Freemium for writers is two debates

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[This is a guest post by Dan Holloway. His info is at the end of the post.]

Audience in Red by felipe trucco

Audience in Red by felipe trucco

The battle isn’t getting people to pay; it’s getting people to read. If they do read, they might not pay. If they don’t read, they’ll never pay.

Writers who use the “freemium” model face two distinct challenges, and the harder one isn’t always the one you think.

What a delightful piece of coincidence that I should be asked to write this blog the day before I headed off to the Reading Festival. My wife and I were going for the headline set by the most important band of the 1990s,  Radiohead (sorry, Kurt), who propelled the issue of providing content for free into the public consciousness (sorry, Trent) when they released their album In Rainbows on a set-your-own-price basis; 60% of people chose, in the event, to pay nothing.

A delightful coincidence, but not actually that significant. Radiohead are still the most important band in the world; Trent Reznor is one of the most important figures in [re]shaping the music industry; Stephen King is about the most long-term successful writer on the planet. And Chris Anderson is, well, Chris Anderson. But these are the names that come up again and again in the freemium debate – “look how great they are; see what they did!” on the one hand; “it wasn’t a success, it was a disaster; and the free wasn’t properly free!” on the other.

I want to make two points. First, the exploits of established megastars have nothing to do with the relevance of the freemium debate to new writers. Second, they actually skew the debate rather dangerously, because they focus attention on the wrong challenge, not the one that’s most important to new writers.

New writers who want to make a living (or to supplement their living) through their writing need readers who will pay for their work. They always have done and always will. What the freemium model does is claim new writers can get readers by providing content for free, and that enough of those readers will buy their content in alternative formats, or with added extras, to provide them with an income.

For the average newbie writer (or musician*), what matters most is getting any audience at all. So I want to come back to the first point, but I want start by exposing a couple of bits of faulty logic in typical objections to the second point.

1. “People won’t pay writers for enhanced content or merchandise.” Wrong. Only a week or so I came across a wonderful piece of merchandise on the website of author partnership Deberry and Grant, a bag that is featured in one of their books. I wasn’t one of their readers (I came across them during a chat on Twitter), but I wanted one. If I was already a fan, it would be essential. Simple, but effective.

2. “60% of people downloaded In Rainbows for free; not enough people paid for Stephen King’s set your own price book to justify him continuing the experiment.” Plain irrelevant for the average writer; these uberstars are qualitatively different beasts. The audience’s attitude towards remunerating them, and the amount of remuneration required, just don’t apply. What we need is evidence from newbies who use this approach – which is one reason I intend to keep a regular and public record of the figures for Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, the book I launched on September 1st, as a free download and a £7.98 paperback that includes bonus material, including a paper I gave on the themes of the book at a recent conference; an annotated history of the book’s various opening chapters; and, for people who order the book direct from me, a poster from the rock gig that features in the book’s second chapter.

I don’t need enough people to buy my book to make me a millionaire; I want eventually to build a fanbase of 1,000 true fans. That’ll do.

For me, as for the majority of people with a great cultural product looking to break into the market, that means what matters most is getting exposure. For many of us, going through the traditional channels just isn’t an option; I write gentle, thought-provoking literary fiction that will never sell more than a few thousand copies. I don’t make financial sense for publishers.

The battle isn’t getting people to pay; it’s getting people to read. If they do read, they might not pay. If they don’t read, they’ll never pay. That’s the simple logic that explains why so many of us struggling writers and musicians display exasperation and disbelief at the animosity shown towards freemium by so many who already have an audience.

“Free” is a hugely powerful way to get people who wouldn’t try if they had to buy, to take a look; it’s the essential foundation of a writer’s platform. I firmly believe that if people read my work they’ll think it’s every bit as good as what they’d find in the shops. It’s just getting them to spend five minutes of their time to read it.

The real question is how to expose people to our free material?

