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The Big Scary Idea: The Big Scary Business Plan
Monday November 26th 2007, 12:27 pm

The quick story: back in late spring of ’06, Jason sits on my office couch and says, “Think of a way to save science fiction publishing.”

This was the result.

BSI Business Plan

Version 1.0, 9/9/06

Contact Information
Jason Stoddard
Adam Rakunas
Rina Slayter
Ken Brady

General Company Description

BSI is the first all-media, advertising-supported speculative fiction website providing both pro-selected and user-rated content with popularity-based revenue sharing for all content providers.

Wow. Let’s break that down.

All media. The site offers text, audio, and video content, of both the fiction and nonfiction variety. Advertising-supported. That means no subscriptions. Browsers pay nothing. Revenue comes from:

  • Monetized content. Text through Google AdSense, audio through pre-roll blurbs, video through Revver or viewcounter models
  • Site advertising
  • Site area sponsorship
  • Donations
  • Speculative fiction. This means science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In other words, the most popular genres for movies and games today.
  • Both pro-selected and user-rated content. We have pro editors, but we also have a DailyKos-style karma system for creating trusted users who can rate and support content from the user pool.
  • Popularity-based revenue sharing for all content providers. Every content provider is paid a percentage of the redistributed revenue based on the popularity of their content. Pros may also be paid current pro rates as an advance.

For its audience, BSI provides quality speculative fiction content in all its varied forms—not just text, but audio and video as well. With both “name” editors and user-rated content, there’s always something new and entertaining to come back to.

For content creators, BSI provides a new revenue stream—and a new way to reach a concentrated audience of speculative fiction fans, and offers cross-over into the general speculative fiction audience that traditional magazines and webzines do not provide.

For the publishing industry as a whole, BSI provides a model for profitability not based on control of distribution, but on content monetization—a model proven to work by websites such as BoingBoing, Fark, Revver, and, to a lesser extent, MySpace.

BSI will redistribute 70% of total revenue to content providers, retaining 30% for operations.

Goals and Objectives

BSI’s ultimate goal is to displace the current publishing revenue model and challenge current studio models, such as the SciFi Channel, for dominance. Publishing is based on control of distribution to create artificial scarcity. The SciFi Channel, while advertising-supported, offers little in the way of community interaction. We believe that a new revenue model based on monetized content, powered by an engaged user base, is the logical form for content distribution in the 21st century.

On the way to this ultimate goal, BSI has the following objectives:

  • Obtain buy-in from a “name” editor on the text front
  • Obtain buy-in from a “name” producer on the audio front
  • Obtain buy-in from a “name” director on the video front
  • Launch with a one-year, $1M challenge for spec fic content
  • Achieve break-even within one year
  • Add additional industry names on the board
  • Obtain buy-in from companies and individuals in the publishing industry and Hollywood
  • Successfully grow the trusted user base
  • Continue growing operations while maintaining quality

Business Philosophy

Models based on control of distribution aren’t tenable in the age easy online sharing; monetization of content is the correct model for the 21st century.

Target Audience

Anyone who reads, listens to, or watches science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Breakthrough from the 25,000 or so “rabid fans” to the 110,000 ComicCon attendees, the 1.5M readers of BoingBoing, and the 60M fans who eagerly await science fiction and fantasy movies is critical.

Industry Description

BSI crosses two industry groups–the publishing industry, and the entertainment industry. Both industries are undergoing a period of dramatic change, largely brought about by the rise of online distribution.

The publishing industry, a $25B industry in the United States, is finding that expanding its reader base is increasingly challenging. If newspapers are a precursor, publishing will find readership, at least in the United States, actively attenuating, as people move to more immersive forms of entertainment

The entertainment industry, about $35B in the United States, is in a state of panic regarding online sharing of its content. The MPAA, like the RIAA before it, has embarked upon a strategy of suing its user base, a position that’s actively ridiculous, especially when considering the relatively tiny amounts of piracy that are currently going on. This industry is also threatened by user-generated and rated content, as the burgeoning popularity of sites such as YouTube steal eyeballs away from traditional programming.

The robust size of both of these industries, as well as the severe lack of insight when confronted by current market conditions, makes BSI confident we can displace current models, at least on the micro-scale.

