The Magical Ice Cream Store – Borrowed from Dean Wesley Smith

I am borrowing this from Dean Wesley Smith. He talks about “The Magical Bakery” as it pertains to putting out your work, copyrights and licensing. It’s super informative and I strongly recommend everyone read it but some parts can get a little confusing for someone super brand new. So instead of a pie shop, how about ice cream?

Imagine you have an ice cream store, each title you have is a flavor. Most folks are none too interested in going to an ice cream store that has one flavor, unless that one flavor is super special & unique somehow. Most do not have that “one unique, groundbreaking flavor” so we’re going with the average, run-of-the-mill ice cream store, where people prefer more than one flavor.

You have one title/one flavor, some will waft in but for the most part, a lot might not. You might get crowds once in a while, or pretty small clusters, or a random individual, or no one. Doesn’t mean something is wrong with your store, there’s just no variety. Why go to your ice cream store when there’s already Baskin Robbins and their famed 31 flavors, or Cold Stone, who also has a bevy of flavors? Some will give you a try – it is ice cream, after all – but if they want more, they have to go elsewhere.

 If there are two flavors, that’s a little better. There’s a little bit of variety, you might even have comeback if there’s posted up on a wall somewhere “Coming Soon: Flavor Three, The Snackening” because they know you’re building a stable of flavors. If people like the ice cream they got, they’re more willing to come back. To be honest, if the ice cream doesn’t give them food poisoning (the work is terrible beyond compare), they’ll at least not hate it and may come back. Baskin Robbins doesn’t get the same customers every day, remember.

And there’s the different ways the flavor/title can be put out: Waffle (print), cup (audiobook), or cone (ebook). People, on average, are not going to just plain walk out your store with your ice cream sitting bare in their hands, there has to be a way to carry it. Some people like cups, some people prefer waffle cones, some prefer regular cake cones. Some may not really have a preference one way or another as long as the ice cream gets into their hands. Some are “cup only” or “waffle only”, you don’t have it, they’re gone. That’s fine. Yes, you could get even more things to put the ice cream in, such as chocolate casted cups (braille), but that can be for down the road, whenever you choose (braille is a great idea, by the way). But having more than one way to carry out the ice cream helps improve sales. Remember, diversity is great. It reaches more people.

People usually like to try before they buy so samples are important. Some places will provide those ice cream samples (sample 10-30 page/chapter.pdf snippet or 5-15 clip of audiobook) for you but you can always do it yourself. People can taste test and find out if they actually like the ice cream or only prefer the way it looks. Just have a special section for it, preferably near the cash register (book sample in a place where people can buy the book itself).

You can have the ice cream in different ways, such as in the form of gelato (translations), you can have it in different formats, such as in bing soo (film), you can do all the things –

As long as you don’t give away the recipe. You’re perfectly free to tell people important, helpful facts about the flavor so they can make a proper choice, like saying “this one has lemons (content warnings)” – some people do have food allergies, after all – but that’s not the same as giving away your entire recipe that you worked really hard on (the copyright).

The recipe is what you use to make the ice cream over and over, all the different flavors. You can’t run out of the recipe itself, that’s yours. If you give away the recipe or, worse, hand over your entire shop and the recipe, then you’re going to be pretty screwed. Yes, some people are going to have the same or similar flavors you do, Baskin Robbins does not get mad at Cold Stone because both have vanilla and chocolate flavors. Some people prefer cookie dough ice cream only from Breyers but like rocky road only from Good Humor. People like ice cream, duh.

What you’re selling as a flavor is a license of that title. The recipe is the very title and story itself, all the forms it comes in – the flavors, the ways it can be carried, etc, – is the license of the work. It has the license to be in print, so says you, the rights/recipe-holder and shop owner. It has the license to be in e-book, so says you, the rights/recipe-holder and shop owner. So on and so forth.

With effort and work, you could even have pints of your flavors in markets wherever ice cream is sold (bookstores, libraries, (distribution, basically)). Your flavors right next to the Breyers and the Baskin Robbins and etc, sitting in the freezer for a random person who may never have even been to your store or heard of it, to buy a pint. People like ice cream, if it doesn’t look like it is going to poison them (made/designed poorly), they are willing to give it a go.

You’re not giving someone the whole bucket when they are asking for ice cream, usually. You’re serving it in scoops, so that everyone can have some. And this bucket will not run out unless you say it does (goes out-of-print). Don’t do that unless you learned that this ice cream flavor has cause serious public hazard (has horrible content that’s on par with The Clansman). In case of the easily confused, some flavors may be hard to choke down but they’re not a public hazard (such as The Black KKKlansman (most know it as a film but it was a book, too)). As long as you have the recipe and you can get the ingredients (have a means and a way to put the work in print, audiobook, ebook, etc), you’ll be golden.  

Does this mean your shop will be rich in a week? No. Maybe in a few years, when you get enough flavors in and eventually become the brand that the fans trust but overnight? Nah. Even then, you might not be actually rich, you’ll just make enough to keep the store afloat or at least justify it being not-closed (just because a flavor isn’t selling well now doesn’t mean it won’t sell well later). You don’t have to physically be there handing out the scoops, just let people be able to buy their flavors. All of this is fine. At the end of the day, it takes work, time and you’ll sometimes get hit with a set-back since life happens.

But definitely make sure you actually like making ice cream and have some studied know-how on how to run an ice cream store. Otherwise, you’re going to be really upset a lot.

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