December 11, 2019 - "Falling Stars" - Aimee Lucido, edited by Ben Tausig

Difficulty ● ● ● ◐ ○

Puzzle Notes

Dear Friends:

Aimee Lucido's "Falling Stars" is 17x17 squares, and 3.5/5 difficulty.

Once a year, the AVCX asks solvers for tips, should you feel inclined. 80% of tip money is divided pro rata among constructors who made weekly puzzles in 2019. 10% goes to the editor, and 10% goes to the company. Click here to leave a tip for the people who make your puzzles.

The AVCX is a worker-driven company, meaning that we're financially structured so that the people who make the good content get paid first and equitably. This is deliberately different from the predatory approach that many digital media companies use nowadays, which results in low, late pay and other forms of instability. 25% of our income goes to constructors each quarter. So for example, in the fourth quarter of 2016 we're on track to pay about $600 per weekly puzzle. That's more than any crossword on the market, including The New York Times. We're proud to have a model that prioritizes constructors in this way.

The AVCX also works towards inclusivity. Of this year's puzzles, 42% had bylines from women or non-binary constructors. That's a start, and it gives us something to improve on even more in 2020. Meanwhile, we partnered with the Inkubator (a feature that is 100% women and non-binary) to give them a platform and an audience for their first year. They'll run independently in 2020, and we're grateful for their friendship. To be meaningful, inclusivity should involve not just representation but ownership. That's the idea here.

We also hired two new assistant editors, Wyna Liu and Paolo Pasco, who are helping us respond to theme pitches in a prompt, friendly, and helpful fashion. Francis Heaney, who has been a core part of the AVCX for many years, has also been formally added to what we are calling the editorial team, in recognition of the outstanding work he does.

Meanwhile, we've been responsive to our solvers. One person asked if we could produce a black-and-white inksaver version of the weekly PDF, and others agreed, so we offer that now. We put out several bonuses (with more to come this month) in response to those who've asked for variety puzzles.

2019 was a really positive year for us. We're here to give you something honest, funny, consistent, and pleasurable. And we appreciate your support always.

Be well,

Ben and the AVCX crew // @avcxword