Revamping my Patreon!
One of my big projects for 2018 is Revamping My Patreon, which has now largely been accomplished. First off, of course, I’ve been running a Patreon a while now, and you’ll find short stories, book proposals, even whole novel drafts here, immediately available when you become a patron.
But I’m offering lots of new fun stuff this year! I’ll be writing individual pieces of flash fiction, ranging from up to 250 words all the way to stories of 10K in length on commission, so you get what you ask for! I’m looking forward to that. :)
Another goal–in fact, the first couple blogs have been posted for these–is to have a lot more patron-first blogs before they go out to my regular blog, and I’m doing a live-blogging-the-writing series that will probably remain Patreon-only.
I’ll also be wrapping up the second Old Races Short Story Project, which is a collection of stories set post-Negotiator-Trilogy, and which will set the Old Races universe up for potential book-length sequels, which I may or may not ever actually write. :) Subscribing to the Patreon gets you early access to those stories, credit in the acknowledgements, and a complete e-book once the project is done.
The Patreon, right now, is almost halfway to an early release of a CE Murphy novel, which is one of my long-term goals for it–I have great hopes of being able to release one or even TWO novels early to the Patreon crew, and even possibly writing a couple of bonus novellas a year. So there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on there, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all! ♥
The Magic & Manners Project (Part 1)
About four years ago I got it into my head to wonder what PRIDE & PREJUDICE would be like if the Bennet sisters were plagued by an excess of magic rather than a dearth of cash. In a fit of inspiration, I wrote a first chapter, and then over the next year, a second and a third. By then, Patreon was a thing, and I decided to write MAGIC & MANNERS as a serialized crowdfunding project.
It took longer than I expected and brought me to the conclusion that serializing a novel wasn’t a good fit for Patreon, or at least, not the way I did it (but you can read about that here), but I got the book done and had great visions of turning it around swiftly and getting it out into the public realm.
That was ten months ago, and MAGIC & MANNERS launched last week. @.@
I now pause to drop in links, before getting to the bulk of the post. :)
MAGIC AND MANNERS for Kobo!
MAGIC AND MANNERS for Kindle!
MAGIC AND MANNERS print edition on Amazon!
MAGIC AND MANNERS audio book on Audible!
MAGIC AND MANNERS is the first project I’ve really gone full-out self-publisher on, with the full production team in place to do everything right. It’s been fascinating, frustrating, and fun, not just for the alliteration, but in actual fact. I’m planning to do a number of posts, probably over several months as I collect more data, about the whole process, and I hope they’ll be of use and interest to people going forward.
Guest Post: Chaz Brenchley & the Crater School!
It is my delight and honor to host my friend Chaz Brenchley on the blog today. I met Chaz online, and then through the Irish/UK con circuit, oh, several-many years ago now. Most lately he’s been working on a project that I’m utterly in love with, both in concept and execution, and he’s here to talk about it–and its crowdfunding support system–today!
One of the joys of living in the heart of Silicon Valley is that NASA Ames is just over there, and SETI HQ is even closer. We live among the cool kids – and the cool kids like to share. I went to NASA for the recent transit of Venus; and ever since I moved here, I’ve been going to SETI’s weekly colloquium where planetary scientists and cosmologists talk about the latest discoveries, or the specific projects they have on a new mission, or the latest weird theory that’s almost a guaranteed Nobel prize if it should ever prove true (“but right now there are only two people who believe it, and they’re both in this room”), and like that.
So there I was with planetary scientists at my fingers’ ends for the asking, and lots of Mars talk going on around the time of Curiosity’s landing, so it’s really no wonder that I started thinking about Mars fiction. Real Mars, not so much, for it is dry and inhospitable and I have written my desert books already – but old Mars, Mars with canals and an atmosphere and aliens? Oh, yes. Very much yes.
And very much within that spirit, I wanted to steampunk it up a bit; and there was a lot of talk at that time in my social media about how steampunk tended to assume British Empire overtones, as though that were the only choice, and how it so very much was not. So I thought somewhat about that – but I did keep coming back to the British Empire, because I am far from home and the more time I spend in California the more inveterately Brit I become, and because I am the son of an Empire brat (Grandad was a major in the Scots Guards; Mum was born in Rangoon and grew up in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, speaking Malay more readily than English), and because above all I was really curious. If Mars were a province of the British Empire, how would that actually work? How could it happen, and what would it mean – to the Empire, and to European and world history? And to Mars, and to the presumptive Martians? How do you impose colonial rule on a race that has no concept of empire, or statehood, or governance? And does it make a difference if you’re there by their courtesy, via their aetherships, for reasons you still don’t understand? And how do you negotiate even the broadest heads of agreement where you can barely communicate at all?
