As an author it’s sometimes hard to even guess what readers want.
Publishers have spent the last dunameny years distancing us from the readers. Readers at most saw themselves as patrons of individual bookstores, keeping them afloat, and engaging in behavior which saw them (with smaller bookstores before the megastore, and after) feeling they had some degree of ownership in Fred’s SF Bookshop.
And Fred in turn engaged with them, responded by ordering books they wanted, giving them individual attention, treating them as if they mattered (which they did). For this he got their business, their loyalty and probably a bit more money than the soulless megastore.
Authors, on the other hand were told that, well, they were lucky to have such a patron of the arts as legacy publishing, because unless they were bestsellers, they lost money publishing them. Various very large sums were trotted out as to how much it cost these benevolent patrons, and authors were encouraged not to look at cover price and do the math, and the numbers were kept as opaque as possible.
Well, I believe writers need to engage the reader as a patron. Yes, get readers involved, get them to tell me what they actually want to read, instead of figures I can’t trust, because the distribution has more to do with sales than popularity, and the distribution on some books has been… well, not good, to put it mildly.
So: I will become Dave the writer and Fred the bookstore. I’m putting up polls. Any of the Universes I’ve worked in, readers can vote:
- Shorts, if I get more than 200 votes, I’ll go to kickstarter and we’ll do a 2 dollar short of at least 5000 words.
- Make it 1500 votes, and I’ll write a novel.
I’m also going to be putting up various proposals for readers to look at – the piece I send to publishers, some sample chapters. I think I have about 10 out there that various publishers have sat on, sometimes for years, without a yes or a no. I’ll see which if any seeing get the votes to go to Kickstarter for stage 2. Those who put up the initial funding – probably $5 a book, will get it directly from me, and the final book, at a raised price, later, can go to Amazon et al.