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SPS-345: Selling Books With Subscriptions – with Emilia Rose

Emilia Rose has taken a direct-to-consumer approach to her writing career. She talks to James about the challenges and rewards of writing directly for her readers and generating income that doesn’t come via a retailer.

Show Notes

  • Starting writing on Wattpad and driving readers to Patreon
  • On Emilia’s workflow from Wattpad to Patreon to KDP
  • Getting feedback from readers as a story is being written
  • The risks of being shut down by vendors that steamy romance authors take
  • Turning books into graphic novels
  • Producing spicy audio dramas

Resources mentioned in this episode

PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page

JAMES’ FUNDRAISING: James is running a half-marathon in aid of pancreatic cancer research.

WEBINAR: If you missed the Amazon Ads webinar with Mark and Janet Margot you can watch the replay.

FIVE DAYS LEFT: The Ads for Authors course is open for enrolment until August 31.

MERCH: Check out our new 2022 hoodies and t-shirts in the SPF Store.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Speaker 1: On this edition of The Self-Publishing Show.

Emilia Rose: It was really insane. And I was planning on going to grad school and I was like, "I'm just going to write. There's no reason to go to grad school." And I believe I hit five figures a month, I want to say, probably six months into it.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers, no more barriers, no one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join indie bestseller, Mark Dawson and first time author James Blatch as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is The Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello, and welcome to The Self-Publishing Show with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: Mark, welcome to the show. I'm welcoming you to the show. You could welcome me to the show, we're co-hosts, but anyway. I was all presentable an hour ago when we tried to record this and I've now been for a run. If you're watching on YouTube, I look a sweaty mess, but I also will show you my shirt.

I'm in a pancreatic Cancer UK shirt, because on September the 3rd, I have entered my first ever half marathon at the age of 55. And I'm training for that at the moment. I'm not a runner, I have to tell you, I feel like I'm dragging a sack of potatoes around, every time I run, but you know me, I do like a challenge, I always have to challenge myself.

I lost my mother, my mother's one of the very many people who died from pancreatic cancer in 2005, far too young in her 60s. And so I do a little bit for that every couple of years or so. It's just one of those diseases, Mark, it's unlike all the other cancers, the stats on it, the survival rates just have not shifted in 40 years. It's a horrible disease.

It doesn't present itself until it's too late, classically, so much work to be done and treatment and discovery. And if you'd like to support me, I'm just turning this into a little advert for my fundraising, Mark, hope you don't mind, you can do. I'll drop a link into the show notes and in the groups, but it's justgiving.com/fundraising/james-blatch.

Do you reckon I can get around half marathon?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, I think you will. Absolutely.

James Blatch: Have you run one? I know it used to run quite a lot, didn't you?

Mark Dawson: No, I don't run anymore. Actually I do run. I was thinking at some point we should probably do a little author health podcast because I've got a couple of Peloton machines below me where I am now.

James Blatch: You've got two Peloton machines? Why do you need two?

Mark Dawson: Yeah. I've got a treadmill and a bike. And they're both excellent. I'm loving the bike at the moment, so I'm probably riding every day and then mixing up with running as well. Peloton, I am so impressed with this, it's so good. Speaking of plugs, if anyone wants to follow me on Peloton, I think I'm paperback writer or feedback writer, you could tag and follow friends, so I'm doing that.

And then also, haven't told you this actually, we've got, especially when it's so hot, there's a company called Eight Sleep and I told Mr. Dyer this last night and he immediately went to the look and potentially buy one. He says, "I've got a mattress topper that sits on top of your mattress and it feeds into what looks like a desktop PC tower." And what it does is it has little pipes running through the top that you can't feel and it sets the temperature. So you can have cold water running through so you can lower the bed temperature to whatever you want or raise it. I like sleeping cold, so my side of the bed is very cold, Lucy's side of the bed is a little warmer.

James Blatch: I thought you were a hot in bed.

Mark Dawson: Absolutely. Yeah. So that's great and you wake up in the morning also does things like it takes your pulse through the night, it knows if you're tossing and turning, it'll present you with how long you've been in sleep, what your quality was, when you entered deep sleep, REM sleep, all this kind of stuff. So it's really good and it isn't cheap, but it I've been very impressed with it. So I think we might leave it there now, but we should probably do a kind of author health show.

James Blatch: Wow. Yeah. Definitely. General fitness obviously is good for alert levels and so on, but there are specific things about writing which we do need to look at and-

Mark Dawson: I'm standing at the moment, so if you listen very carefully, you listen now, can you hear my desk going up and down? On YouTube you can see, it's very quiet, but on YouTube you can see the camera going up and desk, because I have a standing desk.

