Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Selling Shares in Your Writing

If you need financial support when you give up the day job to write your magnum opus, you might take a leaf from Tao Lin's book.

When the penniless author realised that he would need some income to survive while he wrote his next (as yet untitled book), he put up an ad on his blog saying that he had decided to sell shares in 60 percent of the U.S. royalties to the public. He has now apparently sold 5 of the 6 shares for US$2,000 each.
Matthew Moore in the Telegraph asks the obvious question about the share offering :
... given the fickle nature of literary success, and Tao’s fairly vague details on the sales of his previous books, why would anyone risk the $2,000? Tao's first novel, EEEEE EEE EEEE is currently at 29,914 in the sales rankings.
and finds that :
... The author has a wry answer. “People who buy shares will also have more meaning in life,” he wrote. “You can call yourself a producer of my second novel if you want.”
The story is also picked up on the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times.

But is selling shares in your work such an innovative idea really? As one of the commenters on the Telegraph piece points out that
... authors as diverse as Samuel Johnson and E. A. Poe sold "shares," or subscriptions for not-yet finished works to support themselves.
Of course quite apart from the immediate financial payoff, Mr. Lin has managed to get a lot of free publicity for his work, as the Complete Review points out.


gnute said...

The British artist Tracey Emin asked her friends to contribute to her artist fund when she first started out, I wonder how she repayed them.

Tao Lin seems a funny guy. Doesn't this mean he has to employ someone else to audit him or something, for the benefit of the shareholders? It would be interesting to read the contract.

Anonymous said...

For malaysians, giving up your day job to become a full time writer is suicidal (if you worship money).

And you have a better chance of striking it rich with magnum 4D than your magnum opus.

ah pong

Anonymous said...

I think in a way it's good. It's just like asking for contribution, and when someone feel that your work is good, and wish to help out to keep it going, by all means. Of course, when it is completed, credit is due as well to those that have helped in any way to it ... :)

Anonymous said...

And what if he disappears? it's a very writerly way of asking for a donation. Still he can't beat our home-grown star, Rm250,000 tax-free, beat that if you can.