THIS BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT SHINES ON
For close to five years, local writer Chris Occhiuzzi had been wanting to find a way to collaborate with his writer and artist friends. Last summer, he finally had an idea that he thought would work: a website where he could share not just his own writing and podcasts but also the creative works of others in the community. Not only would the website—Muskoka Unlimited—bring attention to those creative projects, it would hopefully earn their creators some money as well.
“We have this group of artists and writers and illustrators together, showing off our stuff and hopefully selling some of our stuff, so we can keep doing what we love,” says Occhiuzzi.
Writers, in particular, may turn to Amazon to sell their novels and stories, but Occhiuzzi was shocked to discover how small a percentage of the sale price Amazon actually pays to the creator when they sell their digital work on that platform. (Amazon pays royalties of between 35 and 70 per cent, but in some cases deducts a digital delivery fee.)
Occhiuzzi, by contrast, plans to give the creatives who sell on Muskoka Unlimited between 80 and 90 per cent of sales, keeping just a small percentage to keep the website running. “Everything else should go in your pocket,” he says. “You’re the creator… I’m just helping to give a space.”
He calls Muskoka Unlimited “an online space for artistic impression,” and adds that he hasn’t come across anything else like it anywhere he’s been researching.
“We’re not trying to be a traditional e-publisher or traditional book publisher, although we’ll do that stuff,” he says, nor is the site strictly an online art store. So someone might go to the site to listen to a podcast and stay to browse the art work. Or they might be interested in illustrations and discover that they can purchase a digital copy or a print. Or they might be there because they enjoy the musings of a local writer and want to support that work.
Occhiuzzi is currently aiming to have up to 20 local people selling on the Muskoka Unlimited site, everything from writers to artists and illustrators, to photographers and even videographers. Currently, there are works by Occhiuzzi in collaboration with fourteen-year-old illustrator Anwyn Westgarth (an illustrated short story collection called Random Words, Random Stories), woven wood artist Nathan Sowrey, and painter and poet JF Kuehnen, and Occhiuzzi is in discussion with a few others who are interested in participating.
Anyone interested in having their work appear on Muskoka Unlimited can reach out to Occhiuzzi via the contact form on the website, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.