As my friends of longstanding will have already noticed, I seem to have wound up with a little bit of talent at almost everything – except for that small but important range of mercenary skills. This is by no means unusual for creative nutters, and I share a lot of funny stories about struggles on this front with others like me, who are far better at producing than haggling. Generally speaking I have outrun this deficit with relentless productivity – but freelancers are always betting, and even when you have distributed your weight across very different markets, there is no guarantee they won’t all sag at once! (In that sense – millions who never expected to, have had the unsettling side of the freelance experience this year) ;o)
The way the web has changed things is a huge bonus – it allows creators access to production and distribution at a fraction of the costs which were involved a couple of decades ago. Nimble manufacturing, low inventories – many aspects have improved. Funny thing though, even as old familiar barriers come tumbling down, you stumble into newer unsuspected games.
Way back in the early nineties I learned a very hard lesson by doing something ridiculous. With the help of a pal who had a good government contract and a surplus of dosh, I published a colouring book for adults. That’s a complete yawner now – I’d wager a case of beer that there are (or at least were, pre-pandemic) entire bookstores dedicated to adult colouring books.
But not in the early nineties. I can still remember the skeptical looks I got from booksellers back then, at store after store after store, as I tried to explain to them how great the idea was. I used high-quality paper and a glue spine, so the pictures could be removed and displayed when the colouring was finished, and though I wish I had changed a few of the drawings I used with others, for the most part, I’m still proud of the work in that piece. A toy store took a few copies, a few nice booksellers did their best – but they couldn’t even decide which section to put it in (11×17 is a deluxe size for the colourer – but its a big ‘shelf real estate’ ask, for a retailer).
It came out very nicely indeed – and I still have several boxes of the damned thing in the closet!
Hard lesson learned? Production is only part one – means nothing without distribution!
Fast forward a few decades and I am now producing (much more practical trade-format) books, making use of really fantastic production services. Way better ratio of effects for investment – but lo and behold, the game is not actually open – the investors just moved their choke points! ;o)
Production has been largely solved – distribution isn’t as cheap as it should be (Bring back BookRate for mail!) but people are used to ordering online, which is half the battle. But now the thing which is most difficult is to attract attention in the midst of the deluge of daily information – even if you have something which people do want to hear, see, read or enjoy. And so – still more study and work ahead! I am steadily getting better at wearing the businessman hat, so I can be a good publisher and properly reward the trust of other talented creators. Sustained marketing push comes next.
In parallel, the web also offers new quasi-commercial relationships we’ve never seen before. Patreon is like a subscription service not for a particular product, but for a creator’s whole effort. I really appreciate the support I already have there, and hope to earn more as I go. Every dollar that comes in that way helps mightily with things like software tools, website costs and printing. It helps even more to know my work is valued by others – hugely appreciated – a giant motivation boost which tells me clearly – yes it is definitely worth making more new work!
There is no fixed way to do it. Some make it a pay service with constant rewards for their patrons – my own approach is more open (and/or lazy). ;o) I really do want to share my best ideas as widely as possible, so most of the things my patrons see are on LargeEssSmallPress.com for free also.
That being said, I am all about the gratitude – nothing enriches our life better than appreciating the many people who contribute to help make it interesting and exciting – so there are some nifty exclusives from time to time. Also, when I have work of what some might think overproof strength, I trust my that Patreon audience can take (and enjoy) it. No political censor. Full-heart expression.
Which brings me to my end of year Patreon exclusive – a five song mini-album – part one of “Heartfelt on a Shoestring”. These MP3 files will all be on Patreon for you to download and enjoy at your leisure, anytime you want to sign up and see how it feels to be part of the team backing my podcast “Hard Truth and a Big Hug” this website and the books of “Large Ess Small Press” and helping me carry the work forward.
I have shared video versions of four of these tunes before on my youtube channel
The End Of The World Is Nigh (On Irresistible) – lyric scroll only
This Is Not A Song – with my original photography
The Ledge – with my original photography
Whimsy – with my photography of brilliant back-alley street-art!
The opening number of “Heartfelt on a Shoestring” is my all time greatest pop hit “Sticky Planet” – which is also the tune I’ve been using for the opening and closing theme of my podcast “Hard Truth and a Big Hug”. A video for this one is long overdue – but it’s a lengthy track and the diversity of imagery required is a wee bit daunting. Have a feeling I’m going to have to sit down and draw it all out by hand one day! ;o)
Finally, let me wish a groovy new year and send love and hugs to one and all – and fear not, I will of course keep sharing generously here on LargeEssSmallPress.com – for which you can thank me and my lovely Patreon crew both. Cheers!
PS – try saying “Harmonic pizzicato on a baritone uke” out loud. Think I may start using it as my new “Shave and a haircut…” irresistible meter, no?