These problems – lack of visibility and the stigma that “free” means “worthless” – were the reason I set up the Free-e-day festival, a one day (December 1st) celebration of indie culture, where anyone (writers, filmmakers, musicians, and artists) can offer something as a free electronic download for a day, and where audiences can spend a day in one place trying out the vast wealth of talent they couldn’t find in the mainstream. Or through bittorrent.

The festival isn’t a list or a directory, it’s a carnival. And a workshop; there will be all kinds of webchats and online advice seminars on the day to help creative people working outside the mainstream, from the ins and outs of Creative Commons to website design. Every participant gets a page of the e-brochure to do with as they please, and a listing and link on our site, in return for the promise to make something available to readers for free on December 1st.

I believe passionately in the freemium model. But as new writers, we need to not let the debates distract us. We should stop worrying about how to get paid for our premium offering, and start thinking about how to use free to get heard.

*NOTE: I really don’t want to go into the shambles the UK government has made with proposed anti-file-sharing legislation, but I’ll say for the record that as a content producer struggling for an audience, I don’t want any boundaries put up between me and my audience. It’s something authors don’t talk about much, but I’ve yet to meet a musician who disagrees.

Dan Holloway is co-founder of the Year Zero Writers collective, and organiser of the Free-e-day Festival. His novel, Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, the story of a teenage girl growing up in post-communist Hungary, was a number one book in 2008 on writers’ sites Youwriteon and Authonomy, and is now available as a free download in all e-formats, and as a paperback for £7.98. He is also on Twitter: @agnieszkasshoes.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

As in guillotine. Old/new media pragmatist. Sometimes loud, sometimes poet, always opinionated. Beer, bourbon, books, games, running.

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40 thoughts on “Freemium for writers is two debates

  1. Brad (@bradmacl)

    Dan,
    Great post. I think that the “myth of the megastar” (probably about 2% of all titles published) drives behavior for writers, but also others in the traditional publishing value chain; and to some degree the myth is allowed to continue because it keeps writers thinking “it's the only way.” When in reality, there are many new models (like freemium) emerging that will, eventually, expose the myth.

    Reply
  2. Dan Holloway

    Hi Brad, yeah, I was chatting about this earlier today. Things like “The Black Swan” and inspirational rags to riches stories, all the “you CAN do it” tales make great reading, and for “how to” publishers, really drive sales. And whilst I loved The Black Swan, and enjoy motivational role models, these aren't things on which the everyday writer (or person in any field) can base a business model (if you went to the bank and asked for a business loan becaus “I'm the thing that's going to come out of leftfield that no one saw coming, and I'm going to be huge” you'd be [not so] politely shown the door). For most of us, carving our niche is much more mundane, and the tools with which we do so are much less glamorous than super-mega-viral YouTube clips. And most of us don't want to be megastars – we want to get to the position where we can pay the bills and a bit besides doing something we love.

    I guess it's part of the resurgence of the Dork (see Maria Bustillos' amazing new book Dorkismo: The Macho of the Dork), the fashion for the unglamorous that's starting to take hold. The irony is that the first person who writes a great book about “how to just get by by plodding along” IS going to be huge.

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  4. AliC

    there are lots of points in the blog.
    here are some random things to think about.
    1. if you do something for free you are probably undermining the livelihood of someone else and/or devaluing their skills (I'm thinking particularly of archaeology here so don't get offended anyone!).
    2. if someone famous gives away something free that's a goodwill … Read moregesture to their fans who specifically want them rather than Mr Unknown.
    3. there are plenty of professions where starting off working for free is the done thing.

    I guess it's a case of getting the right balance.

    Reply
  5. Dan Holloway

    Hey there, AliC

    These are important points to discuss. Let me give you a brief version of my take on each in turn.

