MeiLin's blog

Today from the 'Weenies: Punkie Night '10 and Infernal Lover

  • Posted on: 19 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

This is a revival of a rare favorite, I think from 2007? 2006? Before I started collecting BPAL at any rate. I'm pasting in the entire description:

Once upon a time, on a wild October night many years ago, a fair took place at Chiselborough. The men of the village of Hinton St. George made their way to the fair, and spent the night in revelry, drinking and carrying on, far into the darkest hours. Their wives grew concerned, and went looking for their unruly husbands. In order to see their way through the autumn gloom, they hollowed out mangel-wurzels and crafted them into makeshift lanterns. The drunken men, in their sloshy haze, saw the ghostly lights approaching, and believed them to be goolies -- the furious spirits of unbaptized children. In terror, they fled in panic from their bemused, bewildered wives.

To this day, that night of foolishness is still celebrated! This is a light-hearted scent: apple orchards, bright cranberries, and a touch of warm cider.

Longtime readers will note that "mangel-wurzel" aka turnip jack-o-lanterns are tradition at our house on Halloween, so that and the scent notes have had me impatient for this one.

In the decant: Apples apples apples! yay, apples! I love apple scents. A tiny hit of tartness in the back.

Wet: Very reminiscent of a Chaos Theory* I have that I call "apple tree": wood, blooms and fruit all at once. That, and cider spice and a little cranberry candle. So far I love it, and it's different enough from Fearful Pleasure and Lambswool (two other fave apple scents) to make me go WANT.

Dry: Now it's smelling sorta Yankee Candle-like. Not sure how I feel about it.

Verdict: A decant may be enough. I like Fearful Pleasure and Lambswool better, and I have bottles of each--two in the case of FP.

Infernal Lover is supposed to smell like:

A creamy, sensual, honeyed red musk.

...but like most things infernal, it lies. No honey, no creaminess, just red musk. Which on me turns to generic headshop. Sad

Today from the Weenies: Infernal Lover

  • Posted on: 16 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I got my Halloweenie decants from BPAL yesterday--probably the last purchase in a while until things pick up or I get back to selling more BPAL. I'm kinda in sales fatigue right now.

First up is Infernal Lover, which was my "ZOMG I hope this works on me" scent from this batch. I mean, look at this description:

A creamy, sensual, honeyed red musk.

Yeah, baby, that's what I want!

Sadly, like all infernal things, Infernal Lover lies. In the decant, it's red musk, which always smells to my nose like musk and patchouli. Wet, it remains the same. Dry, it sweetens, but doesn't change enough for me to really notice that much.

Relieved Mei is relieved.

Work on Book Two Begins

  • Posted on: 13 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I've been asked a few times, so I thought I'd say a little something:

I've begun the initial construction of book two. I have the plot mostly laid out--it's a doozy--but I want to work a little on the overall story arc of the entire series as well. I'm starting that today.

The next book is tentatively titled "Mothers and Fathers." It picks up, I believe, about a year after "Lovers and Beloveds." Those of you who've read the first draft: it will blow your little minds. Smile It should be out, Eddin willing, in late 2011.

But not unless I get working. so, bye. Smile

Site and Book News 9/10/10

  • Posted on: 10 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Some little things:

Book-related
I'm almost into the double digits on ebook sales, which is less than I'd hoped but more than I expected. Smile I'll take it, especially since it's only been up for two days.

A weird side effect--either that, or someone linked to it from somewhere--is that downloads for the free Scryer's Gulch ebook of episodes 1-10 have gone through the roof! When I went to bed last night, it had been downloaded something around 925 times. When last I checked today, it had been downloaded 1350 times! It's well on its way to breaking 1400. Wow! I hope it results in more fans for the Gulch.

I'm considering writing a Rabbit Runnels story for Circlet Press's "Like a Moonrise" erotica anthology about shapeshifters. Two problems: for one, the Gulch is pg-13; for seconds, Rabbit turns into a rabbit. Cecilia said, "Well, rabbits have a lot of sex, don't they?" Smile I'm pondering.

Site news
I still haven't solved the IE/Safari logged-in problem. I've filed a bug report but haven't heard anything. It's nothing I can solve with CSS; the theme is sending back inaccurate markup, and it's unpredictable. Some folks with IE see everything just as it should be. It's weird.

