Saturday Waffling (January 25th, 2014)

(21 comments)

Right - finally placed the physical book orders for the Kickstarter. Which means there are something like three hundred books on their way to me, and many more whizzing about the globe to various other places. It's very exciting, except for the part where all that great Kickstarter money I had suddenly stopped being quite so much Kickstarter money because I spent nearly $4000 on copies of my own books. Whoops.

Which transitions us to this weekend's topic, which is "future of the blog." Due to reasons having mainly to do with the peculiar academic politics of the school at which I was teaching, my classes for this semester were abruptly taken away a week before Christmas. (Short form - some upper division classes taught by senior faculty were underenrolled and got cancelled, and so mine got taken away to give to them because I'm an adjunct and thus can have all my classes cut without warning or notice and there's not even a problem.) This is not a massive crisis, but it means that finances grow a little tighter, especially with the whole big thing with the Wonder Woman money, and, long and short of it, I need to do some thinking about how to increase the amount of money my writing makes me in the short-to-medium term.

Right now I'm considering two plans, which I'd like to lay out in their broad strokes and let people chime in on what they think is the better idea.

Plan One: Kick More Starts

In this plan, I'd run, probably in March, a Kickstarter for The Last War in Albion, likely with a target of about $3000. This would fund it through the start of coverage of Watchmen, which will begin with Chapter Twelve. (Or possibly thirteen - Swamp Thing might need more than one chapter because frankly, I don't want them to be much longer than ten parts) I'd collect that into a first volume as a book, and then decide whether book two (The Battle of Watchmen) needs a Kickstarter to fund it as well. (In all likelihood the answer would be yes, and my goal would be to raise a couple of thousand dollars via Kickstarter roughly every calendar year.)

This is, broadly speaking, the "big projects" model, in which I would maintain a bunch of high profile projects. It has its obvious plusses and minuses, but is certainly a sound and plausible model for a writer to support himself over time.

Plan Two: Patreon

Recently coming to prominence, however, is another crowdfunding platform called Patreon. The model of Patreon is based not on fundraising for big projects, but on small payments for content created on a regular basis. It's designed more for webcomics artists, musicians, and, oh hey, bloggers. Basically, people would be able to set a recurring charge up where, whenever I make new content, they pay some small amount - $.50, $1, $5, whatever. You can set a monthly cap, and so there's all the safeguards you'd expect.

Under this plan, I'd set one up. Probably it would be for Last War in Albion and substantive Tuesday content - that is, Tuesday content that seems to me to be a sizable morsel of creativity and not a sort of spongy and fun bonus thing. (A book launch announcement manifestly would not count. The Chelsea Manning stuff all would.) It would feel weird to accept money for Eruditorum entries this late in the game, but I would probably politely note that if you want to support me for that, you can certainly still contribute. Alternatively, I might call the unit of content being paid for "a week of content." The details are fungible.

In this model, big projects would still happen, but they'd be the consequence of patronage. In all likelihood, once Eruditorum wrapped, I would hold an open discussion with patrons to choose which of various ideas I'm considering I'll do next. Some ideas might be serialized exclusively to patrons, others might go on the blog, but the idea would be a core of ongoing supporters who get a lot of say in the sort of work I do, with the goal of then adapting that work to books to sell to a larger audience.

I have my views on which is more interesting, appealing, and likely to succeed, but for now I want to keep quiet and let people discuss it. So, given that this blog needs to garner more financial support over the next year, how would you, my readers, prefer I go about that?

Comments

BerserkRL 3 years, 2 months ago

Are the two options mutually exclusive?

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Marionette 3 years, 2 months ago

So would the stuff you did under this Patreon system then be published in book form? Because I can see where a lot of people wouldn't be keen on paying for the same material twice, and since the books tend to be more polished and have extra bits, you'd end up with a lot of people "waiting for the trade".

Consider also that the blog is a big advertisement for the books, so sticking up a big pay wall would also hurt book sales.

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Julian 3 years, 2 months ago

There could be a middle ground - Kickstarters for the 'big' things (Albion, etc.) but perhaps something as innocuous as a 'Donate' button in lieu of the Patreon system. It still allows those who regularly read the blog to be able to contribute if we feel like it, without a 'system' to subscribe to.

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jane 3 years, 2 months ago

I wouldn't think the Patreon system would function as a pay wall, just another opportunity to support a great writer. And while contributing "twice" for content isn't likely to fly, incremental funding for the blog might be a more affordable way for those who aren't buying the books in the first place to show their appreciation.

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Eric Rosenfield 3 years, 2 months ago

Why Patreon and not Subbable? I would be very interested in how a support funding thing would work out and would happily support you.

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elvwood 3 years, 2 months ago

I don't really feel I have the right to comment. Until my circumstances change, I will be buying the Eruditorum books and that's it. Good luck with whatever you decide, though! (Still shocked about the Wonder Woman Kickstarter.)

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 2 months ago

Indeed - I would not pay wall most content. Some content might go Patreon-exclusive, but likely only if it were a project that the Patreon crowd supported but that didn't serialize well.

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Andrew Hickey 3 years, 2 months ago

I'd be more likely to take part in single-project Kickstarters than in an ongoing thing like Patreon, but I don't think there's a particular reason why you couldn't do both.

