“Each and Other” DreamForge Kickstarter

“Each and Other” DreamForge Kickstarter

By Angelique Fawns


My favorite positive Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine is DreamForge. In 2024-2025 they are hoping to publish at least 20 exceptional stories and poems embracing the theme of “Each and Other: Invisible Ties and Unseen Reflections. Not only do I belong to their writing group the DreamCasters, but I am a member of their Patreon and love the rewards in their Kickstarters!

They offer copies of their fantastic magazine, webinars, a novel manuscript review among other fun things. 


Scot Noel, the editors shared his vision and writing hints. 

AF: This isn’t your first Kickstarter. Can you share what you’ve learned and what works for a successful funding drive?

SN: Angelique, thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about DreamForge and our Kickstarter. Yes, it’s true, this year’s Kickstarter is our sixth in a row we’ve been doing this since 2019. While I’m not the world’s best Kickstarter expert, I’ll be glad to share a few things that I have learned over the years.


The first thing to know is that Kickstarter doesn’t work in a vacuum. You have to have a network of friends and family and an audience of supporters that you’ve built up over some period of time to help make your crowd funding work. The reason for this is that when your Kickstarter launches, the algorithm that shares your project with the Kickstarter audience is influenced by the activity that takes place around your Kickstarter. I mean, you want to let your friends and family, your followers and your audience know that it’s now launched and that they can pledge their support. If you can organize them to do this all at once at the beginning, then that’s a significant amount of activity happening and the Kickstarter algorithm notices. The algorithm says “Ohh, people are interested in this!” and it shows your project to a wider audience of Kickstarter devotees who may buy in.


And don’t forget Social Media. When you launch your Kickstarter, hopefully you already have social media platforms like Facebook and X, Mastodon and Blue Sky, and depending on what you’re doing, ones like LinkedIn and TikTok too. You have to be ready to go on all your channels and promote your Kickstarter across these platforms as much as you can at a good clip, say at least several times per day.


In promoting your Kickstarter, you want to try to be dynamic and engaging make sure thought out whatever the special proposition, or unique selling point your Kickstarter has.  It might be Science Fiction, but is it Steampunk? Is it Steampunk meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Whatever you’re doing try to make it specific and give it an edge that is unique.


It goes without saying, but people who are interested in horror aren’t going to buy into your Kickstarter about epic fantasy. People who are looking for solar punk and hope punk stories won’t be as interested if your theme is apocalyptic. So, you need to know your audience. And it’s also a good idea to see what other Kickstarters are happening around the same time and are they being successful, and what are their pledge rewards like, and what goal did they set and how successful were they, etc.? or. 


If you want to dip your toe into crowdfunding, it’s easy to set up a simple Kickstarter and do something that you can accomplish on a very small budget, say $500 to $1,000.  I think most people should be able to accomplish if you’ve got everything lined up and you’re ready to promote on social media. It could be a small anthology or an art project. You might be doing something like some posters that people could buy, or T-shirts, or a small board game that you’ve put together. But one thing you’ll have to do for sure is calculate out what your expenses are going to be and whether or not they can be covered by the amount that you’re going to make off your Kickstarter. Keep in mind that Kickstarter is going to take a cut of what you earn because that’s how Kickstarter makes its money.


When you’re promoting your project, it’s a good idea for each of your posts to have a different graphic prepared. Give your audience variety and different ideas and different approaches when you go out there begging for money. Whenever you reach a milestone, and by that I mean… say you’ve reached your 25% point in funding, or you make it to 50%, or you’re getting close and you’re nearly funded, what you want to do is give updates on Kickstarter itself to the people who’ve already pledged to you and you want to encourage them to comment. You know, basically tell them “Hey make some noise! We’re halfway there!” Just encourage them to say “Woo Hoo” or “Congratulations!” What this does is trigger the Kickstarter algorithm to again show your Kickstarter to more people, because it’s generating activity, even if that activity is just people saying congrats!

Have stretch goals thought out and ready to use if you make your goal early. A stretch goal is the idea that you’ve made it, but now you can say “If we reach another $X amount of dollars ,we will add some additional art, or we’ll add bookmarks, or we’ll add fridge magnets or whatever!” 


