Well, I didn't expect to be writing up a fundraising email today, but that's what's happening today.
Without burying the lede: I'm no longer working for Tor.com. I got the news this morning, and while it was unexpected, it's a bit of a weight off my shoulders, mentally. I've been casually looking at jobs here locally, and this just bumps that up as a priority.
I've got plenty on my plate in the meantime: a couple of longer features that I've been looking to write for other places (one which I just turned in yesterday, which will hopefully be out shortly), and another that I'm waiting to hear back from. On top of all that, there's the New Worlds podcast project, which has been chugging along behind the scenes, The Book, which is working its way through the publishing machinery, and of course, this newsletter.
In the short term, I'm going to spend some of my energy in putting together a more frequent brief on the news coming out of the SF/F world for subscribers — maybe putting together an issue featuring what would have been 2-3 individual stories that'll go out. I'll likely phase that out eventually, but we'll give it a try for now. I've also got a handful of interviews that I've been sitting on that I haven't been able to make time to get to, as well as some lingering reviews. And, my reading list has only grown, so it'll be good to try and make a dent in that.
This is the part where I'd like to ask for your help: if you've been looking to subscribe to Transfer Orbit, today would be a welcome day to do so.
If you've ever enjoyed my work for Tor.com, Polygon, The Verge, io9, Barnes & Noble's Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Kirkus Reviews, or other places, I'd love to write directly for you, the reader. The freelance market hasn't recovered from what it was like prior to March 2020, and while I've picked up pieces in Lifehacker, Polygon, and Slate, those pitches are harder to place and it's harder to rely on that income.
If you're able to subscribe, you can find details about how to do that here. You can subscribe to the newsletter for free, but there's some additional content for those who are paid subscribers, which runs for $5 a month and $50 a year.
Here's the breakdown of what I typically release:
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- Weekly roundup. This is (usually) one big story that has been making the rounds during the week, along with a look at what I've been reading and what long-reads are worth checking out from around the internet. (Here's the latest one)
- Reviews. I got my start as a reviewer, and my approach to covering books is less of a "I liked this book, here's why you should read it" and more of a "this is what this book is discussing and why it's important." I tend to bundle books together that that are similar — here's one that I published of Jeff VanderMeer's Hummingbird Salamander and Michelle Nijhuis's Beloved Beasts, and another about Arkady Martine's A Desolation Called Peace / Timothy Zahn's Conqueror's trilogy.
- Interviews. I've talked to a lot of authors over the years, and I try and go beyond the "how did you get your ideas?" questions and more towards the content of the books. Here are interviews with James S.A. Corey, Carrie Vaughn, Becky Chambers, Martha Wells, Simon Stålenhag, Robin Hobb, Christopher Brown, Mary Robinette Kowal, and John Scalzi. In the hopper? P. Djèlí Clark, Brian Staveley, and Cadwell Turnbull. There are other authors that I want to chat with as well, but these are the most intensive when it comes to preparation and conducting.
- Book Lists. First (or thereabouts) of every month, I put together a roundup of new SF/F books that are hitting stores. Here's the one for October.
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- Commentary / news. This is something that I'll be ramping up, but up to this point, I've been running additional stories about some of the bigger events taking place in the week's news. Some recent stories include ones about the reboot of Babylon 5 (and arguments for keeping the franchise going), Netflix acquiring Roald Dahl, Amazon's Lord of the Rings series, and space billionaires.
- Big features / reports. These are reported pieces, and while I've reserved some for subscribers, some go to the full list because I want to get them to a wider audience. I've done a bunch of these this year, including ones about a never-published Star Wars novel getting a pirated print edition, Fireside Fiction turning a new page, an audiobook narrator who was scammed into recording a new edition of Dune, a short fiction platform that went under earlier this year, the plight of a costume company that seems to have gone under, and a deep dive into a white supremacist science fiction novel.
- Recaps. I've been recapping Apple's Foundation (you can read them here) each week. I'll likely continue to do this with some of the other big shows coming out this fall, like the final season of The Expanse.
- Slack channel. I've opened up a channel for paid subscribers, a place to chat about the various happenings in the SF/F world, dedicated channels to chat about Foundation, and places to share your work a writer. The goal has been to create a positive, friendly community of readers, and so far, it seems to be working. (If you are a subscriber and haven't signed in, lemme know, and I'll get you the invite link.)
- Other... stuff? There's other things that I've thought about for paid subscribers: short fiction (if I get around to finishing any number of ones that I've wanted to write), lists, giveaways? I don't know for sure, but I'm always open to suggestions.
I enjoy writing this newsletter: coming across some of those reported those stories, and writing up the monthly book list are real pleasures for me, week in and week out. I think that what I've been writing is of use to readers and fans alike: I've seen praise for my long-form work, the lists, and the other newsletter issues that I send out, so it's clearly working for readers. Some folks have called it an "indispensable resource" and a "great combination of commentary, reporting, and analysis" of the SF world, and it's been featured in The Washington Post and Vulture.
But, it's work. Hosting the site on Ghost costs money, and preparing for profiles, transcribing interviews, reading books, or researching various topics takes a lot of time. And there's the usual expenses that make up a life: a mortgage, kids in daycare, and so forth.
So, tl;dr, if you've liked Transfer Orbit and the work I've done here, please consider signing up as a subscriber. It'll help keep this newsletter going: there's a lot more to come.