alexandraerin: (Default)
Self and trad pub'd author Diane Duane (Young Wizards series) has come down with a slight case of identity theft-related brokeness, so she's doing an e-book sale to help staunch the bleeding until her bank squares everything away. Here's her post on the subject.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I've been having a spate of not being able to sleep for more than four hours at a time. A little melatonin ought to take care of that, but I've misplaced my bottle in shuffling stuff around. Oh, well... it'll turn up. In the meantime, I'm getting my ducks in a row for the coming week.

My main goals for the week include:

1. Not forgetting to ingest fluids.
2. Sleeping.
3. Blogging more often - I'm more apt to take stock of how I'm feeling/doing if I take the time to articulate it.
4. Making a tasks post every day.

Those aren't the only things I'm doing, of course... but they're going to be the foundation of getting anything else done. I think until I'm settled into my new place, with my office set up and room to have things organized and move around, I'm going to have to make a much more conscious effort to take care of myself. (Not that I'll stop taking care of myself after that... it'll just be easier.) Being shameless and fearless and bold is a good start, but the truth is the spirit can only be so willing when the flesh is weak.

One thing I'm going to on tomorrow's task list is announcing a Moving Sale. I'll have the details in the actual announcement post, but basically it's going to consist of:


  • Get caught up on my bookkeeping for the incentive stories and get those going again.
  • Auction off a few unique things.
  • Sell a limited number of reduced-price diplomas.


I'd planned on waiting until I'm settled down in the new place to do diplomas again, but the fact is there are going to be a few expenses in getting everything set up and I could us a bit of a cushion. The quantity's going to be limited so I don't get buried again.

My original plan was to buy the things I need gradually, but the more I think about it the more sense it makes to get my home office set up right away and reap the benefits of a comfortable and organized workspace right away. Nothing too fancy... I've got my eye on a folding table I can use for laying out mailed materials and doing crafty things. I need a new computer desk. The one I have now is a ten year old kit from a discount retailer; it barely survived being moved across my bedroom a year ago. I don't need to get a printer or shredder or anything right away, as my housemate has those, but I will need to get a wireless networking card for my desktop.

I suspect as I divide up ten years of intermingled and shared possessions, I'll find other things that need replacing. The fact that I'm moving into a well-stocked and furnished house mitigates that slightly, though.

Anyway, like I said, full details will follow. I'll be making the announcement post in the ae_stories feed after finishing my other tasks on Monday.
alexandraerin: (Default)
...that I didn't include in my dream diary posts. In this dream, I was back at my old job. I wasn't dreaming about "those days", I was dreaming that I'd gone back to my old job that I quit what is now a couple of years ago. And everybody there knew that I'd quit it to go do "the internet writing" thing that nobody had thought would work, and that now I was back.

I was the person who had "used to write that demon lesbian story".

My subconscious is not very subtle.

That's in danger of happening, not because the fans have been fickle or the support isn't there. Oh, no. Far from it. (Thank you, by the way. All of you.) It's in danger of happening because I'm not doing what I need to do in my personal life to be able to do what I need to in my professional life. I know what I need to do, but I've always been too timid to do it. I'm afraid of hurting people. I feel obligated where I shouldn't. There's a reason why I write Mackenzie's voice so well, and it isn't because I have a tremendous ability to imagine people who are in no way like myself.

The way I live my life right now isn't healthy. It isn't sustainable. The more good things I get in my life... the more good people I surround myself with... the more reasons I find to feel good about myself... the less the way I'm living now even seems tolerable. Things have to change. No, I have to change things.

This post will be horribly oblique to most people and utterly transparent to my very patient friends (and lover) who have been trying to help me when I would not be helped. But I'm not making this post to explain anything to anybody else... it's to explain things to me, so what I see clearly right this minute doesn't evaporate overnight.

I have to change. Adapt or die.




Conversation We Won't Be Having: I can't really get into this in detail right now, so please refrain from trying to guess at my situation and give advice based on it. Thank you.
alexandraerin: (Default)
People might wonder at my decision to have not one but two OT stories in between a cliffhanger and its resolution, short as they might be. There's actually a fairly simple explanation for it. When I got ready to post the interlude with Two and Hazel, I had intended to put the fundraiser message on there... but then I noticed that alexandraerin.com, where I host my fundraiser info, was down.

Yes, I now know that people had reported that on the Zombie Dream post. I actually don't follow my Livejournal notifications, for health reasons.

But I'd already announced that I had a little story that was almost ready to go, so I didn't want to delay it... so I put it up without the fundraiser message and started pulling together another little vignette that's been kicking around in my head. Just as the Two/Hazel interaction contained a small revelation about Hazel's condition and a little background on her culture, this one has some background on the Imperium and a little bit of context for some tangential events in the current plotline.

So why did some of my sites go down for the past few days? This is actually kind of funny: money. I needed to make a payment to my hosting account before I could make my fundraiser pitch. Things are stretched a little tight here right now. The steady trickle that comes from sponsorship has been a huge blessing, but with fewer stories going up, there have of course been fewer spontaneous payments and new sponsors. I'm not complaining about that, it's perfectly natural. But it also came at a time when I'm spending more money on health-related things. As tight as things have gotten, I'm not too worried about next month. I think I've been impressing people a lot more with the quality of the story lately, and the quantity's going to be ticking upwards again. With clear incentives being offered, I expect things will loosen up.

I've got some good progress on the next installment of Tales of MU. If it's not up tomorrow... well, today now... then it should go up on the weekend. My plans for the next week are to keep MU coming, wrap up the hanging plotline in Tribe, and get another story rolling again. Tribe in particular is going to be undergoing some retooling. The difficulty in keeping it coming is not, as some have guessed, hitting the arbitrary 333 word limit every time. It's an easy thing to hit a target number. The problem is more one of vision. I'll explain more in another post. Right now, I really should be getting to bed. I've managed to completely throw off my sleep rhythm in one night.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I had a post about Amanda Fucking-Palmer of the Boston Fucking-Palmers that I was working on the other day, which I accidentally closed out (and then bungled the "restore saved draft") thing. It was all about a blog post of hers that [livejournal.com profile] ephant tipped me to, where she reproduced an email she sent someone about her experiences using Twitter to interact directly with her fans... and how she's made more money doing this than she made off her celebrity-produced studio-backed album.

(Her blog post is here, but you have to scroll way down to find the relevant passage.)

I don't follow Amanda Palmer's career that closely... I'm only one state away from Neil Gaiman and I can hear him just fine from here. But it really is amazing what she's done for herself.

At the moment I'm writing this, she's answering randomly tweeted questions to kill time while in flight to the west coast. Warren Ellis, observing the goings-on, had this to say:


The level of determination @amandapalmer shows to engage directly with her audience is fascinating me. Post-Mystique Pop Life.


