21 March 2015
Fandom (and I mean greater extended fandom, not just science fiction fandom) has had various ways of paying it forward for decades. In fact, TAFF, the trans-atlantic fan fund, has been around since 1953.
What’s harder to find are those opportunities to transition from serious amateur to professional. Sure, there are Clarion (and Clarion West) scholarships, and various other programs to help get people over that hump. However, there are vastly more people qualified for them (and needing them) than there is money to go around.
Which is why I’m so excited by Lori Witt’s offer for romance writers: to fund (sans airfare) attendance for one new romance writer to RT Booklovers convention for 2016.> The thing is, the authors who stand to benefit the most from a convention like this often struggle to justify the expense. The very people who need to increase their sales and exposure the most are the ones who generally struggle to pay for it because they need those increased sales to fund the means for increasing those sales. It’s a frustrating paradox! The really awesome swag is expensive. The most visible and eye-catching advertisements and posters are expensive. Just being there is expensive.
How expensive? Look at what Lori’s offering to cover:
From the essays, I will select a group of finalists, and with the help of a group of published authors, determine a winner and two runners up. The number of finalists and the size of the panel will be determined based on the number of qualifying entries.
The two runners up will each receive $150 toward swag or advertising.
And for the winner, I will pay for the following:
- Your conference registration as a published author (approximately $500).
- Your hotel room for the duration of RT (April 12-17, 2016 – 5 nights) at the conference hotel.
- $250 toward custom, professionally produced swag.
- $250 toward an advertisement of your choice.
- One celebratory drink at the bar.
In addition to financial assistance, I will provide a guest spot on my blog for a follow-up post about your experiences at RT. Also, one-on-one guidance at the convention. This means help with pitches, going over the agenda to decide which panels and workshops will be most helpful for your goals, helping you set up and prepare for the book signing, generally navigating the conference, etc. This part is entirely optional, but is there if you need it.
Applications close August 1. Here’s the link to Lori’s blog post.
Maybe you don’t qualify, or this doesn’t fit, but you’d like to support Lori in some other way. She writes M/M romance under the name L.A. Witt, and sf/f (that’s not romance) under Lori A. Witt.
Now, granted, RT Booklovers is far more of a professional convention than anything other than World Fantasy in the science fiction/fantasy space.
How Not to Pay it Forward: The Unsplash Edition
Unsplash had become one of my favorite free stock photo sites. They have good taste. The range is limited (partly because they publish 10 photos every 10 days), but the photos are interesting.
However, there’s a darker side to it. Previously, they did nothing with submitted but not accepted photos. Then, suddenly, they decided to create a photographer page with all the submitted photos, killing the chance the photographer had to sell those particular shots for money.
As if that weren’t enough, instead of linking to the photographer’s site, now they just link to their own portfolio page. So the people who did the work are getting name credit, but they’re not getting the referrals. Because so many people link to Unsplash, very often the photographers’ own sites are pushed off the top search results as a consequence.
I’ve used about a dozen Unsplash photos here (including the one up top), and I’ll be deleting all references to the site as well as making sure all credits point to the photographers’ respective pages.
(To be clear, most of the free stock photos I’ve used in my blog posts came from Unsplash. I’ve also used regular stock photos that I’ve paid for, but I’ve used more of my own photos.)
While I’m going to reuse previously-uploaded photos, I’m not sure how I feel about uploading new ones at this point, even though I have a saved library. Unsplash’s actions feel like slapping someone who offered a gift, you know?
It’s a particularly tough time for photographers right now, and Aleksandra Boguslawska speaks more about how Unsplash’s actions hurt photographers.