That sounds a bit apocalyptic, but I’m referring to the book sales. I have a plan that involves withdrawing all the ebooks from sales channels, offering them for free from the website and making money from other product lines. Does this sound like a plan?
All the sound and fury, the froth and bubble, was done to sell books. So how am I doing? In six years I think I’ve sold thirty ebooks. Call it thirty quid for six years toil. Now you might be thinking, ‘well Harrison, it’s you’re own fault for not using Facebook/Snapchat/Weeblywobbly’ or whatever it’s called, but that’s not the point.
All that effort to sell something that makes less than £1. If I ordered one Createspace paperback, ripped the cover off, handbound it and put it in an autographed fancy box for £30, one sale is worth more than a few years of ebook selling. I’ve come to this conclusion after doing two things: designing clothes and joining Instagram.
When I decided to use merchandise to promote the ebooks I was looking at the issue the wrong way around. What am I doing all this for? It’s to earn a living doing something I enjoy, and what I enjoy doing is ‘creating.’ The books are just one part of that creative process. The story is the foundation, but the story is also an alternative world and that world has so many components.
You can make money one of several ways: sell a ton of cheap things; sell one very expensive thing; sell a lot of medium priced things. That last one is the hardest because of the size of the competition and the difficulty of being found; the first is probably just as hard because the profit margins are virtually non-existent; the third method requires a brand and a following which takes time.
The ebooks fall into the first category. Cheap, lots of ’em. It might cost nothing to produce an ebook, but then again one book does take a year to write and then goodness knows how long to promote on Facebook/Snapchat/Weeblywobbly etc.
But what I’ve found on Instagram is that with a decent following, a one off, bespoke, unique creation can be put on Etsy and sold almost straight away. Those creatives, sellers and designers have obviously done the hard work to get a following that clamours for their latest creation, but would you make all that effort to sell a £1 ebook or a £50 jacket worn by one of the characters in that £1 ebook?
I think the point I’m trying to make is that the TotenUniverse is promoting the wrong thing. I should be concentrating on the high value offer and creating a world that people don’t just read about, but interact with. If I had one wish it would be to see someone turn up at a ComicCon event dressed as Metze or Ystirria or Lena in her coven ritual outfit.
So my plan now is to pull the books off the sales channels and make them all available for free from my website. Develop the clothing and accessory line, collaborate with other designers and visual artists, make more music, develop a Youtube channel, pull the literature off the page and make it real supplemented by a canon of other stories and features.
That will take effort, building up a proper social media profile is key to growing that loyal following, but if you’re going to invest a lot of time and money should it be to sell a cheap ebook or something more substantial that people will value and cherish? I think the latter.