I know a lot of artists, writers, musicians, crafters, and other talented folks who make some of their living from their creative endeavors. I don't always have the money to support them as much as I'd like, but what I can do is set up a virtual faire where vendors can offer their wares to an audience that likes crafts, literature, and small businesses. For those of you doing your holiday shopping, here's an opportunity to buy something made with love, something unusual or unique, in a way that helps make it possible for creative people to go on creating wonders. And there will be no traffic jams, stampedes, or gunfights at the Winterfaire! Enjoy the seasonal offerings on Dreamwidth or on LiveJournal.
Vendors: If you have goods or services suitable for holiday gifts, please put up a booth by replying with a description of what you sell, an estimate of your price range if possible, and some kind of contact information so shoppers can reach you. If you have a website (Etsy, DeviantArt, personal, whatever) showcasing your work in more detail, include the link(s). If you have holiday freebies, such as downloadable greeting card imagery, you're welcome to promote those too. For ease of identification, I recommend titling your reply starting with "BOOTH:" followed by the name of your business or type of goodies.
Shoppers: If you're looking for something specific and it's not posted yet, feel free to ask. Someone else may know where to find it! "SHOPPING FOR:" and the topic would be a good title.
Everyone: You may help promote the Winterfaire by linking to this post from your own blog or site. If you have a similar holiday-networking post, you may link to it in a comment on this post.
Participation Perk: I'm offering poetry for participation, beginning with verses of "No One to Greet the Season" (72 verses) from the series Frankenstein's Family. Because, you see, all of these activities will unlock a verse each time someone does them:
* link to this Winterfaire page to boost the signal
* comment posting a Booth of your wares/services in the Winterfaire
* buy something from a vendor listed in the Winterfaire
* host a similar holiday market in your own blog or other venue
LiveJournal will notify me of comments to the Winterfaire post and links to it elsewhere on LJ; for everything else, you need to TELL ME in order to get credit for it.
Do you know of another indie holiday shopping post? Let me know and I'll link it here.
Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2013 by John Scalzi
( Read more... )
Justice is meant to be fair
but there are countless practices
that aim to lay a thumb on the scales --
institutions too big to fail,
conflicts of interest,
those who would be above the law,
deals under the table,
lobbyists dancing with revolving doors --
and every one of them
is a chink in the foundation
of a stable society because
if the law is not for everyone
then it is for no one
if rational methods do not resolve conflicts
then people will choose less rational ones instead.
But hey, if you want to sell ad space on your body, or advertise your own products there, go for it. If I can ever afford to attend events again, I'm seriously considering the idea of putting a QR code for my website(s) with a scifaiku on my skin. People are looking at me anyhow, might as well get some use out of it.
Note that one company practiced price gouging and another showed civic responsibility. The latter displays far greater business acumen. If you act like an asshole, you can rob people while they are helpless. But they will hate you for it, and they will not forget. They will turn on you if they ever get a chance. Conversely, if you help people, they will think of you favorably for a long time to come. That inclines them to keep doing business with you and encourage their friends to do likewise. It makes your society a happier, more productive place.
Don't be an asshole: it's not just immoral, it's actively counterproductive for you as well as your victims.
I like the idea of cutting out the middlemen, doing the work locally, and paying factory workers a decent wage. I love the idea of designing clothes from an engineering perspective and making them to last.
Unfortunately the online-only model is a dealbreaker for me when it comes to clothes and most other products. If they had a storefront, I could watch for one and try on the clothes. But most things, I won't buy unless I can touch them, unless it's an exact duplicate of something I've already handled. That's because few products meet even my minimum standards of performance ("Will it get the job done? Is it non-hazardous?"). The only things somewhat less subject to that barrier are things I can test equally well online, such as text or images, which is why crowdfunding works well for me.
I'm concerned about the trend of commerce shifting to cyberspace, because for me, that usually puts things out of my range. I don't like the way society is becoming less participatory. Take bookstores -- I've seen the industry go from a zillion small individual stores plus a few chains, to the era of chain stores and the marvelous megastores, to the fucking book desert we have now where the nearest bookstore is an hour away from me with a shitty little magazine section, almost no music, a shrinking collection of books, and a massive ereader booth right in front of the door. To me this doesn't say "Come in and fall in love with some books!" It says "Buy our gadget and go home and read ebooks." Fuck it. If I'm going to read on a screen, I'll support bite-sized crowdfunding. If I'm going to pay for a paper book, I want to hold it in my hands first, and I'd like to have a nice place to browse the shelves.
What can make a difference here? Crowdfunding. One seriously devoted fan can save an author or a series. Usually that's a donor, but not always. Sometimes a really effective barker can do the trick. If you have a handful of enthusiasts, the chance of success rises.
In crowdfunding, you don't have to please a cold-hearted marketing committee. You have to make friends who like your work, or find a niche that the mainstream isn't filling and put something good into it. There is no hard limit of only so many magazines or book publishers to submit to. Your potential market is as wide as cyberspace, and you can move around in there looking for the right people. Good projects do still fail for lack of support, and of course there are many projects that just aren't all that great. But the bottleneck is broken. You no longer need someone's permission to try for that audience. You can just publish your stuff and work on making connections.
For those of you who are the donors, the fans, the people in the audience: you matter a great deal more now. YOU are the new gatekeepers. YOU decide what's good and what isn't, what's worth sponsoring, what's worth commenting or linking. What lives or dies, what remains mist or becomes manifest, is subject to your influence. You don't have to settle for picking through what somebody else likes. You can ask for what YOU like, and usually get it. You can fill in gaps, request something other than the same stupid stuff on the shelves. You can support creators who are like you, or who just do things you think are cool.
So go make something happen.
But the question of "Why would authors choose not to use a professional cover artist?" is simple. They often can't afford it. They may not be able to afford an editor either. People don't want to pay enough for a writer to live on, let alone enough for the writer to split the pittance with other professionals and have anything left over. Even conventional publishers, who used to offer a pretty good package, are giving less and less service for less money. That means either the author pays out of pocket for those services, or they just don't get done. Mostly they don't get done.
And that issue about professionals and skills? That applies to writing too. If it doesn't pay enough to live on, people have to find some other way to make a living, and scrape their writing time out of the remaining corners. That leaves less opportunity to develop a high level of skill, so less of the writing that people read is written at that level. Not a great thing. It's an example of how, if you pay people well, that money spreads around and creates other jobs; whereas if you pay them poorly, there are fewer jobs and the quality drops.