2018 Balticon Schedule

I’m a Special Guest at Balticon this year!

My schedule is:

Friday, May 25

4pm – Freelancing in the Publishing Industry
Christina M. Frey, Neil Clarke, John Edward Lawson
How can one survive on their own in the wild, ever-changing world of genre publishing? Hear some stories and advice from people who have!

Saturday, May 26

11am – Kaffeeklatsch: Neil Clarke

12pm –  Dangerous Voices Variety Hour

2pm – Recognizing Predatory Business Practices
D.H. Aire (moderator), James R. Stratton, Neil Clarke, Rosemary Claire Smith, Lawrence Watt-Evans
How to look for signs that you might not be dealing with a legitimate company – including common tactics such as pay-to-play, signing over derivative works, and others.

3pm – Making a Good Book Cover
J. R. Blackwell, Starla Huchton, Neil Clarke, Jabari Weathers
What makes a cover eye-catching? How might different audiences interpret the same imagery? Our panelists will go through the design process.

Sunday, May 27

12pm – Are Advances in Technology Making Spec Fiction Harder To Pull Off?
Carl Cipra (moderator), Larry Niven, Sarah Pinsker, Neil Clarke, Nicky Drayden, Catherine Asaro
Is it possible for writers to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development? Can we we “future-proof” the challenges our characters face so there won’t be an “app for that” by the time the book comes out?

1pm – Autographs: Neil Clarke and Ted Weber

3pm – Ask Me Anything: Editors & Publishers
Walt Boyes (moderator), Scott H. Andrews, Neil Clarke, Ian Randal Strock, Jeff Young
A panel of professional editors and publishers answer questions from the audience.

4pm – Kickstarter, Patreon, and Crowdfunding Your Novel
Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine, Michael R. Underwood, Neil Clarke, Lawrence Watt-Evans
In the traditional model, an author is paid per book sold. How has crowdfunding changed the way writers work and publish?

9pm – Tales From the Slush Pile
Joshua Bilmes, Neil Clarke, John Edward Lawson
Editors share tales of some of the gems they’ve received, and give advice on how to avoid becoming fodder for future panels like this.

Monday, May 28

11am – Pitches We’re Sick Of (and Ones We Want to See)
Sarah Avery (moderator), Joshua Bilmes, Neil Clarke
Agents and editors discuss trends in submissions.

12pm – Writing for Themed Anthologies
Jean Marie Ward, Alex Shvartsman, T. Eric Bakutis, Neil Clarke
Anthologies offer an excellent opportunity for writers to get their work out to new readers. Writers and editors discuss where to look for submission opportunities, how to write to a theme, and tips on catching an editor’s eye (for the right reasons).

November trip to China

In just under a week, I’ll be in China. So far, this is what I have on my schedule:

11/8 – Leave for Chengdu, China
11/9 – Arrive in Chengdu
11/10-12 – Fourth China (Chengdu) International SF Conference
      11/11 – Interview, Chengdu Radio (with Regina Kanyu Wang)
      11/12
            10-11am, Panel: Exchange our worlds via words, Moderator: Regina Kanyu Wang,
                  Panelists: Neil Clarke, Chen Qiufan, Joanne Li, Meng Qingshu
            16:30-17:30pm, Master of the Future Award Ceremony (organized by Sci-Fi Space)
            20:00-21:30, Sci-Fi Space Campus Event at Sichuan University
11/13 – Pandas
11/14 – Fly from Chengdu to Beijing
11/15 – Meeting with Storycom
11/17 – Storycom Press Conference & Party
11/18-19 – Chinese Nebula Weekend
      11/18 – Signing (with Xia Jia)
      11/19
            9:00-12:00
, Forum: Chinese science fiction going internationally
            14:30-18:30, Chinese Nebula Award Ceremony
11/20 – Leave Beijing, Arrive Newark, NJ

I’m still working out what I’ll do on the 16th. I’m told I really need to see the Great Wall while I’m there, so maybe that will land there. I also have to set aside some time to buy a few things for my family.

Capclave 2017 Schedule

Ken Liu and I are Guests of Honor at this year’s Capclave. (October 6-8 in Gaithersburg, Maryland.)

Hope to see some of you there!

