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Adventures in Crowdfunding 24 January 2013

Posted by Camille Gooderham Campbell in News & Announcements, Publishing Industry.
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It’s like watching a kettle, waiting for it to come to a boil.

If you haven’t yet heard of crowdfunding, it’s essentially a means of raising funds for a creative or inventive project from consumers prior to creation. There are a number of websites making this not only possible but relatively easy, at least in terms of functionality (popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, among others) — you set up a page for your project, create donation levels with rewards for your backers, and launch your campaign.

And then you wait. Promote it — but don’t be a spammer — make sure the word is out — without annoying anyone — what’s the balance?

This is Every Day Publishing’s first venture into crowdfunding: Raygun Chronicles, an ambitious anthology of space opera stories. Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt is operating the Kickstarter campaign, and he’s managed to secure participation from some amazing pro-level authors. But crowdfunding is the only way for us to organize the kind of capital needed to acquire the work of authors at that level — a massive step up from the shoestring-it-and-hope-for-royalties model where most small publishers start out.

Raygun Chronicles cover image

I’ll lay it on the table here: I really want to make this book. I want this chance to work with cover artist Paul Pedersen (the greyscale image above is his concept sketch for the cover). I want to be the publisher of record for new stories by recognizable names. I want to take the step up from shoestring micro-publisher and truly go pro. And without crowdfunding, it would take years and years to inch our way upward, always scraping the next book’s advance out of the last book’s royalties. So this process is exciting, and nerve-wracking, and frustrating. I keep checking the campaign page, watching the number of backers and dollars raised creep up… and like a kettle coming to the boil, it feels like every minute goes on forever.

Of course, I’ve heard the argument that “real” publishers shouldn’t attempt crowdfunding: “If you don’t have the money, you shouldn’t do the project.” And given the fact that just about anyone with access to an internet connection and a basic smidgen of computer sense can set up a smart-looking website and claim to be a publisher, I understand why readers might want to see some capital investment before putting their faith in such a claim, so it’s easy to see why crowdfunding might look like an end-around to bypass personal investment. Consider this, though: if a publisher is already out-of-pocket as far as reasonably possible, is it so wrong to want to pursue a bigger project? If no one frowns on a business getting a loan in order to grow, why should crowdfunding be criticized?

Big publishing has for years been telling small publishers and self-publishers to stay out of their playground, so I’m not sure that “real” and “shouldn’t” are words worth listening to in this industry, and having money isn’t the only measure of competence. For those who want assurance that a publisher is “real”, may I respectfully suggest looking at the number and quality of books currently in print? There’s also transparency to consider — who’s behind the imprint or house — and what sort of track record the players may have in the industry. If anything, being able to raise funds via Kickstarter or IndieGoGo demonstrates a certain amount of market reach and connection, which in my opinion ought to instill more confidence than independently deep pockets.

The other advantage to crowdfunding in publishing is that it tests the market, particularly for an experimental or niche project. If there’s genuine interest from the reading community, enough to push the crowdfunding campaign through, that’s hard evidence that readers want the book to exist. Case in point: Raygun Chronicles is a space opera anthology. (Had you even heard of space opera before today? Even if you enjoy sci-fi? Pulpy, adventure sci-fi? Star Wars? That’s space opera.) Even if we could, somehow, come up with the capital to do this project in some other way, a misjudgement of the market could sink not just the book but our whole enterprise; we’re too small to afford that kind of loss. I believe, of course, that readers will/do want this book, and fortunately the early signs are suggesting that we’re right, but a business-drowning risk is not a reasonable move even when gut and heart are saying yes. Fortunately, crowdfunding allows us to propose the project to potential readers, and if enough of them (you?) are willing to essentially pre-purchase the book, we know we can deliver.

The challenge, of course, is providing satisfactory rewards at prices that permit fulfillment. Apparently, many projects are either crippled into failure by weak rewards at too-high pledge levels, or damaged after a successful campaign because the rewards cost more to deliver than the pledge levels counted on. Our strategy balances hopefully attractive premium rewards at the higher levels with economically-priced good value at the lower end of the scale, to try to appeal to as wide an array of potential backers as possible without risking a shortfall after the fact. Honestly, my favourite of our reward packages is the Corvus level (they’re all named after constellations!) because it’s economically the best deal — US $5 for the e-book, which will almost certainly have a higher sale price after release, and your name in the list of supporters, and a web badge to show our appreciation — but I also like the Scorpius level because it includes four hours of my publishing services (e-book formatting, pre-press formatting for print, proofreading, cover design, whatever the backer needs…). And then, different people have different preferences; if I were allowed to back it myself (which is against the rules, for obvious reasons), I’d go with the Cassiopeia level because I like nice hardcovers and I want the t-shirt!

All things considered, crowdfunding seems to be a good fit for small publishers, not as a business model or an ongoing source of funds, but to stretch out from the regular order of business into ambitious or unusual projects. I don’t want to become dependent on crowdfunding; I just see it — this time — as a way to do something special and get a leg up to the next tier of my ambitions. Will you help me?

EDF’s Calendar for October 30 September 2009

Posted by Camille Gooderham Campbell in News & Announcements.
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It’s the end of September already, and the lineup of stories for October is up at EDF. This will be an interesting month, since it’s the first one where Jordan has had virtually no input — September’s calendar still had a few stories that had been accepted by him but this one is all mine — and it’s also the first one where our new editor Elissa has had some influence. It will be interesting to see how the readers respond to the different stories.