    1. The person who feels undermined and wants to protect their livelihood is, if they take a protectionist stance, actually undermining MY ability to make a living at the activity in question. I don't advocate “free” in order to devalue anythig – and I don't think it DOES devalue anything (although IF it does, in a way, isn't that just the way it goes? NO ONE is owed a living doing what they love). i advocate it as a way for talented practitioners to break into closed markets. If people in those markets are good enough, they have nothing to fear. If not then surely the more talented person who loves doing it SHOULD take their living away?

    2. I think you're right – and that's part of what I'm arguing – it's a mistake to use what famous people do as a model for those of us who'll probably never get famous.

    3. Yes – and many of them are in the arts – TV is the obvious one. People go on internships for nothing as students to cut their teeth and get noticed. That's pretty much what we're doing as writers.

    Thanks for raising those points. Now, should I duck and cover :-)

    Reply
  6. Mike Cane

    I keep going back and forth on Free. Sometimes I'm for it, other times against it. I've got TONS of free — legitimately free — eBooks on my HD. When will I get around to reading them? I don't know. OTOH, another kind of free — public library loans (yes, as eBooks) — I get to nearly immediately. And on the third hand, I think a price imposed on something requires the person paying the price to be serious about an acquisition. “Hey, I put out money for this, so I better get my money's worth.”

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  7. Dan Holloway

    “a price imposed on something requires the person paying the price to be serious about an acquisition”

    That's a very important point, and I've read research that backs it up (I think it was in Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational). I guess my question is: if a price is imposed on something from someone you've never heard of, what would make you bother looking twice. The free thing from someone you've never heard of may languish on your hard drive, but once it's there there's a CHANCE you'll have a curious glance. I know as a writer that's all I can expect – if my writing's good enough, then a curious glance will get you hooked. If it isn't, then I don't deserve any more.

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  8. AliC

    I'm familiar with the concept that if you don't pay for something you don't value it. It's very sad because it's important that things such as books should be available to everyone, irrespective of their financial state. In my experience it's more often the people who can easily afford to pay for something who will take the free option given the opportunity.

    On a different topic, I think one of the most important things in these literary ventures, whether or not they are free, is quality.
    Vanity publishing over the years has given many readers the impression that anything not published by a mainstream company is not worth reading. I think that one of the biggest challenges will be to prove this wrong. Neither free nor independently produced must be equated with low quality.

    Reply
  9. Dan Holloway

    You're absolutely right. That's the challenge I issued to readers when the Year Zero Writers collective launched 3 days ago:
    http://agnieszkasshoes.blogspot.com/2009/08/yea

    I argued (quite vigorously) that it matters that we break this stigma. I have to say, in just 3 days I have been utterly amazed. One of the best book review sites on the web has bought my book and is going to review it; the Independent bookstore of the Year in 2008 has agreed to stock it, as has the coolest Indie bookstore in Oxford. Part of that is because I have tried to show through my posting and commenting on the web that I have something to say worth listening to – but I've also found many great reviewers willing to give the work a try and take it on its merits. And that's all we ask.

    this is undoubtedly the biggest hurdle to jump – to get the reviewing establishment to take free material seriously. But I've seen the hurdle get a lot lower in under a week.

    Reply
  10. mariabustillos

    Thanks for the mention of Dorkismo, Dan … I loved your post, but have some reservations about free content. We're on shifting sand, with new models and new means of getting a book noticed proliferating (confusingly!) on all sides. Then factor in the uncertain fate of newspapers and publishing houses, both institutions predicated on far slower means of gathering and disseminating information. For a new writer, building an audience can no longer be tethered to those formats alone, and yet we must try to tap them, too; a favorable review in the NYT or the New Yorker or the Guardian is still the single best way of breaking into the market for a new writer.

    Which is all a long, rambling way of saying, “Beats me.”

    I did manage to get myself invited to a David Foster Wallace conference in Austin later this month, though! Lots of irons in the fire. I really believe the main thing is to produce work that you really believe in and then start yapping about it to literally anyone who will listen. The price, so long as it's in line with conventional publishing, seems almost beside the point.

    Reply
  11. Lindsay Price

    Fabulous look at this. I love the distinction between paying and reading. And aiming to build fans I think is the right way to go, because not only will true fans buy, they will want to buy, they will want to invest and invest in you first.

    I also agree that it's not the 'superstars' that make the free argument doable or not, it's those of us in the trenches. Cory Doctorow might be a good example – I believe he gives his books away for free on line and then there's a price for a hard copy. And he's got a great perspective which I quote all the time: 'my enemy is not piracy, it's obscurity.'

    Reply
  12. Dan Holloway

    Maria, thanks for mentioning conferences – I've already spoken at two conferecnes about Songs from the Other Side of the Wall (as a result of which I was invited to contribute chapters to two books, and asked to speak at the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association annual conference). Conferences are always happy to hear from creatives – even the most dry and academic ones (conferences, not creatives). And you're speaking to 1. people you know are interested in your thing and 2. people who tend to have big networks to disseminate to.

    I have no beefs at all about the newspaper and publishing industries. I think they're in danger of dying out by being inflexible, and I will always say as much. I don't want them to – I just think they need to take a look around them and at themselves. But I am lucky enough to consider myself good friends with several people who work there, and on very cordial terms with everyone I know (if you're open and respectful, then people rarely hold your opinions against you). One of the leading book bloggers for the Guardian has even agreed to take part in Free-e-day, and said he'll read my book. And when I took part in the Guardian-run online journalism careers webchat the other day, I made friends of 5 or 6 of the people there, one of whom has stayed in touch. I don't think being a passionate advocate of “free” alienates one at all from the establishment that feels threatened by it. I think the way you go about advocating it makes a lot of difference.

    Reply
  13. Dan Holloway

    'my enemy is not piracy, it's obscurity.'
    To all the new writers out there who worry about plagiarism, this is the best answer one could possibly give. Thanks, Lindsay (and great advice on your blog about monologues! – I'm not an actor but I'm always trying to make book readings interesting, so choice of passage is SO important)

    Reply
  14. Paul

    Excellent article as always, Dan. One of the points about this career building advice that is often forgotten is that it takes years to build a career as a writer. The internet goes so fast everyone thinks they will be making a living next month but it doesn't work that way. The other thing is, just like the olden days, there are millions of people who want to make a living from sitting at a computer typing but only a few who are going to. The decisive factor now just as it was is whether you can write, all the career building, freemium, non-freemium models in the world won't help if you can't hold a reader's attention.

    Reply
  15. Dan Holloway

    Very, very true. 99.9% of people who make it don't makeit overnight, and don't ever become huge. Yet there is virtually no solid advice for them out there.

    I was reminded tonight that this is just as true in the music world. I was at a gig listening to InLight (http:/www.inlightband.com), who are the best unsigned band I've ever heard play, and have such a range (but WITH a unique sound) that they WILL make it as a fully-signed band – but first they have to get the right people to hear them.

    What we forget often (and what InLight haven't forgotten – interestingly, I was listening to them at the venue where Radiohead used to play every week – when they were still called On a Friday) is that if we get heard and there's nothing to hear, we're stuffed. The hard work, the year's of graft, and the talent are the sine qua non.

    Reply
  16. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

    The dichotomy of the “freemium” debate is definitely summed up by “If they don’t read, they’ll never pay.” Writers need to be smart about what they offer for free, and what they hold back, and they definitely need to hold their work to the highest standards. All of it.

    You only get one chance at impressing someone, and that opportunity might not even come via the expected channels. I'm more, or less, inclined to check out a new writers' work based on their blogging, tweeting, etc., than I am their overt sales pitch for their free book.

    Dan, great post, and thanks again! I'm definitely planning to check out Songs from the Other Side of the Wall now.

