Please take a moment to check out the Rules/FAQs behind the cuts.
While we encourage participants to read all the FAQs, here are the basic rules you need to know going in.
Minimum/Maximum: The minimum length is 1000 words or 10 minutes of audio. Groups will have to discuss a maximum length, since it will vary from person to person how much they can do in the allotted time.
Translations: We've been asked specifically about whether translations of preexisting fannish works are allowed in this challenge and the answer is yes. If all group members are happy with the idea and approval can be gained from the original writer to translate the story, then it is allowed. All we ask is that the translator pay special attention to optimizing the translation for audio.
Check-ins: There are 3 mandatory check-ins for those who signed up as individuals. Check-ins help you make sure you’re on track to meet your deadlines, give partners specific times to inform each other of progress, and also open up conversations so you can let us know how to best support you.
On the date in question one of the mods will make a post asking teams to check in. Comments will be screened so you can let us know privately if there’s anything wrong or if you’re on track.
Extensions: Each partner may request only one extension, and in their extension request, they need to lay out how many extra days they would like and a realistic plan for how they will finish what they need to do in that time.
Example requests are, "I'd like 5 days, and my plan is to check in each day with an update of my progress," or "I'd like 3 days, and my plan is that Friday is free so I'll do most of the writing then. If an emergency comes up, I'll be able to make up the time on Saturday and definitely finish then," or “I’d like 4 days and my plan is that I will create an outline of my remaining scenes on day 1 and write them on days 2, 3, and 4.”
The mods will do our best to work with you to make sure that you have the time you need and that you have a workable plan to use that time. Failing to meet the date of the extension, however, will count as an automatic drop-out.
Final Product: While this challenge primarily produces stories, as long as your submission is a collaboration with an audio component and all group members are happy, the form your submission takes is up to you. This means that meta, filk, or non-narrative poetry, for example, are possible end products.
Posting: Both writers and podficcers will need an AO3 account. If you don't have one already, please let the mods know and we will send you an invite.
All podfics will be posted to AO3 with mp3 and streaming options.
We ask that everyone leave their projects up out of consideration for their partners. If you would like to orphan or anonymize your part of the work, the mods will be happy to work with you to facilitate the process.
Hosting: All downloads/streaming must be available directly from AO3 (no clicking through to a different site).
Traditionally all podfics were hosted on paraka's website so we could ensure active downloads/streams, which is still an option for those who want it. However, podfics can now be hosted elsewhere if they meet the same criteria (right-clicking to download, working streaming player on AO3).
For those hosting with paraka, if you ever want/need to have a file taken down, please email pod.together at gmail dot com.
Remember: This should be an equal collaboration, although ultimately the writer gets the final say over the words of the work and the podficcer gets the final say over the performance of it.
Sunday May 22nd individual sign-ups open.
Saturday May 28th group sign-ups open.
Saturday June 4th sign-ups close.
Sunday June 5th assignments go out to those who signed up individually.
June 6th–10th icebreaker week.
Saturday June 25th check-in #1.
Saturday July 9th check-in #2.
Saturday July 16th completed writing due.
Saturday July 30th check-in #3.
Wednesday August 10th early podfic submission date.
Sunday August 14th all podfics due.
Wednesday August 17th posting starts.
Friday August 26th posting ends, Party Favors due.
Saturday August 27th Party Favors posted.
Major changes from previous years of this challenge
Here are the major changes from previous years:
1) For both writing and podfic deadlines, we are specifying that it is okay to submit a draft and work on finalizing it later, but ONLY if that draft has a beginning, middle, and end and could be used as the final product in the event of an emergency.
2) Audio-only projects no longer need to post the text of their project on AO3 at the time of the writing deadline—they may instead set up an empty AO3 post and then email the text to pod.together at gmail dot com.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between individual sign-ups and group sign-ups?
If you sign up as an individual, the mods will assign you to a partner or group. If there are writers and podficcers who know they want to work with each other, they can sign up as a group rather than have a mod assign them to one. There will be separate sign-up posts for each.
