Home Truths

May. 3rd, 2016 02:23 pm
dancinghorse: (Ocotillo)
[personal profile] dancinghorse
I'm continuing the editing and Horse Camp sale, and the Patreon page for new fiction is ongoing--many thanks to those who have joined the adventure so far.

Those who know me well know that when I break down and offer a sale, it's because I've run out of options. The past few years have been increasingly difficult, and last year was brutal. This year has been, emotionally, much less awful--and I have my writing mojo back. But in all other ways it's been worse than any year before it.

Right now I do not know how I'm going to feed the horses for the rest of the month. I have managed to scrape out enough to pay for the last load of hay (if that late check finally gets here), but once it's eaten, which it will be in about ten days, I don't know what I'm going to do. The farm will be gone by midsummer unless I find a steady source of sufficient income. I've been hustling like a hustling thing but so far with minimal results.

The market does not want either me or the horses. The horses are all old and therefore retired and unsalable, or else would require thousands of dollars' worth of training and show fees to have any sale value. No one can take them. The market is saturated with unwanted horses and the rescues are overloaded. I am over 60, hearing impaired (ergo, unable to use the phone), and with chronic fatigue syndrome which makes office or minimum-wage work difficult to impossible. And minimum wage would not support the animals, let alone me. All my income streams from backlist books, editing, writing, etc. have shrunk to a trickle or dried up. No one has booked a Camp in over a year.

I have had a few small things come through, but as with everything else, they've fallen short or failed to produce. I continue to push, and with the fiction writing regaining its old fluidity, I may manage to make something happen there. I've been urged to try an Indiegogo for a short novel, and I am closing in on that. (Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, offers an option that pays even if the goal is not met. The goal would be enough to cover mortgage, horses, and utilities for a month.) Since for the first time in my life I'm able to write more than one project at a time, that means I can continue to meet my obligation to backers of last November's Kickstarter for a science-fiction novel, and also write the novella (and short stories, too).

A friend suggested that I offer sponsorships for the horses. I feel weird about that, but they need to eat. What I would give in return is a little writeup about the horse being sponsored, with a digital album of pictures and a monthly update. And short fiction as it happens, if you are a reader with an interest.

Here's what the monthly "full ride" would be:

$200 Feeds and waters one horse for a month

$300 Feeds and waters the horse and contributes toward the farm (portion of mortgage and utilities)

$750 buys one load of hay, which lasts a little over three weeks

$100 buys a week's worth of grain and supplements

Email me at capriole at gmail dot com for details. Partial sponsorships are most welcome.

I welcome referrals for editing clients, bookings for horse camp, and writing gigs of various sorts including game dialogue and scripts. I do story commissions, too. Email for rates and details.

If you've read my books, there's one thing you can do that won't cost you anything: Post an honest review online, especially at Amazon. The more reviews a book gets, the likelier it is to trigger the algorithm that gets the book on recommendation and "If you liked this" lists, which means more chance of improving sales. Mentioning the books at conferences, recommending a favorite to friends, blogging about it--all these things help. I can tell when people are talking about my work; I see the spike in sales. And that's more feed money and bill money and money to pay the mortgage.

Please feel free to link and signal-boost at will. Last week's signal went everywhere and I was tremendously grateful, but the response has been in line with the rest of this year's efforts. I can only keep trying. And keep writing. And keep putting it out there.

Date: 2016-05-03 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] green-knight.livejournal.com
Sending best vibes your way.

Date: 2016-05-04 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for vibes and more. So much appreciated.

Date: 2016-05-04 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kameron hurley (from livejournal.com)
Do you have a paypal addess we can send $$ to?

Date: 2016-05-04 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Yes, capriole at that gmail thang. :)

Date: 2016-05-04 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morgan-dhu.livejournal.com
There is not much I can manage financially (I'm heading over to Book View Cafe later today to see if any more of your backlist is available) but I do have at least half a dozen reviews of your books on my book journal - I'll put them up on Amazon and Goodreads as soon as possible.

