If memory serves me correctly, (which it may not) it's been almost a week since we started The Coterie Diaries. In that time we've had some good things and bad things, and I think it's time to address both.
First, the good stuff: Several members hopped on board rather quickly, and they seem to be enthusiastic about what's going on here. This makes me really happy, because I was worried that this community would be either ignored or infrequently visited. However, it seems that so far, those who have signed up are pretty loyal, and that makes my life a lot easier. I've never been one to really motivate people; if anything, I'm the laid-back one of the group who says, "Yeah, whatever". I think that this community/project/eventual established voice in the creative community will be good for me. And if nothing else, it looks nice on a resume. (And yes, Jou, you can add this little thing to your resume, too.)
Now, on to some concerns...
One of the things that I've been worried about recently is garnering membership. Two people who I was counting on to get involved in all of this have yet to sign up, leaving me to think that they are not interested in joining in on our little experiment. This wouldn't be a big deal, except for the fact that I was really, really counting on their joining up. We could use their imput, expertise, and work. For now, I suppose that the best course of action, at least for me, is to continue on as if they will not be joining us. It'll be a lot less stressful for me that way, as opposed to having, "Are they going to join or not? Are they going to join or not?" playing in an endless loop in my mind.
Our co-moderator Jou has brought up some valid points that I think could be implemented in our favor. Her thoughts about tutorials, in particular, could help to garner some outside interest, as well as help other group members. If you have any knowledge about your "specialty," please share it. If you are a member of another commnity or communities, keep on the lookout for any random, "Does anyone know how to..." questions that may be posted. Go ahead and direct them to our community, if applicable. For example, I've been thinking about putting up some writing tips and tutorials for those who may be curious or have writing questions. I'm by no means an expert, but I may be able to offer at least a little bit of help. Likewise, if you're good at graphics, computers/computer art, HTML, websites, drawing, or whatever, throw us a pointer now and then. It may make all the difference.
I also agree that guidelines are in order; it will make our community come across as a bit more structured and professional. I have a few (or thought I did) in our user info, but these were pretty basic. If you have any ideas for more, different, or specific guidelines, e-mail me at the community e-mail address so I can post them. I must admit that I made them pretty general, both because I was hoping that potential members would be mature and respectful, and because I wasn't sure what kind of, er, punishments would be available to us. The Internet is kind of shaky when it comes to copywrite law; it's really, really hard to prove that the art/document is truly yours, unless you start labeling everything with an exact date, or stamping a big "Copywrite (your name here) 2004" on all your stuff. Even that isn't foolproof: although your work is technically copywrited the moment you make/finish it, it's hard to prove that you truly do own the rights without actual paperwork. (Sorry about the tangent there- all those journalism classes...)
Last but not least is the issue that I touched on above- membership. I was kind of hoping to keep this community at least partially among friends to start. Once we get the hang of publishing actual paper copies of things, I'd be open to the idea of taking submissions, but for now I don't want to go that route. It would be pretty crappy of us to say, "Sure, you can join our group!" only to turn around and say, "Well, for now only a select few can actually get their work into our book or on our website."
So what to do? I suggest that for now, go ahead and mention our journal to people, but don't offer membership or butter them up with promised of getting published. Just be casual, mention that you have stuff posted in the community, and leave it at that. I'll get something about membership guidelines up in the user info to clarify for those who surfed on in.
Another way to get attention is through a website, which is another bit of madness right there. I was hoping to have a website up by the end of July, but depending on my schedule, that may not happen. A website would help with publicity, and I can't help but wonder if I should try to push up the "release" date. The only problem with that is, well, that I don't really have any website-building experience. I have a copy of Dreamweaver MX 6 that a friend lent me, and I have a "...for Dummies" book about the program, but without any real experience with the software, I'm essentially flying blind. Factor in the limited time and I'd liken the experience to flying blind in a rainstorm, attempting to land on a carrier while the enemy is firing at you. (Remember, not only does a website need graphics, but it also needs text and links and all the rest of it.)
One option would be to put up a very basic site through a free website server such as GeoCities, the pros being that we'd have a more established web presence faster and wouldn't have to pay for it, the cons being that our web design would be limited and we'd look less professional. A little, made on-the-cheap site could hold us over until we get a better site, but that brings us to another problem...that problem being website hosting costs.
I don't have a server, and I can't think of anyone offhand who does. This means that we will have to either a) find someone with a server who would be generous enough to host our site for free, or b) pay for a site ourselves. If we split the costs amongst ourselves it may not be so bad, but we'd all have to make sure that we can truly commit to something like that. I love you all, but frankly I'll be pretty pissed if everyone skips out on site costs, leaving me to foot a bill that I really can't afford right now.
I think that covers everything. If you have any questions/comments/whatever, either leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail.