Tonight’s installment of the Pacific Standard Fiction series in Brooklyn is a special “NYFA night,” featuring three 2008 fiction fellows of the New York Foundation for the Arts. They are: National Book Award-nominee Christine Schutt, author of All Souls; Guggenheim honoree Paul LaFarge, author of Haussmann, or The Distinction; and me. Drink specials will benefit our sponsor, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, and we suggest a donation of one gently used book. The event is free, and if you are, too, it would be great to see you. (For directions, see Time Out.)
I’d like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to invite our New York-based readers to come out this Friday, November 2, to celebrate the launch of my first book of fiction, A Field Guide to the North American Family. The release party will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the lovely and capacious Housing Works Bookstore & Cafe on Crosby Street in SoHo.I’ll be reading from the book for about half an hour and showing slides of the illustrations. During the remaining hour and a half, I’ll be signing books and Max and I will be hanging out and drinking free booze with you. We always enjoy meeting our readers, and I’d love to see any and all of you there. (I need all the support I can get!)
Thanks to all The Millions readers who have supported the site over the last several months. If you are heading back to school now, check out our Support page to see how you can support the site without taking any extra dollars from your pockets. Advertisers: We have been seeing some great ads on the site of late. Check out the Blog Ads Book Hive to advertise on The Millions and other great literary sites.
Millions Readers: Max here. When I last wrote in these pages, I was introducing our talented new editor, Lydia Kiesling. Since then, we have added a number of new staff writers (Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Zoë Ruiz, Il’ja Rákoš, Ismail Muhammad, Chigozie Obioma) and a new social media editor (Kirstin Butler). We also have exciting projects in the works that we hope will usher in a new era at The Millions.
As is likely not news to anyone reading this, it is very challenging to maintain an independent, culture-focused online magazine.
Today, we are asking our readers to support the site, not because we are in dire straits but because now, more than ever, we believe it is time for you and us to take our destiny into our own hands as much as is possible. Please visit our new Membership page and sign up now. It’s a very quick and simple process and we have a number of tiers that should be manageable for any budget. The three main tiers are annual recurring donations. There is also a monthly option.
The Millions is a unique place. Over the last nearly 14 years, we have helped launch many great writers, and we have improved the reading lives of many thousands. We have helped countless books, small and large, find their audiences.
The Millions is home to curious, thoughtful, sometimes long and untimely pieces that might not find a home elsewhere but that are important to our readers.
It is likely an accident or an anomaly that The Millions grew to occupy its current role and has survived as other independent sites have failed. One truism that has emerged over the last decade on line is that sites and services that are not supported by readers and users are destined to fail. The Millions has managed to avoid this fate thus far. We have never had a source of outside funding — no quiet benefactor or behind-the-scenes corporate sponsor — nor, before today, have we asked the readers to support the site monetarily in any meaningful way.
Instead, the site has survived on various forms of online advertising, options that seem to grow more constrained by the month, and we have increasingly relied upon Amazon’s affiliate program. And while Amazon’s program has been a good fit for The Millions, many an online business has failed when an online giant changed the rules. It is not inconceivable that Amazon could alter or even eliminate its program without warning. Such an event would effectively shut down The Millions overnight. The bottom line is that The Millions, under its current model, could one day need to shut down unexpectedly. A reader-supported Millions won’t ever have to worry about that.
Rather than ask for your support at some future moment, when The Millions is under duress, it has become clear to us that it makes much more sense to ask for your support now, when we are doing well, producing great work, and hopeful about our big plans for the future.
What will we do with your money? First and foremost we’ll ensure that we can stick around for many years to come. But we’ll also use it to get better. One way to do that is to keep paying our staff writers and make The Millions an attractive place for them to write. Financial stability would also enable The Millions to take more risks and expand what we do.
Some final notes: We have been thinking of taking this step for quite a while, but, frankly, have been nervous about how best to present the idea and execute it. Jason Kottke’s recent decision to go this route helped us shake off some of these concerns and take this step (please read Jason and support him as well!). Also – to be clear – we are not putting the site behind a paywall, nor will we ever.
For those who subscribe, we’ll look at offering site-related updates and perhaps a more robust newsletter at some point down the line, though the plans on that are not firmed up at this time.
Finally, a small number of you have supported us in an ongoing fashion via Paypal. We are going to cancel those “subscriptions” and will email you with instructions for subscribing via this new system, should you be interested.
The Millions back office is looking for some help again. The site continues to grow, and that means we have an opportunity to add another book-loving young person to our team.
We are looking for someone who can help us with a few specific things. The new Millions intern will helm our “Curiosities” link blog and will man (or wo-man) our Twitter feed and Facebook page. Through those avenues, the intern we seek will have an audience of tens of thousands and will be introducing The Millions to new readers every day.
In return for a very modest time commitment, our intern will also join a great group of creative thinkers and have the opportunity to get their work edited by the working writers among us and potentially see their pieces published at The Millions. As is the case with our crew of regulars, our intern will be compensated for the pieces he or she publishes on the site.
Multiple daily posts to the “Curiosities” link blog
Taking charge of The Millions Twitter account
Taking charge of The Millions Facebook page
Coming up with new ideas for fun ways to utilize the above
Here’s what we’re looking for:
A voracious reader – Our ideal candidate will be well-read and have a solid knowledge of contemporary fiction.
A social media superstar – Again, Twitter, Facebook, (Tumblr, blogging, etc.)
Experience with WordPress is a huge bonus.
More details: This isn’t going to be anything close to a full-time gig. We’re thinking 5-10 hours a week realistically, plus as much time as you want to spend writing for us. We think the internship would be a great fit for a college or grad student, but are certainly open to hearing from non-students whose schedules will allow them to do this. We’re looking for a one-year commitment, though we can be flexible on the duration. The Millions has no dedicated office, so this is a remote position and can be done from anywhere in the world.
The position is unpaid, but any long-form pieces written that you write for the site and are approved for publication will be compensated using the same system we use to compensate our regular writers. And there will most probably be some free books here and there.
Why should you do this? The Millions is read by upwards of 30,000 people every week. Our readership is a laundry list of influential, brilliant folks in the publishing and media industries as well as in academia, not to mention the most engaged, avid readers of literary work that you’ll find anywhere. Aside from learning about how a site like The Millions operates, you’ll have an opportunity to write for all these people, and you’ll get experience running a Twitter account with nearly 30,000 followers.
How to Apply:
Please send the following to [email protected]
Three sample Curiosities, using the format we use on the site
If applicable and you are willing to share, we’d be interested in seeing the Twitter account(s) you use and any Facebook fan pages you’ve had the opportunity to run for schools, publications, companies, etc. (Essentially, show us that you have experience using these, even if it’s just your own sparsely followed, but very entertaining Twitter account.)
In addition, show us the other cool stuff you are responsible for online, your Tumblr, your blog, etc.
The deadline is one week from today: 6/27.
We look forward to hearing from you!
You may have noticed that I spent the long weekend (which for me is one day longer thanks to the national day of mourning for President Ford) updating the look of the site. I hope it’s easy on the eyes. However, if you can’t find something you’re looking for, or if I’ve inadvertently broken something, please let me know.In addition to the superficial changes, I’ve also adjusted the site to allow for our contributors – there will soon be six of them – to post directly to the blog, which, I’m hoping, will up the level of discourse even further. So, all in all, 2007 should be a good year for The Millions. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year.