    Reply
  17. Ben White

    You mentioned the need for examples of non-megastars. I believe MCM (http://http://1889.ca/) is probably one of the best examples out there. He seems to have tried a wide variety of methods and is currently serializing a novel for free (you can pay to read the whole thing right now) and supplementing the online versions with print versions (autographed sets, etc). Apparently it's working well for him.

    I think the biggest problem with releasing writing for free (especially if you don't have a publisher) is the simple fact that people will think you're doing it because no one will have you and no one wants you and your writing isn't worth their time. It's not fair, and it will likely change a bit, but people are used to filters and no one wants to waste time. The key for successful free writing is getting those first readers on board to say, “hey, this is worth your time.”

    Reply
  18. Dan Holloway

    Guy, thanks again for having me. I hope the debate will continue awhile (I'm just delighted people have come and commented). You've put your finger on something so many people forget – being on the we is like those annoying job interviews where you're taken out to lunch and dinner, and half the people have a great time getting drunk and acting up, then wonder why they don't get the job.

    I read so many posts (and I'm not talking the “anon” ones now, even) by writers who rail against agents (the most obvious example being the wak of #queryfail) and verge on trolling. We'd do well to remember this: one day the person who could make a real difference to our careers may read something we post. But we have no idea what “something”.

    Of course, if we all obeyed the basic principles of courtesy, decency, and helpfulness then we'd never have to worry.

    An awful lot of net space is taken up with talk about “branding” yourself, and having the same avatar or the same username or the same coloured polka dots on all your WordPress themes. But you've hit the nailon th ehead – 90% of “branding” in a people business is just about being an honourable human being.

    Reply
  19. Dan Holloway

    Ben, I know MCM reasonably well (everyone, also check out his twitter http://twitter.com/1889ca). He's a guy who puts a huge amount of time and effort into thinking about how to engage with his readers.

    You're right about the filters – it's still reviewers who are key. And they will get more so (again, we're moving towards the music industry model where it's the pluggers who get you play time who pull the puppet-strings) as content proliferates. Where I see things changing is that trusted portals for content will increasingly be community-driven, they'll be bottom-up not top-down (like the traditional arbiters of taste).

    I'm always using the metaphor of the early universe, but I think it's a good one. At the moment we just have a great cloud of matter, and we can't see any form to it. But gravity will take hold and slowly clusters will appear, and reach critical mass as they draw followers. There are lots and lots of peer-driven review sites out there (since I launched the book on Tuesday I've been e-mailed out of the blue by half a dozen of them). Most of them will disappear. The ones who get it right (by which I mean being easy to navigate, highly informative, and trustworthy in taste) will grow, and they will sift what's out there and bring the best to readers. I have a feeling many of the best of these portals will be very niche – because that builds community around a common interest.

    Reply
  20. Ben White

    I think you're right.

    Of course, as these bottom-up portals become burdened by a constant stream of stuff, the question will then once again become—how do you make yourself special? Quality, as always, isn't necessarily sufficient to get noticed. How to make sure even the thoughtful layman reviewer gives you a chance?

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  22. Mike Cane

    I got a kick out of you mentioning “Predictably Irrational” because I'm currently reading it and that's partly why I wrote that post!

    There is, of course, no substitute for persistence — but it won't necessarily pay the rent, either.

    Reply
  23. Mike Cane

    >>>90% of “branding” in a people business is just about being an honourable human being.

    Heh. Have you caught Shark Tank on ABC? In episode 3, the head of FUBU turns to the other sharks and says, “See? The brand begins with the *person*.”

    Reply
  24. MCM

    “How to get by by plodding along”

    I don't remember telling you the title for my next release…!

    But seriously: one thing I really hate about a lot of sites dedicated to indie writers is the notion that there is such thing as an answer. I would personally recommend “free”, if only to build an audience where there wasn't one before… but promises of anything more is bordering on fraud.

