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August 2008

August 2008 -- Muses

Gallery

Columns

  • Behind the Art:
    Working in Ink
  • Myths and Symbols:
    The Golden Dawn of Tarots
  • Wombat Droppings:
    Editing Blues
  • Artist Spotlight:
    Gustave Dor' (1832-1883): The Most Popular Illustrator of all Time
  • EMG News:
    News for August

    Features

  • Exploring Cyberfunded Projects

    Fiction

  • Poem: Muse
  • Poem: Of Three
  • Fiction: License To Inspire
  • Fiction: Finding Her Muse

    Comics

  • Falheria: Muses
  • Tomb of the King: Kelsar, Part 1


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  • Exploring Cyberfunded Projects
    by Elizabeth Barrette

    There exist many variations on cyberfunded creativity. Often, someone will see one version of CFC and decide to try it themselves, changing the details in the process. Donations and purchases are typically collected via PayPal, but some projects accept checks or other methods of payment. Donor names are frequently listed in conjunction with the project. Touring some of the best known and most successful cyberfunded projects can help creators decide what they want to do, and patrons decide what they want to support.

    Methods and Variations

    Different creative materials require somewhat different handling and presentation. Creators may want to retain certain types of control or invite specific forms of audience participation. They may or may not set particular prices. Some versions of cyberfunded creativity in use include:

    • Chapters of a book are written one at a time. A subscription price is set along with a threshold of subscribers per chapter. Once enough people have paid a subscription fee for that chapter, it is posted online in a locked venue available only to subscribers. Later the chapter is made available for everyone to view.
    • Chapters of a book are written as inspiration comes, and posted one at a time for everyone to see. A target amount is set, but donations are freeform and people can donate as much or as little as they choose. When the target is reached, the next chapter is posted.
    • An author writes a series of short stories with audience interaction. A new story is posted periodically for everyone to see. A target amount per story is set, but donations are freeform. Questions raised by audience members contribute inspiration to later stories.
    • A poet invites the audience to post prompts and then writes poems based on the inspiration received. One poem is posted free for everyone to enjoy. General donations of any amount are accepted for the project as a whole. Individual poems have a “Buy It Now” price and can be sponsored by individual people; in this case the additional poem will be posted publicly, and the sponsor also has the right to reprint the poem elsewhere. When the session ends, an additional locked post is made available only to poem sponsors and general donors; this contains perks such as extra poetry and a discussion of poetic forms and techniques.
    • A webzine pays authors and artists an advance against royalties. Each individual item also has a PayPal button for donations. Donations of any amount are accepted. The publisher splits the donations with the author or artist: when a given item earns out its advance, royalty payments are issued.
    • A diviner holds community-sponsored card readings. A donation target is set and amounts are freeform. When the target is reached, a date for the divination is set. Donors are guaranteed a reading. Other people can receive a free reading if they post a request during a specific time window.
    • An artist posts occasional images of art scanned from one of their sketchbooks. Some sketches are freely visible to everyone. A very small donation (under $5) gets one additional page scanned.
    • An artist creates illustrations for a community-funded book. Each illustration has a target amount of donations, and the money goes toward production of the book. All the finished pictures will be posted for everyone to view – but if the target is met for a given picture, early sketches and other extra perks will also be posted.

    Notable Projects

    Cyberfunded creativity spans a variety of completed and currently ongoing projects. More arise all the time. Especially adept fiction, artwork, and other content draws attention and spreads through an ever-widening audience. Other projects may have a smaller but still devoted following. Let’s take a look at some successful examples of CFC.

    “The Aphorisms of Kherishdar” by M.C.A. Hogarth is a series of sociological science fiction short stories with accompanying artwork. A 13-part series was originally planned for more traditional publication, but the contract never materialized. By that time the author had described the series, posted some art and samples, and otherwise gotten the audience keenly interested. So the series was presented through cyberfunded creativity. It grew to 25 stories and proved successful enough to generate a hardcopy chapbook which is now available. Patrons are listed both on the website and in the chapbook, including my name – this was one of the first projects to which I contributed. A related series, “The Admonishments of Kherishdar,” is also underway.

