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Answered Asks: Publishing Without Using Amazon?

Cross-posted reply to an ask received on Tumblr.

hey, i’d like to just throw this out to you, since you’re a press so i have a feeling you might know. if i was seeking to publish a book but i didn’t want it to ever be sold through amazon, what would my options be?

I’m assuming you mean you’re interested in self-publishing? If yes, then yeah, I can give you at least some information about your options. 😀

If you don’t want to use Amazon, you definitely still have some options for self-publishing a book. I can sympathize with this sentiment; we hate Amazon and I’ve done what I can to keep our works off there (and, ultimately, failed, but still kept it to a minimum).

There’s two overarching questions you’ll need to consider when deciding how to proceed:

  • What formats are you selling? Are you doing e-book only or e-book + print or print book only? What about audiobooks? Which will influence your choices.
  • Are you mostly interested in direct sales (as in, you personally sell the book to the customer) or sales-through-an-intermediary (as in, a bookstore sells your book to a customer) or distribution (as in, you list the book with someone who acts as an intermediary between you and other vendors)?

As briefly as I can, first, here’s what Duck Prints Press uses:

  • Ingram – e-book (and, once we have one – we’re working on our first! – audiobook) distribution. Ingram is the biggest book distributor in the US and has a virtual monopoly on distribution. Even places that aren’t technically Ingram, such as draft2digital, usually use Ingram. Because they’re a near-monopoly, Ingram has a lot of ability to, well, screw people, and one way they’ve tried to screw people is they keep making it harder to get into their better services, pushing people to their much-less-supported service IngramSpark. I managed to get the Press grand-fathered in to Coresource, which is their e-book and audiobook distribution system, even tho we don’t meet the current minimums for number of titles for that product. I CAN’T get into Lightning Source, which is their better-supported print book distribution service, because we don’t have enough titles (we’d need 30, we currently have 10ish). If I wanted to use IngramSpark, I’d have to ditch Coresource, and I don’t want to do that because Coresource works great and has good customer support, and so I had to settle on a compromise I don’t love until we meet the minimums for Lightning Source – I use Coresource through Ingram for e-book distribution (and don’t distribute to Amazon), which is…
  • draft2digital – print book distribution. This was my work around for not losing Coresource in the name of getting Ingram print on demand (pod), and it came with a price: d2d doesn’t let me opt out of Amazon, much to my irritation. So the three titles we currently have pod on ARE on Amazon.
  • our webstore – e-book and print books, directly sold to the public. Our website lets people download e-books; I package print book orders made through the webstore myself and mail them myself.
  • in-person sales – I started vending at events last year; this year I’ll be doing about a dozen.

All of which goes to show, even trying to publish while avoiding the most evil places is really hard and a source of frustration. If anyone knows a good option for ethical publishing distribution, I’m honestly all ears. Competing with Ingram is extremely David vs. Goliath (see also the recent death of Small Press Distribution).

So: remembering that Amazon is easily the worst but that there’s still basically no ethical consumption or production under capitalism…

Ingram

Of the places I’m familiar with, the best-known option with the widest reach for self-publishing distribution is IngramSpark. As mentioned, I don’t use Spark, but Coresource lets me completely customize which of Ingram’s partners (vendors, wholesalers, libraries, etc.) I actually distribute with, and I’ve assumed that other Ingram products are the same. I believe IngramSpark is currently free per title; they get paid by charging fees per sale and because they get better listing deals with partners than an individual would get (like, Ingram might get charged x per title they list with, idk, Barnes and Noble, whereas you as an individual would get charged y, where y is larger than x, and Ingram pockets the difference).

I know a lot of people who use IngramSpark and my impression is that when it works, it works really well, but when it doesn’t, getting help/customer service can be a nightmare. Virtually everyone I know who has used them has stories about late titles, support taking a week+ to reply, that kind of thing. I believe they have an option to pay for better/more rapid responses from customer support, which I feel kinda tells you everything you need to know about IngramSpark.

Draft2Digital

Another option is draft2digital. They use the Ingram distribution network, but again they can do so cheaper than an individual can because of their bulk sales through Ingram. They also offer e-book, audiobook, and print distribution. I use draft2digital for print and I’ve been quite satisfied with their customer support, but their print distribution doesn’t allow opt-out of Amazon. HOWEVER, I believe their e-book distribution does. At minimum, there’s a checklist on d2d about “steps you have to take to distribute e-books through d2d” and I’m assuming if you just. didn’t do that checklist. then you obviously wouldn’t get your books distributed through them. The other big thing I don’t like about d2d (which may also be true of IngramSpark, idk) is that they charge after the first revision. Which is to say: you put together your book, you upload your book, you get it all set… and you notice a mistake. Okay, fine. You fix the mistake and re-upload. Re-uploading uses a “change token.” You only get one free change token per title per six months. So, you notice another mistake you feel you have to fix a few days after that first? That’ll cost $25. I’ve personally just kinda… tried to find all my mistakes right off and fix them, and anything I spot after that, I keep a log and will update all of them at the six month point. (I understand why they do this, btw – they have actual humans doing set-up on their end, so if you revise eight times in a week, that’s a lot for an actual human, and charging for the tokens forces people to be careful, helps ensure people submit books that are actually ready in good faith, and helps keep costs low. That doesn’t mean it’s not annoying, though.)

Bookvault

Bookvault is a UK-based print-on-demand option (so NO e-book distribution, just print) that has recently started offerings in the US too. They currently have a relatively limited distribution network, but they’re growing, and especially for UK-based people they’re a strong alternative. I’ve heard a lot of positive reports about their printing in a FB group I’m in (Kickstarter for Authors – do recommend, lots of great info there), but I’ll own my personal experiences weren’t great and I’ve decided not to keep using them for now. However, if what you primarily want is print books as print-on-demand, and some limited distribution choices, they’re a good choice, and they can help with option five below.

Do It Yourself Lite

A fourth option that’s a LOT of work is…you add it everywhere yourself. Most places will let you. For example, here’s how to sell on Barnes and Noble.com. When I self-pubbed a book a few years back, before I ran the Press, I submitted my work by hand to several different options (B&N, Kobo, Amazon because I still used them then, Smashwords, to name a few). However, doing this isn’t the same as distribution – it only will sell through that specific vendor – and as far as I know there are no options for doing print-on-demand those ways (I THINK, tho I’m not sure, that Amazon is the only place you can set up both e-book and pod through a single vendor – it’s not something I’ve researched tho, cause with the Press, doing single-title-at-a-time entry across so many different vendors is simply not realistic).

Side note on this: I don’t believe there’s a way to list self-pub books on Bookshop.org, but don’t quote me on that.

This method also doesn’t work well if you want to get your title in with libraries. I researched this a bit well over a year ago now, so I don’t recall all the details, but before we signed up for Ingram I DID try to see if there was a way for us to publish and get in libraries especially without involving them, but there…wasn’t really. Places like Overdrive that handle e-book-to-library distribution don’t really have a way for individuals to submit; I have this vague memory I found a way to do it that involved paying per title but tbh I can’t even find that now (though while I was looking I did find this decent-looking article about how to get your self-published book out in the world, echoing a lot of what I say here).

Do It Yourself Difficult Mode

Your fifth major option, and what we originally did as a press, is: do it all yourself. You can get your own storefront (ours is through Woocommerce + WordPress). You can do your own crowdfunding. You can run your own newsletter (I use Mailerlite), do your own advertising, etc. You can do your own printing (we currently use Booklogix and I’m quite happy with them, their customer service is A+++). You can vend at events, you can market to local bookstores, sell through bookstores that do consignment, etc. You can learn to format your own e-books (I use a combination of Affinity software and Calibre, with an assist from Daisy to improve the accessibility of our e-books). You can get access to stock images and vector art to make things look nice (I use vecteezy). There’s a LOT you can do entirely on your own. And that’s what I did for myself before I ran the Press, and what I did for the Press for the first couple years we operated.

The reason I changed how the Press handles things? I hate to say this but the sad truth of publishing is that not using Amazon is utterly crippling to a publisher. As of 2 years ago, Amazon represented 67% of all book sales in the United States. Not selling through Amazon means accepting you’ll simply be completely unable to reach more than half of the people reading works in English all around the world (works not in English may be different, I don’t know that market since I publish in English). And for myself, alone – for my works? I could make that choice. But the Press currently works with well over 100 authors, and I ultimately felt I couldn’t make the same choice to them. I tried so so hard not to compromise this, but refusing all distribution, when we were also avoiding Amazon, meant completely hamstringing the ability of authors we work with to market and sell their books. It meant, to work with us, people would have to sacrifice so much of their ability to earn money from their words, and it just didn’t feel right to continue in that avenue as we grew. So, I was forced to compromise: first to use Ingram, which I did on the condition that I’d be able to reject Amazon specifically, and then by having to use draft2digital, including their goddamn Amazon print-on-demand, at least until I qualify for a better option, which as soon as I can do? You bet your butt I’ll be switching and opting out of Amazon again.

The current climate makes these choices really hard, and I didn’t make them lightly, nor did I make them alone – there’s about 20 people on the DPP staff, and they all contributed opinions and voted on the final decisions I implemented for the Press in these regards.

(and sorry, I know “what DPP does and why” is a bit to the left of your actual question, but I felt like it’d be weird to make a list of recommendations without including the decisions I’ve personally made and why – like, why would I recommend you something I don’t do myself with the books I publish? So sorry for the info dump.)

The TL:DR of all this is, as far as I know, and as I’ve been forced to accept as part of the realities of running a small press in the modern world of publishing, is that avoiding one Big Evil (Amazon) with any hope of achieving even a modicum of success basically requires partnering with at least one other Big Evil (Ingram especially). It’s a very hard game to win.

