January 2023 Metacast

Presenters: Marguerite Kenner and Alasdair Stuart

Hey folks, welcome to an Escape Artists metacast. I’m Marguerite Kenner. And I’m Alasdair Stuart.

For those of you who have never heard a metacast before, think of this like a mini State of the Union address, a way for us to update you about what’s been happening at EA. The big thing is our news that EA now stands for the Escape Artists Foundation — we’ve become a nonprofit. We want to share with you how we got there, answer some questions, and explain what it means for you.

But first, a road map for this metacast. After you hear from us, you’ll hear from two others. 

First up will be Laura Pearlman, the editor of CatsCast, the fifth member of the Escape Artists podcast family that, like its namesake, kind of just … followed us home one day. After Laura, the PodCastle team will tell you about their exciting plans for celebrating their 15th anniversary.

Wow — 15 years already? *sniff* They all grow up so fast.

I know, right — Escape Pod turns 18 this year. Twenty years will be here before we know it.

Alright, so let’s dive in. 

Alasdair and I became the publishers of Escape Artists in 2014. EA had already been around, and exclusively audience supported for eight years at that point, but we decided to tackle the challenge kind of the way a start-up works (but without the word disruption, we promise). We made goals and plans, we opened cabinets and put out fires, we knew things would get terrifying three years in. Everything we planned for happened, alongside so very many things we didn’t.

Towards the end of those five years we started thinking about what the next five years should look like. And folks, we don’t have to tell you this — publishing short fiction is precarious. We are so fortunate to have such a committed group of supporters, and that group has grown as EA has. Their support — your support — let us raise our pay to writers in 2019, start paying our associate editors later that same year, and then in 2020 we expanded again behind the scenes this time to give every story we publish its best chance at finding its audience.

But the support EA receives has grown at about the same rate, and we still have a supporter base of roughly 2% our estimated audience. Most years EA breaks even, and that’s enough. But it hasn’t been ‘most years’ since 2019, for all of us, and EA’s no exception. We needed to do something.

So we shifted focus — we wanted to do something that would give EA its best chance of long term success without compromising our values. Drop pay rates? Not on the table. Abandon our commitment to pay every single member of our crew, from editors to community moderators? Not going to happen. We’d already given up on the idea of making money — in the arts? During COVID? In THIS economy? 

We started exploring the idea of becoming a nonprofit. Which it turns out, is a slow and expensive process. It took us several years, barrels of midnight oil, and the help of a very generous supporter to finally get there.

But we made it! And on January 1st, 2023, we became the Escape Artists Foundation.

So let’s talk about what that means for you.

As someone who reads or listens to our weekly podcasts, it means… not a lot. You’ll hear show hosts changing up their language a bit in their introduction or outros, but that’s about it.

If you’re an author, a narrator, or an artist who works with EA, again, very little has changed. We’re still a publisher. Our contracts will be updated with our new name and a few other small polishes, but again, pretty much business as usual.

Where things get the most exciting is for our existing supporters, and for those of you who might have been on the fence about supporting us in the past. Your donations will now be eligible as tax deductions. EA is registered as a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organisation in the United States, and you’ll need to talk to your own tax advisor about what this means for you. 

But it could mean for example that your donation to us might qualify for corporate matching through your employer. We’re registering on Benevity, and we’ve added a new section to the FAQ on our website with the information you might need to find EA in your donation platform of choice.

It also means some useful stuff for us behind the scenes. We can apply for grants, government funding, corporate gifts, and other sources of support only offered to nonprofits. Maybe if you win the lottery, or become independently wealthy, you’ll think of us — stranger things have happened, right? Our recent survey taught us that you’re open to us running ads as long as we offer ad-free feeds to supporters, so we’re exploring that. And we’ve already been able to lower some of our costs with our hosting company and other third parties we pay to bring you our episodes.

Does this mean the donations you already make on Patreon or PayPal qualify? Yes, they do! What about sending us the occasional one-off donation, like through Ko-fi? Yup, that counts. It even counts if you’re an author or narrator and you choose to donate back some of what EA pays you for your work. Likewise if you have suggestions for things we should explore or want to volunteer some of your time or expertise, drop us a line at our website, escape artists dot net. It all adds up to make a huge difference.

The events of the last few years have been incredibly difficult for artists. Many of us have relied on their stories to see us through dark times, to spark inspiration, or to stir us to action. Bringing you those stories, publishing free and accessible speculative fiction to a global audience, is our mission. 

We took this step to do everything we could to make sure EA is around for as long as there are stories to tell. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have supported us on this journey, and to the many more we hope will join us now and for the future.

