Archive for clarkesworld magazine

Vodo – OtherWorlds Bundle

Last month, I was approached by the folks at Vodo, a pay-what-you-want site that offers mixed bundles of movies, games, books, etc. They wanted to know if I’d be interested in offering Clarkesworld Magazine as part of an upcoming science fiction-themed bundle. I was initially skeptical about the idea, but they eventually won me over.

Given that we place all our content online for free, allow people to make PayPal or Patreon donations, you’d think that this might be a no-brainer for us. The problem is that we’ve established a price for our subscriptions and didn’t want to alienate our existing subscribers by offering a much cheaper alternative. Fortunately, Vodo was receptive to our concerns and worked with me to come up with something that felt more respectful of our existing subscribers.

While Vodo is pay-what-you-want, some content isn’t included in your bundle if you don’t pay more than the average payment or spring for the premium package. We placed a four-issue subscription (nice length for a trial) in the 2nd tier. Given the subscription’s length and average payment for that tier, it feels fair to everyone.

For our part in this, we get a share of the payments and the opportunity to reach a large audience of people who probably haven’t heard of us before. So far, over seven-hundred people have purchased the bundle (launched Friday night) and it’s still available for another eighteen days. I’ll consider this a success if even a small percentage of those people convert into regular subscribers. That’s the best you can expect from any marketing these days and if we want to build our subscriber base, we’re going to have to experiment with our approach to marketing. This seemed like a good place to start. As an added bonus, five-percent of Vodo’s sales go to charity… in this case, the EFF.

The basic Otherworlds Bundle includes the following movies, games, comics, books and music:

  • Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now [Book] – Graphic novel of six stories by Cory Doctorow.
  • Bientôt L’été [Game] – Heavily atmospheric game for two players.\
  • 2145 [Audio] – Dark Ambient music from Sabled Sun
  • The Surrogates [Book] – Acclaimed five-part comic series. NY Times Bestseller.
  • Blink [Film] – 4 tightly-crafted visions of beyond in 1 short film.

If you beat the average price, you’ll unlock these:

  • Ghosts With Shit Jobs [Film] – Macro-satire on a micro-budget
  • Future My Love [Film] -A documentary meditation on financial collapse, utopia and love.
  • Ai Wars: Fleet Command [Game] – Space-based RTS game and expansion pack.
  • Clarkesworld Subscription [Book] – Clarkesworld Sci Fi Magazine, 4-month subscription.
  • Apex Book of World Sf [Book] – 16 sci-fi short stories from Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe and more.
  • 2146 [Audio] – AudioThe Dark Ambient sequel to 2145
  • Out There Ep [Audio] – Bespoke compilation of haunted space-pop from Not Not Fun records

If you beat the premium price, you’ll also unlock:

  • The Surrogates: Flesh And Bone [Book] – Prequel to The Surrogates. Sci-Five!
  • Drones [Film] – A trip of an office comedy.
  • The Surrogates: Case Files 1 & 2 [Book] – 2 great graphic novellas set between Volumes 1 and 2.
  • Signals [Audio] – Triple-album spin-off to Sabled Sun’s Dark Ambient odyssey.

You can find all the details on Vodo’s Otherworlds Bundle page. Head on over now and grab yourself a bargain!

April 2014 Issue of Clarkesworld Magazine

The April 2014 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine is now available. You can get the issue:

or help us pay the bills by purchasing Clarkesworld with a subscription at:

APRIL 2014 – ISSUE #91
FICTION
“Passage of Earth” by Michael Swanwick
“Autodidact” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“Water in Springtime” by Kali Wallace
“The Cuckoo” by Sean Wallace
“Going After Bobo” by Susan Palwick
“Shining Armor” by Dominic Green

NONFICTION
Realms of Dark, Deep and Cold by Julie Novakova
The Blue Collar Craftsman & the Salesmen on Mars: A Conversation with Ben Tanzer by Jeremy L. C. Jones
Another Word: Killing Rage by Daniel Abraham
Editor’s Desk: Supporting our Favorites by Neil Clarke

PODCAST
This month’s stories will be released in audio form over the course of the month. Read by Kate Baker.

COVER ART
Wake by Peter Mohrbacher

If you enjoy what we do, please consider supporting us by spreading the word about our subscription options or Patreon account on Facebook, Twitter or your blog. Your subscriptions make everything we do possible.

Thanks!

BSFS State of Short Fiction Roundtable

A video of the BSFS State of Short Fiction Roundtable is now available:

Print edition of Clarkesworld #90

The print edition of Clarkesworld Magazine Issue #90 is now available from Amazon.

House-full-o-books

NOTE: This sale will end at 10PM EST 3/10/2014. More details about why and how to get on a waiting list (if you missed it) can be found here. If the BUY button is gone from this page, the sale is closed.

As many of you know, I ran a bookstore for seven years. When it closed, I was left with a lot of inventory, which I occasionally lug to conventions and try to sell off. At the rate I’m currently going, it could be over a decade before that chore is done and since the heart attack, I’m a lot more reluctant to lug a carload of boxes anywhere.

I’ve decided to tackle the problem in stages, starting with the paperbacks. There are thousands of new/unread mass market paperbacks on these shelves and I’m starting with them.

