97% to go

Our Kickstarter went live last night.

I would embed it right here, but it won’t let me. So you’ll have to make do with the link. (If someone happens to have a suggestion for doing this, please do let me know)

HalloWEEn Tales Vol 1 by Golden Fleece Press

And aside from a serious amount of respect for the six or seven businesses that leapt on us like a rotting carcass on the Serengeti, it’s been mostly quiet panic in the corners. There are all sorts of things I could talk about with this experience. The joy of doing sock-puppets after too much caffeine and too little sleep. The sudden hiccups of certain internet bodies wanting your great-grandmother’s address and your first born child as proof you actually exist.

But I haven’t been home in nearly five days–for longer than I get to sleep–and it’s beautiful lounging weather tonight, so I’m going to get back to it. The puppets up there have everything of sense I’ve got to say.

Also, we’ve been live for a day and we’re at 3%. I’m a little afraid to do the math there.

New Projects, Old Projects, and Blue …erm…

The wonderful blush of new projects is always thrilling. We’ve decided to add another journal. (Still a secret as to what it is going to be.) Isn’t that great news? For writers it is. For our sanity, maybe not.

We’re setting up a Kickstarter for Wee Tales this weekend, so you’ll probably see something about that pop up here.

We’ve got a Patreon page now. You can support us, or find other artists, musicians or creators you love there. You can give a donation of a $1/month or more to someone who’s work you want to support. (And get some nifty benefits from it as well.)

We’ve got Wee Tales and Refractions fairly well handled at this point. At least in terms of finding content. We still need kid friendly/teen friendly art, so spread the word.

We’re starting to ramp up submission guidelines for our anthology series Fandom Universe. The first installment is going to be about Harry Potter. So, pick up those quills, Potterheads, and tell us what the series means to you. When did you read it? What has it done for you? Did you play college Quidditch? Enquiring minds want to know.

We’re chipping away at the slush pile. Right now I’m sure we’ve got an excellent turn-around time. How that’s going to look when we actually go into production, that’s another thing.

We haven’t found a good novel or series of novels from outside of our immediate circle yet. That doesn’t mean the novels we’ve received are bad, just that they’re not good for us. We need to be passionate about the work so that we can get it off the ground and give it wings. When we’re sort of “meh it might sell” we have to walk away.

As for the blue projects? Heh… those come in February when we open our erotica line.

Feedback and Tips

When we started this adventure, we hoped that we’d be able to give people personalized feedback. Unfortunately, we’ve already achieved a level of incoming submissions where that is not possible.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t or won’t do it as often as possible.

Given that, there are times when we can’t give feedback. Sometimes stories just don’t work and we can’t explain why. Sometimes we don’t have time to get into all of the things that need to be done to fix it. Sometimes the work is just so wrong that you can’t even begin to explain why.

So, here’s some tips for the people we can’t give personalized feedback:

  • Check out a few of the writing books we recommend: On Writing by Stephen King, The Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and The Write Great Fiction series.
  • Hit up Strunk and White for grammar.
  • Make sure that your use of “blue” language serves a purpose beyond being “shock value.”
  • Even short stories need to have a point and a plot arc. It can be very small and internal, but it needs to be there.
  • Let your main character be the hero.
  • Keep your target audience in mind. In general, kids read about either kids their age, or just a step above them. Teens are more sophisticated, but they aren’t yet adults.

And here’s a few tips on submissions in general:

  • Read the submission guidelines on the website of the publication.
  • Short bio means around 100-200 words long.
  • You do not need to, nor should you, list all of your publishing credits. Pick 2-5 relevant credits.
  • Spell-check is your friend.
  • Always, always be sure that you are submitting to the correct publication.
  • Wait for a response to one story before sending the next. (Unless they’re being submitted to different publications.)

There’s a few tips for you.

 

Crossed Posts and Crossed Fingers

How_they_met_themselves

How They Met Themselves by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1804.

 

 

One of the joys of the internet is the fact I can be in two places at once.

Hopefully not so much in the creepy way displayed in the painting there.

For a few months now, on my writer-ish blog I’ve been trying a rotation of theme days. Miscellaneous Monday, Well Written Wednesday, and Sci-Fi Friday. I fail about as often as I succeed. Ask any newspaper columnist ever about how not-simple repetitive content is.

But this week my themes line up, between this blog and the writerly one, so I’m cross posting. They will be as ships that pass in the night. Seriously, stop looking for ice-bergs, it’ll be fine.

Yes, alright. I’m being lazy and trying to write four blog posts this week instead of  five. So what? Were you–amorphous internet people you–going to offer to write one of those for me?

Didn’t think so.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday and that means we talk about things that are well-written. Or not as a case may be.

There’s been a sudden increase of slush pile in my life lately. And I know what writers think and say about the dreaded Slush. Let me tell you about the Slush from the other side.

Golden Fleece Press isn’t by any means my first experience with a slush-pile. I’ve had plenty of occasion in my life to read things that should never have seen the light of day. I once reviewed a romance novel that has forever become my yard-stick for fail on a level I can barely articulate. It was long, and awful, and shaped about eighty percent of my views on the usefulness of historical accuracy in entertainment.

There was another one that involved badly conceived time-travel and characters even biblical-level plague would have been too good an end for.

I once rather stupidly, in the annals of my life squiring writers, offered online assistance to literally anyone who wanted help with their novel plot. What followed was three hours of incomprehensible, werewolf-themed shenanigans I will never get back and I feel their absence keenly.

