Help Me Earn Money For Writing

Hey all!

About a month ago, I mentioned that in the near future you could support me and my work on Patreon. Well, today is the near future.

MY PATREON IS LIVE. CLICK THESE WORDS TO GO THERE.

Yes, they’re all caps. Yes, they’re giant. I really would like your support. You can also click the button below, which will start appearing in other locations on my site throughout the week.

Become a Patron!

If you’re still here — and by here, I mean my blog (as this is going on Patreon too) — I bet you’re all wondering what perks you can get for pledging to support me. Here’s some information on the perks, along with some frequently asked questions.

Perks

At launch, there will be four support tiers. These are as follows. Note that if you support at a higher tier, you’ll automatically get the lower tiers (so if you support with $3/month, you’ll get both the $1 and $3 rewards).

  • $1/month – You can submit questions to a Q&A that I’ll either post as a Patreon post or as a podcast. Said podcast Q&A will be done quarterly, however you’ll be able to submit questions each month. More information on this perk is in the FAQ section.
  • $3/month – I’ll be digitally signing pictures that aren’t me or aren’t of me. Some of these will be signed with my name. Some will not. It’s a new surprise picture every month. I promise terrible signatures and things that make no sense.
  • $5/month – You’ll get access to a once a month patron-only blog post. More information on exactly how this will work is in the FAQ section below.
  • $10/month – You’ll get access to a once a month patron-only podcast that I’ll be doing. More information on exactly how this will work is in the FAQ section below.

Additionally, there will be patron count goals. The first two of these goals are as follows.

  • 25 patrons – Once my account has 25 patrons, I’ll do a Q&A separate from the quarterly Q&A mentioned above. My goal is to do this Q&A within a week or two of hitting 25 patrons, though we’ll play it by ear depending on how quickly I get 25 patrons.
  • 100 patrons – In the extremely unlikely event I ever get 100 patrons, I’ll add a new tier of rewards. I’m thinking this will be related to whatever work in progress book I have at that time, but we’ll see if this ever happens.

FAQs

We’re giving you money…and yeah…we get perks…but what are you going to do with it?

The three goals I have with my Patreon are, in order of how likely they are to happen, as follows.

  1. Pay for my blog’s monthly hosting expenses. As my site is growing, these are likely going to go up in the next 2-3 months.
  2. Pay for someone to redesign my blog/website and make it a more professional portfolio style site.
  3. Make enough money to allow me to devote significantly more time to writing fiction/publishing books/researching for my writing/podcasting/etc.

If #1 happens, I’ll be overjoyed. If #2 happens, I’ll be ecstatic. If #3 happens, we’re clearly living in an alternate timeline, as there’s no way in hell that’s going to happen.

Why now?

Because I want my writing to be taken seriously. I’ve been writing in some capacity for 10 years now, not to mention fiddling around with blogging for closer to 15. It’s about time I took this seriously in terms of having some level of compensation for the amount of time I devote to it.

Why should I support you?

Because I’m awesome. Because you’re awesome. Because reasons. Pick one.

Really though…I feel pretty strongly that there needs to be more support for writers of all kinds, be they bloggers, novelists, journalists, or whatever. Whether that support it sharing someone’s work, supporting them financially, or subscribing to their paper, it’s a great and necessary thing. This is doubly true for independent creators like me.

What’s the plan with the $1/month quarterly podcast?

I wanted to do a quarterly reward, but Patreon doesn’t offer that. This was the next best way to handle it. Basically, if you donate $1/month in any of the months of the 3rd quarter of 2018, you’ll be able to ask questions for the 4th quarter Q&A. I’ll announce when you can submit questions and what not on the Patreon.

Tell me more about the $5/month tier patron-only post.

Let’s say you donate $5 in the month of July. In early August, I’ll put up a poll where you can vote on the topic that I write the patron-only post about. The winning topic at the end of the polling period (3-5 days?) will get a post written. Said post should go up in mid-August in this example.

Tell me more about the $10/month tier patron-only podcast.

Initially I didn’t have this tier. Yet there were enough of you that I shared my beta rewards plan with that said I needed this as a reward that I wanted to try it. Like the $5 reward, let’s say you donate $10 in July. In August (likely mid-August), you’ll get a recorded podcast featuring one of the blog posts I published in the previous month. This will be via a RSS available only to patrons. Some months I’ll pick the post I record. Some months I’ll hold a vote. I’ll announce more on this each month, presuming people actually are crazy enough to give me this sum of money.

