State of the Site, January 2013

So I know the posting has been a little sporadic around here lately, but I’d like to give you a little heads-up as to what’s been going on and what the future may bring.

I’m basically been flying in circles while I tried to decide which way to go with this site. Here’s the thing: when I started this website four years ago, I was having trouble selling my work, partly because it didn’t fit established categories– part comedy, part action, with superheroes which didn’t fit neatly into either the established science-fiction or fantasy genres. I made a few short story sales, but it was slow going.

So I decided to try to find an audience for Digger on-line, first as a webcomic (which lasted about four months), then by serializing my novel Hero Go Home with one chapter a week, and then by trying the daily serial fiction experiment of Run, Digger, Run.

The webcomic never found any audience, and though I did gain some loyal readers with each of the serialized stories, the audience never got very large. I tried bringing in more traffic by transferring my weekly Out of the Vault and Super Movie Monday features from my previous blog, They Stole Frazier’s Brain, but while I do get more traffic from those pages, none of it really translates into readers for my fiction.

Which means I’m not selling any books, which is how I was hoping to make money. So here I am with a new book project in mind, and I have to decide–do I convert this into a more traditional author blog with sporadic posts while I write my new book with an eye toward traditional publishing, or do I try to push harder with different content, or (considering I have to pay for hosting every month) do I shut down the site altogether and go back to my free blog?

The thing is, I had a lot of plans for the site that got kind of derailed by the pressures of daily posting and never got fully implemented, and in the last couple of months, some other ideas and opportunities have come up.

What kind of ideas and opportunities? How about a redesigned site with new graphics? Branded merchandise like coffee mugs and hats? What about podcasts or even video features? Run, Digger, Run released as a novel, or as an e-book that can be read as a regular novel or in the original daily episode format (with the text cleaned up, of course)? What about Digger short fiction every month or so, along with teasers from the novel in progress? And this is kind of out there, but possible: how about a set of plastic minifigs of the Phoenix Phront?

The problem is, this kind of stuff takes a lot of time and more importantly, attention. Those have been in short supply this past year, and it’s getting harder to justify expending the amount of money and effort I have been for the kinds of results I’ve been getting so far.

But I’m thinking I will give it one more year. Pursuant to that, you’re going to see a new look rolling out over the next few weeks.  And if you give me some feedback on a few questions, I would really appreciate it.

I have not been happy with the font color on the site. At one time I had it fixed, but when I switched back from the dark site after Halloween, the font color got reset, and I’m just now getting it set to a darker, more readable color. But how did you like the dark look over Halloween? Would you like to see that as a permanent feature, or do you prefer it the way it is?

My next book project is not a Digger-verse superhero novel, and I don’t think I’ll be posting the entire thing on-line here the way I have in the past. But there are some options. I could post samples and teasers as the book is being written, for example. I could offer Advanced Reader Access in exchange for donations, letting you see the chapters as they’re finished. Would anyone be willing to pay for that, and how much?

If you remember the chapter heading illustrations I did each week for Hero Go Home, would you be interested in a prestige edition of the book with those illustrations (or similar ones) in full color on every chapter? How much would you be willing to pay for such a book?

I know the navigation on the site is incomplete, and I have some plans to fix it. Is there one specific thing you have a hard time finding that I could make easier?

What do you think about podcasts, or video? What sorts of things would you like to see or hear? Do you enjoy the annual Halloween radio dramas? Would you be interested in more of that, say, the Captain Zero series alluded to in Run, Digger, Run?

Is there anything I’m not offering here that you want and would be willing to pay for? A specific product, like coffee cups, for instance? What about audiobooks?

Is there anything I’m not offering here that you are not willing to pay for, but would bring you back more frequently or would make you spend more time on the site (a Digger-verse wiki, for example)?

Your feedback on any or all of these questions would be most welcome. Thank you and have a happy New Year.

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