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Author Topic: EP Metacast #3  (Read 50958 times)

SFEley

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on: March 06, 2008, 03:23:36 PM
EP Metacast #3

The third “state of the podcast” address.

Closing music is “Ya Famous?” by George Hrab. Used with standing permission. Be sure to check out the Geologic Podcast as well.


Moderator: Steve had posted the text several days before this went on the feed.  Steve's original post and the following discussion are below.  Please add your thoughts.




I wrote this on Sunday and Monday, recorded it on Wednesday, but things keep happening and I haven't had time to edit and post it yet.  I'm hoping I get a chance to get it on the feed this weekend while I'm out of town.

But since I suspect the people who are dedicated enough to follow the forums are more likely to be interested in what this contains, I'm putting the text here early.  Comments welcome, of course.



Hello, and welcome to the third Escape Pod metacast!   I'm Steve Eley -- and yeah.  It's been a while.  If you're not familiar with the metacast idea, I don't blame you; the last time we did one of these was May 2006.  This isn't an Escape Pod episode, there's no story attached to this; I just want to fill you in on the state of the podcast, the state of the _business_, Escape Artists Inc., and, to a certain extent, the State of the Steve.  This isn't entertainment of the sort you're used to getting from us, and there's no quiz at the end, so if you skip this, that's totally fine.  I have to warn you that this metacast, compared to the others, is really long.  I also use some profanity here, and if that shocks you and disappoints you, you probably should move right on and maintain your high opinion of me.

Still here?  All right. 

Let's talk about where we are right now.  The last time I did one of these, Escape Pod had completed one year of podcasting.  I was overjoyed that we were getting average download counts of a few thousand.  Now it's almost two years later.  People are talking about us, we've continued to get some good press, we've been featured on iTunes a number of times -- including their Best of 2007 list -- and based on the statistics from Libsyn, our hosting provider, our average download count within the first two weeks of an episode release is just a shade over 18,000. 

I want to put this in context.  18,000 downloads per episode.  According to the 2007 circulation statistics published in _Locus_ Magazine, that's slightly ahead of the monthly circulation for _Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine_, and considerably higher than the circulation for _The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction._  _Analog's_ still way ahead of us -- but unless there's an electronic market with a larger download count that isn't reporting it, or a foreign language publication, I'm pretty comfortable putting forward the hypothesis that Escape Pod is the *second largest market* for short science fiction.  We're not #2 in podcasts, or #2 in online 'zines -- I believe we're #2, period.  And we're still growing, with more subscribers to our feed every month.  I'm not trying to be overproud or anything, but for a free podcast that started as a spare-time hobby and is still fundamentally a volunteer effort, I think that's pretty impressive.   And it is thanks more to you than to me.  We've put very little into marketing, so if it weren't for all of you telling your friends, and making blog posts, and giving our CDs as gifts, our growth would have been stagnant all these years. 

Pseudopod's done just as well, and much better for its genre.  The horror podcast is getting between 7 and 8 thousand downloads per episode, which -- again, to the best of my knowledge and published circulation statistics -- is *way* ahead of any other dedicated horror market.  It's the genre leader, and I think it's safe to say we're doing more to expand the audience for literary horror than any other current publication.  If you haven't listened to Pseudopod yet, and disturbing stories are up your alley, you really should check it out.  Ben Phillips and Alisdair Stuart are doing an incredible job presenting all the flavors of horror today, and I _love_ Al's outros.

And if you've been following the forums or checked out the Web site for it, you know that PodCastle, our new fantasy fiction podcast, finally has a solid, definite launch date.  That's April 1st.  And yes, we knew the irony of picking April Fool's Day after all my announcements that it would hit last fall.  But it's not a joke.  Our chief PodCastle editor, Rachel Swirsky, has done an incredible job getting everything organized, and with co-hosts Ann Leckie and Summer Brooks and a few months' worth of stories already lined up, the pieces are all in place.  We'll be debuting with a classic story from Peter S. Beagle -- yes, the author of _The Last Unicorn_ -- and we have other major authors and some new names already in production.  Rachel's just as dedicated to bringing you the full variety of fantasy fiction today as EP's been doing for science fiction and Pseudopod's done for horror, and this launch is going to be _incredible._  You can go to PodCastle.org to keep up with developments, and we'll have the feed ready for you to subscribe to very soon. 

Finances, I want to talk about in two parts: present and future.  I can't give you exact dollars and cents right now, but it's not due to unwillingness to disclose.  It's actually because I've been so far behind on tracking it that we haven't yet closed the books on last year, and I honestly don't know our bottom line.  I'm rushing to get a handle on it myself so we can file our taxes.  I will say that on the strength of your donations, especially the fewscore monthly donors, we've been breaking even and then some.  It hasn't been sufficient to pay me anything I could call a salary, much less anybody else, and we've been holding our story rates steady for more than a year now.  But we have had enough donations growth to launch PodCastle with confidence, at the same rate that Escape Pod pays, $100 per full-length story, despite the zero audience size all these months.  We're also starting to develop more sponsorships and advertising.  You've heard the ads for Audible.com on Escape Pod and Pseudopopod this past month, and later in March we've got a really exciting sponsorship for a book launch from an author you've probably heard of.  Those deals are a really good sign for the future, but they're not covering all our costs right now.  Today we need your support more than ever, and I want to make sure that donors get, frankly, more appreciation than I've been showing this past year or so.  Again, I'll talk about that in a few minutes.  First, I need to digress.

I need to talk about Steve Eley for a bit.  I know I do that all the time in my intros anyway, but this is going a bit deeper.  If you don't care about my personal life -- and it's not my expectation that any of you should care -- you can skip forward about five minutes.  But this does matter, it's relevant to Escape Pod, and some of you will be wondering why I've been so, so far behind on e-mail, and donation thank-yous, and responding to story submissions.  Or where the flash fiction went, or why I haven't been active on the forums, et cetera.  More than a few have e-mailed me to say that you're worried about me, and you deserve some explanation.

The short answer is that my life's been a mess.  I haven't just been behind on Escape Artists, I've been behind on everything, and doing very badly at setting priorities that would meet any goals at all beyond scraping by.  It had escalated to the point of crisis, personal and professional.  By the beginning of February I was on the brink of getting fired, my relationships were in trouble, and I'd started to view this as a mental health problem.  Now, this isn't some after-school special about alcohol or drug addiction, or anything else with clear clinical edges; it would almost be easier to talk about if I had something I could point to like that, but it's really just been me operating against my own success.  I know that doesn't make me a unique tragic snowflake among humankind, but realizing it all at once can still be pretty disturbing.

I freaked a lot of people out the other day in my feedback comments on EP144, "Friction."  I'm sorry, that wasn't my intention.  I said narrating it was the one good thing I did on the worst day of my life, and a lot of you left comments worrying about me.  The backstory's this: I haven't told this to anyone yet, but initially there wasn't going to be an Escape Pod that week.  Time was one of my big stress points, and I was _so_ close to getting fired, and so on the edge of everything, that I was about to announce I was putting Escape Pod on a biweekly schedule or even on hiatus until I sorted things out and got my own stuff back on a simpler track.  That was before the shit really hit the fan.  February 6th, the day after my birthday, was that worst day I mentioned.  That morning I lost my job.  Best job I've ever had.  One of those startup opportunities with really rewarding software work and a good product.  The people who are still there, I honestly do believe, will probably be millionaires in a couple years' time.  That was what I lost, and it was my own damn fault.  I didn't deliver on promises that would have been very easy for me to meet.  I lost much more than that that day -- one of the best personal relationships I've ever had, and a lot of my self-esteem.  I'll spare you the soap opera details.  At the end of the day what I had left, the things important to me that no one could take, were my wife, my kid, and Escape Pod.  I'm not going to talk about how things went with Anna; knowing I'd disappointed her hurt more than anything else, but she's been incredible.  She's the best part of my life, the most supportive partner anyone could ever wish for, and that's all I'll say. 

But I realized that, with so much else gone, I couldn't skip that week's Escape Pod.  I couldn't lose this too, not when going for nearly three years without missing a week was one of the few things left I was still proud of.  So I went down into the studio and picked "Friction" out of our inventory and I read it.  That's why it was the one good thing I did that day.  I hoped that story in particular would keep me grounded; that talking about long life and giving oneself to goals no one had achieved before would get me through that week.  And it did.  There was no intro or outro because I had no energy for them; I had nothing good to say.  But we got the story out.  And that matters.  It would be an overstatement to say that "Friction" saved this podcast, but it definitely saved me from making things worse than they were.  As a psychology professor, I thought Mr. McIntosh would like to know that.

Anyway.  That was the bottom point, the kick in the ass I needed.  Things have been getting better since then.  I'm getting good help, including psychiatric help -- and if you think telling _that_ to a few thousand people is easy, you're mistaken.  I'm starting to get a lot more organized, and by the way I did get work again, so please don't worry about me starving with my family in the streets.  I'm back to contracting, with flexible enough hours that I can keep working on Escape Artists activities.  I'm simplifying out the things I don't really _need_ in my life, and I'm recognizing what's important.  And on my list of "important," Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and PodCastle are very high.  What we're doing here -- what *I'm* doing here -- matters.  And, honestly?  It deserves more of my time, and more respect, than I've been giving it.  This podcasting stuff isn't a get-it-done-at-3-AM-the-night-before hobby for me anymore.  It's time to embrace it for what it is: a major force in the science fiction genre, a positive part of many people's lives, and something that, again without being overproud, something I'm _really_ good at.  It's time, if you'll excuse me, to be a fucking professional about this.

So that brings us back to the metacast proper, and back to business.  What it comes down to is this: aside from working on myself, my primary goal for this year is to build Escape Artists, Inc. as a business.  One that can sometime soon make me a living, and one that can pay our other editors, and hosts, and our production team, enough to justify the hard work they're putting into this.  (You ask, "What production team?"  Keep patient, I'll get to that.)  I don't think anyone's going to get rich off of a science fiction podcast, and that's okay.  If making millions was one of my driving goals, I could have made different choices anytime between 12 years and 3 weeks ago.  What I want is to keep bringing people stories, and to have the freedom to make that the central vocation of my life instead of a side project.  The way to do that is to start treating it as my vocation right now.  Software development still pays the bills, but if you ask me what my *job* is, starting today, I'll tell you I'm President of Escape Artists, Inc.  And that I tell stories.

I have a plan.  It's a concrete plan.  I have a list of actions to be performed, and these actions will make us a viable profit-making company with employees instead of a line on my tax return between the end of this year and sometime in 2009.  That won't affect the content you're used to getting at all; Escape Pod will continue to sound like Escape Pod, Pseudopod will still have its style, and PodCastle's gonna knock your socks off.  What it means is that we can keep doing this, as long as we have writers and an audience.  I'd like to kick off a fourth podcast, and a fifth one.  We have ideas.  But we have to start from where we are.