HOWEVER, you are doing this FOR YOURSELF, NOT for all the people involved in a business larger than just you. If you’re willing to put in the extra work to figure out a lot on your own and manage your own marketing, you can theoretically build enough of an audience to go it alone without Amazon OR Ingram OR places like Kobo/B&N/etc. You’ll have to outlay more out of pocket – things like webhosting cost money – and you’ll have to be a lot more careful – if you’re running your own website instead of using someone elses, you gotta go above and beyond making you’re in compliance with privacy rules and such – but it can be done.

And if you don’t want to go that route, and your only real “to avoid” is Amazon specifically… use IngramSpark.

Sorry I’m long-winded. I hope this helps! Good luck with your publishing goals!

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5 Interview Questions with Adrian Harley

Many Drops Make a Stream features Droplet, a vigilante shapeshifter, assuming many animal forms while she takes on the corrupt powers-that-be of the fantasy world she inhabits. Today, the novel’s author Adrian Harley joins us to answer five questions about Droplet specifically and in the book in general!

Q: How did you build the world for Many Drops Make a Stream?

A: I’ve been writing in this world since I was 13, full of confidence, when my only guide for what showed up in my fantasy world was “What do I personally think would be cool?” I highly recommend this, it was great fun. The twenty years since then have been a slow process of asking myself questions, which has also been great fun. I asked myself things like “why does this world have half-human, half-animal hybrids?” and “what’s beyond that mountain ridge on the map?” This has resulted in dozens of story ideas, some of which are even drafted, and I hope a lot of them make it to final book form some day.

Q: Tumblr user definitely-not-a-shark asks, “There are so many wonderful animals that Droplet gets to shapeshift into! Which of them is your favorite form, and why is it the shark?”

A: Tragically, a shark form did not make it into the final draft of this book, so it cannot be a shark. I ended up with a surprise favorite form – I loved writing Droplet as a rat. The runner-up is Droplet’s goose form. I have a soft spot for geese. I find their total disregard for people and open hostility very entertaining. I started writing Many Drops Make a Stream before Untitled Goose Game came out, but that sort of aggressive commitment to upending order is something I enjoy writing.

Q: Following up on that, what animal would you love to write that you haven’t written yet?

A: Otters, definitely. Otters or some other kind of mustelid. That bounciness and playfulness would be quite a change of pace for Droplet, but we may see more shapeshifters who would be more at home in an otter form. I’d also like to write Droplet taking on a rabbit form, in homage to Watership Down.

Q: What was the first story you ever wrote?

A: Before I could write, I dictated stories about Land Before Time characters to my mom, who wrote them down for me so I could illustrate them with dinosaur stamps. I don’t remember the first story I ever wrote myself, but it was probably about a cat. I don’t even know how many magical cat stories I came up with as a kid.

Q: What are some hobbies you have outside writing?

A: I absolutely love being outside. I take a lot of walks, and I go on hikes as often as I can. I do my best brainstorming out walking in the woods, too. My main sedentary hobby is reading, closely followed by checking out books from the library that I do not read, which sit on my end table for a month before I return them.

Have you read about the Many Drops Make a Stream pre-order campaign? Have you read the free story opener included in the Duck Prints Press zine?

You have? Awesome! You must have more questions, then – and we’d love to hear ‘um. Comment or drop us an ask, and Adrian will answer you!

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Celebrate Small Press Month with Duck Prints Press

March was National Small Press Month, and Duck Prints Press celebrated by collecting 12 questions from press contributors, recording the answers, and posting them on Tiktok and Instagram! Curious about the Q&A? This post includes a link to all the videos, and transcripts of each one for those who aren’t inclined to watch a mess of recordings. Read on, and learn the answers to…

Introduction

Transcription: Howdy everyone, I’m Claire. I go by Nina Waters and unforth, and I’m the owner of Duck Prints Press, and I am very very very very much not accustomed to being a talking head in a Tiktok video, so I hope that this will be okay and that everything is awesome. So we are here at Duck Prints Press celebrating Small Press Month, and for that we had a bunch of our folks suggest questions that they might like me to answer and so over the next couple weeks (I expect) we’ll be answering those. So now you know what the basic idea is, and I hope you enjoy the answers.

What inspired you to start your own press?

@duckprintspress

Unforth is back answering the first question we got: What inspired you to start your own press? #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #booktok #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hey folks, it’s unforth again from Duck Prints Press and here answering some questions about the press for Small Press Month. The first question that we got was “what inspired you to start your own press?” There were definitely a lot of factors that went into it, but I would say that the sort of most immediate big one is that when I started writing fanfiction I found that I was surrounded by all these really really amazingly skilled writers and many of them dreamed of being involved in publishing and didn’t really know where to start, how to get involved, who to talk to, blah blah blah, all that stuff, and I had just enough connections in publishing to think I had some idea of what I was doing and some qualifications for filling that space. And then it took 7 years to actually do it, so yeah it was a pretty big job. But here we are!

What distinguishes Duck Prints Press from other small presses?

@duckprintspress

Claire is back answering our second question: What distinguishes Duck Prints Press from other small presses? #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #queer #duckprintspress

♬ original sound – duckprintspress

Transcription: Hello again, here’s unforth/Claire/Nina, depends on what you want to call me I guess. Unforth is online, Claire is my actual name, Nina is my pen name. Once again here to talk about Duck Prints Press as part of our feature for Small Press Month, and our second question is “what distinguishes Duck Prints Press from other small presses?” Answering this well would require knowing a lot more about other small presses than I actually do, but I would say a lot of it’s different because of – well, for several reasons. We are much less top-down, in that we have a much more collaborative process for basically everything we do. We’re also much less of a black box,  which is to say that it’s not like “send in submission, get answer back, that’s all you ever really know.” We try to be really really transparent and open about our process, what we’re doing, our timelines, our reasons for picking some people and not others, all of that jazz. We also are different in that we focus very strongly on LGBTQIA+ and queer stories and characters. I try not to say writers and creators and authors also because I’m not here to out anybody, but many of us are queer. I’m queer, hi! Yeah, that’s just a few of the ways, there’s way more, but I’m trying not to turn this into video essays. Have a good one, guys.

What is the best thing and what is the hardest thing about running a small press?

@duckprintspress

Claire is back, talking about the best and hardest things about running a #smallpress #booktok #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hi! Unforth here again for Small Press Week – Month – with Duck Prints Press, and we are answering questions we got from our contributors about the Press, and I am the owner/founder/manager/almost everything. “What is the best thing and what is the hardest thing about running a small press?” The best thing is the people. That one is really easy. I have met so many amazing creators who I would never have gotten to know otherwise, and everybody is just brilliant, talented, skilled, wonderful, y’all are amazing. I do this for you, and I do it for all of us, and I want to see us all succeed and be awesome and show everybody that a press modeled like this can work. You guys make it worth it every single day. The hardest thing is all of the not-fun parts. You know, everybody’s going to enjoy different parts of running a business. I find fiscal stuff to be challenging and a drag and it takes forever. I spent 3 hours doing our taxes last week. Don’t even get me started on collecting sales tax. It would bore you to tears, and it bores me to tears and I have to do it anyway. And marketing. Marketing takes so much time and so much work for so little reward that’s visible immediately. Like, the reward’s coming. It goes – little by little we get there, but it’s – man, it feels like you take baby steps for months to get, like, 5 feet closer to where you want to be. So I would say, the parts I find hardest are the actually “being a business” parts.

A word of advice to people wanting to start their own press.

@duckprintspress

Claire with a message for anyone with hopes of starting their own press #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hi hi, unforth here again from Duck Prints Press, filming some questions – sorry, filming some answers to questions we got from people involved in the press about how Duck Prints Press came to be as part of our features for Small Press Month. And our next question is, oh – it’s, well. “A word of advice to people wanting to start their own press.” One word: don’t. No, I’m kidding. It’s way more work than I ever thought it would be, but perhaps more importantly, you’ve got to be ready to be a jack of all trades. You’ve got to be ready to think that you can learn anything you need to learn, because you’re gonna have to. I know more about tax law than I ever would have imagined myself capable of learning because there’s never enough money to hire all the professionals you need who are experts and there’s never enough resources to recruit the people who have that information so you need to figure it out yourself, or at least that’s what my situation has been. Maybe if you have a lot more starting capital than I do you’ll be in a better position in that regard. Just, don’t be afraid of it, but be ready to learn all kinds of things you thought you’d never learn. And also if you think you’re gonna have time for your own writing, haha good luck with that. I hope you have a better time of it than I’ve had.

What is the best way for people to support small presses? 

@duckprintspress

What is the best way for people to support small presses like Duck Prints Press? One word! #booktok #smallpressmonth #smallpress #publishing #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hi! It’s unforth/Claire/Nina Waters here again. I’m the owner and founder of Duck Prints Press, a small press that focuses on working with fanfiction authors to publish their original work, and we are answering questions we got from our contributors about things about the press as part of Small Press Week. And the next question is – “what is the best way for people to support small presses like Duck Prints Press?” Money. The answer is money. I can’t imagine this is a surprise. I mean – this is best way, mind you, I’m not saying only way. But I mean – there is never enough sales. It would be, you know, back our Patreon, support us on ko-fi, buy our books, review our books on Storygraph, Goodreads, our website, any place else you can think of. Your personal blogs. I don’t know – anywhere. Instagram. Tiktok, hi! But I know money is in short supply for basically everybody. If you’re looking at this and going “well, duh, money, but how can I do that?” That’s fine. Signal boost us. Talking about us. I mean, even just literally, just hitting a reblog/retweet/share button really, really, really helps. Because even if you don’t have money, when the posts spread through social media if they find – if they spread through 100 people and one of those people has money, then we make a sale. And that helps us, because in the end, this can only be a passion project for us, and we need to make money if we’re really going to succeed and show people that we can do this. And I think and know and believe that we can. And so help us out!