I hope you get a good response to this. Good luck vibes from a long-time fan.

Date: 2016-05-04 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
That would be fantastic, thank you! Reviews trigger the algorithms which trigger the recommendations, so they really help sales.

Date: 2016-05-04 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morgan-dhu.livejournal.com
Then I think it's time to start a serious reread of all your backlist that I have on hand - that will give me more reviews to post. :)

Date: 2016-05-06 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you! And Enjoy!

Date: 2016-05-04 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loligo.livejournal.com
Speaking of algorithms, are there any particular books you would like people to focus on when it comes to Kindle downloads? Lots of people buying one or two books should probably produce a bigger visibility boost than if those sales were distributed across your entire catalog.

Date: 2016-05-06 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
My first novel, The Isle of Glass, seems to be getting the most traction right now. Horse people are going for A Wind in Cairo or the story collection, Nine White Horses. And Forgotten Suns, the space opera, has a fair number of sales as well.

Thanks for pointing this out!

Date: 2016-05-06 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] loligo.livejournal.com
Excellent! I already wanted to get Forgotten Suns and I will happily add Isle of Glass.

Date: 2016-05-05 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glaurung-quena.livejournal.com
And, we've now purchased all the books by you that we didn't already have on BVC and on Kobo.

Date: 2016-05-06 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! That helps tremendously. And you get cool stuff to read! Win!

Date: 2016-05-04 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yhlee.livejournal.com
Signal-boosted at my DW and on Twitter.

Date: 2016-05-06 05:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

Date: 2016-05-05 06:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] esteefee.livejournal.com
boosted!

(-cynsa)

Date: 2016-05-05 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apetslife.livejournal.com
I came here through a rather roundabout way (let's hear it for signal boosting!) and have continued to spread the word. Any friend of Lippizans is a friend of mine, and your Avaryan Rising series was and remains one of my favorite high fantasy trilogies of all time. I've also purchased a few of your books via Amazon that I've been missing. I hope that money will get to you in time to be helpful. Hang in there.
Edited Date: 2016-05-05 04:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-05-06 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Many thanks. The response has been wonderful, and I bought grain yesterday and will be able to get a new load of hay in next week. And pay the mortgage, which is kind of important, too. I feel as if I can breathe. It's been scary.

Date: 2016-05-06 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rindis.livejournal.com
I've gone and chipped in a little for the monthly bills over at Patreon.

I'm afraid I have no immediate signal boosting for you; it's been long enough since the last time I read one of your books that I wouldn't be able to give much of a review. That said, a couple of your books have been nearly at the top of the 'to get' list for a while now, and I'll be sure to grab one sooner rather than later, and say a few words.

(And if you're curious, I'd say Alamut and The Eagle's Daughter are my favorites.)

Date: 2016-05-06 05:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! The Patreon is really important because it's monthly and steady. Every little bit counts, and that's what I love about it. I really appreciate your contribution.

Date: 2016-05-06 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gyri.livejournal.com
What is the name of your farm and where is it located?

Date: 2016-05-06 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
It's DHF Lipizzans near Tucson, Arizona.

Will boost

Date: 2016-05-06 01:47 pm (UTC)
ext_5417: (Default)
From: [identity profile] brashley46.livejournal.com
... on my Facebook page, for the fen on my list, and on Amazon and Goodreads.

Re: Will boost

Date: 2016-05-06 05:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

help?

Date: 2016-05-06 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] agramkow.livejournal.com
Would it help if I bought some of your books on amazon? I've just found out that you have written one of my favourites and I think that I, not being English but Danish, could survive reading it in English :-)

Re: help?

Date: 2016-05-06 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
That would be wonderful, thank you!

pt 1/2

Date: 2016-05-06 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calendula17.livejournal.com
I know this isn't the comment you're hoping for, but having survived decades of financial ups and downs, I feel moved to make it.

The current plan here....isn't a plan. I'm sure that fandom and writerdom, being what they are, will likely raise enough cash to hold you afloat for another few weeks. What then? You'll be right back where you are, without a significant steady income, a farm mortgage you cannot support, and far too many horses to feed.

