We’re changing things up this month. Instead of one question being asked of several individuals, we’re back to one author one query. One being the operative word. @Myr was kind enough to provide a detailed response, so I’m featuring it by itself. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Why did you decide to start Gay Authors and how did you go about it? Also, how has it lived up to your expectations and how has it diverged from your original intent?
Why did I decide to start Gay Authors and how did I go about it?
At the time I started Gay Authors in 2002, the world for gay stories was a completely different place. There was no such thing as an ebook market yet. Kindle on Amazon didn't exist until 2007. At the time, there were a handful of sites out there that allowed people to post their works. Nifty was (and still is) the big kahuna for archives of posted works. Nifty accepted all stories (pretty much), but they tended to be heavily geared towards um... action. Plot in most Nifty stories was a bonus. There was a time, 1995-1998 or so, where I actually checked every story posted on Nifty across a number of categories I was interested in. I quickly started spotting authors that had plot with their action. Real character development, etc. That was a new thing really. Amazon had gay books, of course, but there were so few published in those days that I had pretty much every gay fantasy/gay sci-fi book that Amazon sold. Most of them weren't as good as some of the free gems on Nifty.
So, understanding that background, I went about identifying and contacting authors of stories that had plot and character development. I approached them and said, I'll build a website where you can post your stuff so that you stand out more than getting drowned in the deluge on Nifty. Comicality signed on as did Bill W, and dkstories not long after. DomLuka and others followed. We started hosting in September 2002. By the time July 2003 rolled around, I decided to give IP.Board 1.1 a try and the forums were born. You'll notice that I'm member number 3. When I started the forums, the default first account was 1, of course, and called "Administrator". The name on the account now is "GA Staff" and it is used for our program/developer for the Stories software. Number 2 was a friend that has since passed away that helped me with testing the forums in the early days. Active posting and other things on the forums didn't really kick in until about 2004.
In those early days, Hosted Authors would email me their stories and I'd do the web development. Most authors went this route. Some, like CJames, were given FTP accounts and allowed to roll their own. The more authors we got, the more work it was, of course. It didn't take long for me to want to find a way for authors to have a way to post on their own. I turned to eFiction, which was a stand alone free software package that allowed members to post stories. I also programmed, on my own, a Story Archive that allowed links to stories and a quick way to sort and find stories.
This left us with 3 separate, competing systems, each with their own member system. It was a bit of a headache for a while. Eventually, and with spending some money, we got all three systems using the forums member database. But keeping eFiction and the forums working together was a nightmare. Enter our biggest software development action in our history... the creation of "GA.Stories" which was a spin on Invision software IP.Whatever (IP.Forums, IP.Blog, etc). This is where we went from Hosted Author websites, stories in eFiction by any author, and a separate list of linked stories to one Stories Archive to rule them all. It was December 2010 or so. This is why so many stories are posted at that date. We posted all the Hosted Authors stories in one go, and imported most of the stories in from eFiction. This was in the forum software version days of 3.X.
We've kept that system since, though changing developers. The leap from 3.X to 4.X was sizable. But we're now in a position where the Stories Archive is a third party application in the Invision Community Software. So, some of the quirks of the Stories Archive are tied to how the forum software works. But all the benefits, like following, liking, notifications, etc are all because the Stories Archive is just part of the "Invision Community" software package.
Those around at the times of the big change will remember the growing pains. The last major revision to the software was pretty smooth. We've got one coming up very soon that should be pretty smooth as well. (Stories works fine on the new forum software even without the update, minus some formatting)
Has it lived up to my expectations? Has it diverged from my original intent?
Yes it has and more. We've been going for 18 years now (almost). The world and technology has changed a LOT since then. Kindles, iPhones, tablets, smartphones in general, are all things now that weren't then. We have grown and adapted to new technology and have weathered the changes over the years. I've worked to keep us up-to-date and relevant as well as a safe port in the storm. While I'm pretty political, I've kept that out of Gay Authors for the most part. I'd rather Gay Authors just be. Everyone else can have an agenda. My agenda is "great stories people want to read." If you can write a story with a message that people enjoy reading and it stimulates thoughtful discussion, then great! We need less yelling and partisan BS. Live and Let Live was a great concept out of the free love 60s. Hell of a lot easier to have a happy life that way then looking over your shoulder afraid to be canceled for breathing wrong at any moment.
I guess that probably explains my operating philosophy most and fits my original intent. I just want to read and enjoy stories. Perhaps have some inspired debates. I can't tell you how many hours I went back and forth with dkstories over his political take on something. It was quite enjoyable to have that exchange of ideas. But society is no longer in a place where that's even allowed. Hence my policy of no politics except in The Pit. Its purpose is to keep the divisiveness in an isolated place to allow everyone of all political stripes to enjoy the great stories our authors have shared with the world. I know people have commented on that in the past. The "if you are for free speech, why can't I post this here?" Well it is because you are deliberately antagonizing someone who has an opposing view. The Pit allows you to know what you are in for when you go in there. So, go read and let an author know that you enjoyed what you read. Let Gay Authors be your escape. And if your escape is riling people up, then hop into the Pit and have a go.
There you go. I probably meandered.
I have not diverged from my original intent. Gay Authors is still about having quality stories I want to read posted in one spot and having a community support each other and enjoy the content.
And there we are, a quick history of the site we all seem to enjoy. I mean, your reading this blog means you’re interested in what our authors have to say, now you have an idea of how we all came to share this cyberspace.
Myr mentioned he’s member #3, to give you an idea of the amount of traffic this place has, I joined some seven years ago and my member number is 19841. I just looked at one of our newest members and we’re up over 36,000.
Finally, here’s a link to something you might enjoy reading:
That’s all for this month. At least in South Florida, August is horrible. Heat and humidity drive us indoors, and GA is a perfect companion for sitting naked on the couch with the AC blowing on you to cool you off. Ooops, is that overshare?
Anyway, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it, and we’ll see you back next month. In the meantime, send me some questions, dammit!