For individuals, when you sign up, we’ll ask for a list of fandoms to match you on. Because this is a multifandom challenge, we encourage you to list as many fandoms as you’d be willing to work in.
Groups will be given the option to opt into or out of check-ins. If you opt out, you are still welcome to check-in, but nobody will follow up if you skip a check-in. This means that mods may not become aware of emergency situations that involve one partner disappearing from the internet for a time, and so partners will need to make sure they check in frequently with each other!
I signed up as an individual, but now I have a group; what do I do?
First of all, make sure you sign up at the group sign-up post.
To cancel out your individual sign-up, please leave a comment in response to your sign-up comment stating that you’d like it withdrawn, and a mod will screen it for you.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can leave your individual sign-up as is and get a second group when assignments go out.
Will all groups have just one writer and one podficcer?
Not necessarily. Every year there are some participants interested in working with multi-podficcer (and sometimes multi-writer) groups. In these cases, we check in with all involved parties before finalizing assignments.
This opens up all kinds of possibilities, like script format for multiple voices. If you’re at all interested in that kind of thing, we encourage you to leave a comment to that effect when you sign up.
You’re also welcome, once you’ve been matched up, to invite additional members into your group to contribute to the writing, podficcing, editing, etc, as long as all group members agree.
If you’re signing up as a group, you can have as many group members as you want. If you want to write and podfic on your own, sign up as a "group" of 1. If you have multiple writers/podficcers that want to work together, go for it!
What about filk?
In the past we’ve had participants create filk and it is officially welcome as part of pod_together—just specify in your sign-up if you’re interested in creating filk for/as part of your project. If you are writing filk and feel like some of the rules of the comm aren't accommodating enough for the project you have in mind, please let us know so that we can help you have a good experience.
What about adding music?
Musical interludes are welcome in your project if you would like them. Some podficcers have asked if they can include music under the speaking parts as well. For those projects, we encourage two versions—one with music under speaking parts and one without—for accessibility reasons. However, this is a recommendation and not a requirement.
I want to participate, but I've got a busy month ahead and I'm not sure I can commit or, “What's a Party Favor?”
If you find the time later (or if you finish your project early and want to do another) you can always create a Party Favor, which is a no-commitment pod_together style project that can be submitted and posted on the last day. Party Favors have no word minimum, no pressure or commitment, and are made completely outside the bounds of the challenge, until the day they show up in our inbox as a delightful surprise! The last day to submit Party Favors is Friday, August 26th.
What's the modding style like?
We are very hands-on mods. Part of the premise of this comm involves throwing strangers together and asking them to collaborate, which can be difficult! So the mods take extra care to ensure that everyone feels happy and supported. That's one of the reasons for the mandatory check-ins. Mods will follow up with groups or individuals that don't respond at check-in, not because we don’t trust you but because we’ve seen everything from computer failures to emergency hospital stays come up in the past and we know better than to assume that silence means things are fine. We’ve also seen some hurt feelings or communication issues within partnerships that could have been easily fixed with mod mediation, so please don’t be shy about coming to us with whatever’s on your mind. Even between check-ins we’re always happy to hear from participants, whether that’s just a check-in that things are okay, a situation that needs brainstorming help, or a potential problem. If participants have any worries or need any help, we highly encourage you to contact us (pod.together at gmail dot com).
Let us help you. If you can't get in touch with someone in your group, please let us know. If you need to drop out, we'd rather hear it from you than try to scramble something together at the last minute. If you even think there might be a problem, keep us in the loop. We’ve dealt with hundreds of partnerships at this point and have a lot of ideas and resources to help you have an enjoyable experience! But we can't help if we don't know there's a problem.