Does donating to your Patreon give me free/discounted access to your professional editing/writing services?

No. That may change in the future, but it will not at this time.

Will the Patreon-only posts and what not go up on this site?

Maybe. The Q&A posts/podcasts likely will, though only Patreon supporters will get to submit questions. As for the other posts, if they go up on this blog, it won’t be until a few months have passed for sure.

Any other final words?

If you do choose to support me, thank you. That’s really all.

I Would Like Your Support, Please

If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed garbage cryptic images like this one going up over the last couple of weeks.

So, fun fact. I’m absolutely terrible at marketing. And graphic design. And social media. And really any of the logical things that a blogger, writer, or author needs to succeed within the modern landscape. And even though I’ve been fortunate enough to make a little money1And I do mean a little. Even when taking into account the money the book has made that has gone to charity, I believe I’m under $100 gross profits still. off of my book, I’d like to be able to do more with my creative work than I’m currently doing.

It’s not like I’m doing nothing creatively either. I have this blog. I have my book. I have a second book I’m working on2Said second book still has a ways to go. I’m hoping to have the first draft done by Q4 of this year in an effort for beta readers to look at it in early 2019. We’ll see though.. I have a sports podcast3And am still trying to work out an idea I have for a second podcast (non-sports).. I even have an editing service that is, at least recently, getting a lot more traction than I would have expected.

That said, I do all of this aside from the editing service for free. Doing all of that work, creative or otherwise, for free, only leads to that work being looked at as a hobby and nothing more. That’s not what I want. I want to be successful in the creative work I do, whatever that may be. I love the creative work I’ve been able to put together over time. The act of putting that work together is far more enjoyable than any job I’ve ever had. That said, because it doesn’t make me much money, it’s hard for me to eschew my normal, adult responsibilities in favor of doing something I love.

I would like you, dear reader, to help me to start the process of changing that.

On July 2, 2018, I will be launching a personal Patreon to help fund my writing and other projects. For those of you unfamiliar with the service, Patreon allows individuals to give money to support artists and creators they love. Like me. I’m lovable. Like a kitten with tiny, sharp kitten claws. You can pledge money each month to support those creators and then, if the creator so chooses, you can get rewards from them. The video below from Patron explains how what they do works a little more.

I’ll have a more formal announcement about rewards and specifics around those tiers when the July 2nd launch happens. That said, here’s some of the rewards I’m planning on.

  • A quarterly Q&A where patrons can submit questions
  • Another special Q&A once I hit a certain number of patrons
  • Signed digital pictures of not me4I swear I’ll explain this more once the page launches.
  • A monthly Patreon-exclusive blog post
  • A monthly Patreon-exclusive podcast5This will likely be a short podcast.

While I’ll reveal the tiers and what not at the time of launch, know that all of the launch rewards will be for pledges of $10 a month or less. That’s right. For less than the cost of a Chipotle burrito, chips and salsa, and a non-water drink, you can help me to be able to put more time, energy, and creativity into the work I love to do. I’m not making the pledge amounts very high each month because I don’t think it’s fair to ask a lot of people. That said, I promise every little bit will help.

There’ll be a post going up on July 2nd where I’ll recap all the specifics of the rewards and be all like “Hey! You! Support me!”. That said, until then, if you’d be so kind as to spread the word and (hopefully) get people interested in supporting me, that would be lovely. Also, if you have ideas for future rewards, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

A Plane Ride to the West Coast

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting flight. I’ll talk about what it taught me at the end of this post, however, I think I need to share the events of the flight first for what I learned to make sense.

Note: The events in this story are real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. And also because I don’t remember everyone’s name.


12:10ish pm, Chicago, Illinois: I’ve boarded a flight from Chicago to Sacramento. This is my second flight of the day. I’ve been up since around 6:00 am and am going to work for around 3-4 hours once I land in California. I board my flight, which is on a large plane with a 3×3 configuration. If you’re not sure what this is, scroll down to the next time stamp for a representation created in Excel. I take my seat on the next to last row of the plane. I’m in the aisle seat on the left side. The plane is scheduled to take off around 12:20 pm or so.