That's a brilliant phrase. "Post-Mystique Pop Life". It's been a while since I bothered to engage with anyone who really feels this way, but I used to argue with people who had what my dad called the "High Priest" mentality about the writing and publishing industry... they wanted the mystique, they wanted the separation between author and audience, because layers of insulation come with the barriers to entry they had to surmount and the golden gates they had to gain admittance through in order to get where they are today.

Amanda Palmer had this to say, possibly intended as a response to Warren's tweet (and working well as a response even if that wasn't her intent):

... it's safer to run into it. like turning and accelerating into a curve when drag-racing. your audience should be a friend, not a foe.


De-mystification puts a lot of high priests out of jobs. It opens a lot of doors. It doesn't mean that everybody gets to be famous and successful but it means that anybody can be... it means that nobodies could be.

Amanda F. Palmer is somebody. She was able to make a relative killing on Twitter in a few hours selling t-shirts spontaneously because she's got a huge following as a result of her music. That's not a feat that could be easily replicated. Not everyone could just jump on the internet and do the same thing... but then, neither could Amanda have done so. She had to put in the work to get to where she is.

But I think a lot of her career has been driven by the following she gains through the internet, via word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse. I don't believe it's necessarily true that you have to have the record deal (or the book deal, or whatever) first and then you can go on the internet and start using your fans to make magic happen. I think you can find your fans that way in the first place.

It's not necessarily easy and it's not necessarily instantaneous, but achieving success never is.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Part of innovating is experimenting, which means knowing that not everything you try will work out equally well but not letting that stop you from trying it. I've seen the "comment auction" model work out well for people trying to help out with emergency situations and things like that.

I'm curious to see how it works outside of that, so I'm running one now for the right to name a building on the MU campus.

It's always great to see people rallying around to support artists in need, but at the end of the day we're always going to be "in need" if we're not getting what it takes to survive, and it's better if we have it before we're driven too close to the edge of the cliff. If this works, it'll be one more thing to add to the repertoire. Not something to be overused... I don't want to be running the equivalent of a sports broadcast with logos superimposed on the field... but there are a lot of things in a story that need names. Buildings, people, ships. They might not all be prominent things, but they're there.

Even if the auction does work, I've got some other ideas I might rotate or alternate with it, including things like doing a drawing for everybody who contributes money in a month (including the regular sponsors) and a few ways that don't involve money at all. Because apart from potentially being a way of raising money, I think this could also be a good way to draw the audience in closer... at least one member at a time. The first time I did anything like this (I think for the "Save Our s00j" campaign), the result was the T.M. Lazar center, for which I invented what I think is a nifty in-universe background that I hope the winning donor appreciates.

Anyway, some of the things I've dreamed up for future naming awards involve site promotion schemes I've been brewing but haven't hatched yet. As Tales of MU approaches 400 regular installments and probably over a million words... and as I learn to pay more attention to the way my brain retains and processes information compared to most people's... I'm starting to understand more of where the pacing/time complaints come from. :P I'm going to be making some changes to make the story more accessible to new readers, and also attempt a few adjustments to the rate at which the story progresses, once the big events of the "current" weekend are over.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Found via @agletsmycat's Twitter: Malcolm Gladwell reviewing a Chris Anderson book.

That description should be enough to get half my family reading it. For everybody else, though, Chris Anderson is the author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, which is about a phenomenon I've referred to in my previous blogs. It's all about how there are necessarily only a few "big winners" in most any field, but the implications of the internet and changes in how people shop for content and products means it's possible for those living within the "long tail" of a chart of demand can still make a living for themselves.

(See also what I've been saying about how the internet allows for more "modest successes" for authors than older models.)

His new book is intriguingly entitled Free: The Future of a Radical Price.

To quote Gladwell,

Anderson’s argument begins with a technological trend. The cost of the building blocks of all electronic activity—storage, processing, and bandwidth—has fallen so far that it is now approaching zero.


and

Anderson’s second point is that when prices hit zero extraordinary things happen.


The review goes on to cite some of the specific examples Anderson's book provided of the change in demand wrought by an offer of something free, but, really, that's one of the things that should be manifestly obvious. We've all experienced it. When something is free... especially when it's obviuosly well and truly free with no forms to fill out, no strings attached, and no requirements of personal information, we'll try things we'd never have otherwise given a second glance and pounce on things that would otherwise only have just barely piqued our curiosities.

I've spent so much time in the past few weeks talking to other authors (both directly and by proxy through my blog) and entreating them to be less miserly with free-ness, to be open and up front about any content they have that's free, to put it front and center and not hide it behind logins or anything else. As I put it to Matt Selznick in the comments on that io9 article, free can be the difference between a project that has legs and a project that has wings.

There is a colossal power in free product. You still have to figure out how to profit off it, but with the internet reducing overhead to an amount that approaches zero it doesn't have to be a huge profit, especially if you're a solo operator living in the long tail.

So, yeah, I will probably be checking this book out.

(And a tip o' the mitre to [livejournal.com profile] popelizbet for pointing me at the tweet.)
alexandraerin: (Writing Dirty)
I'm having an actual conversation on the io9 article I linked to the other day. I wasn't sure that would happen, since I found the article a couple of days after it went up. I'm having a polite disagreement (no, seriously) with another author about the meaning and implications of "neo-patronage", and he linked me to an interesting page that I actually find to be more in support of my feelings than his, but anyway, I want to share it.

It's from Another Sky Press:


Neo-patronage is an (r)evolution of patronage enabled by the connectivity between artist and audience offered by today’s technologies. At its core, neo-patronage is an honor/trust based system of financial support for an artist that comes from the artist’s collective audience, rather than a single individual or organization. The sum of all patron contributions becomes the means and incentive for the artist to continue his or her work.

This multitude of patrons is responsible for the two most important differences between patronage and neo-patronage:

1. The sense of ‘ownership’ the patron wielded over the artist is completely diffused. The artist is free to continue creating as he or she sees fit, and isn’t beholden to the vision of his or her supporters.
2. Spreading the cost of patronage over many patrons means anyone can become a patron simply by contributing to an artist based on their interest in the artist and their own financial ability.

In practice, the money the artist receives via neo-patronage serves two purposes:

1. It is payment and ‘thank you’ for work already completed.
2. It is the funding that allows the artist to continue to produce new works.

It is essential to understand that there is no line between these two purposes - if, for example, the artist decides to retire and pursue other activities, all future contributions would fall firmly into the first category by default. That said, if an artist is receiving contributions they have a strong incentive (both financially and artistically) to continue to create.

This duality of purposes for a contribution is a significant improvement over traditional patronage where the patron essentially became lord over the artist. Under neo-patronage, there is no longer a power dynamic between artist and patron since everything is voluntary on both sides of the equation. Patrons simply support artists they like and artists simply continue to create in hopes of further support from both old and newfound patrons.

Everybody wins.


That really says it.

