December 14, 2011 by Dan
By now, most people who know who he is have bought Louis CK’s special. I’m going to buy and watch it this weekend. What’s most interesting about it is how he did it – made a video, put it online, priced it fairly (less than a movie! a bit more than a couple of episodes of TV on iTunes), but in a way that basically says “hey, fans, you know me. I trust you. Go ahead and buy my special and do what you will.”
It’s very heartening for those of us who do produce content of any kind. It’s less heartening for those of us who don’t have a rabid fan base. Louis can do this because he’s got that base. It’s a base that he’s worked and bled for, and now he’s basically totally in control of his own destiny. As long as he keeps being funny, people will buy his stuff, watch his show on FX that he has total control over, and go to see him at the clubs.
No pressure on that, BTW. I’d never sleep.
But for those of us trying to break out…how does this new world of distribution work? Louis is almost the reverse of the ideal – he had to go through the standard system to build his base, getting a terrible sitcom, appearing on unfunny late-night shows, all of that. In a system where the creators are their own distributors and promoters, how do you break out? Being a brilliant writer/funnyman/musician doesn’t mean anything if nobody hears.
And…no sour grapes here; if I had the time and energy to really promote the book, I’d have done a better job promoting it. As it is, I got married this year, got laid off and found a new job, and managed to keep my life together. That’s pretty good. And I’ll get a decent tax writeoff on all of the book stuff for the business side of my life. So I’m OK.
But man, I’d love to sell 100,000 copies of the book at $3 apiece. It’s not that much money, really. So how to do it?
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