A friend asked me, if you had a million dollars to start a company, what would you do? I started to say « Start a publishing company, » but she cut me off.
« You’ve got seven different print on demand companies to choose from. Think of something you can’t do for free. » I argued that a great deal of a publisher’s work is not just printing the book, but publicizing it. I had a publisher who put out one of my novels and did a beautiful job, it was just a gorgeous book and I loved it, but his idea of publicity work was tweeting about my book once every six months. If only I could hire a publicist…
She cut me off again. « That’s what you would do with fifty thousand dollars. What if you could start an actual business instead of buying a bunch of ads from someone else’s business? »
I thought for a few minutes before it hit me: I would start a website. I know, people start thousands of websites every day. But most of them are like mine is now: One person, or a few people. Hopefully good ones, but be honest: how many of your friends who will work for free are actual literary geniuses? It takes monetary incentives to get the best talent to coalesce around a website. Pay a few great writers a real salary, or at least above market price for articles, and pretty soon you’ve got good enough content going that you can plop your own book ad in the middle of the stuff everybody wants to read. And then they wonder whether that’s going to be a good read too.
You might just make some of your money back selling those print on demand books!
So yeah, that’s what I would do with a million bucks. But then there’s the question: What kind of website would you start?
Well, everybody loves politics. Pull up Facebook and half your friends are threatening to kill the other half of your friends over which of two rich people none of you have ever met are going to vote for. It might be absurd, but there it is: politics are the water most people swim in. Most people are very opinionated about it, and most people read news websites that cater to their own opinions. I for one get a little sick of it, because although I would love to know what’s going on in the world I live in, sometimes I would like to know what the actual story is without having to read four left-leaning news sites, and then four right-leaning news sites, and picking through all the stuff they say just to please their readership and get clicks to figure out what the H*** actually happened! Sometimes they even get partisan over the body count! If you want the facts, it’s a giant waste of your time.
So why not start a political website with as little bias as possible? I know every person has a bias, but I would hire the best writers from a diverse group of points of view, and make them speak to each other… civilly. Hell, I might even make them cowrite every piece: one author who was a leftist, and another author who was a right… ist? Is that even a word? That way, if one of them was about to say something biased, the other one would scream « I’m not having those lies printed under my byline! »
This might save the reader so much time that it would take off and make me another million dollars.
Then again, maybe most readers don’t spend time trying to get the fair story anyway. Maybe, even being offered a huge new website that was guaranteed to have fair stories, they would still want to read stuff that flattered their point of view.
Well, there’s only one way to find out: somebody give me a million dollars.
I need to get that Patreon account set up.