12:17ish pm: I was one of the last people on the plane, it seems. A family of a mom, her two preschool aged children, and a lap baby, have taken their seats behind me since our last update. An older man is sitting in the window seat of my row, though there’s an empty seat between us. The plane has filled up quickly, leaving only four empty seats that I can see on the plane. One is to my left, one is the seat in front of that. The other two are the middle seats on in the same two rows on the right side of the plane. Our seating layout looks like this. Ignore the names below for the most part…they’ll make sense shortly.

12:20ish pm: Two young women run onto the plane. The first girl is wearing a cowboy had with a bridal veil hanging off of the back of it. The word “bride” (yes, in all lower case, but with no quotes) is bedazzled on the front of the cowboy hat. This girl, who will be referred to as Bride from this point forward, takes a seat between me and Sleepy Guy 4. The second girl takes the seat immediate in front of Bride, directly between Sleepy Guys 1 and 2. Our second girl will be referred to as Sister. She’s not the bride’s sister though.

12:21ish pm: Bride begins telling me that she and her bridal party are flying home from her bachelorette party. She asks me if I’m willing to switch seats so that her bridal party could sit together. My response was something to the effect of “I’d prefer not to, but I can…where are they?”. In retrospect, I regret not just immediately saying yes. That said, before I could continue on, two more women come running onto the plane. Sister flags them down and they make their way back to us.

12:22ish pm: The lead woman running down the aisle cuts me off from saying anything else. She’s very animated with her gesticulations and very loud. We’ll refer to her as Loud Girl, partly because the changing the names I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but also because she didn’t mention her name until the end of the flight. Loud Girl shout talks at me “Hi. That’s the bride and I’m her maid of honor. I need to be with her.”. Having seen Bridesmaids, I chuckle a bit and ask where I’m moving to. Loud Girl points to the seat between Quarter Smoker and Sleepy Guy 3. I take my new seat, while Loud Girl takes my old seat and yells after me that she’ll send me $40 via Venmo for switching seats.The other woman who ran down the aisle, Ukraine, is seated behind me, leaving our configuration as such.

12:27 pm: Loud Girl hands me her phone and tells me to put my info into it so she can send me the money via Venmo. I had it back to her and say it’s okay. Loud Girl then hands me a McDonald’s cheeseburger — no pickles, add lettuce. I accept, despite my love for pickles because it’s free food. At this point, I start taking notes about my flight and times things happen, as I’m amused.

12:35 pm: Out flight has taken off and been in the air about five minutes, though the fasten seatbelts sign is still on. An elderly man begins walking back to the bathroom in spite of the light. One of the flight attendants tells him to sit down. The man is standing even with my row at this point, meaning he’s directly in front of Loud Girl and Bride. They motion for him to sit in the aisle, which he does to my surprise. The flight attendant is not amused. As the elderly man gets up with the assistance of Loud Girl and Quarter Smoker, I notice that Sister has already fallen asleep. She’s missed all the fun, but I think she’s got the right idea.

1:05 pm: I’m trying to sleep, particularly since Sleepy Guy 3 and Quarter Smoker are already asleep. That said, I’m failing because Loud Girl, Bride, and Ukraine are talking to everyone around them. Loudly. I have my headphones in but can hear them pretty well. I hear Loud Girl tell Ukraine to get my attention, but nothing happens. I lean up from my tray table and rest my head on my head rest, staring off into the plane in front of me as my music plays.

1:09 pm: A half-full bag of McDonald’s French Fries is slowly lowered in front of my face by Ukraine. I laugh at the sight of floating fries, but decline because I had eaten right before I got on the plane. Not to mention the fact that I still have the aforementioned cheeseburger. A back and forth conversation between me and Loud Girl ensues where I’m offered the following items as a thank you for changing seats with her.

  • Three chicken nuggets
  • The bag of fries again
  • A second cheeseburger, this one with no lettuce
  • Whatever beer I want from the flight attendant’s cart when it comes around
  • The chicken nuggets again
  • The $40 again

At this point, I tell Loud Girl that if she really wants to do something for me, she should buy my book, as I’d love to stop flying back and forth across the country for work. She hands me her phone and has me type the title of the book and my name into the notepad. Loud Girl insists that all four members of the bridal party are going to buy it, reading the book title and my name out loud a few times to Bride and Ukraine can hear it. I smile and go back to half resting, half playing Fire Emblem: Awakening.