My plan needs your help.  People have been writing me for years, saying I love what you're doing, and how can I help.  I've never really had answers before, because delegating is scary and requires more organization than I've had.  But if you want to help, now I know what you can do.  Talking about that will be most of the rest of this metacast.  I.e., we've just gotten to the meat.

The first thing you can do is to continue supporting us, if you're so inclined, with your donations and your word-of-mouth.  One reason it's taken us this long to really get serious about sponsorships is because I haven't wanted to jeopardize our donation base with anything that couldn't replace it.  I've turned down a lot of smaller advertising deals, or ones that I didn't think would appeal to this audience, partly for reasons of creative vision and partly because I felt they'd hurt us more than they'd benefit us.  I know if I tuned into a show with a lot of commercials, I'd assume they were doing all right and they didn't need my money.  Someday I'd like that to be true for Escape Artists.  My utopian vision for all our podcasts would be to fund them entirely with book sponsorships, being paid by publishers to tell you about good books that, if you're attracted to our stories, you'd probably like to know about anyway.  (And by the way, if you _are_ an author or a publisher with a book you'd like us to help you promote, do drop me a line at editor@escapepod.org.  We're building a media kit right now and I think we can offer you the kind of publicity no one else can.)  But we're a long way from basing our business on that -- really, we're just getting started --and we still have costs.  This Audible deal was okay, and the book promotion we've got in a couple weeks is even nicer, but we need your donations as much as ever. 

I know we've sucked in the past about acknowledging donations -- frankly, all of you who've *ever* donated deserve more appreciation than we've given.  That's something we're changing too.  We're building some tools for donor incentives, and to make donors a more central part of our business.  One problem Pseudopod's always had is that they get fewer donations from their site than Escape Pod does.  I believe this is because people assume that donating to one podcast is really donating to both of them.  And you're right, but we haven't been tracking that well.  And it's been nigh impossible to determine whether Pseudopod's breaking even.  Throw PodCastle into the mix and you have chaos.

So we're going to fix that.  Sometime between now and April 1st, you're going to see a change in our donations link.  It won't go straight to PayPal; instead you'll get a very simple form where you get to earmark which podcasts you actually listen to and want to support.  So you get to split your donation, and fund the things you like and not the things you don't.  We'll have some cool incentives, like PodDisc credit and prestige on the forums.  But the big, *big* incentive -- and if you're on our monthly subscriber plan or if you've ever donated in the past, you'll get an e-mail and be grandfathered into this -- is that active supporters will get custom feeds with early access to episodes.  All of our podcasts, you'll get to hear at least three days before the rest of the world does, maybe more.  Pseudopod and PodCastle are already running ahead of schedule, and, well, I'm racing to catch up with Escape Pod.  We're extending that to you as a thank you for making those episodes possible.  Is that cool?  I think that's cool.

I want to make clear.  This is *not* premium content.  We're never going to do stories that only donors get to hear, or charge you two bucks to download an episode, or anything like that.  Ever.  No Escape Artists property will *ever* release a story that isn't Creative Commons licensed.  I feel very, very strongly about this.  People have tried to talk me into charging for our stories, said I could make a lot more money right now if I did.  Hell, they might be right.  There's 18,000 subscribers to Escape Pod right now.  If I switched to charging a dollar an episode and 2,000 of you paid it and stayed subscribed, I could make this my full-time job right now.  At the cost of pissing off 16,000 people.  I will never do that.  I'd close this business down first.  Our mission is to expand the audience for science fiction, and we can't do that if our best stories are locked up behind a payment barrier.  I also want to prove that a free, donor-driven podcast can financially succeed -- and so far we've made a good showing of it.  So...  If you want to help, the first thing you can do is, if you've got the resources, make a voluntary donation.  Decide for yourself what our stories are worth, donate based on the value to you, and help us keep our content free and unencumbered.  If you ask my opinion, I'd say the $5 a month plan is the best thing for us; it lets us budget a bit more reliably, and for several hours of audio each month it's a pretty good deal.  It also gives you permanent early access and the best incentives as we roll them out.  Again, that's just if you ask me.

The second thing you can do, if you'd like to help, is to help us get the word out.  Apart from asking people to blog about us -- which, by the way, has been a phenomenal success; Technorati says we have 2,813 blog links back to us, which blows my mind -- anyway, except for that, we haven't really had much of a marketing plan.  I want to change that too.  I'm currently sitting on several thousand Escape Pod bookmarks.  These are beautiful, with our exploding spaceship banner logo on the front, and some descriptive text on the back.  I'd like to send these bookmarks out into the world where people who like science fiction can find them.  My request to you: if you work at or frequent a good independent bookstore, or game or comic shop, or coffee shop, or if you volunteer at an SF convention -- if you have a place where you *know* you can get permission to put these bookmarks out for people to find them, send me your address at editor@escapepod.org.  Let me know where you can place them, and within the next couple weeks I'll send you a good sized pile of bookmarks.  Of course you can keep a few for yourself too, but it's my hope that you'll follow the spirit of this and use them to let other people know about us.  What you *can't* do is just drop them off at Borders or Barnes & Noble or your local library -- most big chains, and most public buildings, have rules against outside advertising, and so it really needs to be someplace where you know the people in charge personally and they can give you permission.  If you can help, please contact me.  We also have Pseudopod bookmarks, which look even cooler, but much fewer of them.  If this works out well then we'll do it for Pseudo as Phase 2.  But if you have something in mind where promoting Pseudopod would make sense and Escape Pod wouldn't, let me know and I can send you those.

The third thing that some of you can do to help is a bit narrower in focus.  We've got three podcasts now, and with all of them we're striving for professional audiobook levels of editing and production quality.  It's fun work and it's worth it, but the sound editing takes *a lot* of time each week.  For about three years now I've done 100% of the technical audio work on Escape Pod alone, and Ben and Al have been busting their ears on Pseudopod.  It doesn't have to be this way.  This work can be distributed.  There are a number of you who have audio editing skills just as good as ours -- maybe better -- with your own podcasts or with other projects.  What I'd like to do is recruit a production team, a number of you who have the tools, the technical skill, and the patience to clean up sound, edit raw narrations, lay down music by our standard guidelines and assemble the shows.  I'd like to get enough people so that we can pool the labor and nobody has to sweat it every single week.  This _will_ be a compensated position.  This isn't glamorous work; we have people lining up to narrate for us, but oddly, nobody's beating down our door to ask to edit sound.  So we'll pay for it on a per-episode basis.  Not a lot; we're not talking rent money,  we're talking beer money, but you'll also get credit for the work and a plug for your podcast or whatever else you'd like to plug in the outros.  If you think you can do this and it sounds like fun, drop me a line at editor@escapepod.org and let me know what sort of experience you have, what software you use, and anything else you think I should know.  We'll work together on the rest of the environment, and hopefully get a managed team going within the next month or two. 

...And that _finally_ wraps up everything I had to say in this metacast.  I told you it'd be a long one, so I won't draw out the goodbyes here; once again, thank all of you for listening and for your support so far.  It's been a great time so far, and from here on it'll only get better. 

I'm going to close out with a song from one of my favorite musicians and podcasters, George Hrab.  Which song of his to play at the end of this was a tough one for me, but we're going to go with "Ya Famous?" from his album Interrobang.  You can find more of George's music at geologicrecords.net -- and make sure to check out the Geologic Podcast, it's one of the funniest ones on my iPod.  We'll be back on Thursday with our regular story.  Until then -- ah, you know what I'm going to say.  Same thing I always say.  Have Fun.


« Last Edit: March 11, 2008, 06:51:20 PM by Russell Nash »

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


Chodon

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Reply #1 on: March 06, 2008, 03:54:26 PM
I'm glad you're okay.  I'm glad you're back.  Things have a way of sorting themselves out the way they're supposed to. 

It makes me really happy to hear about the more organized plan for EP, PP, and PC.  Also, it's great to hear the successes you have had with the 'casts.  I know they have brought a lot of joy to my life.  Donating is one of those things I've always said I'll get around to.  I'm going to get around to it sooner now...if that's worth anything. 

I realized how important your podcasts are to me when I got my ipod swiped off my desk at work and couldn't listen to/from work.  Radio sucks.  Even my CDs suck compared to your podcasts.  They transform my commute from a mundane drive for 35 minutes to a fun adventure.  I got a new player yesterday just for podcasts and I have missed it so, so much.  Thanks for keeping us up to date on the happenings and I hope you realize there are a lot of people out there you haven't even met that you have had a positive effect on their life. 

Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.


DKT

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Reply #2 on: March 06, 2008, 06:31:28 PM
Wow.  Those statistics really are amazing, Steve.  I knew you guys had a pile of subscribers, but I didn't realize you'd done that well.  Like Chodon, I'm also grateful for having an interesting story I probably never would have heard to listen to at least twice a week now on my otherwise boring commute.  I'm looking forward to three (or five?!?!) times now :)

I'm glad you're doing well and that you're taking this step into making Escape Artists the number 1 distributor of short genre fiction.  I'll ping you about anything I can do to help.


CammoBlammo

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Reply #3 on: March 06, 2008, 10:57:06 PM
Wow. Thanks for your time and honesty, Mr President! A few random thoughts come to mind, so let me try to sort them out.

I'm glad to hear your life's getting itself back on track. Like many concerned listeners (hey --- 18,000 downloads makes you a celebrity!) I was worried about what exactly you'd done to muck things up so much. I'm glad to hear that while your other priorities have been a little confused, your wife and son are still at the top of the tree. I think I speak for many when I say that we would be happy to have a break from Escape Pod if it started to impinge on your family's wellbeing. Just on that --- when do we get another geek dad intro? :)

I'm very impressed with what you have been able to do with this podcast. I hate to say it, but you're right --- a podcast this mature needs to have more stable funding. I'm glad to see you state the principles upon which you're not going to waver. On the advertising thing, though, please remember that many of your listeners live outside the US. You have featured one or two sponsors in the past, but they've made me hungry for a product that I will probably never be able to purchase, at least practically.

Oh well, other thoughts come to mind, but they're all along the same lines --- glad to see things are improving, and I'm looking forward to the next metacast.

Cheers!



sayeth

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Reply #4 on: March 07, 2008, 12:25:38 AM
Thank you so much, Steve, for bringing us great stories every week. I don't have money to give - I'm in some financial troubles myself - but I know I've turned at least one friend into a fan.  I've been blogging about Escape Pod too, so at least one of those Technorati links is from me.  I wish I could do more.