James Blatch: Mine goes up and down as well, but I'm sitting, I actually don't stand very often at the moment because I find I'm on my feet a lot.

Mark Dawson: I do stand quite... Most of the afternoon I'll stand.

James Blatch: That's very good. Yeah. So there are specific things, obviously with typing and dictations a good way around that, but everyone's going to dictate. So yeah, I absolutely think we should. And also talk about mental health side of it, so we'll put together an episode on that, for sure.

Mark, would you like to welcome our new Patreon supporters?

Mark Dawson: I'd love to. So Tom is making it little easier for us at the moment.

We have Caroline Towers from Bingley in the UK and Susan P. Baker, Old Man Smithers, probably not his real name, and Kimberly Gibson, Kimberly from Texas, Susan and Old Man Smithers, we don't know where you are, but thank you anyway. And Rachel Baker, also no address. So thank you to Caroline, Susan, Old Man Smithers, Kimberly and Rachel. Thanks for supporting us on Patreon, your support is very gratefully received and it helps us keep putting the show on for what 350 weeks or something without missing one, which is pretty good I think.

James Blatch: Yeah, really good. Do you think Susan P. Baker, Old Man Smithers, Kimberly Gibson is one entry? Because there's semicolons between them and they're all in Texas.

Mark Dawson: You don't understand how semicolons work, do you? So no.

James Blatch: I don't understand the punctuation there at all, to be honest. Why are they on one line and the others are on separate lines?

Mark Dawson: Yeah, that's true. Why's he done that for? I don't know. We should probably ask young Tom to explain himself.

James Blatch: "Thomas got in here." I keep him under the stairs here. Well, I'll tell you what Patreon is an interesting way to start this episode because of the interview, which is coming up in a moment. Patreon has been used on steroids by our author to absolutely ignite and fuel her campaign. And she has completely owned Patreon and fundraising and meshed it with writing and it's a very, very interesting interview.

Whether it'll all be able to do something like Emilia is doing, I don't know, but certainly you will get some tips that could raise money for your career from this interview, so stay tuned for that in just a moment.

And before that, Mark, we are going to mention the Ads for Author's course, which I assume is in its last few days. Is that right? When does this go out?

Mark Dawson: This goes next Friday, doesn't it. So yes, it'd be about four days left if I'm right about that. And so yes, we should mention that.

We'll also mention the webinar that I did last night with Janet. Ads for Authors closes probably in about four days time as you're listening to this. So if you want to learn more about the ads course, go to selfpublishingformula.com/ads, A-D-S, where you'll get all of the information on that registration page with testimonials, walk through, some videos, the curriculum, and also live chat so you can speak to probably to John, Catherine or Tom, sometimes me, but mostly those guys about questions about the course.

And if you're interested, I'm going to put you to the test here, James, if you're interested in the webinar that we did last night, we had 2,250 registrations and about 800, 900 people were there live, which is pretty good actually, turn up rate of nearly 50% is excellent. And it was on getting started with Amazon ads webinar with Janet, which was very detailed, lots of good stuff and tonnes of really good questions actually from the audience as well. Now we did record it. I'm just trying to think, do we have that on a page?

James Blatch: We do have that on a page and I know the page because I'm organised and I knew you were going to ask me, so that's selfpublishingformula.com/learnamazon-replay, so selfpublishingformula.com/learnamazon-replay, we'll put all of these links into the show notes and also post them into group. If you're on our mailing list, I think we'll send that, it was a really useful webinar, I think we'll send it out to everyone anyway, so you would've perhaps gone back if you're already on our mailing list.

And if you're not on our mailing list, well, what are you doing? There's 240 odd thousand authors as part of the SPF community helping each other, raising the tide for all ships and you can join the main list at selfpublishingformula.com to get all the golden nuggets that you need.

Mark Dawson: Golden nuggets?

James Blatch: Golden nuggets.

Mark Dawson: Sounds like fast food.

James Blatch: Well, Las Vegas casino. Okay. So there we go, we've got Ads for Authors closing this week, selfpublishingformula.com/adsforauthors, your chance to get on board with the detailed instruction on how to run paid ad to sell your books. It's all about selling books, all about selling books, not about writing books, not about looking good holding a book, not about getting your books into shops or joining a vanity press or any of those other things that could possibly happen, it's about you as an indie author, selling your books and hopefully making a profit from that.

Okay. Right. So talking to selling books and making a profit, Emilia Rose has cracked this in a slightly unusual way. She is big into crowdfunding, she's big into a very direct relationship with her readers, for which they pay, they subscribe, at various levels and get various services from her and various access to stories and so on. It's quite a complex ecosystem that she's created, but it's a very, very profitable one. She's done brilliantly at this. Very, very impressed with Emilia Rose. Let's hear from her and then Mark and I will be back for chat.

