Thank Bruce, great question. And a worthy one, to be honest.
Truth be told, I didn't put much about the caliber of my writing in the campaign because I was mainly approaching my fan base to ask for $10 each. If you're wondering if I have the writing chops to do it, I have three options for you:
1) read the story at the bottom of the Kickstarter page and judge for yourself;
2) pitch in $1 and you get them all the stories sent to your email;
3) Tune in to the telethon today at 7:00 PM PST to watch my instructional on how to write a story, followed by me writing a story at 8PM.
I've written stories for two decades so, to me, composing a 100 word story is like writing a dramatic "tweet".
P.S. I'm writing this response live on my Telethon so you should tune in if you want to chat a little more about this. :)
You may have a hard time imagining it, but I stake my integrity on it: all the stories written for Dimeword are 100% original. They are not based on previous stories I've written (nor are they based on stories anyone else has written, in case that might be misconstrued.).
Think of Olympic skaters: they spend years training to do something and then, seemingly without effort, captivate us for a scant three minutes. Trained talent make quality look easy. As I said, I've been writing for 20 years so writing stories is second-nature to me now. 20 years ago, a 100 word story would have probably taken me an hour or two.
As for the quality of the stories, I'll let you be the judge. There is a sample story on the Kickstarter page.
...at $10 a shot, if he is putting more than an hour into it, he is working for far less than a living wage, to the point where it's painful.
I was wondering when this would point would come up. The assumption is that I'll be (or expect to be) adequately paid for my time, right?
Well, first off, it takes me far less time than an hour to write a 100 word story. Closer to 10-15 minutes. 20 at the most. I've done this for years. I know my game.
And secondly, my main objective with this campaign isn't to make money, but to discover who among my followers are solid fans and find new fans. If I break even, or even if I spend more money and take more time than I expect, but find new fans that I end up forging a strong long-term connection with, then this campaign will have met its objective. In spades.
Amanda Palmer kept about $40,000 from her 1.2 million Kickstarter because she spent 90% of her profits on making killer perks. If she didn't, "my fans would never trust me again." How do you build trust when you're starting out? You make something great. Even if it means you spend more time than you should and don't keep any profits at the end. The payoff comes in the long-term after you cross the tipping point.
My long-term goal is build a strong connection to my fan base. I'm willing to invest a lot of my time and money to make that happen, even if it doesn't appear cost-effective. It's certainly better than working a minimum wage job at Walmart.
Hey, I would suck as an author if it took me an *hour* to write a 100 word short story. You forget I've been a writer for two decades, so I know a thing or two about swift storycrafting. Not to mention that I type 78 words a minute. Under pressure, I can knock out a 100 word story in about 10 minutes. What is that? $60/hour? Walmart doesn't come anywhere close to that.
The writing is important, absolutely, but those other attributes add unique value to the writing in a way only I can offer. That turns the writing into a scarcity, and increases its use-value high enough that $10 starts to look cheap. Yes, the content is what people pay for, but the other attributes add so much value that the scales tip in favor of it looking like a bargain.
When I pass a game store in the mall, I see a fantastic game priced at $50. Because Steam offers such unique value to the game that only Steam can offer—automatic updates, recommendations, stat tracking, social connectivity—I run home to buy that same game on Steam. The game store may have the same awesome content, but without Steam's unique value added to it, that same game is worth nothing to me.
I'm open to miniputting, sure. But how would that show off my writing? The idea behind Dimeword is to build up a fan base by offering all donors a large sampling of a very brief stories. The "real value" is the opportunity to patronize an author and to help new modern literature enter the public domain. Plus, you know, the stories might actually be entertaining. :)
Dear AC, $10 buys you an awful lot, in my view: patronage, immediacy, access, exclusivity, unique experience... not to mention ALL the content written for the campaign no matter how big—i.e., if I had 100,000 $1 backers, all 100,000 backers (no matter their pledge level) would receive a 100,000 word novel. For the public domain. At that point, you're part of a freakin' movement which means I'm selling belonging, as well. So $10 gets you a great deal, in my view. But $1, where you still get all the content before anyone, also offers good value. :)
N.B. I'll be writing a detailed case study for Techdirt later this week or next. Watch for it!
A clever sales trick I noticed when I bought Approaching Infinity (even though I already own the physical version) was that the ebook was clearly marked "Pay What You Want" with a "Select your own amount" option if you wanted to pay nothing.
However, the default selection was $5, and selecting the free option meant actively clicking the other button... which makes people feel a little bad not paying at least something when the default option is $5. Subtle, but clever.
If Amazon's reason is somehow related to Creative Commons, then we'll see how this goes for me, since the Kickstarter campaign I launch tomorrow is to "fund public domain literature". I'll report back here if I get blocked. I doubt it because they've already emailed me approval.
Holy smokes, that list reads like a Who's Who on where to find infringing content. I mean, seriously -- why is everyone ganging up on Google for suggesting search terms like 'torrent' when all you need to do is read just one of these DMCA notices to find over 500 torrent sites to get stuff? Sheesh.
It's excellent to see a Techdirt piece on how safe harbor protections apply to more than just art. Well done, Andrew.
I once heard Issac Asimov speak in the early 80s. At the time, the Japanese had just starting introducing robots into the auto assembly line and reporters were calling up Asimov for a comment since he had created the term, "robotics". This article above hints at the future Asimov wrote about in all his books and Asimov even alluded to it in his lecture—when robots can replace humans, humans can finally move on to do more important things... but wait, robots are replacing humans! It's the paradox of efficiency: the more work you have taken away, the less work you have to do.
What makes this article so interesting to me is that it shows why secondary liability protection is so important when the "worker" wades closer into tort law. A telephone switchboard can't hurt anyone and it put many many people of a job. But a robot worker whose laser can slice you in half? Yeah, problem.
Do those automated Predator drones have secondary liability protections?
"Coming from someone who apparently makes a portion of his living on a website called "Infinite Distribution" you've got a lot of balls telling people who actually make content what they should do."
I'm not telling anyone what they should do, just pointing out that those who don't wake up and recognize the sea change will be swept away like those in once-dominant professions. Are you going to be the guy who cracks the code on how to make money from printing books, or that dyspeptic monk loathing how a new-fangled technology called the printing press is threatening "professionals whose careers are dedicated to the craft". Just like the monks when the printing press was introduced, we too are on the cusp of dramatic change—ye hath been warned.
My site, "Infinite Distribution", is fiercely dedicated to assisting artists of any sort on how to make money in an age where all digital content can be and will be copied. New rules = new rulebook. But, hey, If what you're doing works so well for you, please feel free to ignore me and my little ol' web site. In the meantime, I'll be designing a business model to shred incumbent businesses like yours. After all, Blockbuster was obliterated by a business renting only 400 DVDs at first. Go ahead, keep standing proud—I'm sure you have nothing to fear from us.
And I guess I do have a lot of balls because I put my actual name on the byline. Hypocrisy much?