    The Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller has been running for some years, including several traditionally published novels. It also spans a series of hardcopy chapbooks put out by the authors in response to fan demand, during a time when publisher interest slacked off. Lee and Miller decided to try cyberfunded creativity for a “side book” that takes a tangent to the main action in the series. The first draft of Fledgling: A Liaden Universe Novel was finished October 8, 2007 with thirty-one chapters.

    Ellen Million Graphics is a website showcasing the work of many artists, and run by Ellen Million. It includes a gift shop, EMG-zine, and portfolios. Especially noteworthy is the “Portrait Adoption” section, in which artists can post character portraits for sale. This allows viewers to choose a picture that’s already completed, rather than commission one from scratch.

    The Lorelei Signal and Sorcerous Signals are webzines edited by Carol Hightshoe. They publish short fiction, poems, and artwork with science fiction or fantasy themes. The webzines are freely available; audience members are encouraged to use the donation buttons to send money to authors and artists whose work they enjoy. The webzines offer modest payments up front followed by royalties if donations exceed the amount advanced. This model has the advantage of showing the editor exactly whose work and what kind of content draws the most attention.

    Once a month, I host a Poetry Fishbowl on my blog, “The Wordsmith’s Forge.” Themes include such things as speculative fiction, Paganism, nature, and community. Audience members give me prompts and I write poems based on those ideas. People can choose to make general donations, to sponsor a specific poem for blog publication, and/or to commission a hardcopy of the poem laid out as a scrapbook page.

    Recommended Resources

    “The Admonishments of Kherishdar” by M.C.A. Hogarth – community-sponsored art and fiction series.
    http://www.stardancer.org/kherishdar2/

    “The Aphorisms of Kherishdar” by M.C.A. Hogarth – community-sponsored art and fiction series.
    http://www.stardancer.org/kherishdar/

    Balance Cards by M.C.A. Hogarth – community-sponsored divination and individually commissioned artwork.
    http://balancecards.org/

    The Big Meow by Diane Duane
    http://www.the-big-meow.com/

    Ellen Million Graphics
    http://www.ellenmilliongraphics.com/

    Fledgling: A Liaden Universe Novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
    http://www.korval.com/fledgling/

    Hunt for the Dymalon Cygnet: A Fable of Lost Worlds by Don Sakers
    http://www.readersadvice.com/mmeade/scatwlds/sponsor.html

    The Lorelei Signal – webzine edited by Carol Hightshoe
    http://www.loreleisignal.com/LoreleiSignal.html

    Nina Paley’s blog – includes funding history of Sita Sings the Blues
    http://blog.ninapaley.com/

    Portrait Adoption hosted by Ellen Million Graphics
    http://portraitadoption.com/

    Sita Sings the Blues by Nina Paley – animated movie, 35mm film print funded by community donations.
    http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/

    Sorcerous Signals – webzine edited by Carol Hightshoe
    http://www.sorceroussignals.com/

    The Vondish Ambassador by Lawrence Watt-Evans – novel funded by donations.
    http://www.ethshar.com/thevondishambassador1.html

    Wind Tunnel Dreams – community on LiveJournal, featuring a community-sponsored fiction series by Shadesong.
    http://community.livejournal.com/windtunneldream/

    The Wordsmith’s Forge blog by Elizabeth Barrette
    http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com



    Elizabeth Barrette writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the fields of speculative fiction, gender studies, and alternative spirituality. Recent publications include the short story "Clouds in the Morning" in Torn World and poem "The Forest of Infinity" in Star*Line. She serves on the Canon Board, editing and selecting material at Torn World. She hosts a monthly Poetry Fishbowl on her blog, The Wordsmith’s Forge (http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com), writing poems based on audience prompts. She enjoys suspension-of-disbelief bungee-jumping and spelunking in other people's reality tunnels.
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