Company Strengths

BSI is not the first online content site. However, until this time, online content sites have suffered from one or more handicaps:

  • No content monetization model (YouTube)
  • Not advertising-supported (Sci Fiction, Baen’s Universe, etc.)
  • Very niche (text only, did not break out of rabid fanbase)
  • No marketing
  • No big names
  • Actively hostile to business and industry

BSI is unique in that it will have:

  • A proven revenue model (BoingBoing, Fark, Revver)
  • Support for all media (text, audio, video)
  • Big name editors
  • Focus on fans outside the rabid 25K
  • Strong online, offline, partner, contest, and affiliate marketing
  • Run by people in advertising and spec fic

We know what it takes to popularize sites and monetize content. We know how to market. We know how to do business. And we know how to build sites. This is a unique combination for success.

Products and Services

BSI provides different products and services to different audiences. It’s easiest to break it out like this:

For Browsers

For BSI website browsers, BSI provides access to speculative fiction content in all media forms (text, audio, and video), as well as nonfiction reviews and articles.

Text

  • Pro Fiction
  • Edited by a Professional Name Editor, updated weekly
  • Trusted Fiction
  • Moderated by Trusted Users, updated continuously
  • Book Reviews
  • From various reviewers TBD, updated as new content is available
  • Articles
  • From various writers TBD

Audio

  • Pro Audio, moderated by Name Producer, updated monthly
  • Trusted Audio, moderated by Trusted Users, updated continuously

Video

  • Pro Video, moderated by Name Producer
  • Trusted Video, moderated by Trusted Users, updated continuously
  • Film Reviews by Name Reviewer
  • By the mob, moderated by Trusted Users

Art

  • Artwork, moderated by Trusted Users, updated continuously
  • Photography, moderated by Trusted Users, updated continuously
  • Graphic Novels, moderated by Trusted Users, updated continuously

The Community

  • Romance
  • Costuming
  • Cons
  • Fandom

Big Ideas

  • Futurism
  • Transhumanism
  • The Singularity
  • Progressivism

All content is provided for free.

For Content Providers

For BSI content providers, BSI provides payment based on their share of the redistributed revenue.

Calculation

If a content provider had 1% of total views over the course of a month, BSI’s ad revenues were $1M, and the % redistributed was 70%, the content provider would earn $7K that month.

Console

BSI provides a transparent console, similar to Google AdSense or Revver, where each content provider sees, in real time, their earnings.

Distribution

Payments are automatically distributed at the close of every month for actual revenue received in that month
Payments flow into the content providers’ bank accounts, PayPal accounts, or equivalent

For Advertisers

For advertisers, BSI provides broad exposure to an engaged fan-base, which brings opportunities for higher than average revenue for their advertising investment.

Fees vary for different forms of advertising:

    AdSense. $10 CPM

  • Pre-Roll Audio. Tiered sponsorship based on popularity, $100-1000 per piece.
  • Revver Video. Market price, or new model.
  • Fixed Banners. $1k/month per 200,000 pageviews, or $50 CPM
  • Floating Banners. $1k/month per 500,000 pageviews, or $20 CPM
  • Sponsorships. $25K Platinum, $15K Gold, $10K Silver, $5K Bronze
  • Donations. Various tiers, from $10 to $1000, perks and awards for higher levels.

Economics

The Old Model
Once upon a time, there was a wonderful fairyland known as The Old Days, when the microprocessor was young and the Internet was still a far-off glimmer in someone’s eye. In those days, the publishing industry provided a valuable service by producing, distributing, and marketing writers’ works, providing exposure he or she would have never gotten. Similarly, in those days before the VCR and Tivo, when television stations could count on most people sitting through the commercials, they provided a valuable service to their advertisers, giving them broader exposure than they could have gotten elsewhere.

Today, both models are dying.

Text is cheap and accessible as your web browser, providing unlimited amounts of professional, semiprofessional, and amateur content for a reader’s enjoyment. If someone wants to share a book, it’s the work of five minutes to upload it to a site. Some authors share their content freely, claiming their problem is “obscurity, not piracy” and saying it’s gotten them additional book sales (Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi), while others argue for Digital Rights Management to “lock down” the content—this despite the fact that every DRM system has almost immediately been cracked shortly after its introduction to the market. Coupled with a shrinking market for books (see the number of MySpace profiles of people under 25 that include “Ha Ha” or some other sarcastic comment in their area for their favorite books), the publishing industry, $25B now in the United States, is looking at a diminishing future.