I'm also a big fan of their stated beliefs, which, in brief, go:


  1. It makes sense [to embrace technology and the free flow of information instead of raging against it]
  2. The audience is the sole arbitrator of value.
  3. Art for all.
  4. Support the artist.
  5. Dreams come true.


Or, as my father put it on the last one: "If you spend your time making it possible for the best things to happen, sometimes they do."

(Naturally, having found someone doing something on the internet, I'm off to offer them advice on how they should be doing it.)
alexandraerin: (Default)
In the comments of that article I linked to in my last post, one would-be writer is bemoaning the fact that the existence of the internet has destroyed his dream of being a "career writer"; i.e., someone who writes for a living instead of having another job that pays the bills and doing writing at whatever odd moments are available and with whatever mental energy is left over.

Do I even need to point out the flaw in this thinking?

Writing is not a job you apply for with a base salary and set benefits. Accordingly, being a "career writer" has never been an option for most people, even the most talented. It happens to some people, for some people, but it's not something anybody has ever been able to count on as something that would most assuredly happen if they only worked hard enough and stuck at it long enough.

The internet hasn't brought this about. It also certainly hasn't ended the state of affairs.

What it has introduced is more of a gradation, a continuum of financial success. You don't have to convince anyone that your work will be wildly successful to get a shot at even being moderately successful. You can build from the ground up, and if you're not immediately profitable... which you probably won't be if you don't have a big name and an existing following... then you're not going to lose a book deal over it.

No one has to believe in you but you to keep it going.

Of course, you have to keep it going. You can't just put up a blog, solicit contributions, and then expect to cash in overnight. You still have to work to succeed, which includes not just writing, building a relationship with your audience ("crazy cat lady/frightened but oddly fascinated neighborhood children" has worked out pretty well for me), and the occasional reminders to your audience that you are performing a craft for their benefit and some compensation can help you keep doing it.

And even then maybe you'll never make it to the point of being a "career" writer. Certainly most people won't immediately, and it's an open question of whether or not you'll have the wherewithal to stick with it until you reach that level.

Setting small goals can help there. A lot of people who put up tip jars bemoan the fact that they got a single donation. That's not a very good approach. Celebrate it... you've reached the first milestone. Try for $10 in a month. Then $20. Then $50.

If your writing makes you $50 a month on the internet, that's $600 a year. Not enough to live on by any stretch of imagination, but you could make less than that selling your work through conventional channels and still qualify for some professional associations. If you make $100 a month, that might take care of one of your utility bills, depending on your household size, habits, and where you live. That might seem like a little thing, but at least you'll be able to say honestly that "writing pays your bills." If you make $200 a month... well, that's something, isn't it? Very few of us could fail to notice the difference an extra $200 a month would make to our lives, whether it means we can breathe easier around rent time or it means we have an extra $200 to sock away or spend on ourselves.

If you've got talent, this is within your reach. $50 is ten people tipping you five dollars or fifty people tipping you $1. (Well, I simplify. Your tipping service is going to take their bite, but that bite's much smaller than the share a publisher would take if you sell your work conventionally.)

And if you can make $200 a month, you can make more. It's just a matter of reaching an ever-increasing audience. Having your content be free helps there. Giving people gentle prods to tell their friends helps there.

Constantly bemoaning how many people read and pay nothing does not help there. A lot of people will already feel reluctant to tell their friends if they think their friends can't/won't pay. But you want their friends to read your work, because they will tell more friends, and they will tell more friends, and quicker than you can say "Kevin Bacon" (assuming you speak very slowly and are easily distracted), one of them will be friends with someone who loves what you're doing and thinks you're worth $5.

Or $10.

Or $20.

At 100 people to get $5, you might feel the urge to start dividing and go, "Great, I made five cents per person." No, you made five dollars. If you can do that twenty times, you've made a hundred dollars. If you do it two hundred times, you've got a thousand dollars. If you do it twenty times every month, you've got a hundred dollars a month. If you do it two hundred times a month, you've got a thousand dollars a month and you're much closer to making your living as a career writer than most people whose books are sitting on a shelf somewhere ever will come.

If that's your goal, then who cares how many people that's divided out over?

You don't want people to feel guilty about reading and not paying. You don't want them to feel guilty about "imposing" more "deadbeats" on you. You want the deadbeats. What does it cost you to have 99 people looking and not paying if it gets you 1 who does? In this day and age, bandwidth is practically unmetered at the transfer rates used up by text and small illustrations. I tell people all the time that if they can't afford any money, they can pay me by telling the world about me. The fact that my stories frequently involve things that many people would find a little perverse or uncomfortable to read about hinders me there. If you're not writing things that make people squirm so much, you should have an easy time doing this.

This is getting rambly, so I'm going to close with some numbered pieces of advice.

1. Don't discourage people from reading if they can't pay. Do the opposite. Make them feel welcome. Make them feel disposed towards spreading the word. If people gain enough enjoyment from what you're doing, a good portion of them will eventually pay, when they feel they can afford to. If they feel like they're not allowed to read or that your stories aren't meant for them, they won't stick around that long.

2. Don't discourage people who pay amounts out of balance with your sense of what your work is wort. Some writers tell people not to tip if they've only got a dollar because the transaction fees can add up to like more than a third of that. Or they even make snide remarks about "Is this what my work's worth to you?" Ask any street musician who plays a busy corner how much spare change and crumpled dollars can add up to. Ask them if they'd despise these contributions or willingly exclude anything smaller than a five. Money is numbers. Numbers add up.

3. Don't feel weird about people who, conversely, pay way more than what you'd expect someone to pay for an equivalent amount of printed text. They're supporting you. They're your patrons. We complain and complain and complain about the fact that the public doesn't support the arts, doesn't pay to read... why grumble about the person who gives you a dollar for your entire archive and then sputter about the person who gives you $25 because they liked your latest installment? I have a few people paying me $25 or more a month. I didn't ask them to. Some of them asked me if it was okay.

I see this weird contradiction at work in many writers who consider a patronage/voluntary payment model where they look at the "freeloaders" and the people who pay a dollar and they say, "Well, I want to be paid for my work." and then they look at the people who want to contribute to them every week or every month or give them one single big contribution and go, "What? I'm not looking for charity."

Essentially, they're turning up their noses at what could be a workable business model because it doesn't resemble what they think business should be.

But if it brings the money in... if it pays the bills... why despise it? Why sit there wailing and gnashing your teeth because the way you think it should work doesn't work? Especially when the analog equivalents to those ways have never been wildly profitable for most people, to begin with?
alexandraerin: (Default)
There's a nice mention of me in a piece on io9.com about the new trend, reproducing my advice to [livejournal.com profile] tim_pratt about patronage. As happy as I am to see my predictions coming to pass and as much as I just plain want to see other authors succeed, it feels good to get some recognition.

I've been a prophet shouting in the wilderness for a while... granted, it's mostly a wilderness of my own making as I'm fairly shy about talking to people and I'm more interested in writing than networking, but I've been working to change that.