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Nyq Only 3 years, 2 months ago

I was away living in a tent for a week sans technology except my Kindle. I read the Wonder Woman book and enjoyed it immensely. Now I wouldn't have bought that book probably if it wasn't for enjoying your writing on the blog :) - but it was also great to read stuff that I hadn't read on the blog. Reading on a blog isn't the same as reading in a book - indeed I tried to talk myself into not reading the Last War in Albion entries on the blog and read them in a big hit later [didn't work - I read them avidly anyway].
Anyway, my point is releasing writing in different media and using different payment models is probably wise. The blog brings people in and those people go onto to buy stuff.

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Eric Gimlin 3 years, 2 months ago

I can only speak for myself, I'm much more likely to support a Kickstarter than the Patreon model. I'm quite happy to support your work when I can- my sponsored essay started from "Can I afford to support Doctor Sandifer in this manner", and only once I determined I could did I start thinking about what I wanted an essay on. I've also bought all the Last War chapbooks as they came out, and the Wonder Woman book. But I have an ingrained aversion to any sort of recurring payment for entertainment. I suspect that makes it more difficult for you, since you presumably want to set up a semi-steady income flow if possible.

Does Pateron have something in place for 1-time payments? I am far from adverse from throwing you a few bucks ahead of time for promised blog content, it's the whole automatic/ recurring payment thing that really doesn't sit well with me.

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Josiah Rowe 3 years, 2 months ago

Would a Last War in Albion book be likely to include the images? I know that their absence from the ebooks has been a barrier to me purchasing them, as in that particular case I feel that a discussion of comics without any images to provide context is unfortunately lacking. I'd be quite willing to support a Last War in Albion Kickstarter if the published work contained the illustrations used in the blog, but I'd hesitate if it were like the ebooks.

As for Patreon, I could probably chip in a small regular donation if that's the route you prefer.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 2 months ago

It would include a balance - more images than nothing (or than Wonder Woman), fewer than the blog posts themselves (where I have no qualms about using an image for little more than a gag).

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TG 3 years, 2 months ago

So Patreon is a sort of subscription system? That seems viable, and fair. I could go for the model you outline.

This is a good direction for you, and others, to move in. I do think we all need to get over the idea of getting everything for free on the internet. Those of us over the age of 35 should remember that back in the late 20th century, when we wanted to read interesting things, we usually paid to do so.

I know this makes me horrible retrograde, even reactionary, to many. But under that model, lots of talented and creative people were able to make livings being talented and creative. If we hollow this out any further, there won't be much out there worth reading, even for free.

Sorry, didn't mean to start ranting. I like the Patreon idea.

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encyclops 3 years, 2 months ago

Count me under more likely to Kickstart than Patreon. From a purely selfish point of view, I find that the idea of supporting specific projects I personally find interesting appeals to me more than paying for everything (including the stuff that for various reasons I don't read). In theory I'd be able to vote as a subscriber, but unless I were in the majority it wouldn't make any difference -- I'd still presumably be paying for content that I wouldn't want, just in hopes that you'd eventually get around to something I found interesting.

For example, I don't read the Torchwood entries because I plan to watch it someday and would rather not be spoiled; I don't read many of the SJA entries because my interest is low (I'll probably watch some sooner or later, but there's a lot queued up ahead of them); and I don't read many of the Albion entries because the Morrison/Moore beef is starting to interfere with my ability to enjoy their work for what it is (I know there's more to what you're doing, but yeah). I certainly think all three of those threads are worthwhile and when I dip in I know you're doing an admirable job with them, but in the weeks they dominate the blog I don't end up reading much of it, for reasons unrelated to its quality.

Hope that's helpful, and that the academic work situation turns around! Because that is some fucked up shit right there.

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Simon Simmons 3 years, 2 months ago

Kick starter for me. I'm interested in reading the whole Alan Moore project as a hard copy, and see this as a pre-order.

The alternative seems as if I would visit the Eruditorum because I'd paid for it, not because I wanted to !

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Dave 3 years, 2 months ago

I'd probably be more likely to go in for Kickstarters (lower levels, as I have in the past), as a student without a regular source of income. But then, I'm part of the segment of your readership that's least likely to be able to give you money at all, so my tendencies might not have the most bearing on the right decision. On a side note, fuck adjunct precarity.

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Unknown 3 years, 2 months ago

Whichever method results in the full-length David Whitaker biography I (and at least 14 other people worldwide) have been hoping for.

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elvwood 3 years, 2 months ago

Unconnected, but I just wanted to say that a very good friend of mine - Jo Roberts - has just won a silver award from the National Jewish Book Council for her book Contested Land, Contested Memory, and also gets a good review from the Electronic Intifada. Quite a balance to strike!

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Daru 3 years, 2 months ago

Still sorry to hear what happened with your Wonder Woman money, shocking.

I am working my way through buying your books and have the Hartnell book on its way to me. I totally want to support your projects as I love your work and the community here (even if I don't always have time to comment!) I think I could manage an occasional small amount for extra content and for input into that. Sounds interesting.

Somehow in my head I have taken the choice to not read the weekly war in Albion posts as I would love to read them in one big book and really enjoy it. Keep it all up and I hope that you do find a way of surviving financially through all of this.

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Kit Power 3 years, 2 months ago

Kickstarter funding works best for me. Incidentally, I always buy 'Last War' as soon as it goes live, and one consequence of this is that I don't read the blog entries, because I like to read it as a 'chapter' in one or two sittings. I may or may not be alone in that, but it does impact on my viewing and commenting on the blog.

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ferret 3 years, 2 months ago

make that 15

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