This is an update to our plan to open up a digital marketplace where members can sell their homemade tool plans. This is discussed previously here and here.
Basically, you'll submit a rough version of your plans to us, we'll touch up the grammar, formatting, images, and cover, and handle the marketing/selling/delivery, and pay you 70% of the sales. Like iTunes, but for homemade tool plans.
Here's our progress so far:
-We have plans submissions from multiple members. Right now, two of them are almost ready to go. We have a variety of document submissions, so we've learned well how to edit and compile various formats from authors, so that everything looks clean and professional. We're getting a variety of files from users, and we're using PDF editors and CAD programs to clean everything up nicely. We're great at taking rough descriptions and making them into grammatically-perfect clean sentences. There's also no problem with putting various different formats of the same document into each plans bundle. At this point, someone can submit a plan for digging a homemade hole, and we can make it look great! To add your submission, send your files to email@example.com. Sending us files does not alter your legal right to them. We will have to gain your consent and digital signature before being allowed to sell your plans, and you can revoke that any time you choose.
-We're working with a graphic designer to design covers for the plans in large scale. We will cover the costs of this, especially for the first movers (probably around $50 per set of plans, which is scalable for us). We like our ebook cover (like here), but in this case we're shooting for something less book-like and more plans-like. While a fancy graphic cover won't help anyone build the tool in the plans, I think it's really important that the plans look great and present professionally on the web, both prior and after purchase.
-We've completed the Seller and Buyer legal agreements with our attorney. This is arguably the most important part, so that we offer strong legal protection to our sellers and ourselves. Sellers will have to check a legally-binding Terms of Service checkbox when they sign up with their PayPal addresses, and buyers will have to check a legally-binding Terms of Service checkbox when they purchase plans. We will probably also add a third disclaimer directly on the plans documents, so that everyone is perfectly covered with an airtight agreement. The two legal agreements are attached to this post. Feel free to take a look and offer suggestions or adjustments. These are technical documents, so we will have to run any suggestions by our attorney before altering the documents.
-Legally, we have three parties here: sellers (those who write the plans), buyers (those who buy the plans), and the marketplace operator (HomemadeTools.net). People can occupy multiple roles: for example, you can be both a buyer and seller of plans. I actually personally plan on buying the plans, for myself and for gifts. I think they would make great giveaways and prizes.
-Technically, sellers will be selling buyers a license to use the plans. NOT the plans themselves, and NOT the tools described in the plans. This is standard fare with digital goods. Sellers will retain intellectual property rights on their plans, same as any other author. Buyers will only be able to purchase plans for personal or household use - not for commercial manufacture, marketing, or selling of the tools built with the plans. Sellers can revoke permission to sell their plans any time they like, and we'll remove them from the market. Sellers will have to sign off to give us final approval on selling their plans before we do so.
-Shopping cart integration is done, tested, and works nicely. People can buy with PayPal, credit card, even bitcoin if they like. Sellers will be paid via PayPal.
-We still have to work out taxes. This is unavoidable. This may come, in part or in whole, from sales prices, from our 30% share, and/or your 70% share. The good news is that Colorado has a low sales tax rate. There is a gray area on the type of goods (digital), and the customer location (Colorado customers vs. non-Colorado customers). I'd rather play it safe here, and we'll finalize that before we go live. Yes, of course you will be responsible for any taxes on your end (probably capital gains), but that's your responsibility, and you may have reasonable wiggle room on that, depending on a million different factors.
-Selling digital goods is infinitely easier than selling hard goods. No shipping, no physical order fulfillment, no returns, no damaged goods, no delay in delivery, no quality control between different articles of the same good, etc., etc., etc.
-Digital rights management is more straightforward than I thought it would be. We can limit downloads, for example, to three downloads per purchase. While you can never perfectly ensure that digital goods won't be illicitly shared, our audience really isn't the hacker/warez/filesharing crowd.
Feedback, ideas, constructive criticism - go ahead and post in this thread please.
Private questions or plans submissions go to firstname.lastname@example.org.