These are the worst cases. The hyperbole–great spaghetti monster in the sky do I wish it was–infused funnies. The truly bad. But we all have ideas that die on the vine, or that should die on the vine. Apparently there’s a knack for learning which ones those are. I can sympathize with that, even if I’m doing it backwards and sideways over my rolled eyes because just why.

What I can’t get, I refuse to get, are the misplaced submissions. Why would you relegate yourself to the slush needlessly? And also we said it was a journal for children. Have you met children? They’re the little things we used to be before life taught us there were worse things than spinach and math homework. We wanted Bunnicula, not Pet Cemetery.

Alright. Rant over. Maybe later I’ll spill into all the ways YA is the deadest vibrant market I’ve ever beheld.

Fingers crossed next week’s round of slush will be from people who once held an affinity for celery-desiccating bunnies.

Kate and I both have been really positive about how awesome it is to start your own business, even when it’s a little scary. We’ve told you about setting things up, and finding time for the things you love around the things you suddenly need to do. We’ve told you about our utter, wanton disregard for the avoidance of snowballs. But little of that’s been business stuff.

There’s nothing like designing your own spread-sheet to remind you why economists say the book business is failing.

From the author side ten percent royalties sound like a jip. What does a publisher even do, to deserve that? You wrote the thing, slaved over your own little monkey brain for months/years/eons. Missed movies and dinners and sleep creating a whole universe to pour onto paper, and you’re only supposed to get ten-percent of that? And that’s ten percent of net. Clearly the book-business is failing because big publishing is greedy.

Yeah. I could line all the numbers out here and defend them, to a point. I’ve never been anti-‘big six’ the way a lot of people in the independent book industry are. They’re slow, and committed to convincing the rest of us the business model needs to look the way they say it needs to look, but that’s not necessarily the same thing as greedy. Someone reminded me recently–which I didn’t need–that when you own your own business you’re the last person to get paid. Ten percent royalty to authors might net us enough to pay general ‘over-head’ personnel (Kate, Minion, and myself) minimum wage–sometime next year or the year after. And that’s assuming all our sales are better than average.

And those are our numbers. Small distribution, small market, homespun numbers with the smallest amount of over-head you can legitimately get away with.

Of course we’re not paying 10% royalty. I wouldn’t sign that, and I damn skippy wouldn’t expect you to. And we’re not any of us in this for a paycheck–even a minimum wage one–but it’s a sobering understanding to have. It’s been my experience authors don’t consider enough what has to happen once their part is done, and I could go into how that shapes my opinion on self-publishing, but that’s a topic for another day.

Mostly I’ve just been trying to avoid Excel and another column of numbers.

The blog title is there for a reason.

The Things She Keeps

Last week I talked about what you have to give up to make your business successful.

This week I want a more cheerful topic. There are a lot of things that will always stay in my life. Some of them even more so, now that I’ve got a nice tight schedule.

My first love will always be writing. I cannot and will not give that up. No matter how stressed I am, I have always and will always be able to fit writing into the cracks. Granted, the nights of multiple sessions of writing are probably done and gone. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t be hacking away at the next book, next story, or even the next blog post while I’m putting off doing something required.

And I get to justify my book habit now. I’m doing market research. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) So those three new books I picked up? Justified. Totally justified.

I’ve jumped head first into twitter and social media. I’m torn about whether or not this is a good thing, but there is the undeniable fact that I can spend hours on tweeting and blogs.

I get to use all of those marketing ideas that have been floating around in my head. As much as I refused to go into the field, I’ve always been drawing to marketing. I’m a psychologist by training. Figuring out how the mind works and how to get people’s attention is just what I do. (Look, Ma, I’m using my degree!)

Let’s not forget the company of friends. I actually have more of a social life because of my businesses than I ever had before. And if I just worked a regular nine to five, I’d … still be reading and writing and thinking up ways to make money. I wouldn’t be stalking the wild donut at midnight while writing contracts. I wouldn’t be laughing about shared minion jokes. I wouldn’t see my friend KR nearly as much if we weren’t in business together. I have to give GFP props, it’s gotten me out of the house more than anything else.

And, hey, what’s the point of owning your own business(es) if you don’t enjoy them?

So, all of you, go out there and create something! It doesn’t have to be a story. It can be art. It can be a new sport. It can be a business. Heck, it can be a Tumblr account devoted to Sherlock Holmes. Just make something.

By Passion Shorn

So, one of my friends was trying to convince me to start up the adult line of GFP while JM was away with her family over the fourth. Of course, this conversation also included laser-cats and web-hosting sites, so it was a bit less than serious.

At the same time, I’m not sure that I’m ready to jump into the deep end of that pool. I have absolutely nothing against erotica. And, well, I’m sure I can find material for it that’s good enough to publish. (And some that’s just satire.)

It’s just that most of our current projects are more… family friendly, let’s say. We have children’s books and journals for kids and teens. Even the first novel that’s slated to come out is no more adult than some of the YA I’ve read recently. So, if we were to create By Passion Shorn, I’m not sure that it will fit the catalog for the first six months.

Then again… I’m beginning to get a picture of a rancher in a tight black tee-shirt and jeans with a big belt-buckle at his waist, a cowboy hat dipping down to shade his face and a pair of clippers in his hand near his chest. It’s the banner for By Passion Shorn. No! No! Step away from the shiny new idea. Talk about something else. Anything else before the blurbing starts. Who am I kidding? It’s too late: “Stories that sheer away the fluff and get right to the action.” Or “He was tough, but gentle hands slowly stripped his heart bare.”

Oh, twitter, I am so going to have a topic for you soon…

(By Passion Shorn is not yet a line of Golden Fleece Press. Not this year at least. Unless of course we start seeing some really good pieces…)