Grants/Fantastique Unfettered: A Periodical of Liberated Literature
Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.
Fantastique Unfettered, a Periodical of Liberated Literature, exists to provide well-written, compellingly readable, original stories of fantasist fiction to readers. Our Transcendent Purpose is to create fiction that is unfettered by tradition copyright. That is why our content carries a CC-BY-SA license. Fantastique Unfettered will continually seek ways to generate revenue with the end goal of paying creative talent the best rate possible. We represent Fantastique Unfettered additionally as an Idea Factory to other creative mediums, much as comic books have become to the movie industry.
Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).
Fantastique Unfettered will take the form of a quarterly print publication, in addition to every electronic format our staff has the expertise to produce (pdf, various ebook formats and delivery options such as the iPad/Kindle/Nook). Six months after initial publication, all fiction will be added to an online database of Unfettered Fiction. Periodic 'Best of' collections and other projects may follow, exemplified by the Aether Age: Helios anthology, our first project to carry the CC-BY-SA license.
Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?
Our community is tri-fold. One, on the most basic level we are providing a wide array of content to readers. Two, we are providing a venue for writers to publish their work at --a goal not yet realized but that the grant could provide-- professional rates. In addition, we believe it is the perfect vehicle for pitching this content to other media, from local, indie producers all the way up to Hollywood. Three, we provide an idea factory to other media from which they may draw and create derivative creations. We believe there is an inherent worth in this project in adding content to the culture that is unfettered by traditional copyright.br />
Brandon H. Bell is a writer of weird fiction and his work has appeared in markets including Nossa Morte, Everyday Weirdness, and anthologies from Hadley Rille and M-Brane SF. He is the co-editor of The Aether Age: Helios from Hadley Rille and M-Brane Press. His day job is in IT, security monitoring and reporting in a largely Unix/Linux environment.
Chris Fletcher is the editor & publisher of M-Brane SF magazine (now in monthly publication for over a year) and several books from M-Brane Press. They both have ties to other publications in the genre ( such as Locus, GUD, Brainharvest, Crossed Genres), organizations (Online Writer Workshop -OWW-, Outer Alliance, Emergent Element) and individuals (we can provide individual references if needed).
We know the small press, genre publishing scene and are new and small enough to take a risk in trying something new that other, more established operations might not be able to willing to try. Alternately, we are established enough that good effort will pay off in a successful venture.
How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?
Being able to pay pro rates to writers is a fundamental sign of the highest level of success. That is .05 cents a word. Beyond that, once we publish for at least 1 year and achieve a circulation of 1000 copies, we would then be able to apply for SFWA Pro Market Status.
A more modest goal would be .03 cents a word, semi-pro rates.
To achieve the above would serve as proof of concept, that the CC-BY-SA license scheme is a workable model for venues such as this. We would have all the fiction published during the life of the magazine as testament to the effort's success, forever apart of the culture without restraint beyond attribution. Derivative works would further validate the effort.
How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?
Chris Fletcher/M-Brane Press will act as publisher and assistant editor.
Brandon Bell will act as editor.
Beyond that we have contributing editors such as Cesar Torres (another published writer, slush readers (to be determined based on volume of submissions), artists such as M.S. Corley and Mari Kurisato (participation will depend on ability to fund art, and the writers. We anticipate each monthly issue will contain at least six stories with a max length of 5000 words. If paying pro rates that is $1500 per issue (250x6) plus an estimated $300 for cover art. At this point we --editorial staff-- do not intend to compensate for our roles, and do not anticipate the ability to do so.
Beyond pro rates, critical recognition adds to the prestige of the project, and our goal will constantly be to publish fiction that earns recognition from the genre-reviewers & beyond, as well as placement in the various genre awards (Hugo, Nebula, etc.) once qualifying. We don't intend to limit ourselves to genre recognition, though this is a primary focus.
Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".
Fantastique-Unfettered extends the Creative Commons' licensing and philosophy into the fiction realm, something that --to our knowledge-- has not been done before except by Aether Age, and some writers like Scalzi who have made their word freely available (though I don't believe they've gone as far as to make derivatives acceptable). In the scenario where we are accepted for the grant, we are contributing directly to the culture, while helping short story writers with great pay and exposure, and issuing a high-profile challenge to the publishing establishment.
Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?
OpenOffice.org, GIMP, and Scribus are at the heart of the nitty gritty of the operation. The website is based on a blog platform for simplicy and ease of management. We are not web designers, so success may require that we move to a more robust platform for the site eventually. For now, the simplicity is good.
Our publishing solution may be Lightening Source, though this has not been finalized. A major benefit of this option are the Ingram distribution channels. We'll leverage our relationship with publishers such as Hadley Rille and blurbs from 'name authors' to help us penetrate big box stores.
We are still researching best practices for ebook versions beyond kindle and pdf, in particular the iPad bookstore, and other mobile devices, which could be a great boon in distribution. We do not have the expertise to create an iPhone or Pre or Android app, which could also be a great distribution channel, so we'll be looking for such expertise.
What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?
The challenge facing the small press publication (regardless of niche or genre) is buy-through and distribution. It is, to some extent, a chicken and egg sort of problem.
First, we publish excellent content in a handsome physical package. And we do it again. And again. Consistently serving our readers in this way attracts more readers and more recognized writers. We already have the confirmed attention of writers such as Lynn Flewelling. If we do good work and continue publication, I fully anticipate established writers such as these will eventually submit work to us.
We'll use social network channels to spread word of mouth about the publication, and reach out to other venues, review sources, and people with name recognition to add support for the project. We'll look to our publishing solution to make us available to the largest distribution channels possible. Then it is a matter of achieving visibility.
How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?
We'll fund the project via subscriptions and per-issue sales, along with side projects such as anthologies. We will also sell ad space and possibly set up a 'fund pro rates for writers' program, whereby we accept donations in $250 increments, essentially funding a pro story per donation. We'll need to address if it makes the most sense to apply for non-profit status or not, in light of such plans. Another option we are exploring is if a 'member' program akin to NPR might make sense, whereby members make contributions that are slightly more than subscriptions, but gain extra benefits (free ebooks of anthologies, etc).
How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?
The 'Story Factory' is built into our plan and is scalable by nature. If we come to the end of Fantastique Unfettered's life with 40 stories or 400 stories, we'll make provisions so that the database of stories and attribution text remains available for perpetuity. Also, if a success, we expect to transition M-Brane SF over to the same licensing scheme.
What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?
funding is the only resource we are asking after, though any publicity is appreciated and helpful.
Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)
We communicate via blog post, email, twitter, facebook, podcast, video; network partners are communicated with via email primarily.