I'm confident that Escape Pod will turn into a reliable revenue stream for you. I believe that people who do something well and fill a big enough niche will be rewarded. You're consistently the best of any fiction podcast and I think that there are enough fans and potential fans out there to make you a rich man someday.

Free Listens Audio Reviews: www.freelistens.blogspot.com


FamilyGuy

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Reply #5 on: March 07, 2008, 01:42:05 AM
You humble me Steve.  I can't fathom the amount of work you put into each week's podcast.  I hope that things ease for you on the home front.  Money is tight for me, but as soon as things loosen up, I'll be donating.  Thank you so much for turning my boring daily commute into an enjoyable one.

I wanted to let you know that most of the podcasts I listen to are directly related to good things I have heard on EP and this board.  EP, PP, Drabblecast, DIC, and soon, Podcastle.  I've even become a Sigler addict.   ;D

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When will all the rhetorical questions end?


Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #6 on: March 07, 2008, 03:28:42 AM
Wow.

Steve, you are officially one of my inspirations, now.  Not just because you have built something so successful; but because you've kept sight of what's important to you.  I can identify so closely with the problem you have described of not being able to fulfill obligations that seem easy; that has been a constant struggle for me over the years, as well.  (In my case, though, the technical medical term is "lazy a-hole syndrome".  ;)  The effective treatment has proven to be 2 1/2 teaspoons of distilled humility, administered daily by a patient and long-suffering spouse.)

But for me, the last several years have been a time where I have felt like I had to put my creative desires on the back burner in order to get by, financially, and seeing the success of your model has been extremely encouraging.  And it's not just you, either; Jonathan Coulton's story is pretty inspiring to me, too.  (I'm not about to quit my job like he did, though; I have actually fumbled my way into a job that I love, and that I think is pretty important, so it figures more highly in my priority list than a job that I would be doing just to pay the bills.)

You might not know it unless you read my blog regularly, but Escape Pod has been a direct cause of the improvement in my writing habits over the last couple of years, and now that our financial situation is within spitting distance of "not so friggin' poor anymore", Escape Artists is on my very short list of "folks I want to give money to".  (For the record, it's you, JoCo, and NPR on that list.)

This is longer than I intended, but one more thought hit me when I saw your #2 statistic.  If I hadn't grown a pair and submitted my story before finding out that Escape Pod is so very, very important in the market... I might not have had the nerve to send it in at all!

Keep up the good work, and ... you have fun, too, Steve!

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I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


nanr42

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Reply #7 on: March 07, 2008, 04:05:24 AM
I'm glad to hear you're ok and getting better. I too have had times of complete disorder and ceasing (nearly) to function, but with lots of help, (including psychiatric) meds and prayer, I'm moving along. It is hard to say so, I know what you mean, especially the meds part. But they work, and I'm bloody well going to keep taking them. So hang in there. And thank you for doing Escape Pod et al. I look forward to it every week. I usually like the stories, though not always. I like hearing about your personal stuff, too. Makes you more, I dunno, immediate, human, a regular guy.

I wish I could do the tech work, but I can't. So I'll just send money.

Nan Roberts



Myst

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Reply #8 on: March 07, 2008, 04:44:43 AM
If I switched to charging a dollar an episode and 2,000 of you paid it and stayed subscribed, I could make this my full-time job right now.



Hmm, 2000 of us at a buck a episode? I know you won't ask for it but that seems like a worthy goal. Time to go toss my 100 Lincolns into the pay pal bin. Now we just need 1999 more.  :D 



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #9 on: March 07, 2008, 12:50:11 PM
If I switched to charging a dollar an episode and 2,000 of you paid it and stayed subscribed, I could make this my full-time job right now.



Hmm, 2000 of us at a buck a episode? I know you won't ask for it but that seems like a worthy goal. Time to go toss my 100 Lincolns into the pay pal bin. Now we just need 1999 more.  :D 

Ha, ha... the first time I read that, I was thinking the paper Lincolns, and I thought "Whoa!  That human REALLY digs EP!"  Then my brain caught up with the copper Lincolns.

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


Listener

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Reply #10 on: March 07, 2008, 01:49:31 PM
Posted a comment on the LJ, but...

I didn't realize EP and PP were such huge markets.  I'll be submitting stories by the end of spring, I hope.

And I've thrown in a resume to help with the tech stuff too.

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eytanz

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Reply #11 on: March 07, 2008, 01:57:15 PM
I can't help with the tech stuff, and I've already donated as much as I can afford for the near future (especially with my shiny new dental bill coming in - root canals are not fun in more than one way), but I'll keep on listening as long as EP and PP (and PC) keep giving me stories to listen to, and help in any way I can.



Myst

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Reply #12 on: March 07, 2008, 04:58:03 PM

Ha, ha... the first time I read that, I was thinking the paper Lincolns, and I thought "Whoa!  That human REALLY digs EP!"  Then my brain caught up with the copper Lincolns.

Heh I wish I could afford to drop $500 a episode on EA.



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Reply #13 on: March 09, 2008, 02:52:26 PM
Steve, what you need is an email secretary. As Minister of Communications for Penguicon, I've basically done this for most of the departments of our convention for years. I would be happy to do this for editor@escapepod.org if you wish. This position has the following tasks:

1) let people know their email has been received.
2) answer with canned responses to frequently asked questions.
3) sort the messages that need a custom response from Escape Pod, into a list sorted by priority.
4) talk to you on a semiweekly, weekly, or biweekly regular schedule to summarize the list and optimize the use of your time.
5) paraphrase and email the responses that you don't want to write yourself. "Dear X, Steve said Y and needs more information Z."
6) for messages that go unresponded for too long, send an additional response a week later to say "Your message is important to Escape Pod. X has gotten in the way right now. Steve will get to this as soon as he can."



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Reply #14 on: March 10, 2008, 10:27:36 PM
Hey Steve, thanks for doing a terriffic job on escapepod! I enjoy the show immensely and hope to become a paying subscriber soon (in the middle of changing countries at the moment so short of $$)

I think it is great that your plans for escape artists are developing I just wanted to make a note on your plan of early episodes for paying subscribers...
But the big, *big* incentive -- and if you're on our monthly subscriber plan or if you've ever donated in the past, you'll get an e-mail and be grandfathered into this -- is that active supporters will get custom feeds with early access to episodes.  All of our podcasts, you'll get to hear at least three days before the rest of the world does, maybe more.

Well I currently live in Australia and one of the big issues with local TV here is that we didn't get the big American shows until much later. So if you were a BSG fan, and all the people on the internet were discussing the amazing new plot twist you had to sit there and grumble that channel seven wasn't going to show that episode for another 18 months. So you got left out of the conversation. What this might mean is that anyone coming to escapepod might only ever hear the show after the conversation has already happened, and you might start to drain your NEW followers since they might not be so enthusiastic without the community and discussion. Also with the CC license when someone shares the stories before the 'public' release it might just negate the whole idea, or just pour lots of confusion and angst on it.

Of course I might be just doomsaying... but I'm sure your community of supporters might be able to come up with some other incentives

Sorry to be all negative, I just thought my perspective might be helpful.



eytanz

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Reply #15 on: March 10, 2008, 10:52:56 PM
Well I currently live in Australia and one of the big issues with local TV here is that we didn't get the big American shows until much later. So if you were a BSG fan, and all the people on the internet were discussing the amazing new plot twist you had to sit there and grumble that channel seven wasn't going to show that episode for another 18 months. So you got left out of the conversation. What this might mean is that anyone coming to escapepod might only ever hear the show after the conversation has already happened, and you might start to drain your NEW followers since they might not be so enthusiastic without the community and discussion.

If Steve suggested an 18 month - or even an 18 day - waiting period, I'd agree entirely. He's suggesting a 3-day gap; that's not nearly enough time for the discussion to be over with. In many cases, it takes a day or two until it even starts, because many people take a few days to listen to the story anyway. So I don't agree with you on the negative consequences.

Quote
Also with the CC license when someone shares the stories before the 'public' release it might just negate the whole idea, or just pour lots of confusion and angst on it.

It might negate the idea if someone just goes ahead and sets up their own feed making the episodes public, but I can't see how the fact that people who get the episode early are allowed to share it will add any confusion or angst.

That said, though I don't think there will be any real negative side-effects to giving donors early episodes, I also don't see how it would be a very effective incentive. I just can't see why I would want to get the episodes earlier than anyone else. Partially from the opposite reason from the one you describe - if I listen to the episode before its public release and comment on it, I'll have to wait three days before anyone who is not a donor can join in the discussion. That's just a less satisfying discussion right there.

So, overall, I don't think this scheme will have do any harm, but I don't really see what the attraction is, either. It feels like a semi-random way to provide incentives while still giving everyone the same product. As far as I am concerned, though, the continued existence and smooth operation of EP (and PP and PC) is incentive enough.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #16 on: March 10, 2008, 11:09:57 PM

Well I currently live in Australia and one of the big issues with local TV here is that we didn't get the big American shows until much later. So if you were a BSG fan, and all the people on the internet were discussing the amazing new plot twist you had to sit there and grumble that channel seven wasn't going to show that episode for another 18 months.


I live in the U.S., but in self-imposed exile as far as television goes.  Paying for cable access has never made sense to us, and we are usually too busy to arrange our lives around a schedule arbitrarily decided by people trying to sell us crap on their terms.  So, I avoid the "water cooler" until Netflix sends me my next disc.  Now that certain networks are freely posting their stuff online, I'll watch it there.  (That's how I keep up with Heroes.)  I just wish more of them would follow or surpass NBC's relatively free and convenient interface.

Of course, I blathered on about how I feel about these sorts of things in more detail about the "revolution" in my blog this week: blog.myspace.com/tadmaster (if you care to surf over).

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Liminal

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Reply #17 on: March 10, 2008, 11:57:32 PM
Steve, I may not know exactly what you are going through right now, but I can completely understand just how painful letting down people you care about can be. I think, in some ways, letting yourself down is easier because you can hide it from yourself, trick yourself into thinking it's not all your fault or it's not as bad as you think, but to see it reflected in the eyes of friends and loved ones is one hell of a thing to take and can shake you up deep and for a long time - so you have my empathy and best wishes as you sort everything out.

But never forget, man, that you . . . Stephen Eley, have made thousands and thousands of people laugh, cry and think. Sure, it's the stories that do it, but you bring us those stories! And on some level, though we've never met and never spoken, I've got a whole lotta love for you because of the gift of storytelling that you have given me.  ;D

I am so going to send you a resume and some sound samples because I would feel proud and honored to be able to help, in any way I could, make EscapePod.

Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness? - Artemus Ward


Planish

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Reply #18 on: March 11, 2008, 08:25:41 AM
But never forget, man, that you . . . Stephen Eley, have made thousands and thousands of people laugh, cry and think. Sure, it's the stories that do it, but you bring us those stories! And on some level, though we've never met and never spoken, I've got a whole lotta love for you because of the gift of storytelling that you have given me.  ;D
Yeah.
What he said.