Why do small presses matter?

@duckprintspress

Back again answering questions for #smallpressmonth ! This time Claire is explaining why small presses matter #booktok #smallpress #publishing #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hi, it’s unforth/Claire again, here for another Small Press Month update from Duck Prints Press, and I just realized – I decided to do all of these on a day I’m wearing a ducky shirt. I didn’t plan that or anything, just worked out. I only own one ducky shirt – it’s not even like there’s a lot of them. And our next questions is, “In your opinion, why do small presses matter?” Small presses matter because traditional publication – trad pub – is really obsessed with marketing and success and corporation stuff and making huge profits, and they don’t have time for small voices and taking risks and margin – you know – marginalized people and publishing stories stories that they don’t think will succeed. And they’re wrong. I think those stories absolutely can succeed, but also, you know, there needs to be somebody out there taking those chances and that’s what small presses do. And a lot of small press don’t succeed, but even when we fail, stories have still been published, they’ve still been out there, the stories have still gotten told. So even when we fail fiscally, we’ve still succeeded in the core goal, which is to tell these stories to as wide an audience as possible. And that’s why small presses matter.

What are the common misconceptions about small presses, either internal or external?

@duckprintspress

Today Claire’s talking about a big misconception in the small press industry #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hey hey, unforth here again with another of Duck Prints Press’s Q and A session answers to questions from our contributors that we’re doing for Small Press Month. And the next one is the first one that I’m sort of like “I don’t have any idea what I’m gonna say.” “What are common misconceptions about small presses, either internal or external?” I can answer internal I guess. I think people have a – well, maybe external too – I think people have a much inflated idea of our earnings and sales. They’re – they’re very low. Hi, I’m the owner. I’ve been running this for over 2 years and I have never taken a paycheck. One of these days I need to get paid. That would be nice. But I think there’s this idea that “if you build it they will come,” which is to say that if you write the book and put it out there, then people are going to magically appear to buy it. And that’s really, really not the case. It is so much work to get books into people’s hands or onto their devices as the case may be. In terms of other misconceptions from an external standpoint, I have no idea. You know, everybody comes to a job from a direction when they start a business. There’s gonna be things that they knew ahead of time and things that they didn’t. I came to this with a lot of experience in writing and editing and things like running web pages and organizing fandom events and things like that. I have no press experience. I haven’t worked for other presses. I am not traditionally published. I know some people in the industry, that’s about the closest that I get. And so what their point of view might be, I could not begin to tell you. But you know, we manage.

What are your biggest non-monetary victories?

@duckprintspress

Claire here to talk about some of our biggest non monetary victories! #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Unforth from Duck Prints Press here again answering questions we got from our contributors about Small Press Month and what running a small press is like. So our next question is, “what are your biggest non-monetary victories?” I guess it sort of depends what you consider a victory. I really appreciate the buy-in we’ve gotten from fandoms that know about us. Every time we get a lot of reblogs and a lot of boosts, it feels good because these are our people. We are fans. That’s the whole point is that we’re fans doing this in the hopes that we can get other fans involved as readers and writers and artists and graphic designers and website people and like every single person is a fan. The only person involved who isn’t a fan is my – is the lawyer I hire. And for all I know he is a fan, I haven’t asked. It’s really none of my business. It’s also – it always feels good when somebody big notices us, so, you know, the owner of another small press backed our first Kickstarter. I don’t care about the money – it’s cool that this person noticed, that’s what I was excited about. Cecilia Tan reblogged – sorry, retweeted us. A few other, you know, people who you’re like “hey, I know that name! I know who they are!” saw that we existed, and that feels good. I also feel like it’s essential. So yeah, I would say that most of our biggest non-monetary ones have been, like, “senpai noticed me” moments, haha. But you know, we’re getting there. I feel like I keep ending them with things like that so let me trying tying this off a little bit more intelligently. I think that in order to succeed ultimately, we need that kind of attention on us, and so every time it happens, it feels like a small victory because I figure – I think I read somewhere, and this might be total nonsense, that you need to, like, see a word at least 20 times before you actually know it. Like, before you can remember it, spell it, use it correctly in context, blah blah blah. And so I tend to perhaps inappropriately use that as my metric for, like, what it takes to succeed. Which is to say that, any given person is going to need to see Duck Prints Press and know we exist at least 20 times before that actually means something to them and they maybe think of us when they go, “Hey what am I going to read next? What book should I buy?” So, you know, that those – when those big people see us, that’s a lot of people’s one time finding out that we exist, so that means a lot. And somehow this has ended up the longest video. Funny how that works out.

What are the core ideas behind Duck Prints Press?

@duckprintspress

What is Duck Prints Press’s mission? Claire here to talk about the core idea behind DPP #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #queer #duckprintspress

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Transcription: Hey hey! Unforth here yet again with another of our Q&A questions from Small Press Month. We asked people on our Discord if they had questions about running a small press that would work well for videos during Small Press Month and these were the results. And I’m sorry I keep swiveling my chair, I’m trying to find an angle where the snow falling outside doesn’t reflect horribly off of my glasses. That’s why this keeps happening. Anyway, the next question is: “What are the core ideas behind Duck Prints Press?” The core idea behind Duck Prints Press is to work with people in fandom communities – fan authors, fan artists, etc. – to help them to bring their original work from concept to fruition. You know – we love it when those people publish with us, but we do actually offer consulting, so if those people don’t want to publish with us, they can just have us edit and then publish it someplace else, and that would be fine too. The core of it is helping people create, encouraging people to create, and helping all – helping individuals succeed by helping all of us succeed. Because many of us have individual followings for our fan works, and I think that if we – I really believe, and it’s one of the core tenants of the press – that if we pool all of that together, we can help all of us to get to where we want to be in terms of – as writers, as artists, as creators, you know, as published people. So, yeah, that’s the core idea. That comes with a heavy queer/LGBTQIA+ flavor. Nobody has to be queer, no story has to be queer, but the general gist is all very, very not straight or cis, or you know any combination thereof. We’re not that picky. We’re not outing anybody “own voices” style here. Helping fan creators to get more attention for their original work and lifting all – lifting each other up to do it. That’s our core idea.

What would you do differently if you had to start over?

@duckprintspress

What would you do differently if you had to start over? Claire talks about the possible ways Duck Prints Press could’ve been changed #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

♬ original sound – duckprintspress

Transcription: Unforth from Duck Prints Press here again answering questions for Small Press Week – Small Press Month. I keep making that mistake. Small Press Month about Duck Prints Press, the fan-oriented small press that works to help fan creators publish their original works. And our next question is: “What would you do differently if you had to start all over?” That is a really good question. Because if I’m honest, I don’t think we screwed anything up all that bad. And the things that got most messed up were kind of outside of our control to some extent. Like a lot of our year-2 plans just got delayed and put on hiatus because I ended up needing back surgery. I would do that differently. I would not try to run a business that was only 7 or 8 months old while suffering from increasingly severe spinal stenosis. That sucked. Don’t do that. In terms of things that I could control… I don’t know if it would have gone better because it’s really impossible to say, but doing a model where we had a lot more starting capital would have been very different and potentially could have gone a lot better. I think of Big Bang Press, which tried to do something very similar to us. They launched with a Kickstarter that raised $55,000, and what happened after that is best left to various fan wank webpages. But when I think about, sort of, what I could have done differently if we had started with $55,000, that would have been really different and I think potentially really helpful. We could have gotten a lot more input from professional than we’ve been able to really afford so far – like, by that I mean a CPA, a lawyer. Like, obviously we’ve spoken to those people, but I have to always try to keep it brief and do as much myself as possible because there’s just not enough money to go around. But if I’d had – if we’d gone a direction where instead of , sort of, shoestringing it from the beginning and trying to build from small to big, if we’d instead gone a “let’s collect investors and make this work from the – you know – build everything at once with a big starting investment” – I wonder how sustainable that would have been once the initial investment ran out? But it certainly would have made a lot of things different early on, and a lot of those things could have been easier. So, yeah, I know the reasons I didn’t do it that way, so I can’t actually say for sure I would do it differently or do it that way if I had to start over. But I do think that it’s a very different approach that could have had a very different outcome and might be interesting if we had a multiverse that we could test hypotheses in. 

Where do you see Duck Prints Press in 5 years?

@duckprintspress

Where will Duck Prints Press be in five years? Find out Claire’s plan so far! #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

♬ original sound – duckprintspress

Transcription: Unforth here! I also go by Claire, which is my real name, and Nina, which is my pen name – Nina Waters. And I am the owner of Duck Prints Press, and I am here answering questions from our Discord…Discord members, that’s a good word…Discord members about the press as part of a celebration for Small Press Month. And our next question is, “Where do you see Duck Prints Press in 5 years?” And I’ll own, I actually usually don’t project out quite that far. By the time I go to 5 years, it feels a little too pipe-dreamy and I tend to look at more like one to two years as more like my goal. Like, I’m in planning for 2024 right now in March of 2023. But I would say, 5 years, I’d love to see us breaking even consistently and making enough of a profit. I’d love to see our Patreon bringing in about a thousand dollars a month, which would be a bit – a little over double what we’ve got now, we’re about $400. And when I say Patreon, and I mean Patreon and ko-fi combined, I always short-hand it. I’d love to us having a really steady stream of novels coming out, like, maybe 10 novels a year, as well as 4 anthologies and all the short stories, novellas, and novelettes. I would definitely like to see our books on some bookshelves. I think that that’s achievable and probably – I mean, honestly, I think all of this is achievable, or most of this is achievable in a shorter time frame than five years. Like, I think I can probably have books on bookshelves sometime in 2024 – bookstore bookshelves, I mean. And I also – I think I’d love to see a pretty solid cadre of artists and authors who are working with us consistently. I’d love to be doing several major art projects a year, so like – tarot decks, art books, card books – I feel like there’s a lot of other really obviously stuff and my brain is just totally blank right now. But you get the idea. So not just author projects, but also projects that are sort of the artist equivalent of a novel as it were. And…yeah. I’d just really like to see us keep growing and keep doing what we’re doing. I think we’re on a good track.