What I'm saying is, you're in a sinking boat and Indigogo/patreon/subscription are bailing with a teacup.

You're at the point where your animals are in literal danger of starvation and you are still listing supplements in the budget. Honey, that's not accepting home truths. That's saying LA LA LA LA really really loudly.

Anything that is above and beyond the bare minimum of keeping the animals alive is, right now, an optional expense. Glossy coats, reduced joint pain, these are less important than literal starvation. You're down to counting the days until your animals go without food.

Fandom and writerdom is going to come up with at least a few hundred dollars and a few weeks' grace. You need to USE that grace to find your horses permanent, safe homes.

Yes, your horses are old or untrained, and yes, the market is flooded. But you're not actually listing any of your animals up for sale.

Saying to yourself 'nobody would want to buy them/the market is flooded/they don't have enough ribbons, so therefore I won't even bother listing them' is a kind of protective emotional self-talk, a VERY UNDERSTANDABLE one, but it's one your horses cannot afford.

You need to make a list of your animals, their needs, their strengths, their looks, and you need to publicly advertise that you are looking for new homes for them. You need to be making contact with every single rescue, horse farmer, or acquaintance possible.

It's very clear to me that you're not emotionally ready to sell your friends, and I understand that. Unfortunately, the fiscal reality is that you can't afford to wait until you ARE ready.

All too often, people in this position take the small windfalls of cash and use that cash to keep the boat afloat for another week, then another week, and then suddenly there is no more windfall, there is no friend who can afford to pay for your animals' hay, and you're desperate and must find homes Right This Second, because the hay is literally OUT.

I will be blunt: waiting until the very last second is a recipe for euthanasia. I wish I did not have to say that, but that is the truth. On some level, you know this.

You have exhausted the options for a steady income large enough to pay for their care, and therefore, you are faced with a) finding new homes or b) watching your friends starve or c) having a vet humanely euthanize. THESE ARE YOUR OPTIONS.

The more denial forces you to wait and wait and exhaust every resource on keeping up the denial, the more you are inadvertently choosing c).

Don't do this, I'm begging you. For the sake of your horses, let the dream of your farm go.

Use the windalls you receive to arrange quality, safe homes for your friends. If you get, say, five grand from a Indiegogo, don't use that to 'stay afloat' for another two months. Use that money to pay someone to take two horses as pasture puffs, or to pay trailering fees, or to pay advertising money, or to pay a rescue to take them, or (if you still have an intact male) the vet fee to geld him.

Maybe, at first, you'll only find a home for one horse--that will STILL reduce the overall fiscal burden and help the remaining horses to be fed. Maybe the horses will have to go too far away to visit--and that will suck.

Re: pt 2/2

Date: 2016-05-06 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calendula17.livejournal.com

You are already down to the wire here, what with the 'I only have TEN days' worth of feed left', and so for some of the least-desirable horses, you may need to strongly consider euthanasia. You may not be able to find safe homes for ALL of them, and some potential buyers will (realistically) be looking to buy for the Mexico slaughter market. It's going to take time to vet potential homes, which means you HAVE TO start looking now.

Instead of using these signal boosts to put off the inevitable for a handful of days, use them instead to find as many potential homes as you can.

I know that this comment will be painful, but it might be a relief for someone to say, right out loud, "This can't continue. For the welfare of the horses, they need new homes."

I know it may seem cruel, but I feel like it's necessary to say the obvious. A few editing clients aren't going to pay for that many horses' feed, much less vet bills. They're just not. There is no way to write a bestseller, guaranteed, because you would have done that already if you could.

I've been in the unhappy position of rehoming an animal I loved, but could not keep, and it is incredibly painful. But it is LESS painful than euthanizing the animal or having the animal be removed by the humane society.

And maybe, if you are able to sell your current farm, and downsize, you could keep one or two of the horses. I don't know. I hope so. But what I do know is that you're staring down the barrel of ugly options, and I would hate to see inaction/denial force you into the worst of those options.