Don’t forget that people like experiences as much as they like things.  So, if you can do a Zoom call with your supporters there any number of rewards that you can turn into experiences. It could just be a hangout with yourself and your team where you’re talking about the project; or it could be a teaching moment if you’re doing art, where you might be teaching them how you did the art and showing them your craft. Writers could do writing instruction; someone making a board game could talk about game mechanics and how ideas are actually tested to make sure that the gameplay is balanced. People love that kind of thing, the experience to learn and to interact with the creator.


Don’t despair if your Kickstarter starts off well but then slows up and even has a lull. Days may go by where you just can’t get anybody to pledge. That’s perfectly normal. Kickstarters have slow periods, and you just have to keep trying at the same pace. Activity is usually highest at the beginning and right at the end. 


The last thing I’ll say is that even simple Kickstarters are a lot of work and a lot of organization. You may have hundreds of people who are counting on you to get their order right and make sure they receive what they pledged for. Kickstarter can be an effective way for a small publication to help fund itself, because these days you’re only going to have a small percentage, around 2%, 3%, or 5% –  something like that – of the people who read your magazine or come to your website who will actually put up money to support the project.


AF: Tell me about your inspiration for “Each and Other.”

SN: We tend to work with loose themes from year to year and issue to issue.  Last year was our fifth year of publication and our theme was The Grand Uplift, and it was about humanity overcoming our problems and moving on into a brighter future. 


With “Each and Other” we chose a theme to reverse the trend that seeks to separate us with memes of them and other, stranger and outsider. We wanted to say “Hey, we are all of us bound across time and space by our shared humanity! You know what I mean. Today the news and headlines are full of ways to basically take this or that group and set them apart from the us, using words like immigrant, woke, elitist, snowflake, antifa, fascist, socialist, maga.


Let’s take a look at a few famous works that I think fit the idea we’re going for.  


Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear.  That’s the story of Willis Davidge, a human soldier who encounters an alien pilot, the Drac named Jeriba Shigan.  They end up stranded together on a hostile planet after a space battle. They are sworn enemies due to, well you know, they’re at war with one another. However as they are forced to cooperate to survive, they gradually overcome their prejudices and develop a deep bond of friendship. The story illustrates the idea that understanding, empathy, and shared struggles can bridge even the widest gaps between different beings.  


The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. This novel explores themes of gender and androgyny through the story of Genly Ai, an envoy from earth who is sent to the planet Gethen to persuade its inhabitants to join an interstellar collective. The people on Gehten are ambisexual and through Genly’s interactions with them we can explore the deep connections and shared humanity that transcends physical differences.


American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  This novel follows Shadow Moon, a man who gets out of prison and soon finds himself caught in a conflict between the old mythological gods and the new gods of technology. It explores the many cultures and beliefs in America and reveals the shared human needs of belief,  purpose, and connection despite people’s different backgrounds and deities.


So, those are the kinds of ideas that we’re going for, but they don’t have to be that complex. We’re just looking for tales that show individuals who otherwise might be apart from one another or separated from one another by ideology or time, beliefs or cultural backgrounds, and by the end of the story either the reader or the characters recognize their shared humanity.


AF: Are you going to be buying stories for this theme? Any advice to help authors be successful for this particular call?

SN: Our next submission opening for this theme will be sometime this in late summer or fall this year. That will be just the start.  There will be another submission for the same theme, probably early in the new year. We’re just trying to break up our reading periods and make things more manageable. 


The first thing to know is that the themes we set for the year are something that we’re looking for, but not something that’s absolute. And what I mean by that is if you have a good story that is generally in the range of positive fiction, send it in. Solar punk and hope punk based stories are always of interest. That’s because we usually find enough to support the theme and we also want a little variety. So, the first rule is always tell a good story. 


Common flaws we like people to avoid are too much exposition, along with dialogue that tries to be exposition instead of revealing emotion and giving us insights into the characters themselves. And try to keep the reader oriented and engaged as to what’s going on. If we can’t figure out what’s going on, it’s probably not a good sign.


AF: What do you see in the future for DreamForge? Any expansion plans?

SN: Ah, the future of DreamForge! Well, Jane and I still have full-time day jobs running our business. So, DreamForge remains a part-time endeavor, a passion project, but one we love a great deal. 

