Direct Sales and the Subscription Model: SPP #119

This week, the guys talked about Direct Sales and why Rainmaker is helping us make SterlingandStone.Net the best author website on the internet. They (well, mostly Sean) ramble quite a lot about the subject at first, but they end up saying some really useful stuff by the end.

First, they talked about writer health, prompted from a listener voicemail. The conversation focused mostly on how important ergonomics is for writers, since we spend most of our day sitting very still while typing our brains out.

They also showed off Sterling & Stone’s first ever hardcover, The Dream Engine. This is a big step for us, and we hope to have many more hardcovers in the future. Even though there is quite a learning curve involved, plus the lack of promise of getting any real profit from sales, having hardcover available is really making a statement about how seriously you take your books, and hopefully that will inform how seriously others take them, too.

We got an update on the Sterling & Stone logo contest, which, thanks to 99 Designs, is going awesome! There were so many options to choose from that it made Dave cranky, and once we had narrowed the choices down to a handful, the results were astoundingly beautiful.

Finally, they got to the topic of direct sales and the reasoning behind the decision to make S&S the official umbrella site for everything Johnny, Sean, and Dave are doing.

A few things that were touched on:

  • How Sterling and Stone came about
  • The benefits of direct sales
  • The subscription model and how to build a relationship with readers
  • What authors can do now to apply some of the stuff we’re doing on S&S, even if you can’t afford to use Rainmaker.

By the way, here’s the link Johnny mentioned from Garrett’s blog, about direct sales.

If you have questions, about any of this, leave them below on this blog post, and the guys will answer them on a G&A hangout tomorrow (Thursday) night.

NOTE: You’ll see that hangout, not on the usual Youtube channel, but a different one completely. Here’s the link to S&S’ new, official channel, where all SPP and BOU episodes will be from now on.

Here’s the video version of the episode:

What if you could make your writing FAST, FUN, and BETTER THAN EVER?

In the indie publishing world of rapid releases and blistering word counts, it's easy to end up burned out with subpar work, and a loss of the enjoyment that once fueled your craft.

There's a better way. Download your free copy of 'How to Write Fast' today...

16 Replies to “Direct Sales and the Subscription Model: SPP #119”

  1. John

    You mentioned a level where people can access some things free. Are you set up for e-mail subscriptions to blog posts or excerpts? I haven’t missed something, have I?

  2. Werner

    Great show as always guys.
    Some thoughts on your membership idea, or driving readers directly to Sterling & Stone to make book purchases.
    Is there anything wrong with having the first novel of a new series, sold exclusively on Amazon ( or other retailers ), but with a CTA in the ebook that drives readers to the S&S site to:
    1. Capture their email for list building
    2. Drive additional ebook sales for the rest of the series only from S&S
    3. And offering those ebooks and others from the S&S site, at a discount from what the retailers would charge
    Example: A typical $2.99 ebook on Amazon would cost $2.49 on S&S
    FU – Member
    And listener from Day 1

    • Johnny B. Truant

      I know you can’t actually offer stuff cheaper vs. Amazon, but you CAN add a bonus of some sort to sweeten the deal: get the next book on Amazon for $X… but if you get it from us for the same $X, you get this cool bonus!
      I do think we’re going to shift ALL of our CTAs to the S&S site. They can go on to buy the sequels on whatever platform they want, but we’ll also pitch our continuity.
      For instance, with Axis: It’ll be $4.99. So when it comes out, we can tell people, “Do you want to buy it for $4.99? Or would you rather spend $4.95 for this month and get all this cool stuff TOO… and maybe stick around next month if you like it?”

  3. Anita

    At what time will that Q&A hangout be?
    Wouldn’t it be great if we had a f0rum were you could announce such things? Especially, if we could subscribe to that forum, and then get the news delivered right in our inboxes? Oh wait! We do! 😛
    No, on a more serious note;
    Will you continue with the plan of announcing the shows/topics/guests in the forum?
    I think that was such a great idea. And extra great, when it’s aired outside the normal timeframe. Like that SPP yesterday, that I got an e-mail about *after* it was over, and was uploaded to the S&S channel (glad I was subscribed, though) 🙂
    And now a couple of questions:
    Will there be a shop section here on the site, where we can buy single books, complete series, seasons and so on?
    Will we get an e-mail once in a while, telling us about what’s new in the Stoner library? I have checked that page every day, and only just now seen that there are stuff at the end of the page. It’s premium content. I expect it to be the first thing you show me 😀 (Well, now I know where it is).
    Is there a way to get a cover on books that I’ve sent to my Kindle myself? I love the concept of buying direct from the source, but I also love those pweeeetty covers. Perhaps it’s just because my Kindle Touch is getting old, I don’t know, but I just get a boring title/author on front of those books.

