So Ros, how’s your Kickstarter campaign coming along?

I’m glad you asked.

Lying for the Camera -- Kicktraq Mini

100% FUNDED. That’s how it’s coming along.

Which is incredible and amazing. I am giddy with excitement and very, very grateful to everyone who has pledged, shared, tweeted and liked the project. You can still pledge if you REALLY want the rewards, but the project is now guaranteed to go ahead. WOW.

Kickstarter, arts patronage and commercial creativity

How do people get paid to do creative work: a simplistic analysis

Model 1: Amateur

Not all creative people do get paid for their work. A lot of creative work happens outside and around paid work. People do a job to pay the bills and spend their free time doing their creative work. Some people are happy being amateurs, even though they may produce work that is of exceptionally high quality.

Model 2: Hobbyist
These people do get paid for their creative work, but not at a level that generates a full-time income. Either they have to support their hobby through a paid job, or they may be in a position not to need to work. Lots of stay-at-home mums have creative hobbies that pay a small amount, for example, but the main family income comes from another source.


Model 3: Commercial

The leap from making a small income as a hobby to making a commercially viable creative business is a big one. It usually requires investment of time and money, and it can be a risky business. It depends on there being a market for your work at the level you need to charge in order to make enough money to survive. That’s not the same analysis the hobbyist has to make. That’s why, in some creative fields, hobbyists can seriously undercut professionals, making it even harder for anyone to go pro.

Model 4: Patronage
This model relies on patrons with money deciding to support creative people so that they can go professional, even if the market is not at the level they would need to be self-sustaining. A patron might provide studio space, or a minimum salary, for example. They are investing in that creative person, or in a creative project, because they believe it has intrinsic value greater than the market value. Sometimes this patronage can come from government funding and sometimes from private trusts or individual patrons.

These four models all exist with respect to writing and publishing. The amateur writes for their own pleasure, and if they publish they expect no payment. Perhaps they publish stories on a blog, or anecdotes in a local newspaper. The hobbyist sells short stories to magazines for maybe £100, or these days they might self-publish a book on Amazon and make a few dollars a month, but certainly not enough to give up the day job. The commercial level is a bit more complicated, because of course many commercially published authors do have other jobs. There can be a transition period, waiting for the royalties to reach a level where the day job can be jettisoned. But in principle, these authors are writing to make money to live on. Patronage is much less common for writers. Sometimes writers are given a residency at an institution which provides an income, giving them freedom to write.

Where does Kickstarter come in?

Well, it can be used in different ways. The commercial view would tend towards a pre-order model of Kickstarter. This generates advance income to cover publishing costs and is very like the subscription model of publishing that was common two hundred years ago. People signed up and paid in advance, so that the publishers knew how many books to print and could cover their costs. For a hobbyist transitioning to a commercial business, it’s a good way of generating the financial investment needed. The ‘reward’ is basically just the product, and the ‘pledge’ is the price paid. This is a good example of a ‘commercial’ Kickstarter project to fund production of a new kids’ toy. You pledge the price of the toy, and when it is manufactured it will be sent to you.

The patronage view asks supporters to invest in the creative person and their project at a level higher than the market value. That is, it asks them to consider that the work has an intrinsic value higher than its price. There are some projects on Kickstarter which are obviously patronage projects, where the rewards are tokens of gratitude, not products for sale. This is a patronage-style project, with rewards including acknowledgements in the program and a commemorative t-shirt.

Of course, lots of projects combine the two, with lower priced rewards that are more like products and higher levels of pledge which go beyond the value of the reward to attract patrons.

I like the idea of arts patronage being linked to crowdfunding. You don’t have to be a millionaire philanthropist sponsoring a season of opera. You can give $10 to someone you believe in to help them achieve their dream. This kind of patronage has more often been associated with the performing arts, and to some extent the visual arts. I don’t think it has much of a history in writing, at least not for fiction.

I also like the idea of leveraging an end product to raise money needed for its production. Not everyone has their own capital to invest. The cost of producing a self-published book can be up to $1000, if you have to pay for editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover art, and formatting. If you want to produce print copies, it will be significantly higher. Using a pre-order model means you don’t have to find all that money upfront.