It’s even more bleak in the speculative fiction side of publishing, where readership continues to slide, and even the best editors in the field haven’t found homes (Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois).

The entertainment industry faces similar problems. If people skip commercials, what is their value to the advertiser? If people don’t go into theaters to see first-run movies, where’s the revenue? And if people decide to download pirated video rather than buying the DVD, what happens then?

As far as speculative fiction goes, though, there’s strong interest on the entertainment side. The majority of the 10 top-grossing films of all time have been science fiction or fantasy. Movies such as Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and even the X-Men have become pop phenomenons. There’s strong crossover from the graphic novel side to the media side, and even television has spawned its share of rabid fans for shows like Buffy, Star Trek, and even Serenity.

The New Model
At the same time, new models are emerging. The online video sharing service YouTube grew from 0 users to 30,000,000 users, sharing 100,000,000 videos per day, and a deal with NBC, in less than 1 year. Community rated content sites such as Digg and the Daily Kos have created entire legions of “trusted users,” who, en masse, moderate and administrate content more effectively than some editing teams–at zero cost.

There’s only one problem. While these models provide free content, they typically have no model for monetization. Only now is YouTube figuring out their revenue model.

However, when entertainment and revenue collide, the results are promising. BoingBoing, one of the industry’s most read blogs, pulls in over $1M in advertising revenue per year. The size of their team? 4. Fark is on target to pull $6M. SomethingAwful might do $3M. These are all community sites that are largely advertising-supported—the same model BSI uses.

The Solution
We believe the solution to both the publishing and entertainment industry’s problems is monetization of content, coupled with free distribution. Let the browsers have their free content; provide compelling value to the advertisers, and share the revenue freely with the content providers. This all-media popularity-based revenue sharing model we’ve come to call the MediaPool, and we believe it is the model for all media in the future.

BSI is focused on speculative fiction because it provides:

An engaged fan base
Broad interest beyond the fans
An opportunity to prove the MediaPool model on a smaller scale
Minimizes competition with organizations such as YouTube and Google

One of the most important aspects of BSI is the manageability of its growth. It starts with relatively low investment, thanks to the community aspect of the site. Much of its operation is automatic, thanks to robust back-end code. However, as the site grows, reinvestment from ongoing activity provides the ability to grow into the open-source equivalent of the SciFi channel, producing video content for much broader audiences.

Features and Benefits

For Browsers

Feature: All content is free
Benefit: No barrier to entry; creates huge user base

Feature: All media
Benefit: Don’t have to be a reader to enjoy the site

Feature: Pro vetted content
Benefit: Trust in the site; guarantee of quality

Feature: Trusted user content
Benefit: Access to other quality content; possibility of becoming a trusted user and participating in the community; opportunity to submit own content.

Feature: Only speculative fiction
Benefit: No non-speculative content to get in they way

For Content Providers

Feature: Everyone is paid
Benefit: You post, you get paid—very refreshing

Feature: Payments are transparent
Benefit: You know where you stand at all times, not just when you get the royalty check

Feature: Pros are paid more
Benefit: You’ll get at least pro rates as an advance

Feature: Submit any media
Benefit: You don’t need to be a writer; more opportunities to make $

Feature: Only speculative fiction
Benefit: I’m not competing with non-genre authors and content creators

For Advertisers

Feature: All media
Benefit: Many different content forms to place advertising on, fits with what they have available

Feature: Broad range of ad venues
Benefit: Beyond the content, the site offers many different ways to advertise and sponsor, so programs can be tailored to individual needs

Feature: Enthusiastic user base
Benefit: Fans buy more stuff; provides for targeting.

Customers

Browsers

  • Rabid Fan. Science fiction or fantasy reader. Goes to conventions. Gets in heated debates about Star Trek flavors. The middle-aged white male. We don’t want to irritate this person so much that they leave the site. Most likely to donate money to us.
  • Casual Fan. People who enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies, as well as television such as Buffy and Serenity. Broad range, skewing male. We want to appeal to this person so much they invite their friends to come.
  • Progressive. Someone who’s interested in progressive thoughts, ideas, and futurism, but eschews the fan mentality. Broad range, also skews male. We want to have content that appeals to this person.

