Sharon Lee says incredibly correct things about The Long Tail. Go read it, then come back and read this. I’ll wait.
Did you read it? Okay. We’ll go on, then.
The Long Tail and the 1000 True Fans idea are things which I, as a writer, obviously wish to embrace and make use of. I’m especially fond of the *idea* of the 1000 True Fans, where “True Fan” is defined as “someone who will go out of the way to buy every. single. thing. that an artist produces”. For *my* purposes, True Fans are also the people I can directly contact, because I run a number of small projects like the Old Races Short Story Project online, and while perhaps there are many more people who would like to buy into that, if I can’t reach them directly to let them know about it, it doesn’t really matter. True Fans in this sense are also, frankly, people with money to burn, and not even True Fans are in that position all the time. But we’ll keep using “True Fans” because it’s a lot faster to type than “people who will buy into every project they possibly can afford to and occasionally when they can’t”, and I’ll trust that nobody’s going to be mortally offended by being a True Fan who buys everything printed instead of buying into crowdfunding, or variations on that theme. :)
At the moment, I’ve got access to somewhere between 50-200 True Fans. I could no doubt pinpoint the number by going through the crowdfunded projects I’ve run and seeing who’d bought into all of them (those people being the subset of True Fans who are True Fans Who Always Have Money, perhaps), but on the low end, it’s about 50, and on the high, about 200. At that rate of accumulation–assuming the high end–it’ll take about fifteen or twenty more years to get a real Long Tail going. Which, strangely, is closing in on the numbers Sharon is talking about up in that link I’m sure you all went and read.
And this, among many other reasons, is one reason I will never turn my back on traditional publishing. I *love* doing my crowdfunded projects. I love the idea of writing something for an e-book release. I love the amazing projects I get to work on with fantastic people. But unless I hit some kind of flashpoint (by doing some kind of project so awesome Neil Gaiman wants to Tweet about it, or some such) I’m probably not going to develop a Long Tail through non-traditional publication. Which is okay, even though like everybody else, yes, sure, I’d love a shortcut to fame and fortune. However, given that I tend to develop Five Year Plans, I suspect my mind is not really set up to believe in shortcuts. ;) So I continue to absolutely need the traditional publication and the bookstore shelf space in order to find new readers out there in the world.
On a related note, I would like to particularly thank the people who’ve bought into the ORSSP. My stated goal for that project is to get stories written for a potential Old Races collection, and running the ORSSP has given me the incentive of every other month people are *expecting* a story, so I gotta get it done. Deadlines are wonderful things. But besides that, I had a financial “break-even” point in mind where the project actually became viable in and of itself, just for the writing of the stories. I hit that point this month, and so for the 105 of you who have subscribed to the project thus far, there will be a Bonus Story. I don’t know exactly when I’ll get it to you, but sometime this year you’ll get a seventh Old Races story for being early subscribers. Thank you all so much. <3(x-posted from the essential kit)