You can now support the site via Kachingle, which is a micropayment service; you put $5 a month into your Kachingle account, and then you can dole out fractions of it to various sites that accept Kachingle. You could support 20 sites at 25 cents a month, for instance. Smile Every little bit helps. The Kachingle medallion's on the right toward the bottom of the page.

Guest Blog: Cecilia Tan on Modern Magic

  • Posted on: 9 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Today's guest blog is by Cecilia Tan, award-winning writer and genius behind Circlet Press, where they make delicious, peanut butter cuppy "you got your erotica in my genre" books. Her webserial, Daron's Guitar Chronicles, beat me in the Rose and Bay Awards, and her erotic webserial "The Prince's Boy" (at Circlet) updates on Wednesdays. Take it away, Cecilia!

When I was getting my graduate degree in writing, professors would invariably quote the old saw, "Write what you know." Of course, these were the same professors who tried to pretend that genre fiction didn't exist. Romance, mystery, fantasy, horror... these things did not enter their reality.

However if there is one thing I learned while getting that masters degree, it is that good writing is good writing, regardless of genre or label. Strong dialogue, crisp prose, deft characterization, these are essential no matter whether one is creating Literary Fiction or category romance.

So where does that leave us with "Write what you know" if what we are writing is fantasy? If our subject is not real... like magic? Well, there are two possible answers, and since I do not believe in binaries, I say they are BOTH correct. One tactic is to forge ahead as if the imaginary is real, and do research on it. The other is to write what you "know" is true in the depths of your subconscious imagination. Both facts and apocrypha are necessary to create a "fictional truth" that will resonate with readers. Versimilitude is more important than factual accuracy in all fiction, but especially when the "facts" are something of our invention.

In my Magic University series of books, I imagine a hidden magical university inside Harvard. Our hero lands there, Harry-Potter-like, discovering that he is magical. Like any college freshman, he enters a whole new world of love and freedom, only he's got an even bigger world to discover than most. I have the advantage here that my main character does not know more than my readers at the start. Everyone will get a chance to come up to speed as Kyle begins to not only take classes but just finds out everything he can about this hidden world he never knew.

I've been able to create a mixture of "real" magic and stuff of my own invention. I start from the point of view that anything that mundane folk have heard about magic, whether in Greek myths or in fairy tales or what, is probably true... although the mundanes might have it slightly wrong. Tarot cards are one of the things mundanes have mostly right, because they "escaped" into the mundane world before the magical world went into hiding. I use Tarot symbolism as motifs and even some readings in the plot, working them in such that a reader who knows nothing about the Tarot should still enjoy it, but anyone who does know the cards might glean some extra enjoyment from the text. The titles of the books even refer to some cards; The Tower and the Tears has not only a literal tower, but a metaphorical one.

I'm only comfortable writing so much card interpretation into the story, of course, because it is something I know pretty well myself. If all I were doing was looking up card meanings on Wikipedia, I think it would probably come off stiff and dry.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the subject of Esoteric Arts, which Kyle decides to study in book two of the series. Esoteric Arts is a euphemism for Erotic Magic, and our hero soon finds himself in some very steamy situations. In this case I did not try to include more than passing references to tantra and known forms of sex magic among the non-magical peoples of the world, and instead followed my instincts to create something that had an internal logic of its own that worked within my book.

One of the major differences between my books and J. K. Rowling's (well, besides all the sex...) is that magic in my universe carries specific prices in terms of energy and how power is gathered and expended. My magic users (As Kyle learns his first day, we don't use the term "wizards." Too patriarchal.) don't pour their tea or scratch their asses with magic--it'd be too tiring! On the other hand, spend a few weeks doing the proper meditations and exercises, and you could muster enough energy to turn a pumpkin into a coach and mice into liveried footmen, all in one go! That's what one of Kyle's housemates does for her junior thesis project in The Siren and the Sword.

If I've really succeeded at making the magic believable, then readers won't even be able to tell where my research leaves off and my imagination takes over. If I can do that, I can lead the reader on a merry ride where everything seems possible.

Thanks, Cecilia!

About the Author: Cecilia Tan is a writer, editor, and the founder of Circlet Press.. She is the author of many books, including Mind Games, The Hot Streak, White Flames, Edge Plays, Black Feathers, The Velderet, and Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords, as well as the Magic University series of paranormal erotic romances, and the currently ongoing web serials The Prince's Boy and Daron's Guitar Chronicles. She has the distinction of being perhaps the only writer to have erotic fiction published in both Penthouse and Ms. magazines, as well as in scores of other magazines and anthologies including Asimov’s, Best American Erotica, and Nerve. Learn more at http://blog.ceciliatan.com.