I’m going to start boxing up lots of thirty new books (no-dups) by genre and selling them off for $30 shipped free via media mail (meaning US only). I’ll start by offering them direct and when that slows, move onto ebay.

All proceeds from the sale of these books will be placed into my special Clarkesworld Magazine issue #100 fund. It’s a big milestone and I feel the need to do something special with that issue.

So, anyone interested in buying some books?

[Sale temporarily over. See above.]

NOTE: Some people are reporting that PayPal is sending them back to Wyrm Publishing at the end. Must be something odd in my PayPal account. (I am Wyrm Publishing.) You can ignore that. The order is complete by the time you get there. I’m also emailing confirmations, so if you don’t hear from me, that’s when you should be concerned.

Three Months on Patreon – Pros and Cons

We launched our Clarkesworld Magazine Patreon page nearly three months ago. In that time, I’ve heard from a lot of authors and editors who were interested in their service, but not sure if it was right for them. The requests have been picking up, so…

patreonlogo

 What is Patreon?

In their words:

Founded in May 2013 and based in San Francisco, California, Patreon was created to enable fans to support and engage with the artists and creators they love. Empowering a new generation of creators, Patreon is bringing patronage back to the 21st century.

In mine:

Patreon is a cross between subscriptions and Kickstarter. Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon doesn’t focus on a one-time project. It’s aimed at fundraising for long-term projects that include recurring creations, like issues of a magazine or episodes of a podcast. In our case, your Patreon pledge is a per-issue contribution to the magazine.

Why Patreon instead of PayPal?

  1. Patreon’s Patron Manager provides a nice and reliable interface that allows me to manage, track, and communicate with our supporters. I could probably build something similar, but the amount of time I’d have to invest (programming and supporting) is too significant. My time is better spent on the magazine.
  2. Yes, PayPal can collect recurring payments on set intervals. If you miss a month, PayPal still charges them. Not so with Patreon. This isn’t much of an issue for us, but I know it does impact others I’ve spoken to.
  3. Not everyone likes PayPal. There are people out there that are violently opposed to using their services in any way. Patreon supports credit cards and PayPal.
  4. You can do both. We still take one-time donations via PayPal. Having choices is good.

What do you think so far?

Like any fundraising there are going to be pros and cons:

Cons:

  1. Discoverability. My only major complaint. The odds of someone browsing Patreon’s site and discovering you are very slim. The search tools are very basic (and only work against the title of your project) and the featured creators and artists on their home page change rarely, if ever. They could learn a lot from Kickstarter’s approach when it comes to finding and featuring content.
    Note: They are working on this. Recently creators were asked to select categories their projects fit into. The options are not as detailed as I would have liked, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
  2. Payment processing. I know I’m being picky on this one, but since Patreon pledges are processed per-creation and charges applied run at the end of the month, you can run into serious timing issues. For example. If we post new “paid” content on the first of the month, anyone signing up on the second will not be billed until the end of the following month. That means it could take up to two months for their rewards to kick in. That confuses people. To get around it, I made the final podcast of the month our paid content instead of the new issue announcement. This change causes the majority of new Patrons to have their reward start the next month. I suppose they could add something that would allow a Patreon to pledge support starting as of the first of the month or with the most recent paid creation, but that’s probably too confusing too. It’s the whole do I start a subscription with the current issue or next issue debate. If you aren’t providing rewards, this probably isn’t as big a deal.
  3. New. I’ve had to explain Patreon to a lot of people. Instead of focusing on marketing our presence there, I’ve had to convince people they are a trustworthy organization. This will pass as more people hear about them. Certainly nothing I can fault them for.

Pros:

  1. Support and service. They’ve been fantastic to work with and unlike many companies, they appear to be very open to customer feedback. Everyone I’ve spoken with there is on top of their game. There have been several software updates and each has been flawless. Heck, they even negotiated a better rate with their payment processor and passed along the savings.(My background is in technology. It takes a lot to impress me.)
  2. Growing community. I’ve noticed a lot of new projects launch on Patreon in the last three months. As things move forward, I believe discoverability will eventually find its way to the Pros list and when that happens, there will be a marketing benefit for all of us as our Patrons discover what else is out there.
  3. We’re getting paid. We currently have pledges of just over $200 per issue and we have been receiving payments. It may not sound like a lot (particular compared to some of the YouTube-based projects earning thousands per episode), but it does boost our bottom line and every bit helps. At this point, I remain optimistic about the service and it’s ability to become a significant source of revenue for the magazine.
  4. Opportunity. I’ve said most of it above, but I also believe there is some benefit for the field. Literary projects are still a small percentage of what’s on Patreon. I think we’re on the leading edge of something that will only grow in size as more from the science fiction community discover it.

Closing Thoughts

It should be fairly obvious by now that I’m optimistic about Patreon and our future with them. While I do have some issues, I believe they can (or will be) worked resolved in timely manner. While I highly recommend their service, to see value from it, you will have to heavily market your presence there. It’s not all that different from tossing a book up on Amazon. This isn’t magic.

That said:
Visit patreon.com/clarkesworld and sign up to become one of Clarkesworld’s patrons today!

Questions? Comments?