Midweek Repost [Casting Call] March 2009

March 26, 2009

It’s time again to open the site for new contributors.

as planned, nonpretentious will have open registration (a.k.a. a casting call) for the next seven (7) days.

nonpretentious would love to hear from people who:

unfortunately, due to some kinks that we’re working out, you will need a registration code to enter the site.

do not fear!

ask a contributor for the registration code or send an e-mail to editor@nonpretentious.com with your request.

all e-mails to the editor will receive a response.

* also, the dates of open registration are the 21st to the 28th of every month.   (oops!)

** this post will be re-posted mid-week to make sure no one misses it.

In addition, for this March 2009 casting call, I’d like to answer a few questions that were posed to me when I first invited people to contribute to the site.  (Note: if you were one of the first contributors, these answers are much more clearly articulated than they were back in July of last year!)

Why did you start the site?

I had three motivations for starting the site.  The first was completely selfish – when I was in law school, I was a religious blogger.  By July 2008, it had almost been two years since I stopped blogging and I missed it.  I missed the writing, the community (reciprocal links, reading up on other blogs).  I wanted it back.

But, I was no longer a student.  I had a full-time job as a recruiter – better known by its more cannibalistic term – a headhunter.  In other words, I was a grown up.  And, as evident by my line of work, I liked sales and I liked money.  Therefore, my goal was to bring my entrepreneurial  nature to the discipline of writing.  I wanted to create a business where writing was both an art and a commodity and writers – not publishers, not agents, not corporations but people who wanted to make a career out of their writing – took on the responsibilities of business decision-makers.

And, by applying the “market” to the discipline of writing, I hoped that people’s voices would be heard.  Diverse voices.  Voices that may be on our nightstand in ten (10) years time.  And voices that may never be published by McSweeney‘s or in the New Yorker no matter how many times they tried.  (Fine, this may have been due to a little bit of spite on my end.)

Like any market, nonpretentious offers writers a forum, but as “market participants” the writers have to produce the results.  Contributors have to pull their weight and whether they’re writing is liked, hated, admired, or revolted by readers…it has to be READ.

The site is only what the contributors make of it.  The contributors – writers, photographers, developers, musicians – we are the ones who make the site what it is.   If a writer is not pulling his or her weight, s/he gets booted (after a lot of coaching attempts and interventions!)

What is your goal for it personally?

I’m in it for the long haul.  I want it to be a place where famous writers and entrepreneurs are created.  I want it to be a community for the current contributors and the alumni and affiliates.

What is your goal for it financially?

For it to be a business.  I’d like it to bring in revenue of $200,000 by its second year.  We’ll go from there.

Is there compensation? Detail$?

Here is the e-mail I recently sent to contributors:
In practice, nonpretentious will have to get paid before any one of us can get paid.)

While it’s not set in stone, I’m thinking of taking the total revenue that we make per week, subtracting a lump sum to recover some costs (e.g. our server & the time it takes me to do back-end stuff), and then paying people based on a pro rated word count.*

For example, let’s say we make $500 in one week.  Let’s say I take out $100 for costs & labor.  Let’s say stereocache writes one post that’s 400 words.  tough_love writes one post that’s 250 words, one post that’s 75 words, and one post that’s 100 words.  Lonnie writes two posts – one 150 words and one that is 250 words.  Total words for the week = 1,225.

stereocache would earn:  400/1225 * $400 = $130.61

tough_love would earn:  425/1225 * $400 = $138.78

Lonnie would earn:  400/1225 * $400 = $130.61

Contributors would be paid as soon as nonpretentious gets paid.  (i.e. I think the websites pay us once per month).

I’d keep an accounting balance – total weekly word counts, weekly word counts by contributors, and weekly revenue – on a google excel sheet (update: thinking of posting it directly to the site) that I would make available to everyone so that you can always know where you’re at, watch trends, etc.

Again, I’m open to other ideas but I think word count best balances quality and quantity.  I am also considering throwing bonus points for people who reach the site via a specific url (e.g. if they “entered” nonpretentious via http://nonpretentious.com/authors/rustedjesus) – but I’m not sure exactly how that would work out.  Until I think of something better, we’re going to stick with wordcount.  at least this way, we have some default system of getting paid once nonpretentious makes money.

So, speaking of…

Your marketing efforts would be helpful BUT I don’t want you to think of yourselves as sleazy sellers over writers.  If you’re into the marketing/advertising side of things, you can pitch in.  If you’re not, remember, our business is writing – so focus on that.

Also, I’m sorta thinking out loud but if any of you are interested in ONLY the marketing/advertising side of things (e.g. people who just don’t think writing is their forte), I’ll try to think of a way to make sure you are compensated for your efforts as well.

What do you see the site offering that isn’t being offered right now (or at least not as well).

I see the site as platform for writers to develop their voices.  In addition, I see it like an Etsy.com for writers – a platform to sell one’s writing, a community to find other writers, and a chance to be introduced to people across the internet who have only? at least? one thing in common.
While the site is not a news site, it’s also not a personal blog.  This means writers may have a further reach, as well.
Anything else goes (and continues to go so long as readers aren’t complaining).
It’s also a relatively exclusive community (limited to 100 contributors maximum) so it’s not as overwhelming as blogger or other publishing networks.
(This one is the toughest one to answer.  I need to come back to it later.  Contributors, do you have any further insight?)

What is the contributor size going to be? Will we have specific sections to uphold or is it just free for all?

100 maximum because that’s all WordPress can handle.  However, we’ll add people as they come.  We may find we want to keep it smaller.
The sections – that’s up to each individual writer – some may want to, others may not.

are you (non)pretentious?  Prove yourself.  This month’s REGISTRATION CODE: betterthanthou.

Click on the thenN in the top, right hand corner – the one that looks like this:

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