1:24 pm: Flight attendants are readying the beverage service. The lead flight attendant asks Book Man if he’s the dad of any of the girls/young women on the flight. He says no. It’s worth pointing out I keep referring to these women as girls interchangeably with women, as they’re in their early 20s, and at two months from 30, I’m old as fuck. Anyway, after Book Man says he’s not their dad, Loud Girl says they like Book Man a lot, but they love me because I was so nice to them. The flight attendant then asks me if I know them, I also say no. The flight attendant makes a comment to Ukraine about how Book Man is trying to read, then heads up front. Bride begins laughing at Ukraine for causing a commotion (even though it wasn’t just her), while Ukraine and Loud Girl begin debating whether they were told to STFU or STFO.

1:52 pm: After a relatively long quiet spell, Bridge and Loud Girl are now singing. It’s quiet and I can’t make out exactly what they’re singing, but you can tell they’re singing poorly. I think it was intentional, but I’m not sure. I come up in discussion between Ukraine and Loud Girl, both of whom are now referring to me as 32E, even though Loud Girl learned my name as part of the writing my book in her phone moment.

1:54 pm: In the process of trying to clean off my tray table so I can have space for something to drink, I accidentally drop my 3DS on my balls. It hurt.

2:05 pm: Drinks and snacks finally arrive. Loud Girl now tries to buy me a cocktail as a thank you, marking the first time a woman has ever offered to buy me a drink. I said no. I already have a shitty enough stomach on planes. I can’t imagine alcohol would help that. It’s at this point that I notice the flight attendant pushing the snack cart is named Steveo.

2:19 pm: All of the bridal party save for Ukraine has fallen asleep. Sister has been asleep this whole time, but Loud Girl and Bride are now sleeping too. Ukraine is chatting with Newlywed Man and Lady, as well as Loud Laugher about the bridal party’s adventures. Apparently Sister is Loud Girl’s sister and apparently they’re all kind of, sort of college friends. It was hard to follow. We then take an abrupt right turn into Ukraine talking about how her family immigrated from the Ukraine to the US before she was born, but that she wished they would have picked somewhere other than Sacramento because she likes seasons. The man in the back corner of the plane says “I literally have no clue what you’re talking about, but could you please do it quietly?” and is never heard from again.

2:35ish-2:42 pm: A very dark period occurs. I stand up to go to the bathroom and my phone falls out of my pocket. Between me and Sleepy Guy 3, we find my phone, but it takes quite a while. Sleepy Guy 3 goes back to sleep, as does Quarter Smoker after I return from the bathroom.

4:15 pm: A two-hour period of relative silence ends as the captain makes an announcement that we’ll be making our descent into Sacramento soon. Loud Girl is back awake and invites everyone in the back three rows out to a bar. Mind you, this is our seat layout.

Please take note of the small humans sitting directly behind her.

4:18 pm: The entire bridal party, including Sister, is now awake and discussing what their Halloween costumes are going to be. Bride, Loud Girl, and Sister are arguing over which Game of Thrones characters each of them gets to be as part of their group costume. Ukraine wants to be a wine bottle.

4:31 pm: The no smoking sign gets turned off for about 30 seconds. This is clearly an accident, but a couple of people notice. One of those who noticed is Quarter Smoker, who sighs heavily and says “Dammit. I could have smoked a quarter of a cigarette in that time.”.

4:40 pm: We land. The bridal party just broke out in a 916 chant. Loud Girl shouts out an invite specifically to me (well, to 32E, which is my seat number) to come to the bar with them. Bride asks me where I’m from, leading to the following conversation.

Bride: Where are you from?
Me: Cleveland.
Bride: Isn’t that where Drew Carey is from?
Me: Yes, but we don’t talk about that.
Sister: Understandable. Didn’t he kill Bob Barker?

4:46 pm: We begin deboarding the plane. Loud Girl formally introduces herself to me and thanks me for switching seats with her. She says she’ll buy my book and say the others in the bridal party will do the same. Ukraine says she’ll buy it first thing when she gets off the plane. Bride yells at Ukraine and tells Ukraine that she can’t even read. They argue about this throughout deplaning and are still arguing as I walk away from them in the airport.


I don’t know if they bought the book. I’ve had a handful of book purchases in the last 30 days, but I don’t get anywhere near that granular of data. That would be creepy. But that’s not why I told the story. I didn’t expect them to buy the book. I only brought it up because Loud Girl was insistent on doing something — anything — to thank me for switching seats with her. The interaction served as a reminder that kindness and compassion can be truly appreciated for what it is. Hell, that appreciation can come even when it’s not fully deserved.