And, and, and. This is one way that fiction happens, with a whole slew of questions that need answering. So this last couple of years, I have been writing stories that seek to do that. The first of them, “The Burial of Sir John Mawe at Cassini”, was published in Subterranean and picked up by Gardner Dozois for his Year’s Best SF anthology; the second – “The Astrakhan, the Homburg and the Red Red Coal” – appeared this year in Lightspeed’s “Queers Destroy SF” special issue (Oscar Wilde on Mars!). And I’m working on T E Lawrence on Mars, and A E Housman on Mars, and I’m irretrievably bogged down in a novel about Kipling on Mars (for many of these stories begin with “Y’know, if Mars were a province of the British Empire, [X] would so have gone there…”).
So there’s that, and I am passionate about it, beguiled by it, almost obsessed with it.
But I have other passions too, lifelong passions – and one of those is the Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer. Sixty books, written over forty-five years: the tale of an English boarding school established in the Austrian Tyrol, with all that that implies. Mischief at midnight, practical jokes and punishments, prefects and dormitories and matrons and mistresses; but also adventures on a much greater scale, for these books were written in real time through the war and the girls witness anti-Semitic cruelty and take a stand against it and have to flee the Nazis themselves. And retreat first to Jersey, which turns out not to have been such a good idea; and then spies come after them, and the makeshift migratory wartime school yields some of the best stories in the series. And then after the war the school moves to Switzerland (for it needs to stay close to the TB sanatorium that brings in many of its pupils, and staff too – and that supplies another constant theme to the series, loss and survival and the comforts of faith), and things go on much as before until the author’s death in 1970.
These books have a cult following, including some surprising names that I shall not bandy here. And just a few weeks ago, I was walking home from the farmers’ market when I suddenly thought, “Y’know, if Mars were a province of the British Empire, the Chalet School would so have a sister foundation there…”
It’s already established in the canon that boys are sent home to the great boarding-shools of England; but aethership journeys are expensive, and space is at a premium. Of course they’d want to educate their girls locally, oh yes…
And so the Crater School was born, in a failed hotel built as a Norman castle, on the rim of a crater lake inhabited by a Martian naiad. Just across the water from a sanatorium, for Mars comes of course with its own diseases; and there are Basque shepherds on the slopes and Dutch families on the canal below, Indians and Chinese in the great port cities, and and and…
And I’ve stitched all this together into a Patreon project, and we are going to have so much fun, it ought to be illegal. Or at least see us sent to the Headmistress on report. You can read the first two chapters for free here, and the Patreon page is here, if you’d like to support the Crater School for this term and beyond…
Writing Wednesday: Patreon patronage
A while ago I was muttering about how I wanted somebody I *knew* to have test-run a relatively new distribution opportunity for self-published writers, and one of my friends said, “Er, Catie, you’re the one who does that. You go charging off the cutting edge and we all wait to see how it works out and then follow, having learned from you.”
I said “!” because I didn’t know that was a thing I was perceived as doing, but since it apparently is, I’m gonna talk about my experiences with Patreon now. :)
I’m on my second Patreon project: the one currently running is an Old Races Short Story Project, plus occasional extra sundries as I happen to do them. My first project was MAGIC AND MANNERS, a Jane Austen pastiche in which I asked the all-important question, “What if the Bennet Sisters had too much magic rather than not enough money?” (It will be widely available in October! Or November if things go badly, but definitely around then!)
Patreon has two options: one is that patrons pay a creator Per Thing, and the other is that patrons pay a creator Per Month.
I did M&M as a weekly serialized novel, with Patreon’s Pay Per Thing option, with a promise to not post more than one chapter a week, and with a guess as to how many chapters it would run, so that patrons could decide how much they wanted to/could afford to pay per chapter.
It worked, but frankly, I don’t recommend serializing something on Patreon that way.