In the next year, I’m hoping to move from ‘hobbyist’ author making a nice supplementary income, to a ‘commercial author’ with royalties that I can rely on. I’m investing time into this project, and as much of my own money as I can, but I don’t have enough to cover all my costs upfront. So that’s why I’m running a Kickstarter campaign for my next self-published book.

There’s a reward set at a commercial level: £2 for an ebook.

And there are rewards set at patronage levels: £10 for an ebook with a personalised message, autograph and mention in the acknowledgements, £100 to name a character. And so on.

So far, I’ve been amazed at the number of backers who have pledged in patronage ways. People who have pledged but indicated they don’t want a reward at all, or people who have pledged above the minimum level for their chosen reward. It’s humbling to know that people see value in this project – even in me – beyond its market value. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had any £2 pledges for the no-frills pre-order at all.

People are awesome. Thank you.

Heroine week!

It’s Heroine Week all week over at Romance around the Corner, and Brie has got some great guest posts lined up. My rant about Fanny Price is coming later this week, but today she’s got posts from Sarah Mayberry and Stephanie Doyle on everyday heroines and the heroine’s point of view.

HW - Medium Res 1

I love the idea of a week celebrating romance heroines. So often discussion focuses on heroes – how tall, dark and handsome they really have to be, how tortured, scarred or emotionally closed off they can be, and how much readers do or don’t fancy them. Which is all well and good. I like a great hero as much as the next person, but I LOVE a great heroine.

For me that means a woman I can respect and like, but most importantly, a woman I am rooting for. The romances I love most are the ones where the heroines triumph. They get the awesome guy they deserve. They get the respect they’ve earned. They get their dreams come true. I don’t love a story with a ‘diminished heroine’. I don’t want her to have to abandon her dreams or settle for less than the best. I want her to grasp hold of her life and be the best person she can be. I want her hero to challenge her, admire her, adore her and take on the world for her. But I also want her to rise to the challenge and take on the world for him. I want her life to be better in every respect for loving and being loved.

I’m Ros, and I’m addicted to heroines.
AtHblue
But I’m okay with that.

New look for an old book

Entangled have re-styled all their Indulgence titles, including mine.

TOTaHSS-500

Isn’t it gorgeous? I think the new look fits the new tagline perfectly: Classic romance with a fresh new twist. And did you notice, the tagline is almost exactly lifted from my cover quote, “classic romance with a fresh spin”? LOVE IT!

You can see all the new covers on the Indulgence FB page here (mine is the best, obviously).

I think I promised some news when I got back from holiday and this is part of it, but there is still a little bit more to come which I can’t tell you yet. You’ll like it, I promise!

Me! Me!

What, you mean that’s not how you say ‘meme’?

1. Do you like having your picture taken?
Really not. I don’t love how I look in photos, but mostly I just find photo-taking intrusive. I genuinely don’t understand the compulsion to document every event with photos. I have very few photos on display (just a few baby photos that friends have sent recently), because I already know what my friends and family look like.

2. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
I would go to the East Coast of the US, see all my friends in Glenside and visit Cresheim Valley Church, visit my favourite shops in New York and then get the Queen Mary back from New York to Southampton. It would be the best holiday ever in the history of holidays.

Oh, no, wait.

3. Have you ever done crossword puzzles?
I learned to do cryptic crosswords by watching my father. I don’t buy papers any more, but whenever I have one around, I’ll usually have a go at the crosswords. I’m bad at finishing them. Usually I’ll have one or two clues that I can’t get.

One of my proudest achievements was winning the Spectator Christmas Crossword Competition one year. £50 and a bottle of port.

4. Pick up the closest book and write a sentence at random from it.
Bishop Porphyrius had this mosaic floor laid. (There is a picture of the floor. Very pretty.)

5. Do the same with a lyric from either a cd or the radio.
“For fewer options, press five.”

I don’t really listen to CDs or music radio. The TV is on and I wrote down the line they were saying at the time.

6. Have you ever tried to analyse your own dreams?
Not really. I don’t often remember them.

7. Can you sing?
Loudly, but not reliably in tune.

8. Do you ever sing to yourself while doing everyday tasks?
Sometimes. I’ll often sing while I’m driving.

9. What’s your favourite colour of post-it note?
I don’t think I have one. But at the moment I have a pad of post-its from Liberty with a pattern on. They are lovely.

