When I tell people I Unlove You is Free… Forever… they often scrunch up their nose and ask, “But how will you make any money?” It’s a good question, and one I answer by smiling and saying, “I intend to transform the experience of reading into something far grander than the book itself.”
I talk about why I Unlove You is Free in another post, so I’ll resist regurgitating it all here. Instead I’ll focus on The I Unlove You Store, and although when I say experience, I mean it in the grander sense (how every interaction between you, me, and the book comes together to form a single journey), the store and the products you can purchase are a huge part of this.
It’s also this store where the money aspect of things come into play, because despite giving away a novel I’ve spent two years of my life writing and editing (let alone the mental strain of storytelling) for free, I would like to make some money from it. I would like kind folk like you to value it. I would like my words to matter to you, and money (although far from the most important facet) plays a role in achieving this.
But before we get to HOW we created the I Unlove You Store and the tools we used, let’s first focus on the WHY.
Why does a store like this matter? Why does it differ from any other store, created by any other author to sell some books and swag? Why should you care? Why should you give a damn at all?
When you read a book, you’re taken on a journey and you experience a story. This in itself is wonderful, and as a reader I love nothing more than losing myself in the words of a good novel (or any book, for that matter). But in a world of so many books and authors, the experience of a story alone isn’t enough.
Plus, when we have all the tools and opportunities that we have today (internet, social media, email, video calls, etc…) why would we want to limit the experience to within the pages of a book? As a writer, what do I truly gain from keeping myself to myself and hiding the entire writing and publishing journey from you?
As a reader, what do you gain?
This is what I mean when I say experience. I’m not suggesting the story or characters or plot isn’t important. It remains the most important part of all this, because without a good book, what’s the point? BUT I desire more, and I hope the people who join me on this adventure desire more, too.
You desire more from writers like me.
You desire more from the books you read.
You want to feel part of something, rather left on the outside looking in (only getting glances when authors and publishers choose).
Like I say, I talk more about this idea of experience and why I Unlove You is Free in another post, so you may like to have a read to uncover the full madness. But this store matters and plays a huge role, and the best way I can describe it is by comparing it to the music industry.
The most important part of music is the song, right? Without a good song, what’s the point?
But it’s how the artist interacts with their audience, and more often than not it’s the live shows that sets them apart. Authors don’t get the same opportunities with live shows (at least not in the same vein), but through regular communication online, sharing a lot of themselves, and involving their readers, a writer can replicate much of this live-show feel.
Musicians often give away the MP3 and encourage people to stream their music to hook them; to get them on board.
They may not make money here, but if they take care of the experience and involve their audience, this leads them to buying CDs, limited edition albums, t-shirts, and various other swag.
This is what we’re doing with The I Unlove You Store. It isn’t a new or fresh idea, but the way we’re approaching it differs to how 95% of authors would (which we’ll get to next). I don’t have an MP3 to offer you, but I do have an ebook I can give you for free.
You read the book. You like the book. You share the book with those you know. You visit the store and buy the paperback, much like a musical fan buys a CD or Record. This is why the I Unlove You Store exists, because it plays a vital role in the experience you and I have.
But it isn’t the why alone that makes what we’re doing different. What truly sets this apart is the WHO.
WHO IS INVOLVED IN THIS STORE?
I alone didn’t create this store. I didn’t design or come up with all the ideas. The products aren’t mine. I played my part, sure, but so did lots of other people; people like you who desire more from the books you read and the authors you follow.
Although the why is important, it’s not as vital as the who. Involving people like you throughout this entire journey is what sets this store apart, and it’s what I believe makes this a memorable and invaluable experience: for you… for me… for us…
When I came up with the idea for The I Unlove You Store, I turned to those around me for advice and help. I created a Typeform (several, in fact), asking folk like yourself what you liked, what you didn’t, what we should create, and how much everything should cost. I invited people into the Closed Merry Misfit Facebook Group, which continues to grow and grow, full of people like… yep, you guessed it… YOU.
But here’s the special sauce; the secret ingredient I believe makes this experience worthwhile:
THIS STORE CONTINUES TO EVOLVE NATURALLY EACH MONTH… BECAUSE OF YOU!
We launched the store with a handful of products, but the plan is to drip-feed new products each month (at least for the first year of the book’s publication), and not just any old products, rather products that bring value into your world… products you want… products you help create.
By inviting you into this process, you’re given ownership. It’s no longer about my book, but our book. This is what experience is all about, and although this store only plays a role within the grander picture, it’s a vital role nevertheless. But only because of the who: you and all those other merry misfits who care to be part of this.
In the past I’d create products and design them and sell them, hoping those I know would buy them. No longer the case, my friend. I’ll share ideas, invite others to share their own, and together we’ll figure out which product is best… how much it should cost… where we should source it… and all the other ins and outs.
We release a new product each month… crowd-funded and pre-sold and crowd-sourced, ensuring only the most valuable things are part of the experience. And we’ll know it’s a valuable part of the experience, because it’s us who decided what is and isn’t part of it. It’s not down to me or a publisher or anything else.
Hopefully you now see what this store is all about, and how placing focus on the WHO & WHY is what separates it from a standard store that sells books and swag. On the outside I’m sure it looks like that, but for those who care to be part of this journey and dive into the experience to end all experiences, knows this isn’t about selling a few books or t-shirts.
So, with the why and who tackled, let’s now turn your attention to the how. Because part of this experience is opening up the entire process so you know what’s going on. The tools we use is an important part of this, and who knows, maybe you can do something similar for your own audience one day soon 🙂
WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW HOW I DID ALL OF THIS?
If you’re a writer or curious reader, you may like to know HOW I did all of this. I’m happy to share the complete step-by-step process with you, but rather than add everything into this post, I created a separate PDF for you.
No need to sign up or add your email. Just click the button below and you’ll get instant access to it. Enjoy.
Woooo, what a rush. There you go, a rather long and detailed post about The I Unlove You Store, how we created it, what we have planned moving forward, and most important of all, the why and the who 🙂
We have some serious plans for this store in the future, and like I keep saying it’s determined by those of you who decide to be part of this… this experience… this epic adventure. We continue to create magic in The Merry Misfit Facebook Group where we share ideas and figure out which products have a place and which ones don’t.
I don’t decide the designs. I don’t decide the price. We do. I have a role to play, but so do you.
This is what makes the I Unlove You Store so important and different to all the other stores you come across. It’s collaborative by nature, and involving and inviting through purpose. It forms a huge part of the experience we share, and the journey you take with me and the book.
If you’ve read this far, you hopefully appreciate why we’re doing this, what lies ahead, and how we crafted this special little place. If you’re not already part of the conversation, I invite you to Join The Merry Misfit Facebook Group and help us transform this store into the best it can be. I can’t do this on my own. I need folk like you. I need help from awesome peeps like your fine self.
Will you help? Will you be part of this? Will you make the most out of this experience we share together?
And if you’ve yet to download your own FREE copy of I Unlove You, what are you waiting for? Grab It Right Now!!
If you have any questions or a few thoughts you’d like to share, reach out to me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER (or you could email me, if you prefer). This isn’t my book and this isn’t my journey… it’s ours!! Let’s make sure we make the most out of it, okay… 🙂
HAVE YOU GRABBED YOUR FREE COPY OF I UNLOVE YOU YET?
If you enjoy Coming-of-Age Novels that feature real moments you yourself can relate to, and love stories with a twist that leave you reaching for a tissue, you may like to introduce yourself to Aus & B.
And don't forget to share to this post with all those you know. It's time to help spread the (un)Love