Help me debug

  • Posted on: 6 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I'm tracking down the error that makes the menu display weird in IE 7 and 8. I think I found the error, and for once it's not me! \o/ But I need some screenshots, both logged-in and logged-out, and even better would be if you could send me logged-in and logged-out raw sources of the page (go to "view source" under "View" in your browser, save the source file, send it to me with an indicator of whether it's logged-in or logged-out).

THANK YOU. This is driving me bananas.

Are You Guys Ready!

  • Posted on: 5 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Because LaB goes live at midnight Pacific time! That's 3 am eastern, -7 GMT, so you can figure it for your time zone from that. I thought about releasing it at midnight eastern, but thought no, I'm in the Pacific time zone, and there's that.

I hope you guys like it, and thank you for sticking with me through the wait. Tell everyone you know who used to read that it's back, it's different, and they're gonna want to read it.

Brainstorming publicity ideas

  • Posted on: 2 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I have a psychic friend named Ruby. Like, a professional psychic; Ruby is really good, scary good. She's rarely wrong. She told me the book was going to be a "blockbuster." I am trying to believe she's right on this one, too, though I don't need a blockbuster; all I need is a "good seller."

I asked her what her guide had to say about getting the word out. She said, "You're looking at this as if you're facing this huge mountain."

Which is true. As an independent, the deck is stacked against me. Reviewers won't read my work no matter how good it is because it's self-published. Bookstores won't carry me because I can't buy the shelf space and I can't afford to accept returns. I have a tiny ad budget compared to the majors.

"You are looking at this the wrong way," said Ruby. "You're looking at this as if you're facing a mountain and you've got to climb over it. Don't climb over it. Go around it."

When I let myself be scared, I think I'm out here by myself, no publisher, just me.

Then I remember, I'm not alone.

I've got you guys.

Help me figure out how to go around the mountain.

We're brainstorming here, so I'd like to keep crosstalk to a minimum--don't tell me why someone's idea won't work, tell me what YOUR idea is. The hubby and I sat down a couple days ago and came up with this list:

  • Blog tour: I've already got an offer to blog for Circlet Press. I need to come up with other possible blogs that might let me guest post or who'd review the book. Ideas for that would be great.
  • Sample of LaB, and all of Gulch vol 1, to alt.binaries.ebooks
  • Queer resource communities outreach
  • Libaries: I plan on donating copies of both LaB and the Gulch to my local library, and I'm going to ask you guys to consider doing that, too. (Just remember: if your library has Laurell K. Hamilton, it can have LaB too.)
  • Ebook contests: I need good avenues besides Twitter and Facebook.
  • Sample chapters in text files you can email to friends--the hubby suggested maybe asking people to carry a sample file on a USB key for instant download to your friends' devices.
  • Flyers: you-print downloads for people to use on college bulletin boards, hand out at conventions, and the like.

Your turn.

Pre-orders for Book One are open!

  • Posted on: 1 September 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Lovers and Beloveds is now available for pre-order direct and autographed from me. The cover price is $14.95, not bad for 144,000 words of entertainment. If you tried to reserve your copy and couldn't, try now; I didn't put a weight in for the book, and the store barfed when people tried to order.

Initial reviews are coming in, and while folks have found a couple dozen typos, egregiously repeatedly misspelled words, and one major gaffe, so far no one's asked for his or her money back. This is a Good Thing, because right now all the money I've got is on hold for the book buy. Smile

Actually people have been pretty darn happy. I've gotten at least five letters from readers who've already gotten all the way through, and the word "love" was used a lot.

Now on to Marketing Madness, which means redesigning the website. Again. This is actually a Good Thing, because it will be a lot less cluttered when I'm done.

Spoilerville (updated)

  • Posted on: 31 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

UPDATE Spoilerville is down till I figure out how not to spoil people accidentally.

There is now a section on the site called "Spoilerville." This is where discussion of the book(s ) for those who read the whole thing at once will go. Currently it contains one subforum: "Lovers and Beloveds."

DO NOT ENTER THAT FORUM UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED. srsly.

