weekly wrap 2011-02-04

Ending the week on a buzz as I polish up the implementation of the Picklet Builder site in preparation for an authoring workshop in the next couple of weeks.

This is a little design fiction that kept me sitting up in bed with my iPad and Simplenote after bed-time last night. It hints at my social media strategy for the platform, and pulls some numbers (audience size and income) out of thin air to see how they sound.

Please excuse the flaccid prose and remember – this is fiction;

Michelle has been making picklets full time now for about two years. It’s the steadiest income she’s had since leaving her job in a call centre five years ago. Before becoming a picklet author she was working a hospitality job, taking the occasional freelance illustration gig and writing a webcomic for a small, dedicated audience of anonymous internet users. She now writes and draws two weekly serial picklet titles and has a back catalogue of four one-off titles mostly for young children.

Her humorous adult serial is called ‘Crushing It’ and tells the stories of a group of young digital media makers who create a publishing platform for print-on-demand letterpress with news feed content. It is published on Wednesday every week and has a readership in the week of publication of typically around 15-20,000 (measured by web site and app analytics) and an audience (of paying readers) of 7-800. This returns $350 in the week of publication for a job that Michelle spends up to a day and a half writing and illustrating.

The readership tails off quickly after the first week but continues to earn income of $20 – $50 per week for up to 2 months after initial publication. Packages of the series (consisting of 3-months worth of story and sometimes new or reworked material) are released at 3-monthly intervals and this provides additional revenue.

Michelle has also been writing an adventure series for older children called ‘The League Against Dinosaurs’. It has a small but growing audience and typically produces publication-week income of around $150. The series grew out of a one-off picklet that has had a (paying) audience so far of 30,000 from a total readership of over 250,000 (counting from web site views and in-app sharing).

Michelle’s work day starts with a take away latte from the cafe round the corner. She has a studio in the spare room at home though one or two days a week she takes her laptop and hot-desks at the architectural offices of a friend.

Michelle is quite active on twitter and has a following of about 12,000 tweeps which represents a good portion of her regular readership. She maintains a facebook page as well but only announces publications there. Her twitter stream routinely includes links to drafts of work in progress and she is fairly consistent about responding to audience feedback. She also tries out script ideas and has a small network of other twitterverse writer/illustrators whose input she solicits.

She hasn’t yet met the reclusive creator of the picklets platform, but she knows people who have.

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