Now that the painful, humiliating, devastating, rage-inducing, go-high-my-@$$, soul-crushing disappointment from my 20+ year effort in novel writing has—somewhat—passed, I’m still trying to figure out what to do next, especially in my desire to eventually finance my retirement and be able to afford better in my golden years than day trips to North Beach and splurge lunches at Applebees.
I was hoping that writing will still figure into my future efforts… just because I don’t know what else I’ll have to rely on as I get older. Getting through 18 novels, plus this blog, should be enough to convince people that I can write. But I need a different product than ebook novels, which are too easy to steal and too hard to profit from.
Some people I know have suggested podcasting on occasion (they say I have a great voice for broadcasting), but tend to leave out the critical component… podcasting about what? I mean, to garner a podcasting audience, you must be considered enough of an authority on something that people will recommend you to others and spread your word; and I couldn’t even get people to do that about my novels. So podcasting doesn’t sound that promising for me, unless there’s some compelling subject that I can present myself as one of few authorities on and really impress a base. Article writing carries the same challenge, and I don’t know yet if that’s something I can manage.
Whatever I choose, I need a way to monetize it. Through the comments of my last post, Sherri Mines provided a link to a Kris Rusch article, which explained that my problem has been in trying to apply the wrong product-profit methods to my practice: The article suggested that, instead of trying to sell products on a 1-to-1 basis, the better approach to selling content is licensing it.
The real point to licensing is to convince someone that you can provide a valuable product, and get them to pay you in advance for it, guaranteeing your income up-front. Then you deliver your product as arranged, and they do whatever they do with it to recoup their costs and gain profit. To be clear, there is nothing newfangled about this method; it’s as old as the twentieth century. The traditional book publishing system works this way, for example… so does television programming.
Thing is, I’d hoped to be able to jump past those old systems by selling products directly to customers; but it seems that, even after 20-plus years of effort and promotion of modern digital networks and paradigms, in a new century, that idea is still not ready for prime time. I went the high road… and got swept at the knees.
There is a newer form of licensing, however: Represented by services like Patreon, content creators can collect subscriptions from their actual followers, and send their content directly to them. This cuts out the components like publishers and television networks, who do the distribution of your content after you provide it; but it also means the creator trades the hard work of convincing a publisher or network to licence their product for the equally hard task of gathering enough subscribers to provide a decent direct income stream. For those of us who are not accomplished sellers or marketers, neither path is easy.
And again, I have to have compelling-enough content to make people want to subscribe, license, whatever. Maybe I can develop said compelling content. Or maybe I look back at the novels I wrote—that never sold well—and have legitimate doubts that I can develop anything compelling enough to monetize.
So, what’s a way-too-soon future retiree to do? Beats the heck outta me… I’m still debating just deleting all my novels, finding a nice janitorial associate’s job and developing a taste for wrestling, celebrity endorsements, pop music and sitcoms. (Which will hopefully end my life early enough to make all this fretting pretty pointless.)
But on days when I’m actually thinking straight—not many, I freely admit—I am trying to find a way to get through this professional dilemma. Any useful thoughts or connections would be welcome, since I have doubts I’ll come up with anything on my own. Beyond brushing up on my mopping skillset, that is.