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Beth Cox Report: February 2015

Dear Loyal Readers, Authors, and Publishers,

In the September 2013 Beth Cox Report, I shared some thoughts about Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website. This month, I just learned about an intriguing new crowdfunding website, with a fundamental distinction from Kickstarter.

Let me lead into this with a story.

The internet service provider AOL recently folded various websites it owned into its Engadget site. These absorbed websites included the World of Warcraft website WoW Insider.

As part of the transition, quite a few people employed by the old websites were suddenly out of work. Some of them even had to report on their own closure, an act that Penny Arcade dubbed "Kafkaesque" in the following webcomic:

But one group of people who used to work for WoW Insider didn't want this to be the end. They decided to start a brand new, professional online magazine/podcast/etc. site, BlizzardWatch, which focuses on World of Warcraft and all other video games made by the company Blizzard. In order to raise the money to pay their own salaries, they turned to the crowdfunding website Patreon:

Unlike Kickstarter, which only accepts one-time contributions towards a specific product with a definitive end, Patreon is designed to accept recurring subscriptions. These recurring subscriptions can be as low as $1, but as far as I know the sky's the limit. Once a Patreon donor starts a subscription in support of a project, the subscription continues until it is cancelled. These projects can include webcomics, blogs, indie games, podcasts, YouTube videos, or just about any other continuous creative endeavor.

The initial goal of BlizzardWatch was to raise $8,000 a month. To quote their Patreon page, "...that $8,000 per month will cover the cost of a full-time editor, a part-time editor, and a schedule of daily content. That daily content will includes news, editorial, community-driven features, guides, our podcast, and fan favorites..."

Their Patreon drive was and is a success. As of this writing, it has reached $13,865.39 a month, recurring, which enables them to expand their staff and coverage. In their podcast, they literally shed tears of joy - and they also emphasized their philosophy and moral convictions. They believe very strongly that anyone who labors to write a column or other content for their website should be paid a fair wage for his or her work, and the money raised through Patreon enables them to do just that.

Patreon offers a new possible model for authors and creators in the publishing industry. Its recurring nature makes it less suitable for authors of lengthy novels or nonfiction books, and more geared toward ongoing content in smaller quantities, such as magazines, podcasts, webcomics, or a series of ebook short stories.

Like Kickstarter, attracting support for a Patreon project depends heavily upon name recognition; enough people must not only know who you are, but respect your work so much that they want to donate money to your endeavor every month. Getting the word out for one's Patreon project is essential. The folks at BlizzardWatch were well-known for their years of work on WoW Insider, and it certainly helped that the massively multiplayer role-playing game they cover has millions of players.

February's Link of the Month and Review of the Month are connected. Both are the brainchild of independent investigative reporter Brian Krebs, who specializes in cyber-crime. His website is Krebs on Security,

and his book is a must-read:

Spam Nation
Brian Krebs
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402295614 $24.99

Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs used to work at the Washington Post, until the newspaper tried to turn his focus away from cybercrime. Unwilling to surrender his chosen field of journlism, Krebs created his own website dedicated to cybercrime investigation, Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime - from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door is the culmination of Krebs' years of research and contact with insiders, particularly those in the seamy underworld of cybercrime. Krebs (who had to teach himself Russian, among other skills, in the course of his investigation) reconstructs the history and evolution of shadowy computer networks that inundate email users with endless spam, hawk cheap medications (that may or may not contain poisonous ingredients), process payments for illegal child pornography, flood business websites with denial-of-service attacks, spread malware that enables identity theft, and much more. A preponderance of cybercrime in the mid-2000's onward can be traced to Russian criminal organizations, which Krebs unmasks and demystifies. Spam Nation is more than a modern criminal history; it's also a call to arms for each individual to take action against relentless spammers. Something as simple as ensuring that all the programs one uses are up-to-date with the latest security patches goes a long way! "Whatever you do, don't store your list of passwords on your computer in plain text. That's like handing your identity over to cybercriminals if your computer gets hacked." Spam Nation deserves to be on the shelf of every public and college library, and is worthy of the highest recommendation.

That's all for the February 2015 Beth Cox Report. Oh, and while the Midwest Book Review doesn't have any Kickstarter or Patreon projects, gifts of U.S. stamps, or PayPal contributions made to the SupportMBR [at] email address are most welcome. We're always grateful for such expressions of generosity, which help defray the expense of hosting our advertisement-free book review and link resource website.

Bethany Cox
Managing Editor
The Midwest Book Review

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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