Here’s my schedule:

Friday 6:00 pm: How Not To Get Published (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Salon A
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Mike McPhail, Hildy Silverman, Ian Randal Strock, Michael A. Ventrella (M)
Editors will discuss all the things authors shouldn’t do if they want to be published. For instance, submission guidelines exist for a reason. And no matter how brilliant your story is, threatening the editor will reduce the probability that it will be published to zero.
Friday 7:00 pm: The WSFA Small Press Award (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Frederick
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Ken Liu, Margaret Ronald, Alex Shvartsman (M), Fran Wilde
Current finalists and past finalists and winners discuss what the awards means to them and the place of short fiction from small presses in the genre.
Friday 8:00 pm: The Clarkesworld Magazine Chinese SF/F Translation Project (Ends at: 8:55 pm) Salon A
Panelists: Scott H. Andrews (M), Neil Clarke, Ken Liu
Guest of Honor Neil Clarke and Ken Liu discuss Clarkesworld’s commitment to publishing Chinese science fiction and fantasy in translation, including how the stories are chosen, interaction with the authors, and general audience reception to the project.
Friday 10:00 pm: Clarkesworld Book Club (Ends at: 10:55 pm) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Kate Baker, Neil Clarke, Sam Lubell (M), Sean Wallace
Sam Lubell, the head of the WSFA Committee to Actually Discuss SF/F will moderate a discussion with audience participation, of the current issue of Clarkesworld as well as a discussion of which stories over the last decade have particularly stuck with people.
Saturday 12:00 pm: Small Press Publishing in 2018 (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Shahid Mahmud, Joshua Palmatier, Lezli Robyn, Ian Randal Strock (M), Sean Wallace
Capclave is lucky to have a number of small press publishers as program participants. The folks from Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick, Prime Books, Zombies Need Brains, Wyrm Publishing, and Fantastic Books talk about their upcoming projects
Saturday 1:00 pm: Neil Clarke Publisher/Editor Guest of Honor Interview (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Rockville/ Potomac
GOH & Interviewer: Scott H. Andrews, Neil Clarke
GOH Neil Clarke is interviewed by Scott H. Andrews
Saturday 2:00 pm: Crowdfunding Dos and Don’ts (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Frederick
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Ron Garner, Joshua Palmatier (M), Alex Shvartsman, Lawrence Watt-Evans
So you have a fabulous idea or product and a shortage of funds – what do you do. Panelists will discuss successful and unsuccessful crowd funding campaigns, either their own or those of other people. Topics include how to set reward levels, how to budget how much money you need and the merits of various crowd funding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Pozible.
Saturday 4:00 pm: Anthology Builder (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Frederick
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Ron Garner, Joshua Palmatier (M), Lawrence M. Schoen, Darrell Schweitzer
So you want to edit and publish an anthology. How do the stories get picked?  How do you come up with a theme? What sells and what doesn’t?  How do authors produce readable fiction in the straitjacket of an original themed anthology? How do you properly curate your anthology?
Sunday 11:00 am: Editing the Short Story (Ends at: 11:55 am) Bethesda
Panelists: Kate Baker, Neil Clarke (M), Scott Roberts, Bud Sparhawk
Panelists talk about the work of editing short fiction, keeping things interesting and on-pace and making sure all the elements of a good story are in place when there are only so many words to work with.
Sunday 3:00 pm: Endings – Bang or Whimper? (Ends at: 3:55 pm) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Neil Clarke, Joshua Palmatier, Irette Y. Patterson, Sarah Pinsker (M)
So many short stories start out well but end abruptly or just trail off, leaving the reader to wonder, what’s the point. Why does this happen and how can writers avoid this fate? How do you determine your endings? Is a twist ending a cheat?

2017 Readercon Schedule

I’ve just received my programming schedule for Readercon (next week!):

Friday, July 14

11:00 AM    C    How to Make a Small Fortune in Specialty Publishing.
Neil Clarke, Sandra Kasturi, Bart Leib, E.J. Stevens, Michael Damian Thomas.
Publishing is a challenging business that’s become even more challenging as retail space has declined and Amazon’s recommendation algorithms have taken over. It’s doubly difficult for small presses, which aren’t blessed with massive capital to hedge against returns. What is it really like to run a small press and what does it take to survive your early years? How do you get authors and reach important markets such as libraries, especially if you primarily publish in digital? Our experienced panelists will discuss these topics and more.

1:00 PM    6    A Golden Age of Asian Speculative Literature in English.

