Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Curse Teaser #4

Teaser Tuesday! 
It's Teaser Day!
With the Patreon officially up and running, I'm now busily back to work editing and getting Curse ready for publication. I still don't have it together enough for a set release date but we're getting there.

This week, I'm offering a snippet between Denora and Graham who has been begrudgingly helping Denora hide out from the rest of the crew.

Without further ado, here is this week's sneak peek...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Author Patronage - Starting a Patreon

If you've been following along with my posts of late, you're likely aware that I've decided to jump in and start a Patreon Page. After two weeks of setting everything up I finally launched the campaign a few days ago.
Now first thing's first - I am aware that my fan-base is still pretty limited and I will probably not gain a lot of support there right away - that's okay. Even a little bit is helpful, and I'm hoping as I put more work out in the coming months that my reach will grow.
BUT - the main issue I'm facing is the fact that a lot of people don't know what Patreon is or how it works, so I felt it would be prudent to make a post to help explain.

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a crowd-funding site where people can pledge a certain amount of money to an artist / author / project either on a monthly or on a "per creation" basis. My Patreon is currently set to monthly, so anyone pledging to my page would be charged on the first of each month. It is similar to Kickstarter, if you need a popular reference, but unlike Kickstarter which is a one-time pledge for a single project, Patreon is meant to be a patronage system where supporters back an artist continuously so they can continue doing what they do and making the awesome things that they make. It's like paying an artist a salary so they can keep working - or better yet, a Tip Jar that refills every month.

Why do I need a Patreon?

My need for support is pretty basic - I can't afford to keep producing my work the way I've been doing it. It takes me months to write, edit and publish a new book and I'm doing it 100% on my own right now. My personal finances are already tight and I don't have the extra funds to hire out my editing, purchase professional artwork for covers, or advertise my work to find more readers. On average (on a good month) I make about $25 - $30 on book sales. That's two hours pay at my day job after taxes. Producing a new book costs not just for the things mentioned above, but then you have to take into account the hours upon hours I spend working on it, for MONTHS - basically unpaid. I LOVE writing these books, but I have to consider my family's needs first. Those countless hours could be spent making money the old fashioned way, and if things don't pick up they likely will.

For my birthday a few years ago, family members chipped in to help me pay for my website and blog. It didn't take long before it got too expensive, so I closed it down and moved my website to a free Blogger page. You see where this is going, right?

This year for my birthday, my family gave me money for stock photos for the book I was publishing that month and a little extra so I could advertise my free book and maybe find some new readers.
I spent $40 on stock photos and $60 on a handful of inexpensive ads. Considering the ads were for a book that I'm already giving away for free, I made $80 that month...

At this point, producing my work is costing me more money than it's making me. Money I don't have. Money my family needs. The Patreon is a way to offset some of those costs. Readers who want me to continue writing the books they love to read can help keep me funded month to month so I can continue without bleeding my family dry in the process.

What do Patrons get in return?

There are, of course, benefits to supporting an artist or author on Patreon. Most people there offer special incentives to people who support them - behind the scenes access, deleted scenes, advanced copies of their work before publication etc etc. Each Patreon is slightly different and the rewards you get for supporting them vary depending on what they're offering and the level of patronage you subscribe to.

For example:

My first tier reward for $1 per month patronage is: Access to my patron-only emails and feed - with sneak peeks into my current projects and bi-weekly chapters of one of my unreleased books prior to publication. All Patrons will be given access to my "I Support the Artist!" button and will be thanked by me for their support on social media at the end of each month."
It's pretty simple but still offers a little something extra to those who commit to supporting me each month at this level.

How much do you actually get from the money Patrons provide?

One thing that people aren't always aware of is the fact that the amount shown on Patreon that an artist recieves is not wholly accurate. Patreon takes a 5% cut, there are Paypal / bank fees for transfering the funds, and a smart artist / author also has to set aside about 30% for taxes. There is also the issue of declined payments and people who sign up and then bail before the end of the month when payments are processed. For every $100 an artist on Patreon "receives", they only actually get about 50% on average. HOWEVER, that's still 50% they wouldn't have had otherwise.
It's not all that different from how I get paid from online retailers for books sold. Books over $2.99 I make about 70% from Amazon, so I average about $2 per book. The same goes for paperbacks (roughly $2 per book) and that's BEFORE the 30% for taxes gets removed.