How do small presses in general (and Duck Prints Press specifically) differ from tradpub?

@duckprintspress

How do small presses and Duck Prints Press differ from traditional publication presses? It turns out there lots of ways we’re different! #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

♬ original sound – duckprintspress

Transcription: Unforth here again from Duck Prints Press, answering questions about the press for Small Press Month. I’m going to try filming this one with my right hand holding the camera, which for some reason seems much harder. And this is our last question for small press – Small Press Month. How is one 3-word phrase something bumbling in so many of these videos? The world will never know. “How do small presses in general, or Duck Prints Press in particular, differ from traditional public – tradpub – traditional publication presses?” I mean, certainly size. I mean, those places that have entire departments to do things that I do all of myself or do all of, do most of with the support or 2 or 3 other people. I mean, we’re almost up to having an editing department. We’ve got 12 or 13 people now helping with editing. But, I mean, we still only have on lead editor, like for things like anthologies, it’s still – I’m still the last say. Nobody else has yet been able to step up and be a lead editor, though I’m looking forward to that as something we might do maybe next year. Things like, I mean, selection process, transparency, I mean obviously we’re not a public company, we’re not traded. We don’t have investors. We don’t have stockholders. Things like that. So, yeah, I mean, it’s honestly it’s so different that it’s hard to say how different all of it is. I would say this is not about presses in general, I think we’re pretty atypical in how we handle these things even among presses – small presses, I should say. I’m not trying to exceptionalize us, like, I’m sure there are other places doing things similar to what we’re doing. But I certainly don’t know what they are, so I can’t like shout them out like “hey that place does what we’re doing!” Yeah, it’s sort of different on every level. In ways, like, we don’t work through agents at all. We don’t take unsolicited manuscripts ever. Our recruitment strategies are totally different. Our marketing strategies are totally different. You know, we’re – we really came at this as fans, first, and we looked at kind of what – what makes a fan thing succeed, whether that this is a new fanwork, or a zine, or a pay-for-production campaign, whatever it is. What are the things we’ve seen and been involved in that have worked that have done that. We tried to emulate that because we’re fans and we expect our audience to be fans, so we decided to take an approach using methods that are tried-and-true in fandom, and applying them to our original work. And, yeah, from bottom to top, that is just totally different than what trad pub does.

Outro

@duckprintspress

One last message from Claire as we wrap up Small Press Month. We hope you all enjoyed these as much as we did! Do you have any additional questions? Drop them here! #booktok #smallpress #smallpressmonth #publishing #duckprintspress

♬ original sound – duckprintspress

Transcription: Hey hey, so one last time here with unforth. That’s me. My real name is Claire, my pen name is Nina Waters. I am the owner and founder of Duck Prints Press, which is a small press that works with fan authors and fan artists and fan creators to publish and share our original work. We’ve been celebrating Small Press Month all through March, answering a whole mess of questions that we got from our Discord members. We hope that you’ve found these interviews interesting. I’ve honestly never done anything like this before. I have no idea if I’m doing a good job. But I hope you’ve enjoyed them. They’ve been interesting questions to think about and to answer, and I look forward to sort of opening up dialogues about any of these topics. If you’ve seen anything, heard anything, read anything in any of our posts on this topic that got you thinking, we would love to hear more about that. So, probably you know – I expect I’m gonna use this last video in a master post that links to all the others, check them out! We answered a bunch of questions about why we exists, what we do, who we work with, how we’re different, and we’d love you to get more involved. So don’t be a stranger, okay? And yeah, that’s again, I’m Claire/unforth, this has been all about Duck Prints Press, duckprintspress.com, in case that wasn’t really obvious, and um. Yeah. I hope you have a great day. And in conclusion, you guys – you guys want to see the snow? It’s been snowing the whole time I did this. It’s really pretty outside, take a look. Hopefully you’re not just seeing, like, tons of bug wire right now cause I can’t really see how good a view you’re getting, but yeah it’s really snowy outside of my office right now. Hopefully that wasn’t just, like, 10 seconds of just like glaring white light. If it was, I’m really sorry. Have a good one, everyone. Bye!


Thanks for joining us for Small Press Month, y’all, and if you’ve got any questions we didn’t answer, we encourage you to check out our FAQ, comment on this post, or drop us an ask on Tumblr!

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Answered Ask: Catering to Fanfic writers vs. Other Writers

On Book Publishers Day (Monday, January 16th), we asked our followers across all our platforms if they had any questions for us as book publishers, and we got one anonymous ask on Tumblr! This week’s blog feature is our response to that question.

What’s the difference between catering to fanfic writers and to other kinds of writers? Or is there not much of a difference? Happy Book Publishers Day BTW.

Ah, I’m so excited that you decided to send in a question for Book Publishers Day! I delayed answering for a few days so I could really think about the answer, and now here we are. 😀

Tentatively, I’d say that there’s not a huge difference between catering to fanfic writers and catering to other kinds of writers, but there are a few. I’d say the biggest differences aren’t specifically in “how we cater to authors” so much as “how we’ve envisioned and structured the whole Press differently because of our collective roots in fandom.” Here’s some of the biggest differences that strike us, starting with those that are more narrowly about catering to the different types of writers, then getting a bit more general.

Privacy/safety concerns. While of course everyone worries about their privacy and maintaining data security is critical when dealing with contractors, employees, etc., it’s something we especially emphasize when working with fanfic writers for two primary reasons. First, a lot of fanfic writers don’t want people who know them in meatspace to become aware that they write fanfic, given the stigma against it in some communities. Second, a lot of fanfic writers are queer and they aren’t necessarily out in all their circles. Thus, we put a lot of extra effort into ensuring that people who work with us can keep their “fandom self” separate from their “meatspace self,” if they want to. I’d estimate roughly half of our authors opt to keep their various “selves” completely separate, and we work to be very public about the steps we take to protect our authors and the guarantees we have in place that we won’t “out” anyone in anyway – that we’ll do everything in our power to protect them.

Publishing education. While plenty of the authors we’ve worked with have been interested in publishing for a while, and a noticeable minority have published their original work with other Presses, a lot of our authors have always seen publishing their original stories as more of a “someday” and aren’t familiar with the processes of what happens after the stories are written. So, we put a lot of effort into process-related transparency and answering questions to ensure that writers know what to expect. For example, we make blank versions of all our contracts public so that people who are considering working with us have plenty of time to read them, research standard contracts, and decide for themselves if they think our terms are favorable. We want people to know what they’re getting into and to feel comfortable before they commit, and to feel comfortable walking away if that’s better for them.

Unconventional publishing models. That said, we’re also rather outside the mold for publishers, because only a few of the folks in our upper echelons have a background in more traditional publishing and/or medium/small Press publishing. I, the owner, have flirted at the edges of the more mainstream publishing industry but while I know a lot of people in trad pub and indy pub, I haven’t worked in it myself nor have I been traditionally published. Thus, we definitely have had a learning curve ourselves, and it also a lot of our internal structure and approaches are specifically, explicitly designed around fandom models instead of around more standard Press models. For example, we wholesale adopted a zine approach to anthology production and publishing – we select creators and give them freedom to create within the parameters of the anthology theme, then help them with editing, instead of asking for completed stories that we sift through and pick our favorites. For another example, our approaches to tagging and cataloging stories and our interest in breaking out of industry-standard rigidly defined genres are also deeply rooted in our experiences as fans and fancreators in fandom spaces. Basically, in the same way that we approach writers who are fanwriters first, original writers second, we ourselves were all fandom people first, publishers second. and our methodologies grew out of our experiences as forum moderators, fandom event creators and runners, zine editors, etc.

Community spaces. Again, because we’re looking at more of a fandom-based model transplanted onto a publishing milieu, we’re very oriented on building a community and relationships. Our Discord is quite active, and we talk about our lives, about our projects, help each other out with research and betaing, etc. To be honest, I don’t know if that’s different from other Presses, but I at least strongly suspect it’s well outside what trad pub does.

Transparency. In the end, we view Duck Prints Press as a collaboration, as something we’re growing together with writers, editors, artists, graphic designers, etc., where all of us have been active in fandoms first. Toward that end, general transparency about our decision making, processes, and plans is important to us, and we work hard to make sure that people involved in the Press know what’s going on. We hold monthly meetings to which everyone involved in the Press is invited (our next one is this Tuesday!) where we talk candidly, openly, and honestly about our progress on current projects, any set backs we’ve encountered, and how we’re doing fiscally. In the same way that, if I’m involved in a zine, I’d expect the people running it to talk about the money earned, where profits are going, if there’s been an issue with production, if someone’s life going haywire has introduced delays, etc. That’s the level of openness we aim for.

Education. This is an area where we’re still expanding, but we’ve so far offered two classes to people involved in the Press on grammar and editing stuff. The idea is, a lot of people who write fanfic aren’t “trained” authors, and we often don’t know the rules, just “what sounds right.” And, that’s fine, that’s why we have editors! But if people want to learn more, we’re striving to provide more opportunities for that. Related, we’re extremely, and atypically, transparent about our selection processes for people who apply to anthologies. We are not and will never be a black box where submission stories come in and acceptance and rejection letters go out. Not only do we use a rating rubric that’s available publicly, we also share completed rubrics with authors upon request. We want people who are interested in learning and improving to see our notes and to have the chance to ask questions. We want to support people who are aiming to improve. And, flipside, we don’t automatically send those rubrics out to applicants because we wholeheartedly subscribe to the fandom-standard attitude that concrit is only helpful when it’s asked for. If someone doesn’t want more information, doesn’t want to improve (because improvement NEVER has to be one’s goal as a writer, especially for fanwriters doing fic for fun!), we don’t force that feedback on anyone! So, so many of our structures are based on fandom models, are grounded in fandom ethos.

