★ One Thousand Number One Fans

At The Literature Network, the writer James Burt won­ders how many fans a writer needs.

Kevin Kelly, edit­or of wired magazine, gave an inter­est­ing eco­nom­ic answer. He sug­ges­ted that artists could build a suc­cess­ful career with “1000 true fans“, will­ing to buy any­thing they pro­duced. So, assum­ing an aver­age UK wage of around £24,000, Kelly would sug­gest an artist could make a liv­ing from 2000 people pay­ing them £12 a year, after costs.

There are many counter argu­ments to this pos­i­tion, but I think that the emer­gence of the Internet has made this kind of artist-audi­ence sup­port more than feas­ible. We have here a free, glob­al and uncensoredSo far. dis­tri­bu­tion net­work. It allows people to con­greg­ate with­in niches that large-audi­ence media can’t sup­port, from fans of P. G. Wodehouse to afi­cion­ados of the 1980s Thames TV pro­gramme Runaround.

Jonathan Coulton, sing­er-song­writer, is doing this kind of thing quite suc­cess­fully. And, just yes­ter­day, I received an email con­firm­ing that my monthly dona­tion of five dol­lars has been sent to the tech­no­logy journ­al­ist Leo Laporte, whose pod­casts on com­puter secur­ity, the Mac, and gen­er­al tech­no­logy I listen to reg­u­larly.

I mean, why not be pat­ron­ised by a hard core of fans? A writer doesn’t have a TV stu­dio or a staff to sup­port. He or she wouldn’t require too many fans to donate a small amount each month. The ques­tions are: What would motiv­ate a per­son to con­trib­ute fin­an­cially? How would the writer get in touch with these people to start with?

How many read­ers do you need? | The Literature Network

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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