Thank you to everyone who took part in my November survey! It’s time to talk about the results and let you know what I plan to do as a result.
I asked three questions in the survey. The third received by far the widest variety of answers, and so has the longest set of responses at the end of this post.
1) I’m considering selling the ability to request individual stories, independent of memberships, with a planned cost of $7 USD each. How do you feel about this?
A significant number of respondents indicated that they were interested in this option, and that $7 USD was a reasonable price for such a feature.
Of those that weren’t interested, no one suggested there was any reason I shouldn’t offer it as an option.
With this in mind, I am almost certainly going to enable this feature in the shop within the next month, and probably sooner rather than later. I’ll do a post explaining how it works once I do. (To be clear, it is NOT available at the time of this writing.)
2) The site has a facility to subscribe to get an email update when a new post is made, but members aren’t automatically enrolled in this. For respondents who are members, would you like to have been automatically enrolled for email updates?
A strong majority of respondents who identified as members said they would not like to be automatically enrolled, so I won’t be auto-enrolling members.
If you would like to receive email updates (for members, or anyone else) please go to the main page of the site and scroll to the bottom for the subscription box – or email me at email@example.com and say you’d like to receive updates, and I’ll do it for you.
3) What feedback would you like to give me on membership? Are you getting your money’s worth?
The answers to this question were obviously wide and varied, so I’m going to address some of them here. Thank you to everyone for your uniformly constructive and thoughtful responses – you’re great people to have as an audience. 🙂
The responses are not to say “no” to any of these ideas, but to explain how I’ve come to the position I’m at currently, and what some of the barriers are to change. I’ve made some immediate positive changes based on some of the feedback, that’s live on the site as of right now, and I’ll be thinking further about the other feedback going forward. I think I’ve responded to every substantive point raised in the responses here – but if you don’t see your comment, please be aware I have read it, and it will be in mind going forward.
Okay, so on to the responses:
“I’m getting what I want. Thank you.”
“I’m completely satisfied.”
“Membership is just a little too expensive for what I’m getting.”
So first – I hear that, and I’m open to that discussion on what the correct price points and rewards are.
I’m charging a little more here than I did on Patreon – although you’re also getting more here, in terms of the quality and frequency of story collections, if nothing else.
Unfortunately, since having to leave Patreon I’m up against some difficult mathematics. I don’t have the ability (yet) to offer auto-recurring subscriptions, which means that I need to justify to every member each and every month that it’s worth their time to manually re-subscribe.
My take on the mathematics of that means that I need to focus memberships on the people who really want what I’m offering, and keep them as happy as possible, because merely satisfying people who would only subscribe at a lower price point anyway means I’m going to lose too many people at each manual resubscription to make the effort work out.
The idea of this site, and monetisation, was always that the people who could afford to support my writing would have the opportunity to do so, to enable free content for those who couldn’t.
I’m filling a niche. If it’s a niche you enjoy, and you have some disposable income, then you may want to support the production of more content in that space. I want to convey the idea that part of what you’re buying when you spend money at this site is support for me as a creator, above and beyond the specific products you receive. Patreon made that philosophy clear – it’s a little harder to convey in the new format. Thanks for those who’ve stuck with me.
The other difficult line around price points is that my only payment gateway is PayPal, and the way PayPal works for business accounts is they take a percentage of every payment AND a flat fee on every transaction. That flat fee massively disincentivises small transactions. I sell the e-books at $3.99 because that’s about the lowest I can charge for a single transaction and make a meaningful amount of money.
I would like to offer the ability to sell three-month, six-month and year-in-advance subscriptions for those who want to pay big – but I just don’t have the security yet to know that a critical third party in my monetisation (such as, for example, PayPal) isn’t going to suddenly withdraw service on the basis of my content and leave me unable to meet ongoing obligations to deliver content. (And if it was PayPal, it might also become difficult to issue refunds.) So right now I’m not committing more than a month in advance.
“[…] Greater flexibility/willingness to take on more detailed story ideas would [make] me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Making a monthly story request (one only) with only a vague big picture idea and without any sense of what length of a story I would get at the end of the month makes me uncertain if the money I am spending on membership is really worthwhile.”
Okay, I understand this feeling – but I probably need to clarify the underlying philosophy behind story requests.
If you want to commission a story to your specifications, my rate is $8 USD per folio (100 words), so about $80 USD for a 1,000 word story. And I still reserve the right to say no, because I simply can’t write if I’m not into it.
The way story requests work is that I’m writing new stories every month anyway. I was writing 20+ stories a month before I started monetisation, and I’m writing 20+ stories a month now. I can only write that kind of volume if it’s hot for me – which means I need a fairly wide discretion in what I write, how long it is, and what the themes are.
