July 2014 Issue of Clarkesworld Magazine

The July 2014 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:

JULY 2014 – ISSUE #94

FICTION

“The Contemporary Foxwife” by Yoon Ha Lee
“Stone Hunger” by N. K. Jemisin
“Soul’s Bargain” by Juliette Wade
“The Halfway House at the Heart of Darkness” by William Browning Spencer
“Gold Mountain” by Chris Roberson

NONFICTION

The Issue of Gender in Genre Fiction: Publications from Slush by Susan E. Connolly
The Issue of Gender in Genre Fiction: The Math Behind the Slush by Susan E. Connolly
Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance: An Interview with Jeff VanderMeer by Ben Fry
Another Word: Reclaiming the Tie-In Novel by James L. Sutter
Editor’s Desk: Adding Some Color 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

Depot/Station by Albert Urmanov


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!

Patreon Challenge Goal #1 – Unlocked!

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A big thank you goes out to our Patreon supporters today. Thanks to them, we unlocked our first challenge goal of $500 per month before June 31st. As long as that monthly minimum is sustained, there will be an extra story in every other issue of Clarkesworld. The first four-story issue will be in August.

What next? Well…

Remaining Goals:

  • $750 per month at Patreon by the end of August: 75% of our issues will have four stories
  • $1000 per month at Patreon: Every issue will have four original stories
  • 500 new subscribers at Amazon and Weightless books: Another original story in each issue!

The urgency problem

The looming deadline and goal is a key element of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s quite reminiscent of this magazine cover:

shoot-the-dog

The countdown clock on the campaign provides urgency. Act now and get as many people as we can to help us! Save the dog! It’s no wonder that many projects are saved in the final hours. It plays us so well.

I’ve heard some people criticize Patreon for not having that sense of urgency. No ticking time bomb of doom. No dog with a gun to his head. I can always give later. They will still be there.

Yes, Patreon is a very different business model (one could say more responsible, but I don’t want to start that fight… today), but while urgency is not built-in, it doesn’t mean you can’t create it.

To that end, I’m running an experiment. When we created our Patreon account, I set a goal of $1000 to add an original story to each new issue. That still stands. What I’ve done is created two new time-sensitive goals:

  • $500 – New story in every other issue – Must be reached by 6/30/14
  • $750 – New story in three of every four issues – Must be reached by 8/31/14

Let’s see if urgency is as much a thing as people think. If so, maybe we can encourage them to include a ticking time-bomb of doom option for goals.

Our Patreon page is available at: http://patreon.com/clarkesworld

 

 

Recurring Payments and Subscriptions

There are many ways to support Clarkesworld Magazine. Among those are a variety of places to give recurring payments or buy subscriptions.

  • Patreon – The crowdfunding site that combines the best of Kickstarter and subscriptions. Pledge a monthly amount and they handle payment processing and tracking for us. We offer a variety of Patron rewards, including digital and print subscriptions. I expect big things from Patreon.
  • Amazon – The giant of the ebook world and the place where most of our subscriptions are sold. Most visible of all our options, good sales numbers and reviews here have secondary benefits that help us sell more subscriptions, ebooks, and print books.
  • Apple – We’re partnered with a third party to get into Apple because that’s the only way we can afford to get into their marketplace. Our subscriptions here are app-based and it represents the smallest of all the subscription outlets. That said, since it is an app, we can do a bit more, like include audio.
  • Weightless – The independent ebookseller that actually cares enough to make subscriptions available for small press magazines. If it wasn’t for these folks, a number of magazines would be having serious financial difficulties.

People often ask me which of these options gives Clarkesworld the greatest returns…

percentage-returns

From this chart, it’s clear that Patreon passes along more of your payment to us than anyone else. That doesn’t mean we want everyone with existing subscriptions elsewhere to suddenly jump ship and switch to Patreon. We like having a variety of sources of income. If one suddenly fails, we want to survive. We also see value in having good sales and reviews at a variety of markets. We need to cast a wide net and think about marketing value as well as financial value. (The two are so tangled it’s hard to separate them.)

We want you to choose whatever way works best for you. If that means subscribing via Apple, then go do it. If auto-delivery to your Kindle is important to you, go with Amazon or Weightless. Don’t think you are paying enough for you subscription? Consider switching to a subscription reward at Patreon or keep your existing subscription and make an extra pledge at Patreon. Choices are good. Make the best of them.

Thanks for your support!

