So, rather than the usual article here, blathering on about this and that, I am going to talk about some no-bullshit real life stuff. Members may want to pay close attention, as this may change the way the site operates, maybe permanently.
Adventurotica.com has been live for almost a year now, and we have never matched the level of participation we got on LiveJournal. Sometimes I wonder if moving from LJ was the right move, even as I am sure it was, because LJ is dying, and with our own site, there is no limit to how big we can get. We knew we would be sacrificing some LJ readers in order to broaden the base to readers who are not on LJ. That hasn't happened.
Our userbase has fluctuated a bit, but has been essentially static, trending slightly downward over time. We have some extraordinarily generous readers who we love and appreciate, and their largesse has allowed us to keep our heads above water, but only just barely. Let me tell you, barely isn't much fun.
So, it has been almost a year of the membership model and that's not really working, so we are set to maybe try something else. This isn't a done deal yet, but here it is:
Some of you may have heard of Offbeatr, which is launching next month as an adult-only alternative to Kickstarter. We have considered before switching to a more crowdfunded business model, but we are limited (or thought we were) because many such services expressly rule out adult content. This site would be for adult-only projects. A few months ago I heard about them, signed up for their newsfeed, and later submitted a pitch.
I just heard back from them, and we were invited to make up their initial offering of 30 or so adult projects. On a closer look their terms were pretty harsh. Kickstarter takes 5% of what you get if you make goal, nothing if you don't. Offbeatr was going to take 20-25%, which is...ouch, you know? That's a bite. Plus they want $20-$50 for the listing upfront. That kind of fee makes me leery - years of experience in publishing tells me not to deal with people who want fees upfront. I'm not saying they are a scam, I'm just saying I'm uncomfortable with the idea.
What we aim to do is raise $$$ for our next book, by which I mean we would try and raise living expenses to keep us going through the book's writing period. Donors would get a membership to follow the story as it unfolded, just like readers do now, and then get a free copy of the ebook when it was released. I'm also dedicated to the idea of trying to produce a physical book for the first time as a donor reward.
I haven't worked out what all the donor rewards would be yet, and setting up an actual project page is an intimidating prospect - I've never done anything like this before. Because as it turns out, as a written form, we are not barred from using other services. We have expressly asked several and gotten a hearty "that would be fine". Apparently so long as our project page had nothing objectionable itself and said "erotica" not "porn" we could use more mainstream services with more fair terms.
So I told Offbeatr a polite no thanks, told them we had other options and that we would bow and give the slot to someone who maybe didn't. I did tell them I thought their percentage was too high, but what can you do?
If we did a crowdfunding drive and it worked, it could set us up and essentially provide our living expenses while we work on the next story, all at once, as well as provide resources for rewards and things like print runs of a real book. I reason that even if we didn't hit our goal, it would raise our profile.
We are not going to stop doing what we are doing, and even if we didn't hit goal we could stay with the model we have now or try something else. It would be publicity, which we have labored without and don't have the money to buy. I do think it was pretty cool for Offbeatr to take an interest in us and what we do, and not be stuck in the mindset of "Porn = Movies" that I was pretty sure they would be. Having our website to look at and prove that we can produce content on time probably helped. Even though we declined, I am still pleased they invited us.
So what do you readers think? This could be a huge change for us, it might fall and go splat, but that wouldn't leave us any worse off than we are now. We would still update three times weekly, we would still allow members to join up independent of the funding campaign, so you could just keep renewing your memberships like always and keep reading like always. But I hope you would be willing to join us out on a new frontier.