I responded to some of the comments on the article. They haven't shown up yet... I guess they have moderation. But some of the responses boiled down to this:

1. Screw donations, these people should work for a living. If they're not making money at what they're doing, they should find a new job.

Despite the surly tone, the basic premise here is correct - there's a reason all my posts about money are tagged "what it takes to get along", and we've all got to do what it takes to get it.

But those who adopt this model are taking the essential core of the commenter's advice - taking a new approach when the old one doesn't work. If Cat and Tim fail to make money in the long run with their projects, I'll be surprised if they don't try something else.

As for the distinction between "donations" and "working for a living"... they produce work, people give them money. Everything else is details.

2. The reason people use the donation model is because people on the internet don't want to pay for things. Therefore they need to get used to the idea that they're working for free.

Again, part of the premise here is true - the internet, by and large, is about free content. People are reluctant to pay for even professional level slickly produced content. Company after company and creator after creator have tried and failed to convince audiences to stick around and pay in sufficient numbers to justify the hype this whole Brave New World has generated, even if some of them have managed to make enough to stick around.

And this is why the donation model can work. It plays to the strengths of the web. It uses how people already "shop" for content online. A serial or regularly updated short story site also plays into that, by giving people a comfortable chunk of content and getting them to come back.

3. The internet is a vast graveyard of sites that have tip jars and never make any money.

True! And the publishing industry is a vast graveyard of books that will never be published. And the TV and movie industry are full of careers that never take off and scripts that will never be produced. And even books that are published can fail to turn a profit for their publishers, just as TV shows can be shot and never picked up or unceremoniously canceled.

The strength of no other medium or genre is judged by the number of failures. The internet is only different in that those "failures" can stick around. I don't necessarily think of them as failures, myself. They're hobby sites. Maybe the creator is a dedicated amateur. Maybe the creator has a professional talent but lacks the drive to make anything happen. Either way, it's not like the web is robbing them of the success that would fall into their laps if they'd gone somewhere else with their work.

Making a living with your content online is work, and you have to work at it. You have to let people know it's out there. You have to let people know you're doing it for a living. You have to let people know that being compensated for your work makes a difference as to your ability to keep producing it. If you don't do those things... in particular if you think it's terribly uncouth to ask people for money... then you're not actually trying to make money off donations and you can hardly count your empty tip jar as a failure for the model.

4. Sure it can work, but why would an established author bother not charging? If they're a known quantity, won't people pay a subscription or charge to read?

What's "established"? A year ago I'd never heard of Cat Valente. Six months ago I'd never read her. I've heard of Tim Pratt, but I've never read him. Cat's well-known in certain circles, but a virtual unknown outside of them. That's why I make a point of mentioning her so often. An awful lot of my readers have never heard of her.

I'm not saying I should be the benchmark of who's "established". I'm just saying that there are no authors out there who are universally known. Even the biggest of big names will have people who've never chanced to open up a book of theirs.

And if you are "established", are all your fans following your every move? Do they all read your blog? Do they all follow whatever trade or genre zines and sites are going to report your new online venture? A comfortable percentage of every author's following only follows them in the loosest sense... they look for the familiar name on the bookstore shelves. How do you reach them?

Free content will get people who've never heard of you. It will get people who've heard of you but never read you. It will get people who've heard of and read you but are suspicious of paying for something online, where there's no physical product they can examine in advance and keep when they're done.

And... especially if it's the sort of content that keeps people coming back... they'll tell their friends. They'll blog about it. They'll link to it. It can go viral. It can become a meme.

If you make it clear that you have done work and you need some form of compensation for it, some of those people will pay you. If you look at the percentage, it might seem like a colossal failure, but it isn't as though all those "freeloaders" would have paid if you charged up front, and it's not as though all the people who paid would have ever heard about this work without the "freeloaders" to tell them.

I say this not as a slight against Cat... seriously, if I ever want to annoy you folks some day I'll make a twenty paragraph ramble explaining exactly why and how I love her work... but I don't believe she could begin to make a decent income if her ...Fairyland... project was depending on people who already know her work AND heard about the project AND are enthusiastic about paying for non-physical books on the internet buying into it and convincing a bunch of other people to buy into it. I think it would be a non-starter. Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis would get a bunch of people to look at it, and go, "Huh. That sounds kind of cool." and move on. Fewer of her existing fans would feel comfortable enthusiastically link-spreading because they'd effectively be telling their friends and family to go buy something instead of telling them to go check out something groovy.

I just can't see that working.

Similarly, while the initial rush of publicity (and, one presumes, donations) came from people who heard of the dire straits that precipitated the project, I think the site will really gain legs as more and more people talk about it for its own merit... a hundred people who would never be interested in helping an author they've never heard of will still show up to read a free story that their friend told them about and one of them will donate. Lather, rinse, repeat.
alexandraerin: (Default)
The question comes up sometimes of why I don't ever talk about the better parts of traditional publishing, which include things like advances, access to distribution networks, promotional campaigns, etc.

Well, the answer is twofold. The first is that I don't have nearly as much experience with those things. I just don't. The second is that approach already has its own advocates, whether it needs them or not. It's the default approach. A lot of people consider it to be the only viable way of doing things.

Anyway, while this should be taken with the grain of salt that I don't have direct experience, but I think it's possible to overestimate the value of those things for the average writer.

Let's talk about advances. I think everybody knows the basic idea: the advance is the money you get up front, sometimes split between a sum at signing and a sum at delivery. The key word in "advance" is advance... you're being given a chunk of the expected royalties up front. While a lot of people just starting out assume it's a given part of the business, smaller publishers can't always afford to give out advances... giving them requires that you've got a lot of money coming in from different sources and that you can make the modest assumption that the book you're buying will be profitable.

I've read that when new authors do get advances, it's generally a few thousand dollars. That's a mad amount of money to have dropped on you all at once, but think about how long you could really live on, say, five or six thousand dollars. I don't know anybody who would say no to it, but when you divide it out over time... well, it actually averages out to somewhere between two and three months' paychecks for a lot of folks out there. If you managed to get in the low five figures, that could effectively be a year's paycheck... so all you'd have to do is do that again every year and you'd be golden.

As I've said, I don't have a lot of direct experience, but I do recall this essay in the New York Times. It talks a lot about the subject, shining a light on how it can be a mixed blessing. It's an interesting look at a subject that's fairly arcane to most of us.

A quick Google on the subject also turned up this interesting and informative page written by somebody who does apparently have direct experience.

Basically... with the caveat that I'm not speaking from personal experience... I have to stand by my contention that the vast majority of potentially successful authors can get themselves a better deal by taking matters into their own hands than they can buy seeking out a traditional publishing deal.

