Curious Tale Saturdays:
Looking Ahead at the Rest of 2015
Saturday, Sep. 5, 2015
Welcome to Season 2 of the Curious Tale Web Features! With the Prelude published, I took a short vacation after a whirlwind three months of production, but in the past week I've also gotten back to work behind the scenes.
Today I'd like to talk about my Curious Tale plans for the remainder of 2015.
First, though, I'd like to make an appeal: If you've read or are going to read the Prelude, I'd love your feedback after you finish. I want to hear whatever you want to say, in as much detail as you care to supply. The more the better. I will read line-by-line notes if anyone cares to write them. The Prelude is a first book for me in many respects, and I'm expecting criticism, so please feel free to include the negative along with the positive and the neutral. I know that's hard for some people, but do it anyway.
The Big Picture
Doing the Prelude revitalized my sense of perspective, allowing me to better appreciate a criticism I've received several times: namely, that I should be working on After The Hero itself, rather than Interludes like Mate of Song and The Great Galavar. My rebuttal has always been that I need more practice as a writer first, and it's true that I do, but doing the Prelude, and getting CuriousTale.org into a full working state, reminded me that the criticism is valid as well: I really should be working on After The Hero, purely from a business standpoint as well as from an aesthetic one.
I therefore spent some time looking at my options, and I came to the conclusion that Mate of Song is too far along for me to put it on the back burner now. Therefore, my major creative project through the remainder of 2015 and no doubt into 2016 will be Mate of Song. And to be honest I'm quite keen to get back to Afiach and her adventures, having not looked at the book in some time. Its completion is a key Season 2 goal.
I may or may not actually publish it when I finish it—although you'll have a chance to read it as an alpha or beta reader. This is because, in the Curious Tale, it's probably better for Mate of Song to be published after Book I of ATH is published—i.e., a little bit down the road. We'll see about that, though. I'll make a final decision later.
When I finish with Mate of Song, I will begin writing Book I of After The Hero. I have more to say about that, but it falls outside the scope of today's article.
Meanwhile, The Great Galavar will likewise continue. Maintaining The Great Galavar, and progressing in it in a more evident way, are critically important to me as we close out 2015. After all, as a weekly serial this story is supposed to be a major selling point for this site! Unlike Mate of Song, The Great Galavar holds the potential for immediate and continuing returns. However, I need to make a(nother) revamp of it, which I'll touch on below.
Aside from these two strictly creative projects, the most important and immediate big-picture work ahead of me is to continue building out this website, and settle into the rhythm of posting here regularly. Longtime readers will know that this marks a major transition for me, as I've posted all things Curious Tale exclusively on my Live Journal, The Sinistral, for virtually the entire existence of said Tale, well over a decade. CuriousTale.org is a big website, with a lot more overhead than Live Journal, and it's going to take me some time to get used to.
Competing with my plans for the big-picture, naturally, is real life—especially the distinct possibilities of environmental stress and economic obligations on my time. These variables represent major unknowns; they could have virtually no bearing on my creative output, or they could hinder it a great deal. As a consequence, I may have to retool the Season 2 schedule later on. That's why, today, I'm only issuing a forecast through the end of 2015, rather than through the entirety of Season 2 (which extends to July 2016).
Renaming the Weekly Features
Beginning today, I am broadening the naming conventions that I use to refer to my various works on this site. I tended to group everything in Season 1 under the banner of the "Weekly Features." This year, here's how the usage will go:
The Curious Tale Web Features, or Web Features or even just Features for short, will collectively refer to all of the added content that appears on this website—including material beyond the scope of both the Weekly Features and the Monthly Features. It may even include major stories sometimes, like The Great Galavar, which is being published as a Weekly Feature.
The Regular Features will refer strictly to the features that appear on a regular schedule, including both the Weekly Features and Monthly Features.
The Weekly Features will refer strictly to the regularly scheduled features that appear on a weekly timescale (including features that appear biweekly).