    • Sean

      Hi Anita!
      The Hangout will be at 8:00 EST tonight. We’re working on the forums for sure. They’re just so tiny and unusable right now. But that’s being fixed by Copyblogger, and they should be ready to go (hopefully) by next week.
      Yes, we will continue announcing shows, topics, and guests in the forum.
      Yes, there will be a shop section, for single books, complete series, seasons, full libraries, and physical goods like print and tee-shirts and whatnot. But we have to build it piece by piece and we’re waiting on some basic page elements before we can proceed. It’s all int he works, though.
      Yes, you’ll get an email about the Stoner Library. We’ve been sloppy on that so far, but only because we’re running behind. We’re catching up by the hour, slowly but surely.
      I had no idea there weren’t covers! We’ll have to look into that.

      • Anita

        The cover issue can be because of my old device, but it’s the same on my iPhone, when I use the Kindle reader app.
        I have some childrens books that are added the same way, and they do show a small picture, because there’s a picture on the first page in the book.
        I’ve just added the three shorts and Threshold yesterday, and they all just show the title and the authors, with some Kindle graphic depending on the device. It’s a cosmetic thing, of course, but I still miss those covers. It also makes it easier to locate the book you’re looking for quicklier, because you can find a specific image at a glance, whereas it’ll take longer to find the same book, when you actually have to read the titles. But again, small things.
        The forums have changed today. It looks super awesome!
        Thumbs up to Copyblogger for that nice work 🙂
        Thanks for the time regarding the Q&A. Will see if I can catch it live, this time. I always seem to be late. I feel like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland 😉
        And it sounds like you have big plans for a shop. Awesome!
        Looking forward to Stoner mails, but now I know where to find them, – although I still think they belong at the top 😀

  4. Anita

    Can we ask all sorts of questions?
    In case we can, here are some more:
    Is there a plan for the updated World Docs after the Summit? Will we get a v2.0 straight after the Summit, or will it be much later?
    Will there be worked at all kinds of things in the World doc (like the world outside Alterra), or just the things that will be relevant to those attending?
    Will there be established some ground rules for the world? Or can we just make it up as we go along?
    What year is The Dream Engine set in? It would be nice to be able to establish some sort of timeline for all the books, canon and world books. Especially if you plan to destroy the Fog (that has been there for a 1000 years) in later canon books.
    Are there more than one Blunderbuss in the World? If so, how many? A limited number I would guess, so some rules on that would be great, so every little town doesn’t suddenly have their own Blunderbuss 😉 Or, I would clearly manifest a Pocket-Blunderbuss if I were a builder, so I could manifest cookies at all times.

    • Sean

      YES! There will absolutely be a 2.0 World Doc following the Summit. Not sure how soon, but quickly. Our first version was rather thin, because all we had was stuff from the Dream Engine. But we’re going to have eight authors designing canon, so we’ll want to get as much of that into the docs as we can.
      I’m not sure what will be in those docs, it really depends on what happens at the Summit. I do think we’ll establish some ground rules, though.
      Timeline, the truth of other blunderbusses, the Fog, all of that stuff will just have to wait. We’re not making anything new up (or really even thinking about it) until the Summit, since that’s what it’s for. And we really want to deliver for our attendees and let them participate in the world building.
      I can, however, tell you that there will be a General Wellington in Dream Engine 2, and he will be awesome. 🙂

      • Anita

        I undestand that you want to wait for the Summit to do more with the world. I’ll wait for the 2.0 World Doc, then, and hope that some of my questions will be answered in one way or another.
        If we can make stuff up as we go along, it’s fine, but it’s hard to know whether we’re writing within the world right now, since the background is pretty slim right now, when leaving TDE area. So some ground rules would probably be a good thing.
        Anyway, the Summit is just around the corner. I hope you’ll all have a blast with the ones attending 🙂 Looking forward to hearing about it.
        LOL @ General Wellington 😛

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.