This morning on twitter I announced that I was launching a Patreon to write a short story every month for supporters.
I’ll be honest, it’s nerve wracking to do crowdfunding projects. I’ve done a Kickstarter for the 4th Xenowealth novel The Apocalypse Ocean when I changed career directions to do Arctic Rising. I also followed up with two short story collections that did really well.
But it’s a wild ride to walk out on stage to see if there are enough fans on the spot to make something happen. When I first did The Apocalypse Ocean Kickstarter back in October of 2011 I got a lot of concerned emails from folks that asked if I wasn’t worried about failing in public.
Well, of course I was.
But, the upside was that I would get to write more things that people were asking me to write.
In this case, I’m trying to do something a little more ambitious: I’m trying to get enough of a Patreon off the ground that I can overall focus on creating more fiction and doing less freelance work.
Here’s the thing, I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I am lucky with my fiction, but the money is so irregular that I have always used freelancing to create a monthly income stream to balance the long delays in publishing. I could get the greatest news about a book out on submission today, and maybe not see a check after the contract is negotiated and money sent for 7-12 months.
For the last couple years the freelancing opportunities really increased and I took advantage of that. I started working longer days and using more of my creativity and emotional energy. By December the fiction was getting harder to juggle, and when my largest client cut me back by 80% in January I took the time to examine what to do next and what offers to accept.
But since I set aside money and live simply here in Northwest Ohio (as much as the weather isn’t all that fun or the rural life that stimulating) it allows me to make gambles. Being a freelancer was one of them. Having some time to try something different is another. I was exhausted from freelancing on a variety of different fronts and some accelerated deadlines. I took the time to work on moving into a new office, recovering from being sick, and thinking about how to make a go of the next year or so.
Six months ago I’d polled twitter, thinking about how a Patreon may or may not work. A couple hundred folk indicated interest in a short story Patreon, where I pledge to write a short story a month and if the story is delivered they’ll pay a certain amount per story.
So I’m back to crowdfunding.
I’m willing to write a story a month in that place I had been doing freelancing, even if it means a solid pay cut. I’d love to focus harder on the fiction and go all in. The last time I did it, it was because supporters got behind the novel The Apocalypse Ocean and I spent a year writing fiction.
I set up the Patreon so that at $5 a month everyone gets a short story, based on successful Patreons by writers, though I do worry that maybe everyone getting a story would be more successful. I’m second-guessing myself a lot there. I’m certainly nervous about this, as I’m sure I will ‘less successful’ in some people’s eyes. But I’ve enjoyed the direct projects for fans that I’ve done since 2011.
If we can get to $1,000 on the Patreon, I’m willing to take the leap on this and start doing the writing to see where I can take this over the next six months before making a decision on whether to stop it.
I’ve also tried to sweeten the pot by offering rewards for different levels. If we reach $1,500 in the first month I’ll give out my 3rd short story collection, as of yet unpublished (System Reset). I may have to tweak those bonuses after we see whether this Patreon does well.
If I can’t reach $1,000 in the first month, I’ll write a thank you story and shut this down, with thanks for everyone giving it a try. I’m honored that we’re already 11% of the way there here on the day of the first launch. I’m nervous about stepping out into public like this to try something different, something new. I’ve been doing the freelance on one side, novels on the other, for so long it’s become the easy path.
But I stand at a fork in the road over the next few months. And forks like that are usually opportunities. The last time I stood somewhere similar, I was laid off from my day job, looking at not being able to write novels again for years, and thinking ‘maybe I can try freelancing to replace 70% of my day job income and keep writing.’ And I built that freelancing/writing combination over a touch and go year following that.
If there is ever a time for us to build something new, to get more fiction out of me, to create more stories, then this is another one of those years, I think.
But like then, it’s scary.
I hope you’ll join me in jumping off this cliff and take a look at my Patreon.