Relaxed restrictions. All of the people who run the business are queer (I’m aroace genderfluid, myself), and most us are neurodivergent (my diagnoses are ADHD and clinical depression), and some of us are disabled (my wife, for example, is an ambulatory wheelchair user, though she’s not heavily involved in the management team…right now she’s anonymizing the submissions to Aether Beyond the Binary), and many of us are parents (I have two kids, aged almost 5 and almost 7). I’ve been active in online fandoms for more than 20 years, and the people in my fandom circles have overwhelming shared the above characteristics. Most are queer. Most are neurodivergent. Many struggle with health issues and disability. Many are parents, have multiple jobs, are caring for parents, are supporting their partners, are facing a multitude of meatspace challenges that make working in a traditional publication model difficult or impossible. In a lot of publishing, things like really struggling with deadlines, or having to navigate the potential for unexpected health flareups, or juggling multiple jobs, or working around a child’s schedule, would be dealbreakers – the deadline is the deadline, meet it or get out. That’s…so not us. We strive to create an environment with the flexibility to meet people where they are, where having life go sideways (cause let’s be real, life always goes sideways sooner or later) doesn’t disqualify someone from breaking into the industry. As long creators communicate with us about their hurdles, we are very free about giving extensions, making exceptions, tweaking schedules, etc. We don’t want anyone hurting themselves just for a story. Yes, it can make management more challenging at times, but we always look to grant the same grace that we hope to be given when our own lives get complicated. (2022 has been a huge example of this, as my health issues resulted in my needing surgery last February and it completely disrupted all our project timelines for the year – we’ve really only just caught up in the last month or so).

Setting expectations. We aim to set realistic expectations with authors who write with us. My own sense of other models is that most publishers promise success without necessarily delving into things like “but you’ll have to handle all your own marketing” or “this is how many copies you can honestly expect to sell.” Authors can often be in for a rude awakening once they’re in the door and contracted and would be hard-pressed to back out. We’re very small, and we operate on a shoe-string budget (I have been operating Duck Prints Press for just over two years and we’ve never yet earned enough for me to take a paycheck, and we’re in the red for both of our first two years, though our 2022 numbers are a significant improvement over 2021 and we have every reason to hope we’ll keep growing). We can’t afford a lot of advertising, can’t be the only source of marketing, can’t promise that people will sell lots of copies (full disclosure re: what that means, our average short story sells under 10 copies during the first week it’s released). We can’t promise anyone a livable paycheck. What we offer instead is community, support, creative freedom, understanding, and the chance to be part of a fan-run business that is slowly but surely growing, and growing amazingly. No editor will ever say “you have to change xyz so your story will sell.” No editor will ever say, “we just don’t want that story.” We want to publish what our writers want to publish, and we want to work all together to help grow all our audiences. And that means, for people involved right now while we’re this young, we can’t promise much, but we can promise one wonderful thing: that the future looks bright.

This went a bit beyond “working with fanfiction writers versus trad pub writers” and more into “ways we approach things differently than a more mainstream Press,” but I think that does tie into how the approach is different. We’re not viewing the Press as The Owner And Managers Who Are Always Above and the writers as The Content Creators And Cash Cows. All of us in the management team are also fandom people, fanwriters, fanartists, etc. It’s not two distinct groups, it’s one big group of more-or-less equals (yes, there’s still a hierarchy, there has to be some, but it’s not super top-down and there’s lots of opportunities for people to share their skills up the not-really-a-ladder) with the doors thrown wide open to welcome in more folks.

And that, I think, is the crux of the difference of how we cater to fanfic authors compared to what we might do differently if we were working with a more mainstream set of authors. While we do maintain certain editorial standards and we obviously don’t accept everyone who applies, we still try to cast a wide net, to opt for inclusion over exclusion, to try to make allowances, to make space for people at different levels, with different experiences, with different life challenges, etc. In the end, I’d love everyone who ever applies to work with us to end up as part of the Press, because if people want to work with us, we want to work with them! There’s no way to just bring in everyone at once, and some people need to hone their skills more before they’ll be ready to meet the writing standards we aim for, but it’s nothing that can’t be learned. And, if people want to learn it, we want to help them learn it.

We’re a publisher, yes, but we’re also a community of fanwriters who all dream of being published, helping each other to make that dream a reality.

This was probably a ton more answer than was really necessary, but here we are. 😀 Thanks for asking, anon, and I hope you found the answer informative!

(I’m @unforth, by the way, it occurs to me a lot of people may not realize that.)

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How to Navigate the Duck Prints Press Trello

Did you know we use a Trello for task management and it is completely transparent and publicly accessible?

Well, now you know!

The Duck Prints Press Trello is here.

When we first released it, we got an ask about how to use it; below is a Trello tutorial for those unfamiliar with how to use it, focused specifically on our boards and how they’re organized!

While we’re still hammering out the details on how best to organize the Trello for utility both for us as we organize things and to the public – in particular, I’ll need to tweak how it’s set up if we’re going to effectively use the built-in calendar functionality – here’s how it’s set up now.

Note: all screen caps were taken on September 17th, 2022, and do not reflect the exact current organization or the current project status of the items shown in the captures.

LISTS:

The highest level of organization on a Trello Board is the lists. We’ve currently got a whole bunch of different lists.

At a Glance: this is the “overview” lists. It includes all of our current projects, and all of our regular/general management. Those are organized on Cards – more on that next.

Task Implementation Check Lists: we were having trouble sometimes remembering everything that needed to be done for certain “big” tasks we do regularly (such as publishing a story on our website) so we’ve begun to create guide lists to help us remember every process step that needs to be done. This also helps as we grow and more tasks are delegated.

Merchandise: lists all the merchandise we’ve currently got in production/in process, and what their current status is. (it does NOT include merch produced for past campaigns/activities)

After those two, we have a whole bunch of lists that all serve the same function: they indicate what stage of editing we’ve completed for each of a number of stories we’re currently working on.

  • Developmental – Writing in Progress: first draft isn’t done
  • Developmental – Draft Completed: first draft is done, waiting for an editor
  • Concept Editing – First Pass Completed: a concept-edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review
  • Concept Editing – Second Pass Completed: a second concept-edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – First Edits Completed: a SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – Second Pass Completed: a second SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – Final Edits Completed: a final/clean-up SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Final Edits Approved, Contract Sent and Pending Signature: the author has approved the final edit run and has been sent their contract.
  • Story Completed, Contract Signed, Author Paid, Preliminary Formatting Done: what it says on the tin
  • Typesetting – First Pass: the typesetter has done the first run on formatting the story for print.
  • Typesetting Completed: what it says on the tin.

Not every story needs every one of these steps, and sometimes stories need more concept or SPAG runs than this, but we thought this division reflected the process stories go through most often. All task cards feature the author’s chosen pen name and the current working title of the story, if it has one.

Completed Project Lists: the next lists feature information on our completed projects, and can function as a (difficult to navigate and poorly organized but existent!) list of what’s available in our shop. It’s divided into four categories, reflecting the four places where our projects usually “end up” when they’re completed. (A fifth end point is “in an anthology,” and then that anthology, rather than the individual title, will be on this list when it’s completed).

  • Main Imprint: Available For Purchase on Our Website – stories published under the Duck Prints Press imprint that are currently listed in our webstore.
  • Erotica Imprint: Available For Purchase on Our Website – stories published under the Duxxx Prints Press imprint that are currently listed in our webstore.
  • Merchandise for Sale on Our Website – what it says on the tin. 😀
  • Monthly Backer Reward Stories – completed stories that have been posted for our Patreon and ko-fi backers.

Long-Term Ideas, Lists, Information We May Need Someday: the last of our lists is what it says on the tin. We keep track of ideas for future anthologies, potential merch, things we’ve thought of and gone “we can’t do that now but maybe someday…” etc., and we just toss it all there so that the ideas don’t get lost.

CARDS:

Every List is composed of Cards. Each Card reflects one category of “thing that needs to be done.” There are a lot of ways to actually set up lists and cards (and we may change ours in the future) but currently, we’ve chosen the following approach:

Cards for all our main projects/overarching “areas” in which we’re working. These are on the At a Glance List.

Cards for all currently in-progress Merchandise, on the Merchandise list.

Cards for all stories we have in-progress at the moment, on the appropriate Lists for their current status.

Cards for some over-arching categories of “things for not now,” on the Long-Term Ideas list.

All the Cards on At a Glance have the same basic structure. If you click on the Card, you’ll be able to see sub-tasks/checklists related to the items on that list. For example, here’s the Recurring Tasks Card:

This is one of the most complex of the Cards, as it includes all the activities we engage in daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to keep the business running smoothly. Other “management” related Cards on this list include two related to our weekly management meetings and monthly all-server meetings, and the General Task Card, which lists a whole slew of background activities that we’ve been working on and/or intend to do (divided into separate checklists for each category, cause there are just so many).

Then, below the the general Cards the cards for specific projects. Here’s the one for He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown.

This, and the other specific project Cards, list all the tasks we currently know of/have thought of that need to be done for the given project. The checklists give a quick idea of what the task is, and indicates the current status of that task. A few also have dates attached to them, though not most cause we don’t tend to treat deadlines as that “hard” internally – we prefer to maintain flexibility considering how many people are involved in these projects and how complex all our lives are and how the world just, ya know, is right now.

