The decision to sell them individually is in part derived from that, because if you bundle a bunch of stuff together, it’s difficult to tell what each author should be paid. And we want our readers to know that every time they buy a story, a significant portion of what they’ve paid is going directly to the writer. That’s one of the difficult things about a magazine—if you were doing to do that, how would you split it up? So that’s part of it. And also, we really do think of them like short books. There’s this length that almost never gets published in print, that now people can do digitally. You can see other people doing it now—there’s Byliner, and Kindle Singles is all about this. There’s this length that is sort of new, to produce things like this at this level.
The price is sort of derived from a proportional size to a book. So if you look at how much an e-book costs, and then you look at the length of our story versus the length of a traditional book, then the price kind of comes in there. Then there’s a price difference between the Kindle version and the app version, because the app version has all the multimedia while the Kindle is just the straight-up story.
That revenue-sharing plan kind of reminds me of the book industry. An author gets a book deal and gets an advance, and then writes the book, and then gets a share of the profits afterward.
One difference in our setup is that they don’t have to make up their advance. Traditionally, a book writer wouldn’t get a dime—I know this, because I wrote a book and I didn’t get a dime—until they make up their advance. In our case, we actually want the writer, from the first day, to be getting money. Partly so we can make this argument to readers that the money that they are paying is not going to some publishing executive, it’s actually going to a writer who has two kids and lives in Portland, Oregon, and just loves doing these stories.
I would imagine this is a very popular system with your freelancers. Have you been inundated with submissions since you launched?
I have, yeah. If there’s a word that’s stronger than “inundated,” that’s what I am.
Well in that case, I won’t keep you any longer
Can you please make sure to tell people—because I’ve been a freelancer for ten years, and I hate when I pitch a place and never hear back, and now I’m doing that to other people—I’ve got piles and piles of pitches and I can’t even respond to them, but I’m really, really trying as hard as I can to get back to everyone.