One last thing before we go. We dropped the ball in December setting up the annual support option for those of you who want to pledge once a year, and we’re sorry about that. 

But the good news is it’s available for you right now, just search Patreon for EAPodcasts. We’ll run the promotion for the month of February, and then again at the end of this year like usual, to get us back on track.

We’re working on some new Patreon exclusive items, in addition to our Void Merch collaboration for all your physical swag needs. Just $5 a month gets you access to our Premium Content Dropbox full of goodies. Plus there are higher tiers for early access to CatsCast episodes. And anyone who supports us can join our Discord.

Thank you again for all you do – for sharing and reviewing our stories, for supporting our authors, for award nominations and laughing with us on Twitch and for your generosity. No matter where or how you support us, we are so grateful that you do. Together, we’ll stick to the plan: one story, told well. And free for everyone.

Thanks everyone, have a great rest of your day.

Presenter: Laura Pearlman

Hi, this is Laura from CatsCast. We’ve wrapped up our first year – well, technically our first nine months, but cats have their own sense of time. We released ten episodes in 2022, featuring thirteen stories: a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, featuring cats and dragons and cats and rifts in one or more universes and cats and various flavors of apocalypse and cats and space travel and cats and witches and cats and revenge and some occasional light dismemberment and also cats. Did I mention cats? We’re a podcast about cats.

It’s still a little hard for me to believe that we’ve made the transition from occasional April Fool’s joke to ongoing monthly podcast, but here we are. I’d like to just quickly shout out some of the people who’ve made this possible – intrepid associate editors Tarver Nova and Kitty Sarkozy, often-heroic audio producers Dave Robison and Wilson Fowlie, mentor and co-conspirator Marguerite Kenner, and of course the authors and narrators who’ve written and read the stories, and everyone who’s sent in a cat picture for our cover art. And anyone who’s listened, and of course anyone who’s supported us on Patreon or through some other method. Of course, none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the 474 of you who submitted stories – more than 500 of them – for consideration last year.

Speaking of which, we’ll be handling submissions a little differently this time around. Instead of one long submission period, we’ll be doing one-or-two week submission periods throughout the year, which should enable us to keep our response times to a more reasonable level. The first open submission window will be March 11-19, see escapeartists.net/catscast for more details.

My feline supervising editor is signaling that it’s time to feed her some treats, so I’ll wrap this up. Thanks for listening! We have some great stories coming this year, so I hope you’ll tune in to our public feed or our deluxe subscriber-only feed. And let us know what you think! You can always get in touch with us on Twitter at @catscastpod or through the Escape Artists Discord server, or you can send mail to catscast@escapeartists.net. We love hearing from people. And cats. And any entity that can operate a keyboard. Or send messages into the ether by any method. I’m not sure how the tentacle creature from PseudoPod does it – its emails always turn out sticky, somehow.

Thanks again for listening, and thanks to everyone who’s helped make this the universe where CatsCast is a real podcast and not just an April Fool’s joke.

Presenters: Eleanor R. Wood and Shingai Njeri Kagunda

Hi! We’re PodCastle Editors Eleanor R. Wood and Shingai Njeri Kagunda, and we’re here with an exciting announcement!

PodCastle is delighted to be celebrating our 15th anniversary in 2023. Fifteen years of magnificent fantasy fiction direct to your ears! We have some fabulous plans for the year ahead, and we can’t wait to get started. 

Beginning in April, the month that marks our fifteen years, we will be featuring a series of special episodes brought to you by our editorial alumni, in which every former editor of PodCastle will take a turn to choose a particular story from their tenure at the Castle’s helm, which we’ll rerun as a Tales From the Vaults Anniversary Special. Each episode will then feature a fun, informal chat between our distinguished host, Matt Dovey, and each former editor, discussing their time at the Castle, their thoughts on the story they’ve chosen to showcase, and what they’re up to now.

We’re so looking forward to this opportunity to share some nostalgia with longtime listeners, some insight into our history for those who are newer to PodCastle, and some celebratory fun for all! We’ll be reminiscing with a different editor emeritus every month from April through to December, and we’d be honoured for you to join us as we mark this very special occasion. 

Come one, come all!

Presenters: Dave Robison and Wilson Fowlie

This metacast episode is produced by the Escape Artists Foundation, an American 501(c)(3) non-profit, and is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license, which allows you to download and share it all you like, but not to change it or sell it. 

You can support Escape Artists on our Patreon — at Patreon.com/EAPodcasts — or with various other methods you can find at escapeartists.net – just follow the Support Us link.

Music licensed from Andrii Poradovskyi and INPLUSMUSIC studio. Learn more at inplusmusic.com.

This metacast was produced by Dave Robison and Wilson Fowlie.