Emilia Rose, welcome to The Self-Publishing Show, good to have you here. We're going to be talking about selling books in a slightly different way from the kind of KDP, Kobo, running Facebook ads, a different way of engaging with audience.

Why don't you start off, if you don't mind, tell us a bit about yourself.

Emilia Rose: I'm Emilia Rose. I write steamy romance, both contemporary and paranormal. I've been publishing for about three years now, but I didn't go the traditional self-publishing route. I started on Wattpad actually, which is a free website where people can write and read books. And then my husband convinced me to start a Patreon. Basically I started on Patreon and then I moved to Amazon and Apple and Barnes and Noble Publishing.

James Blatch: I've never used Wattpad, I have to say. So can you just explain how it operates?

Emilia Rose: Wattpad is a free website where authors can upload their stories. Usually it's done in a serial way, so authors will publish one chapter at a time with a cliffhanger, get people really engaged and interested in it. And they'll publish consistently probably once or twice every week and readers can read that material for free.

James Blatch: Is it used by authors who simply want to write and have their stories read or is it used by authors as a lead generator, a lost leader, if you like, to then sell the stories somewhere else?

Emilia Rose: So most people are using it right now, they're mostly beginner authors or authors who are just writing for fun. They don't usually... Not usually, there's a lot of authors there who are selling books, but a lot of authors are not, and they're just writing for fun. And they're not really utilising Wattpad as a business tool right now.

James Blatch: So you wrote your stories to Wattpad, but you did decide you did want to monetize it? In fact, I think in your notes, you said your husband said, "You should monetize it."

Emilia Rose: Yeah. So basically I was, when I started writing, I had zero confidence in myself and I didn't think anyone was going to read my stories. And so I was putting it off and off and off. I was like, "I'm not going to monetize. Why would I do that? No one's going to support me." But my husband convinced me to start a Patreon and so I joined Patreon and I uploaded a few extra chapters, early access. So I might have been up to chapter 20 on my Patreon, but only chapter 15 on Wattpad. And I basically said, "Hey, if you guys want to read some extra chapters, you could come over."

James Blatch: So you set up your Patreon, but were directing your readers from Wattpad. Wattpad was your main audience and a percentage of them came across the Patreon to you. And how successful was that?

Emilia Rose: It took a while to build up, but I started writing a really popular book on Wattpad, it hit all of the romance tropes. It was steamy paranormal, sort of taboo, because it was with twin brothers and this human girl, and people just loved it and it just exploded all of a sudden. And it was so freaky just to see people supporting me all of a sudden when they were just reading for free a couple weeks before. Once I started writing tropes, so to say, people started joining a lot more.

James Blatch: So in terms of the tropes, in terms of the genre, did you write steamy from the beginning because it's a big, commercially popular genre or just something you wanted to write?

Emilia Rose: It was mostly something I wanted to write. I started reading on Wattpad too, and there's a lot of romance. And there wasn't a lot of steamy romance at the time and it was something I was really interested in. I went to search for those books and there was not many, so I was like, "I'm going to do it myself. I'm going to write and see how it goes."

James Blatch: Basically there wasn't enough sex and you need to provide.

Emilia Rose: Exactly.

James Blatch: Sex has been the big leader in many commercially developed organisations from television to film and everything else, so why not writing? Okay. But it is nonetheless a huge commercially successful genre, so not a bad one to write in. And you said paranormal.

When you first said steamy romance, I always assume it's contemporary romance with spicy scenes, but you actually had a few other sub genre?

Emilia Rose: I started with writing wolf shifters.

James Blatch: Okay. Wolf shifters. Yes, okay.

Emilia Rose: Wolfs. Yes, wolves, like werewolves.

James Blatch: I thought you said Walt shifters for a bit thought people were shifted to Walt, like Walt Disney. Yes. Wolf shifters. Yes. I'm familiar with shifting and wolf shifting. Yes. Okay. All right. That sounds fun.

Emilia Rose: Yeah, it was really fun. I just recently started doing contemporary.

James Blatch: Were the two were twin brothers wolf shifters?

Emilia Rose: Yes we were.

James Blatch: Okay. Gotcha now. Okay. So you're writing these chapters, Wattpad has proved that the audience are not just there for free books, they shifted across the Patreon. And can you give us an idea, the type of money involved and was this enough for you to think, "Actually I could live off this"?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. Within six months of starting my Patreon... I was still in college at the time and I was making a full time income just on my writing.

James Blatch: Wow.

Emilia Rose: Yeah. It was really insane. I was planning on going to grad school and I was like, "I'm just going to write, there's no reason to go to grad school." And so I believe I hit five figures a month, probably, I want to say, probably six months into it.

James Blatch: And this is this model, Patreon?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. This is just subscriptions.