October’s Table of Contents

Oct 1 K.C. Ball Canticles
Oct 2 Alexander Salas The Hungry Squirrel
Oct 3 Donna Gagnon Ilker Drennan
Oct 4 Scotch Rutherford Harvest Moon
Oct 5 Matthias R. Gollackner Real World Heroism
Oct 6 Harry Steven Lazerus We Had No Right
Oct 7 Megan Arkenberg Grown from Man to Dragon
Oct 8 Jim Steel Enemy of the Party
Oct 9 Mickey Mills Trajectory
Oct 10 John A. Mackie Destination: Beach
Oct 11 Rachel Lim Water Bottle Musings
Oct 12 Fred Meyer Blind Spots
Oct 13 G.T. MacMillan Evidence
Oct 14 Sarah Hilary Invisible Mend
Oct 15 Essie Gilbey The Love Stone
Oct 16 Erin Ryan Fark Those Takkloving Aliens
Oct 17 Wayne Scheer Stripped of Innocence
Oct 18 Martin Turton A Song for Cara
Oct 19 Krystyna Smallman Miss Flossy and the Ferals
Oct 20 Karl El-Koura Beat-Down
Oct 21 C.L. Holland Beauty Sleeping
Oct 22 Eric V. Neagu The Vegetarian
Oct 23 Shelley Dayton Identity Crisis
Oct 24 Kendra C. Highley When Mom’s Sick
Oct 25 Sharon E. Trotter The Haircut
Oct 26 Karel Smolders Brains
Oct 27 Stef Hall Fingers
Oct 28 B. J. Adams A Hearty Breakfast
Oct 29 Patrick Perkins Feeding Time
Oct 30 Barbara A. Barnett Dumping the Dead
Oct 31 Stefan Bachmann The Pale Lean Ones

It’s Official — I’m EDF’s Managing Editor! 2 September 2009

Posted by Camille Gooderham Campbell in News & Announcements.
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We changed the staff page today, so it’s public news: I am now the Managing Editor of Every Day Fiction.

Jordan’s new title — and just so everyone is clear, he’s not abandoning EDF at all, nor being pushed out, nor anything like that — is Executive Editor, which I think fits his new role perfectly. He’ll still be involved in the direction of the magazine, he just won’t be working on the day-to-day business of reading and accepting/rejecting submissions. The plan is that this will free up his time to do some of the things that we’ve always talked about but never were able to make time to do: promoting the site, organizing competitions, and so on.

This is a good thing for EDF. We’ve grown to the point where the magazine really does need someone in an executive role, handling the big picture, and Jordan does that really well.

This is also a good thing for me. I enjoy the hands-on editorial work and would miss it much more than Jordan will — I think I’d be unhappy in a purely executive role — and I’m already liking the power of being the final decision-maker for story acceptances.

I’m also excited to see what Jordan will do in his new role. We’ve already talked about something interesting for later this year… I can’t reveal it yet, it’s all confidential… but it’s going to be awesome!

EDF’s Calendar for September 31 August 2009

Posted by Camille Gooderham Campbell in News & Announcements.
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The lineup of stories for September is now posted at Every Day Fiction. I’m particularly proud of this one as it’s the first time I’ve had a direct hand in making final decisions on acceptances as well as rejections — Jordan has been away at the Writers of the Future awards gala for the whole past week so I’ve been completely on my own in finalizing the calendar, writing the editorial, etc.

I’ve also learned that making decisions about acceptances is even harder than making decisions about rejections.

Editorial musings aside, there are some really fine stories coming up this month.

September’s Table of Contents

Sep 1 Jonathan Pinnock Hidden Shallows
Sep 2 Sarah Hilary Burial of the Bells
Sep 3 Clinton Lawrence The Old City
Sep 4 Joel Willans A Friggin’ Star
Sep 5 Margaret Karmazin Diamonds in the Rough
Sep 6 Ellie Tupper Mandala: A Dish of Lime-Vanilla Ice
Sep 7 KM Rockwood Shredded
Sep 8 James Hartley Breakfast
Sep 9 Gargi Mehra The Beauty
Sep 10 Ben Loory The Wall
Sep 11 Melody Beacham Under My Skin
Sep 12 John Jasper Owens Mute Point
Sep 13 Fred Warren Weightless
Sep 14 Sheila R. Pierson Steak and Potatoes
Sep 15 Krystyna Smallman Consuming
Sep 16 Martin Turton Minding Matthew
Sep 17 Lori Simeunovic In the Cards
Sep 18 Anna Sykora Your Guarantee of a Human Bean
Sep 19 Aaron Polson How to Burn a House
Sep 20 A. S. Andrews Alien Life
Sep 21 Garry Grierson The Bull and Bucket UFO
Sep 22 Eric Del Carlo Frankly
Sep 23 Lossie Reeves Addie and Boog
Sep 24 Ann Wilkes Grey Drive
Sep 25 Cathryn Grant So Lucky
Sep 26 John Wiswell Frankenstein’s Monsters
Sep 27 Cate Gardner Strange Tooth
Sep 28 Debra Easterling Annapolis Eyes
Sep 29 Lee Hughes The Backtrack
Sep 30 Oonah V Joslin The Devil’s Within


Apparently I Am Quotable 26 August 2009

Posted by Camille Gooderham Campbell in News & Announcements.
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In a recent interview with Frederic S. Durbin, writer and editor Nicholas Ozment was asked to define flash fiction, and he quoted from my introductory essay “Reading Flash Fiction” in The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008, saying “I really couldn’t define it better than Camille Gooderham Campbell does…”

Given that he teaches English Composition at Winona State University, I am feeling immensely flattered.

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