John Chu, Neil Clarke, Liz Gorinsky, Caroline M. Yoachim.
There’s a growing body of English-language speculative works by writers from Asian and South Asian cultures—works in translation from writers working in Asian languages, and works written in English by writers in both Asian countries and the Asian diaspora. This panel will discuss trends in translation and publication, examine different Western expectations of translated and non-translated fiction (for example, the notion that Asian diaspora writers will necessarily write on Asian themes or diasporic experiences), highlight recent works of interest, and explore how Asian and Western speculative fiction influence one another.

SATURDAY, July 15

12:00 PM    CL    Kaffeeklatsch.
Neil Clarke, Paul Tremblay.
I’ll also have a table in the dealer’s room, where I’ll be selling Clarkesworld, my anthologies, and very-low-priced books from my old bookstore’s inventory. Stop by and say hi!

Nebula Awards Weekend Patreon Panel

I attended the Nebula Awards Conference in Pittsburgh this past weekend and had a great time. Since Patreon was unable to send someone this year, I volunteered to help them out by hosting the Patreon panel. I was very pleased that Cat Rambo and Merc Rustad were able to join me.

The panel was scheduled for thirty minutes on Friday and drew a good-sized crowd. We wanted to make sure we had time for audience questions, so my fellow panelists and I spent just a little over half the time talking about our experiences and sharing some things we’ve learned from creating and managing our Patreon pages. As expected, the audience had lots of questions and I suspect we could have easily filled an hour on the subject.

A week before the panel, I asked (via social media) authors and publishing professionals to share their Patreon pages and some of their own tips. I promised the crowd was that I would share this information here on my blog as post-panel resource guide. Hopefully you’ll find inspiration among the things that others have said and done.

As I said during the panel, I’m more than happy to answer questions. Feel free to comment here or to email me directly.

Panelists’ Patreon Pages

Neil Clarke – https://www.patreon.com/clarkesworld
Cat Rambo – https://www.patreon.com/catrambo
Merc Rustad – https://www.patreon.com/mercrustad

Other SF/F Writer Patreon Pages

Aliya Whiteley – patreon.com/aliyawhiteley
Alma Alexander – patreon.com/AlmaAlexander
Amy Roth – patreon.com/SurlyAmy/posts
Benjamin Cook – patreon.com/talefoundry
Carmen Maria Machado – patreon.com/carmenmariamachado
Carrie Cuinn – patreon.com/CarrieCuinn
Catherynne M. Valente – patreon.com/catvalente
Charlotte Ashley, Andrew Leon Hudson, Kurt Hunt – patreon.com/archipelago
Dawn Vogel – patreon.com/historythatneverwas
Don Sakers – patreon.com/ruleof5
E. Christopher Clark – patreon.com/echristopherclark
Gareth L Powell – patreon.com/GarethLPowell
Heather E Hutsell – patreon.com/HEHutsell
Hugh J. O’Donnell – patreon.com/hughjodonnell
I G Hulme – patreon.com/heavenfield
Inda Lauryn – patreon.com/user?u=2707160
Jeremy Zimmerman – patreon.com/bolthy
Jerry Seeger – patreon.com/jerryseeger
John Mierau – patreon.com/servingworlds
Judith Tarr as – patreon.com/dancinghorse
Kameron Hurley – patreon.com/kameronhurley
Lev Mirov & Aleksei Valentin – patreon.com/levandalekseicreate
Malcolm F. Cross – patreon.com/MalcolmFCross
Marlee Jane Ward – patreon.com/marleejaneward
Mary Robinette Kowal – patreon.com/maryrobinette
Mur Lafferty – patreon.com/mightymur
N.K. Jemisin – patreon.com/nkjemisin
Rivers Solomon – patreon.com/riverssolomon
S.A. Barton – patreon.com/sabarton
Sarah “Neila” Elkins – patreon.com/Neila
Seanan McGuire – patreon.com/seananmcguire
Tim Pratt – patreon.com/timpratt
Tobias Buckell – patreon.com/tobiasbuckell
Tonya Liburd – patreon.com/TonyaLiburd
Tristina Wright – patreon.com/TristinaWright
Woelf Dietrich – patreon.com/Wo3lf
Yoon Ha Lee – patreon.com/yhlee