James Blatch: Wow. When was this, because you look quite young, so this must have been quite recently?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. This is probably two and a half years ago.

James Blatch: Wow. That's amazing. Congrats. Obviously your writing is compelling, that's the first thing to say here, is that people want to read the writing. So you were Patreon, five figures a month within six months.

Where are you now? What are you doing now that's different? You're not still just on Patreon?

Emilia Rose: No. I expanded out, I'm publishing on Amazon and I'm a wide author, so publishing as many places as I can. I'm on Radish too. I'm working on a graphic novel right now, as well as audio books and audio dramas. So I try to expand as far as I can.

James Blatch: You sound very prolific. There's a lot of different things going on there. So graphic novels and audio dramas, not just audio books being narrated. Okay. We'll talk about all of these individually, but let me just start with the general stuff.

Are you still doing Patreon? Is that still going?

Emilia Rose: Yes. And I'm still doing the same model too, where I release my books for free on Wattpad and I bring people over, or I try to.

James Blatch: Is that still an important part of your income, the Patreon subscription?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. I would say the subscriptions are 45% of my income right now.

James Blatch: Wow. Okay. That's really interesting, isn't it?

I think a lot of people would see Wattpad, as you say, just a kind of testing area before then going to KDP, but they may have missed a trick here.

Emilia Rose: Yeah. I didn't even realise I found something like that until a couple years ago I was like, "Oh, so you can actually monetize your free readers, I guess?"

James Blatch: If you think about it, Wattpad is a website full of readers, it's full of readers, just readers and you can communicate with them and you can put products up for them.

Emilia Rose: Exactly. And it's so social too. The readers there are so hungry for stories. They will devour a story in one night and just go onto the next one. And it's crazy. It's crazy. But it's really awesome to be able to be part of that community and build stories for readers there.

James Blatch: When you migrated, or when you added KDP, I should say, to where you publish and the other platforms, did you take the stuff that had now sort of time expired, if you like, was no longer unique to Patreon and republish it on those other platforms?

Emilia Rose: So personally what I do, I know some people who do that, but I leave all of my work up on Patreon basically as a reward for joining. If people join to read one story, they can also read my entire back list, so it's kind of a Netflix for authors, sort of.

James Blatch: A one person Netflix. Well, that could be one of the keys to its success is that it's got that exclusivity.

Emilia Rose: Yes. Yeah.

James Blatch: So you're wide, apart from the fact you are quite exclusive to Patreon for your readers there?

Emilia Rose: Pretty much.

James Blatch: So the stuff you wrote for wide distribution, that's new stuff.

Emilia Rose: No, I just republished those stories. Yeah. Sorry. I might have misinterpreted your question. I keep my stories on Patreon and I write new stories on Patreon as well, but eventually six months to a year after they're completed on Patreon and on Wattpad, ill also reformat them for Kindle, but they stay on Patreon too.

James Blatch: Yes. I'm with you now. Okay, that's all right. That's not the exclusivity that I was thinking about, but okay. So they found a wider audience.

And in terms of the other stuff, you say that's maybe just half your income from Kobo and Amazon or the other places you publish?

Emilia Rose: Yes. Pretty much, a little bit over half.

James Blatch: And today, a new book, whatever you're working on now.

We'll talk about the other stuff in a minute, but books, you'd still start with Patreon or would you now do some of your stuff direct to the wider distributors?

Emilia Rose: I'd still start on Patreon. It really helps me because the people on my Patreon act as beta readers. So I'll start writing the story and I'll update five chapters per week. And throughout writing it, I ask my readers like, "Hey, what did you think about these chapters? Do you think anything should be changed? I don't like how this particular thing is going with this character. What do you guys think?" And they'll give me their feedback.

With that feedback, as I write the story, I can change it a little bit or afterwards I will change it before I publish it to Amazon. So it's really as clean as it can be and I don't need to reach out to a bunch of beta readers and be like, "Hey, can you read this book after it's already written?" When I really don't want to do anything more with it.

James Blatch: Well, that's fun for the readers to be a part of that process, isn't it?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. A lot of my readers love being a part of the whole creation process because especially on Patreon, they're with me from the moment I start the story to the moment that's published. And all the little things, they get the first view of covers, the first edited versions of the books and pretty much everything.

James Blatch: On the other hand, writing like that slightly terrifies me. Because I stop writing for a couple of weeks here and there and then start up again.

The idea that you're basically having to deliver and there's people hungry for the next chapter, once you've started, you can't stop, can you?

