Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Work = Job: The Sequel

Thanks to the resounding response (for a given value of response) to my initial post, I'm writing this follow-up post anyway.  Also, to whoever it is that owns the url congratulations, best wishes and etc; I own the url and will be pursueing developing this idea there (eventually).

To re-cap; Story Teller World is intended to provide anyone with a story idea (fictional, instructional, whatever really) with the support and development tools established writers receive from their publishing house or film production company (or have to develop for themselves as they go).  In addition to that, STW will offer digital story development software tool(s) specifically designed for novice writers using much the same process as that used by the Turbo Tax income tax software (fill in the basic info, then answer questions to further develop the idea in a structured and interconnected format).

Having had a period of time in digital solitude in which to do what I like to call "thinking", I have come up with what I hope will prove to be improvements to my original concept.

1.)  Tax and contract legal advice.  I'm going to have to acquire some money to pay someone that actually knows something about the topic, so back burner still.

2.)  Reference links.  I believe Ref Desk is an even better choice than I originally considered.  Being financially supported by contributors, STW will arrange to provide sufficient financial support to Ref Desk so as to receive a dedicated portal through which all member writers story research must be directed.  Ref Desk provides links to all major reference sources online and can no doubt be convinced to add any specialty links as might be desired (and legal - erotic stories are not excluded from STW, but there are still legal boundaries to be taken into account).  This arrangement makes possible an anti-plagiarism mechanism along with a credit-sharing mechanism for shared projects.  More on this below (see: 6.).

3.)  Editorial support.  Back burner.

4.)   Co-Author job posting requests.  Some on this below too.  Back burner the rest.

Gods Above (and other archaic-sounding expletives) this item-by-item narrative format is really tedious; I won't be doing it again, that's certain.

5.)  Marketing.  I'm sure I have more thoughts on this, but only one comes to mind just now.  I am strongly inclined to publish all stories written on STW through Smashwords and let the individual buyer select which eBook format fits his/her reader technology.

The back of the stove is getting crowded, too.

6.)  Back-story Development.  Finally.  STW will provide an individual page for each member linked from the site Home page as part of the membership fee.  Each project a member wishes to develop will receive its own separate page accessible only through the members personal page (for a minor one-time additional fee) and accessible by others only by the members arrangement.  All research done in development of a story must be through the Ref Desk link by way of the members personal page, thereby documenting when/where every aspect of the story came from - either document-ably through Ref Desk or directly through the writers head (still thinking about scanning data not otherwise available online - fixable but not decided yet).  In the event two or more members (not all of whom are necessarily writers themselves) choose to develop a project jointly, their individual development page will link to a joint-development secondary page (for, you guessed it, yet another additional one-time minor fee) for that story only.  All individual contributions to the final story are each made through the individual member's personal page, thus allowing for a reasonably precise accounting of just who contributed how much to the published product, thereby also allowing for a fair distribution of proceeds should there ever be a dispute.

7.)  Story Teller must be at minimum a two-tiered structure.  I have changed my pricing model considerably (see 6. above for example).  I still want there to be a free page available for anyone to work from (for members to research for project collaboration and individuals to advertise for co-authorship's or other development opportunities) (all such arrangements paying a fee or percentage to STW btw), but that membership should be a mostly nominal US$30/year.  Each additional project page a member starts (and owns for life of the membership and/or copyright as appropriate) costs an additional US$10 initiation fee, with joint project pages sharing an additional US$10 initiation fee between all contributors by whatever division they arrange between themselves (so long as content ownership is stipulated by the developing members to be on either a stipulated division of shares basis or percentage of contribution as measured by the STW site software through each members personal page).

8.)  The STW writing software needs to be written in such a fashion that it can be readily adapted to other applications of a generally similar, but discrete, market (story written for print, to be adapted for film/video, to be further adapted for video game, etc).  I know what follows was originally part of  #6 in the original; what's your point?  I am more convinced than ever that STW must be built around original software purpose written for this application.  There will no doubt be much content that is licensed from others, and mostly expected to be accessed through a hyperlink, but I strongly believe an open source based purpose-built software program that is designed from the outset for ease of member usage and adaptation to as broad a spectrum of potential applications as possible (but without the need for writers to also be knowledgable coders too) is still the best marketing tool STW can ever offer to people.  One of the more time consuming distractions and expenses writers have is the spelling and what I think of as the there/their/they're problem, so one of the features I want the STW software to offer is a variety of check programs that the writer can run repeatedly to check work prior to engaging in the expense of a reader or editor (all of which will still be necessary, but hopefully more individually affordable as a result).

