Category Archives: Education

What They Don’t Tell You About Crowdfunding

If you’ve been here before, you know I recently began a crowdfunding campaign.

(“If you’ve been here before,” is actually very, very relevant, because needing a large social circle beforehand is one of the things that many supporters of crowdfunding don’t tell you.)

But, I’ll get to that later.

I spent some time preparing. I did some research. I launched. Almost immediately, that hope that I had, even though it wasn’t high to begin with, became really hard to hold on to. Crowdfunding can be a great thing, but taking advantage of this potentially exciting system is an idea that a whole lot of other people have. Here are some things I’m learning that I hope will help you figure things out before you jump in:

 

  • Friends and Family: You reach out to your closest first and ask them to get the word out. That’s sure to make at least a small wave, right? Well…not always. No matter how much your friends and family love you, really contributing to your campaign takes time and effort, and let’s face it, most of us are only going to do the bare minimum, if anything at all. It’s hard not to feel hurt by this, but it’s important not to get upset or judge them when they show little interest and don’t contribute. Money and time are important, and you know this. That is, after all, why you started the campaign in the first place.

 

  • Spend Money to Make Money: I kind of knew this going in. What I didn’t expect, was the slew of advertisers that would promise me more views on my Kickstarter by tweeting and submitting to social media. When you’re first starting out, those things seem exciting. Then, you realize that those hundreds of thousands of followers to whom they are tweeting are not actually interested parties; they’re other people doing the exact same thing  you are. Whoops. So, you may get some extra views, but don’t hold your breath waiting for funding, because they’re in the same boat as you; they need money, too. What’s worse is that some of these PR packages that promise even more come at high costs. “Starting at only $99!” First of all, that’s a lot to someone who basically lives paycheck to paycheck. Second, it’s important to pay attention to that word “starting.” You get the bare minimum, which is sometimes basically nothing, just a “consultation.” If you want the full package, you could find yourself facing hundreds of additional dollars. Unless you’re a startup that has a nice chunk of money set aside for PR, getting the word out beyond your tiny universe is going to be tough. Also watch out for those that claim they’ll reach out to thousands of Facebook groups. A lot of Facebook groups don’t even allow marketing on their pages, and I probably don’t need to tell you about how many articles there are on Facebook ads being CPC scams. My ultimate point is this: if you’re just a wee little person, with a wee little project like me that needs a pretty big chunk of money, the costs of crowdfunding may just be a little too expensive.

 

  • Time is Money: I knew I would have to spend some time every day working on getting my project out there. What I didn’t realize was that because of the aforementioned things, if I really wanted to get out there, it was going to take much more time than I have. I have a full-time job and freelance work, in addition to a life with a significant other and projects I pursue out of passion. The novel I’m trying to fund is one of them, but I can’t sacrifice everything to have a shot (in hell, as it may turn out) of funding. You see, even if you pay for more tweets, or for a press release and some PR, for someone with a tiny-to-non-existant budget and social circle, that isn’t really enough (again, for the reasons I mentioned earlier). If you can’t afford a lot of outreach, you’ll have to do it yourself, and true outreach takes a lot of time. And, chances are, small passion projects with no budget won’t be featured in online magazines and popular YouTube channels, no matter how many people you pester. There are simply too many of us out there.

 

  • It’s a Technological Entrepreneur’s World: Crowdfunding has helped many different kinds of people. But, for the most part, entrepreneurs with interesting new gadgets and apps are what backers want. We’ve seen films get funded, but most of them were by, or affiliated with known filmmakers in circles big enough to get the word out. Currently published authors have a decent shot, too. But for most of the other 90-something percent of us out there, we’re just not what they’re looking for. Like it or not, people want to back the next big, money making gadget. Our first novels, research, ill family members, sick pets, or mortgages don’t have the allure of being part of a future big business with big payouts.

 

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not bitter and anti-crowdfunding. I’m going to see my campaign through, but through a more realistic lens. If it fails, will I try again? I honestly have no idea. I don’t see myself having the money and time to afford it in the near future.

It’s just that there is a lot of “advice for a successful crowdfunding campaign” out there, and a few “things to remember before beginning.” But, there isn’t much out there to tell you that it’s not for everyone, and even though certain crowdfunding websites boast millions of dollars in successful campaigns, it’s actually a pretty small percentage of campaigns that get fully funded. So, this is for the people like me, who have great ideas, projects, or personal needs, but who may not otherwise be warned about just how difficult a successful crowdfunding campaign really is.

