Would this business model work for writers?

Friday, August 29, 2008

I’ve spoken before about alternative business models for authors - some way to get paid for writing while at the same time embracing digital distribution and the economics of infinite goods. Techdirt talks about music artists getting fans to help pay for the creation of a new album - fans give money and the artist uses that money to produce the album. Then, the artist has some options for what to do with the music after it’s created, like selling cds or giving it away for free or whatever they want to do. This might work for writers, too. Not all writers, maybe. But let’s say you’re a talented writer without a book deal. You set up a blog and connect with people who love the type of books you want to write. Give away free short stories or excerpts from your novel-in-progress. Then take money to produce the book. People who donate maybe get a discount on a paper copy, or a signed paper copy, or whatever other non-scare goods you might be interested in producing. If you’re really good with your non-scare goods, you can give away the resulting ebook when you’re done writing. This builds more fans, and helps you get more money to produce the next book. I think it’s harder for authors to do this than musicians, because it’s harder for the author to come up with compelling non-scarce goods to sell. They have no equivalent of the live show (At least for the vast majority of authors). But at the same time, producing a book, especially an ebook, is vastly cheaper. In fact, with a little computer knowledge, it’s almost free. So what your fans are really paying for is your time more than the production of the book.

Posted in: failed business model , music , writing