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Heradel

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Reply #19 on: March 11, 2008, 01:03:44 PM
Some day me speak pretty, but in lieu of that, good for you Steve, and thanks.

Well I currently live in Australia and one of the big issues with local TV here is that we didn't get the big American shows until much later. So if you were a BSG fan, and all the people on the internet were discussing the amazing new plot twist you had to sit there and grumble that channel seven wasn't going to show that episode for another 18 months. So you got left out of the conversation.

We get the same thing, but with British TV. If my mind is working at this early hour, Torchwood comes out on Tuesdays in Britain, and we have some kind of a wait with BBC:A — luckily it's not as bad as it is for Doctor Who with the SciFi channel — that's like a five-month to a year wait. I remember watching the last season via undisclosed but obvious sources and then going into school and starting to talk to someone about it, who had just watched the prior season, newly airing the night before as well. Luckily I didn't let slip any huge spoilers.

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Reply #20 on: March 11, 2008, 04:21:42 PM
What this might mean is that anyone coming to escapepod might only ever hear the show after the conversation has already happened, and you might start to drain your NEW followers since they might not be so enthusiastic without the community and discussion. Also with the CC license when someone shares the stories before the 'public' release it might just negate the whole idea, or just pour lots of confusion and angst on it.

I think point one could be overcome by not posting the new story thread until the day of the public release. One of the mods (praise N-sh) is responsible for posting the new story thread each week, so HE can just not post it early. No thread, no discussion. The other mods can make sure no one starts any unofficial story threads ahead of time.
The second point might or might not be an issue, I don't know enough about the technology to make that call, but I think if any of the other subscribers were to do something so uncouth we could all point and mock them publicly. A lot.

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


sirana

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Reply #21 on: March 11, 2008, 06:02:41 PM
What this might mean is that anyone coming to escapepod might only ever hear the show after the conversation has already happened, and you might start to drain your NEW followers since they might not be so enthusiastic without the community and discussion. Also with the CC license when someone shares the stories before the 'public' release it might just negate the whole idea, or just pour lots of confusion and angst on it.

I think point one could be overcome by not posting the new story thread until the day of the public release. One of the mods (praise N-sh) is responsible for posting the new story thread each week, so HE can just not post it early. No thread, no discussion. The other mods can make sure no one starts any unofficial story threads ahead of time.
The second point might or might not be an issue, I don't know enough about the technology to make that call, but I think if any of the other subscribers were to do something so uncouth we could all point and mock them publicly. A lot.

I'm pretty sure the second point would be no problem at all. Who'd go to the hassel and bandwidth of uploading every episode, just so other people could get the story 3 days earlier? More to the point, who would download the episodes from bittorrent or an unaffiliated site just so he could them 3 days earlier, when he can just come back 3 days later to the official site and get it there or drop a dollar in the donation jar and get them NOW.
And even if an uploader and a downloader would be willing to go to these extremes, it's not like they would be taking away anything of value. The downloader would just get it 3 days earlier. So I don't really see a problem there.



DKT

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Reply #22 on: March 11, 2008, 06:11:13 PM
Okay, after actually reading (EDIT: I DID read it before, I meant listening) this...is there any word on the flash fiction?  Are you guys still accepting flash fiction submissions?  I know some of the stuff from the contest will be on Podcastle, so I'm hoping we'll see some on Escape Pod, too. 
« Last Edit: March 11, 2008, 07:07:25 PM by DKT »



Heradel

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Reply #23 on: March 11, 2008, 06:27:56 PM
I'm pretty sure the second point would be no problem at all. Who'd go to the hassel and bandwidth of uploading every episode, just so other people could get the story 3 days earlier? More to the point, who would download the episodes from bittorrent or an unaffiliated site just so he could them 3 days earlier, when he can just come back 3 days later to the official site and get it there or drop a dollar in the donation jar and get them NOW.
And even if an uploader and a downloader would be willing to go to these extremes, it's not like they would be taking away anything of value. The downloader would just get it 3 days earlier. So I don't really see a problem there.

And in terms of Escape Pod's hardware, it'll be easier on the servers if they can break up the heavy load days. Even if it's just a thousand or two downloads offloaded to a Sunday, it'll probably mean that the current hardware (and bandwidth) setup will last longer it could otherwise, as it won't bog down as much on download days.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


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Reply #24 on: March 11, 2008, 06:39:25 PM
Checking in again:

A lot of the discussion here on the early episodes plan is echoing my own thoughts.  Just to be clear, I don't think of it as something that's going to perceived by many people as an incredible value or priceless gift.  It's not going to make people start donating in droves if they weren't going to donate anyway -- and I'm okay with that.  It's more of a gesture than a prize, a way of saying "Hey, thanks" and letting donors feel just a little bit special.  We're having to write some software anyway to enable the donations earmarking, and to keep better track of donors, and since we were already on that, this is something we can do that isn't that much more work.  It also enforces some better discipline with our production scheduling, especially for myself.

I'm not really worried about "piracy."  These feeds will have unique IDs for each donor but won't be password protected.  I'll probably build some sort of access logging with really high thresholds, just to make sure we can block a feed if someone posts it on Digg.com or something; but if you share it with your spouse or your kid sister, that doesn't stress me at all.  As for reuploading onto a non-Escape Artists site -- as some have already observed, a product that's going to be made free in a few days anyway doesn't have a very high value; and the only way it could hurt Escape Artists on any sort of scale is if the "leech" site became visible enough to compete with us.  That doesn't seem likely.  Even if it happened, the only damage would be reducing our own download stats, and I can live with that.  If that bothered me I wouldn't encourage people to share our episodes every week.

In terms of discussion threads on early releases, etc., I have ideas, but I don't want to dive too deep into that without first talking to the moderators here.  Anything involving the forums is going to be a team effort, and I'm pretty sure that in this case the team is smarter than me.  

Thanks again, too, for all the well-wishes and kind words.  It really means a lot -- and even before I posted the audio last night, we were getting more offers of audio editing help, requests for bookmarks, etc., than I'd expected.  You all are amazing.  I'll have a followup on it, probably in an episode outro, but I really do want to make it less than two years before the next metacast.



ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


SFEley

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Reply #25 on: March 11, 2008, 06:46:26 PM
Okay, after actually reading this...is there any word on the flash fiction?  Are you guys still accepting flash fiction submissions?  I know some of the stuff from the contest will be on Podcastle, so I'm hoping we'll see some on Escape Pod, too. 

Yes.  We're still reading flash and sometimes buying it, but a bit more sparingly than full-length fiction, since the backlog is so huge.  (Don't take that as a discouragement to submit, however.)

Some of the contest fiction and other flash stories I've bought over the years for EP has been transferred to PodCastle.  The rest of it will eventually get produced and put on Escape Pod.  I don't want to give a timeframe, because it's still pretty far down on my list of actions, but having a production team will help a lot with this sort of stuff.

Meanwhile, I do hope that everyone who enjoys flash is listening to the Drabblecast, and hopefully sending your stories there too.  Norm and his team are kicking ass, and I must confess that I'm a bit jealous of their production values.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


SFEley

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Reply #26 on: March 11, 2008, 06:56:02 PM
And in terms of Escape Pod's hardware, it'll be easier on the servers if they can break up the heavy load days. Even if it's just a thousand or two downloads offloaded to a Sunday, it'll probably mean that the current hardware (and bandwidth) setup will last longer it could otherwise, as it won't bog down as much on download days.

This is getting into minutiae, but we're no longer hosting the MP3 files ourselves.  We've moved back to LibSyn; they offer a full-blown content delivery solution that won't break under any plausible load.

Apart from the MP3 files, the Escape Pod and Pseudopod Web sites, as well as these forums, are on a virtual private server now, so we don't have to worry about my former shared hosting provider crapping out.  The custom feeds will be generated from a Ruby on Rails application that I'm writing, and any time you do anything with RSS you take the risk of heavy load because some clients check their feeds every hour.  I'm hoping caching techniques will help with that.

BUT.  Honestly speaking, if we end up having so many donors on our system that it starts to create a load problem for us and we have to scale up...  That's a problem I truly don't mind having.



ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


oddpod

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Reply #27 on: March 11, 2008, 07:00:26 PM
in steave we trust

card carying dislexic and  gramatical revolushonery


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Reply #28 on: March 11, 2008, 07:00:57 PM
In terms of discussion threads on early releases, etc., I have ideas, but I don't want to dive too deep into that without first talking to the moderators here.  Anything involving the forums is going to be a team effort, and I'm pretty sure that in this case the team is smarter than me.  

I'm throwing my two cents in here, because I want to hear what the forum folks have to say.  

I think the threads should just go up on the earlier day.  Everyone time shifts at least a little.  Normally people don't look at the episode threads until after they have heard the story.  Many people come into a thread for the first time weeks after the story has run.  I just don't see it having any impact.

Those of you who disagree may now pick up your rotten tomatoes.



DKT

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Reply #29 on: March 11, 2008, 07:13:22 PM
In terms of discussion threads on early releases, etc., I have ideas, but I don't want to dive too deep into that without first talking to the moderators here.  Anything involving the forums is going to be a team effort, and I'm pretty sure that in this case the team is smarter than me. 

I'm throwing my two cents in here, because I want to hear what the forum folks have to say. 

I think the threads should just go up on the earlier day.  Everyone time shifts at least a little.  Normally people don't look at the episode threads until after they have heard the story.  Many people come into a thread for the first time weeks after the story has run.  I just don't see it having any impact.

Those of you who disagree may now pick up your rotten tomatoes.

I'm totally cool with that.  I don't usually read a thread until I've heard the story, so it wouldn't bother me.

Okay, after actually reading this...is there any word on the flash fiction?  Are you guys still accepting flash fiction submissions?  I know some of the stuff from the contest will be on Podcastle, so I'm hoping we'll see some on Escape Pod, too. 

Yes.  We're still reading flash and sometimes buying it, but a bit more sparingly than full-length fiction, since the backlog is so huge.  (Don't take that as a discouragement to submit, however.)

Some of the contest fiction and other flash stories I've bought over the years for EP has been transferred to PodCastle.  The rest of it will eventually get produced and put on Escape Pod.  I don't want to give a timeframe, because it's still pretty far down on my list of actions, but having a production team will help a lot with this sort of stuff.

Meanwhile, I do hope that everyone who enjoys flash is listening to the Drabblecast, and hopefully sending your stories there too.  Norm and his team are kicking ass, and I must confess that I'm a bit jealous of their production values.