I think a publisher working in partnership with a self-directed author might be an interesting middle route... we might see what that looks like when [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna and [livejournal.com profile] tim_pratt finish their serials. But even then... well, if I were either of them, I'd crunch the numbers hard and poll their readership to try to get a picture of how much they could make if they stuck with self-publishing before accepting any deal, shiny advance or not.
alexandraerin: (Default)
...I take advice from people.

Not only have I added a comment system back onto my story sites, but I've decided to split up the ad boxes. Ever since I unified the layouts on my story sites, I've also shared the ad boxes among them. It seemed like a good way to give advertisers a little extra value for their money.

But now that the "little" stories are getting updated more often, it seems like they might be worth their own slots, and while I love the people who read every single thing I put out, the individual stories are different enough that they may attract different audiences as they come into their own.

Also, the stories have varying levels of "safe-for-workness". As was pointed out to me, having a graphic gay fantasy comic at the top of 3 Seas might turn some people off from it. Actually, I'm not sure I want that particular ad even running on Tales of MU. As un-work-safe as TOMU can be, text is fairly innocuous to a casual glance, whereas graphics are... graphic. I'll be thinking about it. It's not the comic being advertised that's the problem... it's the fact that the ad includes things that require a censor dot.

Anyway, if you're one of the people reading this blog who has a crafty site or a comic site or a serial site, you can get yourself some deep discount advertising by being one of the first people to place ads on Star Harbor Nights or The 3 Seas. Note that 3 Seas in particular is getting a lot of extra hits as I'm advertising it in a few places. I've also removed the Google ads from those sites... I keep flirting with Google, but I'm never happy with the results and I'd rather that my Project Wonderful advertisers get more prominent placement.

I'll be doing the same to Void Dogs and Tribe: Fantasy In Miniature tomorrow or Saturday.
alexandraerin: (Default)
With what's going on in Iran, I feel a little funny using the word "revolution" to describe anything short of... you know... revolution... but the same word can have a different shade of meaning in different contexts. It's a fact of language in general and our glorious bastard of a language in particular.

So, with that having been said: the revolution is ongoing. Writer [livejournal.com profile] tim_pratt, another actual author with actual published books that people have held in their hands and read on a bus somewhere, has announced he will be serializing a novella for the web. The circumstances are a little familiar: out of work partner, bills mounting, money not pouring in from previously published works.

I want to point it out, but I'm probably not going to go on and on about Mr. Pratt like I have Cat Valente, both because I have less prior knowledge of him and because each time that this happens, each time that a previously published author takes to the web with a self-directed community funded project, it will be less and less of a big deal individually.

At some point, it'll just become something that authors do.

It is a truism that most people won't pay for something they can get for free on the internet, but some will, and the more people you can attract with your free content, the more paying customers you will attract. As belts tighten for everyone, the ability to "pay what you can" for good art will become increasingly appreciated. Paypal takes something like 31 cents out of a $1 donation (that's off the top of my head, it might not be exact), but a thousand people later that's still $690, isn't it? That would be rent for a lot of folks, and it's nothing to sneeze at for anybody.
alexandraerin: (Default)
So, my last laptop (may it rest in peace) was a big sucker that only had about an hour and a half of battery life under optimal conditions... more like 45-50 minutes with wireless surfing and music going and stuff. It's got a mostly white case.

My very awesome new one can be used pretty much for a whole work day if it's got a good charge, and it keeps its charge pretty well on standby. It's also small and a sleek and glossy black.

So, I've already found one way in which the old one was a better "fit" for me... it was impossible to lose. It's bad enough that I tend to lose my phone two or three times a week (incidentally, now that I'm not writing on it anymore, I'm not sure where it's gone to... maybe I should be looking into Skype instead?), now I have to worry about losing my computer. Fortunately my apartment is not that large, but unfortunately a lot of the furnishings are dark colored and I tend to run the place in "low light mode" most of the time.

I'm finding the trick is not to shut the lid when I go to set the lappy down somewhere or walk away from it... it's a lot more colorful and visible and bright that way. I always had to shut the other one so it would go straight to standby and save its battery, but that's far less important with this one. I'll adjust. It's such a minor thing, compared to how handy the thing is. I am seriously indebted to [livejournal.com profile] tzadkiel for providing it... I hope you don't mind, but I plan on paying off my debt in stories. ;)

And of course, by that measurement... the fact that I was able to mention a need and have someone step up and take care of it... well, I can count that as a victory. I don't want to diminish that. But other than that, I've had a very lukewarm response to my attempts to boost my sponsorship lately. I'm an analytical sort, so naturally I've got some thoughts about why this would be. Obviously the fact that I've been directing my own readership to other creative causes lately might be coming into play, but the fact is things have been at a plateau ever since my first huge sponsorship push peaked. My readership has remained steady since then.

So I think what this tells me is that I'm at or near the capacity of my current readership. Feel free to prove me wrong by having a bunch of people rush to sign up, but really, of the people reading my work on a regular basis, nearly 1% have chosen to sponsor my writing.

It might not sound like it, but that's actually a fairly impressive benchmark, especially as it's not including irregular and one time contributors and people who send money every month by hand. There may be a few more people who'll be willing to contribute if they can send a check instead of using PayPal, and I've actually got a PO Box set up for that now, which I'll have listed for those who want it under a cut at the end of this post. Tomorrow I'll be adding that to my payment page, along with a sponsorship option for people who want their contribution marked down as supporting my work in general instead of a specific story. That's something I overlooked but I've had a couple of people ask for it.

So, those few things... along with my continued productivity, timeliness of updates, and engagement with the readership... might boost things a little, but as I've said before to survive the long term, I need to raise my income, and to do that, I need to raise my audience, as well. Any support that people can give me in raising my profile, in publicizing my stories... if you feel self-conscious about promoting Tales of MU, remember that I do write other stuff and that 3 Seas and Tribe are entirely non-sexual and suitable for younger audiences... anything helps.

My laptop's taken care of, but I've got a tiny chip in my glasses... it's practically invisible to me when I'm wearing them but when I take them off and look at it it's a pretty vivid reminder of the sorts of unexpected expenses that can sneak up on you. Again, the point is not to go "oh poor me, I need the internet to buy me new glasses". Actually, after the last time I replaced my glasses... shortly after I left my day job... I've got some really great resources on getting them cheap. But the point is that unexpected expenses can be expected to continue, and the answer to that is me writing, people enjoying it, people sharing their enjoyment, and a few of those people... under one percent of them's just fine, if there are enough people in total... deciding to give some value back for the value they've received.

So, you know, spread the word on your own journal. Tell your friends. Start conversations. Blog your reactions to the stories, if you feel the urge. Tweet and ReTweet links to your favored stories. If you've got a friend who blogs or writes or podcasts about internet culture or writing or fantasy or spanking or carnivorous mermaids or superheroes or whatever, drop them a link.

I need more exposure to grow. I need to grow to survive. I need help.

(Also, if you emailed me with promotion ideas or business prospects like back in April or so and I never responded or else dropped out mid-conversation... I've got some big gaps in my memory right around the time I started to notice my email acting up. Feel free to email me another poke.)