For myself, I’m looking ahead by learning video presentation and editing so that I can build The DreamForge Channel on YouTube. On the DreamForge Channel, we’re covering topics like what will humanity do when AI has all of our jobs? Then there’s the future of education, or how earth’s gravity actually defends us against alien invasion. I love learning new things, and mastering video presentations is my latest passion.


AF: If you were to give a short story writer advice on how to grow their career, what would you say?

SN: Whoa, advice on how to grow a career! If I had advice on how to grow a writing career, I might have a writing career (lol). What I would say, is that you have to approach your writing as a business, perhaps more business than art. What do I mean by that? You need to know the markets, what’s selling now, what looks like it will be selling in the next year or so. For example, you can’t write a zombie novel right at the end of the zombie boom, because no matter how good it is there simply isn’t going to be interest for it among publishers. 


You have to know what publishers are buying, and you have to know how to produce that in a timely fashion, and then you have to start building your network of contacts. Go to conventions, talk to editors. Talk to other writers in the genre that you’re interested in competing in. There is no way you can’t learn too much. 


Be polite, kind, and useful. No matter how anxious you are to sell the novel you’ve just written, don’t corner an editor in an elevator and force your sales pitch on them. Try to make yourself familiar to editors and writers and publishers, a little bit at a time. Offer to buy someone lunch or dinner. Get someone a coffee or help them set up their booth in the sales room. Always take rejection politely and with a smile. Start by taking an interest in everyone and everything. People like to talk about themselves. If you ask questions they’ll talk, just don’t monopolize their time. A 5-minute conversation to start might turn into a 15-minute conversation next year. Gradually build up the network of supporters you’ll need to help you once things start to sell.


And work. Harder than you know how to right now. Send your material out to as many markets as you can possibly find. And if you receive any comments take them seriously and try to understand what the editor was telling you and, based on that, make your next story even better. 


There is no rejection you can’t learn from, both the polite ones and the cranky ones. If you were learning martial arts, getting hit is what you’re there for. It helps you learn quickly. It’s the same with writing.


But if you do everything absolutely right and work as hard as you possibly can, and you know you have the talent, there’s still a large element of luck and fortune in being able to establish a career in writing. That’s life, and life is unfair.


That said, don’t despair. Writing is fun! If you were a skier and you failed to make the Olympics, would you stop skiing? If you absolutely loved acting and you never got the starring role, would you give up acting? Go forth and write and be blessed in the joy and friends and opportunities it brings you.


AF: What is happening in your personal writing life? Any new sales/publications/plans?

SN:  Ohh! What’s happening in my personal writing life? Well, as some people know, my day job is commercial writing, developing website content and blogs and social media for a variety of businesses. It really keeps me busy. As far as careers go, I’m probably better off doing what I’m doing because it’s helped us own a house, buy cars, get groceries, travel, and all those good and necessary things.  I’m not sure I’m a good enough fiction writer to have gotten to the same place on tales of spaceships and magic wielders.


Now having said that, I have been trying to find time to do more of my own fiction writing in recent years. And I am starting to send some things out. The biggest opportunity/accomplishment I’ve managed so far, which even fewer people know about, is that I was a winner of the Scifidea Dyson Sphere Contest this year, which was looking for novellas on the subject of Dyson spheres. This was an international contest that was looking for new intellectual properties for multimedia production. My 46,000 some word novella The Eight Pillars of Void and Virtue was one of the top ten winners; chosen by a stellar panel of judges including Neil Clark, Nancy Kress, Michael Swanwick, and others, unfortunately before we could make any deals about movies or books or graphic novels, etc., the contest finances collapsed and nothing more is happening on that front at the moment. But we do have five-year contracts to get paid some substantial sum for our stories, and we’ll just have to have to see how things go from there. 


For some reason, I tend to do better at contests then writing for magazines and regular publications. Contests remind me of my old days writing for computer games in 1990s, because you have a deadline and all the stress and pressure of delivering a product on time and getting it done no matter what. That seems to be something my brain understands and works well with as far as motivation.


If anyone reading would like to support DreamForge, a link to our Kickstarter follows. Our 2024-25 Kickstarter is going until July 21st, this year. But I hear if we make our goal, we can keep some of the pledge levels open for purchase even after our Kickstarter ends. We’ll have to see how that works! Thanks to everyone who is helping us keep positive science and fantasy fiction alive.  DreamForge Kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/scotnoel/each-and-other-a-dreamforge-press-project




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