I've also been extremely busy with freelance work - which has, unfortunately, left little time for original creative writing. And, to be totally honest, I wasn't making enough through this Patreon for it to be a priority for me. (Hey, even writers have to pay the bills.) So I hope you can all understand why I dropped the ball on this.
Despite the generally positive changes in my life this past year, I'm not particularly happy with the status quo right now, and that's why I want to start actively using Patreon again. There are a few reasons I'd like to move away from the freelance publishing model as much as possible.
1. I want to get to write what's really important to me.
Whether it's fiction or nonfiction writing, much of my work is extremely difficult to market. I have been dragging my feet on writing new fiction because, particularly in the genre world, my work is a hard sell.
Either it's at an awkward length that genre publishers don't know how to deal with, or it's too "literary" for most science fiction and fantasy markets. (And, of course, too genre-oriented for literary markets.) It's not always "fun." It's often tough and challenging and the type of writing I do has increasingly become politicized in the genre world. It's stupid, and it's discouraging, but it is what it is.
So over the past year, nonfiction has been my bread and butter. The problem is the internet media landscape is incredibly hostile to the kind of writing I enjoy. I don't enjoy writing clickbait. I hate being asked to hop on "trending" stories and rehash the same breathless speculation 100 other outlets have already written about without waiting for the facts to come in. (Invariably, these stories end up being proven inaccurate, but you don't see many editors issuing retractions or apologies.) I hate the pressure to focus only on topics with the potential to "go viral" and ignore the stories that are actually meaningful.
I can't count the number of times I've pitched a thoughtful essay on a complex topic and been told it just wouldn't be a good fit for a publication. I want to be able to write about these topics -- it's true I can blog about them for free, but I can't actually dedicate that amount of time and energy if it's not helping pay for my bills, or at least my webhosting. This is a sacrifice I've had to make for years, and I'm sick of the compromise.
2. Writing is an inherently unstable profession.
I'm fortunate enough to have a couple of regular, ongoing freelance gigs that can reliably help pay my bills every month. The problem is that I still need to do outside work to make enough to live on, and many of my clients only approach me for work on an as-needed basis. I don't always know how much work I will have each month and it's hard for me to budget because of that.
I'd like to be able to even out my income so I don't end up paying my bills late and I can plan for unexpected expenses. It's stressful. It sucks. I've been thinking about getting another full-time job, but I know if I do I'll most likely have to put my writing on the backburner yet again. I've been doing that for the past ten years, and I have very original creative writing published to show for it.
I'm tired of putting off the work that sustains and inspires me, telling myself, "maybe later." I turned 30 years old this year and still haven't had the time to finish a novel. I can't keep waiting for "later" forever.
I know that's a bit of a self-absorbed thing to say. But being unable to create work I care about has been deeply painful for me and has honestly eroded my physical and mental health. I need to at least try to make this work before I throw in the towel and go back to the way things were before.
It's hard for me to admit that. It makes me feel like I'm being selfish or entitled. I don't necessarily feel I "deserve" to be paid for work that others have deemed less-than-commercially-viable. But I'm going to try to push past that self-doubt and do this anyway.
1. I'm not going to focus solely on fiction.
This is probably the biggest change -- I will still be writing and posting stories, but this Patreon will shift to be more of a tip jar for my new blog. I'm going to shoot for at least one free story each month, so that part of the campaign will remain the same. I'm also interested in publishing serial work in the case of longer-form writing like novels.
But I'm also going to post nonfiction writing and essays about topics that matter to me -- the creative process, the publishing industry, worldbuilding, thoughtful media criticism, and possibly some complicated political topics that aren't "sexy" enough to be published in the usual outlets I work for. These will be fleshed out essays of 1200+ words, which will likely take me a week or more to research and write. I know not all of you are familiar with my work in this genre, so here's an example of the type of writing I want to do more of.
2. I'm going to be charging per creation instead of per month.
As I mentioned earlier, the monthly model I was using in the past wasn't compensating me enough to make the time I was spending on the Patreon worth it. So I'm no longer going to charge month by month -- instead I'm going to charge per piece of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. So if I'm overwhelmed and don't write anything for a month, you don't get charged!
If you can't afford to pay for more than one post per month, no problem. You can always change your pledge to add a monthly cap and stay within your budget.
3. I am not making a minimum commitment on the number of creations I put out.
By charging per creation, I want to avoid billing patrons for work I haven't done. My biggest problem with my previous model, in which I committed to a story a day, was that sometimes life happened and I couldn't get a story out. Although I think my record was still fairly impressive, I never really got caught up after illness or scheduling issues. It wasn't fair to my readers, and I want to avoid falling into this trap in the future.
What I can say is that I will likely publish a maximum of one piece per week. That gives me the time and space to refine and edit my work, so you're getting higher quality creations. It may be less often, depending on what happens. I think a maximum of four paid posts a month is a reasonable number that won't stretch anyone's budget too severely, but again, feel free to edit your pledge if you don't want the charges to add up.
I may also put out smaller posts on a more frequent basis, but I'm not going to be charging for any really short work. Mainly this Patreon will support my longer pieces of 1,000 words or more.
4. I'm going to be changing my reward tiers and goals.
I don't know yet exactly what I'm going to change them to. I do know that the minimum amount to get extra bonus content will go up from $1 to something more like $5. I'm trying really hard not to short-change myself and to actually cover what my hourly rate is worth. If you currently support me at $1, you'll still get some behind-the-scenes glimpses and you'll be the first to see new content I create, so you'll still get some perks regular blog readers won't receive.
Stay tuned -- I'll have more information on this in the coming days. I'll also be making some changes to my main Patreon page this weekend if you decide to check back in.
Thank you all for your patience. I, of course, appreciate any of you who decide to stick with me through these changes. If you decide you'd like to cancel your pledge due to the shift in focus, no hard feelings. Feel free to ask any questions you have about the changeover in the comments! :)