May 2014 Issue of Clarkesworld Magazine

The May 2014 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:

MAY 2014 – ISSUE #92

FICTION

“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” by Matthew Kressel
“A Gift in Time” by Maggie Clark
“Migratory Patterns of Underground Birds” by E. Catherine Tobler
“Night of the Cooters” by Howard Waldrop
“Beluthahatchie” by Andy Duncan

NONFICTION

From Wooden Legs to Carbon Fiber Hands: How Technology Improves Prosthetic Limbs by Ed Grabianowski
The Immense Costs and a Shred of Optimism: A Conversation with L. E. Modesitt, Jr. by Jeremy L. C. Jones
Another Word: Writer’s Tools by Bud Sparhawk
Editor’s Desk:The Five Percent 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

Suspected by Albert Urmanov


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!

Three Months on Patreon – Pros and Cons

12/18/14: An updated version of this post is available here.

We launched our Clarkesworld Magazine Patreon page nearly three months ago. In that time, I’ve heard from a lot of authors and editors who were interested in their service, but not sure if it was right for them. The requests have been picking up, so…

patreonlogo

 What is Patreon?

In their words:

Founded in May 2013 and based in San Francisco, California, Patreon was created to enable fans to support and engage with the artists and creators they love. Empowering a new generation of creators, Patreon is bringing patronage back to the 21st century.

In mine:

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.

Why Patreon instead of PayPal?

  1. Patreon’s Patron Manager provides a nice and reliable interface that allows me to manage, track, and communicate with our supporters. I could probably build something similar, but the amount of time I’d have to invest (programming and supporting) is too significant. My time is better spent on the magazine.
  2. Yes, PayPal can collect recurring payments on set intervals. If you miss a month, PayPal still charges them. Not so with Patreon. This isn’t much of an issue for us, but I know it does impact others I’ve spoken to.
  3. Not everyone likes PayPal. There are people out there that are violently opposed to using their services in any way. Patreon supports credit cards and PayPal.
  4. You can do both. We still take one-time donations via PayPal. Having choices is good.

What do you think so far?

Like any fundraising there are going to be pros and cons:

Cons:

  1. Discoverability. My only major complaint. The odds of someone browsing Patreon’s site and discovering you are very slim. The search tools are very basic (and only work against the title of your project) and the featured creators and artists on their home page change rarely, if ever. They could learn a lot from Kickstarter’s approach when it comes to finding and featuring content.
    Note: They are working on this. Recently creators were asked to select categories their projects fit into. The options are not as detailed as I would have liked, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
  2. Payment processing. I know I’m being picky on this one, but since Patreon pledges are processed per-creation and charges applied run at the end of the month, you can run into serious timing issues. For example. If we post new “paid” content on the first of the month, anyone signing up on the second will not be billed until the end of the following month. That means it could take up to two months for their rewards to kick in. That confuses people. To get around it, I made the final podcast of the month our paid content instead of the new issue announcement. This change causes the majority of new Patrons to have their reward start the next month. I suppose they could add something that would allow a Patreon to pledge support starting as of the first of the month or with the most recent paid creation, but that’s probably too confusing too. It’s the whole do I start a subscription with the current issue or next issue debate. If you aren’t providing rewards, this probably isn’t as big a deal.
  3. New. I’ve had to explain Patreon to a lot of people. Instead of focusing on marketing our presence there, I’ve had to convince people they are a trustworthy organization. This will pass as more people hear about them. Certainly nothing I can fault them for.

Pros:

  1. Support and service. They’ve been fantastic to work with and unlike many companies, they appear to be very open to customer feedback. Everyone I’ve spoken with there is on top of their game. There have been several software updates and each has been flawless. Heck, they even negotiated a better rate with their payment processor and passed along the savings.(My background is in technology. It takes a lot to impress me.)
  2. Growing community. I’ve noticed a lot of new projects launch on Patreon in the last three months. As things move forward, I believe discoverability will eventually find its way to the Pros list and when that happens, there will be a marketing benefit for all of us as our Patrons discover what else is out there.
  3. We’re getting paid. We currently have pledges of just over $200 per issue and we have been receiving payments. It may not sound like a lot (particular compared to some of the YouTube-based projects earning thousands per episode), but it does boost our bottom line and every bit helps. At this point, I remain optimistic about the service and it’s ability to become a significant source of revenue for the magazine.
  4. Opportunity. I’ve said most of it above, but I also believe there is some benefit for the field. Literary projects are still a small percentage of what’s on Patreon. I think we’re on the leading edge of something that will only grow in size as more from the science fiction community discover it.

Closing Thoughts

It should be fairly obvious by now that I’m optimistic about Patreon and our future with them. While I do have some issues, I believe they can (or will be) worked resolved in timely manner. While I highly recommend their service, to see value from it, you will have to heavily market your presence there. It’s not all that different from tossing a book up on Amazon. This isn’t magic.

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

Questions? Comments?