As we complete tasks, we move them into the Comments section at the bottom of the Card. Because we only recently implemented this public system (previously, we worked from a private Trello that looked a lot like this but was just a bit messier and not designed to be viewed by outsiders, like, we used a lot of shorthand, that kind of thing) it doesn’t include tasks completed before we implemented this system, but we’ve been doing our best to keep on top of it since we opened the public Trello. For example, here’s the completed tasks for our upcoming anthology that we expect to open recruitment for on October 1st:

So, I think that’s the basic?

If there’s something more specific that anyone trying to use the Trello is finding confusing, I’m happy to expand this tutorial – I tend to figure that if one person has a question and actually tells me they have a question, there are at least a half-dozen other people who had the same question and decided for whatever reason not to ask. We’re committed to transparency, and the Trello is one of the biggest facets of that, so ensuring it’s navigable for newcomers is really important to us. It’s hard to create a public-facing system that maintains a certain degree of confidentiality and still serves our needs for managing the business, and also just – we’ve got a lot going on basically all the time (and more and more as we grow), so there’s a lot that has to go on there, which means by necessity it’s complicated. I do worry that if it’s really complex, it’ll serve to create obscurity instead of transparency, but…well, we’re doing our best, and we’ll keep doing our best, and we hope that when questions/issues/concerns/delays/etc. do arise, people will continue to be as patient with us as they have been! <3


Want to know more?

  • You can see our up-to-date (and used daily!) Trello here.
  • You can learn more about the Press in general, where we started, and where we’re going, here.
  • All our completed projects are available in our webstore.
  • Anyone who wants more information about “behind the scenes,” your best bet is to back us on Patreon or ko-fi – that’s where we post all the juicy details as we work every day to bring more amazing stories to y’all!
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Round Table: What Software Do You Find Helpful for Your Writing Process?

We asked our authors what software helps them write – and got a range of answers! 

Contributors: Adrian Harley, boneturtle, D. V. Morse, not-gwaenchanha, theirprofoundbond, Tris Lawrence, unforth


Discord 

Tris Lawrence: Lately Discord is becoming critical because that’s how I’m making notes for my series bible with a combination of private folders and channels to split out information

(boneturtle +1, unforth +1)


Evernote

not-gwaenchanha: I use Evernote for all the ideas, makes them easy to sort. One notebook (or even a notebook stack) per WIP. It lets you interlink notes, use tags to sort stuff. It also has a webclipper browser extension which lets you copy websites or parts of them straight into the notebook which is super helpful for research. Free version can be used on two devices.

Image from the Evernote website…they didn’t have anything writing-related, apologies.


Google Suite (G Docs, G Sheets, G Keep)

Hermit: Gdoc for me because my writing tends to happen on my couch/at the coffee shop and thus on my phone a lot (I am totally the person who brings a wireless mechanical keyboard to the coffee shop). I also make use of Google Keep for research notes. And a notebook with some frixion pens.

D. V. Morse: At the moment, I’m tracking things in Google Sheets, which is great (except there’s a lot of functionality from Trello that I’m missing).

not-gwaenchanha: I use gDocs to write, mainly because I don’t have to worry I’ll lose everything if technology decides it hates me, but it also allows me to write from my phone and easily share with my beta. Google keep is where all the “darlings” go when I kill them a.k.a scraps of text that are good but don’t fit. It’s got a nice integration with google docs, you can send stuff there straight from the doc from the context menu and then move all the scraps into one “scraps” doc 

(unforth +1, theirprofoundbond +1, Adrian Harley +1)


Microsoft Word

Adrian Harley: I have been using the same laptop since 2012, and when the hard drive gave out in 2020, my independent computer repair shop was kind enough to reinstall the 2010 versions of Microsoft Office so I didn’t have to pay a subscription for them. It’s what I’m used to. The “styles” function lets me find chapters easily, and it’s easy for me to leave comments for myself when I see an issue and don’t want to resolve it right at that moment. I think the free Microsoft Word, whatever they’re calling it, has those basic features too, though I’m not positive.

(unforth +1)


Miro (formerly RealTimeBoard) 

not-gwaenchanha: it’s an endless white board. Great for visual plotting. You can put in sticky notes, tables etc. I also like to upload images to it to make a private moodboard for the story.

Image is from the Miro website.


Notes App (IOS, Android)

Adrian Harley: I prefer to use the Notes app on the go. It’s just as easy as Google Drive, it doesn’t freak out if I’m not connected to the internet, and I have to copy and paste the text from any portable software to my document record of choice anyway. 

(boneturtle +1, unforth +1)


Notion

theirprofoundbond: There is a desktop version and an app, with syncing between both. You can use it for writing but I prefer Google Docs for that. Instead, I’ve built myself a wiki, basically. My “Writing HQ” contains: current editing projects; word count table to track my daily word counts; gallery of my WIPs, which is pretty and motivating, and each “card” contains metadata and promotional info for each project; calendar for my posting schedule; and a gallery of completed work. Notion is incredibly customizeable with great documentation to help you get your head around all the possibilities. It’d be a great home for a worldbuilding bible, too, I think!

(boneturtle +1)


Scrivener

unforth: I use Scrivener for organizing my notes and research, its flashcard system is great for that.

Tris Lawrence: I live and die by a combination of Scrivener and Sprinting. Scrivener was the first piece of software I found that works the way my brain works, from the scrap documents to writing in the margins to index cards, and being able to organize it roughly but have it export pretty when I need it.

D. V. Morse: The main software I use is Scrivener, right up until it’s time for critique/beta reading. Then everything goes into GDocs. I’ve experimented with mind-mapping apps with variable results.

Adrian Harley: Scrivener was incredibly helpful for my novella when I decided to turn it into a novel. It let me keep track of different drafts by chapter, so I could note which versions my writing group had already looked at. It also was easy to add in the “flashback” narrative that I’ve interspersed throughout the book.

Image from the Scrivener website.


SmartEdit Writer (formerly Atomic Scribbler)

boneturtle: It’s a free word processor that has all the functions of Scrivener that I need and none of the confusing extras, is default dark mode, tracks my word count by scene and by entire project, and allows me to document and organize my writing projects from one-shots to novel length works. I use Discord for collaboration and have occasionally used Notion to organize writing prompts and story bible information, but most of that I also keep in Smart Edit, so it ends up being a bit redundant.

Image from the SmartEdit Writer website.


Spotify and Pandora:

not-gwaenchanha: because music helps my brain switch into the writing mode

unforth: I definitely use Pandora, music helps a lot

(theirprofoundbond +1)


Sprinto

Tris Lawrence: I cannot survive without a timer somewhere, because that’s how I can force myself to focus in 20-30 minute spaces. 


StayFocusd

unforth: it’s an extension that shuts off internet access for a specified amount of time, and it helped me not get distracted by All The Social Media. (I don’t use Chrome anymore, but when I did…)


Trello

D. V. Morse: I’ve always loved Trello for organizing workflow and really need to get on that again. 


Tris Lawrence’s Word Tracking Spreadsheet

Adrian Harley: I have also tried a bunch of different software to track word count, because Number Go Up makes my brain happy. Can I recommend Tris’s spreadsheet? That got me through a few months.

Tris Lawrence: I am slightly laughing that I didn’t call out my own tracking spreadsheet. Probably because I’ve been SO focused on notes lately that I haven’t gotten new words in uhhhh months. But obviously, yes, when writing I live and die by that as well! I love my charts. I loved the charts on the old NaNo site and wanted them year round. I wanted to be able to set goals and see how I was doing. I wanted to do comparisons. I wanted to see writing across weeks, months, and years, and it helped me learn that zero days and fluctuation were OKAY.

Image from Tris’s 2022 spreadsheet blog post


What is your favorite software to use to help you write? We’d love to hear from you!

Have a question for us? Drop us an ask anytime!

Love what we do? Consider supporting us on Patreon or ko-fi.

Note that none of these comments should be interpreted as Duck Prints Press endorsing these products.

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Current Projects and Their Statuses

We received the following ask on Tumblr:

Hi, Friendly anon here! I was wondering if y’all had any updates on your projects? I found a reference to a Trello taskboard thing that looked like it might have some but I got waaaaay confused trying to understand it. How goes everything?

And, our answer!

Hey anon!

Yeah, we’ve publicly shared our Trello here but for someone who’s not familiar with how Trello boards are set up I can absolutely see how it could be confusing. So I’m figuring I can answer this Ask two-fold: first with what we’re actually up to right now, and second with a quick how-to that’d hopefully help with understanding the Trello in the future.

Current Projects and Their Statuses:

And Seek (Not) to Alter Me: Kickstarter fulfillment is complete except for people who haven’t done their backer surveys. We are planning to release the e-book and some surplus merch on our website on October 1st, so we’ve been doing work related to that: taking pictures, preparing shop listings, working on our controlled vocabulary, etc.

He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown: we’ve got virtually all the merchandise here and ready to go with a few exceptions; the bath bombs still need to be repackaged, the patches are currently shipping and are slated to arrive on Wednesday, and chocolates we won’t get until it’s time to ship, so they won’t spoil while sitting around waiting. We’re still hard at work on the books themselves and the stories. There are a total of 36 stories in the two collections; as of right now, 19 stories are completely done/edited/ready to go, and 7 more are close (at the final step before completion). The rest are in various stages of editing. We’ve ended up behind our originally (intentionally optimistic) projected schedule for a variety of reasons, but we’re well within the range of our more “pessimistic” projections, which had us fulfilling in March or so. As it is, we expect to be able to complete fulfillment/ship people’s purchases in early November.