Content Providers

  • Writers. Fiction and nonfiction, pro and amateur. Arguably the easiest market to reach, thanks to market aggregator sites such as Ralans. Broad demographic range.
  • Audio Producers. A more insular community than writers, with more market opportunities. Reachable through community sites such as SomethingAwful.com.
  • Video Producers. Market opportunities abound for video producers, making them a valuable commodity. Still reachable through community sites such as SomethingAwful.com

Advertisers and Sponsors

  • “Automatic” Advertisers. Google AdSense and Revver provide us with “automatic” ads that need no sales skill. Although revenue is typically low, these ad networks can provide early cash flow, especially with large page views.
  • Ad Networks. Moving up to Federated Media or other ad networks allows us to offer premium placement and charge more. These larger networks are accessible once we reach the 1M+ pageview range.
  • Spec-Fic Focused Industries. Requires direct sales, but these toymakers, model makers, apparel manufacturers, and curio manufacturers will be an easy sell. The caveat: we don’t want to scare our larger market away.
  • Large Corporations. This will require sales for large ad placements and sponsorships, and some education as to the potential of this industry.
  • Entertainment Industry. The entertainment industry is an excellent partner for sponsorships, if we are not perceived as a threat.

Competition

In many ways, BSI does not compete with any online or offline media, since it is free for the browser. However, BSI exists in a complex landscape where there are many choices for speculative fiction content, and competes for advertising dollars with many of the following entities:

Futurismic
Good: Fiction, news, podcast readings; part of Pajamas Media blog network for ads; paying site; commenting on stories.
Bad: Part of PJ Media (which also includes inflammatory political sites and editorial content); can’t share stories easily; no art, no video

Strange Horizons
Good: Regular publishing schedule; news, forums, merch, art, just like a traditional mag
Bad: No ads; lives on donations, now a 501(c)(3), comments on stories are on separate forum (that has no ads); no audio or video

GUD
Good: Easy submission process; on paper and PDF; pays royalties
Bad: Quarterly, rotating editor means writers makes it difficult for authors to learn editorial voice; no audio or video

SciFiction
Good: A singular, respected editorial vision in Ellen Datlow; a regular publishing schedule: one new story plus one reprinted classic every week.
Bad: Under NBC/Universal umbrella, whose editorial vision for SciFi.com did not include printed, original fiction; no advertising for anything but SciFi Network programming; no merchanidse.
Note: now deceased.

Talebones
Good: Announcement list, forums; dedicated to cutting edge
Bad: On paper; has to hold subscription drives to keep alive; no audio or video

Interzone
Good: Full color glossy mag; published monthly
Bad: Difficult and expensive to get (published in UK); has submission reading period; no audio or video

F&SF
Good: Name recognition; respected editorial staff; regular columns; cover art; fast editorial turnaround
Bad: Caught in nostalgia trap; frequently buys from a small pool of same authors; no audio or video

Analog/Asimov’s
Good: Name recognition; good pay; cover art; regular columns
Bad: Also caught in nostalgia trap; notoriously slow editorial turnaround; no audio or video.

DailyKos
Good: Sprawling political community with user-generated diaries, ratings for comments, karma system for users that encourages frequent and thoughtful discourse; users promoted from regular pool to front page; diaries recommended by community raise to the top of the listings; merch; conferences; political fundraising and organizing power; 4.1M pageviews @ $9K/week for all ad spots
Bad: Signal to noise ratio is high in diaries and comments.

PerezHilton
Good: Ridiculous amounts of traffic: 6.8M pageviews @ $7700/week for all ad spots.
Bad: Gossip site with ephemeral, culturally worthless traffic.

Dooce
Good: Personal site that pays author’s mortgage; rabid fan base
Bad: Reliant on one author for content

Penny Arcade
Good: Speaks to and with audience; runs yearly con; raises ridiculous amounts of money for charity
Bad: Only three strips a week; inaccessible to new readers with no knowledge of game culture or strip (though archives are free and a fast read)

YouTube
Good: The 800-lb gorilla of online video content; videos are easy to share and comment on
Bad: Not speculative fiction focused; lots of worthless video; no audio or text content; no monetization model.