Because that forum exists, I ask you now to please keep spoilers out of episode discussions on the free pages. Don't even spoiler tag them. Please. Just keep 'em to Spoilerville.

Thank you and I love you all madly today.

Done.

  • Posted on: 31 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Mark the time: 9:30 pm Pacific Daylight Time, Monday, August 30th, 2010.

I'm done. I've finished book one.

I need to compile the acknowledgment list and write a quick appendix. Then out it goes to the pre-salers. I'm going to wait a couple of days in case someone finds something egregious, and to make sure everyone's got their acknowledgments right, then off to the typographer.

[This was supposed to have been posted last night. The husband has set the router to turn my internet access off at 10 pm--for good reason.]

Days

  • Posted on: 30 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I am within days, possibly hours, of putting this thing to bed. I got my last batch of feedback in an epic 4 hour phone call with Karen, I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the notes from the call, and when I've wrapped it up, I'm putting the manuscript to bed.

When I put it to bed, it goes out to the pre-salers in raw form. I'm sure they may find typos, hopefully not many, and hopefully no repeated paragraphs. (I'm hoping that my dear pre-salers will tell me if they find such.)

I'm going to open a conversation in the forum to brainstorm marketing ideas. I'm also, yes, going to be redesigning the website. Shocked

Don't hold me to it, but I think we'll start serialization here on 9/6/10. Thanks, everyone, for the year-plus patience you've all had.

If you are a pre-saler...

  • Posted on: 25 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

...I am putting together the acknowledgments. If you haven't told me what name you want in them, and you haven't told me what name you want the book signed to, PM me or email me. I emailed a bunch of you to ask; please check your spam filters, since gmail especially hates me.

Yes, close. I have incorporated Netta's final (astonishingly few) edits, and am getting comments from Karen starting tomorrow. I will have the raw manuscript out to presalers no later than 9/15.

I am terrified.

Skip week on Scryer's (and book 1 update)

  • Posted on: 23 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Two reasons:

1) I'm on vacation, the first one I've had in two years, if you can count that one as a vacation; a client ruined it.

2) I got the manuscript for "Lovers and Beloveds" back from Netta this morning! I'm still waiting on my "fresh reader" to weigh in. Netta says I have very few issues to deal with in this iteration.

What that means: I should have the bare manuscript out to pre-salers no later than September 15th. I am aiming for a print publication date of 10/15/10. Please, Eddin, make this possible.

Ninety-nine bottles of BPAL in the envelope, ninety-nine bottles of BPAL...

  • Posted on: 9 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I've been selling off a chunk of my collection. To my astonishment, I've sold about a third of what I listed--a fuckload of BPAL. Velvet Ackbar (aka Sir) and I have been getting it ready to ship and there was so much of it I got a literal case of the vapors and had to step away. RAGING headache. We've gone through three rolls of plumber's tape (what you use to wrap the tops of bottles to keep them from leaking) and we're nowhere near done.

I was hoping to have stuff shipped out faster than this. The sale started on what, the 5th? 6th? But the orders came in so fast I couldn't keep up. I should have at least a few of the packages out tomorrow.

25% off tank tees in the shop!

  • Posted on: 9 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Hey, if you've been thinking about buying a t-shirt, I've got a coupon for you! Use NOSLEEVES for 25% off the following:

* Men's Muscle Tee
* Female Longer Length Tank
* Women's Scoop Neck Racerback Tank
* Women's Spaghetti Strap Tank
* Women's Sleeveless V-Neck Tee
* Women's Camisole Top

If there's a design you want but I don't have the right style (you can choose any color in any tee, by the way, not just the one pictured), ping me and I'm happy to pungle one up for you.

The coupon is good from August 9th through the 27th, 2010. Check it out at Spreadshirt!

Wanna buy some BPAL? Or send me money? Or something?

  • Posted on: 3 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

I'm selling off a good chunk of my collection; times are hard, to put it mildly. You have to join the forum to see it, but that's a Good Thing:

http://www.bpal.org/index.php?showtopic=69710&view=getnewpost&hl=&fromse...

If you really don't want to join and you're interested in something, ask me. I may have it. I have PILES of general catalog imps, for instance, and a number of Limited Edition decants.

And if you've thought about donating at any time, now would be a good one. Or you could buy something at Amazon via my link. Or you could buy a book from me.

The wolf is sniffing round the door, I'm afraid.

