I was pointed at something this week that concerned me. I thought long and hard about whether to give it further coverage here, and will probably, no undoubtedly, regret doing so, but I found it so wide of the mark that I felt I should.
It probably won’t make any difference, but this post is just an attempt to explain and correct some obvious misconceptions that are out there, held hopefully by just a small number of people.
I have been a member of an excellent Disney forum for ten years. Yes, ten years. I owe much of my knowledge of WDW to it, (outside of dozens of visits of course), I have had better holidays because of it and I have made some lovely friends on there, several of which I have met in real life. Indeed one of those is even a moderator there.
I hope to continue to be a part of that community, and visit most days as I do now to keep up to date on things and contribute where I can add value to the conversation. Unless this post gets me banned of course! I hope not. The forum cannot be responsible for the opinions of those using it, and I have no problem with the site itself, or those who put a lot of work into keeping it going. Indeed I promote it here and in real life regularly.
The only relevance of telling you about said forum is that these misconceptions were expressed there, and that is all.
So this kerfuffle was a discussion thread about the release of my latest book. (No link included so that nobody thinks I am promoting it again).
Some kind supportive user posted that it was out and a few more contributed to say they had got a copy. Some people however expressed views that concerned me and I’ll be honest, hurt me a little. Having an opinion that differs from mine or hurts me is fine, but not if the reasons behind it are wrong. So I need to explain some stuff.
I have to do it here as that thread has now been closed to prevent further debate. That is appreciated and probably wise. It is the first thread I have ever been involved in that got closed, and I didn’t even post in it!
Over that ten years of forum membership I have offered my advice where I felt it would help someone, and of course I have posted a decade’s worth of trip reports for people to read and hopefully in some cases enjoy.
As you will probably know, I put those reports into a book earlier this year, (again, no link to it, why would I want anyone to find it?) as an anthology. My reasons for doing so were as follows -
- I like writing, and if time ever allows I may try to write a book. I wanted to understand how this self publishing thing worked so I tried it out.
- I wanted my trip reports to be stored somewhere other than a forum on the internet. Who knows when the folks who run that site may lose interest, close the site or have it explode in a cloud of reclining seats and taking kids out of school debates.
- People had left feedback on my trip reports each and every year telling me that I should put my trip reports into a book. So I did.
I am immeasurably grateful and astounded that some people bought that book, left me lovely reviews on Amazon and enjoyed reading it. It was a huge learning curve for me and I’m glad I did it.
You will notice that in my list of reasons for doing the book above, money is not mentioned. If anyone thinks that a self published book makes anything like an amount of money to justify the work and effort involved then they have never self published a book. Try it, let me know how you get on. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?
I earn a good living doing my real job. I don’t enjoy it half as much as my hobby, but who does? However, it pays the bills, and for stupidly expensive holidays most years. I don’t need an extra income, not that I would turn one down should it be offered of course. Who would?
I wouldn’t be so vulgar as to tell you what I earn from my real job, just as I won’t tell you how many pennies I have “made” from selling books. There is nothing to be gained from that, and frankly it is nobody’s business but mine.
Surely nobody else makes money from a hobby, like hand made cards or calendars or other such things. Why people should have to pay for those is silly right?
Let me make it really clear. The act of publishing these books is not about the money, it is about the writing, the publishing process and the exposure.
Just out of interest though, even if I were to make a fortune from writing stuff and selling it to folks willing to pay for it, why would that be an issue? Again, for clarity, this is NOT about the money and I am not making fortunes from it.
For a good few years I have been writing a (free) blog pretty much every week, full of nonsense, pithy comments and rants about life in general. It started small of course and was really intended as a diary for my own benefit. Much like learning about self publishing, I started a blog as, at the time, it was relatively new, and relevant to my job. I felt by doing one for a while I would learn some things that would help me in my job. I did and it has.
The readership of that blog has grown to a number I could never have imagined, and I’m guessing that is because people like reading it. Why would anyone subscribe to a blog they don’t like? That would be like following someone on Twitter or Liking a Facebook page that you didn’t really want to see updates from wouldn’t it?
So with that growing readership I thought, hey maybe I can use this to have a go at writing something these kind folks have never read before, and put that in a book. The first book was all content that was (and still is) freely available on the internet. Having worked hard to grow that blog readership over many years through regular posts with (hopefully) decent content, backed up by other social media activity, I had a potential audience to read the thing.
So when we booked our next holiday for August 2013, I wrestled long and hard with the idea of not posting it immediately on a forum, and instead putting it out as a book.
I felt conflicted, as my relationship with the Disney forum had given me the audience and readership I had developed. That is where most of my blog and book readers come from, I’m not stupid enough to think any different. However, I have never posted on that forum to promote anything I do or write which is for sold for money. That would be wrong, as they have a very good sponsor programme where advertiser’s can promote their wares. I respect that and I don’t have the budget or need for such a thing.
The forum is huge with thousands of users, and my not putting this trip report on there immediately would not even register any impact.