The Monthly Features will refer strictly to the regularly scheduled features that appear on a monthly timescale.
The Journal of Relance will refer to…
The Journal of Relance
And there's something special that comes with that. Far apart from the Regular Features—and dearer to me—is having a place for me to write unscheduled musings, at any time, on any subject. To that end I've created The Journal of Relance, which you can also find on the right-hand navigation menu. There's nothing there yet, but shortly I'll be setting up a journal there, and that will become the home of my unscheduled and impromptu writings on The Curious Tale.
The Journal of Relance is the CuriousTale.org equivalent of my Live Journal. Such musings are typically going to be more intimate, deeper, and longer than anything in the domain of the Weekly Features, and I urge you to check in there from time to time.
It should be said that I'll still occasionally reference The Curious Tale and the contents thereof back on my Live Journal. (For instance, I frequently make references or comparisons to Silence Terlais.) So, hardcore completionists will have to continue reading my Live Journal, which will continue to have the relevant writings tagged appropriately (so that you don't have to skim past the unrelated entries).
The Season 2 Regular Features
With all my attention on the Prelude, I didn't have time to properly consider how I want the Weekly Features and Monthly Features to look in the season ahead. My default assumption was that everything will continue on from Season 1, but now that I've had time to give it proper consideration I'm ready to announce my actual plans. Here they are:
My most important goal this year with the regularly scheduled features is not related to any one feature itself. It is to post all features on-time. I'm going to try very hard to do that, and I'll reevaluate at the end of 2015 whether I have succeeded—i.e., systematic failures to post on-time will be indicative of too hard a workload.
In fact, I have a simple way of succeeding at this, technically speaking: Any feature that isn't finished on its scheduled posting date simply won't be posted at all. So, unless there are exceptional circumstances (which will happen occasionally), if a posting isn't up by the deadline then it'll be held over to the next scheduled date. This way I'll never be in a backlog situation, which is a good stress-prevention method.
Ideally, of course, I'll stay ahead-of-time on my work and seldom run into the deadlines. I'm going to be trying hard on that.
As a perk of maintaining an on-time posting schedule, the days I work on features don't necessarily have to match up with the days I post them. As a default, I plan to devote Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to The Curious Tale, and not the other days, but with the option of adding one or even two more days in a given week if I have good cause.
It's very important for me to have not only time off but also time for other things, so I'm going to try containing my Curious Tale work to just these three days a week. This is a time-management initiative that ultimately pertains to the sustainability of my workload, and I consider it very important.
Of course, this is all behind the scenes. You won't see any of it. I'm mentioning it simply because it's interesting, and because there is a greater accountability for me by doing so.
The Weekly Features
The Weekly Features in Season 2 will be:
Community Service (Biweekly)
Curious Tale Saturdays
The Great Galavar
You'll note that most of the features I'm going to talk about will list starting dates that are somewhat delayed. That's because I am in the process of moving, from Texas to California. In order to not overwork myself I'm trying to be measured in my approach, and the easiest way to do that is to slightly delay the Season 2 premieres of most of the Weekly Features.
Here's the rundown:
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays: Off
There will be no features posted on these days.
Thursdays: Community Service (Alternating Weeks)
Begin Date: October 8
This new feature is a concession to pragmatism. It strikes me as logical that, since this sort of behavior is very much outside my wheelhouse, it's never going to happen on a sufficient scale until I schedule it, and yet a major part of building my audience requires that I venture forth to the Internet and make contact with communities.
So I am scheduling it. Every other week, I will spend a few hours making contact with the unknown, seeking out new life forms and new civilizations, boldly going where hundreds of others already are.
I considered whether this feature should take some written form, to document my work, and I've decided on a terse, "captain's log" format whose primary function will be simply to record what happened, but which will also allow me to elaborate when I desire. This article will appear biweekly, on Thursdays.