Producing art and writing books is not free for the person making it. So many people take for granted how much time, effort and money people put into the things that they create. They deserve to eat too, and pay their bills, just like everyone else. Artists and authors don't get paid a salary to handle these things. The Patronage system allows the people who love what's being created to help the artist / author keep making those things without, you know, starving...

If you're interested in checking out my new Patreon and seeing what it's all about, you can find it at http://www.patreon.com/EverynKildare

If you'd like to help out but can't afford the monthly donation, please help spread the word about what I'm doing. The more eyes I get on the page, the better it will do.

Still have questions about Patreon? Shoot me a message or comment down below and I'll do my best to answer any concerns you may have.

Thanks for reading!
All my love and gratitude,

Twitter / Facebook / Google+ / Goodreads / Pinterest / Instagram / Youtube (Coming Soon!)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teaser #3

Hello Friends and Lovely Readers!
It's that time again (and this time I'm posting on the correct day - Go me!)

For this week's Tuesday Tease I chose a scene that sheds light on what Curse is all about - Fiona's secrets from her journal. I won't spoil it by saying HOW exactly Denora comes by these visions of her mother's life but to make it a little easier to wrap your head around, just think of it for now like her journey in Book One with the Spirit Potion.

Without further ado, here is this week's sneak peek...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Writing for other people

There is a part of me that cringes when I think that I started by publishing something other than Firechild first. The intention was always to get that particular story out there. It, along with Lusus Naturae, has haunted me for over half my life now, and though most authors smile fondly and shake their heads when asked about the first book they ever wrote and laugh about how looking back it was a mess and they're glad it remains behind them - I still need to finish this particular book.

At the time I started Crow I had pushed Firechild aside yet again, but for differing reasons.

One, I still didn't think I had the story arranged the way I wanted and until I figured it out I was only making a bigger mess of it. I've re-written it so many times that now it's more like fitting together a complicated jigsaw and tossing the pieces that don't fit - but there are enough extra pieces to make eight more complete puzzles.

Secondly, at the time I was getting a lot of advice about "making it" in the business and I was eagerly absorbing as much info as possible on how not to fuck the whole thing up. "Find a niche audience you can connect with. Learn the genre and the tropes. Cater to you reader's wants and expectations..."
It was my first book and I really wanted to find my readers. I'd write something I thought they'd want, even if it wasn't really the story the way I'd like to tell it.

So,  I started a YA urban fantasy series. They were meant to be novella length, but as it usually works out with me, they grew longer and turned into short novels instead (ooops?) I included popular YA and urban fantasy elements (also part of the advice) even when I wasn't sure I wanted some of those elements in there. But I wanted to please my perceived audience. I included things I thought the reader would want.

I'm not saying I regret writing The Crow Series. Not in the least. It started with the vague notion of a girl desperately trying to save her brothers from a horrible curse and meeting a cryptic young man with dubious intentions who helped show her the way. Even though I meant it to be more commercial, I couldn't help but include the deeper more tormented things that came along while writing - the way I usually write. Loss, grief, guilt and betrayal. Mistrust. The thin line between love and hatred. Trying to be your own hero when you don't know where else to turn.

These same elements are part of why the series turns people away. The very first page is sad and talks about losing a cherished friend to suicide. I was sad when I wrote it - pulling from deep within myself from my own feelings of guilt and pain over friends from my youth that I'd lost along the way.

So, what was meant to be a commercial work turned into something most people were turned off by.
I guess I'm not cut out for the whole "commercial" thing. With each book, trying to keep it in the same vein as the previous books in the series has gotten harder and harder because I'm pushing myself to write in a way that is not authentic for me. I think, when I have other stories out to compare it to, maybe my blathering right now will make more sense - or it won't and you'll scratch you head and wonder what hell I'm going on about.

Last year, after spending months struggling with myself to finish Release, I was suddenly inspired by an idea for another story - an adult fantasy adventure serial with shape-shifters, pirates and time travel. It had adult (like, with a capital A - Adult*) themes and bordered on the erotica genre with some of its content. Because it was so different from the "Young Adult" series I was already publishing, I published the first five episodes under a different pen name.

