If You Read One Blog Post…

…Read this one. Why? Because this is the one where I ask y’all for the something.

In case you didn’t know, I write a SciFi choose-your-own-adventure. I would really appreciate it if you read it, and voted on it. It’s a really fun thing to write and, hopefully, to read.

Yesterday, I opened a Patreon to support it. Basically, if you’re not familiar, it’s like an ongoing Kickstarter, in that instead of larger one-time pledge, every time a new post goes up (every other week, in this case), a small pledge is made. This way, I get to keep working of fun projects like The Venturess. So, if possible and you’d like to, please, go and back it. Thank you!


Kickstarter: What the Hell (redux)

One of the things that bug me about internet culture is how reactionary it can be. People have knee-jerk reactions to perceived slights without gathering all (or any) of the facts, and there is a large portion of it that reacts to the extreme, countering a small offense with death threats, thus invalidating any point they might have.

stitch eyesSo I try to avoid that. Patience isn’t really my thing, but I try not to go overboard just because I don’t agree with something. For a while now, I’ve harped on the issues Kickstarter is facing from it’s rapid success, namely what the NCAA would term ‘lack of institutional control‘ and coping with the fact that big names are getting involved to the tune if millions of dollars. But recently, it’s been more than just a couple of dumb projects that don’t quite meet the guidelines, plus more and more big names are turning to crowdfunding with less and less definition around their projects.

I go back and forth on the issue of ‘big’ names in Crowdfunding- my personal thought is, if you have the money to invest yourself and the name recognition, why do you need the crowd? Heck, I have neither of those things and when my Kickstarter wasn’t funded, I ended up doing it myself anyway. And now I have a book out, and even made sure the people who backed the Kickstarter got a copy (what can I say? I’m a nice guy). But the downside of people with name recognition and money turning to the crowd is that half the fun and suspense is removed. Watching the Veronica Mars movie take off was cool, and certainly showed that people want to see it, but after day two, their only struggle would be meeting demand. There was no down-to-the-wire suspense like with the Fireside Kickstarters.

This shouldn’t take away from the great projects that ARE out there, on Kickstarter and other platforms, but the fact is there is a lot of crap from a whole variety of outlets. But guess what? That’s true of damn near anything.

Which brings us to the salient point- blatant lack of control. For a while, as I pointed out, stuff has slipped through that does not meet Kickstarters own criteria (IndieGoGo is more permissive, so this doesn’t apply as broadly)- things that aren’t actually projects or are otherwise suspect. The good thing about crowdfunding is that people simply don’t fund these, and they fall by the wayside, for the most part. The Kickstarted documentary guys put a stop to a fraud that would have taken backers for a total of $120,000. So crowdfunding sort of works both ways- by funding, and by not.

And then there is this: At best, a handbook for sexual harassment that is insulting to women by reducing them to some manner of game, and to men because it assumes that we’re all just that base. At worst, well, if a handbook for rape seems strong, this is an excerpt:

“All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically.”

(note to dudes: THIS IS A BALD-FACED LIE).

Reading that sentence makes my blood boil. The fact that this was massively overfunded doesn’t help. The fact that after numerous complaints, Kickstarter didn’t step in is, at the very least, irresponsible.

I think Kickstarter is a victim of its own success and the instant-reaction culture of the internet and is essentially understaffed to review every project that comes through in any depth. This, to me, is pretty forgivable- after all, they’re in the business of making money as well. Things are going to slip through that are either unfit for Kickstarter or offensive in some way. It happens. They do need to take action when a lot of people complain, though, particularly about offensive projects. What Kickstarter REALLY needs to do is hire (or heck, ask for volunteers) more people to review projects in more detail. The larger it gets, the more it will attract people looking for a quick buck or who are likely to have something like ‘Above the Game’, and they need to protect themselves and the people who use their platform from such individuals.

Is all of this a reason to stop using Kickstarter? A lot of people are saying so, but I think it’s hardly fair to punish people with legitimate and noble endeavors because of a few bad seeds. There are a lot of good projects, and I think it is better to vote with your dollar in support of those rather than abandon the platform altogether- otherwise the successful projects will just be ones such as these, and that will be all that’s left.

Quick Update: This does, however, mean that, as a creator, I would likely take my project elsewhere unless/until Kickstarter addressed these issues.


Monday Morning Randomness

From 'The Crucible'

From ‘The Crucible’

Linky goodness for your Monday:

  • If this SciFi/Horror IndieGoGo gets funded, it will have a story by yours truly in it, plus a host of others. So chip in, yo.
  • BookRiot is doing Start Here 2: Start Harder (it’s not really called that), but you should ALSO give that your monies.
  • UPDATE: CaffieneForge has an excellent post on some miniature Kickstarter projects going on now.
  • It has come to my attention that you haven’t bought my book yet. Yes, you. Go buy it now: Kindle | Kobo | Nook
  • Then tell your friends to buy it, too
  • The infamous ‘Inner Goddess Journal’ by EL James is out. Read the sterling review here.
  • Saturday was May the Fourth, but today is Revenge of the Si(x)th, so for those of us of the Dark Side persuasion, this day is MUCH better.
  • I love the whole steampunk look SO MUCH. I’ll probably blog at length later, but it’s always hard to WRITE (and read) steampunk because it feels like you’re going out of your way to describe monocles and whatnot.
  • Related: Guess what my latest side project is?
  • It’s not really steampunk, but has some elements.
  • Even more related: I need more vests.

