Sunday, 19 January 2014

Pricing and Giving Things Away

When Season 2 of The Second Realm launched, I decided to try releasing it on Smashwords' 'Pay What You Like' system, where users can choose any price (even free) to pay for a book. I thought of it as a sort of 'tip jar' - it's always been my intention that The Second Realm should exist primarily to be read, not to make money, but if people wanted to give me money for it, I wasn't going to say no.

Rather dishearteningly, no-one seems to have wanted to give me money for it. Worse than that, the number of people downloading Season 2 for free is much smaller than the number of people still downloading bits of Season 1 (which has always been and will remain free). While some season 1 episodes now have over 500 downloads, the early parts of season 2 have only even been *sampled* a handful of times each.

What this suggests is that most of the people accessing Season 1 are doing so out of curiosity, and then not coming back, or being put off by the fact that you do actually have to sign up for Smashwords to get at Season 2. I'd like to think that what's happening is that rather than click through a bunch of screens on Smashwords, people are coming here and reading The Second Realm on this blog, but that seems a little optimistic.

Anyway, the really nice thing about self-publishing is that there's no great faff involved in changing something that isn't working. This experiment has gone on for fifteen months now, with no positive results and some negative, so it's time to bring it to an end. As of now, Season 2 of The Second Realm is free on Smashwords.

I'm not recommending this as a universal strategy, by the way. As I said before, the purpose of The Second Realm has always been to get people reading stories by me, not to get them paying for stories by me (I'm of the opinion that I ought to have to prove myself - through something other than a blurb and marketing - before I can expect people to pay). Trying to put a tip jar system in place has ended up creating a barrier to that purpose, so I'm getting rid of the barrier.

It will be interesting to see whether anything very much changes in the performance of season 2. Episodes of Season 1 are still being downloaded at a pretty steady rate even two years after release, so unless the episodes of Season 2 have some sort of anti-downloading plague there should be quite a significant jump, but these things are always unpredictable.

Anyway, it's now even easier to get hold of Second Realm episodes. Go to! (And I hope you enjoy ;D)

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