SciFi Channel
Good: The 800-lb gorilla of speculative fiction television programming
Bad: Website is promotional tool for programming; schedule relies on reruns and B-movies

Revver
Good: The emerging king of monetized video content: content creators get 50% of their videos’ clickthrough revenue, and affiliates get 20%
Bad: Not spec-fic focused; clickthrough model only; no pre-roll or streaming.

Competitive Advantages

  • Unlike the print magazines, BSI costs the browsers nothing
  • Unlike the online magazines, BSI offers text, audio, and video content
  • Unlike the large video portals, BSI offers speculative fiction content only
  • Unlike the monetized video portals, BSI offers revenue sharing for text, audio, and video
  • Unlike the SciFi Channel, BSI offers speculative fiction fans the opportunity to participate, rather than just watch
  • Unlike conventional television networks, BSI is not limited by available timeslots or investment—like open-source software, the size and talent of the community is the only limit
  • Unlike conventional publishing, BSI is not limited by distribution, has zero production costs, and is not locked into an artificial revenue model

Niche

BSI is the first all-media, advertising-supported speculative fiction website providing both pro-selected and user-rated content with popularity-based revenue sharing for all content providers.

This is a unique position that:

  • Embraces all media
  • Does not rely on control of distribution for revenue
  • Rewards all content providers
  • Scales easily to almost any size

Marketing Strategy

As an advertising-supported site, BSI’s success depends on pageviews, the number of clicks on display ads, and the views and clicks on the media-embedded ads. Getting a large number of engaged browsers is the most important goal. Due to this, our marketing strategy is focused on:

  • Growing the browser base rapidly
  • Encouraging them to use the site as their spec fic entertainment base
  • Giving them reasons to be engaged

From this browser base, Trusted Users and User-Submitted Content falls out naturally as part of the process.

Messaging strategy is also important.

  • Much broader than the rabid fan audience (without alienating them)
  • Much narrower than the progressive audience (with the potential to engage some of them)
  • Promote Professional Name Editor as the fiction editor (credibility with the rabid fans)
  • Promote $1M contest as spec fic’s “Big Bang” rebirth (huge PR value)

Promotion

One of the most critical parts of BSI’s success is its launch. The message is simple: speculative fiction is back, it’s big, and if you get involved, you can make some money. The following outlines the launch plan:

Online Marketing

  • Shilling. Contact general boards such as SomethingAwful, Fark, and spec-fic specific boards to announce the site and contest.
  • Announcements. Through all spec fic related sites such as ralans, etc.
  • User-ranked news. Announce through del.icio.us, digg.com, etc.
  • Social media. Announcements to friends lists, email lists, etc.
  • Viral. Seed forums with contest info, as well as general info.
  • SEO. Optimize the site for natural search placement.

Contest

BSI plans a $1M insurance-backed contest for its content providers, the “Big Bang” rebirth of speculative fiction. The large number means huge PR potential.

  • One challenge will be issued every month
  • There will be one winner from each category (text, audio, video) every month
  • At the end of the year, 36 people can compete in a challenge for $1M
  • PR
  • Promoting the $1M contest
  • Promoting Professional Name Editor’s name

Beyond the launch, BSI needs to continue to grow its browser base and engage them. The ongoing plan features a mix of media that includes:

Online Marketing

  • Shilling. Continue ongoing announcements about the site
  • RSS feed. Signup to get video, audio, or text content pushed to you.
  • Email. For those not savvy enough for RSS.
  • User-ranked news and social media. Trusted Users to earn points for posting to user-ranked news sites and their social media network.
  • Viral. Ongoing forum seeding.
  • SEO. Ongoing optimization of the the site for natural search placement.

Challenges

Issue one challenge to content creators every month.

