July 21st, 2019


Doubting the viability of this as anything even resembling a career.

It's really hard to see a path forward right now.

I've had two of my biggest patrons drastically reduce their pledges this month. One I don't know well and I've no idea why, the other I'm frankly shocked he's supporting me at all still, given his home and family situation just now. So I know it's not about me, but it's a fact of life. People drift away from following/supporting creators, you have to bring new ones in.

But I don't have a viable way to bring new ones in anymore. I got the patrons I have now mostly through MLP fandom, which is slowly dying the inevitable death of something in its final and not-at-all-anticipated ninth season. I can't count on duplicating my success with pony, especially since part of that success was because of the FimFic platform, because it had social connection tools that AO3 completely lacks, so I was able to connect with and gather fans, and I was able to advertise directly to them. I can't even mention the word "Patreon" on AO3. I can't blog on AO3. I can't take private messages. I can't communicate with people in any way except by posting stories, and by replying to comments on stories. There are no forums, no topical group discussions, no community whatsoever. It's actually quite frustrating.

Commissions are similarly crippled by my inability to advertise them, and by lack of a following interested in them, though for now the real problem is I just can't write only commissions, I burn out on being beholden to other people's ideas, I need to write my own, my own current muse's interests, so they can only ever be a relatively small percentage of my output. I actually could almost certainly have far more commissions than I could actually finish right now. But that's also not a viable means of making "real" money, and as my following on platforms where I can advertise dwindles, so will the chances for that to go anywhere.

Book sales are... Bleh. I don't have enough following to self-publish, even what scraps of fandom following I still have active have shown mostly total disinterest in my original works and you can't sell fanworks in the same way. I could try to build some kind of Amazon following, but I both don't understand the market and loathed my experiment with dealing with their system so intensely that I'm unwilling to ever do that again.

That leaves me with non-self-pub book sales, which are utterly underwhelming. I'm making five times my book sales with JMS on my paltry patreon, that's how bad it is, while Thurston Howl has yet to actually publish a book with my name involved despite how long ago they first accepted something of mine, (and their sales from the outside do not look like I'll make much there anyway) and Jaffa Books already had sales of basically zero even before announcing they were going out of business. There's no actual money in publishing with a small press.

So my only career prospect is the "win the lottery" of somehow getting a book with a larger press, which, very much like my experience with never winning the lottery, isn't meaningfully inhibited by the fact that I've never submitted a book to a major press. (I've never bought a lottery ticket.) I've submitted to a medium press, which was completely and utterly ignored, I didn't even get rejected.

It's kinda depressing, tbh. I look like a "success" on the surface, I'm a "published author" I have a patreon and take commissions, I make money at this, but it's beer money, not rent money, kind of money. (Eating a nice lunch out and getting a couple of drinks once a week uses it up. Literally.)

I don't really know where to go from here, to be honest. I have zero desire to even bother submitting a book for publication ever again. What's the point? Hours and hours of hassle with formatting and editors and back and forth on corrections and covers, to make $15 a month at most. Not worth it. What else am I going to do? Write fanfic, mostly not get paid for it. Write original stuff, do nothing with it. That seems like it for the foreseeable future, to be honest.

I probably should at least mention/link the Patreon a little more, but given that most people here don't even read my stories, I don't know that there's much point in pitching "you can read them earlier!" at folks, and as I said above, I can't pitch it at my actual audience, such as it is, AO3 doesn't allow it.

This entry was originally posted at https://bladespark.dreamwidth.org/1545126.html.