Mailing address for checks. )
alexandraerin: (Writing Dirty)
Just saw a beautiful Twitter post from Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself), that went like this:


Thanks for all the #TGBDVD replies. Looks like97% of teachers would like DVDs and Harper Childrens just changed their mind on not doing it.


Sadly, I'm afraid my Twit-Fu is still too weak for me to know how to link to an individual post. To explain the context of it, though, Neil was himself filmed while reading aloud from his novel The Graveyard Book as he went around the country promoting it. Those recordings are already available online for free. Neil put the question to the internet: would teachers rather have a DVD available than have to rely on the website to play the readings for their classes? He asked them to reply using the tag "#TGBDVD" (The Graveyard Book DVD) so that the answers could be tracked.

I know more people than teachers would be interested in that DVD, but that's apparently the primary market it would be aimed at.

So, five hours after he put the question to the internet, he announces that not only have people overwhelmingly asked for a DVD, but that the publishers have "changed their minds" about putting one together.

I don't know all the backstory here, but reading between the lines it's pretty obvious that the Harper Childrens didn't think the demand would justify it. It's anybody's guess why. If I had someone giving me odds, I'd lay money that the old chestnut "We can't expect anyone to turn around and buy it when you just got done giving it away for free!" to have reared its head, though I'd also lay odds that the existence of a free recording of the book in its entirety have not hurt sales of the printed book or any audiobook edition. The fact that an author reading a novel aloud in its entirety as a video is kind of a novelty also might have played into it.

Then Neil asks the internet if they want the DVD and the internet says, "YES! PLEASE!"

This is evidence of a couple of things.

One, it's an obvious refutation of the "people won't pay money for what they can get for free" canard that causes so much distraction for media companies trying to figure out how to use the internet... or even coexist with it.

Two, it's a further erosion of the idea of "gatekeeping" as a necessary function of the publishing companies. This is actually a good thing for everyone involved, companies and consumers and creators. The companies don't have to guess as much about these sorts of things any more. Creators don't have to depend on those guesses, don't have to see their own choices second-guessed by corporate prognosticators when they go right to the source. Customers get what they want.

Of course, any companies that are far too invested in their positions as the great golden guardians of culture, the arbiters of What People Really Want, are going to fall behind as they miss out on opportunities like the one that Neil's Twitter poll revealed, while those that are responsive will make out like bandits.

As I've said before, it will be interesting to see what kind of interest Cat Valente's Fairyland novel attracts from publishers. It's going to come with its own hype, it's going to be coming to the market with a bigger "test audience" than most books... it'll be interesting to see who recognizes the potential on their own and who needs something like a Twitter test.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Probably because it's stuff that's worth supporting... I had the thought yesterday about whether or not I would have pushed Cat's ventures so much if I'd known my laptop was going to give up the ghost so completely a day after ...Fairyland... launched, and I came to the conclusion that yes, I would have.

Anyway, River's Daughter, a novella-length ebook, is now available. This is the first book produced by [livejournal.com profile] verb_noire, an independent press started up to encourage visible presence of frequently invisible minorities in genre fiction, or as they put it,

To celebrate the works of talented, underrepresented authors and deliver them to a readership that demands more.


Emphasis mine. Because this is what I keep saying: these audiences are out there and they are hungry and they have been ignored so often and for so long, and since the internet gives us so many tools to find each other and so many ways to connect with each other and benefit each other (and the exchange of enjoyable art for money is, at its core, people helping each other... a mutually beneficial transaction)...

Well, if you're reading my blog, you've heard all this before.

The point is, new book out from Verb Noire.




Note: According to [livejournal.com profile] karnythia, they're still working out some technical issues with their first product launch, so as of right now they're having to email purchased copies to folks. That's why there's no download link when you finish paying. Mine arrived ten minutes after the PayPal timestamp, though I'm sure that will vary with time of day and such.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Well, the first chapter of Cat Valente's web serial, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, went up yesterday, a little bit after midnight Eastern Standard Time. It is so full of quotable lines that I dare not quote any of them lest I make the rest jealous.

It's an intoxicating beginning, but it will be a while before the ultimate success of the project can be judged. I know, I know, I've kept saying it will succeed... and some perhaps would argue that it already has, in that it's already brought money and publicity to the author. But as Cat's announcement was picked up and echoed around the web, particularly on Twitter where space is limited and punchier messages travel farther and faster, the message was more often rendered as "my friend/comrade needs help" than "woman of manifest talent has something of unique value to share with the world, and invites compensation from those who enjoy it".

What happened as a result of those repeated calls was incredible and should not be scorned, but it also stands as an example of how an internet community responds to a crisis than as a practical demonstration of cyberfunding as a routine form of income. That's okay. The actual value of The Girl Who, Etc. has yet to be seen by the world, a world that will hopefully keep paying attention even after the initial crisis has ended. I have hopes that as the United States progressively wakes up and people remember to check her site, the first chapter will start to get ReTweets and shout-outs based on its own merit. Once there are a few chapters present I plan on using some of my own advertising reserve to help bring them to the attention of people outside the circle of the literary twitterstorm, and to remind people who maybe caught the initial buzz that there's an actual story attached to it.

This is crucial, because it's going to be the long-term profitability that reflects on the success of the project. Cat's use of language ought to qualify as a Schedule II controlled substance for its addictive qualities, but it's very easy to lose even a very impressed audience when a project like this is new and there's not a whole archive of it to read through. The fact that this particular story is child-friendly opens up one unique possibility for making sure that people keep coming back: their children will insist on it. But I suspect that, initial hoopla aside, the story's readership will really take off once there is enough material to keep the average reader occupied for one hour. Some people can read for five minutes and be hopelessly hooked on something, but few people can read anything for an hour and not desperately need to know what happens next.

Being a very fast reader with a very poor sense of time, I have no idea how much the average reader will read in an hour, which will make it hard for me to judge the accuracy of this prediction.

And, of course, even when it's finished, the full value of the project to its author will still remain to be seen no matter how steady the reader contributions have been. Because she never has to take it down and she never has to remove the tip jar... new readers will continue to find it and will continue to appreciate it.

And readers, new and old, will want a copy of the book that can sit on their shelves, that can be held comfortably in bed, that can be easily managed in airports and coffee shops and on buses, that can be read in the bathtub without voiding a warranty. They're going to want print editions.

(Trust me on this one, Cat. You may feel awkward about putting forward the idea of people paying you to buy a book that they have already read and may already have paid for, but people are going to insist. I'm going to insist, because I really like reading in the bathtub.)

And while the author will certainly have options for producing said volume herself, I hope that through her contacts with small presses and/or the visibility of this project, she can wrangle a deal to have it published through a more traditional means. Yeah, yeah, I know... that seems counter to my rhetoric on the subject. But it would be a tremendous step towards exploding one of the Great Big Lies that is used to discourage self-publishing, e-publishing, and cyberfunded creativity: "If you do this, no publishing house will ever want the results. No publisher wants to buy reprint rights, because no one will pay money for something they already got for free."