  • Write a story on this subject
  • Submit your audio podcast on the theme of
  • Produce a short film that explores

Sponsored Contests

  • Sponsors have names attached to contests
  • Sponsors provide prizing

PR

  • Ongoing

Online Advertising

  • If necessary and economical

Mobile Advertising

  • Worth experimenting with
  • Convert video to mobisodes
  • Con Presence

  • Appearances at major cons (ComiCon, etc)
  • Suite party

Promotional Budget

Startup and Launch

Since we are using low-cost “groupmind” resources for the development of our identity and design, and plan to partner for:

  • Site Development
  • PR
  • Online Marketing

Less than $50,000 will be required for start-up and launch

Ongoing

BSI allocates 15% of retained revenue for advertising and promotion on an ongoing basis, so our promotional budget depends on revenue.

Pricing

For Browsers

BSI offers content to its browsers free of charge. However, donations are optional:

  • Supporting Member, $9.95
  • Premium Member, $24.95
  • Silver Member, $49
  • Gold Member, $95
  • Platinum Member, $295
  • Diamond Futurist, $995

For Content Providers

BSI pays all content providers in proportion to their popularity. There is a $5 fee to ensure content creators do not create multiple accounts to engage in popularity fraud. Content providers with multiple offerings may choose to create a branded channel:

  • Text Channel, $99 setup
  • Audio Channel, $199 setup
  • Video Channel, $499 setup

For Advertisers

Varies by type of advertising. Follows typical industry models for premium sites with high revenue potential.

  • AdSense. $10 CPM
  • Pre-Roll Audio. Tiered sponsorship based on popularity, $100-1000 per piece.
  • Revver Video. Market price, or new model.
  • Fixed Banners. $1k/month per 200,000 pageviews, or $50 CPM
  • Floating Banners. $1k/month per 500,000 pageviews, or $20 CPM
  • Sponsorships. $25K Platinum, $15K Gold, $10K Silver, $5K Bronze

Distribution Channels

  • “Automatic” Advertising. No channel needed; brought in automatically via Google and Revver.
  • Network Advertising. Channel such as Federated Media does promotion and sales.
  • Premium Advertising. Direct sales on the site, as well as sales reps, commission-only vetted users with model similar to trusted users.
  • Memberships. Direct sales on site.
  • Sponsorships. Sales reps, both commission-only vetted users and internal sales.

Operational Plan

BSI is moderated in some areas and anarchy in others. BSI publishes risky material and the classics. It embraces commerce, selling hard copies, prints, t-shirts, sponsorships and ad space. It solicits new material for editorial consideration, and also material that the editors aren’t ever going to look at. It allows the community to rant and rave, but it promotes the best community-generated content to prominence. And everything is free to read, download and share, though it costs an email address to become a community member.

How would this work? Let’s go through the day in the life of BSI’s general manager, who we’ll call Ed. Ed has been involved in speculative fiction for some time. He’s respected by his peers and readers, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. Ed has also published a few stories in his time.

He fires up the dashboard for BSI. Everything is running smoothly. There are new top stories, top audio, and top video picks in the User-Rated sections, each selected by the community of Trusted Users who are the core of BSI. The new pro fiction, audio, and video picks, all posted every Tuesday, are pulling well, and getting good comments from readers, except for a few soreheads who say, “It’s a conspiracy, I can’t get picked by the pros.” Ed takes one look at his homoerotic fanfic and grins. There’s only one real problem: the slush pile for the pro text fiction has grown to 122 submissions, since the contract slush reader has taken ill. Ed alerts the pro fiction editor and lines up a backup reader from the Trusted User community.

He also scans the latest user diaries to see what the community has promoted to the top of the list. A few look interesting: an article about Heinlein’s favorite recipes, news about a new show on SciFi, a debate on the power of strong female characters, and a few stories and graphics, plus a short radio play. He moves the stories into his To Read pile, sends the graphic to his art editor (promoted from the ranks of the community, Art gets paid a small amount of the ad revenue for the work he shepherds through, though he mostly does it for the love), and queues up the radio play. It’s an original work, written by one member and produced by several others. Ed thinks it’s pretty good, though the sound effects came right off a CD and one of the actors is a little flat. But it makes him laugh, so he presses a button and promotes the diary with the sound file to the front page.

Ed now runs through BSI’s stats. Pageviews are up, which means ad rates will adjust accordingly for new advertisers. One of his authors has just sold the movie rights to a novel, so there’s a rush of traffic to find all of his old stories on BSI. That means a little more bread for the author and for BSI, which is good because there’s going to be a ridiculous surge of traffic after the movie is out and regular people track down the author’s previous work. That author has already created a series of cheap figurines to go with the story, but since they’re created on demand, all Ed has to do is sit back and wait for his cut of the sales.