So now you know. Last year when I "didn't" publish anything, I actually published A LOT. Five episodes and a compilation. I'm only half way through Season One, with 5 more episodes to go, but stopped when I got ill last summer. When I finally got well enough to go back to writing, my guilt over the long delay necessitated I finish Release instead, which was already a year overdue. I haven't gone back to finish the other episodes - yet.

And why did I do this?
Because writing the serial was FUN! I told no one I knew, other than my husband and my parents, who I instructed NOT to read them. My husband still hasn't read a single page. It would probably be a little weird with all the sex and suggestive situations. He already gets playfully jealous about how much time I spend with my characters. Instead, he now constantly makes up Bond Girl type names like "Major Peter Acrecock" and "Hugh Janhornie" and offers to let me use them in the next episode to make me laugh. (I don't have characters named like this - it's a joke between us)

The point is, with no one I knew aware that I was doing it, and no worry over readers' expectations of me, I threw myself into the story and LOVED it. I was cranking out an episode every two weeks up until I started feeling sick last August. I was writing them for me, because I was inspired to do so, and it was exhilarating.

I didn't sell a lot of copies. As a matter of fact, I gave away episodes regularly. I got ZERO reviews for it on Amazon, despite lots of downloads of the freebies, but did get one really nice and glowing review for the serial on Goodreads.

Yet, even though my work went mostly unnoticed (again) the first episode won second place in the SFWG's (Short Fiction Writer's Guild) New Series Contest that September. I hope that means my writing isn't actually a festering boil that people are too polite to mention, and is instead just a freckle hidden in a sea of larger blemishes.
That analogy was horrible. Forgive me, the burn on my arm has me obsessed with painful bodily issues right now lol.

Basically, I've reached a cross-roads in my career where the needs of my family outweigh my own need to create. I cannot financially afford to continue focusing on my writing. Unless I find a way to compensate for my financial obligations to my family (mind you, my husband still works his ass off full-time and I continue to work whatever days I can get at my day job, which are fleeting and far between) I will have to stop committing my free hours to writing and go back to trying to pick up extra work to ease the burden.

I've given myself until the end of the year to work it out. Until then I'm going to be trying something a little unorthodox.

I've decided to start a Patreon page to see if whatever fanbase I may have might be willing to help support me so I can continue my work without starving my kids. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true. I don't know how successful it will be, because despite trying my damnedest for the past three to four years I've barely managed 100 followers on any of my social media things. But who knows? Maybe this will be the thing that saves me.

Patreon looks like it could be a great deal of fun - connecting and creating things directly for your audience. I have a plethora of projects, stories and art pieces to share and I look forward to interacting with people who enjoy my work as much as I do.

One of the things I'm going to be offering my Patreon subscribers is advanced chapters of my new steampunk fantasy series, Songbird of Souls, while I get it ready to publish by the end of the year. I wrote it just after finishing the first draft of Curse, so it's ready and waiting to be edited once Curse is complete.

Depending on what subscribers want, I may even throw in some of the episodes from my other pen name, but since they're Adult (with a capital A*, remember?) I'll likely leave that up to the Patrons to decide.

In that way, I'll be writing for others, but not in the way I've been doing. The people who support my Patreon page will get behind the scenes access to me and my work, and they'll be given opportunities to make decisions on some of my future writings (like character names, which projects I tackle next and Q&A's with me about my inspirations, plans and worlds I have created).

I think having a direct line to my readers will help keep me motivated too. Knowing that there's people out there actually waiting and asking for my new work will help push me through those days when I'm convinced everything I touch is a pile of stewing crap.

That, and knowing I don't have to worry about how I'm going to squeeze out money for a new cover or (hopefully one day) hiring someone to help ease my editing load so I can work faster will be a lot easier if I'm not also obsessively worrying about how I'm going to be able to buy groceries the following week if I can't pick up any extra days at my job.

I'm really excited about starting this, but also incredibly nervous. I'm not very good at building relationships with people and starting anything in the social-sphere always makes me feel slightly manic. But you can't create in a vacuum and art by its very nature is about sharing what's inside you that you can't express any other way - so I'm going to give this a shot and cross my fingers.

For those of you who are interested in seeing what I'm doing, I'll be making the new Patreon page live sometime next weekend once I've gotten everything set and in order. I'll let you guys know when it's up so you can take a peek and see what it's all about.

Much love,