The SHTF Garden Project

Posted: May 25th, 2011 by Militant Libertarian

I’ve been pretty slack lately with the posts here on Militant Libertarian, but I have a good reason.  I have a project that is launching on June 1 called “The SHTF Garden.”  It’s a unique project that I think those in the freedom movement and government-sucks community should be interested in.

Not only for its subject matter, but because it’s a uniquely new way to go about publishing information and books.

Traditionally, a writer toils for weeks, months, or even years and eventually churns out a book.  Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it requires a lot of time, dedication, and sacrifice to write a book.  Even after all that, even if the book is the best thing written since Stranger in a Strange Land or Atlas Shrugged, it has to sell in order for the author to see anything come of his or her hard work.  In our community, most books are self-published or are published by secondary presses, so sales are generally pretty dismal.

Many authors are probably not writing – or taking forever to write – really great information simply because there is little or no financial incentive for them to do so.  If your choice is to feed your family, maybe watch that new streaming version of that great movie or documentary, or write a book that you’ll get nothing out of in return..  choices aren’t that easy.

I should know how this is because I’ve written a dozen books and I doubt a single one of you has ever read a one of them.  Mostly because I don’t use this site for advertising, tempting as the idea might be, unless it’s something I’m working on that’s related to this website’s audience.  4 of those books are more than a decade old now, 3 were ghost written, one just published electronically and two others were published and immediately shelved in the realm of “never heard of it.”  This site isn’t about Aaron Turpen, though; it’s about the Militant Libertarian – which is all of us who want to see freedom.  So I don’t normally pimp my products or business items here.

So what am I going on about here with all this explanation of how hard writers have it?

Well, I write for a living.  Mostly I do freelance website copy, article writing, and the like and it’s usually on apolitical topics.  Sometimes, though, I get the chance to do things that are “right up my alley” in terms of both content and politics.  I’m now the editor of the Health Freedom Network Newsletter and website, for instance, and of Truth2America.com.

In partnership with Truth2America, I wrote a book that just went live on their site and on venues like ClickBank titled Survival of the Smartest: The First 72 Hours.  It’s the first in a planned series of books on disaster preparedness for the short, mid, and long term.  While the books themselves are basically apolitical, they do hit on a subject the readers here are likely familiar with: prepping / survival.

At any rate, this brings me to a new topic that I hinted at before: a new paradigm in publishing.  The First 72 Hours was a traditionally-written book.  I sat down and wrote a lot of information down into short book form and then did some markup and other work to make it presentable.  During the writing of that book, someone sent me one of those “learn to play guitar” subscription sites where you pay a monthly fee and get videos and whatnot sent to you automatically to learn to play guitar.  At the same time, a friend asked me about helping him write a book and how we could do that on a very limited (as in none at all) budget.

I’ve had a book I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but never got around to.  It’s a book on gardening.  But it’s aimed at gardening after the big collapse (be it economic, nuclear, civil war, or whatever).  It’s meant to teach people how to garden when there is no garden store or greenhouse outlet to get supplies from and, more importantly, how to start doing that now so you can be ready for later.

So I began SHTFGarden.com and came up with an idea that combined the “guitar lessons” model of metering out information as a subscription plan with a book as the product.  Except instead of sending out the information in little pieces as a chopped up version of a larger (already-made) system, I will be sending out a book as it progresses through the writing process.  If you’re an author, you’re probably starting to get a light bulb over your head about now.

It’s a win-win situation in a real sense (not some bullshit marketing sense).  First, the author gets paid (via subscriptions) by people who are interested in the book’s content, the author, etc.  A small monthly fee gives them access to the book as the author publishes pieces of it.  So, for the author, money is coming in right away as the book is being written.  The author also gets valuable feedback and maybe even help and input from readers who are actively subscribing to the book-in-progress.

Meanwhile, the subscribers get early access to great information, they get it at a cheap enough rate to make it easily affordable, they get it in small chunks so it’s easily digested around a busy schedule, and they get more possibility of interacting with the author.  In the case of SHTFGarden.com, they also get bonus materials that will not likely end up in the book itself as well.

As another bonus, the subscriber gets to access the book in its current form (whether it be 3 chapters or 200 pages completed so far) at a low cost.  If they don’t like what they see, they’re out a fraction of what they would have spent had they purchased the whole book all at once.

Then, when the book is completed, the subscriptions are ended and the subscribers get the whole book right there, since they’ve been following along.  The author now has the book in hand and can get it published traditionally, but didn’t have to go through nearly the financial hardship incurred in the traditional book writing paradigm.

See how this works?  Now, for you writers out there, I’m going to give you one more bonus to all this: I set up SHTFGarden.com for about $25 and about 15 hours’ work (as it is today).  When it goes live and begins accepting paid subscriptions, I will likely have put 30 or so hours into the site – including the time spent writing/proofing the first 25-30 pages of the book to “seed” the member’s area with.

I literally did all of the work – design, setup, etc., etc.  A lot of that can be hired out easily and probably cheaply and the software behind the whole site is free.  You can pay to upgrade it (which I will), but the free version will do everything most people need. Subscriptions are via PayPal and the software works through the PayPal API to manage those.

I invite everyone to go visit SHTFGarden.com and read about how the whole thing works.  In a few days, sometime after launch, I’ll do a writeup for the public area of that site that details how it was built and what it’s using (and why) so that anyone who wants to make their own version can go ahead and build it.

Literally, if you can register a domain name, set up hosting and install WordPress (most of which is automated with today’s hosting systems), you can set one of these sites up.

That’s what I’ve been working on that’s kept me away from MiliLib lately.

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