But I got an email this morning from an old blogging buddy, checking in. He started the message off by asking, quite offhand, if I had any interesting projects I was working on these days.
I read that first line of the email and thought, “I am going to blow his mind!”
Then I read the rest of the email and realized he’s no stranger to “ambitious.” He’s participating in some stuff at least as big as my experiment in open-art neo-patronage. So I didn’t get to blow his mind, but at least I could give him something interesting.
Here’s what I had to say:
You’ve probably heard by now that I’ve got a bestselling fantasy novel at Amazon. Taming Fire is selling several hundred copies a day. I’ve sold 30,000 copies since its release at the end of June. I’ve got over 100 days on the Top 100 Best Sellers in Science Fiction and Fantasy, most of that somewhere in the top 20. I’m currently ranked around 160th most popular book across all books sold at Amazon.
That’s my big exciting news, but it’s nowhere close to my most ambitious project. My big project would be my company, the Consortium. One subset of the Consortium is Consortium Books, the publishing group that produced my novel. I’m the head publisher, but we’ve got several professional editors, a couple graphic designers, painters and photographers for cover art, and a marketer/sales guy all pitching in.
And that’s really the emphasis of the whole company: collaborative art. We’ve discovered the amazing things artists can accomplish in the new (digital) market with very little in the way of resources, if they’ll just work together to fill in the blanks. Writers need cover art, musicians need lyricists, photographers need websites, and programmers need everything. (It’s astonishing how many people it takes to make a videogame.)
Right now, we’re a cooperative of artists. Long-term, we want to be an employer. My goal is to create a new patronage–to pay artists a living salary with all the benefits of a “real job” with the sole expectations that they pursue mastery of their craft, and share that mastery with their fellow artists. We’re using an apprenticeship model, we’re paying our artists for the production of the art (not for the commoditization of it), and that will allow us to release finished products into the public domain.
We’ll be able to support artists better than the current lottery system that the “labels” provide (whether we’re talking about record labels or New York book publishers or Hollywood casting directors), and we’ll be able to do it entirely without the arcane and deeply problematic copyright laws.
The only thing we’re lacking now is time and money, and the current success of Taming Fire, while it’s not exactly funding our grand plans, does suggest a real potential that we’ll be able to get things off the ground in the next couple years. It’s hard to wait, but it’s incredibly exciting to see the things we’re accomplishing even now.
I felt like that a pretty effective snapshot of the exciting projects that are keeping me too busy to even breathe, and I felt it was probably worth sharing.