obviously, none of this is perfect, but at the very least it is a start. This has also gotten so absurdly long-winded that I’ve probably made anyone who reads this fall asleep.
This marks my first proper post on this site, and my first step on my journey to create a business. I find it therapeutic to discuss these things that are bothering my mind, and I suppose I’ll use this as an outlet.
If you have read this all the way to the end, do consider reading my work. Divine Construct is newly reworked and ready to be criticized anew, so be the first to throw in your two cents.
If you’re actually interested in supporting me after all this talk, go to my Support page to see what I offer, which is just about nothing at the moment of writing. I don’t know what kind of perks people would be interested in, so you can by a first-mover and let me know.
Thank you for reading,