Fridays: Wiki Weekends
Begin Date: September 18
The Relance Project has an enormous amount of work that needs to be put into it even to get to a point where I would call it something to be worth looking at. First I have to get the wiki software installed and operational—a major project—and then I need to get the Project some momentum by supplying the wiki with a great deal of seeder material.
I'm going to begin doing a lot more of this work, and Fridays, therefore, will feature an account of the previous week's work—first in the form of a progress report on the wiki research and installation, and then probably in the form of links to the articles and entries I've posted.
I expect this feature will siphon off a certain type of article that sometimes appears on Curious Tale Saturdays. By devoting an exclusive slot for it on Wednesdays, there'll be more of this type of article, as well as more of all the other types of Curious Tale Saturdays articles on Saturdays.
Wiki Wednesdays constitutes a major, new investment of my time and energy. I justify it because this work is essential to my long-term vision for the Curious Tale brand and community.
Saturdays: Curious Tale Saturdays
Begin Date: Today! (September 5)
This is my best feature, and it's not going anywhere! Curious Tale Saturdays will be holding down the Weekly Features fort by itself for the next couple weeks, but it's here to stay through Season 2 (and almost certainly beyond).
Sundays: The Great Galavar
Begin Date: September 27
For my Two-Twelfths Birthday, The Great Galavar will make its return. That day won't be a new episode, but a synopsis of events up to the most recent episode, and an outline of the dramatis personae.
As I said, I'm revamping it again, hence the somewhat distant beginning date, and this time the revamp is going to succeed. As before, canon and continuity will be preserved. The reason for this re-revamp is to improve certain elements of the story that have been drifting. I'll talk more about it another time.
I plan to feature The Great Galavar quite prominently on this site, because I consider it one of my best selling points to attract new fans.
The Monthly Features
Special Infrastructure Project
Begin Date: September
With Wiki Wednesdays and Community Service, some of my most critical infrastructural work will be moving to a weekly scale. However, other infrastructure work still remains!
Here's a sneak peak: In September my SIP goals will be to prepare the e-book version of the Prelude, spiff up the homepage of CuriousTale.org, and get the Journal of Relance integrated with this site. These are manageable, achievable goals for a month that promises to focus mainly on my upcoming interstate move.
Empire on Ice
Begin Date: September
I love this feature and would dearly like to maintain it weekly. For one thing, it's great exercise for my comedic chops to be forced to come up with a funny premise each week and develop it into a sketch. For another, I find that it adds relish to my overall Curious Tale world development.
Nevertheless, a realistic assessment of my available time demands me to make cuts somewhere, and this is one of those wheres. For Season 2, therefore, Empire on Ice is being reduced to monthly status.
You may have noticed that The Curious Score is missing from the roster and The Curious Vlog hasn't returned to it. Again these are concessions to pragmatism. For one thing, I need the time for other priorities. But, just as importantly, the place where I'll be moving at the end of September will afford me considerably less freedom for these sonically-involved projects. (That is, I'm moving someplace where I'll be much more limited in my ability to make noise.) Both of these features will be returning in the future, but, for the remainder of 2015, I am not scheduling them.
You may also have noticed that The Mate of Song Report is missing. As I already said, Mate of Song itself will be my top creative priority, but the weekly report thereon never got the traction I wanted for it, and I don't have time to try and work on improving it as I look ahead to the rest of 2015. Therefore I'm just going to omit it completely, and talk about my Mate of Song progress on Curious Tale Saturdays or The Journal of Relance when I desire.
Mate of Song
Mate of Song itself will have top priority above all the regular features. Unlike Season 1, in Season 2 I'm willing to preempt scheduled features altogether on a given week, if I think Mate of Song could use the time.
I'm aware of keeping up appearances for my readers, so I don't plan to use this discretion lightly, but my creativity tends to function in spurts, and I think most of you reading this understand that a week where I supersede other Curious Tale work to make meaningful progress on Mate of Song is actually a very good week.
