Avenues to monetize your writing and find readers
One of the things we write about here at Miss Demeanors is how the heck can an author sustain themselves in the modern world of publishing. Keenan Powell and Sharon Ward write often about the ins and outs of self publishing. Last week, Susan Breen wrote about authors getting on TikTok.
But recently there’s been new paths for both traditionally and self-published authors to monetize their output. I read an astonishing fact last week–over 70% of all books are sold directly to the consumer from online retailers (Amazon). In other words, whether a bookstore carries your book, or not, no longer controls your publishing journey or has (too) much bearing on your success. You can sell directly to the consumer in any number of ways, often alongside your traditionally, indie, or self published route.
This platform has been around for a few years, but recently fiction authors have discovered it and are using it for everything from serializing their novels to dispensing hard earned wisdom to offering critiques.
How it works:
- Signing up is free for both writers and readers
- Writers create weekly content. I’ve seen serialized novels (although you can go old skool and get Edgar Allan Poe in your mailbox every other week!), re-prints of old articles previously published in print media (my favorite is Cintra Wilson’s Cintra Wilson Feels Your Pain), industry advice (my favorite is Kathleen Schmidt’s Publishing Confidential), helpful writing tips (my favorite is Free2Write with Dawn Barclay), and random musings.
- Writers offer different levels of content for different rates. Free might get you an article a week. A basic $6/month might get you an article a week, plus access to new content and old content. A higher tier might include interactions with the author and other members.
- Readers choose which flavor of participation they want, and subscribe.
- Substack makes money by skimming a percentage off the payments, and the content providers get to keep the rest. Even a few hundred paid subscribers can give an author a decent boost.
Why I like it:
I believe artists should get paid for their time! For years we’ve been told to give short stories away for someone’s email address. Give books away for a review. And although I’ve certainly seen this result in robust email lists and healthy review numbers, it fosters the idea that art is free. In a world where piracy is considered no worse than taking pens and notebooks home from your company’s supply closet, I’m happy to see creators get compensated for their time by the people who consume their work.
Also around for a while, writers are beginning to lean into this platform more than ever. Whereas Substack content is delivered to your email, Patreon is a platform to visit. Creators host vlogs, podcasts, and other content ranging from music to novels.
How it works:
- Creators sign up for free. There are two plans, and each comes with a different set of tools.
- Creators create content that appeals to their specific audience and charge based on tiers of access.
- Patreon makes money by skimming a percentage of what the creator got paid, and the creator gets the rest.
- Recently Bret Easton Ellis serialized his entire novel to his Patreon community, and only after it was complete and consumed by them, did it come out as a novel for the rest of the world.
- As with everything else, your content needs to be good and consistent. Also, consistent. Did I mention consistent? You can’t take a month off. Your community will get cranky and leave you.
Why I like it:
Pretty much the same reasons as Substack.
This is the traditional way of doing things, and the most successful of these comprise advice and industry information.
How it works:
- You sign up and pay up front for the benefit of getting highly useful wisdom delivered to your email on a regular basis.
- The two that are priceless:
How about you? What’s your favorite Substack/Patreon/Newsletter?
Her short stories appear in the Bouchercon 2023 Anthology, A Stranger Comes to Town: edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.