I took this photo last night while writing. It's a Celtic cross candle that melts and re-forms as it burns. It was a good work companion.
The other day, I was musing to an interviewer that my Patreon has already undergone two iterations in its year of existence, and is about to undergo a third. He said, well that's what it's like, isn't it? You're prototyping a new model. You try things, some things work, other things don't, and you go back to the lab, and you refine with your collaborators.
In other words: you. You are my collaborators. Patreon is still in its infancy, but it's about to blow up, and we're building a new model right from inception--just like I wrote in the essay for TED (and if you haven't read it yet, do it!).
Thank you so much for your answers to the last two surveys I sent. Here is a link (password: melovedata) to all of the final data. (Except for the comments. Which were amazing and hilarious. One of you commented that you'd continue to support me until I started to suck. Another, that I was spending too much time making these damn surveys and should get back to work. I wonder if that was my agent.)
Here are the changes I'm going to make based on the feedback you gave me: starting today, we're switching to a hybrid model of traditional publishing and self-publishing with independent editors whom I pay for their work, and pledges processed monthly. Self-published stories will be exclusive to patrons for at least a month after publication. With a switch to a monthly model, the question about the Tor story is moot, but thank you again for your feedback on that.
Based on the data, that means I'll lose some of you. I completely understand that, and am deeply grateful for all of your patronage up until this point. Thank you, thank you, and vaya con Dios.
Those of you who are staying: thank you, too. The "monthly" aspect was the hardest for me, even though that seems to be the norm for writers (e.g. Saladin Ahmed, Geeta Dayal, and N. K. Jemisin), and even given that the data show you overwhelmingly support a monthly model. But I realized that my resistance to the change was about me undervaluing my own work. I work constantly, easily 80-hour weeks, year round. The vast majority of that work is either underpaid or unpaid. The TED talk, watched by almost 400,000 people? I spent two months on it, and though we of course get hotel and airfare, speakers are not paid. The TED essay that's going viral right now? I received some pay for it, but not nearly enough to cover the month I spent researching, drafting, and then revising it with the editors. The text I've been writing and the budget I developed for my theatre company's Patreon, in the hopes that we're establishing a radically new economic model for indie theatre? Unpaid. The blogging and social media activism on harassment, sexism, racism, and feminism? Unpaid. The novel I've spent the last three years on, which is so fucking awesome I can't wait to unleash it on the world, but is being written completely on spec? Paid, we hope, eventually; but it's a gamble.
And I've just come to a place where I realize I can't survive this way anymore. I said as much on Facebook the other day in a burst of frustration.
Again: no one is forcing me to make these choices. I'm choosing to live this way. Not doing this work at all is still more unthinkable to me than doing it unpaid.
But it's also not the fault of individuals within the model. It's the fault of the model. And we need to build new models for artists to survive. This is mine. You are essential to it.
Now your pledge goes to support all of my unpaid labor, and not just one part of it. Thank you.
More soon. And again: thank you for being my collaborators.