Today from the BPAL horde: Fledgling Raptor Moon

  • Posted on: 2 August 2010
  • By: MeiLin

At chu's request, here's a review of Fledgling Raptor Moon, a half-bottle of which arrived with a half-bottle of Tiki Princess, the last two BPALs I'm going to be able to buy for a while.

I went on a teeny mini-spree, buying three really inexpensive but reliable fountain pens and some ink, and I'm tapped out possibly for the year on "extra" purchases. Ah well. Easy come, easy go. Plus also you'll get your books signed in cool ink: Black Cherry ink, who wouldn't want that! I'm finding I dig the inks more than the pens and will probably go with good but cheap pens, one for each color group, preferably color-coded. So far I have a black one, a red one, and a brown one; I want to get a blue one, a green one, and a violet one, and perhaps an orange one. Oy. Next year, definitely on the Yule list. I want every color in Diamine inks. Every one of them. When I'm rich and famous, har har...

But this is supposed to be about BPAL, not pens!

Fledgling Raptor Moon:

Warm, soft tufts of down and gleaming tawny feathers: clove, toasted sandalwood, aged patchouli, bourbon vanilla, carnation, massoia bark, hinoki wood, and West Indian Bay.

In the bottle: Soft and sweet. Vanilla, sandalwood, something sweet--I think the bark and possibly the carnation, but I'm not getting the characteristic spiciness of either that or the clove. Way in the back is the bay.

Wet: I'm getting a "clean animal" smell, like your cats when they've been outside--a laundry-from-the-line feeling, but no cotton or linen overtone. Something warm from the sun. The carnation is coming out, along with the clove. This is very subtle and I think it'll be an early fader. So far I'm nuts for it. It reminds me of Ivanushka minus the fur. I'm probably misremembering, and will have to "split test."

Dry: Carnation, dry sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, a tiny bit of clove. Still soft and somewhat cuddly.

I like it. It'll be a comfort scent, I think, but not as comforting as my new favorite, Gypsy. I really need a backup bottle of Gypsy. I wish I'd gambled on a full bottle instead of a half-bottle, and I hope I can find one (or several decants) when funds loosen up.

A weird-ass dream

  • Posted on: 29 July 2010
  • By: MeiLin

This one was so detailed and long I wrote it down the minute I woke up, and so crazy I thought you guys might be entertained:

It started at a small brick house. In the yard stood a very large, V-on-its-side-type real estate sign: the house and an abandoned factory or school (or maybe both, considering how I feel about schools) next to it were for sale. The house had a small plaque at the door saying it had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The man who showed me around was an odd, greasy, rather grizzled man with bad teeth who I realized after I woke up was a neighbor of mine 25 or so years ago, when I lived in a huge old house that had been divided into apartments. He lived in the teenist of the apartments, which he'd filled with bits of computers and teletype machines. This was reality, by the way, not the dream.

Anyway, back to the dream. The man showed me around. The house was small, and had been subjected to years of neglect and bad remodeling. Wright would have been appalled.

I went back outside; a large tour group was looking through the much larger factory or whatever it was, that was being used as an art installation while it awaited sale and its later fate. Across the street stood an accordion player; a sign at his feet insisted he was David Bowie, and in fact, he was playing Bowie. But it definitely wasn't Bowie. Four women separated from the tour group to go see him play. They were Africans, dressed in headwraps and matching dresses, very bright, like birds. Three of them were old grannies, short, and as wide as they were tall; they wore little round sunglasses, and were very grave. The fourth was young, tall and thin, still gangly, with elbows and knees like little knobs. They all began dancing, the grannies in a synchronized line, their steps deliberate and slow--they were quite old--but grimly gleeful. The young woman danced all arms and legs, almost flailing. They heard a rhythm in the music that I did not.

It was time for me to join the tour group. I was the last in line, and it moved slowly; there was a bottleneck. The bottleneck, when I reached it, turned out to be Neil Gaiman. He shook the hand of everyone who came by, and seemed in a state of quiet, despairing boredom. "Hello, MeiLin," he said. I hugged him, astonished that he recognized me; in the dream we had apparently met before. I hugged him again, awkwardly, and we went into the exhibit together. The awkwardness continued. In an attempt at conversation, I told him about the dancing grannies and the accordionist who thought he was David Bowie; Neil gave me a pained, distant look of resigned curiosity. He was not having a good day.

And then I woke up!