Emilia Rose: Not usually, I don't personally. It kind of motivates me to get the book done because a lot of times I'll be like, "All right, well..." If I didn't do it this way, I'd be like, "Okay, well I'm kind of bored of this story right now, let's set it aside for 12 months and we'll come back to it," but I probably won't come back to it at that point. So this motivates me to continue writing stories. And when I started, I wasn't doing five chapters per week, it was one extra chapter per week that people received, so it wasn't anything that I couldn't do.

James Blatch: Is there a downside to this? What if you're halfway through the book and you think, "Do you know what? I've just got everything wrong here. The stuff I wrote at the beginning, that should be the end," or whatever, which happens occasionally when someone's writing a book, can you do that? Make that bigger change, say to the people reading it, "I'm going to start again here"?

Emilia Rose: You could. I've never done that personally because I tend to write a lot cleaner. I honestly, I don't stop my books, so I write as I go and a story kind of just unfolds for me quite easily. But I have in the past, especially with my earlier books that I put on Patreon and then Amazon, I've made huge changes to them during the final version.

If I do something like that, I will complete the story the way it is on Patreon, then I'll do all the edits that are huge. And then I'll give the story back to everyone on Patreon and be like, "Hey, I rewrote this basically, if you want to read it, go ahead, if you don't, that's fine."

James Blatch: That sounds a really interesting way to write. In terms of your productivity, what sort of word count are you doing a day to produce these chapters?

Emilia Rose: I'm writing full-time, so writing is pretty much all I do. So I do write a lot. I want to say I push out 10,000 chapter... Or 1000 word chapters per week, so probably 10,000 words per week.

James Blatch: Okay. Right. That's some going. Do you write every day or five days a week?

Emilia Rose: I don't write every day. I write when I have enough update due, which is probably not the best, but it works for me.

James Blatch: Sorry, you write when you... When what?

Emilia Rose: Oh, sorry. When I have a writing update due, before my post is due.

James Blatch: Oh, okay. So you are very deadline driven?

Emilia Rose: Yes.

James Blatch: But you've set yourself up in such a way that there's deadlines all over the place for you. They're always coming around, right?

Emilia Rose: Yes. But it helps motivate me to finish. Or else I would not finish.

James Blatch: I bet you would, but...

Emilia Rose: Maybe.

James Blatch: But yeah, that is definitely one way to do it. Okay.

In terms of genre, have you stuck with a paranormal, steamy romance with all the other stuff you're doing or have you moved away from that at all?

Emilia Rose: Right now everything is steamy, whether it's contemporary or paranormal. I started with paranormal, but my readers wanted me to write contemporary stuff, like mafia or billionaire. And I was like, "I don't know if I want to do that," but I tried it and everyone loved it. So I'm kind of juggling both right now.

James Blatch: I suppose the other thing that occurs to me writing steamy is it can be difficult to advertise and market. And we know quite a few successful, steamy romance authors who've had their accounts shut down at various points, and so this is a way of circumnavigating that.

Emilia Rose: Yeah. And it depends because Patreon has done the same thing for me too, they've forced me to pull down one of my stories, but the majority of my stuff is still up and they haven't removed it. It's really hard being a steamy romance author sometimes just because you constantly have that fear of being shut down.

James Blatch: There needs to be an OnlyFans for authors and readers, a platform that's just there for that, although I think OnlyFans once decided they were going to stop doing it, but I think they worked out very quickly that was a silly thing to do. Okay. Well, that's interesting. It's one of the trials and tribulations, isn't it of writing steaming stuff, you either basically portray it cover-wise and blurb-wise as something else or you deal with the policy guidelines crashing down on you from time to time. You must know your readers really well. You've basically built up your entire writing based on your reader's feedback.

Emilia Rose: Yeah. Pretty much.

James Blatch: Do you know them personally now, some of your readers?

Emilia Rose: Some of them I do. When I started, I started on Discord a lot. And we have different channels where people talk and just chill out. And a lot of them will just gossip about my stories in that Discord. And it's really cool just to interact with them and see their comments and their reactions to each story or each chapter.

James Blatch: They're aware that you are there.

Emilia Rose: Yes. Yeah. I read it. So they're aware.

James Blatch: Would you describe yourself as outgoing or...?

Emilia Rose: No.

James Blatch: No. You'd say you're introverted or...?

Emilia Rose: I'm very introverted.

James Blatch: Sorry, getting bit personal here. I'm just trying to think about whether this is a route other people could do because it seems to be it requires quite a lot of gregariousness, I don't know is the right word, but you've got to be engaging and want to engage all the time. It's not for everyone, I think.

Emilia Rose: No, I don't think it's for everyone either, but it's really nice to be able just to host a community, even though you might not be a big part of it, your readers want to come together as a fandom and just gossip about your work. And a lot of the conversation, especially in Discord is reader-led. I don't pose questions a lot there, specifically. They'll just go on and do their own thing.

