Journo-startups that appeal right to readers

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If you spend any amount of time around freelance writers, you’re familiar with the litany of complaints. Most publications don’t pay well. Publications that do pay well expect freelancers to do so much reporting up-front, before they’ve accepted a piece, that it makes pitching a financially risky prospect. Enter the freelancer-founded collective journalism startup.

Deca, a new nonfiction platform created by an international collective of magazine writers, is based on the premise that freelance writers know what readers want and what makes a great story, at least better than staff editors do.

Deca, which will publish stories that are “shorter than a book but longer than an article,” joins longform-oriented startups like Atavist and Byliner in selling original content as individual Kindle Singles. Each Deca member agrees to write one story per year and to edit another. This commitment to editing each other is another way of circumventing more traditional magazine structures, in which editors edit and writers write, with few opportunities for switch-hitting.

Within Deca, each story idea must be approved by two-thirds of the collective, and before publication each piece must be green-lit by three-fourths of the collective. For each $2.99 Kindle Single they sell, Amazon keeps 30 percent and 70 percent goes to Deca. Of that 70 percent, 70 percent goes to author, 5 percent goes to the editor, and 25 percent goes back to the Deca general fund. That means writers can expect $1.46 -- roughly half of the sale price -- for each Kindle Single sold. And everything that’s in the collective kitty gets distributed equally among members at the end of 2014 -- meaning even its lowest sellers reap a bit more of the benefits.

Journo-startups that appeal right to readers