Two and a half months in

I’m now just a bit over two and a half months into my new life as a full-time editor. Aside from a couple of knock-down colds, things have been moving along rather nicely. One of the big worries I had in going full-time was healthcare. Nearly five years ago, I suffered a major heart attack and the fallout from that continues to require a bunch of prescriptions and regular visits. In short, I require a better-than-average healthcare plan.

I had been on the upgraded plan my former employer offered as an option, but when I resigned, COBRA, financially, was not an option. (Seriously, who can afford those insane rates?) I did a lot of research and ended up with a decent silver plan via the ACA, but the costs are still significant and all on me. (My wife’s employer does offer a plan, but it’s the worst one I’ve ever seen.)

To cover these new expenses, I’ve been taking on short-term projects–ebook design, consulting–but that’s not stable income and it makes me nervous. Having a reliable source of income for this has been on my to-do list, but now it’s moved to the top.

Over the last ten years, I’ve directed money from new Clarkesworld or Forever subscriptions or Patreon pledges towards different projects that have ranged from adding more stories to creating an equipment budget for the podcast. Now I’m targeting healthcare.

As a funding goal, healthcare is anything but sexy. It’s not something I expect to see people rally around or get excited about. Adding new content? Sure, that gives a pretty tangible and easy-to-sell consequence. Insurance, well, you know… Still, it has to be done if I want to continue down this path.

At present, I’m sending a target of reaching this goal of July 12, 2017–the fifth anniversary of my heart attack. It’s an ambitious deadline, but one worth going for.

If you aren’t already a subscriber or Patreon supporter, here are the links I hope you’ll be interested in:

If you’re already a subscriber or supporter, thank you! You’ve made it possible to get this far. If you want to help further, share the above links or leave a review on our Amazon subscription page–good reviews there help encourage new subscribers. You’d be surprised by how much of an impact it has.

Take care,

-Neil

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, or perhaps Dear Madam Barnum

This past Friday, I resigned from my day job and career of the last twenty-eight years. My last day will be January 31st, but I might be doing some part-time/consulting work for them until they fill the vacancy. I could probably write an entire blog post about why I’ve done this—and I still might, someday—but that’s the past and I’m more focused on the future at the moment.

I’m quite excited—and a little terrified—by the prospect of taking the leap. There are a bunch of uncertainties, like healthcare costs and filling the income gap between Lisa’s new job and my old one, but we’re close enough to give this career switch a try. As some of you know, this has been a major goal of mine since my heart attack four years ago. At age fifty, and after ten years working part-time, I’m finally going to be a full-time editor!

Naturally, my first priority has to be those uncertainties I mentioned: income gap and insurance. As I see it, I have a few things to target:

  1. I’ve altered the Clarkesworld Patreon goals to include direct salary and healthcare expenses. Would be nice if it was that simple, but I figure it’s worth putting out there.
  2. I’ll be pushing the digital subscriptions a lot more and investing a little in marketing in hopes of bumping those numbers up a bit.
  3. Now that I’ll have time, I can increase the number of anthology projects I do. I’m in the process of drafting pitches for my current publishers, but I should have extras if anyone else should be interested. I’d really like to do another original anthology sometime too.
  4. I also have the Year Nine and Year Ten Clarkesworld anthologies to wrap up. That should be a lot easier to accomplish now.
  5. I need to be more proactive in seeking advertisers for Clarkesworld. Even a small bump here could be significant.
  6. While there’s still a gap, I’ll also try to expand on the ebook design work I do on the side. It’s mindless, but I find it relaxing and it helps pay bills.

I’m getting this shot at chasing a dream thanks to Lisa, my amazing wife. I also have to thank Sean and Kate for having my back, my boys for keeping me on my toes, my parents for their support and inspiration, my publishers for their faith in me, and everyone that has ever subscribed, donated, or become a patron of Clarkesworld.

Let the adventure begin!

PS. If you don’t understand the title, you might want to do a little musical research.
Frankly, Mr. Shankly
Dear Madam Barnum

New Mailing List

I’ve launched a mailing list for people who want to keep up with information regarding Clarkesworld, Forever, and other short fiction projects I’m involved in. At present, the volume should only be 1-2 messages per month.

If you sign up before midnight on the 20th, you’ll be in the running for a free StoryBundle gift code for the VanderMeer Mix Tape bundle they are currently selling.

Joyride – The End

Not long ago, we (Clarkesworld) were approached by Joyride to be one of their launch partners. They had interesting plans involving podcasts, crowdfunding, and android cars. The income never amounted to a lot, but every bit helps keep the magazine afloat.

Today’s news is that Joyride has been bought by Google. The bad news is that they’ve discontinued their crowdfunding system and this will be the last month we can use their service.

Fortunately, we’ve been using Patreon even longer than Joyride and already have a stable infrastructure there for people to move to. This will also have the benefit of making everything a lot easier for me to manage. There were some Joyride hiccups that just don’t exist at Patreon and that will make reward fulfillment a lot easier.

