Latin for "Out of Many, One". A fitting motto for crowdfunding, no?
My name is Ross Pruden. I'm a writer/filmmaker. I've been writing screenplays and stories for over 20 years.
Writers and filmmakers always tell me how important copyright protection is to make money, but I just don't believe that. Many writers and filmmakers have adapted to the changing market and have made plenty of money... without copyright.
Dimeword is my attempt to prove authors can make money without copyright—even if those authors aren't very well known yet.
The internet has drastically changed how all entertainment—books, music, movies, software—is distributed. So I spent seven years trying to figure out how artists can make money in this shifting market. My conclusion? The Internet has rendered copyright, as it currently exists, obsolete. Since technology isn't going to "uninvent" itself, copyright reform was needed.
Yet copyright has had increasingly more draconian fix-it legislation which doesn't get customers to pay more. In the meantime, authors—indeed, all artists—still need a way to make money when flawless digital copies can be made before one's morning brew is finished.
How could artists regain the competitive edge? By pinpointing one's greatest weakness and flip it into one's greatest strength. Artists who make money alongside media piracy will always survive... thrive, even. Justin Timberlake, for instance, has over 140 streams of income and only one income stream is from recorded music. If his music is pirated, all his other revenue streams go up, not down. Timberlake is probably thinking up new ways to encourage his music is pirated.
The internet is one gargantuan copy machine. Instead of trying to stop that power, leverage it. The more something is copied, the more who share it, talk about it, connect over it, and the more they become fans of it. Fans will want to know more about you and what you do. And if you have something scarce to sell them, like a T-shirt (tangible) or early access to your art (intangible), fans pay for that. Avid fans find ways to pay for that.
The only lesson that matters here:
This campaign brings together countless lessons I've learned and I can't wait to share them with you. When the campaign is over, I'll show you the spreadsheet I used to calculate perk prices, how much the perks cost, and how much money I actually made.
- Step 1: Build relationships. Build a community.
Unless you have oodles of cash to spend on billboards and TV ads, this takes time. I started three years ago by using #infdist on Twitter to talk daily about digital distribution. It's led to some thrilling and heated discussions and I've met countless smart and funny people along the way. I'm their fan now, and some of them are my fans, too.
- Step 2: Start small—reach out to your closest fans.
I'm asking my family, friends, fans, and followers to commission the first 100 stories. This creates a small body of work that is a good sample of my writing.
- Step 3: Find new fans with a low price and killer convenience.
The lowest tier is just $1 and you get all 100 stories in an email. That creates something for everyone at a price that can't be beat. Best of all, there's zero copyright protection on any Dimeword story: I want fans to share my work with as many people as they can. Copy it! Remix it! Write songs inspired by it! Make movies from it! Sell it! All these iterations only help me find more new fans.
- Step 4: Let fans become your champion by creating a self-perpetuating network.
With every new donor after the first 100 $10 fans, a bonus story gets written whose length is dependent on the number of donors, e.g., 1,000 fans = 1,000 word story (minimum). Hopefully that will be a cool and fun incentive to get more passersby to chip in $1, and tell their friends, too. Shall we shoot for 100,000 fans? :)
- Step 5: Set it free.
All stories for this campaign go into the public domain. Why? Because fewer restrictions = more sharing = more fans = more sales. Don't believe me? The Bible has been a bestseller for years. Shakespeare still sells tickets. It's possible if you sell the right thing, which leads to the final step...
- Step 6: Make a bundle. Sell it.
Data can be copied easily now, so consumers don't buy the data as much as the scarcities around the data: format (email, PDF, paperback, hardbound, handmade), convenience (email, Kindle), uniqueness (autographs, limited editions), creation (access to the artist or the work in progress), etc. When you bundle all those scarce features with abundant data, fans pay.
Even though all the stories will be in the public domain, I'll eventually sell my own paperbound book so anyone who buys the paper version knows they're supporting the artist who wrote it.
[The Perks video will be up shortly. Please come back to view it because we worked really hard on it and we think the video would be sad if you didn't see it. Like, despondently sad. For real.]
[Seriously. Really sad.]
[The perks video didn't up in time. We are so sad we didn't do this.]
NB: ALL SHIPPING COSTS ARE INCLUDED IN EVERY PERK, NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE.
1. Pledge $10 to commission your own 100 word story.
2. Pledge $1 if you simply want to read all the stories.*
If you like this campaign, please tell as many people as you feel comfortable with, too!
Here's a sample story to give you an idea what you'd get for $10. This particular story is dark, but not all stories would be this brooding, I promise! :)
Jacob dangles from a ledge, high and remote.
Looking up, some snow falls, stinging in his eye.
"You okay?" the guide calls down.
An eagle caws. The man stares up at him.
"Give me your hand."
The guide reaches down, stretches, pulls.
Years have gone by—Jacob wonders if the guide has ever remembered him.
Jacob's boots dig deep into the cliff wall, his shoulders clench up and his knees extend in a swiftness the guide does not expect. The guide's eyes dart open, then Jacob turns around to see him fly off the cliff. Into the abyss.
Where he belongs.
The best way to keep up to date is follow us on Twitter @dimeword where there will be 3-4 updates a day. Lengthier updates will be posted here 2-3 times a week.
If you want to contact me personally, shoot me a tweet @rosspruden.
Thank you for funding public domain literature! Every $1 counts!
* Come on—$1 for at least 100 stories?? That's a bargain, right? That's less than a cup of non-fat Soy milk latte with whipping cream.
- (31 days)