I don't think serialisation is for everyone and that's basically what I'm doing here. It's really hard to write that sometimes and a lot of times you do have to be active and you have to respond to comments and just let people know, "Hey, I'm here. I want to know what you guys think." But yeah, it definitely is not for everyone, but everyone could do it if they wanted to.

James Blatch: Yeah. So basically your readers are the outgoing, gregarious ones and you can just sit there reacting to that and still be a little bit introverted, which is how we are as writers generally, isn't it? Now, you mentioned audio and graphic novels as well, let's talk about them. So start perhaps with the novel, the comic book, whatever you want to call it. Some people get upset when you call graphic novels, comic books, but just so people understand what we're talking about.

Is this going to be similar genre? Can you get away with that in the graphic novel, be spicy?

Emilia Rose: Oh, I think so. That's what we're doing. We're doing a spicy graphic novel.

James Blatch: Oh, we'll find out, won't we?

Emilia Rose: Yeah, we'll see how it goes, but it is actually an adaption of one of my stories. So I have a story called My Werewolf Professor and everyone on my Patreon pretty much voted that they wanted to see this as illustrations or a graphic novel, so it's currently being made into one. I found an amazing artist who does spicy stuff and I'm going to do basically the same funnel into my Patreon through Webtoons. I don't know if you're-

James Blatch: I've not heard of Webtoons.

Emilia Rose: Webtoons is basically an app for graphic novels, sort of a Wattpad or a Radish or graphic novels, but they don't allow spicy stuff.

James Blatch: Right. God damn them.

Emilia Rose: So all the not safe for work stuff is going to be on Patreon for my readers.

James Blatch: Will be Patreon be okay with this?

Emilia Rose: We'll see. I hope so.

James Blatch: Let's get into a little bit of the detail here and I'm obviously going to go completely out of my comfort zone here, but spicy books, and I've read a couple for authors, are pretty explicit. That's the whole point of them, right?

So is the graphic novel going to be... It's going to look a bit like porn, isn't it, if it's drawn like that? Or is it moderated in some ways? This guy got experience of how to do that?

Emilia Rose: We just started doing one of the spicier chapters recently. And what I did is basically I have a clean version and a not clean version. So the clean version will have dialogue that's not dirty and the not clean version is definitely going to be basically straight from the book, very explicit. And what I write, I actually have, I have a plot with a lot of my stories, so it's not just sex.

James Blatch: No, I didn't think it would be for a second, no. No, but what I'm saying is there's a big difference to reading a chapter in a book, which is steamy and it's kind of fan service is part partly what the book's there for, and physically seeing it, even if it's drawn. It's like a film, you could have a romantic film that has sex in it and it's very different if you see the sex. That's not a film anymore, that's the kind of point... I used to be a BBFC, a film examiner in the UK, so it's something we did talk about, but there's something visceral about seeing sex, that changes the nature of the document.

I'm just wondering where you are in terms of how that works now.

Emilia Rose: Have you seen 365 Days? It's this romance...

James Blatch: I don't think I have, no.

Emilia Rose: It's this steamy romance movie and it has a story to it, but a lot of onscreen sex, but without showing body parts, so it's going to be sort of like that.

James Blatch: Okay. I love having this conversation. You can tell I'm a middle-aged British man talking about the sort of thing, but hopefully we navigated it. So that's really interesting.

And seeing you already got some of the drawings coming back, you're approving them as you go through. Is it shaping up well?

Emilia Rose: It's looking really good. I'm really, really excited.

James Blatch: When will that come out?

Emilia Rose: It takes a long time to draw all the little pictures. So the official book is probably not going to be out for a year or two on Amazon, but I'm going to be updating pretty much a chapter by chapter starting in the fall.

James Blatch: Okay. And on your Patreon?

Emilia Rose: Yes. Patreon and Webtoons.

James Blatch: Okay. And Webtoons. Yes. For what they allow.

Emilia Rose: Yes. For what they allow.

James Blatch: And obviously if that goes well.

How much does it cost? Is your Patreon per book or is it just, if you're a subscriber you get access to everything, as you said?

Emilia Rose: It's per month. So if you pay per month, you get access to pretty much everything.

James Blatch: And are there levels, tiers of membership?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. Right now I have a $3, $5, $10 and $25. Soon I'm going to be retiring the $3 tier and just having 5, 10 and 25.

James Blatch: What is the split of what you get for that?

Emilia Rose: So $3 you get pretty much all of my content except a couple stories, $5 is audio books, as well as one extra story. And then $10 is pretty much everything below plus one more story. $25, we're doing, not safe for work and safe for work arts per month, one character art per month, as well as everything underneath.

James Blatch: Yeah. Great. Okay. Now you mentioned audiobooks there, so that's part of this as well.