Cool, I can wait, I'm just happy to know that it's being addressed and that it is coming.  One of my favorite things about getting the collections was hearing all the flash.  (And don't worry, I refuse to be discouraged about submitting :) )

Also, I realize I said above "Now that I've actually read this..."  I meant now that I'd actually listened to this.  I did read it when I originally posted :)


Heradel

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Reply #30 on: March 11, 2008, 07:18:01 PM
In terms of discussion threads on early releases, etc., I have ideas, but I don't want to dive too deep into that without first talking to the moderators here.  Anything involving the forums is going to be a team effort, and I'm pretty sure that in this case the team is smarter than me.  

I'm throwing my two cents in here, because I want to hear what the forum folks have to say.  

I think the threads should just go up on the earlier day.  Everyone time shifts at least a little.  Normally people don't look at the episode threads until after they have heard the story.  Many people come into a thread for the first time weeks after the story has run.  I just don't see it having any impact.

Those of you who disagree may now pick up your rotten tomatoes.

I'll be honest, I have about 3-4 episodes I haven't listened to yet. Usually I load up and do a couple at once while I'm out doing stuff or taking the bus between NYC/DC, and I don't look at the story threads until I do. Maybe once in a while I'll look at the top post that I know isn't spoiler'ed to get a preview, but otherwise they're pretty easy to avoid.

This is getting into minutiae, but we're no longer hosting the MP3 files ourselves.  We've moved back to LibSyn; they offer a full-blown content delivery solution that won't break under any plausible load.

Apart from the MP3 files, the Escape Pod and Pseudopod Web sites, as well as these forums, are on a virtual private server now, so we don't have to worry about my former shared hosting provider crapping out.  The custom feeds will be generated from a Ruby on Rails application that I'm writing, and any time you do anything with RSS you take the risk of heavy load because some clients check their feeds every hour.  I'm hoping caching techniques will help with that.

BUT.  Honestly speaking, if we end up having so many donors on our system that it starts to create a load problem for us and we have to scale up...  That's a problem I truly don't mind having.
.

Ah. I was remembering a while back when I noticed that the downloads would trudge along around 150 kb/s, but that was obviously under the old regime.

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sirana

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Reply #31 on: March 11, 2008, 07:52:36 PM
Regarding Donor Perks:

One thing that I liked about the way Rooster Teeth (http://www.roosterteeth.com/) handled this was the little star that they put next to your forum avatar/ handle if you were a "sponsor" (which cost 10 $ for 3 months, if I remember correctly). Really not much, but it was a feel good thing for me, even though I was never very active on the forum.

Another way that I like is the Monkey/Robot/Banana-Buying that Jonathan Coulton (www.jonathancoulton.com) does. If you donate 5/10/25 dollars you get a cartoon banana/monkey/robot on joco's front page and you can specify some small message that is shown on mouseover. joco is doing this via www.gimmesomecandy.com as are a few other people.



sirana

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Reply #32 on: March 11, 2008, 07:59:07 PM
In terms of discussion threads on early releases, etc., I have ideas, but I don't want to dive too deep into that without first talking to the moderators here.  Anything involving the forums is going to be a team effort, and I'm pretty sure that in this case the team is smarter than me. 

I'm throwing my two cents in here, because I want to hear what the forum folks have to say. 

I think the threads should just go up on the earlier day.  Everyone time shifts at least a little.  Normally people don't look at the episode threads until after they have heard the story.  Many people come into a thread for the first time weeks after the story has run.  I just don't see it having any impact.

Those of you who disagree may now pick up your rotten tomatoes.

I personally would open the thread on the earlier day, although I could see some non-donors beeing frustrated that they had to wade through 10 pages of donor discussion before contributing themselves. But of course that is true for everybody who doesn't listen to escapepod the day it is released, so it shouldn't be to big of a problem.



Mr. Tweedy

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Reply #33 on: March 11, 2008, 09:08:09 PM
That was downright inspiring.  Seriously.  I have nothing but respect and admiration (and lots of it) for this sort of entrepreneurship, this taking nothing and building something valuable from it.  That kind of vision and spirit is what makes the world move, and with 20,000+ subscribers it sounds like you're moving a decent chunk of it.  It's inspiring in a moral sense–it's good in principle to see this sort of thing–and in the practical sense of encouraging me to strive for my own goals.  This is what freedom is made for: So ordinary people can do.

I wish that I could do something to contribute directly, but for what it's worth: Congratulations.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2008, 09:09:53 PM by Mr. Tweedy »

Hear my very very short story on The Drabblecast!


wanderer

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Reply #34 on: March 12, 2008, 12:38:33 AM
Excellent Excellent Excellent!, spurred me to register for the forums.
Really Stephen trully inspiring.  I also might be able to get some places to put your bookmarks. I'll let you know. I'm Glad to hear that things are improving for you now.
Good luck with this plan. Here's to hoping it works.


Quote
Insert Quote
That was downright inspiring.  Seriously.  I have nothing but respect and admiration (and lots of it) for this sort of entrepreneurship, this taking nothing and building something valuable from it.  That kind of vision and spirit is what makes the world move, and with 20,000+ subscribers it sounds like you're moving a decent chunk of it.  It's inspiring in a moral sense–it's good in principle to see this sort of thing–and in the practical sense of encouraging me to strive for my own goals.  This is what freedom is made for: So ordinary people can do.

I wish that I could do something to contribute directly, but for what it's worth: Congratulations.

Tottaly agree with Mr. Tweedy also.



bikerhikerrdr

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Reply #35 on: March 12, 2008, 02:16:52 AM
three things:
1. What you seemed to forget is that you cater to people with hypertrophied imaginations.  When you told us that you had the worst day of your life, we were imagining very bad things.
2. you didn't say if purchasing pod discs generates revenue.  Did I support you when I bought discs 1-5, or am I a free loader.
3. and, I hate to criticize, because escape pod is the only weekly entertainment that I look forward to.... but, in regards to pseudopod, if the protagonist of a story is "crazy", you can be 99% certain that the story is badly written.  I think that pseudopod should set a hard and fast rule, "no more crazy protagonists".


Having said all that...god I love you guys.  Realistic or not, one of my big goals right now is to write something good enough for you to consider using on escapepod.
-bhr



Kaa

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Reply #36 on: March 12, 2008, 03:50:13 AM
I said this over on LiveJournal, but I'll repeat it here for a different (maybe) audience.

Something I thought of while listening to this: I wonder if it would be possible to convince book publishers that allowing Escape Pod or Pseudopod or Podcastle to podcast a scene or two of an upcoming release would garner interest? I've bought books before solely because I heard a good reading of a scene and thought, "I wanna know what happens next!"

I've been wondering for a while why Escape Pod had a $5/month button but Pseudopod didn't. Every few months I make a "catch-up" donation to Pseudopod, and until last month I was on the $5/month thing for Escape Pod (I'll reinstate after April; I'm not sure why February - April always have to be National Take All of Kaa's Money months, but they are). I'll gladly do the same for Podcastle without ever hearing a word of it, because I know that you guys do quality podcasts, and many times, they are the highlights of my week.

So I guess what I'm saying is: Thank you, Steve. Thank you for all that you do to make these podcasts as good as they are. For having the vision. For giving of yourself and your time. For getting me (and others, I'm sure) excited about short fiction again. It is all very much appreciated.

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DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #37 on: March 12, 2008, 03:56:04 AM
Question concerning the perk thing:

I get my EP & PP from my subscription at iTunes--it's the easiest option for me and it guarentees that I get it in case I forget. Can anything be done at that level? You'll be getting a paper Lincoln or so from me either way, but I'm just curious.

Other then that, good to hear you're getting things straightened out. I can somewhat relate--like someone else mentioned, for me it's more "Lazy A-Hole Syndrome," or, as I like to call it, "The Procrastination Goblin," but I'm trying to go cold turkey on the habit, so you're not alone. Good to hear you're expanding Escape Artists with PodCastle. I probably won't subscribe, since I could never get into fantasy, but it's cool to hear. And if only I knew anything about sound design, I would have totally helped out. :(



Sanpaco

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Reply #38 on: March 12, 2008, 04:09:16 PM
Don't know if its just a coincidence or anything that this is the point where I finally caught up on the stories.  I subscribed a couple months ago and have been listening when I could to each story in chronological order.  I really appreciate all the time you have put into this podcast and I want to say that for the non-sponsored proprietary type podcasts I have heard, this is one of the best.  Back in 2004 or so when I first discovered podcasts, I searched all over the place for a short story type podcast and couldn't find it. When I finally tried again this year this one and Psuedopod were the first I found and I've enjoyed both immensely.  Keep up the good work and I'll do what I can to support.



contra

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Reply #39 on: March 12, 2008, 07:43:26 PM
Escape pod has been there for the last few years when I have went through tough times and had nothing stable in my life.  Escape pod was always there.  I've never thought about supporting because... well donate buttons are on most sites and they become something that other people do.  However I'm in a better position now, and I want to support escape pod.  So as of 10 minutes ago I am.

Its good to hear about the state of the pod and so that I can know hows everything is going with it. 

Good to know you have a plan Steve and you know where this is going.  Its very good to hear things are already better than they were 2 weeks ago. 

Awesome stuff.

---
Mike---Glasgow.  Scotland.-->


CGFxColONeill

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Reply #40 on: March 12, 2008, 09:20:04 PM
So I guess what I'm saying is: Thank you, Steve. Thank you for all that you do to make these podcasts as good as they are. For having the vision. For giving of yourself and your time. For getting me (and others, I'm sure) excited about short fiction again. It is all very much appreciated.

I could not agree more.  Great job Steve thanks so much for all you do

I wish I could support EP but atm I am a 19 y/o college student which = I have no $ atm lol
I dont have much experiance w/ audio editing either so I cant help with that either
I wish there was something I could do but ya I will keep listening and spread the word when I can
thanks Steve and I am glad your life has been improving recently

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birdless

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Reply #41 on: March 12, 2008, 10:09:18 PM
This is a lifesaver during my hour commute, Steve! I mean, learning about Roman history and listening to TAL are all well and good, but every now and then I just want entertainment. I wished I could help, too. I am a Mac guy, but, unfortunately, I don't have any experience in the sound-editing field. If I come by the equipment and the knowledge, though, you'll be the first to know, because I would totally dig helping out in that capacity.



jeem

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Reply #42 on: March 12, 2008, 10:34:36 PM
don't have to worry about my former shared hosting provider crapping out.  The custom feeds will be generated from a Ruby on Rails application that I'm writing, and any time you do anything with RSS you take the risk of heavy load because some clients check their feeds

Do you need any help on the coding?  I'm a Rails coder, and would be happy to pitch in.

jeem



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Reply #43 on: March 13, 2008, 01:05:37 AM
Not to belabour some points made by posters above more eloquently: humbling and inspiring, beautiful and tragic.

