As I wrestle with the horror novel that probably will not be ready before Halloween (though I would really, really like it to be, dammit), I am faced with another writerly dilemma.
Spring That Never Came is coming to the end of it’s 3-month Amazon KDP Select exclusive availability.
Being who I am, every single copy that has gone out (post publication, at least) carries a Creative Commons license, so it’s already in the commons in theory. The question is, should I re-up the KDP program, take it wide to every ebook retailer I can, or take it wide and set it free by posting it to the Archive, Feedbooks, Unglue.It, and Leebre (if they’ve got their stuff together and that’s a working option come 7 September).
If I keep it in KDP, I can run promotions again and be pretty sure about my numbers, rather than only having a loose idea of my readership.
If I go wide and put it in every ebook store I can get access to, my potential market grows a bit (but I’m guessing not a whole lot, given Amazon’s dominance).
And if I go free, my readership will probably grow exponentially, though when any particular downloader will bother to read it is open to question.
I am somewhat tempted to hold off “freeing” Spring until I get the not-a-sequel The Doppel Man written and ready for release, so that I can bring in more free readers and entice them into the new Neon Noir series that follows on from it.
All of these options have pros and cons. I’m even thinking of not setting it free myself, but letting a reader notice the license and do it himself. Not thinking seriously about that, but thinking about it a bit, maybe.
But what seems to be the way to mass readership (for some definitions of “mass”; seriously, just ten thousand regular readers and most of my financial problems would be gone) is to plug away at one, maybe two, series. And the problem there is that I tend to think in stand-alones, not series. Though the way that I ended Spring did leave open the possibility for two series, one of which, as noted above, is going to be written in the near future. The other, I’m not sure when it will happen, as I have to flesh out just how it would work and where it would go.
What I don’t want to do (and, honestly, am probably incapable of doing) is to get trapped in a “marketing” mindset, where everything I say, write or think is insincere, always bullshit-positive, just vague enough to give myself deniability, and so on. I seriously just want to tell stories, and get paid enough that I can survive on them.
How about you, other writers? I’m not interested in arguments over whether the Creative Commons is a good thing or not (it is, and if you don’t agree, good for you). But how do you/would you factor the free release into your publication scheduling and marketing? Feel free to leave comments.