10. Have you ever lied to get off the phone or out of talking to someone on line?
I don’t know. I try not to lie ever, but I probably have.

11. What does your bedroom look like?
Small but perfect. I think there are pictures somewhere. Here:

bedroom1

I am most proud of the wallpaper border I put around the edge of the ceiling. It has not fallen off at all.

12. Do you read your horoscope?
Nor.

13. Would you rather chew gum or use mouthwash?
I loathe chewing gum and would ban it if I were Queen. I don’t regularly use mouthwash, though I probably should.

14. How many times a year about are you ill?
No idea. Once or twice, maybe? Depends what counts as being ill.

15. Ever been in an aeroplane?
Yes. First time in 2006, for a day trip to Ireland, in preparation to move to America.

16. What colour are your eyes?
Brown.

17. Have you ever been arrested?
Certainly not.

18. What is your favourite t-shirt?
My t-shirts are mostly boring and functional.

19. What food disgusts you the most?
Liver. Or tripe. Something like that.

20. What is your favourite soda?
Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade. It is ridiculously expensive but I do love it.

21. Name one person your life is made better by.
It feels very odd to pick one, when there are so many. I just wrote the acknowledgements for my thesis and struggled to get it onto one page.

22. Can you do maths with ease?
Yes. I always could.

23. Are you a vegetarian?
No, and I have no intention of ever becoming one.

24. Name one of your passions in life.
Colour.

25. What’s your least favourite time of day?
Morning. The earlier, the worse.

26. What colour is the inside of your head when you close your eyes?
Black, mostly.

27. Ever listen to classical music?
Not often. See above, re. not listening to music.

28. Do you work? What is your job?
I do some work for my church. And I write books. And I am just finishing my PhD. I think that’s enough for now.

29. What is the best present you’ve ever given someone else?
I gave my parents tickets to the Royal Opera House. I think my mother really liked that.

30. What is the best present someone else has ever given to you?
The actual Old Shed.

31. Do you wear a watch?
No.

32. What’s on your computer desk?
A few books and a small pile of paper. It’s a big desk and I try hard to keep it clear.

33. Do you think you’re pretty / goodlooking?
Pretty, maybe. I like my face.

34. How many people do you live with?
Just me.

35. What do you collect?
I am trying not to collect anything at the moment because my house is too full already. It has quite a lot of yarn and books in it.

36. Have you ever bought anything just because it was a fad?
I don’t think so.

37. What do you think about when you first wake up in the morning?
Can I go back to sleep for a bit?

38. Do you bite your nails?
Occasionally but mostly only when one gets broken and I haven’t got any scissors/file handy.

39. What colour are most of your clothes?
Pink and blue. But lots of other colours too.

40. What’s your favourite cereal?
Wheat.

41. Do you like to look people in the eye?
Yes. I really hate having phone conversations because I can’t see the other person.

So there you go. More about me than you ever wanted to know.

Happy Big Burh Day!

1100 years ago, long before the Normans got anywhere near the English coast, one of the daughters of Alfred the Great commandeered a small settlement in the Midlands. Æthelflæd, Lady of Mercia, ordered the fortification of the settlement and the construction of a new burh (borough), which became a pottery production centre.  It was called Stafford, because it had a ford by a staithe (a landing-place).

map

I think that’s pretty awesome, actually. Not only to live in a place which has such a long history (going back at least 200 years prior to  Æthelflæd’s orders), but one which was established by a woman. Æthelflæd’s brother inherited his father’s role as King of the English in Wessex. She married the Lord of Mercia, and ruled there in her own right for 8 years following her husband’s death, although even while he was alive, she was the one who led the troops. Together with her brother, she attempted to unify England for the first time (at the time there were four kingdoms: Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, Northumbria). They didn’t succeed.

The Council have decided to celebrate the 1100 years of the town’s history with a concert featuring Matt Cardle. That would not have been my top choice. But still, it’s worth celebrating, I think. And Æthelflæd is definitely worth remembering. When I am granted my hereditary peerage*, I plan to become Rosalind, Countess of Mercia, in her honour.

*You can make it happen! Simply write to David Cameron and tell him why.

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