Tips and Thoughts Collected from Everyone Above

  • Patreon isn’t a place you go to be discovered. Your target audience is people already familiar with you or your work. Promote your page via your blog, social media accounts, mailing lists, podcasts, or whatever other means you reach your readers. You don’t need a large audience, but if you are just starting, it’s best to hold off for a while.
  • Before you launch, look at the pages of people like you. A little research goes a long way in understanding how to present your case for supporting you and determining what kind of goals and rewards you should use.
  • Like anything else, marketing is key. This isn’t a particularly strong suit for most of us and we’ll often lean towards less marketing to avoid what we feel is too much. On social media, keep in mind that most of your followers will miss casual mentions. It’s best to stagger promotions across several days and times to reach a greater variety of your readers. It might seem like too much to you, but only 1-2 times to them. Just don’t make it the only thing you push out in any medium.
  • It’s not easy for everyone and probably more work than you think. Getting into a routine can be very helpful. It’s good to set expectations in the description of your campaign.
  • You can set your Patreon page up so people support you on a monthly basis or per-creation. Per-creation supporters can cap the amount of support they give in a month, so make sure your rewards make sense if they cap at a single payment. Monthly accounts provide you a more stable income, but require you to be reliable. If you promise a story each month, you have to stick to it or you will lose supporters. If you are per-creation and don’t do anything that month, no one is charged.
  • Use smaller goals at the beginning of your campaign. Never underestimate the value of stating just how close you are to a goal, particularly if you’ve chosen one that will appeal to a wide range of your audience.
  • When setting goals or rewards, remember to include your time in determining the dollar value. Goals don’t always have to result in more work for you. It can be about what you get. It’s good to remember that people are supporting you to see you succeed and not just to get stuff.
  • When setting rewards, don’t undersell yourself. Create one tier higher than you expect anyone to give. We’re our own worst judges when it comes to how much is too much.
  • Try to keep your reward system simple and straight-forward. You don’t want to confuse potential supporters or complicate the fulfillment process. Rewards don’t have to be physical. For example, a $1 reward of having your thanks is quite common.
  • Digital rewards can be distributed through Patreon, but keep in mind that a new supporter at that tier gets access to all previous tier-locked posts. This works fine for someone doing a serialization, but can be problematic for something more like a magazine where the back issues are being sold. In the latter case, you’ll want to distribute those rewards directly. Fortunately Patreon provides downloadable patron information that should make this easier.
  • Keep in mind the amount of time reward fulfillment can take. If something becomes particularly popular, you don’t want it eating up all your writing time.
  • Physical rewards can be problematic in any crowdfunding system, particularly when international supporters are involved. It’s always best to place information about additional shipping costs directly in the reward description to avoid confusion later. In addition to the shipping and product costs, remember shipping supplies aren’t without cost either. It is very easy to lose money (or time) by missing something when setting the price for physical rewards. Be careful.
  • Engage your community in the creation or revision of reward tiers and goals. Make them a part of your process. They often have great ideas.
  • Don’t be disappointed if your Patreon page grows slowly or even declines once in a while. Lots of people are having financial issues. It’s the number 1 reason people provide me when they stop supporting my page.
  • Patrons are charged at the start of the month. Expect a quick drop in your displayed dollars and number of supporters as it isn’t unusual for cards to be declined. Patreon will contact these people over the next few days and some will be fixed. I wait about five days and then email those people a polite email saying we don’t want to lose them (or have them not receive their rewards) and include a link to Patreon’s how to fix this page. Unless it’s a physical reward, I always provide that month’s reward even if the card declines. Have trust in your supporters. Oh and don’t send that email through Patreon. Email them directly. If the problem isn’t fixed by the end of the month, they will be dropped the next month, but oddly enough, still listed as declined in your overall Patron list. It just doesn’t try to charge them anymore.
  • Communicate regularly with your supporters. Patreon has great tools for this. Encourage reader feedback and respond. Be willing to experiment with some of those ideas and yes, sometimes they can fail. Stop doing those things and try something else. Just be up-front about it and everyone will be fine.
  • Try to offer updates and rewards that relate to things you do day-to-day, i.e. access to the actual work you are creating. It’s easy to offer special blog posts or content created exclusively for your Patrons, but in practice the extra work can feel like it’s pulling you away from making the content that your Patrons are supporting you for in the first place. Be authentic, do what you enjoy and experiment with your art and communication with supporters.
  • If you are sharing original stories, keep in mind that many publishers consider this using up your first rights, meaning you can’t sell it as original elsewhere. You can still sell it as a reprint. Also, make sure you are aware of the procedures for submitting to the various year’s best anthologies and most of them probably won’t see it otherwise.
  • It doesn’t have to be new stories. You can share behind-the-story information, pieces from works-in-progress (be careful about first rights issues), or share out-of-print stories or even novels, though the latter is better serialized over the course of months. Writing tips and process notes are great too.
  • Have fun. If you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong.