image  Will Kevin Kelly‘s “1,000 true fans” strategy work for writers and others? I’m skeptical, and so is John Scalzi (photo).

Condensed and in Scalzi’s words, the counter-arguments are:

1. “Gathering a thousand true fans is harder than it looks.

2. “The available universe of ‘true fans’ is not the entire US (or the entire Internet), but the subset of those who are willing/able to spend a significant sum of money on a single creative person.

3. “Artists are likely competing for ‘true fans.’

4 . “‘True Fans’ may not stay true fans.

5. “Just because a ‘true fan’ spends $100 on you doesn’t mean you get $100. Remember those really excellent folks who spent $250 to buy a lettered limited edition of one of my books? Well, most of that money goes somewhere else other than my pocket—mostly to the publisher, who, to be fair, did have to pay to produce the book (I’m okay with this, incidentally).”

Moderator’s note: In the near future, Richard Herley will reveal how he’s doing with the literary equivalent of shareware. Are the donations pouring in? It should be an interesting test of one fan-oriented business model. Remember, Richard is a prize-winning novelist of SF, fantasy and other genres—who, as I can attest after reading The Penal Colony, writes first-rate, compelling prose. Furthermore, he has enjoyed good play on public domain sites such as and Feedbooks.

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  1. I’m a big reader. But each year I pay $100 or more for exactly no single author’s works. If you’re like most authors, you do well to generate one novel a year. So, that means finding 1000 readers willing to pay $100 for each of your novels.

    Remembering that only a fraction of Americans read at all, I suspect that the universe of $100 per year per author fans is pretty small.

    I’m all in favor of different revenue models, but the wealthy donor model doesn’t seem likely to fit too many authors. Certainly not authors who don’t kowtow to the prejudices of wealthy donors.

    Rob Preece

  2. Those true fans are probably true fans of more than one author/artiste and can’t be expected to fund all their objects of worship with 100 bucks. Just getting them to pay 10 bucks for a paperback has to be a show of devotion in itself.

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