This has been your exceptionally random Monday Morning Randomness.


Today in Cyclical Arguments: The Fame Threshold

So there is a Kickstarter for a Veronica Mars movie, which in and of itself I have exactly zero opinion about. Maybe it’s great; I never saw it. But the inestimable Janna O’Shea (and others, I’m sure) have expressed concern over it; to whit:

I’m really excited about this movie idea, but I’m not sure how into the Kickstarter part of it I am.

I guess it just bugs me that this forum is being used to fund a movie like this. Can’t really put my finger on exactly why.

Veronica Mars on Kickstarter.

I wager that sentiment comes from the fact that Veronica Mars and the people associated with this project are already pretty well known. It creates “what do you need ME for?” type of feeling. Likewise, the number of other well known people that are endorsing it lend to that feeling, when Kickstarter is generally a platform for new projects, the person who otherwise might not be able to raise the capital for something like that.

A few tweets or a blog post from people like Gabe of Penny Arcade, or even Janna, would make most Kickstarter projects. Brian from Kickstarter has noted that early recognition from Niel Gaiman helped the Fireside Kickstarters.

$2,000,000 is a fair chuck of change, so maybe this is the route to go. Without a major studio willing to invest in it, why not turn to the fans? If it’s something they want, well, that kinda seems like the definition of crowdfunding, doesn’t it? And if it fails, it’s no money out of anyone’s pocket.

My concern is saturation- at what point do enough big names join Kickstarter that the little guy gets crowded out? Based on what I’ve seen lately, that might not be the worst thing ever, but how do we go about getting new blood? The Stripped documentary has some big names behind it, and I couldn’t be more excited for it. Is that crowding out a budding filmmaker? Possibly. Welcome to capitalism, kids.

No matter what, I think we can all agree Joss Whedon should Kickstart more seasons of Firefly, right? I thought so.

Why Fireside’s Success is a Big Deal

Edit: There is a year three Kickstarter. The below holds true, so if you like good fiction & authors being paid, go back it!

Last night, about three hours before funding closed, Fireside Magazine hit its $25,000 goal that will fund the magazine for an entire year. Stephen Blackmore addressed this very topic as well, but I wanted to tackle it too.

As I wrote about last month, short fiction seems to be a healthy area of Kickstarter, and Fireside became the tenth most funded fiction project on Kickstarter. All of that is good, obviously, but it matters for reasons on a larger scale.

Readers are able to connect to authors in a whole different way than they were before, and that was a big part of Fireside succeeding- the authors were directly endorsing Fireside to potential backers. The reaction, however, is what matters- A big part of what Fireside does is make sure authors are paid well, and readers showed that they are willing to support that. Similar outlets are looking to up funding, via crowdfunding or other means, to pay pro (or better) rates.

This success puts Fireside in a great position, not just for 2013, but beyond that. A magazine featuring quality short fiction across several genres that pays well is exceptionally good for an industry that is going through an identity crisis.

A lot of things that make a large difference require the perfect combination of time, people and effort, with a dash of luck for good measure. The timing is right for Fireside and the like, and Brian is dedicated and smart enough to keep it going for a long time. It might not be at the forefront, it might not make history, but it does make a difference for what is to come for the publishing industry.

Kickstarter- What the Hell?

If you pay any attention to me at all (not that you should), you know I’m a pretty big fan of Kickstarter. Well, I was, anyway. The concept is still brilliant and wonderful and allows people to do cool stuff, but lately Kickstarter seems to be slipping.

A lot.

Kickstarter has some very strict standards– in writing only, it seems. In the last few months, it seems like just anything is getting through.

Here is a guy who wants to build a fort for him and his cat. For $5,000. It will clearly fail, and miserably, as it should. But why is it even there? There is no reason this should ever have been approved.

Here is a guy doing… something with stickers that tell people they are beautiful. I guess he had a bunch made? But he says he is going to make a book? Of pictures? Or something? He’s not really clear, despite having a ‘what’s this about?’ section, a ‘no, really, what’s this about’ section and ‘what’s the Kickstarter for?’ section. For the low, low price of $50, you get a book and 250 stickers, which you could have made yourself for cheaper. Sorry dude, your project is about you buying a car, not telling people they are beautiful. Unless you actually believe yourself, which is even worse.

I shouldn’t have to explain why.

And of course, the piece de resistance right now: The Death Star. Now, I love Star Wars as much as the next guy. Actually, probably more. But this… this is just stupid. Geeks everywhere had geek-gasms when there was a petition to get the White House to build a Death Star, and more when the White House responded with a fun, tongue-in-cheek response.

I get it; it was funny, but now this? This is a waste of time. For one thing, yes, it’s a joke, but why do we need to make it? It takes away from the legitimate creators on Kickstarter.

