(someone emailed me about my last post, saying such things as “You sound rather petulant! Did you consider that perhaps your readers do not want to sign up for bitpass, or that they are broke, or perhaps they do not want to encourage such an unhealthy endeavor? I would donate a couple dollars, and I’d like to vote and get a free copy, but I don’t want to go through bitpass.” The following is my email response to her.)
Oh, come on. I post on this subject not less than three or four times a year, and I’m pretty sure I posted almost the same thought within the last month. Thousands of people visit my site every day, an average of between 50k and 70k visitors every month (putting Modern Evil and lessthanthis together), and before commenting appears to have broken (around June), lessthanthis only had 57 comments. Over 325,000 visitors, viewing an average of over four pages per visit, but only 57 comments, from only 10 people, in six months. The only book I ever sold ‘online’ was when you pre-ordered Lost and Not Found. I’ve never sold a book through CafePress. The idea that even though people come to the site, it doesn’t have a ‘community’ or any ‘support’ is not a new one, and not REALLY a shock to me. Just a disappointment.
Also, I have no idea why anyone, anywhere, has a problem with paying for things via BitPass. If one planned to donate $3 or more, it’s just like paying with Paypal or credit card, with one extra step – you wouldn’t have to put more value into your BitPass account than you planned to spend, except that the minimum buy-in is $3. They’re secure, they’re stable (for an internet company; I’ve been doing business with them for literally years), and they offer a money-back guarantee.
As far as ‘why’ or ‘if’ … part of it has to do with time perception. If I work off and on, or even steadily, over weeks and months to write a first draft, versus if I whipped out a first draft in a single weekend, there is a different sense of time investment. I know, because I can be obsessive and I obsessively tracked it on two of the four novels I’ve completed, that the number of hours actually spent writing (considering time setting up and breaking down at cafes, time chit-chatting, ordering drinks, going to and coming back from libraries and cafes and wherever else subtracted in a reasonable fashion) over the course of several months (or weeks; one I wrote for NaNoWriMo, the other I wrote over about 3 months, off and on) is actually quite the same. So if it takes me about 60 hours of work to get a first draft done, I could theoretically do an hour a day for two months (though I have trouble being that dedicated and consistent to something that isn’t accountable to anyone other than myself) or an hour or two three or four days a week for two or three months, or two hours a day for a month (as I did that November I wrote Dragons’ Truth, pretty well), or ten hours a day two days a week for three weeks (giving up entire weekends), or in three intense twenty hour stretches (giving up only one very long day of each weekend, for less than a month), or … or just one really long stretch, one really long weekend. And it’s all the same to my brain, as far as the creating goes, I think… Though I’ll know better in a little over a week.
But there’s still that sense of time spent. Knowing that the number of hours I put into a book that took me three months to eke out, between all the other things I do with my time, is less hours than I have off between Thursday night and Monday morning every week, by more than an entire day… it’s mentally troubling. That instead of starting the first draft of a book in December and finishing it in February (as I did with Untrue Tales Book Two), I might be able to start the first draft of a book on Thursday night and finish it in time for breakfast Sunday morning … that makes me feel like I wasted three months on Book Two.
Of course … when I think about whether the time was wasted or not, that brings me right back around to the beginning again. Whether I write a book over the course of a year and a half (some parts of the final version of Lost and Not Found were started about six months before the NaNoWriMo in which I wrote its core, and I edited bits together and kept adding for nearly a year after that) or over the course of a weekend, is that effort wasted when no one reads the books? Other than the copy in your two-books-in-one copy, Zero copies of Book Two have sold. When Book Three comes out, I expect you’ll probably buy one and … yeah, that may be it. The cost of writing a book, whether spread out or not, really does seem to work out to about $150 as a minimum, and as long as I think about it as an entertainment expense or an ‘investment in my future’ it seems okay… but I’d have to sell almost 20 copies of a book, in person, to earn that back, and even including several copies I gave away, I only moved 10 copies of Book One out of my hands.
But it doesn’t really matter. I want feedback, I want sales, I want people to read my books, and to enjoy them. I keep trying to figure out how to put together a copy of Book One that I can afford to give away, or to sell for under $5. I keep dropping the price on my eBooks. I’ll probably drop the prices down to a penny, just to get people to sign up for BitPass, and to try to draw in people who already have BitPass accounts, maybe get them interested in what else I write. It isn’t really about the money, it’s about … the dollar vote, people’s interest in what I create … and that feeling of worthlessness. People don’t consider my work to be worth even a quarter.
But here, maybe this will work, I’ll open up voting to the public.