Subscription service for a group of authors
I have become a super-fan of the guys over at Sterling & Stone and have written about their Fiction Unboxed project. A number of months ago they launched something that they call their “Platinum Reader” subscription. For $5.95 per month you get access to all their books before they are released, additional audiobooks, members-only short stories, and a backlog of a their previously published novels.
The subscription model is nothing new, in fact it exists everywhere today from Netflix to Lynda.com to Amazon Prime. But Sterling & Stone is the first group of authors that I have seen to successfully pull off a writer subscription model for their books. Of course, not every author has the inventory to pull this off either.
I love to see entrepreneurs try non-traditional strategies, and when I heard that Sterling & Stone was launching a subscription model, I jumped at the chance to support them. Over the years I have read a lot of their books anyway, and planned on continuing to read their new books, so it also made sense to subscribe.
Since their launch in August, I have paid about $20 in membership and have read at least $20 worth of their books if I had bought them on Amazon. In addition to the ebooks, I received a number of audiobooks which I would not have purchased, so those are a great bonus.
There is a downside to indie authors selling books directly to consumers. External book sales are not registered on platforms like Amazon, Kobo or Barnes & Noble, which makes it more difficult for them to get discovered on rankings and also-bot rules. Since those platforms are still the largest way for readers to discover authors, rankings and also-bot referrals are critical for indie author to get discovered and make money, even after the commissions. The guys at Sterling & Stone have spent over two years building their own tribe, which has allowed them to branch out and sell directly. Further demonstrating the value of owning your customer list and not relying on someone else’s platform like Amazon, Facebook, or Twitter.
Amazon has done unbelievable things for indie authors over the past few years, and as an avid reader I am grateful for all that they have done for the community. However, indie authors will be indie, and this may be the first sign that readers are interested in supporting their favorite authors directly rather than through the big eBook platforms.
I encourage everyone to check out what Sterling & Stone is doing, even if they are not the type of authors that you would normally read – you can sample a bunch of their books for free. I cannot wait to see where this next phase of indie publishing takes us.
I would love to hear about your thoughts on this subscription model. Please send me a Tweet at @wbushee, or drop me an email. After all, shouldn’t we all work on thinking outside of the traditional distribution models?
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