Patreon Payment Structuring
I gave serious consideration to switching to a monthly billing model on Patreon, rather than the per-week model that I currently use.
A monthly model would be cleaner and easier for me, as it's somewhat redundant for me to charge four or five times a month. The weekly billing model I use is actually a per-project mode as far as Patreon is concerned, intended for artists with irregular project publications. Because I charge weekly, there's never any variance, except the variance between months with four Saturdays in them and months with five, which balances out in the long run. If elegance were the only consideration, I would switch to a monthly model for sure.
More importantly, however, going to a monthly model would allow people to contribute to my work at a rate of less than one dollar per week, which is impossible under the weekly model. Many Patreon artists use the monthly model and it seems like there's a meaningful amount of money "on the table" in this extreme low-funding tier.
However, after looking at the way that a number of other creators structure their Patreon funds, this seems to come with a double edge: People who contribute less than five dollars a month have already made the critical decision to contribute anything, and it seems like the amount of money to be gained from those who would be willing to increase their contributions to $5 per month outweighs the money to be lost from those who stop contributing altogether because they're not willing to increase their contributions. The risk, as I see it, is that I would be underselling my work.
Ultimately, I decided that $5 per month is a good minimum endpoint. If a person is going to financially support me on a recurring basis, I think $5 per month is a reasonable entry point. Therefore I'm going to keep my fund structured on a per-week basis for the time being, but I am going to update my Patreon page to make it clear that patrons can pledge as little as a dollar per week if they want. (In fact, I already made this update a week ago; this entire Curious Tale Saturdays article got delayed by a week due to backend work on CuriousTale.org.)
I'm also going to be more strict about making Patreon charges promptly on Saturdays. In the past I've delayed posting new charges until all my projects for the week were published, but, after talking with my current Patreon supporters and thinking it over for myself, from now on I'm going to be charging every week as a default. I think the past year has shown that I'm committed to putting in both the time and the quality, even if every scheduled feature doesn't get posted on-time or every time. In that sense, a uniform weekly charge rephrases people's support in terms of supporting me as the artist directly, rather than supporting any specific thing I do.
Last year I set the billing cutoff on the condition that both Curious Tale Saturdays and The Great Galavar had to be published. If I didn't publish both on a given week, I didn't charge for that week. That resulted in a number of weeks where I didn't charge at all, even though I did a lot of work for The Curious Tale, and so this year there won't be any specific benchmarks. It'll be at my own discretion.
I will, of course, continue my policy of not charging at all on a given week if I feel I haven't lived up to a satisfactory work ethic that week, or if I simply need to divert my time to other commitments outside The Curious Tale. Also, though it will be uncommon, I will occasionally take a "paid vacation week," like I did last week. Having a chance to relax really is an important part of artistic sustainability. And, honestly, I spent a lot of my week off thinking about Curious Tale stuff anyway, just because it's my thing.
Building Platform & Building Audience
Nearly everything I've discussed up to this point revolves in some way around my stated central goal for this year: building my platform as an artist. (I didn't state that in this article; rather, I stated it at the beginning of the year as part of my annual Words of Reflection and Direction.) Getting this website operational, setting up all of my features here, publishing the Prelude, and verifying my business plans are all about building a platform.
Next year, with a respectable platform in place, is going to be more about building an audience, though platform-building will also continue. Initiatives like my biweekly Community Service feature are a precursor to a much larger outreach and marketing effort I plan to make next year.
However, I would like to set a modest audience-building goal for the end of 2015: Ten new Patreon subscribers. So far I haven't spent any effort at all recruiting new fans who aren't already readers of my Live Journal, so I don't know how realistic my goal is. But I'm going to try.
As was the case last year, this new schedule is experimental and is subject to reevaluation down the line, so that I can adapt it as necessary to make it sustainable, enjoyable, and relevant.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!