By now, it’s afternoon, so Ed hits BSI to see what the latest conversation is. Some debate about George Lucas, where one of his regular commenters has been raising hell and calling people abusive names like “Wookiee humper.” Most of the abusive comments have been hidden, thanks to negative ratings by the community at large and his trusted users in particular. One comment made by Wookiee Humper is actually valid, so he overrides the TU ratings and allows it to live. He’ll probably regret it the next day when WH comes back, but Ed is a benevolent ruler.

Since it’s the last Friday of the month, that means paying content providers. Ed doesn’t actually write and mail checks, as every author has a PayPal account. He runs through the royalty dashboard, approving payouts to the people who got traffic this past month. He also sends out royalty reports to every author, as well as publishing the monthly stats report. One old pro, who only came to BSI after he’d alienated every other publisher, editor, reader and fan and still needed work, always complains that Ed is “cooking the books.” The status report is verified by a third party service, one of the few hosting add-ons that Ed never complains about. Some authors chide Book Cooker in the forums, pointing out that the only reason he doesn’t get royalties is because no one reads his work.

Location

  • Hollywood, California, to facilitate contact with the entertainment industry
  • New York City, to facilitate contact with the publishing industry
  • Shanghai, China, to facilitate contact with emerging spec fic markets there

Physical location of the BSI server is relatively unimportant.

Legal Environment

As a publishing and entertainment entity, BSI is subject to copyright laws of the United States and other countries. Our policy is that:

  • Content providers only post material that they created, and hold the copyright for
  • Trusted Users reject material clearly under copyright
  • If copyrighted material is placed on the site, it will immediately be removed
  • We will comply with all cease and desist notices

Personnel

At launch, BSI has two salaried positions, a General Manager and a Professional Fiction Editor. All other positions are paid on a stock ownership, revenue sharing, or points earning basis. Our growth will eventually require additional administrative personnel for business operations, bookkeeping, and other functions, but much of th day to day content management is performed by Trusted Users. Following is a brief summary of the positions

Salaried Positions

General Manager

  • Manages day to day operations of BSI
  • Oversees revenue and payments
  • Assists in sales of advertising and sponsorships
  • Oversees promotional campaigns
  • Resolves technical issues
  • May be incentivized by stock ownership
  • Personnel: TBD

Professional Fiction Editor

  • Selects professional fiction for publication
  • Works with selected slush reader and line editors (contract)
  • May be incentivized by stock ownership
  • Personnel: TBD

Administrative

  • Future position
  • Personnel: TBD

Audio and Video Producers/Vettors

  • Produce or vet audio and video work
  • Personnel: TBD, Audio
  • Personnel: TBD, Video

Content Providers

  • Produce text, audio and video content for professional and user-rated sections
  • Paid based on popularity of submissions
  • Submit as much or as little as they want
  • Unlimited number of content providers

Points-Earning Positions

Trusted Users

  • Promote content they like
  • Comment on content
  • Start and foster discussions
  • Paid in points redeemable for money, product
  • Unlimited number of content providers

Accounts Receivable

BSI requires payment in advance for advertising, sponsorship, and donation programs. We do not anticipate extending terms.

Accounts Payable

Content providers are paid automatically at the close of every month based on their popularity and the amount of money collected during the month. This is an automatic function, tied to their PayPal account or bank account with a dashboard that allows each content provider to see earnings in real time.

For contract personnel, BSI pays standard net 30 terms.

Management and Organization

BSI’s key person is the General Manager. This full-time, salaried position is filled by a person who has been involved in speculative fiction for some time. This could be an editor, a con organizer, or some other person who has experience managing a business. In addition, the General Manager:

  • Is comfortable working with emerging online communities
  • Has a good working knowledge of website development, web marketing, and current social networks
  • Is personable and credible as a company spokesperson

In the event of the General Manager being incapacitated, BSI can operate for some time with support of the Trusted User base. BSI is currently investigating candidates for this position.

Filed under: Other People's Brilliance

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