It would seem to be a no-brainer for a publisher to pick up a book that has a built-in fan base, that has people clamoring for a chance to buy a copy of it before it's been printed, that lots of people have heard about, that has had steady buzz for months or a year, etc., which is what ...Fairyland... will be by the time it's finished, but it would also be something of an exception to the rules. At least, when viewed as "reprinting a book". In terms of "taking something on the web and packaging it for bookshelves", blogs, webcomics, and humorous or informational sites have been distilled into books before.

So, the only question will be: will publishers recognize this and see the value of being the one who delivers a much-desired product to a willing and eager public?

Actually, by that point there will also be the question of whether or not Cat sees a publisher's contributions to the process as being worth giving up the lion's share of the revenue. Her work is so successful in part because she undertakes to promote it herself, and by the time Girl, Fairyland, Circumnavigated is in the proverbial can much of that work will already be done. All a publisher would really bring to the table at that point is a finished physical product and a distribution system, and the web gives authors access to those things. I know that Cat is friends with a very successful user of Lulu.com's print on demand services (and no, I'm not talking about myself. The print editions of my work are an area I've traditionally underexploited.) I'm sure that she'll find herself with all the support she needs if she decides to go that route.

So, anyway... the project is off to an auspicious beginning, and I predict that I will (perhaps mercifully) not have as much to say about it for a few weeks as it builds in momentum. To make a long story short (TOO LATE!), though, some people will doubtlessly already be declaring victory for the experiment on the strength of the initial reaction and some few people will possibly be declaring the medium and model a failure because the initial reaction was not a practical or sustainable or repeatable response... to both groups of people, I would say that to suss out the level of success of this project, it'll be necessary to ignore the initial response and watch how things unfold over time.

That's something I'm looking forward to doing.
alexandraerin: (Default)
I promise that at some point in the near future I'll start posting a bunch of inane rambling reviews of Dungeons & Dragons products again, but in the mean time: yet another post about Cat Valente.

Actually, this one's not entirely about her. I mean, this whole thing isn't entirely about her... she's the crux, the fulcrum, of the matter, but it's about the publishing industry, it's about authors and artists and performers, it's about new technology, it's about our ability to create and control our creations and to interface with our audience and to reach audiences without a filter in between us.

She's started to receive a bit of a backlash: people telling her to suck it and up get a "real job", people telling her she's selfish, people telling her that what she's doing isn't "grown-up behavior".

And what is she doing?

She's creating something of value and expecting people who benefit from it to compensate her for her work.

That's basic grown-up behavior right there.

It doesn't look like grown-up behavior because it doesn't involve putting on a hideous uniform or wearing a name tag or signing away any rights, literally or metaphorically... it doesn't look like grown-up behavior because instead of putting a price tag and a bar code on the output of her soul, she's asking people to pay what they can and what they will for it.

You know, I had a day job, a year and a half ago. I quit it to do this, to produce reader-supported, cyber-funded stories when I was sure that I could support myself this way... and I almost fucked that up, in no small part because I let myself be insecure about the fact that I do deserve compensation for what I do and so I went through a period of being shy about reminding people that I do know money to get by. Other than that hiccup, it's gone pretty dang well.

And you know what? In the time since I quit, my day job was downsized. The department was shrunk in half and then folded into another one. If I had been there, I would have been another body fighting for a chair... which means I would have been out of work or somebody else would have been.

Why do I need to be a body in a chair? What benefit would I provide to society by doing that? Here, I'm not taking anybody's place. I've made my own. It's uniquely suited to my strengths and weaknesses. I create things for the enjoyment of thousands of people, and some of those people are able to pay me a dollar when they can or five dollars a month or fifty dollars one time or whatever they can give me, whatever value they feel I've provided them.

Is this a rip-off? My actual output varies with my circumstances, but people just pay what they think I'm worth, with no obligation to keep paying. How could that be a rip-off? My dad once told me I should tell people to pay me half what they think I'm worth, so they feel like they're getting a deal and they'll keep coming back for more... if anybody's worried about being ripped off, they're welcome to do that. Treat yourself to a 50% off coupon. Treat yourself to a 75% off coupon if that's what it takes for it to be "worth it". You pay what you feel like. That's how it works.

I mean, if everybody who read my work paid me a dollar for every novel's worth of material they read, I'd be rich and they'd all be getting a huge discount compared to any other book out there. Think about that. And most people aren't even paying a dollar. They're paying nothing.

Who's getting ripped off?

What Cat's doing is the action of a mature mind. She's taking responsibility for her situation and she's doing something about it. Her plight is not her fault, but like everybody else, it's her responsibility to support herself and her family, and that's what she's doing. It's easy to miss this fact, with the initial frenzy that was whipped up on the twittosphere... the somewhat desperate tone of which she had very little to do with... but what she's doing is taking control, of her talents and her rights and her resources.

And it's going to work. That's the thing.

It. Is. Going. To. Fucking. Work.

What she's doing is a proven moneymaker: taking a talent and a unique vision and going online with it. It works. All the naysayers miss the point... they probably look at the internet and they see the one trillion amateur animators that don't make any money, the one quadrillion little webcomics, the googol of hobby sites and blogs that don't go anywhere and they say "There's no money on the web." But the same things that let anyone succeed offline work online as well: talent, dedication, hard work, willpower.

It doesn't matter how many folks are doing it at the amateur-level. They don't take money away from the successful ones, and the qualities that bring success shine... and Cat Valente possesses all of these in spades.

I'm not going to compare our talents... we're way too different. We both have a fairly complicated relationship with the concept of "plot" and nontraditional approaches to structure, but she is at heart a poet and I primarily write dialogue and monologue. Okay, well, I am obviously comparing our talents, so let's do it:

I started Tales of MU with nothing but a name, "MU Tales", which I changed quickly because my mind wanted to read it as faux Spanish "mutales". I made it up as I went along, just to see what I could do, and I published it as is.

And I made it work.

As is.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, I am that fucking good.

That's my talent. I can sit down and I can write and people will read it, rough. Even people who hate what I write about will sit there and tell me that they wish I would write about more sensible things because they love reading it. It comes easily, naturally. For me, the hard part of why I do isn't writing, it's keeping my shit together, keeping my life together even when the parts of my brain that don't write aren't talking to each other, keeping track of the plot of day-to-day life the same as I do with my stories.

But Cat Valente is the hardest working person I know. I only met her briefly but that was obvious. She researches. She plans. She workshops. She vises and she revises and she retrovises. All those little foreign language puns I scatter in character's names are just things I have bouncing around in my brain, but she translates things.

And the results...

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you she is that fucking good, too.

