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John Scalzi talks about the 1000 True Fans model for success for an artist. Scalzi brings up some rather good reasons why the model is made of fail.

Immediately when I heard about the idea as applied to book publishing, and how someone was silly enough to think that 1000TF x $100/yr = $100,000 dollars all going to the artist, I shook my head.

Dude, I'm completely unpublished and even I know that's profoundly stupid and uninformed.



Do you know how many people have to get paid from a book's sales? Agents, editors, copyeditors, marketing folks, and others who work for the publishing company. Not to mention that brick and mortar stores also expect to get their cut for having the book on the shelves. And after all those people have gotten their daily bread, maybe a few cents will trickle down to the author if the book sells out it's advance. Which is a big maybe. A lot of books never do.

My second objection was that you assume that being a fan automatically equates to monetary support. There are lots of authors, artist, and other creative folk who I love, but who I don't dole out a lot of money for. Many of the books I have by my favorite authors were acquired second-hand, at used book stores either online or in real life store. Of the songs I have by my favorite artist, I've paid for maybe one or two of them on iTunes. I can't remember the last time I bought an entire album.

Oh, and I also download episodes of my favorite shows completely commercial free via BitTorrent. There are some shows I get entire via the internet.

Does that make me a less than true fan? No. I think it makes me a less than wealthy fan.

To all the artists, authors, and musicians I love: I'm sorry, but you have two choices at this junction. You can have me enjoy your material for free or at a greatly reduced price OR you can have me not enjoy it at all. Right now, paying for it all at full price is just not an option I have.

So which do you want more, given a choice: the money or the love? If you want the love, I'm Daddy Warbucks. If you want the money, go elsewhere.

Do you know what $100 is to me? It's a couple of weeks of groceries and change, two months of medication, a utility bill. It's food, medicine, shelter and other frivolities. Please, tell me, exactly which medication, which food stuff, which utility would you like me not to have so I can support you?

Being a fan is not the same as being a patron. That's the basic problem with the 1000 True Fans model. A fan is a person who enjoys your work avidly. A patron is a person who enjoys your work monetarily. You can't count on all of your 1000 fans to be patrons, and frankly it's a bit unfair and disingenuous to do so.

This is not to say that it's wrong for an author to hope for some monetary compensation for the work, or to even hope that perhaps if they put out enough well-loved material, that they might even make a living at it. But doing so on a premise that true fans must pay a certain amount of money isn't the way to go about it.

You need to do this for the creative and artistic thrill first, and the money last.

Especially when you consider that what you're peddling, at the end of the day, isn't a necessity. You're hoping that someone will give you money for making things up. Oh, and in case the creator of this frankly absurd theory hadn't noticed, we're in the middle of a freaking ECONOMIC CRISIS. People are struggling to keep their homes, to pay for the things they need, to keep their jobs.

Now is the exact wrong time to dole out "true fan" status based on monetary output. So I shall fart in this theory's general direction and continue on.

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