How are you doing audiobooks? Are you producing those independently yourself?

Emilia Rose: I'm going through ACX right now.

James Blatch: Okay. So does that mean you're exclusive to ACX? Can you put them on Patreon then?

Emilia Rose: I'm not exclusive.

James Blatch: Okay. So you go through ACX, you do the split with a...

Emilia Rose: I just pay up front.

James Blatch: Okay. And then you get the-

Emilia Rose: So I pay up front for the audiobooks and then do non-exclusive and then I could pretty much put them anywhere.

James Blatch: Yes. Okay. And how do you put them on Patreon?

Emilia Rose: Right now I put them on through BookFunnel. They have a audio section where you can upload audio books and it's just easier. Patreon has a place where you could upload audio, but it's not that good, it's really bad actually. So yeah, we're going through BookFunnel right now.

James Blatch: And you are also selling them presumably in a traditional way.

Emilia Rose: Yes.

James Blatch: Yeah. Wide again?

Emilia Rose: Yes. Wide.

James Blatch: Okay. Well this sounds like it's a really interesting way of going about it. You've got a foot in both camps. Part of you is a, I'm going to use the word traditional in the wrong place here, but a traditional self-published author, and the other half of you has grown really organically through your readers, which is a great, I would imagine, great for your writing as much as your selling?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. It is really nice to have my readers be in the process with me. And what's really cool is a lot of the times... So I write these one shots. So they're a 1000 word, short spicy story every week,

James Blatch: One shot. I like it.

Emilia Rose: And I will come up with a bunch of them. And after a while, when I'm ready to start a new story, I'll have everyone on Patreon on vote for which one of those one shots they want to see me make into a novel. And a lot of the times the one shot that they choose is also going to do really, really well on Amazon because it's what the readers want.

James Blatch: Do you ever feel pressure from your readers to do stuff and not want to do it?

Emilia Rose: Yeah. Actually, my first series, it was just supposed to be one book, one book and done, but I felt so much pressure to write a second book, a sequel, and the sequel turned out really bad in my opinion. It was split, a lot of people hated it, a lot of people loved it. So I ended up just finishing it off as a trilogy, but I don't know if I would ever do that again. That was a lot of pressure for me.

James Blatch: It sounds like you're incredibly entrepreneurial and imaginative of the way you go about it and very energised to work with your authors, and probably credit to your husband for suggesting that you start selling stuff as well as right at the beginning.

Emilia Rose: He gets all the credit for that. It would've never happened.

James Blatch: The other 99% of it, which is doing it, definitely goes to you. Well, look, that sounds really good. And I'm sure people will want to check out everything that we've talked about.

Where can they find you, Emilia?

Emilia Rose: My Patreon is Emilia Rose writing, but I also run a Facebook group called Subscriptions for Authors, where I try to give out weekly information on how to build a subscription or membership platform for your writing.

James Blatch: Sounds great. And what's next for you? I guess you're going to keep an eye the success of the graphic novel?

Emilia Rose: Yes. We'll definitely look at that. Jumping into audio dramas as well. Adapting a lot of my stories that I've already written into just different forms.

James Blatch: Yeah. Actually, let me just ask you, before we close that, let me just ask you about the audio dramas then. So are you doing those with ACX as well? I wasn't even sure if they offer that.

Emilia Rose: No, I have a casting company that I've been in contact with and we are trying to find... So the audio dramas are going to be very spicy, so I had to go with a casting company who does that kind of stuff. So not through ACX, and I don't even know if I would put them on Audible. They'll probably be exclusive to my subscriptions at first and then we'll see how they do, where they go.

James Blatch: That sounds really interesting. It's a different experience, isn't it? Are you adapting your book and writing it out like a script? Or are you doing a new story for this?

Emilia Rose: No, we're just adapting them into script form.

James Blatch: Yeah. Into a radio play?

Emilia Rose: Yes.

James Blatch: With a lot of panting and hot breath.

Emilia Rose: Yes. Pretty much.

James Blatch: You've got to get the right actors for that.

Emilia Rose: I know.

James Blatch: I'm so impressed, Emilia. It's really exciting hearing about your success and doing it so closely related to your readers, which is such a great thing, as I said, not just for your writing, but for selling obviously as well. They're your tribe, aren't they? They're your supporter, your foundation.

Emilia Rose: Yeah. I love them. They've really helped me so much just build and just be confident in my writing and expand. And it's been an amazing ride.

James Blatch: Yeah. And it's not over yet.

Emilia Rose: No.

James Blatch: Okay. Brilliant. Thank you so much, Emilia and thanks for giving out... We'll put all those details in the show notes. I know people will definitely want to check out this because we don't hear it very often, it's an interesting way of operating.