The talent is there. The drive is there. The willpower is there. Everything it takes to succeed, she has... and she's proven it offline. A dozen books. A deal with Tor, I think, though I might be making that up. Of course, the reality is that "success" as an author in traditional publishing is nothing like money in the bank.

But online... she pays bandwidth and hosting, maybe hires out webmastery and graphical artistry if she can't get it donated... but the pie is only split one way. If she sells 20,000 books the Olde Way at $20 a pop, she ain't getting anywhere near $400,000. It doesn't work like that. But if she sells a hundred ebooks at $10 a pop, she is walking away with something that's within a phone rebate of $1,000 even after PayPal takes their fees.

Do you haters and doubters not realize how huge that is? What a profound cosmic shift that is for authors?

Anyone else just starting out... someone like me... would have to do something to become a proven quality before they could hope to make a living. Free samples. Heck, if I hadn't twisted Cat's ear as much as I have already, I'd tell her to increase the excerpt size of ebooks. Give a whole chapter's worth. Or forget about arbitrary breaks and give 'em as long as you think it takes to get them hooked. Give a whole first section of each book. She probably won't have to do that because she is a known quantity with even greater known quantities vouching for her, but it's a viable strategy.

(It's also a viable strategy to give all the books away for free to begin with, but people who don't understand what she's doing will never grasp that.)

This was going to happen sooner or later, that a traditionally published author would go this route and attract a lot of attention. I'm so sorry for the circumstances that forced her into it, but I'm glad it's Cat because I love her work so much and because the conditions are perfect - she's a cult author with wide but non-"mainsteam" appeal as defined by the industry that decides what to market to the mainstream, she's got the support of notable literary lights with large web presences, she's friends with an author who's explored this path before and who won't fucking shut up about it.

So this is going to work for her. Okay, there are no guarantees in life... but that's true about "real jobs", too. This could fail just as jobs can be downsized and companies can fold. But she has everything she needs to succeed, everything that's essential.

Why should she take a spot at a Starbucks that somebody else could fill? Why should she occupy a spot in a phone queue? Who would ultimately benefit from that?

The fact that she gets to do what she loves for a living might gall some people, but it's not a failing on her part. The fact that she's found a way to for herself instead of doing for seventeen layers of middlemen and then waiting in line every second Friday to hold out her hands in hopes that they'll do for her might threaten the composure of everybody who's still sucking it up and swallowing their pride every time they get out of bed in the morning. The fact that she's proving that you don't need to wend your way through the apparatus of The Industry to get paid for your art might be offensive to the sensibilities of those who are in the process of making compromises they hate in pursuit of a brass ring that they're terrified might turn out to not even be real brass is not ultimately her problem.

And, y'know, when Fairyland is a going concern, some of the naysayers and the doubters will say that she couldn't have done it if she hadn't already been a published author, if she hadn't had the support of folks like Neil Gaiman... never mind that some scatter-brained nobody living smack dab in the middle of flyover country already did the same thing... but a lot of the naysayers and doubters will just ignore her success and keep saying it won't work no matter how long it does.

We know this happens, because we see it all the time: "nobody makes money in webcomics", they say, and what [livejournal.com profile] s00j has done with her music for the past five, six years is clearly impossible.

Gah.

It works.

It has worked, it is working, it will continue to work.

The print industry's not going to go away... people like books, and I don't think Cat's doing this because she's pissed off at the world of paper or anything... but the publishers are going to have wake up soon and notice that authors now have another serious option to explore when it comes to paying the bills.

They need to notice it, because I can guarantee that more and more authors will.
alexandraerin: (Default)
Okay, so I've been doing my unlevel best to boost the hell out of Cat Valente the past week. There are multiple reasons for this: she's a friend, she's an awesome writer, I think there's enough overlap between our potential fandoms that I feel confident recommending her stuff to you all.

But there's another reason I've been so urgent about it, even putting her forward above my own fund-gathering activities. I didn't want to draw attention to it, but it's now being talked about all over Twitter and Facebook, and she's made an LJ post that touches on it herself: she needs the money. Her ebooks put money in her hands directly instead of her eventually seeing a portion of the profits as residuals. It's a great deal for writers, and it's something I would love to see more of us embracing.

Cat's now going one step further into the brave new world: she's launching a web serial. The site's not up yet, but she's got the donation button up for people to salt the pan. I expect anybody who's reading this blog and is a fan of Cat Valente already probably already knows all this, so I'm not highlighting its existence in hopes that people will flood over there immediately and kick in. But come Monday, the first installment of her serial will be going up and you'll be able to see for yourselves whether you think her talent's worth supporting... if you've been on the fence about picking up Palimpsest or downloading any of her ebooks, it might help, too.

If her circumstances were different, I could sit back and let the web take its course... but as it is, I've been giving her what advice I can. I don't know what--if anything--my bits of advice actually have to do with the moves she's been making. Of course I'd love to think she's following my example... but I don't care about that nearly as much as I care about her success.

I feel guilty, but I am excited as fuck (and very excited fuck at that) that this is happening with a published author who's been something of a sensation and who attracts the attention of folks like Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis (who have both broadcasts tweets about her plight and her project.) The whole world seems to have the idea that this is some crazy desperate half-baked idea. Neil Himself tweeted (corrected for a suspected case of cat-keyboard): "Can the web feed a writer?"

Folks, we are the privileged few who know the answer to that.

It's been my contention that the web can feed a writer... a writer of appreciable talent but not necessarily blockbuster mainstream appeal... better than the publishing industry as we know it. Richard Herley might have some thoughts on the subject... I need to remember to reach out to him again one of these days and ask him about his experiences. Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, at this point I doubt that Cat's next rent check is going to depend solely on whether or not MU fans rally to buy her ebooks, but my offer still stands. I know a lot of you want more Two in general and more diaries in particular. I've got around 20 receipts so far. That's a fifth of the way to the Hearts of Clay story and a tenth of the way to that plus a diary. Just buy any of the books here and email me proof of the purchase from Paypal. Feel free to mutilate the forwarded email to remove any identifying information you don't want me to see. I don't have some corporate accountant looking over my shoulder to verify this stuff. I know tomorrow's Friday and a lot of people will be getting paid then... if you can spare $5-$10, do yourself and myself and Cat and all our readers a favor and buy yourself a book.

(Email feedback -at- alexandraerin -dot- com. Don't forget the email.)

Now, I've been a little distracted... absolutely riveted, in fact... by the sight of all this unfolding, but I haven't forgotten what you all pay me for. :P I've got a Tribe up, I'm about 700 words into a MoreMU chapter, and there will be a 3 Seas following that. Possibly more. Hopefully more. But exciting things are afoot.

Oh, and as always... what I say about non-monetary contributions applies equally well to her. If you can do nothing else, or aren't inclined to spend money on an unknown, please at least join the chorus on Twitter and/or shout about it on your own LJ.

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alexandraerin

August 2017

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