Our Next Anthology: we’ve been hard at work on the planning for our second Queer Fanworks Inspired By… anthology. We’ve hammered out all the details, figured out a schedule, got a title, drafted and edited the websites and surveys that include the rules, guidelines, recruitment stuff, etc., and we anticipate launching recruitment (which will mostly be internal) on October 1st.

An Enamel Pin Campaign: we originally intended to launch a campaign featuring only enamel pins in September. We’re still planning to launch it, but we had so many ideas that we’ve struggled to narrow them down, and so odds are we’ll be launching this in October instead. Right now, we’ve narrowed it to a specific theme and right now we’re voting on which specific pins we want within that theme.

General Business Tasks: as we’re getting closer to finishing the stories for He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown we’ve been tackling a back-log of more general tasks. For example, we’ve opened up opportunities for authors we’ve worked with to publish their solo original works (as in, personal projects by our authors instead of themed anthologies) and we’re in the process of reviewing the interest checks people sent in, gathering more information from the authors, and getting the ball rolling on having more stand-alone/solo projects coming down the pipes. This is an essential step in widening the scope of what we publish, and we are aiming to start getting out roughly a novel a quarter starting this winter. Also, starting in October, we expect to publish a short story per week on our website, though we’re still getting the ducks in a row to make that a reality so consider that tentative, not official. We’ve also also been expanding the resources part of our website, preparing a style guide, an e-book formatting guide, a fandom lexicon, and more. Our resource-related posts have tended to be well-received, and also because the resources are free we consider providing them an important part of our mission of helping fanfiction author publish their works: even someone who never works with DPP can benefit from a public, free, thorough, professional-level guide that helps them format their story for e-book publication without needing any special/expensive software, for example.

That’s…all the basics I think? there’s also a continuous background buzz of Things That We Do – regular blogging, daily monitoring/upkeep on our social media, maintaining our Patreon and ko-fi accounts, accounting, end-of-month and beginning-of-month fiscal activities, etc. – all the day-to-day activities that keep a business (even a business as small and new as this one) running.

How to Navigate the Trello

So, while we’re still hammering out the details on how best to organize the Trello for utility both for us as we organize things and to the public – in particular, I’m going to need to tweak how it’s set up if we’re going to effectively use the built-in calendar functionality – here’s how it’s set up now.

LISTS:

Image

The highest level of organization on a Trello Board is the lists. We’ve currently got a whole bunch of different lists.

At a Glance: this is the “overview” lists. It includes all of our current projects, and all of our regular/general management. Those are organized on Cards – more on that next.

Merchandise: lists all the merchandise we’ve currently got in production/in process, and what their current status is. (it does NOT include merch produced for past campaigns/activities)

After those two, we have a whole bunch of lists that all serve the same function: they indicate what stage of editing we’ve completed for each of a number of stories we’re currently working on.

  • Developmental – Writing in Progress: first draft isn’t done
  • Developmental – Draft Completed: first draft is done, waiting for an editor
  • Concept Editing – First Pass Completed: a concept-edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review
  • Concept Editing – Second Pass Completed: a second concept-edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – First Edits Completed: a SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – Second Pass Completed: a second SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Copy – Final Edits Completed: a final/clean-up SPAG edit run has been returned to the author and is pending their review.
  • Final Edits Approved, Contract Sent and Pending Signature: the author has approved the final edit run and has been sent their contract.
  • Story Completed, Contract Signed, Author Paid, Preliminary Formatting Done: what it says on the tin
  • Typesetting – First Pass: the typesetter has done the first run on formatting the story for print.
  • Typesetting Completed: what it says on the tin.

Not every single story ends up needing every single one of these, and sometimes stories need more concept or SPAG runs than this, but we thought this division reflected the process stories go through most often. We’ve given the stories basic anonymizing so that no author feels “called out,” though more often than not it’s the editing team that’s behind, not the authors.

Long-Term Ideas, Lists, Information We May Need Someday: the last of our lists is what it says on the tin. We keep track of ideas for future anthologies, potential merch, things we’ve thought of and went “we can’t do that now but maybe someday…” etc., and we just toss it all there so that the ideas don’t get lost.

CARDS:

Every List is composed of Cards. Each Card reflects one category of “thing that needs to be done.” There are a lot of ways to actually set up lists and cards (and we may change ours in the future) but currently, we have:

Cards for all our main projects/overarching “areas” in which we’re working. These are on the At a Glance List.

Cards for all currently in-progress Merchandise, on the Merchandise list.

Cards for all stories we have in-progress at the moment, on the appropriate Lists for their current status.

Cards for some over-arching categories of “things for not now,” on the Long-Term Ideas list.

All the Cards on At a Glance have the same basic structure. If you click on the Card, you’ll be able to see sub-tasks/checklists related to the items on that list. For example, here’s the Recurring Tasks Card:

Image

This is one of the most complex of the Cards, as it includes all the activities we engage in daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to keep the business running smoothly. Other “management” related Cards on this list include two related to our weekly management meetings and monthly all-server meetings, and the General Task Card, which lists a whole slew of background activities that we’ve been working on and/or intend to do (divided into separate checklists for each category, cause there are just so many).

Then, below the the general Cards the cards for specific projects. Here’s the one for He Bears the Cape of Stars and She Wears the Midnight Crown.

Image

This, and the other specific project Cards, list all the tasks we currently know of/have thought of that need to be done for the given project. The checklists give a quick idea of what the task is, and indicates the current status of that task. A few also have dates attached to them, though not most cause we don’t tend to treat deadlines as that “hard” internally – we prefer to maintain flexibility considering how many people are involved in these projects and how complex all our lives are and how the world just, ya know, is right now.

As we complete tasks, we move them into the Comments section at the bottom of the Card. Because we only recently implemented this public system (previously, we worked from a private Trello that looked a lot like this but was just a bit messier and not designed to be viewed by outsiders, like, we used a lot of shorthand, that kind of thing) it doesn’t include tasks completed before we implemented this system, but we’ve been doing our best to keep on top of it since we opened the public Trello a couple weeks ago. For example, here’s the completed tasks for our upcoming anthology that we expect to open recruitment for on October 1st:

Image

So, I think that’s the basic?

Because we want to use the Calendar more, we may end up breaking out more of the individual tasks currently listed on checklists on Cards into their own Cards, since the Calendar mostly functions at the Card-level, not at the checklist-item level. If we do that, we’ll likely make additional Lists for our main active projects, with cards for each task that is currently a checklist item. However, that’s not going to happen immediately just cause there are higher priority things to be done.

If there’s something more specific that you’re finding confusing, I’m happy to put together a tutorial – I tend to figure that if one person has a question and actually tells me they have a question, there are at least a half-dozen other people who had the same question and decided for whatever reason not to ask, and as you likely know, anon and everyone else reading this, we’re committed to transparency, and the Trello is one of the biggest, newest facets of that, so ensuring it’s navigable for new comers is really important to us. It’s hard to create a public-facing system that maintains a certain degree of confidentiality and still serves our needs for managing the business, and also just – we’ve got a lot going on basically all the time (and more and more as we grow), so there’s a lot that has to go on there, which means by necessity it’s kinda complicated. I do worry that if it’s really complex, it’ll serve to create obscurity instead of transparency, but…well, we’re doing our best, and we’ll keep doing our best, and we hope that when questions/issues/concerns/delays/etc. do arise, people will continue to be as patient with us as they have been! <3

Hope that helps, and thanks for sending an ask!! We’re always here to help. <3

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Received Asks: How Did You Pick the Name You Create Under and What Influenced that Decision?

A collaboratively written post by multiple members of Duck Prints Press. The input of every individual author has been used and lightly edited with permission and credited in the way they’ve requested.

Two days ago, a member of Duck Prints Press posed the following questions to our blogging team:

  • Whether you publish under a pen name or your given name, what factored into your decision to use one or the other?
  • Was personal safety the primary reason behind deciding to use a pen name, or were there other reasons? 
  • If you use your given name, do you feel safe? 
  • What’s your advice for [creators] who are thinking about publishing original [work]? 

A number of us replied, and we all felt that the compiled responses would make a good post to share, as “whether or not to use a pen name” is a recurring question we often get in-server, and is likely one many of y’all out there thinking of publishing your original work have pondered as well. 

Do you publish under a pen name or use your given name, and what factors influenced your decision to use one or the other?

@arialerendeair: I publish under a pseudonym and always will! I decided to go with names that riff off my fanfic name (Aria Lerendeair) – Aria L. Deair (for non-erotica) and Aria D. Leren (for erotica) because I’ve built a community and wanted it to be a bit of an in-joke when they find/buy my content. If someone were to find the story organically – they might get the name reference, they might not. It’s a fun way to create not-separation between the names and have one for the different genres! 

boneturtle: I (try to) stay anonymous aside from necessary contracts because of personal safety as regards certain family members. I honestly don’t worry about strangers knowing who I am, but if I am aiming for anonymity I have to commit.

Annabeth Lynch: I use a pen name, but I plan on taking at least the first name as my legal name when possible. I won’t share that or my pen name with my family because 1) they don’t know I write, and I’m not content to share that with them at all, and 2) I don’t want them to know I’m queer. They likely wouldn’t be hellish about it but I would certainly be mocked. Also, now I live in the south and while I live in a liberal section because of the nearby colleges, the place I want to move after my husband’s schooling is ~liberal~ in a vague way but definitely not as good as where I am now. It’s one reason why I’m hesitant to try and get my books in bookstores that might want in-person events.

Dei Walker: I went with a pen name for the erotica I wrote for DPP (and I’ll keep with that), but the first name holds a link with my real name in some ways. My husband’s a teacher at a fairly prestigious private school, and there’s a degree of “yeah my wife writes smut” that’s okay with colleagues but isn’t okay if the parents find out about it if they use search engines to learn more about me.