    Sometime before the end of the year, I hope to catalogue my experiments in an easy-to-read way, so people can see the ups and downs. But really, the most useful thing I think I do is reply to a few hundred emails a day, chatting with readers about totally unrelated topics. It's slow and painful, but it helps more than anything.

    I went on a tangent there. Sorry.

    Reply
  25. MCM

    Regarding your first point: One thing I try with my books is the notion of getting rid of a “purchase price”. If you want to read the eBook, you can get it for free, or donate some amount that you're comfortable with. I don't believe in restricting people's ability to read my stuff just because they don't have money. I've been there. I know what that's like. It puts you in a position of having to decide between saying “no thanks”, or “pirating” it. It's a crappy moral dilemma to saddle a reader with.

    Reply
  26. MCM

    In a previous life I was all about modelling systems and figuring out how process works. The… erm… “promotion of quality” in fiction (esp. on the web) is one of the trickiest things to crack. Ideally, you want to distribute your bottom-level, so there's no slushpile so much as a series of niche pools that specialists search for gems. Once they promote them, it moves up a level, and then another level after that, until it reaches the point where a “superstar reviewer” takes a look. The trouble, of course, can be seen in sites like Authonomy and Digg, where gaming the system beats all else.

    If I still had my modelling software, I'd break it out for you. We could solve all the world's problems by Tuesday!

    Sigh.

    Reply
  27. MCM

    You've probably seen it already, but Cory Doctorow is trying a new method too (not so much “new” as an interesting mix of old), called With A Little Help (http://www.locusmag.com/Perspectives/2009/09/co…)

    A big part of me would love to ditch everything I've built thus far, and just start fresh from the ground up, using new methodologies. I'm unfortunately coming to the point where I can draw a few thousand readers to a new book just by announcing it, which means I'm not as good a guinea pig as I once was.

    That sounds strange now that I say it.

    Well, either way… there are so many cool business models I want to try… we really should make a catalogue of them all, so everyone can see what worked and didn't. Add your own ideas, see if anyone's brave enough to try. That sort of thing.

    Reply
  28. Ben White

    Excellent thoughts Chris. I agree with Dan that in the end editorial bias is probably useful to the consumer/reader. It is an interesting parallel between a publisher screening unpublished material and a review site screening available material. The main difference is of course with portal and review sites, the stories are out there, no matter whether anyone likes them.

    I'd like to think that in the future, bottom-up readers will find gems and promote them. With so much out there though, I have to envision that most often that will not be the case. What it does is that in order to make yourself relevant to potential readers and portals, writers will need to be their own “brand” more than ever.

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  29. Dan Holloway

    I wonder if “brand” is becoming the new “voice”. You've put your finger on a key point, though – now, at least, the book is there to be discovered. It only takes one cursory glance from the right person. If the trusted portals and the people who feed them do their job, it isn't impossible – I have a feeling the online community is better at trawling everything and giving it a chance in the hope of finding something new than many traditional publishers. And the reason goes back to one of Guy's keywords – community. In particular it's about gossip – we love gossip, and we love to be there at the start, sharing the buzz of something new within a vast community, and that's a pretty big motivator.

    @MCM – the only reason I haven't replied to each of your points is that I agree with pretty much everything, and don't think there's much to add.

    Reply
  30. Ben White

    I hope voice gets its fair shot. I think your points about bottom up are well taken, I think my skepticism comes from the sheer volume. It does only take one person. But if there's so much stuff out there, then perhaps there will be so much good stuff, so much to the point that it becomes brand, luck, and connections that dictate even virtual success. And everyone who loves the democratic nature of creativity in the 21st century doesn't want that to happen.

    I want the things I hear about to come from passionate communities. I think the community will be, as you said, the real foundation to keep things in the direction that will benefit artists and patrons alike.