I never really thought about the monthly subscription as going towards both EP and PP. I was actually beginning to feeling guilty for supporting only EP but listening to both.

Frankly, I was a little disappointed when I heard the first Audible.com ad. I had been a member there, but the proprietary player bugged me, especially when trying to load files onto my HP Ipaq. The free offer, however, got me to sign up again. And this metacast has underlined why I should support those who advertise on Escape Artists podcasts.

A thought: there's a local community radio station that I listen to occasionally. It runs announcements which encourage supporters to patronize the businesses who advertise on the station - and tell the advertisers why. The advice is not to say "Tell them you heard it on X" but "Tell them you are supporting their business because they support X, and you think X is important." Given Steve's stated philosophy of advertising, it's fairly implicit that only advertisers that align with the audience are likely to appear, but telling the advertisers that is important, too.

It's great to know that amidst your chaos, YOU are having fun doing Escape Pod, because I know I have fun listening.

Thanks again, Steve.

JoeFitz



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Reply #44 on: March 13, 2008, 01:57:42 AM
Hey Steve, i'm really sorry to hear about the shit you had to go through. As someone who's been in similar situations, I can say i empathize. I never managed to start a podcast with 20,000 subscribers, though.  ;)

Speaking of which, you certainly got your priorities right when you chose Escape Pod over the job, even if the decision was, erm, not 100% a conscious one. There are new millionaires created every day. Guys who run podcasts with thousands of listeners and reinvigorate the SF mass market are less common. The fact that you still managed to do it every week while everything else was going on shows that you're pro already.

Best of luck for the future and nolite te bastardes carborundorum. i promise to change my freeloading ways.



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Reply #45 on: March 13, 2008, 02:09:15 AM
I don't need an email or thank you gifts.  The stories are great (and I wouldn't get those things from a magazine either).

I do wish I could pay directly with a credit card and not just through PayPal- I'm not a fan of that service and won't use it.



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Reply #46 on: March 13, 2008, 02:54:41 AM
First off Steve, I'd like to say thanks for making Escape Pod all these years. I think you've done a great job so far considering you've done this mostly yourself.

As for advertisements, I have some suggestions.
  • Shorter = better. 15 seconds = more than enough. Any longer will just annoy listeners. Ads should be short and sweet about what the product is and why it's so great.
  • Have ads at the end, not the beginning. I still listen to ads at the end but for some reason they are less annoying at the end. Also, if they want me to buy some product or sign up for some service, I'm more likely to do it at the end of the podcast and I won't remember if the ad was at the beginning.
  • Run ads that EP listeners would find interesting. You're doing a good job on this so far so I won't say anything else about it.
  • Don't narrate the ads yourself. Either get an "ad guy" or have the companies submit ads they've already narrated. To understand this, see if you can remember ever listening to the radio, and the host of the radio station promotes some type of crazy weight loss pills, saying, "I lost 20 lbs with this program." Lots of respect is lost for the host, even though it's obvious he's paid to do the ad. Whereas if some crazy weight loss ad comes on during the ad portion of the radio show, no respect is lost for the hosts of the show no matter how much the ad sounds like a scam.
  • You can mention the ad in your intro if you have something to say about it, and even briefly thank the sponsors if it's the first week of the ad, but don't go out of your way promoting their product or service. It makes the podcast feel like an infocommercial on late night TV. In my humble opinion, good products and services largely sell themselves once customers know about them, don't beat us over the head praising them.
  • On that note, try not to repeat the same ad two or more weeks in a row, if possible. I sometimes listen to Escape Pod stories back to back, and it's annoying to listen to the same ad over and over again. Do something; vary the ad, or put it on a rotating basis like once every three weeks.

Also, I'd like to briefly mention the mental health issue. In my opinion, anyone under heavy stress can become very depressed and despairing. That's why torturing people is so bad, as compared to normal punishments like prison or fines or loss of privileges. I don't think you have to call it an illness or disease. Although depression from tough times is a very serious issue, which I think you are going the right direction in treating, I wouldn't put it on the same level as something like multiple personality disorder or mental retardation.

Anyway, I'm excited about the new direction of Escape Pod and the upcoming Pod Castle, so keep up the good work.



Heradel

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Reply #47 on: March 13, 2008, 04:08:00 AM
First off Steve, I'd like to say thanks for making Escape Pod all these years. I think you've done a great job so far considering you've done this mostly yourself.

As for advertisements, I have some suggestions.
  • Shorter = better. 15 seconds = more than enough. Any longer will just annoy listeners. Ads should be short and sweet about what the product is and why it's so great.
  • Have ads at the end, not the beginning. I still listen to ads at the end but for some reason they are less annoying at the end. Also, if they want me to buy some product or sign up for some service, I'm more likely to do it at the end of the podcast and I won't remember if the ad was at the beginning.
  • Run ads that EP listeners would find interesting. You're doing a good job on this so far so I won't say anything else about it.
  • Don't narrate the ads yourself. Either get an "ad guy" or have the companies submit ads they've already narrated. To understand this, see if you can remember ever listening to the radio, and the host of the radio station promotes some type of crazy weight loss pills, saying, "I lost 20 lbs with this program." Lots of respect is lost for the host, even though it's obvious he's paid to do the ad. Whereas if some crazy weight loss ad comes on during the ad portion of the radio show, no respect is lost for the hosts of the show no matter how much the ad sounds like a scam.
  • You can mention the ad in your intro if you have something to say about it, and even briefly thank the sponsors if it's the first week of the ad, but don't go out of your way promoting their product or service. It makes the podcast feel like an infocommercial on late night TV. In my humble opinion, good products and services largely sell themselves once customers know about them, don't beat us over the head praising them.
  • On that note, try not to repeat the same ad two or more weeks in a row, if possible. I sometimes listen to Escape Pod stories back to back, and it's annoying to listen to the same ad over and over again. Do something; vary the ad, or put it on a rotating basis like once every three weeks.

...

Anyway, I'm excited about the new direction of Escape Pod and the upcoming Pod Castle, so keep up the good work.

Except almost all of what you say concerning ads is broken by TWIT in the podcast realm and Prairie Home Companion in the radio realm. Long ads can work if they're good, and so can ones narrated by the narrator. As for the crazy ad bit it's pretty clear Steve isn't advertising anything he wouldn't buy, which takes care of the crazy weight loss stuff. A long ad/testimonial works fine so long as it's clearly delineated from the content and the audience is sure it's not editorial. And for most companies ad-buys work in blocks, so it would be rowing upstream to try for every-other week. Up front ads bring in more money, and are a lot easier to sell than ones at the end.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Mad Maxx

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Reply #48 on: March 13, 2008, 04:27:42 AM
Well, this update made me finally register on the forums and all.

I found EscapePod about 6 months ago.  And I havent stopped listening since.  I even have gone back and am working my way up from EP #1 to about #100 (which was the last-ish one left on the Main Feed with I found it) just to get all that I can.  It is just that good.  Heck, Im working on catching up on PesudoPod and am greatly looking forward to PodCastle when it starts.

And I think it is about time that I start contributing to this great Podcast.  Ill be looking into setting up my PayPal to start some sort of donations.

Keep up the amazing work Steve.  This is one Podcast I look forward to every week and love listening to every week.



Talia

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Reply #49 on: March 13, 2008, 07:16:06 PM
Thanks for the update man, and I'm glad to hear things are on the up-and-up for you.

Likely people have said it before, but sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the strength to change.

Very much looking forward to the future of the entire Pod family. ;)



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Reply #50 on: March 13, 2008, 08:48:52 PM
Just wanted to add my support as well. Escapepod has done loads for me, it has inspired me, lifted me, provoked thoughts and reflections on this society that we find ourselves in. The editorial for 'The Giving Plague' encouraged me and it pleases me to hear 'Have Fun'.

As for support, I spread the word, perhaps even bug the hell out of people with mp3 players and EP is the first that I plug.
I second the request direct contribution, paypal and visa scare the crap out of me, being at the lower end of the pay scale. (people still need paper money; and soapbox put away again, breathe, breathe and relax.)

Either way I am proud to be one of the twenty thousand, and look forward to more; much, much more, now it's going to be 'expletive professional'. Congratulations on the epiphany, from my experience it's lovely when it shines through.

Regards
41B



FNH

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Reply #51 on: March 13, 2008, 09:12:03 PM
Ladies and gentlemen lets give it up for Anna!!!!!!   :)


Faldor

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Reply #52 on: March 13, 2008, 11:34:18 PM
Faldors list of top heroes...

  • 1. Mal Reynolds
  • 2. Steve Eley
  • 3. Han Solo

Steve, I've sent you an email regarding editing.



SFEley

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Reply #53 on: March 14, 2008, 05:27:44 PM
Do you need any help on the coding?  I'm a Rails coder, and would be happy to pitch in.

Actually, I might very well take you up on that.  I've started thinking that a team development effort would get some of this done faster, even for relatively small apps like the ones I have i mind -- but I'm not at the point yet where I can even take the time to have a decent requirements session with somebody else.  I have all the user stories on index cards in my pocket, and some CRC-style data modeling, but that doesn't help you if you can't see them.

Do me a favor and e-mail me with your name and contact info, and we'll talk within a couple weeks.  Same goes for anyone else who wants to do Rails stuff for us.


ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


SFEley

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Reply #54 on: March 14, 2008, 05:28:16 PM
Ladies and gentlemen lets give it up for Anna!!!!!!   :)

FNH is my new favorite person for today.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


Steven Saus

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Reply #55 on: March 15, 2008, 06:09:28 AM
Just got a chance to hear the metacast driving home from a friend's house.

Steve, you may remember when I first donated.  I mentioned that Escape Pod was my lifeline to sanity with all the crazy crap that was going on in my life then.

I'm still trying to transition my life towards a dream - just like you have been.   

$1/week?   No problem.   I don't need that extra cup of coffee.  I need Escape Pod.   And you deserve to realize your dreams.

Walking is the process of controlled stumbling.


stePH

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Reply #56 on: March 15, 2008, 10:29:20 PM
iTunes won't download the episode for me.

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-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Thaurismunths

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Reply #57 on: March 16, 2008, 03:39:33 PM
Don't know if its just a coincidence or anything that this is the point where I finally caught up on the stories.  I subscribed a couple months ago and have been listening when I could to each story in chronological order.  I really appreciate all the time you have put into this podcast and I want to say that for the non-sponsored proprietary type podcasts I have heard, this is one of the best.  Back in 2004 or so when I first discovered podcasts, I searched all over the place for a short story type podcast and couldn't find it. When I finally tried again this year this one and Psuedopod were the first I found and I've enjoyed both immensely.  Keep up the good work and I'll do what I can to support.
Welcome!
What other stories did you like?

