Shareware Story Haul: One Week In

It’s been a week since I posted “How I Proposed To My Wife: An Alien Sex Story” as a “shareware short story,” for people to read and enjoy — and, if they like, to pay me a bit for it. So how has it done, financially speaking, in the course of a week? Let’s find out together, shall we?

As of 8:30pm (Eastern), 4/23/08, “Alien Sex Story” has grossed $436.43. Not Radiohead money, but you know, not bad. $146.68 of that came from people using the Amazon honor payment system, and the rest from people using PayPal. The highest amount contributed was $20; the lowest amount offered was sixty cents. 292 people downloaded the short story package, which is a number I find surprisingly low, given the site racks up 30k+ visitors daily; of those it appears about a third paid for the story, which is an extremely high percentage of willing payers. The average payment per contributor was about $4.50.

How does $436.43 compare with what I could get for the story on the open market? Actually, very well. The story is about 7,400 words long, so in a week of shareware release, I’ve been paid 5.9 cents a word, which is right in line with what the “Big Three” science fiction magazines pay: my Writer’s Market has Analog at 6 cents/word, Asimov at 5 cents/word, and Fantasy & Science Fiction at 5 to 9 cents/word. And consider that the story is still on the market — that is, that people continue to be able to find it, read it and pay for it. It’s not unreasonable to assume more people will read it and pay for it as time goes on — probably not as much or as regularly as in this first week, when I’ve drawn attention to it. But from the point of view of whether or not I’d make what I’m make sending it to the print magazines, everything else from this point is gravy.

(It’s not as much as I’d make for at least a few online sites, interestingly: Subterranean Online and Baen’s Universe pay substantially more than 6 cents/word, which is a fact I think is occasionally overlooked. But it’s true! Look it up, people.)

Now, the caveats, and why current payment success may not be an indicator of future performance, or why this experiment might not be repeatable with others:

1. This site is heavily trafficked and thus is its own good marketing, which is an advantage others might not have;

2. People who might pitch in for a first story are not guaranteed to pitch in for a second story (or if they do, they not pay as much);

3. The fact that half of the money netted after service charges will go to charity may have caused people to pay more than they might otherwise.

Likewise, from an administrative standpoint, handling your own backend is a fiddly timesucker — Amazon and Paypal automating things makes it easier, but it’s still time spent not writing.

All that said, I do find the first week haul fairly encouraging. It’s definitely not enough to get rich on, but it is enough for me to consider having shareware as serious option when I’m shopping stories, or when I’m writing a story I like but might consider difficult to place for whatever reason. Or, you know. When I’m lazy. As I so often am.

Comments? Questions?


I Hear and Obey

Krissy, on the phone to me as she drives home: “You need to go and take a picture of the sun right now!”

Here’s a thought: Gravitationally speaking, the sun is 93 million miles down from us. And we would fall all the way in. Yes we would.


The Direction I’m Heading

Minus the feathered hair, mind you.

This realization after I opened the front door to a beautiful spring day, and then sneezed for five minutes straight. Which is not as much fun as it sounds like, trust me.


Quick Official Statement on “2:42” has picked up the story about The Morning News’ piece on 2:42 being the perfect length for a pop song having an eerie resemblance to my own post on the matter a few years earlier. I admit to being initially rather skeptical that the subject matter was entirely coincidental, but then Josh Allen, the writer of the MN piece, came by and explained in a comment how he’d independently come to the idea.

Long story short: I believe him, it was coincidence, we both have excellent taste in music, and that’s that. I would appreciate folks not suggesting Mr. Allen has engaged in plagiarism of me, either in text or in ideas. I don’t believe he has. In any event, the utter pop perfection of “There She Goes” was known to many long before we wrote about its length, and hopefully this discussion will bring Lee Mavers out of his perfectionist cubby hole to write some more perfect pop songs before we all, like, die. It’s not too much to hope for.


A Bit More on OSB

In e-mail:

“So, you’re saying you’re for the Open Source Boob project? Really?”

Well. I’m for the idea of demystifying breasts to young men who fetishize them to the extent of not being able to process the fact there is an actual person that they are part of, yes. My understanding of the project was that this was a component of the thing, although I fully admit that inasmuch as my knowledge came after the fact and based on what I remember being told about it at lunch, it may have been at variance with how it was envisioned by the participants, or how it was otherwise reported. How I saw it, however, was that if some women wanted to attempt to mitigate mammary hyperfocus in socially underdeveloped male geeks via this sort of offer, I was fine with that and wished them luck with it.

Would it be something I would suggest as a way to address this particular issue? Not particularly, since generally I neither wish to intimately touch nor be intimately touched by strangers, breast-bearing or no, and I’m not entirely sure the attempted procedure would (how to put this politely) work as desired in all cases. Do I think it’s an idea that is widely portable to different contexts? Really, no. But if women wanted to try it in an environment where they themselves felt comfortable, well, okay, fine. You kids have fun with it. As I said, I think my understanding of the concept and its goals was different from other folks.

I also think it mattered who I first heard about it from. I first heard about it after the fact, and in person, from a woman who participated in it and had fun with it, who thought it went well, and was generally happy about the whole thing. Most everyone else on Teh Internets heard about it from The Ferrett. In real life, the Ferrett is a perfectly pleasant, albeit clearly unfiltered, sort of guy; I had a breakfast with a group that included him and his wife at Penguicon and had fun talking with him, not about open source boobs, but who would win in battle: a bear or a shark (I went with the shark). Sadly for The Ferret, in the entry in which he wrote about OSB, he comes across as generally skeevetastic, especially if you don’t know him; the people who don’t know him constitutes most of Teh Internets. The Ferrett now has to live with the mess. That’s his online karma. He does seem to accept it.

My point is, however, that me hearing about it in person from an enthusiastic female participant rather than from a guy writing about it on the ‘Net gave me a different starting point on it than most people got: a female positive one rather than male skeevetastic one. Your mileage may vary on this, of course. Nevertheless, I toss it out there for your consideration.


10 Delegates? Really?

After all that, Hillary Clinton nets just ten delegates? Is there anyone in the world not involved with the Clinton campaign who thinks ten delegates were worth the past seven weeks of complete and utter nonsense? Really?

No, I mean it. Really?

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