Who Pays Whom: Tangent

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Sorry for not being here last week, guys. I’ll post my POD thing next week, but I’ve been eyeball deep in revisions and my leetle brain has dropped the ball. So I’m going to talk about something else today, something tangentially related to the whole “who pays whom” topic.

I’ve been running a experiment over at my daily blog, mizkit.com, to see if there’s a direct market available for me as a writer. In this particular case, I’ve offered a commissioned short story in the Negotiator (aka Old Races) universe through fundable.com, which is a site that allows people to pledge a minimum of $10 toward financing a project. If the financing goal isn’t reached, the project is canceled and no one pays anything. If the goal *is* reached, fundable collects the pledged money and the project goes forward. I set a minimum rate per word of 10 cents for a 7500 word story, then adjusted it for the Paypal/Fundable percentage, which appears to be about 10%.

As it happens, it’s been a successful experiment, and I’ve made my minimum commission goal (though everyone who has donated above and beyond the minimum rate also gets the story; I don’t object to being paid a little *more* than ten cents per word!). I’m fairly excited about this, both in the immediate and for its potential as a longer-term sustainable funding models. I’d love to be able to do this quarterly, with new stories going out exclusively to their patrons four times a year. At the end of each quarter, I’d make that quarter’s story available as a direct purchase download (at the same minimum $10 rate that Fundable requires, to keep the playing field even) for one month. At the end of that time, the story would no longer be available in any way until it found some kind of traditional publication format, be it a magazine or an anthology. I feel the exclusivity is an important part of the whole project, since it means people are literally paying me directly to write stories for them.

Plenty of visual artists (like my friend & fellow writer Ursula Vernon) and many, many musicians (like, er, my not-personal-friends-but-awesome-regardless Nine Inch Nails) have found ways to make direct market sales work for them. It’s not something I’ve seen quite as much happening with written word artists (though it has, perhaps, begun to gain some ground: fantasy novelists Sharon Lee & Steve Miller had novel-length success with something of this nature), so I’m really interested to see how it can play out over the longer term with the instant access to writers that the Internet now provides.

And, since I can hardly post all of this without at least linking to the commission, let me end with the teaser from “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”, a Janx and Daisani story of the Old Races:

“She was too young, even for a man with no age, but she caught his eye. Slim, dark-haired, with long fingers caught in the skirt of a shapeless dress, she was clearly not a child of wealth. She no doubt belonged to the riverboat upon which she stood, a shabby thing that had seen better days. Even so, in the fire’s light they both bent toward beauty.

It was her gaze, fixed on the sky, which arrested him. Others watched the fire, drawn in by its glow and movement, but she looked upward as though she could see what soared above the smoke. That was quite impossible: even knowing who danced there, Daisani could barely see them himself, but the girl watched as if she knew. Such seeing eyes were enough that he might have gone to her then, despite her youth, but tonight; tonight Chicago was burning.”

(and the pledge site, if you wish to participate: “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” — the site sometimes times out, so if you do want to become a patron and it’s being flaky, try again later!)

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6 comments to Who Pays Whom: Tangent

  • I think this is a great idea, Catie, and I have to admit that I’m intrigued by it for myself. With so many short fiction markets having disappeared over the last several years, this may well be the business model of the future for writers, particularly writers of shorter material. Good luck with it. I hope you’ll let us all know how it goes for you.

  • This is a fascinating idea. Logistics question for you — I went to the site, and they clearly are collecting the funds for you (looks like it’s via PayPal), but what about the personal info for delivering the story to the readers? How is that being handled? Is it going to be e-mailed out or do they get hard copies? Since, at the moment, I’m pretty much published as a short-story author, I’m very interested to see the possibilities here.

  • The site collects everyone’s email addresses, so my thought is to send everybody a PDF. It does mean, yes, that it could very easily be disseminated, but I basically have to work from the assumption that the people who want the story enough to buy in are going to play by the rules, y’know? 🙂

  • Yes, I’ve often thought writers with a following already could do direct sales (RPG folks are doing it with pdfs). This also reminds me of a link that Holly Lisle sent out not too long ago about the 1,000 True Fans idea for a profitable career in the arts: http://ow.ly/duR4

  • That’s a fairly awesome link, Christina, thanks!