Willa Blythe: I chose to use a pen name. One, my real name is kind of weirdly spelled and I don’t actually even use my first name because it is a very popular name from the 80s that my parents left a letter out of… I go by my middle name but I spell it differently than what’s on my birth certificate, and I’ve gone by this name since I was 18. Everyone in my life knows me as (NAME) save my family, and they know I go by that. It’s not a nickname, it’s my name, and that’s fine. 

Anonymous: I decided to use a pen name for two reasons: 1) my name is incomprehensible to English speakers – not only is it hard to pronounce, but it also uses special characters; 2) I’m a primary teacher in a small town where gossip goes wild (for example, when I decided to go part-time so I have more time for writing it was going around that I was pregnant ) so I don’t want anyone to find out that I’m queer and write queer romance. There are idiots out there who wouldn’t want me to teach their kids because of that. I eventually came up with a pen name that is a word play on my legal name so it still feels like me, and the people I want to know would recognize it as me but strangers are unlikely to make the connection.

Nina Waters ( @unforth ): I publish under a pen name because people always mispronounce my last name and my understanding is that it’s better to make a pen name people can pronounce. Back when I was still considering trad pub, I was planning to use multiple pen names so I could write across genres. Nina Waters was gonna be spec fic and romance, but I love historical drama type stuff too and like. Those sell better with a male name on them? So I was gonna use either C. P. Houck (so, my actual initials and last name) or Charles (or maybe Chuck) P. Houck, since Charles is a family name (my uncle, my grandfather, and my great grandfather on my dad’s side are all Charles’s). That all said, when I decided to go the small Press creation route instead, there was basically no way to keep my real name out of things since as the owner I have to put it on all official paperwork, which means it’s filed with the government and a matter of public record. Since anyone could access it, there didn’t seem to be much point in keeping it a secret/separate. 

Was personal safety the primary reason behind deciding to use a pen name? What other reasons influenced your decisions?

(some authors included their answers to this in their replies above)

Nina Waters: Not really, though I did originally concoct the Nina Waters name for a really silly version of personal safety? I was writing a thing based on my unrequited feelings for someone and I obviously couldn’t put that under my real name without risking them figuring it out, so I needed a pen name. I never did finish that project lmao and now I would never bother but the pen name stuck. 

arialerendeair: Part of [why I use a pen name] is because I was doxxed (and received threats) from a non-writing community almost a decade ago. I’m not afraid of attaching my real name to my works – I’m proud of them! But with the very real possibility of that happening again at some point in the future, I didn’t want to risk it!

Willa Blythe: There was an additional reason that using a pen name was important to me, though. When I wrote fan fiction, I was the victim of a targeted hate campaign aimed at people who wrote fanfiction about a certain character. I wrote fic that I loved and I stayed in my corner, but I got aggressive and hateful messages constantly about not only myself but also my young son, for the crime of choosing to write about a young man of color instead of the overwhelmingly popular white m/m ship in that fandom. It was alarming, especially when people I didn’t know sent me messages about my workplace and my movements there. Prior to that, I’d been pretty open online. I’m not now. I take doxxing very seriously. My son’s safety, but also my own and my roommate’s, are of huge importance. I write about things people don’t love: complicated queer relationships, critiques of capitalism and white supremacy, critiques of religion and spiritual practices, etc. I have to do what is necessary to create distance between my real life, my fandom life, and my writing life. That said… I’ve done more to separate my fandom and writing identities than my real and writing identities, for a variety of reasons. It’s complicated, but as much as I love fandom, it does breed a certain kind of entitlement that my personal friends and family just don’t have.

If you use your given name, do you feel safe?

@owlishintergalactic: My wife and I had a huge conversation about the implications of me writing under my wallet name. I am quite politically involved in the Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education sectors in my county and state. This is a sector where being openly LGBTQ can cause problems with a particular subset of parents and voters. Yet, we don’t believe we should have to hide who we are and that we are LGBTQ – like many other parents in our state. We decided, in the end, that since I don’t write anything more racy than “mature,” it makes sense to build my platform using my real name. My writing is a part of me. It is a part of my advocacy. It’s my profession. But it is a risk, and it’s mitigated some because I live in one of the most open and inclusive communities in the US. For the most part, though, I do almost all of my online work under a variation of Owlish because it creates a layer of protection between me and the internet masses who don’t always have the best intentions.

Nina Waters: I. uh. Mostly? I definitely worry about it. I’ve been thinking about getting a P. O. Box for the business so I at least don’t have to use my real address all the time too. I worry that if someone took offense to the kind of work I do, they could go after my children, and that scares the crap out of me. In retrospect I wish I’d worked a little harder to keep my identities separate, but they were already mostly merged by the time I had kids and I’d have had to completely restart with new screen names and everything, so it felt like it was already too late by the time the business became public.

What’s your advice for [creators] who are thinking about publishing original [work]?

Nina Waters: The advice I give to people in the Press is if they’re even a LITTLE unsure, they should use a pen name. At any time when they decide they’re comfortable they can always switch to using their real name, but once the genie’s out of the bottle there’s no putting it back.

arialerendeair: There are a great many reasons to choose to use a pseud! For your own personal reasons, for reasons involving your spouse, your family, your activism work, because the internet is a scary place sometimes and many grew up in the web safety diligence era. If you are picking up a pseud for any reason at all – great! They can be fun, they can be punny, (is it a coincidence that D is the middle initial for my pseud that I write erotica under? Nope!) and they can be a chance to reinvent yourself for an audience that doesn’t know you yet. There’s a power in being able to shape a persona – and sometimes it’s fun to grab that and see where it leads!

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Do you – yes, you, the person reading this! – use a pen name for publishing your art, fiction, or other types of creations? Have you kept your fandom, creation, and meatspace selves separate? We’d love to hear your answers to the above questions, so feel free to comment and weigh in!

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Have a question? Feel free to drop us an ask any time!

Want to support what we do and get access to extras and behind-the-scenes information? Back us on Patreon or ko-fi!

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Wondering What We’re Working On?

Well, wonder no more!

A week ago (Sunday, August 28th, 2022) we held our second-ever all-server meeting – a now-monthly event inaugurated in July, where everyone involved with Duck Prints Press (authors, artists, designers, ko-fi/Patreon monthly backers, etc.) is invited to jump into a channel on our Discord, listen to some updates on our current projects and upcoming plans, and ask questions, comment, make suggestions, and generally get more involved! At the meeting, many people indicated that they wanted a better idea of what the Press staff are actually doing, on a day-to-day basis, and @hermit-writes (WordPress) suggested it would be easy for us to set up a public-facing Trello board, especially because we already use Trello to do most of our behind-the-scenes task organization/management. We opened that up to a general vote and the response was overwhelming, YES WE WANT TO KNOW! So, with Hermit’s help, the thing is now done – and y’all can see too!

As part of Duck Prints Press’s ongoing commitment to transparency, we present you: a Trello board listing what we’re working on and project status, available for everyone to see!

This Trello board includes all of our current projects and short-term plans (roughly the next quarter-or-so), and the status of individual tasks associated with the project. You do not need a Trello account to view it. We expect to add a calendar component to it too (transferring our existing, rather bare-bones, Google Calendar into the Trello so that everything is in one place). We encourage you to take a peek and keep an eye on what we’re up to and how we’re progressing!

As always, we’re here to provide information to our contributors, staff, readership, curious public, really everyone involved in the Press in anyway – so always feel free to let us know if you have questions, comments, feedback, etc.

(and – want to support what we do? we heart our monthly supporters on ko-fi and Patreon, and we’d love to have you, yes YOU, on board too!)

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FAQ: Does Duck Prints Press use #OwnVoices?

Long time no post – I (Nina Waters, the Press owner) have been away for a couple of weeks, and despite my hopes to keep things active, I wasn’t able to do so. But, I’m back now, and ready to catch up on things I did before or during my trip, and/or things that crop up now!

For starters – right before my departure I received a question in my e-mail. The below is paraphrased from the original ask, and my answer is slightly edited for readability.

Question: What is Duck Prints Press’s stance on the #ownvoices tag?

We don’t use #ownvoices, ever, because what was created as a tag to help highlight creators speaking on their own experiences became a bludgeon to bully people and force them to out themselves. We say publicly that we primarily aim to work with LGBTQIA+ authors to publish LGBTQIA+ stories, but we don’t actually require that our creators be any form of queer, nor do their stories/artwork/creations have to feature LGBTQIA+ characters or themes. No one ever has to disclose more about their identity than they wish to, nor does anyone have to use a real name (outside of contracts, which are of course not shared), link any social media accounts, etc. – since we only share the info our creators explicitly want shared, they can publicize as much or as little as they’d like to about themselves – then can go “full public” and use their actual name to write, share all their social media, etc., or they can deny the public access to them beyond a pen name, or anything in between. We use this approach to protect creators and make sure no one will be forced to out themselves, and while the Press is primarily aimed at LGBTQIA+ themes, we’ll of course apply the same approach to other aspects of author identity – race, ethnicity, religion, etc. In all respects, the creators themselves choose how much to disclose, and we will never share anything beyond what they’ve authorized.

Our views on the #ownvoices tag were primarily formed based on this blog post from We Need Diverse Books.

All that said, since we’re so explicitly a queer-focused Press, there’s always a danger that people will assume our creators are some flavor of queer whether they are or not, but we really can’t help what other people assume, and we never explicitly say that creators MUST be queer (nor do we require it privately – we have worked with creators who aren’t queer). If you’re ever wondering about a specific creator, we encourage you to check out our various author biography pages for our anthologies and the Press as a whole, and see what the creators have, and have not, chosen to share!