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


a savvy mammal

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Reply #58 on: March 16, 2008, 04:29:17 PM
Steve. 

You're great.  Though I've listened faithfully for almost a year now, this is my first post on the forums.  Your sincere and candid approach of addressing your situation really stirred something in me.  I want to thank you for it.  As of this morning I'm now a proud $5 per month supporter of the pod cast.

-Dakota



Roney

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Reply #59 on: March 16, 2008, 09:11:32 PM
Ouch.  Losing a job is unpleasant.  Losing a good job must really hurt.  (And on a selfish note, I suppose that means that there won't be any business trips to London in the near future.  I imagine we can organize our own EP listeners' social events if there's demand for them.)

I just want to say what effect the opening bars of the Escape Pod title music has on me each week.  Wherever I am (actually, usually I'm late and running for the train), hearing the Daikaiju theme signals at least half an hour of pure me time.  I know that at worst I'll be entertained, and there's every chance that by the end of the episode I'll be thrilled, moved or even totally blown away.  There's the anticipation of hearing a brand new story (will it be violent or humorous, flashy or subtle, geeky or humane?) backed up by the comfort of knowing that if it's been chosen for Escape Pod, it will be good.

Steve, you're probably too close to the production process to get that buzz from the finished product (although I'm sure you get a different kind of kick from every one that makes it out the door).  Just think what it's like when you look forward to a new episode of a favourite TV show, whether for you that's new BSG or new Dr Who or, back in the day, new Star Trek or new Firefly.  That's the excitement of firing up a new Escape Pod, and it's been there week after week for nearly the last three years.  For that gift, I can't thank you enough.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #60 on: March 16, 2008, 09:46:27 PM
You know, I don't think we could overdo the point if all 20,000 of us logged in and posted the same thought: every WEEK for three years?  Steve, if THAT isn't f***ing professional, then I don't know what is!


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Mama Cat

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Reply #61 on: March 17, 2008, 01:29:42 PM
Hey Steve,

I'm newish to Escape Pod and still working my way through lots & lots of back episodes. And I have to say two things:

1) I look forward to when Escape Pod gets to the top of my podcast queue again. There is so much really good SF being written and a lot of it makes its way to your show. The production values are high, and it is always a great listen. I am impressed and grateful.
2) I have been where you are. My husband is pretty much there now. It is very, very hard - and I'm glad you're getting help. My wish for you is that you're able to stay tough with yourself. It was brave to share your story with 20,000 listeners and again I am impressed and grateful.

I'm going to toddle over to the webpage and find that "donate" button because I have absolutely no technical skills that I can contribute. But the content is worth paying for, though I totally support keeping it free!!  So I don't mind paying a bit extra to help support those folks who really can't afford to pay.



Grayven

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Reply #62 on: March 17, 2008, 10:56:13 PM
Here's a random silly idea. You probly shouldna use it, just bounce it around and see if you can make a better idea of it.

You know that computer voice that begins the eps with a number and the name of the story? Replace that with a paid user. Do some sort of lottery. Then the paid user gets to be part of the episode (albeit a small part).



Heradel

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Reply #63 on: March 17, 2008, 11:29:42 PM
Here's a random silly idea. You probly shouldna use it, just bounce it around and see if you can make a better idea of it.

You know that computer voice that begins the eps with a number and the name of the story? Replace that with a paid user. Do some sort of lottery. Then the paid user gets to be part of the episode (albeit a small part).

WNYC's Radio Lab does this via the answering machine, but with people interviewed during the program.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


clichekiller

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Reply #64 on: March 18, 2008, 04:09:54 PM
I was a monthly subscriber for a long time but during a hard point in my own life I was forced to cancel it.  Well thanks for reminding me it's time to restart it.  I enjoy Escape Pod immensely.  It is by far one of my favorite podcasts.  Thanks Steve and know you're not alone.  Good luck!



Yossarian's grandson

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Reply #65 on: March 19, 2008, 11:00:10 AM
Hi Steve,

I just listened to the MetaCast and I wanted to let you know: much love and respect for all the work you've done. Please, never forget, you have (and are) touching so many people with your work; I have nothing but respect for that.

We do not know each other personally. So I can't honestly judge wether you're a good person in all aspects of your life (who is all the time, anyway?). But Escape Artists and everything it entails is great. In every way. You bring top notch entertainment, clear the way for other podcasters and you have created a community of users that, for the first time, makes me feel at home in a forum-site.

Please don't ever doubt the worth of this. It is something extraordinary. And you make it all happen.

Salutations from the other side of the Atlantic (The Netherlands)!



jodymonster

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Reply #66 on: March 19, 2008, 05:38:31 PM
Steve- Wow, man.  I don't even know where to start.   I've been a listener for little more than a year, an I couldn't be more impressed with EP (and PP).  The work you're doing is of the highest quality, and the fact that you have produced something of such every week for three years is a testament to what a professional you already are.  You've never been anything but.  (No, we can't tell you that enough.)
While the stories are what originally drew me to EP, I want to say I love your intros and outros just as much (especially geek dad, can we get another one of those?).  When I heard you say the bit about having the worst day of your life, I was surprised at how emotional a response I had- of how much I could care for and worry over a family I'd never met or spoken to. (Speaking of, how are you? The other day I heard of the tornado in Atlanta and thought of you guys.)  I'm glad to hear you have someone like Anna, and appreciate her.  Anna, thank you. 
I haven't donated before (college student, legendarily cheap), but I was wondering, for all of us who don't trust paypal or would rather not have anyone take a chunk out of our donation- is it still acceptable to mail you a check? If so you can expect one from me soon.  The work you're doing is important and deserving of whatever extra cash I have.  I hope some day you can podcast professionally (or write, whichever you prefer. But I hope you never stop doing either.) You are talented, and that should be appreciated.
I have always tried to tell people about EP, and though I don't have a blog, have gotten my friends to blog about you.  My donation is on it's way.  Now all I need's a T-shirt to help me advertise. :)
EP and PP are important parts of my life.  They have brought me so much and asked nothing in return.  Thank you so much, Steve (and the rest of the EP crew) for all you've done to enrich my life and the lives of others.  You are awesome, and I wish you nothing but the best. 

"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up." -Hunter S. Thompson


jkr

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Reply #67 on: March 20, 2008, 02:50:41 AM
Steve,

Long time listener, first time caller :),  like many others I just listened to the metacast, and wanted you to know that I finally took a moment to get my donations going in the tip jar.

I don't know that I have much else new to add to the thread, but want to echo that I think its great how you've described your priorities.  I have a family too, and I only hope that if I ever hit the wall you described, I'm in one piece and can say I still have them by my side - you can rebuild almost anything else.

Also FWIW, you sound very focussed and purposeful on your plans around escape artists.  I'm sure I don't need to quote Joseph Campbell to you, but aligning your efforts to your "bliss" sounds like a great plan.  Might hurt to be disconnected from a good software startup, but most "successful" people talk about the moment they turned their passion into their vocation as a big turning point, so I wish you all the best in this step forward.

Good luck, I'll keep listening and spreading the word!

JK



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Reply #68 on: March 20, 2008, 09:02:55 AM
Greetings from Finland, Steve. I've been listening to Escape Pod for a bit over a year now (as well as catching up on the old episodes via the Classic feed), and will definitely subscribe to Podcastle when it launches. I trust you'll let us know in your intro when the feed url is available.

I must say that listening to your metacast on my way to work was more profound that most (but not all) of the actual episodes. As a psychologist, I'm happy you're doing therapy - I've been in therapy myself, and it's been the best value for money I've ever had. I really think everyone should do at least a short session of a suitably oriented therapy at some point in their lives to learn about themselves. So I wish you an eventful and successful journey, both in your personal life and building up Escape Artists.

And yes, I'll get my donations rolling in regularly. :)



Sanpaco

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Reply #69 on: March 20, 2008, 05:05:16 PM
Don't know if its just a coincidence or anything that this is the point where I finally caught up on the stories.  I subscribed a couple months ago and have been listening when I could to each story in chronological order.  I really appreciate all the time you have put into this podcast and I want to say that for the non-sponsored proprietary type podcasts I have heard, this is one of the best.  Back in 2004 or so when I first discovered podcasts, I searched all over the place for a short story type podcast and couldn't find it. When I finally tried again this year this one and Psuedopod were the first I found and I've enjoyed both immensely.  Keep up the good work and I'll do what I can to support.
Welcome!
What other stories did you like?
Thanks!  I've liked a lot of the stories I've heard so far.  One of the first ones I heard was Nightfall and that one got me hooked.  Awesome.  I have enjoyed most of the ones read by Steve because he does such a good job with them.  I really can't think of any other specific ones but again I have enjoyed most of the stories. 

After looking at some of the past titles here is a list of some of the most memorable ones:
Kin
Friction
Pressure
The Color of a Brontosaurus
Astromonkeys!
Stu
Me and My Shadow (This one was GREAT!)
Sparks in a Cold War
What We Learned From This Morning's Paper
Save Me Plz
The Sundial Brigade
Ej-Es
Conversations with and About my Electric Toothbrush
Ishamel in Love (reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide, probably just because of the dolphin theme; So long and thanks for all the fish...)
The Giving Plague
Frankie the Spook
8 Episodes
The House Beyond Your Sky
Impossible Dreams (inspired me to FINALLY watch Citizen Kane)

I think that goes back to the first episode I heard which was Start the Clock.  I didn't hate this episode but there have been much better ones I've heard.  I enjoy this podcast so much because it takes a medium that I've really wanted to dive into being SciFi short stories but haven't really had the time to because I don't often have time to sit down and read.  But I spend at least two hours a day driving and at least another hour walking around campus so I have plenty of time to listen to my ipod.  I have heard some great stories and books this way including Escapepod but also including some great classics from librivox.org which only posts stories in the public domain so they are all 100% free and shareable.  They have stories from authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Dante, F. Scott Fitzgerald, C.S. Lewis, and many others.  Also I've listened to The Shining audiobook for the first time after having seen the Kubrick adaptation numerous times and it has to be one of the best books I've ever read.  I've also discovered the 7th Son trilogy through podcasting and all the other podiobooks and babblebooks podcast audiobooks that are available for free.  I have so many audiobooks to listen to that I have filled up about 100 GB on my External Hard drive with just one folder: "To Be Listened To".  I'm trying to catch up on all my serial short story podcasts first though and Escape Pod is the first one I've been able to.  I'm working now on Librivox and Pseudopod.  So much great fiction and so little time!



Russell Nash

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Reply #70 on: March 20, 2008, 07:06:25 PM
Greetings from Finland, Steve. I've been listening to Escape Pod for a bit over a year now (as well as catching up on the old episodes via the Classic feed), and will definitely subscribe to Podcastle when it launches. I trust you'll let us know in your intro when the feed url is available.