What you’re getting for story request per month (valued at somewhere between $7 USD and $10 USD) is the ability to let me know what kind of story you want to hear. There’s a lot of stuff I’m happy to write, and your story requests are helping me choose between it. Want more lactation stories? Right, that’s what I’m writing. Want a sequel to a particular story? Well, I enjoyed writing the original, so I can probably enjoy a sequel.
The price reflects the fact I’m writing a story anyway. I guarantee you at least 500 words of story but members will know that member-requested stories usually run well over 1,000 words, and sometimes over 2,000 words.
To put it another way, I’m paid to type words in my day job, I can usually take more work in that sphere if I want it, and when it comes down to it, if I’m typing 1,000 words that I’m not interested in, my day job pays me more than twice as much for those 1,000 words than the current price of a story request.
(And beyond that, writer’s block is a real thing. I have a LOT of trouble writing creatively to specification. I just don’t think I can do it in a reliable way.)
“I would prefer to have a one-time buy-in option for your Guide to Arth-Keros content.”
Thanks for this feedback.
First, I am open to releasing collections of Arth-Keros content in e-book format in the future for direct purchase without membership, once I’m confident I’ve got enough content to make a coherent publication.
Second, you’re probably not ever going to see a one-time purchase for access to ongoing updates, for a variety of reasons.
Beyond that – I’m very open to exploring how to develop the Arth-Keros portion of my output, but the biggest barrier is I have no idea who’s reading it. I just don’t know how many of you get value out of Arth-Keros, and how important it is to your membership.
I’ll probably include this as a question in my December survey (yes, I’m going to do these monthly now) – but in the meantime, if you’re an Arth-Keros reader, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how important Arth-Keros is to your subscription, and what you want to see from it in future.
“I prefer much longer form stories…”
I get asked about this a lot. I know people love Titcage and the Lesbian Debt. I’d like to offer more long-form stories (and if I did, it would likely be as a premium e-book standalone purchase).
The main barrier is I just can’t finish them. I have three or four incomplete long-form stories sitting on my computer, each between about 15 and 25 chapters, and I inevitably hit a block and the steam runs out.
I’ve been reluctant to release chapters of long stories when I can’t promise they’ll ever be complete. Titcage and Lesbian Debt each took me *years*, and that was before I was doing this kind of short fiction output at the same time.
If people would really like to see chapters of long-form stories, knowing that there might not ever be an ending, you should let me know by email at email@example.com – but in the meantime, you should know that the lack of new long stories is not because I don’t like writing them, and not because I don’t think you want them!
“While I enjoy your stories and understand that this is a fantasy, the stories where lesbians are forced in heterosexual ‘relationships’ are somehow where I draw the line. I recognize that this is hypocritical on a few levels…”
I totally understand this. First, let me say, as I hope you would assume, that I have the strongest real-life support for lesbians, and everyone in the LGBTIQ+ space, many of whom are close friends. And I acknowledge that the fetishisation of lesbian sexuality for hetero male pleasure is problematic, and that conversion therapy and corrective rape are still abominations that persist in the real world and which have real victims.
But a kink is a kink, and this is one of mine, and it doesn’t go away from ignoring it, and all personal evidence suggests that actively acknowledging it as a kink and exercising it in the kink space within kink boundaries is a lot healthier for me than pretending it’s not a thing.
I understand we draw lines in odd places. For me, it’s raceplay. You won’t see a racial slur in my stories, and you’ll very rarely see someone’s ethnicity referenced by anything other than a suggestive choice of name. That’s me.
BUT! To help out my readers going forwards, I am starting to implement a system of story codes going forwards, applied to posts on this site, product listings of new products, and eventually product listings of the older products. (I considered adding them to file names on Google Drive but it didn’t display well.) They’re not intended to flag all the kinky things that happen in a story, but they should helpfully flag the dozen or so themes that are most likely to make someone hard-pass on individual stories. Stories where a lesbian has sex with a man will have the code les/m. Check out the new Story Codes FAQ here.
“I’m not always sure whether the compilations of stories have new content or not. Is there a way of asterisking new ones?”
First up – all story collections so far are made up 100% of stories that have been published on BDSMLR, or are queued for publication on BDSMLR, so they’re never “new content” in that sense. But every collection is primarily made up of stories that have not previously been collected in an e-book.
Why do some stories appear in multiple collections? Well, the idea of “themed collections” was to let you buy just the kinks you’re into – and I don’t want people who are into hypno to miss out on a super-hot hypno story just because I already published it in a collection that didn’t work for them.
The last story collection, Intrusive Thoughts, exclusively contained stories that have not previously been published in a collection on this site.
In future, the announcement posts for new story collections will indicate which stories have not previously been collected.
I keep a spreadsheet of what stories have appeared where. I’m working out how to most intelligibly and easily make that information available to people who are buying story collections – it will require a bit more thought.
And that’s it for this survey! Thank you to everyone who responded!
All These Roadworks