The problem is that on the creator end, you end up getting nickel-and-dimed on micropayments and percentages going to the site. If I post 5 chapters in a month and get paid Per Thing on it, and someone donates $.25 per chapter, or $.05, I can end up actually getting nothing at all from their donation after the credit card fees, which do not like tiny tiny payments at all. This isn’t good for anybody! My patron has spent fifty cents (or whatever) in support of…credit card fees…and I have given chapters away! (Which frankly bothers me a lot less than the idea that people who are trying to support me are only succeeding in supporting a credit card.)
I think there’s a great window of opportunity for Per Thing support on Patreon, but serializing a book is not the way to take advantage of it. I think it works better for more one-off kinds of projects: songs, completed books maybe, poems, paintings, I don’t know. Not chapters, though. Not in my experience.
I therefore debated with myself a lot over whether I was going to do Per Thing or Per Month with the new Old Races Short Story Project. My goal is to post a story a month, plus some extras, but Patreon WILL let you *not* charge for something, so I could’ve kept doing Per Thing.
But this is a thing I’ve noticed by running crowdfund projects: lots of people are actually interested not just in The Thing, but in Supporting The Artist. Especially if it’s relatively convenient. Many people have $5 (or whatever) that they’re willing and able to spare per month to help artists, you know, not starve. Or pay the rent, or the cable bill, or just basically worry a tiny bit less about all of those things so they can do more art.
It makes practically every creator I know twitchy to imagine going out and just…asking for money. “Hi! I’m a writer! Give me some money so I can write, please!” We almost all feel like we had damn well better provide something in exchange for that money. We almost all always *do* provide something in exchange…but honestly, my experience has been that most of the time, patrons say “No problem,” if there’s no new content that month. Especially if they’ve been warned in advance, as I did when I switched my Patreon from the M&M project Per Thing payment system to the ORSSP By Month system. I did that in May or June, and told my patrons I’d be starting the new ORSSP in September.
I lost a handful of patrons, but I expected to lose *most* of them, and was kind of stunned that I didn’t. And now the new project is underway and I’ve picked up more patrons, and I’m getting near to my funding goal, which is enormously exciting to me. So I’ve learned that Patreon is a spot where creators can potentially go to just hang in there for a few months if life gets chaotic (as, gods know, mine did this summer), because a majority of patrons really do seem to be there to support the artist; the stories and whatnot are sort of a perk.
I’m trying to come up with some closing statements here and not doing very well. I think the Per Thing model is a really good one, especially for bigger ticket projects (hello, Amanda Palmer), but I didn’t like it for myself for a weekly Per Thing. I’d no doubt be happier with it as a monthly Per Thing rather than a weekly one, but there’s an ease in the Per Month payment, because that way I don’t have to set it to trigger a payment on a piece when I post it. (That burned me last year, when Patreon’s user interface wasn’t as good/I hadn’t grimly memorized what I had to do, and I ended up posting several things for free, which was aggravating because it was so easy to do accidentally more than because I hated to post the chapters for free…)
A thing to remember going into it, though, is that Patreon isn’t Kickstarter. With all that that entails, good and bad. It’s not a huge cash cow, generally speaking. I know artists whose Patreons will cover a nice dinner out with drinks, monthly (or, more practically, the cable bill). I know others who are actually breathing more easily because they’re paying the mortgage now, and others who can buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks once a week with their Patreon funds. It doesn’t have that shiny video-game high-score goal thing that Kickstarter does, or the pressure of SUPPORT IT NOW BEFORE IT DISAPPEARS! And that’s not its purpose, of course, but it does mean it’s a very different kind of fundraising and success has to be judged very differently, and realistically.
It’s the final countdown!
The Redeemer Chronicles Kickstarter has clicked over to counting down the hours instead of the days!
It’s going great guns, guys. It’s €220 from reaching the copy editor stage and only €2220 from reaching Lindsey Look cover art! It’s already blown away my hopes of 300 backers and is charging merrily on toward my revised dream of 350! (I confess that I’m even hoping for 365 now, one for each day of the year! :))
In fact, it’s just 5 more backers to reach my dream of 50 trade paperback backers! And there are *230* e-book backers! A mere TWENTY MORE would make a MIND-BOGGLING 250! It’s VERY EXCITING!
This is the point at which I really start flinging myself on the kindness of others for signal-boosting, since we’re going into the last hours now. Remember that there are three sample chapters to read, and if you feel up to it, make some noise! ♥