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  31. Dan Holloway

    You're right – theer are only so many person-reading-hours in the world (although by enthusing people about reading and by increasing the number of people with access to culture we can do something about that [but it's not, as I believe the jargonites call it, "scalable"]), and there will be more things from which to choose how to spend them. The pessimist in me thniks our individual voices will get as lost as they are now. The optimist thinks that means more people will get to read more good stuff, and crowds of enthusiasts will push the great stuff to the top. Only time will tell, of course.

    What all of us looking up and hoping CAN do, of course, is make a resolution that if we ever do get in the position where our voices are heard, we use them to find and promote great new writing.

    It could be like a kind of ten years' time party – we all sign up for a get together in 10 years' time to se where we are, and hold the chosen few to account. Better still. All us wannabes and newbies make a pledge, here and now, that whether we make it or not, we will give an hour a week, 40 weeks a year, to scouring the web for new talent, and list the results – one find a week – in a single place, and wherever we go in our careers, however big some of us get, we keep on doing it. That way all us who say now that we're not huge that we care, can make good on our word, and as and if our fame grows, so will the benefit to the new writers we recommend. I'm sure that's not a new idea, but what about it? I'm happy to attach it to the Free-e-day site. Or (er, major hijack alert) Guy might want to host it here. Or we could start a blogger for it. Anyone want in?

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  32. K. Warman Kern

    Guy, I'm thinking about “If they don’t read, they’ll never pay” because this is contrary to the way most media purchases are marketed. Although, book publishers have “sampled” writing for decades.

    The typical paid media model reflects why Cohn started Columbia Pictures. He left the rag business (where he struggled to collect receivables) to start a studio BECAUSE he observed people paying for a movie ticket IN ADVANCE, with no returns if not satisfied. This model still works: you pay your cable bill in advance based on the belief that you WILL find satisfaction. The cable segment is the healthiest in revs and profits in the media industry today.

    But I do think that the book market has engaged prospective readers in the process to prime them to buy the book for a long time. (I'm thinking about book excerpts in magazines.) The key is that the “free” sample must be designed as an appetizer to make someone hungry for more. I imagine this takes a very specific talent.

    Would publishers or writers be interested in a new sort of “agent” that packages the appetizers, finds the right readers, and follows up to convert them to purchase the full book?

    Katherine Warman Kern
    @comradity
    http://www.comradity.com

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  33. Dan Holloway

    Katherine, as I'm guilty for that phrase, may I answer?

    I wrote about just this here back in May:

    http://streamwriting.com/blog/?p=116

    I argued that the agent will become a cross between a music manager and a plugger. I've spoken to a number of people who work in the music marketing business, because I think they'd be very good at it.

    The whole point of freemium for me is for those currently on the outside, and the new model agent would have to open themselves up to the fact they're not deling with guaranteed hits AND they'd have not to exploit these newbie writers and become the agenting equivalent of vanity presses. Rather, for writers like me to want to work with them they'd have to do that. And a host of other things, but I'm very interested in exploring the model.

    Can you e-mail me? songsfromtheothersideofthewall@googlemail.com

    Best,
    Dan

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  37. Mary McFarland

    When I want to buy a book, I can go on Amazon and get a “free” view of a book’s table of contents, index, first few pages, and so forth. Then . . . my “free” peek is over, and I have to make a buy decision. That’s a good business model, whether you’re a lawyer, dentist, or author.

    Why do we assume that we have to give away entire novels (ebooks) to get a fan base? Can’t we do like Amazon and give excerpts?

    I think the freemium model implies that writers have no control over their futures, and can make no career plans; thus, we must toss a few free novels (gack!) at the Internet, cross our fingers, and . . . wait for the fans to come–or not.

    Amazon has a freemium model that works, but I don’t see them giving away books, in any medium (I will go back and take another tour just to be sure).

    400,000 clicks and “freemium” for Megan Jones’ Captive just makes me cringe. They’ll take her work, make a mashup, remove her name and all rights, then do what they want.

    Professionally, I don’t see myself adhering 100% wholeheartedly to this imbalanced model.

    Reply

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