If you’ve been using Joyride or would like to start supporting Clarkesworld, why not head on over to our Patreon page and join today. Every dollar helps.

https://www.patreon.com/clarkesworld

Clarkesworld – February 2015

The February 2015 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine is now available. You can get the issue:

or help us pay the bills by purchasing Clarkesworld with a subscription at:

FEBRUARY 2015 – ISSUE #101

FICTION

“The Last Surviving Gondola Widow” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Indelible” by Gwendolyn Clare
“The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson
“Meshed” by Rich Larson
“The Osteomancer’s Son” by Greg van Eekhout
“It Takes Two” by Nicola Griffith

NONFICTION

What in the World Do They Want, Anyway? The Myth of the Friendly Alien by Mark Cole
A Little Paranoia: A Conversation with Liza Groen Trombi by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
The Spurred Storyteller: A Conversation With Tang Fei by Ken Liu
Another Word: YA is the New Black by Dawn Metcalf
Editor’s Desk: The Next Hundred by Neil Clarke

PODCAST

This month’s stories will be released in audio form over the course of the month. Read by Kate Baker.

COVER ART

Lady and the Ship by Atilgan Asikuzun


If you enjoy what we do, please consider supporting us by spreading the word about our subscription options or Patreon account on Facebook, Twitter or your blog. Your subscriptions make everything we do possible.

Thanks!

One Year on Patreon – Pros and Cons

In early 2014, I detailed the strengths and weaknesses I observed as a magazine and podcast publisher using Patreon. Since that post is still receiving a fair amount of traffic, I thought it only fair to write up a new pros and cons list that better reflects where Patreon is today.

patreonlogo

 

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a cross between subscriptions and Kickstarter. Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon doesn’t focus on a one-time project. It’s aimed at fundraising for long-term projects that include recurring creations, like issues of a magazine or episodes of a podcast. In our case, your Patreon pledge is a per-issue contribution to the magazine.

Clarkesworld’s Status on Patreon

Clarkesworld Magazine has had a Patreon page for a little over a year now. At this time, we have $662 in monthly pledges from a total of 177 patrons. We successfully unlocked our first goal of $500, which allowed us to add a story to every other issue. The next goal is at $750. We have never been one of their featured sites.

Clarkesworld has an online readership of over 35,000 and a monthly podcast listenership that is over 9,000. The percentage of readers/listeners actively supporting us through Patreon or other avenues (ebook subscriptions, PayPal donations, Joyride, etc.) is disappointingly small, but this is not a reflection on Patreon or any of the other services we use. Part of the problem is marketing, but the big challenge is convincing people to support what they can get for free. We’re not alone in this. Talk to PBS sometime. What this means is that we still have a large number of potential supporters.

Patreon Cons – Updated

1. Discoverability – While they’ve fixed searching and added tags, category tags are very broad and it when you view the category, it appears to only list featured creators. Personally, I’d love to see them implement strong categorization similar to what Kickstarter has done with their DISCOVER button and make it a breeze to find projects I’m interested in. (Go play there and see for yourself.) It might also be fun to have the ability to nominate people to be featured. Right now that’s a bit of a black box.

2. Payment Processing – My prior problem as a monthly content creator went away when I discovered the MONTHLY CAMPAIGN checkbox on the edit my campaign page. Now I don’t need to worry about whether or not pledges come in after I’ve posted new content. Patreon now matches our schedule.

I didn’t mention it last time, but there is one problem in this category. I’m not sure why, but it can take days to process a pledge. Maybe it’s a volume thing, but I’ve never had any other monthly service not be able to bulk process charges in a few hours. Just for clarity here, I’m not nitpicking about declined charges. Those happen and they’ve been good about trying to get those situations straightened out. They’ve also been very clear in stating the processing time. This won’t be a problem for many people, but in our case, we have a subscription reward tier and those have to go out on the first… which is the same day they process charges.

3. New – This was bound to fix itself if everything was going well. Patron is now processing over one million in pledges every month. There are still a lot of people who are unfamiliar with them, but they’ve also received fifteen million in funding from investors, so expect their visibility to continue to grow.

Patreon Pros – Updated

1. Support and Service – I’ve had to use it less often than in the past (which is a testament to their design), but their support staff are top-notch and easy to work with. I don’t know many who do it better. In fact, I should probably ask them about the above payment processing problem. (I can’t imagine that they don’t already know and are working on it. That’s what I’ve come to expect from them.)

2. Growing Community – I don’t know if our experience had anything to do with it, but I now see a number of my colleagues using Patreon and a few of our supporters supporting them (and vice versa). That’s great for all of us and I expect to see more and more people launching Patreon pages in the years ahead.

3. We’re Getting Paid – While it might take a few days to process the payments, everything runs smoothly and they’ve even added a direct deposit option. Patreon is now an important part of our business model.

4. Opportunity – A year later, I still feel like we’re in the early days of something big. Being in early has certainly had benefits for us and I’m sure those coming in now will have similar experiences assuming they don’t assume Patreon to be a magic money box.

Closing Thoughts

After a year, I am still very pleased with Patreon and continue to recommend it to people. While I continue to have some issues with the service, it has built a strong foundation and they appear to have the intelligence, staffing, and resources to grow into something even more impressive. Listen to them talk sometime. It can be quite motivating.

In the meantime, I have to learn to become better at marketing. I can’t expect them to shoulder the discoverability problems on their own. We have a large audience of people that aren’t currently supporting us. That’s on me. Patreon is one of the tools in my kit, but I still have to learn to use it more effectively.

That said:
Visit patreon.com/clarkesworld and sign up to become one of Clarkesworld’s patrons today!