Indeed, I’m not naive enough to think that the trip reports I have posted (for free) in the past are to everyone’s taste or that everyone actually gives a toss whether they exist or not. I don’t like or rate some that I read, but I move on, and acknowledge the fact that somebody else probably will.
So I decided to take a risk, try something different, do the book first, and perhaps then post the trip report on the forum later. The format in which it needs to be for an eBook and a forum could not be more different. It would take time to reformat it all, but to post it was my intention. But hey, wouldn’t that upset all the folks who had parted with their £2 to buy the book? Probably, so this was a little bit of a rock and a hard place.
With that in mind whatever I did, I knew it would probably upset some people. Even before it was published, and probably even after releasing the last book, people who had previously been engaging, supportive and friendly via social media were now not so much. I felt a change in some of those relationships. That’s life. I don’t like everything other people do either and I react accordingly. We are all grown ups.
It does seem though that there is an incorrect perception that I am in some way just trying to make money out of these books (God forbid). Along with that comes a strong objection to me doing so, and this seems to have drawn out some strange comments. I came across some comments that this was a good way to fund my next trip. Wow.
I won’t bore anyone with the details of how this self publishing thing works. If you care about it that much then do the research I had to. Let me summarise by saying that after paying Amazon to deliver a 7MB file, pay Amazon their cut and then pay VAT, the surplus is in the pennies per copy.
Anyway, to fund my next trip with book sales I would need to sell, on rough calculations, a book to most of the UK, not a few blog readers, some of which are kind enough to fork out a couple of quid.
Either I am overpaying massively for my holidays or some folks are vastly over estimating how many of these I’m selling and the resultant profit margin.
I also noticed someone asking “Why should we pay to read something that was once free?”
Well, don’t. Honestly, if in some way you feel uncomfortable in doing so I insist you don’t. It won’t make an impact on my life and I truly hope it doesn’t on yours.
By the way, this particular content wasn’t once free. It is new. That is kind of the whole point of the exercise.
What I am trying to do, in my half-arsed way is to perhaps gain some sort of reputation and/or exposure as someone who could maybe do some proper writing for someone or something. Maybe by having a couple of books on Amazon, on a subject I know something about, somebody somewhere may take an interest.
This may be a ridiculous ambition and one way beyond my capability, but if you never try, you never know!
I have in the past written (for free) for other Disney sites just to get some exposure. It is all part of that half-arsed plan, but that has yet to come in for criticism, which is odd.
I don’t have a voracious sense of ambition in life, but to begrudge me that half-arsed plan seems petty to be honest. Especially from some of the folks who encouraged me to do just that for a decade.
If my updates about the book here and on other social media are not to your liking, I apologise. My experience from the last book taught me that one post won’t do it. People are busy, and their lives do not revolve around making sure they read every word I spout into a computer. So I send a few posts and tweets, at different times, on different days so that anyone who may be interested should see one.
There is an absolute direct relationship between me posting something about what I write and people reading it. Whether that is a blog post or book. It is not rocket science. You tell people it is there and they go and read it. My blog stats are crystal clear on that. What writer (of any standard or standing, even amateur old me) would want to write something that nobody then reads?
I try to warn folks when I’m going on a promo spree. If you don’t want to see these posts, tweets and updates please Unlike, Unfollow, hide, delete, whatever you need to do.
I appreciate every person who connects with me on-line, and I try to keep my posts, tweets and updates light, aspirationally humorous, and non invasive. Saying that you are tired of seeing content in these forms is like following me down the street in the real world and then complaining about my aftershave. You have the control, not me.
For the minority of those folks complaining about my decisions and choices, I respect their right to hold those opinions. I do object to them holding those opinions for all the wrong reasons, but there is little I can do about that aside from try to explain them here.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that is life, and that it is most certainly the internet. All I hope is that opinions are formed on truth and not some invented sense of resentment or misunderstanding.
I’m trying something new, something that nobody else has tried from this particular community of Disney fans, and most people from that community have been absolutely lovely, supportive and generous. The length of this explanation is probably more than the minority who have not been deserve, but I do take massive exception to some of the suggestions around my motives and actions. If the lunch hour spent writing this clarifies anything then it was worth it.
For everyone else who has continued to support me when I honestly can see little reason to do so, thank you. I am my own worst critic, and your continued lovely comments, positive vibes and yes, your collection of £2′s mean a lot to me. Indeed I have brought forward my retirement plans purely on the book sales over the last week, and I move to my own private island shortly!! Sigh….
I’ll still be blogging each week whether the audience for it is just me or what I have now. As much as it can be a bind sometimes, I enjoy it.
The fact that I have dared to do something different seems to have ruffled some feathers, and I am sorry to see that. I don’t apologise but all of this is an attempt to at least explain why.
Those who think I am somehow cashing in will probably continue to do so, but at least I have had a chance to put forward the facts.
Hoping there is one….
Till the next time……