Status report 7/26/10

  • Posted on: 26 July 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Here's where we're at.

Book One Release Candidate One, aka bk1rc1, is with Netta and also Karen Wehrstein of Chevenga fame. Karen's taking a look as someone completely unfamiliar with the story, its characters, and its world. It'll be interesting to see if she can make heads or tails of it.

Alice Fox has produced a preliminary color version; we're still tweaking, and by we I mean Alice. I just kibitz. Smile You've seen the black and white concept art; wait until you see it in color. I burst into tears myself, but then, I'm hormonal. Your Mileage May Vary.

When the manuscript finalizes, which I'm hoping will happen around the middle of next month, the pre-salers will get it and about a week or two after that the first little bit of story will go up here for everyone. I want to have a little bit up before the book launches. The book itself looks to be on track for full release 9/1/10, but I still don't want to give an official date yet.

On Crowdfunding

  • Posted on: 18 July 2010
  • By: MeiLin

This is cross-posted from the Crowdfunding community at LiveJournal, where I was asked, "How did you do this thing, anyway?"

I did it. I crowdfunded a novel. I'm hesitant to say, "So can you," for two reasons:

1. You have to have something people want. This depends entirely on you. I can't tell you how to write an awesome book or make awesome art, for instance. You have to be good, you have to have something that people can look at and say, "I want it. I want more of it." Understand: I don't think I'm "all that," but apparently there is an audience for what I do, and they want more of it.

Mass marketability is not the issue. It's finding the group that wants your stuff. Not everyone has something people want. Maybe it's not proofread well enough. Maybe it's still a little derivative. Maybe the style and grammar are shaky. (I'm speaking in writing terms because that's what I know, by the way. Feel free to insert your discipline's terms here.) Maybe it's just not very good--yet. And that's the operative word. You can get better. Focus on your craft first.

But you already know that.

2. You have to take a professional stance. If this is a hobby, don't bother. You don't have to work at it full time, but it has to be more than something you fool around with on weekends, something you do to while away the hours. You have to want it. You have to be willing to commit time, thought, soul and yes, money.

Let's say you've got something you know will connect with an audience--remember, it doesn't matter if it's not "everyone," just as long as it's a big enough chunk of "someones." I crowdfunded the novel based on an audience at its height of 2,000 people. And you're willing to take yourself and your work seriously. Don't confuse taking yourself seriously with a swelled head. You can know exactly how good (or bad) your work is, how far you have to go to make it awesome, and still take your work seriously.

OK, then, now what?

Be willing to market yourself and your work. Yep, YOURSELF. The big key to crowdfunding, I think, is the artist's willingness to put himself out there, to say this is who I am, this is what I'm about, in a way that defines him in the minds of the audience in a specific way. In other words: Branding. You have to be willing to work on your brand.

Marketing can include everything from paid advertising to including a brief reference to your work in every signature file you have, from forums to email. The scope of marketing is far too big for me to put in a little LJ post, and I'm learning as I go along; I only have so much to pass on to all y'all. Smile

Branding, at the very least, includes having your own domain and a professional-looking website. In my case, I have it easy: I'm a professional web developer, so starting and developing a website was simple. (I do it for other web fiction writers over at DigitalNovelists.com, as well as for people on their own domains like Karen Wehrstein.) I also got a logo. I have a client who's a graphic artist; I trade him design now and again in exchange for hosting his website.

Commit to, and respect, your audience. If you do something online like a serial or comic, hit your marks--make your updates when you say you will--or tell your readers as soon as possible as many ways as possible that you're going to miss your deadline and why. I've watched a fairly well-known web writer lose more than half of her audience because she didn't tell people she was going to miss an update, and didn't say why--not once but repeatedly. Luckily for her, she'd already developed a huge audience, and still has one larger than mine, even at half of what it was. Most of us do not have that luxury.

Respecting your audience also means paying attention to detail. We forget things like what color a character's eyes are. They remember. Boy, do they ever. Smile Another way to commit to your audience is to let them see who you are. I blog about all kinds of things besides writing--my hapless perfume addiction, for example. Don't be afraid to show yourself. Respond to comments. Encourage readers to talk amongst themselves.

Give your audience free stuff. You don't have to give them everything, but you have to give them something, and something good, for free. What has come to be called the Wall Street Journal method puts out all the popular stuff, the stuff most people want, for free, and puts the specialized stuff behind the paywall: niche stuff, news about markets that doesn't appeal to the mass of readers but appeals very much to a certain class of readers. It works for them. Other people put out samples of their work and put the rest behind the paywall. Personally I don't think that's enough, but if it works for them, that's awesome.

