Message from Stephen

Posted: July 31st, 2000 12:10:43 pm

UPDATE ON THE PLANT

I promised visitors at this site—not to mention interested media types—an update on how we're doing as of 7/31. This is that update. I have been as honest and specific as I can be, believing that's the best way to spike rumors.

How many downloads so far?

152,132

How many have paid?

116,200, or 76.38 per cent. 93,200 have paid up front with credit cards, using Amazon.com's service. 23,000 have promised to pay later, and these payments are showing up already (one guy sent me a silver dollar). The pay-through rate has been higher than I dared hope.

Costs to you, as of Part 1?

$124,150 for print ads in Publisher's Weekly and USA Today, Load test for the Web Servers, Project Management Fees, Server setup fees and Compositor's fees to Mr. Michael Alpert, who has done his usual great job of making the Philtrum product look smart—ladies and gentlemen, give him a hand. There's also the cost of maintaining the servers through which my story is downloaded. Marsha may have an idea of what these fees amount to, but so far I don't. Not added to these costs are my services as writer and Marsha's as all-around whirling dervish.

A lot fewer downloads than "Riding the Bullet." Disappointed?

Not yet. You need to remember that "Bullet" was a magnificent one-shot, available from a lot more sources and in many cases given away for free. If THE PLANT gets done, people are going to be downloading well into 2001, even with longer segments on offer. If those who have downloaded Part 1 so far download the following ten or eleven installments, the total downloads would be 1,673,452. Do the math. It's pretty good math, if people keep coming back.

Do you expect more downloads of Part 1?

Sure. It'll be up by itself until August 21st, remember, and then up in tandem with Part 2 until September 25th. I think we'll get a bump on Part 1 when Part 2 goes on sale. How big is anybody's guess.

Are you go for Part 3 in September?

Yes.

Are you working on THE PLANT again?

Yes. Hard.

Will people continue to come back?

That's anybody's guess. Some readers have been disappointed in the epistolary format ("Why should I pay for a bunch of office memos?" one Constant Reader asked). It's certainly too late to change that now, and what was good enough for Bram Stoker (DRACULA) is good enough for me. And the tale becomes more narrative—although from different points of view—as it goes along. In ANY case, I have to get enough downloads to feel the experiment is working. That was, after all, the point.

And if the downloads don't stay up?

I pull the plug, say thank you very much, and go back to work. On THE PLANT if I'm having fun (so far I am), on something else if I'm not. There's certainly no problem with the pay-through. If we've proved nothing else, we've proved that the guy who shops for entertainment on the Net can be as honest as the one in a retail bricks-and-mortar store.

If I have other questions?

Save 'em. We're busy. And to all of you who downloaded and then said "Right on, keep it coming," THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Steve

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