Having no idea what esr and his cohorts charge for their professional attention (and wanting more than the sound of the hair growing in my ears for resources, and isn't that a mental image to attract an investor with?) I'm hesitant to ask.  That said, I recognize that people need some sort of (at least seemingly plausible) guesstimate of funding requirements desired, so I hope to attract US$2,000,000 to fully fund the initial 5 years of development and operation, along with anticipated expenses to expand into other languages than English during the 4th or 5th year.  This amount will pay my salary for 5 years, fund work space and equipment for same, transportation, development and promotional expenses (which are expected to require my personal involvement on-scene) and funds for contingent opportunities (partnership contracts with other businesses being a prominent example), especially in the final two years of initial development.  This also assumes having to pay for all the ancillary expenses that might otherwise be met through a partnership with Jobster or Baen as mentioned in the first posting.  In return, at the end of the 5 year initial term, the goal is to have 10,000 individual annual paying members, each of whom has initiated on average two development projects during that same period; this results in approximately US$500,000 in paid fees plus whatever the published stories have earned (remember, STW is in for 20% of all royalties each story earns, too) by that time.  Those benchmarks can reasonably be expected to produce US$240,000/year in paid fees alone thereafter, with expenses being approximately 60% of that amount all else remaining the same.

The Story Teller World financial model is: individual member annual fee of US $30, individual story development page of a one-time US $10, assignment of 20% of all sales royalties to Story Teller World for a stipulated (but negotiable - at least a 10 years minimum though) period of time, 20% of all royalties divided between the story developers (shared between the original creator(s) and any adaptation creators) and 60% of all royalties apportioned as negotiated between all contributors to a story's final published form.

Some business development methods I especially plan to employ are:

A.)  As soon as possible after the software is basically written, I wish to tour around the country hosting local events with certain bloggers known to me to be accomplished writers in their own right.  STW will pay them a stipulated amount to write as beta developers in their area of expertise (for which they have an established audience).  This and their individual experience of the STW writing process will be published through the STW site and their personal blogs simultaneously.  This should take no more than 3 months, so by code writing + 3 months after funding has STW well known on all internet social media platforms.

    A. (1):  As part of the software writing development process, I will be working with selected (and compensated) other writers to put together a book that creates a story line for other writers to work in as part of a "how to" book explaining the STW writing process and software tools for publication at the time of public announcement of the business.  This will serve as a quality check of the software writing development process and expressly included in the code writers contract.

B.)  The online charity Kilted To Kick Cancer will become a sponsored charity of STW.  This includes a company cash donation directly, solicitation of donations from the membership and more generally online and an annual writing contest that directs some of the publication proceeds to the charity as well (at least from the STW royalties share - individual writers generosity is up to them).  This will require my personal involvement in various KTKC events during the month of September each year and hopefully sponsorship of an event as well.

C.)  Effectively simultaneous with A. above, certain established writers will be approached in an effort to arrange for them to develop a writers guide book (often referred to as a "universe or story bible") for other writers to work in established story lines he/she/they are no longer actively writing in.  STW will compensate these authors for their development costs (including their writing fee) and pay them for their written evaluation of the writing process experience offered by STW.  This will be intended for publication over the code writing + 6 to 12 months period (allowing for a non-overlap with the KTKC effort and some allowance for competing demands on the author's time).

I wish to make clear that, if developed and managed correctly, Story Teller World is designed to permit its management ample opportunity to be directly involved in the writing process personally (and under the identical terms and conditions of any other member too).  This allows for a real-time quality check of the process as well as potential for reducing the financial demands an otherwise full time manager might be expected to charge.

With any luck (mine, not so much yours), there will be more to follow.

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