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I Am No Longer Working For Free

As we come into December, things are changing around here that will impact 2024 and beyond. I've had the chance to look back at my first 10 years as a published author and learn from both my successes and failures. There have been a few of both of those! 😂 And there has been plenty to learn.

The biggest lesson I have learned this year has been that working for free has literally gotten me nowhere. Duh, Stephanie! That should have been obvious, but I don't think it is for a lot of people. So much of the marketing talk is that “free as a loss-leader works” but really it has never worked for me. If you're an author and it has worked for you, huzzah! I'm happy for you! But we're talking about me here, not you. And the rules do not apply to me as I have learned the hard way over the years.

I have given away… are you ready? Because this number is just on Amazon… 141,322 books. According to my estimates, I've probably given away another 30,000 to 35,000 books across several other retailers. If even 5% of those people had decided to purchase about $20 of my other books, I would have made six figures over the last 10 years. Did I make that much money? Not even close. Not even by a country mile. I made a fraction of that. And when you consider the expenses of covers, editing, and ads, I made nothing, negative nothing.

Things have got to change and I'm making those changes. Coming in 2024, I will no longer be working for free. Sunday Updates and Goals will remain here, as will news and marketing material about upcoming releases or early access to my books on Ream will also remain here and go to my newsletter subscribers. Actual creative content will be exclusive to Ream and later to Amazon and beyond.

A lot of this has to do with the explosion of AI content on the internet. I no longer see running a blog as building a community online when bots are attacking my website daily and AI content is literally diverting all the traffic. And I know this because I work with AI content, day in and day out. I've enjoyed writing free posts for my blog over the years, but those days when the posts would work to bring me more readers are over, and it's time to shift. I have always been a nimble person when it comes to technology and business, and now is no exception.

Community is key! Community is everything. And in the age of AI writing, it's more important than ever. Like my friend Jo Penn says, doubling down on being human is how we'll connect with our readers, and I'm going to be doing that a lot going forward. I will be talking with my community, sharing my creative content with my community, and sharing in the joys of creativity with my community.

And I'm building my community on Ream…

Storytellers rule the world and that's something I believe in 100%. Storytellers like me give readers an escape, a place to spend time, a haven from the real world. But I know there are some people out there who think that, because I use AI, I am no longer an author. They would be wrong because guess what? I am still a storyteller. I am a content creator. I am a builder of worlds. I am the ruler of my stories, even if I use AI tools to help me develop them. Every word, every picture that comes to you from me came from my vision for the story, and I can't wait to continue doing that until the day I die.

As of today, new books and free content on this website will be moving to Ream. Yes, new books! That fantasy rom-com I've been writing? That Amagi Series novella I've been tapping away at? They will all be on Ream first and for a while before they ever make it to Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. (My backlist of books will remain on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for now.) The free books, free non-fiction blog posts, and anything else that's not personal-related, will be there too.

Come join me over on Ream! You can follow me and get my updates there without paying a cent, if that's what you like. But you can also support me and my work by subscribing to one of my tiers and getting lots of amazing content. Want to read on your phone or tablet instead? Download the Ream app! And be sure to check out all the other authors on Ream. You may find someone new to read and follow.

This is the new norm for me, and I'm excited about what it will all bring! Welcome to my second decade of publishing! I'm sure it's going to be a wild ride.

Join Me On Ream Today!

S. J. Pajonas