What happens 2018?
This is of course a very broad question. Yet if you are like me you like having at least a rough idea of what's next. As it is December already I'm not only rushing to catch up with friends I haven't heard from since forever (I'm not very good at that keeping in touch thing!), but also trying to gain an overview of what has happened so far and what needs to be done in 2018. I'm working freelance, so making strict future plans rarely works out, much to my dismay. There's just too much that is out of my control.
Still, I try.
I consider my art career a constant work in progress and I am very much at the beginning (I finished art school 2015). I want to know what works for me, what doesn't and how to nudge things into the right direction. There's lots of trial and error involved.

So here's what I've discovered this year:

I love freelancing. Not the part where you never know when your next job comes along or the part where you juggle ten jobs at once, but I really like working with people on their projects to create the best thing possible. No amount of likes can compete with a person happy about a job well done. Maybe it's because my clients have so far all been wonderful to work with and the projects right up my alley, but I'm quite happy (ok, I prefer) doing freelance instead of trying to build up and sell my own IP.

This links directly into where I'm going with this Patreon and my mermaids. I've been pondering for a while on how I will go about publishing the mermaid book, once I'm done with it (tentative date mid 2019, yes. Still a long way to go). Do I use Kickstarter? Do I try to find a traditional publisher for it? Do I self publish like my previous little books?
My mermaids have been and will be a lot more work than any of my previous projects and to simply print and sell a tiny edition myself seems like bad business. BUT. I've seen several of my artist peers run amazing Kickstarter campaigns this year. Super successful. Great books. So much work. So much work. I'm less afraid of not being able to reach a Kickstarter goal than of ending up having to store and ship a thousand books. Because honestly, that's not how I want to spend my time.
I'd just rather do more art.
I mainly work on personal projects so I have something to help promote myself and to learn. I like doing books because I love it! I love holding a finished book in my hands as the conclusion for a project. Afterwards I can move on to the next thing that excites me and helps me grow. I have so many projects I want to work on just for me. And that is what personal projects are really for, aren't they? Work I'd do even if nobody else ever got to see it? And the truth is that mostly I want to do that alone in a room just me and my thoughts until it is ready for outside influences. (I'll be looking for some editing help for the mermaid book eventually. I want it to be good, folks.)
And I want to do that for a while. I am extremely grateful for the support you have shown me here on Patreon (and outside of it, really), but this thing that should help enable me to do art is doing more to hinder it, which is rather depressing.  I've tried it, though, and it's just not something that clicks with me. At least not for the person I am today.
Turns out with all the amazing possibilities of the internet I'm more of a traditional person who just wants to freelance for money and maybe sell some prints, while using the rest of my time to quietly create personal work on the side and grow as an artist and person.
Is that going to keep me fed and the rent paid? Maybe.
This is no final and forever decision. I'd be stupid to make one now. It's just another step on the way that seems worth exploring.

OK, Jana, this is a great way of saying you are an unappreciative little hermit with no business sense that is going to sabotage what could have been a good thing (but it's your choice of course, no judging at all, not angry just disappointed), but what does this actually mean for this Patreon?

Coming 2018 I'm going to shut down all the tiers (besides the 1$ one. Say that's a pay what you want thing then.) and all new posts will be public. I say new posts, but there will be only the mermaids and their research logs. That's the work I really need and want to do.
Once I have all 100 mermaids the book work begins for me in earnest: writing, sketching, layouting. So while I'm at work there's not going to much happening here besides the occasional status update.

But Jana, you promised book things to the Mermaid Experts! What happened to that?

Well, I thought I'd be doing more work on that this year and I didn't. I spent way too much time trying to figure out a good format for the texts and bonus drawings without ending up with a mermaid bible ... Good news: I've found something that works! The current goal is 250-300 pages. But I want to figure out the whole thing before showing it to other folks, so that might take a while. I'll send you Mermaid Experts a PDF once the first complete layout/draft is done. Deal?

OK, Jana, did you even mention what will actually happen to the actual book? Once it's ready for publishing?

No, I don't think I have. Unless a publisher swoops in from out of nowhere (because I'm not going to go knocking on doors) there will be a small limited hardcover edition (100-150) I'll finance myself and sell through my shop as with my prior books. Since the book will be more expensive than usual (and cause more shipping costs because it's going to be heavier) there'll be a digital PDF version to download, too.
Alright. Let me know if there are any questions!