Escape Archive is a fan run feed where you can get all of the episodes that are no longer on the regular feed.

PodCastle feed: http://feeds.escapeartists.net/PodCastle_Main



aklarand

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Reply #71 on: March 20, 2008, 08:25:58 PM
Steve,

   I've been a listener for the whole run. I've lived with EP for that long and just really love everything that it does for the world. I'm a software developer. I build things every day that have some kind of impact on people and their lives so I know something about the scope of change and effect. That being said, I have to say that nothing that I will likely ever do will bring such a positive influence into the world. You have, by fiat, grace, and the support of your family, friends, and colleagues, built a new and thriving market for fiction. Seriously. Built a market for fiction. That's insane. I know dozens or hundreds of people who would kill for the opportunity to do that. Amazingly, it's really a pauper's lifestyle so dedicating yourself to a modest income at most for a long time is even more nuts.

I just wanted to tell you that you matter and you're making a difference. I'm so glad that you've straightened out the priorities in your life. I'm so happy that you have the support of a wife who really cares and will stand by you. I really know how much that matters. (Without them, we are lost, non?) I'm glad that because of your determination and the support that you have that my world will continue to be a little happier every time I hear the opening riffs of EP. Your gift and dedication is appreciated more that you will ever know.

Thank you.
     -Mike (new monthly subscriber)



Boggled Coriander

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Reply #72 on: March 23, 2008, 03:29:12 AM
I first discovered Escape Pod late last year.  I loved the idea, and started working my way forward through the archives, listening to it while out on a walk, riding the subway, or on the treadmill at the gym.   

Metacast #3 came out just as I got all caught up.

I'm a person with some severe time management issues.  I have a knack for focusing my attention on problems which are really not important, while ignoring ones which are.  Steve's metacast really hit home for me... and it was more inspiring than a very well-written EP story.

Thank you.

"The meteor formed a crater, vampires crawling out of the crater." -  The Lyttle Lytton contest


Planish

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Reply #73 on: March 24, 2008, 02:51:47 PM
You know that computer voice that begins the eps with a number and the name of the story? Replace that with a paid user.
:o
Then poor Vicki would be out on the street. I'm sure she depends on the regular EP gig for rent money.

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


Firedust

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Reply #74 on: March 27, 2008, 12:40:53 AM
First off Steve, I'd like to say thanks for making Escape Pod all these years. I think you've done a great job so far considering you've done this mostly yourself.

As for advertisements, I have some suggestions.
  • Shorter = better. 15 seconds = more than enough. Any longer will just annoy listeners. Ads should be short and sweet about what the product is and why it's so great.
  • Have ads at the end, not the beginning. I still listen to ads at the end but for some reason they are less annoying at the end. Also, if they want me to buy some product or sign up for some service, I'm more likely to do it at the end of the podcast and I won't remember if the ad was at the beginning.
  • Run ads that EP listeners would find interesting. You're doing a good job on this so far so I won't say anything else about it.
  • Don't narrate the ads yourself. Either get an "ad guy" or have the companies submit ads they've already narrated. To understand this, see if you can remember ever listening to the radio, and the host of the radio station promotes some type of crazy weight loss pills, saying, "I lost 20 lbs with this program." Lots of respect is lost for the host, even though it's obvious he's paid to do the ad. Whereas if some crazy weight loss ad comes on during the ad portion of the radio show, no respect is lost for the hosts of the show no matter how much the ad sounds like a scam.
  • You can mention the ad in your intro if you have something to say about it, and even briefly thank the sponsors if it's the first week of the ad, but don't go out of your way promoting their product or service. It makes the podcast feel like an infocommercial on late night TV. In my humble opinion, good products and services largely sell themselves once customers know about them, don't beat us over the head praising them.
  • On that note, try not to repeat the same ad two or more weeks in a row, if possible. I sometimes listen to Escape Pod stories back to back, and it's annoying to listen to the same ad over and over again. Do something; vary the ad, or put it on a rotating basis like once every three weeks.

...

Anyway, I'm excited about the new direction of Escape Pod and the upcoming Pod Castle, so keep up the good work.

Except almost all of what you say concerning ads is broken by TWIT in the podcast realm and Prairie Home Companion in the radio realm. Long ads can work if they're good, and so can ones narrated by the narrator. As for the crazy ad bit it's pretty clear Steve isn't advertising anything he wouldn't buy, which takes care of the crazy weight loss stuff. A long ad/testimonial works fine so long as it's clearly delineated from the content and the audience is sure it's not editorial. And for most companies ad-buys work in blocks, so it would be rowing upstream to try for every-other week. Up front ads bring in more money, and are a lot easier to sell than ones at the end.


Sorry it's taken so long to reply, my internet has been down since last post.

But I wanted to say, I'm well aware of the many issues concerning ads, and why things are done a certain way. I'm also aware of what TWIT and Prairie Home Companion have done, and I'm actually hoping Escape Pod doesn't go down that same path.

I actually stopped listening to the Prairie Home Companion podcast, partly because of that annoying mattress ad that played at the beginning of the podcast every week. Even though I know that Mr. Keillor was paid to do those ads, I still lose some respect for him and his show.

As for TWIT, I'm not really a fan how Leo sneaks ads into the middle of podcast and they end up talking half the show about audible.com. Again, I know it's just an ad but it gets annoying after a while. Also, it feels kind of insulting to the listener, as if the only way anyone would listen to ads is if they are in the smack dab middle of the content.

I just finished listening to episode 149, and so far I think I've liked the way Escape Pod has done its ads. Brief mention (10 sec) of getting a sponsor at the beginning of the podcast, very brief lead in to the ad (4 sec) and a reasonable length ad (1min 5 sec). Mr. Eley rambled a little at the end, but it was mostly about the relationship between podcasts and the publishing industry in general, not directly promoting the product. He let a well-produced narrated ad do most of the promoting, and I think that works the best for everyone.

I'm not usually one to pick apart episodes, but I feel that some methods for introducing ads are clearly better than others without making the ads any less effective. In TV and radio, I think the most effective ads are ones that either make you laugh while promoting a product, or ones that make a product seem really cool. All while not annoying the consumers so we don't harbor a grudge against products with annoying ads. In podcast world, I listen to my podcasts much more closely than I do TV, radio, web pages, or really anything else. That means they can either reach me much easier or annoy me much easier.



Heradel

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Reply #75 on: March 27, 2008, 04:54:20 AM
Sorry it's taken so long to reply, my internet has been down since last post.

But I wanted to say, I'm well aware of the many issues concerning ads, and why things are done a certain way. I'm also aware of what TWIT and Prairie Home Companion have done, and I'm actually hoping Escape Pod doesn't go down that same path.

I actually stopped listening to the Prairie Home Companion podcast, partly because of that annoying mattress ad that played at the beginning of the podcast every week. Even though I know that Mr. Keillor was paid to do those ads, I still lose some respect for him and his show.

He does them for the regular show too, so not sure if you're stateside or elsewhere and have ever heard the whole thing. The PHC podcast is just the Tales from Lake Woebegone, and the style of ads he does is a deliberate choice to bring it more in line with the kind of old-timey show he's imitating. Personally I don't mind him doing it, but my mom's been playing PHC since I was born, so I'm used to it. 

Quote
As for TWIT, I'm not really a fan how Leo sneaks ads into the middle of podcast and they end up talking half the show about audible.com. Again, I know it's just an ad but it gets annoying after a while. Also, it feels kind of insulting to the listener, as if the only way anyone would listen to ads is if they are in the smack dab middle of the content.

If you get it off of AOL radio the ads are cut out, but personally I really like those Audible ads because of the book discussions they rathole into. It's very clearly delineated as an ad from the rest of the show, and they've had Doctorow on, so I don't think you can say the ads affect their editorial. He makes the ads entertaining, and I don't really mind (but then again I use Audible, so I just usually mentally glaze over the little bit of actual ad copy).

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


eytanz

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Reply #76 on: March 27, 2008, 09:31:59 AM
Sorry it's taken so long to reply, my internet has been down since last post.

But I wanted to say, I'm well aware of the many issues concerning ads, and why things are done a certain way. I'm also aware of what TWIT and Prairie Home Companion have done, and I'm actually hoping Escape Pod doesn't go down that same path.

I actually stopped listening to the Prairie Home Companion podcast, partly because of that annoying mattress ad that played at the beginning of the podcast every week. Even though I know that Mr. Keillor was paid to do those ads, I still lose some respect for him and his show.

He does them for the regular show too, so not sure if you're stateside or elsewhere and have ever heard the whole thing. The PHC podcast is just the Tales from Lake Woebegone, and the style of ads he does is a deliberate choice to bring it more in line with the kind of old-timey show he's imitating. Personally I don't mind him doing it, but my mom's been playing PHC since I was born, so I'm used to it. 

I don't mind the PHC ads because even though they're narrated by Keillor, they are very clearly seperate from the show. As long as it's just a short spot, I don't care if it's narrated by the same guy who does the show or not.

Quote
Quote
As for TWIT, I'm not really a fan how Leo sneaks ads into the middle of podcast and they end up talking half the show about audible.com. Again, I know it's just an ad but it gets annoying after a while. Also, it feels kind of insulting to the listener, as if the only way anyone would listen to ads is if they are in the smack dab middle of the content.

If you get it off of AOL radio the ads are cut out, but personally I really like those Audible ads because of the book discussions they rathole into. It's very clearly delineated as an ad from the rest of the show, and they've had Doctorow on, so I don't think you can say the ads affect their editorial. He makes the ads entertaining, and I don't really mind (but then again I use Audible, so I just usually mentally glaze over the little bit of actual ad copy).

TWiT is more problematic - I enjoy the audible ads because, as Heradel comments, they often develop into actual discussion - sometimes, as when Doctorow was on, actually being quite anti-Audible in tone. And they're still signposted enough so that it doesn't get too confused with the rest of the show.

On the other hand, some of the other TWiT shows (such as Munchcast, which I listen to occasionally) have really annoying integrated ads, where Leo is very much in salesman mode throughout, and since there is no panel they never develop into anything interesting. Those bug the hell out of me. Especially since now they're advertising a "fruit and vegetable wash", which I believe is a snake-oil product that doesn't do much except that advantage of food-safety and hygene hysteria and delivers some meaningless results. And in early ads it was abundently clear that Leo never even tried the product, as he didn't really know it was (he thought it was a vegetable washing device, not a vegetable detergent). So yeah, I really dislike those.

I do agree that I like the way that EP currently handles ads; I wouldn't like them becoming more subtle though I don't mind Steve commenting on them if he has something to say.