I gave the audience ALL my stuff for free--300,000 words, approximately, of what's come to be known as the Crappy First Draft. (I named it that.) The finished book is going to be available for free in installments spread out over a year. You have to pay to read the Crappy First Draft. ( I tell them they must pay for my shame.) One would think that's backwards, but so far, 20 people are paying me $5 a month for access to the CFD and some other incidental content behind the paywall.

Advertising can be expensive, and it can also be the key to bringing in an audience. I spent about $100-200 getting my site launched. It paid off. Wink Project Wonderful is what I used. I bought a few ads on sites likely to have the kinds of readers I wanted, and monitored the hell outta those ads. I aim for less than four cents a click. I have PW ad boxes on my own sites now, and while I could draw on those funds for unimportant stuff like groceries, I keep it instead as an advertising fund of my own; what I make goes straight back in to pay for ads. I'm building a little war chest for the book launch right now.

Once you've got readers, tell them what you need to make things work, and then ask for it. Just ask for it. They might actually give it to you. As an "I wanna pony"-type joke, I asked for a Kindle on my Amazon wish list. One of my readers bought it for me. Shocked (Incidentally, I love it.)

Set targets. For instance, it became clear that the serial was really a set of novels, and that I needed some professional help. I asked for the money to hire an editor. I needed $1,000. I had $500 saved up, and I asked the readers for the other $500. I came up with a "coffee mug and tote bag" package, just like in public broadcasting. For $50, they will get: the finished manuscript the minute it's done; an autographed copy of the book; the ebook version; and a thank-you in the acknowledgments. I thought it'd take a few months to raise it, or that it wouldn't come at all.

The $500 was in my hands in 48 hours.

When I then closed the pre-sale, a bunch of people yelled at me to let them pay the other $500, so I did. Smile That was in hand in a week. Then I got yelled at some more, so I left the pre-sale open. Over the next year and a half or so, I raised another $1500. And there's what I needed to put the book out professionally.

Reading all this back, I feel like I'm not answering the question. It's not a bullet-pointy kind of thing. I'm still figuring out myself how this happened--I didn't set out to do this, and I'm as amazed as anyone, maybe more so.

If I had to bullet-point it, it'd go something like:

* Be professional
* Invest in branding
* Respect your work
* Respect yourself
* Be vulnerable
* Respect your audience
* Give them good stuff for free
* Ask for what you need

In The Artist's Way, a book I recommend highly, Julia Cameron says that the artists we have all heard of may not be our most talented; they're our most audacious. So why not be audacious?

"Who do you think you are?" I hear that question in my head all the time. "How self-centered, how egotistical--how dare you just ask for what you need? How dare you think you're good enough to just ask for what you need? Who do you think you are?" Well, I thought I was someone who needed money to put a book out. So I asked for it, expecting nothing. And it came.

Who do you think you are?

Don't be afraid to ask.

A massive thank you

  • Posted on: 16 July 2010
  • By: MeiLin

Fifty people contributed about $2500 to have this book produced properly. That is fucking amazing.

Some of you have called it the first crowdfunded novel; it isn't, but it's one of the few, and it may be the first to come out of the webserial community. I'm not sure.

Either way, I am grateful to those fifty people more than anyone can ever imagine. I only started taking this project seriously--as in, gee, maybe I can write and maybe people really do like it for more than the juicy bits--when we raised the first $1,000 for Nettah the Edditah. That's what made me sit up and take notice: people really cared about the story, enough to put dollars on the line for me with no return other than the story.

I only personally know one of the fifty. This isn't friends and family indulging me. It's not an investment or loan--they're not getting the money back. I now have a deep responsibility to give them, and the rest of you by extension, the best story I can. I really, really hope you'll think so when you read it.

The beta group is more or less done; things have evolved into discussions of chocolate. Apparently just the mention of white chocolate is enough to bring out the partisans. So I think they're done. Wink I'm going to compile and load into my Kindle now. When you've been staring at something as long as I have in one format, it's time to move to a second because at this point you stop seeing things. It may also be time to send the compilation on to Netta and Karen.

Anyway.

This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am so grateful, and I hope I can justify your support.

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