I still remember when I went to create the ebooks for Sand and Blood. I spent two days toying with the idea of making it Creative Commons licensed and simply giving it away. In the end, I didn't have the courage to do it. It was too scary and I had just spent a couple thousand dollars to make the best book I could possibly create.
When I finally hit the “submit” button, I told myself that when Sand and Blood paid for itself, I'd relicense the work. Recoup my costs and then give it for free. I wanted to do the same thing Cory Doctrow did with his books.
I've gotten so much out of Creative Commons that I wanted to help. It's been part of me for many years much like the other “gift community” licenses that helped me get into computers and programming.
Over the years, I've given away a lot of things. Almost all of my code is available on Github including my games and personal projects. The programs I use, the libraries I love, they are all given away in various forms of licenses that allows it. Even my major programming project, Author Intrusion was always going to be free; that hasn't changed.
I'm a product of my past. It was because of those libraries, tools, and programs I used to learn were free, I feel the need to do the same.
The problem came down to polish. With a computer program, you can post something out there that isn't 100% perfect. First impressions were nice, but so was getting it into the hands of people and getting feedback.
With writing, it is harder. I don't want my first impression to be riddled with typos, but at the same time, I want to get it out. For a year now, I've been telling fans that Sand and Ash would be out later because I couldn't make it perfect.
I can't make it perfect, not and get it out on time. I have these stories there, sitting on my computer, almost in a completed state, but I can't gather up enough to push it past that final step.
Why? Because of my family. I have priorities and my family is number one. Taking care of them is important and things are in a state that won't give me a lot of liquid funds for a few years. And that means hobbies and pet projects get pushed aside.
But it still frustrated me. I tried posting Raging Alone on Wattpad and Penflip but it didn't quite feel right. I didn't want to put up something that was a draft (even one that had gone through my writing group) without it being polished.
I'm obscure. I don't know if it is my voice being quiet, my lack of advertising, or what, but I don't gather a lot of people even on my social network of choice. I have less than two hundred people that follow me, when other authors are happy with their tens of thousands.
Cory stated it very well in his post (link above). Piracy isn't the problem, obscurity is.
Doing things like the SFBPO will help that, but I have years to go before I can pull myself out of the shifting clouds of other authors out there. I'm not worthy of attention yet.
Another author I respect and cherish is Ksenia Anske, a very enthusiastic writer and someone I've enjoyed talking to. She has done the same thing as Cory and it worked out. And when she does it, it feels right to me. I like what she's done and I think it fits with my personality, my style of writing, and my attempts to earn fans.
One of the things she did was have a Patreon to give people the chance to show their appreciation. She posts freely, but then accepts donations. The same with some of my favorite comics, such as Grrl Power and Questionable Content.
They aren't perfect. They do reasonable edits but then post the best thing they can. The other thing they do is post over time, not all at once.
I've been thinking about it for a while. Earlier this week, someone made a comment that set me down a train track of thoughts and I decided to try it out. I already had a choice, wait 1-2 years for Sand and Ash to come out, or post it slowly over time and give those who want it a chance to read it.
The idea evolved since I pulled the trigger on Wednesday. Now, I've decided I'm going to post freely on a few sites: the main one, Wattpad, and Penflip. The main site will have the most features, mainly because I'm going to work on the wiki at the same time and cross-link everything. I can also build up the ebooks automatically and make them available as I post.
These are drafts. Yeah, I've sent them through the writing group and gotten feedback, but they aren't perfect. I felt guilty of that, but I'm also setting up a Patreon page to give people a chance to help me get them edited and covers made. No one has to donate to read them, but the choice is there.
The entire point of the Patreon is to get it edited. I'm still going to do it. Without help, it may take longer, but I'm dedicated to getting Sand and Ash polished, edited, and illustrated. Patreon will just make that happen faster.
I'm going to post on Wednesdays for now. No specific time, but on that day. If I do a chapter a week, I should have a buffer of about a year if I include the sequels in this effort.
I'm also going to occasionally post stories for my Journals project. I already have issue 1 (religion) and issue 2 (games) planned.
Overall, I can easily produce 6-10k words every month for the next two years. Even if I hit one of the goals and increase the rate, I'm probably good for at least a year.
There are two rewards on the Patreon. The $1 allows for voting on the short stories, mainly what I'm focusing on.
At the $4 point, I'll give a link to the entire novel (which is completed) in its current form. Yeah, that won't be a public link, but it is something. I'm sure the story will be compelling enough for at least someone to want to read ahead.
And, if interest in Sand and Ash gets Sand and Blood sales up, I'm still planning on making the first novel Creative Commons licensed once it hit the black.
In other news, I turned forty today. There isn't much to say about it other than I have high hopes of my writing career in the next ten years.