Even worse, it’s just not well done. There are two rewards, and they are stupid. The description is completely lame. The only reason this has any attention is because it says DEATH STAR at the top. It’s clear that no real thought or effort was put into it.

So come on, Kickstarter. Up your game. If ‘projects’ like this keep appearing on the site, you will lose visitors and credibility with real creators- and they will go elsewhere.

Kickstarter: Good Projects

Hey all,

First off, if you’re on the East Coast of these United States, I hope this finds you dry and safe. Well, I do hope that for all of you, but today more so for those in the path of Sandy.

If you are dry and safe wherever you are, I’m sure since this Kickstarter campaign did not gt funded, you are wondering to do with that money. Allow me to point you towards some projects I like:

The Wardenclyffe Horror is a graphic novel the features Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain. If you didn’t back it after that sentence, I don’t really know if we can be friends anymore.

The Further Travels of Wyatt Earp is a comic book about (obviously) Wyatt Earp. If you are a fan of spaghetti westerns, you’ll like this.

The Marvel is a book that is written at a graphic novels pace, making for fast, fun reading. It follows a junkie who takes a bottle of unmarked pill and wakes up in a totally different world (don’t take unmarked pills, kids).

You can also just paypal me the money, or whatever (note: just kidding).


Kickstarter Journal: Post Mortem

That’s all for the Kickstarter, folks. Thanks for being a part of it, even if it wasn’t funded. I won’t call it a failure, because it helped 3024AD reach new people and that is kind of the goal. Obviously, I would have preferred it get funded, but in any project you plan for all possible scenarios, and this was one of them. As usual, though, it’s something of an anomaly, as most projects that reach 30% funding will go on to be fully funded. So what went wrong?

The Video: Unfortunately, I think the first link in the chain was the weakest. The animation I am happy with, but my voice over is… uninspiring. The camera I had access to was pretty low quality and I wasn’t happy with the result, so there is no ‘face time’, which I think would have helped, even if it was 30 seconds at the end. If I did it again, I would invest in doing it professionally.

The Rewards: It took me maybe four hours after I launched to realize that I had screwed up the rewards, and by then it was too late. I left a significant gap between $25 and $50, which could have easily been filled. Granted, some of the pieces of art were contributed later, but I still could have filled it with something. In leaving those gaps, I took some good opportunities away. I also overpriced the named character rewards- at least for a minor character. I think if I had offered that at the $35 level from the beginning, this blog post is going in a very different direction.

Side note that backs all that up: Average Kickstarter pledge is $35, for 3024AD it was $27. Even with the same number of backers, that’s a $400 difference. There should have been more incentive to go from $25 to $35 or more.

The Pitch: I don’t feel too bad about it, but given that there was a decent number of interviews and guest posts that I did floating around out there, apparently I could have sold it better.

It’s not steampunk, zombie, Cthulu or sex-themed: Well, that’s just me being bitter, but there is certainly a popularity curve. The thing I have found with 3024AD is there is a layer people have to get past- once they do, they love it, fairly universally, but for some reason it lacks some manner of curb appeal.

I’ll have more on what is next for 3024AD in a separate post. For now, thank you again for all the support and for reading. It means more than you can possibly know.


Kickstarter: Thinking Big

If you pop over to the Kickstarter page and scroll down a bit, you’ll see some of the bigger rewards. For $250, here’s what you get:

  • The bookmarks
  • Sticker pack
  • Signed postcard of the cover art
  • 8×10 prints of Digger & Sabrina concept art and of the cover (all signed)
  • Full size print of ‘Unforgiving’
  • A main character in Short Stories- Series Two will be named for you. Not some jackass with a couple lines, but the guy the story is actually about.
  • If you are one of the next six people to pledge over $35, you’ll also get a piece of original art from cover artist Pete Pachoumis

But wait there’s more: If you pledge $500 (or more), you’ll get that pile o’ goodness, except the main character will be you. Not just named for you- you and I will talk and the character and story will be tailored to you. Want to be a space pirate? Done. Soldier? Smuggler? This story is all about you. Also, that piece of original art? It will be of your character.

Take a look– I know it’s not for everyone, but that’s what makes it special.


Kickstarter Journal: Hours

So the Kickstarter has now reached the point where is counts down hours, not days.

That’s not nerve wracking or anything. About that: Help my nerves by backing now! It’s like you get to be a doctor!
What, you want content, not me beating you over the head to back the Kickstarter? How about both?

Writing 3024AD is pretty much the funnest thing right now. I love sitting down and immersing myself in this universe. It’s just so fun to connect all the dots, see how story lines intersect and how characters and events are related.

This first collection of short stories serves as much as an introduction to 3024AD as anything. The main character of Digger, he of the mysterious past and malicious intent, ties the whole thing together. Connected to him- sometimes directly, other times, not so much- are characters who he crosses paths with who have their own stories told. A couple are disconnected, according to the proper of this collection, from him, but connect much later.

I also say introduction because some of the most influential events are not even described- but will be later, because it takes place directly in another story. The reams of notes I have are aching to be written, and I can’t get them fast enough. Series Two of the shorts starts in November, and the novel will be done by years end.

This is just the beginning folks. Thanks for coming along for the ride.