Is My Writing Worth Paying For?
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Is My Writing Worth Paying For?

This is it. The moment of truth.

At long last, JukePop Serials has begun rolling out their "unlock-to-read" (UTR) feature to select authors. What is the UTR feature? It's only one of the most groundbreaking publishing moves of the year.

JukePop has been building a name for itself since it launched in September of 2012. It is currently one of a handful of sites that pays authors to publish their work chapter by chapter, the main alternative being Amazon's Kindle Serials. JukePop has a catalog of almost 500 works, a number of which have gone on to full publication, as well as a plethora of aspiring authors, new and veteran, speculative and non. The publisher recently launched its first anthology featuring ten of its most popular titles. Its Facebook likes have skyrocketed from 2,000 to 11,000 likes in the past few months.

Up until now, JukePop's authors have been paid an initial fee for publication, and then had to compete to win monthly cash prizes (including a bi-annual cash prize of $500). It's been a rough ride for many of them, since these cash prizes essentially went to whomever best marketed their work. For the hundreds of authors who couldn't reel in enough readers to hit the top 30, they were left without any means of revenue aside from setting up a donation button.

Today that has changed. Though JukePop has yet to make an announcement on their blog, select authors have been given notice that they can now enable the unlock-to-read feature on their serials. If enabled, authors can lock their serials after a certain chapter, requiring readers to pay to continue. It's an exotic, game-changing feature, and it probably raises the ultimate question for every aspiring author.

Is my writing worth paying for?

Having written my serial almost for free on JukePop since the site's inception, that was the first question I asked myself when I learned about the feature this morning. My donation box has collected quite a bit of dust. I'm one of the top 30 authors, but never was I anywhere near that bi-annual prize. While I feel honored to have had my serial published (partly) in the anthology, solo publication of the full serial has yet to happen. Taken together, I've often wondered just how much my writing is worth. A few dozen bucks over the course of several months? Some royalties from an anthology? Or more?

Many of JukePop's authors may claim they don't write for money. That's a noble sentiment, and I implore them to stick to it. However, I'm sure they would agree it simply isn't possible to write for free and still pay their bills. Many authors have mouths to feed. Many have textbooks to purchase. Many have roofs to keep over their heads.

The UTR feature is a challenge to readers everywhere. Authors are putting in hours for their entertainment, hours of extensive planning, battles with carpal tunnel, wrestling with writer's block, and a lot--a lot--of coffee consumption. Just how committed are you, reader? Would you read until the day is saved? Until the main character slays the dragon? Until the case gets cracked? The protagonist's first kiss? Or would you only read until a boy sets out on his quest?

Unlock-to-read isn't "to pay, or not to pay". It's "to read, or not to read". That is the question.

With the release of my next serial, Metal Shadow, being just around the corner, I've got more than enough impetus to take the UTR feature for a spin. This is it. The moment of truth. Will readers pay for my writing?


Street Talk

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