I've written quite a bit aboutmy latest project, but now I have an issue, a sort of strange one. I kinda want to beta the setting and the story...
I love my readers! You are very helpful and supportive, and I miss the closeness we developed when I was writing for Amazon Shorts. The immediacy of the medium helped to keep me motivated, and got you all involved in my creative process. We knitted together in a special and meaningful way. I miss that, and want to bring it back.
I have a problem here. I honestly don't want to make this special content open to everyone. That might sound horrible, but one of the elements that added to my Amazon Shorts experience was low-cost of entry. The low-cost of the shorts provided a barrier to readers, weeding out the casual readers. This elite group really loved the setting and the stories, so they paid the entry fee.
While I might be wrong, I feel like we were able to connect and work together to make each story better.
I don't want comments from random readers. I'll get those when the finished stories come out. I release my books and stories free and paid, so I hear from random readers then. For me, the purpose of a beta is to engage readers who love the work and really want to make it better.
Building a Member Site
I feel like I have to make it clear, I am not talking about turning all the dashPunk blogs into exclusive members sites. I am thinking about setting up special member sites for the settings I am developing. Those new sites will have some free and some members only content.
Would a small membership fee help or hurt? Well, since I've decided to forgo mainstream publishers because I don't see the benefit of giving 75% of the money I make to a company that doesn't provide much of a benefit, I need to ensure that I have the money to submit the books to online stores. Member fees would help with that. It would also be a better way to tally the seriousness of votes.
For example, I am torn between two setting right now, I could (theoretically) use member counts to find out which setting you all want to see my next book in... or I could add a members only section to Blade Opera and post on both settings. I could take the feedback more seriously because I know I am dealing with my core audience.
It might be stupid, but I am not sure what would work better.
Pay Wall as Social Proof?
Perhaps I have become too much of a capitalist over the years, but I want to make this beta site something very special for my readers. A place for us to refine and perfect the stories. I have noticed a marked difference in the level of setting knowledge exhibited by those who have bought a copy of one of my books compared to those who have read a free copy online.
Those of you who bought the books have asked me questions about things I didn't think anyone would notice. Admittedly, this data is skewed, because you are the same readers that make it out to convention appearances, which makes you a special breed unto yourselves, but it is something I have noticed.
To me, anyone who is willing to spend a couple bucks a month to participate has a greater level of passion about the subject than those who are just willing to sit around and wait for the next book to come out. It's that passion I want to harness for the betterment of the work.
Most beta tests are a lottery. Testers sign up and submit their system details, and are randomly selected based on what is needed for the test.
The only requirement I have is that you love my writing and sincerely want to help. How can I check for those credentials?
I have posted stories to Authonomy and WeBooks, and often received unwanted comments about my sexuality and spam. Not helpful. If someone wants to give me money to call me a faggot, then more power to them. A small pay wall feels like a good way to weed those people out of the garden.
Whether you love or hate the idea, please leave a comment. I am not trying to hide the content I already post, I am desperately looking for a way to share my creative process that is currently hidden away in my Scrivner and EverNote with my most passionate readers.
If you are against the idea of a pay wall, please tell me why.
If you think it is worth a try, how much should it cost and what content would you expect to find there? Do you want one for each project, or should I add it to my personal site (Blade Opera)?
Do you know of any alternatives? I am really open to suggestions.