When I started writing my fantasy novel series, the Sitka Saga, I knew it was something I wanted to share with the world one day, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do that.
At first, I was dead-set on going the traditional publishing route. This was, after all, how “real” authors sent their books into the world. Then I learned the troubling news that even most traditionally published books sell fewer than 5,000 copies.
When considering how much effort goes into querying, going on submission, and everything else needed to be accepted by industry gatekeepers, jumping through all those hoops to sell fewer than 5,000 copies didn’t seem worth it.
Self-publishing? While self-publishing offers much more creative control and can be a successful model, the statistics for self-publishing success can be even more dire, especially for authors who don’t produce high volumes of genre fiction.
But as I thought about it, I came to realize that the problem with the publishing models we’ve seen so far is that they’re based on selling as many copies of your book as possible, which is a challenge for authors who have small to no platform.
But what if there was another way–a way to publish that involved finding a smaller but devoted following of readers?
These questions led me to the concept of serial publishing, which I wrote about more in a previous post. Instead of trying to market your books to as many people as possible, with serial publishing you can have a much smaller following paying a certain amount per month. If you had 1,000 fans paying $5/month, you could make $60,000 a year from your book. (Even if your traditionally-published book did well and got into the hands of 5,000 readers, with typical royalty rates you could expect to make about $15,000 by comparison.)
And not only is serial publishing potentially more lucrative for authors, it also brings another aspect that greatly appealed to me: rather than selling books to readers you will never know and meet, serial publishing gives you the chance to grow a community and actually connect with your readers, and for readers to connect with their favorite writers.
And so when I was looking into publishing options, I came to realize that I wanted to do serial publishing…with a twist.
Some Pitfalls of Serial Publishing
You see, one of the drawbacks of serial publishing is the fact that authors can endlessly extend their books if they’re making money. (A practice that has a longstanding tradition–if you ever wondered why The Count of Monte Cristo is so long, it was published serially and attracted a large following. Why give up that income if people are reading it?)
But for many readers, having no knowledge of when the book is going to end is frustrating, and it can be irritating to lose access to a story that you’ve already sunk money into if it’s starting to drag on too long.
In fact, the lack of true ownership is one of Web2’s biggest problems. And it’s not limited to subscription services either; if you’ve ever bought a digital version of a movie through a platform like Amazon, you may be surprised to know that you do not “own” a copy of that movie. You’ve paid to license it, but if the movie studio ceases to cooperate with Amazon, you could log into your account to find that the movie you paid for is gone. Amazon controls the whole creation experience: the content, the customer, and the compensation.
But what if there was a way to utilize a combination of indie publishing and serial publishing with Web3: a way to combine the independence of self-publishing with the community of serial publishing and the true ownership of Web3?
Enter Sitka World: Discovering a new way to publish
The Sitka Saga is incredibly important to me, so I didn’t just want to send my book out into a world of anonymous readers. I wanted to create something more immersive: a community, a home base, a place where I and other writers can express our creativity and send our stories out into the world.
And so in January 2022 I created Sitka World, a brand focused around good storytelling. And while the focus on storytelling started with my book, I also want to continue my work of helping writers level up their craft and share their amazing stories with the world too.
So what does Sitka World involve?
- Story: Sitka Saga trilogy along with a gamified ecosystem and community royalties
- Community: workshops, events, and resources to help you improve your writing craft
- Guild of Scribes (paid Web3 writing gigs)
Let’s dig into each of those three areas a little more:
Sitka World is first and foremost a story, and as discussed above I’m eager to give my readers the chance to truly own my words in a more tangible, decentralized way.
I’ve planned for at least three books, and will publish each of them serially in three acts. Rather than having to continue to pay more to keep reading though, those that purchase the first act early will have the opportunity to get all future acts for free. (You’ll have to collect all three acts of a given book to get a full manuscript NFT.)
Each act will be an NFT-secured manuscript, hosted by our partner BookCoin (who are known for launching Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck in Web3). They are building a Web3-native online reading app that provides a great reading experience for novels.
These NFTs bring the story to life visually through the illustrations our amazing artist, Nate Crandall, is making for us. We are also in talks with a number of gaming and metaverse brands regarding plans to make the characters and world of Sitka more real and immersive than ever – our goal is that readers will have opportunity to explore Rúnsala in digital realms and complete quests as their favorite character.
I know that a book is only successful to the extent readers love and support it, and so I’ve decided to use the community ownership mentality of Web3 in another way: a full half of all royalties, including those from NFT sales, e-books, physical books, and audiobooks, will be shared with NFT book owners that contribute to the story (via simple feedback polls, which also gives you a chance to help shape the story).
Most readers never get the chance to really hang out with the author. My goal is to build a community of readers who really love Sitka and her world, and give them the opportunity to actually connect directly with me. I might be leading the charge, but it takes a village to build a long-term fantasy world. Fanfiction writers will find paid contest opportunities to put their skill to the test.
Besides the story though, my main focus in community is to be helping other writers. Our community has writing events, networking opportunities, and education that emerging writers need to improve their craft and proudly share their stories with the world. Many of my author services that I normally charge for, including some workshops, coaching, and an online course I’m building out, I am offering for free in the Sitka World community. We will even launch a scholarship fund to help our writers publish their own works or launch brands like ours.
The NFT books will function not only as a manuscript but as a membership card for all of these community benefits. But unlike subscription models such as Patreon, the Sitka World NFTs will be lifetime, resell-able membership cards.
While this blog will continue to be my home base for blog posts, the Sitka World Discord will be my main hub for writers, including all events and teaching sessions. I’d strongly encourage you to join if you want to get all my tips and resources, as well as paid writing opportunities:
Guild of Scribes
There’s a big need for quality writing and storytelling for all brands, but nowhere have I seen the need more desperately than in Web3, where: 1. most brands have a lot of existing art IP and strong communities, but 2. most lack good stories and there’s no hub for sourcing writers in the space so far.
I aim to create the definitive hub for creative writers in Web3. I’m forming a “Guild of Scribes” in Sitka World, which is quickly positioning itself as a network of working writers in the broader NFT community. The goal is to bring a steady stream of clients to our community, so you can get paid to do what you love. Writers + brands in need of writing = magic:
For a full summary of all these ideas and more, I’d encourage you to read our whitepaper which gives a sneak peak to everything we are building
It’s a little bit of a different approach, publishing a book this way, but I like it. Although I’ll still be utilizing some Web2 components (I’ll still sell paperback books, and you’ll still be able to join in through Patreon) so many of these options would not be possible only in Web2. I like that Web3 creates a reality where all of this is possible, and your imagination is the only limitation.
I like that I can connect with my readers directly.
I like that I can get to know them personally, and that they can share their ideas for the story.
I like helping other writers hone their craft and release their books into the world too.
I like having the freedom to create art, videos, role playing games, workshop sessions, contests, and chats surrounding my book series, and having full control over that.
I like being free from the constraints of big tech companies.
I like that I have a little online family who is already eager to follow Sitka’s journey before the books are even published.
I like helping other brands develop good storytelling, and finding paid work that supports writers.
And I can’t wait to see where it all takes us.
Do you want to be a part of Sitka World? While I’m curating a community of dedicated writers and readers, I’m opening my Discord to readers of this blog. Join our Discord here if you want to learn more about the future of publishing. You can also follow along on Twitter or check out the Sitka World website.