Not “altar rations,” or the judicious care and feeding of your giantess.
Plunging into being an indie author, self-marketing machine, and paraphiliac fetishist has been an educational experience. It had better be, or all that experimentation and exploration has been for naught. And my philosophy is that if I’ve learned anything, it should be shared with anyone who’s paying attention.
I’m scaling back my strategy and intent. I gave it nearly everything I could for a few years, and the ROI just isn’t there. Not to turn a hobby into a business, but I did want to see if it was sustainable for a fetish writer to earn some money for his work, as opposed to most people’s current model of laboring over quality content and distributing it for free. In doing that, though, one has to ask: to what end? What’s the goal to achieve by working so hard to improve your craft and put out beautiful images and evocative stories for free? When does that stop? How do you know you’re done? And when you’re done, what do you have at the end of it?
The money, unfortunately, is in commissions. I have mixed feelings about this. I can’t sell a novella for $3, but someone’s willing to pay upward of $50 for a 5,000-word short story? Is that ethical? And yet I learned from my first writers’ panel at SizeCon 2017 that some writers see nothing wrong with charging much, much more.
But after loading several stories onto Smashwords, and all of those plus one exclusive title to Amazon, I see that no, the money’s just not there. It’s in commissions. People who are willing to reach out to you and pay top dollar for creative work catering to their specific tastes earns much more money, month after month, than selling 30,000-word novellas centering on your specific interests. Or mine.
I have to turn the lens back upon myself: Am I the problem? Are my tastes so pedestrian and outmoded that the readership has moved beyond them? I write about mostly white characters, mostly heterosexual relationships, mostly humans. Everyone else is Furries, kaiju, destruction and humiliation, genderqueering, polyamory, with more avant concepts all the time. Culture evolves rapidly with most of the world connected and sharing ideas online. Consumers have a very cutting-edge appetite, and maybe it’s a taste for anything new. But there I am, trotting around in my little rut, writing about big women and tiny men as though anyone was still into that.
And it was ill-conceived to expect to develop a sideline income from this demographic anyway. Who would target an audience that’s hallmarked by searching for free material (and now one crushed by layoffs and furloughs, during a pandemic) and expect to turn a buck? That was short-sighted of me, and it was really dumb to think that I could put my material out there and, say, convert Normies into liking this stuff, just because I write well. It’s not that mainstream tastes aren’t into G/t: they’re actually repulsed by it. I’ve talked about this fetish, my fiction, with friends and acquaintances, and sometimes they just laugh at the ridiculous image that forms in their mind. Other people, yeah, men and women have been outright repulsed at the idea of confronting a gigantic vagina, to say nothing of crawling inside it. How can you possibly work with a boob the size of a Mini Cooper? Maybe they’re hung up on the biological reality of what all this denotes, rather than that rosy-gazed, fantastic interpretation we come at it with.
All of these thoughts, these doubts and reexaminations, they all conspire to change my perspective on how I’m spending my time. I’ve been crushed under the negativity of what I “should” be doing, the work I “owe,” how “neglected” my blogs and series are. All that does is kill the joy of creation. Commodifying my hobby and turning my fetish into a part-time job robs it of all the fun, all the erotic charm, any whiff of excitement and tension. I uncapped the oil tank of my creativity and bled it out, and my engine overheated and seized. A couple times, because I’m dense.
Why would someone do that to themselves? Why would someone choose a course of action and frame a mindset that only makes them feel bad? Why would a creative force work so hard to defeat themself?
Once I became aware of all this, after some dark nights of self-doubt and existential crisis, followed by talking with a couple close, supportive friends, I decided to change my tactics. I’m no longer going to beat myself up for not killing myself to crank out new stories and series. I canceled Hiplay, the content library I’ve been paying for ($5/month) to repost my old blog posts and promote my Smashwords and Amazon catalogs. Granted, one month’s commission nearly covers the yearly fee for that service, but is it working for me? Am I attracting new readers? And having read a dozen or a hundred of my free stories, are they buying my other work? I don’t think I’m purchasing loyalty through this service, so I terminated it. With that I deleted SizeLit, the Twitter account dedicated to promoting my work. Most people following that were already following my main authorial account, AborigenGTS. There was no reason to divide interest between them, it was just extra effort that yielded nothing.
I’m keeping the premium WordPress account: again, one month of commissions covers the entire year’s fee. The commissions are guaranteed income, so Patreon deserves more of my attention. Sure, I can toss up a new story to Smashwords and Amazon now and then, but that’s not where the reward is for my effort.
The robust, new audience I thought I’d capture through selling out to Amazon? Sales have been discouraging, to say the least…
…and Smashwords’ sales have been worse. Even with the 60% discount.
Anyone who wants my books already has them. My audience isn’t expanding, despite continual social media reminders. People are into my crap as long as it’s free, which means that my plan was mistaken: I thought that if I pushed myself as a writer and worked on composing a quality product, it would distinguish my work from most of what’s out there, and that would convert to supporters who were willing to purchase my product. But with a limited audience, with limited interest, you can burn through those consumers rapidly.
Did I not put enough time into this experiment? I’ve been writing size erotica since the mid-’90s, and I’ve built and hosted my own GTS websites since 2000; I started my WordPress blog eight years ago, after being chased off Blogger due to morality censorship; I made a dedicated push into social media in 2016, including Facebook (before I quit that due to security issues) and Tumblr (everyone knows what happened with Tumblr). If you can’t learn something after banging your head against the wall for four years, when can you?
That means it’s time to readjust my priorities. The commissions and my few supporters on Patreon deserve way more attention and effort than they’ve been getting. Even if a lot of people are reading my free material, they’re being very quiet about it, so there’s no way for me to know whether I’m relevant at all. I do have a piece of paper taped behind my monitor, with a list of a dozen names of people who have gone out of their way to say that they like my stories and my style. I write for them. They are my conceptual audience, because they like what I’m doing when I’m creating self-indulgent stories.
So. More writing for my own entertainment, and only when it’s fun. More energy toward Patreon. Less involvement on social media. No more lofty plans about novels or publishing empires or anything like that. If I don’t write for a week, a month, two months? Fine, as long as I’ve giving Patreon enough energy. Smashwords and Amazon: only when it’s absolutely convenient. I’m not going to sweat updating my library when it results in a month of inactivity and rejection.
Was this all wasted time and effort?
No, it was an adventure. I made some important friends and I learned some important lessons, and one important lesson is knowing when to pack it up. I’m not discouraged, I’m just thinking about what’s next, what else I’d better be doing. From here on out, size writing has to be because it’s fun for me and for no other reason.
Best of luck to anyone else: YMMV.