Emilia Rose: Thank you for having me.

James Blatch: There you go, Emilia Rose, really using patreon.com. I know you haven't heard this interview yet, Mark, but it really is a work of art. And how hard she's worked at building up this system where people get certain chapters, they get bonus content, they get to take part in the writing process as well with her, which is amazing. It's a lot to manage and keep in the air, but it's certainly been very profitable for Emilia and brilliantly done.

Mark Dawson: Yeah. And there's a few of us doing that now. And it's crossed my mind a couple of times, but I just think for me personally, I don't have the time to, and I would feel obligated to really deliver value all the time. I think I start to feel quite guilty if I took a month off or they didn't get what I'd promised them, so that would be stressful for me. So probably not something that I would do, but I think it's great that authors are finding ways to make a regular income outside of the stores. Also ties in with, I'm seeing quite a few authors now using Kickstarter really well, so Brandon Sanderson is the obvious one.

Do you know how much he made with his Kickstarter?

James Blatch: It's done quite well, hasn't it? Something like $50 million now, isn't it?

Mark Dawson: Yeah. $45 million which is absolutely unbelievable.

James Blatch: That'll fund the covers for his books and everything, won't it?

Mark Dawson: Probably just about, if he's economical about things.

James Blatch: Yeah. Making a profit.

Mark Dawson: It's lovely to see that, see people thinking laterally and doing things in a different way, so I'm all for it.

James Blatch: Yeah. Brilliant. In fact, I think I interviewed Britt Andrews earlier this week, the interview will go out the next couple of weeks and Britt, she adds something I think on Patreon, it's in the interview, that people get access to the writing process while she's going along, she does that, so I think it's increasingly happening. But that was a real master class now from Emilia, I was very impressed with her. Very good, indeed. Good. Okay, Mark, that's it, I'm going to go and have a shower. Probably...

Mark Dawson: As we've been talking, I've been joined outside the window by eight swans. I just taken a quick picture, so those of you on here looking on YouTube, I'm just holding up to the camera. They were feeding, they learn now that I will feed them and they'll just got to sit there until I do. It is very bucolic today, got swans and a kingfisher is fishing off the bridge.

James Blatch: Oh, excellent. I love seeing kingfishers. I very rarely see them around here. Occasionally, little flash of electric blue, but...

Mark Dawson: Yeah. They're very easy to spot because they are so bright, but they're reasonably rare, but there's a pair who live outside my office here which is quite nice.

James Blatch: Is it eight swans on the 12 days of Christmas? How many swans is it? Maybe it is eight.

Mark Dawson: No swans in Christmas.

James Blatch: Is it no swans?

Mark Dawson: Swans at Christmas? I don't know.

James Blatch: Oh the song, the 12 days of Christmas. Shan't there swans in there? No, maybe not. Okay.

Mark Dawson: I'm pretty sure there aren't, but I might be wrong.

James Blatch: It's a little early to be talking about Christmas.

Mark Dawson: I haven't got time to check now.

James Blatch: Now remind me, Mark, for next week, forget Christmas, for next week I need to have planned, I think, our stops on... John and I are going to do a couple of testimonial pickups before Vegas. And also we're going to have drinks in the Sharktooth Tavern in Florida, so I must tell people the details of those in the next episode because we're getting closer to that.

Mark Dawson: That's on the Friday, isn't it?

James Blatch: That is the Friday. Yeah. So I think we may have already announced that day, but I do want to make sure that I'm mentioning it, otherwise it's going to be you and me standing in a bar with John.

Mark Dawson: God.

James Blatch: So that'll be 23rd of September.

Mark Dawson: Is it? Yeah.

James Blatch: Yeah. Is that right? Yeah. 23rd of September. The Sharktooth.

Mark Dawson: 19th, 20th, 21st. Yes, 23rd. Yeah.

James Blatch: And TradeWinds Resort St. Pete Beach. And we are going to go, so John and I are going to be in, I think it is Ohio and Chicago in November. So if you're in that area, somewhere like Columbus, Dayton, there's another place we're going to go to.

Mark Dawson: Cleveland.

James Blatch: Yeah, maybe it's Cleveland and then Chicago. And we'll definitely have drinks in Chicago I think. I've already got somebody working on that, but we are looking for people to come and descend on. We won't stay with you, but we do require coffee.

Mark Dawson: You might be, I wouldn't put it past you.

James Blatch: No. Okay. All right. Look, that's it. Thank you very much indeed to everyone behind the scenes who makes this podcast possible and thank you very much, indeed, for our excellent guest today, Emilia Rose, we will be back next week. All that remains for me to say, is there's a goodbye from him.

Mark Dawson: And a goodbye from me and the swans? Goodbye.

James Blatch: Goodbye.

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