Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Musings: Author Website

One thing that's important to know for those who are thinking of delving into the indie business is this: you're going to work a lot and you're going to make very little money.  See, the thing about going it alone is you have to go it alone; meaning, you're going to be responsible for all your own marketing, you're going to have to manage all of your social networks yourself, you're going to have to either make or find someone to make all of your cover art, you're going to have to edit...oh, and you're also going to need to write a book somewhere in the midst of all this.

My biggest frustration with being an indie is figuring out how to prioritize what money I do make.  There are so many things I'd like to do but, because I don't have unlimited fundage, I can't do them all.  I'm only now reaching the point where I may break even.  Up until now, I've been plowing all of my royalties into things like writing and business-related software, taking some classes, buying a few ads, and paying for cover art.  I'm certainly not complaining because I'm frankly thrilled with every penny I make, but it's incredible how quickly costs can add up, especially if you don't practice some restraint.

An expense I am starting to think seriously about taking on, however, is the expense of an author website.  I have this blog and am active on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, but none of these things allow me to centralize information the way I'd like.  I'd love to have a bibliography so readers can see all of my available books at a glance, would love to have somewhere to run polls (such as having readers vote on which book I should work on next), would love to have a one-stop site for all info about me as an author, with my social media platforms as something extra. 

I also have some ideas I'd like to implement.  I've been kicking around the idea of doing a series but, if I do, I want there to be a central place where readers can post feedback and suggestions for future installment, and I really think a website would be the best solution for that because I can centralize all that on one page instead of readers having to click through multiple blog posts.  I'm even contemplating making a sort of "choose your own adventure" series in which I'd conduct regular polls and let the readers decide which direction the story will go.  Another thing I'm thinking about doing is writing free short stories periodically.  And, last but not least, I am the author of a certain fanfic that has been fairly popular over its somewhat lengthy existence, and I'm thinking about claiming it publicly and hopefully even finishing it, as that's something I've yet to do.  It's also the most epic thing I've ever written, which has quite a bit to do with why it's not yet done.

Really, the overall big picture here is that I want a central source I can use to interact with readers.  It's difficult to try to reach out to people over multiple platforms, and it would be more efficient for me and easier for my readers if I had a central site where all of my important information is housed.  Plus, I just think it would be fun.  I love the flexibility I have as an indie, particularly when it comes to things like collaborating with readers to help me shape stories.  While I'll still write more traditional novels, I am 100% in love with the idea of creating interactive narratives.  To me, it's a really exciting new form of literature, and I'm eager to explore it.

So there's an idea of what I'm looking at doing on the horizon.  My big goals for 2013 are to get an author website up and running and to make some of my books available via a print on demand service--most likely Createspace, as that will allow me to distribute on Amazon.  If you have any thoughts, opinions, or ideas, I would love to hear back from you.