Saturday, March 07, 2009
The Weekly Storybook just got its official launch this week and not a moment too soon. Two good friends from my Newspapers-in-Education years have left, one voluntarily, from a rapidly sinking ship, the other in a frog-march that didn't even allow her to collect her personal effects, after 20 years of revenue-positive work for the company. In fact, both had programs that were revenue-positive and well-respected around the country, but we're not doing that sort of thing anymore.
With the shifts in the industry, the concept of selling kids' stories to newspapers is over and done. My gross sales in 2008 were a third of what they had been in past years, and many of the people who made those recent purchases are gone. Heck, one of my client papers has folded its tent and another is on the brink of closing down. Two others, come to think of it.
So Friday I made the announcement that any newspaper wanting to link to weeklystorybook.com was free to do so, and that they could post the teacher's guides on their web site and even spoof the url to their own so they could retain the return visits week to week. A couple have already indicated interest in doing so, as a means of adding a little extra traffic to their web sites.
The beta phase has thus ended and I've kicked off a new series of folk tales I did with an artist familiar to this page, Marina "Rinacat" Tay, who also designed the Newshound and Nellie Bly, among other things. Her work is top-drawer and the series is entirely made up of single episodes, so newcomers to the site won't have missed anything. Later, when we build a little audience, I'll do some of the multi-part serials.
And, in addition to the Amazon widget, I've set up a CafePress shop. My practical prediction? It will generate zilch. But you never know, and this could at least become self-sustaining at some point. And, yes, the artists will get a cut of that zilch, bless their hearts!
The bottom line is that I like telling these stories and I hope to reach some kind of audience with them, because they are fun and worth reading.
And, really, I've become fatalistic enough about the economy that whether or not something pays for itself doesn't much matter anymore. If you enjoy it, do it, and if you don't enjoy it, well, life is short and you need to make decisions accordingly.
So tell your friends and neighbors and I hope you enjoy the site yourselves.