Over the next few months, we're going to feature a selection of the Alliance of Independent Authors authorpreneur members and the inspirational work they do. First in, is Emilia Rose, a Patreon and subscription superstar. We're going to examine Emilia's success and look at Patreon subscriptions for indie authors.
ALLi Authorpreneur Member: Emilia Rose on Subscriptions for Indie Authors
With over thirty-one million online story views on serial fiction platforms, Emilia Rose is a USA Today bestselling author of steamy romance. She loves writing about dirty-talking bad boys and alpha-holes. She currently lives in a small town in Connecticut USA with her husband, two cats, and a couple cute yellow ducklings. To find out more about Emilia, visit her website, wattpad, or Patreon.
In January 2019, I began publishing my first story under Emilia Rose on Wattpad, a serial fiction platform where authors share their stories for free and readers are hungry for new books. My publishing journey started here because I didn’t believe that anyone would pay for my writing. I had very little confidence in myself and my storytelling abilities. But as my books on Wattpad gained popularity—some of my stories reaching over one million reads each within a short period of time—my husband urged me to monetize.
Still, I refused.
I come from a low-income family and read solely on Wattpad growing up, so I felt terrible for removing my free content from the platform. I wanted and still want readers who don’t have the money for books to be able to access my stories for free, at least for a short period of time. Not only that, but I thought that not finishing an incomplete story on Wattpad just to force people to pay for it was backhanded. The story was promised for free, and I planned to uphold that promise.
So, my husband suggested that I start a subscription where I offered early access to my book before I released it on Wattpad. After much convincing, I finally opened one up and was surprised by how many people were becoming members and consuming my content just because they wanted to support me.
Currently, I still publish my rough drafts through Wattpad, give early access through my subscription, and then edit and publish the final draft in all the retailers that I can. But the core of my publishing business still is through subscriptions for a plethora of reasons.
Subscriptions or memberships give me more freedom to write what I want, not what is hot on Amazon right now. I don’t have to write a book a month in order to please the Amazon gods and don’t have to rely on KU reads. There’s nothing wrong with KU—if that’s for you—but I don’t particularly like having all my books in one place. I want as many readers to pick up my book as possible and I don’t have to worry that one day Amazon will shut me down because I write steamy content.
Additionally, through my subscription, my fans join the creative process with me. They comment and provide feedback on scenes that I’m unsure about and are amazing beta readers! They love giving me suggestions, and I find that it helps foster community. I poll them about almost everything and have asked them for help on stories, merch designs, audiobook narrators, and more. And I really listen to their feedback. If something isn’t working for them, it probably won’t work when I release it through wide retailers. So, I utilize their comments and pivot where I need.
From this process, my membership brings in a stable five-figure income each month.
So, what really is early access? Do I edit the books before I post them? What about outlining? How does this even work?!
Early access is access to my book before its published on wide retailers and before its published for free on Wattpad. I write a good chunk of the book—or sometimes the entire book—through my subscription, then release one to two chapters per week onto free reading platforms like Wattpad or through my newsletter. From there, I will direct people (who want to read more of the story right away) to my membership. If they want to read the chapters now, they join. If they want to wait, they read a new chapter for free every week.
My main advertising is through free platforms like Wattpad. I have been reading and writing werewolf romance on Wattpad for years before I even started my subscription. While I post one chapter for free on Wattpad, then direct the users to get early access to the remainder of the story through my membership, I still make sure I finish the story on Wattpad for free. For me, this is essential for building relationships with readers.
I also have funnels through my newsletter, using the same flow. I will release one chapter per week to my serial fiction newsletter subscribers, then have a button that leads to my membership to read the rest of the story right now. Again, the story does get finished through my newsletter for free, so subscribers can potentially read it all without paying anything if they want to wait.
But everyone who is a subscription member of mine receives weekly chapters of my rough drafts. Yes, people pay to read my rough drafts. It’s really crazy to think about, because everyone believes that readers won’t pay for books that aren’t the final edited and polished versions. It took me a long time to wrap my head around it too. But I’ve found that my readers just want more of my writing and they will read a rough version of a story.
As for outlining, I don’t do it. I’m 100% a pantser and I rarely plot before I start writing a book. When I do outline, the book is never up to my standard of drama and smut (mainly because I already know what’s going to happen). When I write in serial format, I pretty much write blind. I may have an overall idea that I write towards or an idea about the chapter, but if the characters go off script, I follow them. For me, it is way more entertaining that way.
I write as if I am going to read the book. As a reader, I love cliffhangers. I NEED to know what happens next and will continue reading the next chapter, only to come to another cliffhanger that I need answers to. And God, I love the drama that serial fiction brings. There is always something dramatic and new going on inside the chapters, and I LIVE for it.
In this journey, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to overpromise because you will burnout. At one point, I was writing ten one-thousand-word chapters every Friday. And at the time, I was attending college full time, so I only had time to write those ten chapters on Friday. It was a scramble, and I quickly had to lower the amount of content I produced in one day because I just couldn’t keep up with it. Now, I space out my content and am publishing ten one-thousand-word chapters per week, spread out through multiple books and multiple release days during the week.
But you don’t have to produce this much content for your subscription to work. I started with providing one extra chapter per week to my subscribers.
My advice to anyone thinking about starting a subscription is to have patience. Unless you’re new to publishing, you’ve trained readers for a long, long, long time to purchase your book on wide retailers or read for free in KU. It will take time to re-train them to join your subscription. So, if it doesn’t work at first, don’t give up! Some genres are slower to join subscriptions while other genres like steamy romance and litRPG are quick moving toward subscriptions. But that doesn’t mean subscriptions won’t work for you if you’re in a completely different genre.
ALLi SelfPubCon Patreon Feature
Thanks to Trevor Mack for his presentation on how indie authors can use Patreon to grow their income streams.
The next Self-Publishing Advice Conference (#SelfPubCon22) will begin at 10am (UK) on 29th October 2022.
Our theme this year is: Reaching More Readers. Over 24 hours, we’ll be bringing 24 sessions from industry experts, packed full of varied methods of book marketing, promotion and other ways to build YOUR author brand and platform.
We’ve already announced a fantastic line-up including sessions from Jane Friedman, Penny Sansevieri and Jeff Elkins, with a special Reaching Readers Globally session from Ingram Spark. More speakers are being announced each week leading up to the conference and registration for FREE 3-day access is now open!