Re: pt 1/2

Date: 2016-05-06 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for your careful thought and your helpful input. I really appreciate it. I am and have been exploring numerous options and believe me I have considered everything you've said. There's much more going on than I've been able or willing to put in a post, and I'm much less feckless than perhaps I look. ;>

Edited Date: 2016-05-06 10:19 pm (UTC)

Re: pt 1/2

Date: 2016-05-12 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calendula17.livejournal.com
I'm very glad to hear you're giving these ideas some thought. I'm sure there are many things going on behind the scenes that I'm not aware of.

Still, I return again and again to the fact that you were financially at the point of less than two weeks' worth of food for your horses. To me, that isn't about fecklessness or not, it's about an approaching catastrophe of starvation. I hope that things look up for your animals and you.

Re: pt 1/2

Date: 2016-05-12 05:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
It's called "cash flow." As in, perfect storm of late payments, delayed payments, deferred payments, partial payments, and in this immediate case, severe deadline slippage (not on my end) and sudden and drastic dropoff in multiple income streams that would normally have bridged the gap. This happens to freelancers, and is epidemic in publishing, when one may be owed thousands but can't pay this week's grocery bill.

I appreciate your input, and the fact that you care. Please be assured that I am taking measures to prevent further cash-flow crises. That includes advice from those who have access to the full (as opposed to heavily edited public) picture.

Date: 2016-05-08 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mizstorge.livejournal.com
I bought the Kindle version of Ars Magica yesterday, and finished reading it today! Wonderful novel, simply loved it. Posted a review at Amazon here (https://smile.amazon.com/Ars-Magica-Judith-Tarr-ebook/dp/B0038VZH9W/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1462664362&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=ars+magica+tarr) and my Tumblr here (http://mizstorge.tumblr.com/tagged/ars%20magica).

Seems to me that $5, $10 and $20 or $25 Patreon levels might generate more funds from those who would like to do more than $3 and less than $50. No one want to take you away from writing novels, but perhaps you could offer micro-stories, or brief articles (for instance, Sources for Medieval Monastic life, Ancient Roman Cooking, Courtly Manners: Ideal and Reality, Creative Dissertation Ideas, Creating Non-human Cultures).

Hope your situation soon improves!

Date: 2016-05-10 12:38 pm (UTC)
filkferengi: filk fandom--all our life's a circle (Default)
From: [personal profile] filkferengi
I enthusiastically second these ideas! The worlds are full of folks who like you more than $3/month [especially with Patreon taking their cut], but can't afford $50/month. There's a happy middle-ground there, where lots of your fans would love to hang out.

Speaking of hanging out, exclusive book or movie reviews are also ideas to add to the excellent list above. Heck, you're interesting enough, folks would probably read hair updates or other stream-of-consciousness [more than twitter, but less than a full blog post].

Date: 2016-05-10 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Patreon is different from Kickstarter. People pledge at any level they like. The reward is the monthly fiction or whatever. Response has been amazing. :) Right now everybody gets a chunk of new words and a little bit of horse diary every month.

Date: 2016-05-10 03:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trivialpursuit.livejournal.com
I dont supposeyou have copies of your bpoks i could buy directly from you potentially signed?

Date: 2016-05-10 01:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
I do have a few left. Any particular requests?

Date: 2016-05-10 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trivialpursuit.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed the Avaryan Rising series.

Date: 2016-05-12 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
Let me see what I can find. It may take a week or two.

Date: 2016-05-14 02:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trivialpursuit.livejournal.com
No problem. You can email me directly at bmcrews on gmail.

Date: 2016-05-16 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mizstorge.livejournal.com
Would you happen to have a copy of Ars Magica?

Date: 2016-05-12 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] harry turtledove (from livejournal.com)
Sent you snailmail and e-mail. Did either/both get there? Give me a shoutout, okay?

Date: 2016-05-13 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com
They did. You have Email. :)
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