I’ve gotten my assignment, now what?/“What is icebreaker week?“
We strongly encourage writers and podficcers to start discussing their project right away. To help with that, there will be an icebreaker week where mods will post little activities to help group members get to know one another and get them started on their project. The activities in icebreaker week are not mandatory. However, participants should use this time to determine what kind of project they'd like to make and how they plan to go about doing so. This is also the time to set expectations, such as what partners need from each other and what they hope to get out of this creative experience. The best way to make sure you get what you want is to communicate those wants clearly at the start!
What if I need to drop out?
If you need to drop out, please let the mods and your group know right away. The more advanced notice you give us, the more easily we'll be able to help the rest of your group find a replacement. Even if you think you might finish, please let us know if you have dropout concerns so that we can prepare someone on standby to jump in if needed.
How do groups hand in their finished assignments?
Writers will submit their assignments via AO3, under the Pod_Together 2016 collection. The collection is moderated and set to "unrevealed" so the stories will show as "mystery" works until the mods reveal them on the scheduled posting day.
Podficcers submit their assignments by either updating the project on AO3 with self-hosted download links (remember: all downloads/streaming must be available directly from AO3, no clicking through to a different site) or by emailing the podfic/links to the podfic to the mods at pod.together at gmail dot com for the mods to upload.
Here are detailed instructions from last year. The only change is that the new collection is here.
What is the Early Podfic Submission Deadline?
The posting period is ten days, and many groups are excited and anxious to publicly share their projects ASAP, so the early deadline is a kind of incentive. Groups that complete their projects and hand them in by August 10th will have their project posted in the first half of the posting schedule.
When will my group's story be posted?
Once assignments have been handed in, the mods will make a posting schedule so you can know when to expect your story to be posted. The mods will make announcement posts to twitter, tumblr, livejournal and dreamwidth, linking back to the AO3 post, after which you are free to link to or crosspost in your normal places.
Podficcers, if your podfic is hosted on paraka's webspace, please feel free to use the link wherever you would like.
What does a work written specifically to be podficced look like?
That's up to you! Part of the goal of this challenge is to explore answers to that question.
In past years we've had some great variations, including submissions with filk, poetry, multiple POVs, massive multi-voice collaborations, sound effects, computer voices and experimental soundscapes, multimedia integration of text-only, audio-only, and visual-only pieces, and other languages.
There's no wrong way to do it, but if you want a place to start, you might look at this post about ways to make a story easier to perform or these posts (DW|LJ) on how groups did it our first year.
I am new to this sort of collaboration. How exactly will it go?
Here are entries from previous years if you'd like to see how others have done it in the past.
Again, the specifics are up to you, but remember, this is a collaborative effort. You need to be flexible with the ideas you bring to the table. Writers shouldn't look at this as an opportunity to get a guaranteed podfic for a specific fic idea and podficcers shouldn't think of this as a chance to have someone write them a specific prompt.
Groups should start off with conversations about shared interests and the direction they'd like to see their project move in. Here are some suggestions for what to do after that:
1. The writer can start to write several possible works they have in mind (perhaps summaries, outlines, or specific scenes) and the podficcer can pick the one they connect with most for the writer to continue and finish.
2. The writer can write part or all of a piece, the podficcer can beta it and/or do a test-read, and then the writer can adapt the piece based on the podficcer’s input.
During the conversation about shared interests, it's a good idea for all group members to discuss what their strengths and weaknesses are; try to see if you have any matching strengths you can use as a starting point/catalyst for your project.
You may wish to use free tools like Google Drive to share the written story, so all group members can leave notes and suggestions and also so the podficcer can start preparing for their performance as early in the process as possible.
This should be an equal collaboration, although ultimately, the writer gets the final say over the words of the work and the podficcer gets the final say over the performance of it. Beyond that, the details of the end product will be yours to decide. Be creative, have fun, and see what works best for you!
pod_together is multi-platform! You can now follow us on DW (pod_together), LJ (pod_together), twitter (pod_together - info only, no sign ups) or on tumblr (pod-together).
If you have any further questions please feel free to ask here or email us at pod.together at gmail dot com.