 

Kickstarter Project, Our Own Mistress, Update: The Samples

Our Own Mistress

I finally did it.

I registered my samples with the US Copyright Office, and am ready to post them to my campaign.

If you are working on your own Kickstarter project or other crowdfunding campaign, I highly recommend you protect your work in the same way. Most of us just want to freely share our ideas, but we live in a world in which everyone is not always honest.

Be safe, ya’ll.

You can find my written samples on my Fiction Samples page, and the audiobook introduction will be available on Kickstarter when the campaign officially begins. However, if you would like to hear the audio before then, just contact me.

Kickstarter Project, Our Own Mistress, Update: London

Our Own Mistress

A large portion of the funding I am requesting is for one week in London as part of researching and completing my novel.

Why London? 

The city is more than the novel’s setting. The people, their cultures and subcultures, and even the geography play a significant part in the story. I visited London years ago while studying in France. I have become so fascinated by the city and it so inspired me that there was no other place I could have imagined setting this story.

Why travel?

Yes, I could sit in front of a computer and research the city, estimate where things would occur, etc. That is not enough for me, however. I am striving to make this novel genuine, inspired by real people and places, and I can only do that if I am present in the location.

One reason I have struggled to finish this work is that I have been unable to afford returning in order to get a better “feel” for the city, and go beyond common tourism.

London, for me, is an essential part of this Kickstarter project, one that, I hope, you will be willing to help me complete.

Support Fellow Kickstarter Projects

As I build this Kickstarter project of mine, I try to remain realistic; there are too many projects out there to count, and many of them have something great to offer.

In an effort to show my support, I’m going to post some of them here, and do so regularly. I hope that, in some small way, I’ll help someone’s dream become a reality, even if my Kickstarter project doesn’t turn out the way I hope.

Handicape Graphic Novel

The Interactive Dark Fantasy Novel

Comic-Con: The Novel

BUSH AND OBAMA VS. ZOMBIES: A Novel of Manners

Kickstarter Project, Our Own Mistress: Preparations

Our Own Mistress

So, one thing I have realized in preparing for this Kickstarter project for my novel, Our Own Mistress, is that copyrighting as much as possible is a must to be safe.

Sure, the likelihood that someone would want to steal my writing is not terribly high, but you never know. Most of us in the creative world merely want to share ideas and have no interest in stealing anyone else’s hard work. But, we know that all it takes is one bad apple to ruin the bunch.

I have already submitted the sample segments I intend to make available to the United States Copyright Office. Though official records can take months to update, assuming I filled in the forms correctly, the site reported that my stuff should be safe under copyright almost immediately.

If you have work out there that you want to publish in any way, or if you are starting up a Kickstarter project, I highly recommend you do the same. Be safe, y’all.

More updates coming soon.

Herpes! Woo Hoo!

Meet the woman who tells everyone, ‘I have genital herpes’

Have I got your attention?

OKCupid’s questionnaire asks if you’d be willing to date someone who has herpes. There’s a separate question for cold sores, even though they’re the same virus.

The Overblown Stigma of Genital Herpes

 

I’ve long thought that the stigma is stupid.

Herpes is one of the most common STIs in existence. Studies show that if you’ve had more than one partner your chances of having been exposed are very, very high, whether or not you’ve contracted it.

Herpes is not generally dangerous, just really annoying. Most people don’t even know they have it. And yet, we make it out to be a joke and shame people for having it, when all they did was have sex like the rest of us. Because, guess what? Even condoms aren’t a foolproof barrier against it.

Whoops!

I’m pretty sure the percentages of people with some form of herpes is much higher than what these articles are saying, but no matter.

It exists, and people have it; get over it!

Adjuncts are Exploited Educators

The New Yorker: O Adjunct! My Adjunct!

Adjuncts are generally hired on semester-to-semester contracts, given no health insurance or retirement benefits, no office, no professional development, and few university resources. Compensation per course—including not just classroom hours but grading, reading, responding to student e-mails, and office hours—varies, but the median pay, according to a recent report, is twenty-seven hundred dollars. Many adjuncts teach at multiple universities, commuting between two or three schools in order to make ends meet, and are often unable to pursue their own academic or artistic work because of their schedules. In the past four decades, tenured and tenure-track positions have plummeted and adjunct instructor jobs have soared, second only in growth to administrators. Adjuncts have always had roles to play: filling in for a last-minute class, covering for a professor on sabbatical, providing outside expertise for a one-off, specialized course. But the position was not designed to provide nearly half of a school’s faculty or the majority of a person’s income. It’s estimated that adjuncts constitute more than forty per cent of all instructors at American colleges and universities.

Uloop: Survive a Literature Class

Literature classes seem like a waste of time for all but English majors and really don’t pertain very well to any other majors. Does this mean they are useless?

Certainly not. Literature classes are not useless. They have specific, quantitative values like promoting critical reading skills, analysis of authorship, consideration of audience, and promote a better, more rounded education. They open our minds to other perspectives and allow an open forum of discussion of important social issues that would otherwise not come up in say, thermodynamics.

Every single semester, whether I’m teaching Composition or Literature, I have to deal with questions like:

  • What is the point to all this?
  • How is this going to help me?
  • Why does this even matter?

There is an unfortunate sentiment toward education now; if it doesn’t get you a job, and make money for you, it’s useless.

The world reminds me of this daily. Despite the fact that the arts are integral in producing all that television, film, and social media that the greater percentage of the world loves so much, degrees in the Humanities and Arts are seen as frivolous and useless, and are often a punchline.

Even on shows like The Big Bang Theory, in which “quintessential nerds” love and find value in comic books, the Humanities are constantly the butt of jokes. It’s hypocritical, frankly; comic books and science fiction movies are,  in no uncertain terms, literature produced by artists. You can’t belittle the people who create and study them  one moment, and love their work the next.

To my students, I say that you can choose not to pay attention. You can choose not to care about anything that isn’t going to serve you fiscally. You can complain, berate, and belittle people who spend their lives producing, promoting, and teaching the Arts and Humanities. Know this, though. You will be:

  • Less educated. Literature sometimes, often, actually, holds more relevant information that “factual” history books.
  • Less informed. Writers and artists have long been feared by the world’s most powerful people for their ability to reveal the truth.
  • Less able to think critically. Math will help you with numbers for the rest of your life, and will help you think logically. Literature and the Arts will help you think about life, and decide for yourself just what the hell it all means.
  • More narrow-minded. Closing yourself to the Arts and Humanities is like putting blinders on. You miss a large percentage of what has happened, and is happening out there, and you certainly won’t comprehend it.
  • Less empathetic. The news doesn’t reveal what’s below the surface. Love, hate, happiness, and pain are revealed when people express it, and most of them express it in ways that are inherently artistic and literary.
  • Hypocritical. If you enjoy watching television, film, or almost anything online, but still complain that Literature and Art are useless, you’ve completely missed a major point; one does not exist without the other.

So, instead of “surviving” a literature class, try enjoying it, and sucking up all the value it has to offer.

 

Wash. Post: Truths about Education

While many such statements are banal, some are worth noticing because in our school practices and policies we tend to ignore the implications that follow from them. It’s both intellectually interesting and practically important to explore such contradictions: If we all agree that a given principle is true, then why in the world do our schools still function as if it weren’t?

By the time a lot of my students reach me, they have missed so much that I have to spend time teaching things they should have learned in high school.

I suppose I should say, “waste time teaching.”

Students have come to me without ever having read a novel. Some of them cannot seem to put together a basic, grammatically sound sentence. I actually have to spend time on the difference between things like “their,” “they’re,” and “there,” and remind them not to use “text speak.”

There are other, less intellectual things many of them do not learn. Some lack work ethic, and do not understand that they are responsible for their work and attendance. They were not taught that due dates are final, work cannot be turned in late for no good reason without consequences, and not attending class means failure. Generally, assignments cannot be made up, or done again.

I’ll avoid a rant on the twinge I feel every time a student rejects Shakespeare off-hand, or refers to his writing as “Old English.”

I have, on more than one occasion, wanted to quit teaching entirely. The pay is inadequate, the work is undervalued, and the hours and effort are incredibly stressful.

But, every semester something happens.

  • A student is gloriously enthusiastic.
  • A class is lively and attentive.
  • My students learn.

And, in the end, I sign up for more of the pain, just for those tiny pieces satisfaction.

As frustrating as all this is to deal with, I don’t blame the students. It is, for the most part, not their fault. The education system is failing them.

I do my best to apply all the things that this article lists. Not because research, an article, or another professor told me to, but because they make sense.

It is logical that a student who writes a paper about something that interests her or him will write better. The student will perform better research, learn faster, and retain more if shown that what she or he is doing is worth more than a class grade; it is knowledge, and the process by which it was achieved is directly relevant to life.