I wasn’t overjoyed to be giving up my aisle seat, regardless of the reason. I should have just said yes I would give up my seat without all the additional commentary. I didn’t. And yet I was still treated with kindness in return. We don’t always deserve the kindness we’re given. We must, however, work to repay that kindness to others in some way.

One Year of Being a Published Author

June 27th, 2016 was a monumental day for me. It was the day that my first book, An Epilogue to Innocence, went on sale. It was available at that time via direct purchase on Kindle, as well as available for pre-order via CreateSpace and Amazon6Technically paper copies didn’t ship until July 10th, 2017, but because digital copies were available on June 27th, I’m counting that as the book’s birthday.. I’ve shared quite a bit about the publishing process, as well as the twist and turns things took both before publishing and after. If you care about reading those stories, click on the links in the previous sentence. What I’d rather do today is to have a bit of reflection on my book, on being an author, and on what I could have done well/did do well in the process.

When a fellow author found out I was going the self-publishing route, they gave me a bit of advice regarding sales. They told me not to expect to turn a profit, rather I should expect to lose money — potentially a significant amount — if I took my book to market. While their statement was technically wrong, the spirit of needing to temper my expectations for my book’s sales was correct. My book broke even last December, as sales related to a charity drive I did were just enough to edge into profit territory.

That said, even with a handful of sales this year, the amount of money I’ve pocketed is minimal. I went from first draft to published product with minimal financial cost on my end. I’ve run zero advertising campaigns anywhere that I had to pay for. Every review that’s been written for my book either falls into the category of pre-release readers who wrote reviews or people who have submitted their own reviews out of their own kindness. My costs were the cost to have the book edited, the cost to get a ISBN from CreateSpace, and the cost to have a handful of copies shipped to me that I in turn mailed out to people I had promised copies of the book to. With all that said, I think the amount of money I’ve personally made off the book is enough to buy a Chipotle burrito for my wife and I. No guac or drinks though7No guac isn’t an issue. I don’t like avocados. If people who complain about millennials are to be believed, this means I’ll be able to buy a house one day..

Speaking of that charity drive, it was definitely both the most rewarding and most disappointing part of my first year as a published author. On one hand, I got to donate a bit of money to a cause I care a lot about — the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On the other hand, the amount of money raised through the charity drive fell short of one-quarter of my mental goal for the drive itself. Limited advertising was definitely a reason for that, however I also think that other deserving causes got far more attention than suicide prevention in the wake of the 2016 US election. Had I hitched my wagon to a different cause, I think it would have done better. But suicide prevention is a cause I care a lot about, so I have no regrets about choosing the AFSP for the donation.

As for my book itself, shortly after I published, I saw a video from someone (I think John Green?) talking about how the most stressful part of being an author is seeing people misinterpret work you’ve written, and since it’s already published, you can’t change it. That idea, combined with the fact that I re-read my book so many times as part of the publishing process and wished I had changed some things, made me go back and think about each of the short stories in the book.

  • Ljepota Oni Izlučivati – This story ended up being one of the few in the book that I didn’t have any strong opinion changes about even after a year after the book went to market. If I had the opportunity to do it over again, I wouldn’t have led off the book with this story, however it definitely would have stayed. A year on, no one has found the hidden storyline within this story, so I feel like it was written really well for what it was meant to be.
  • Phosphor and Fear – This was the original story that was supposed to start the book, however I was convinced not to lead the book with it when someone told me that no one’s going to want to keep reading the book if I lead off with depression art. Unnecessary mental illness jokes aside, I think this story would have benefited from being a bit longer, particularly after the story’s time skip. The fact that I’d go back and change this one to make it longer has impacted some of the work I’ve done over the last year, particularly the first two chapters of the AI Project series that I posted this spring.
  • A Delayed First Date – Meh. It was a good premise. I took a risk trying to write from a point-of-view I didn’t understand. Even with research and interviews to try to write it better, this story hasn’t aged well to me. I mean, it’s fine. It’s not boring. I still love the concept. But I don’t like this specific story as much as I used to.
  • Soma – It was my favorite story before I decided to compile the book into a published entity. It’s still one of my favorites I’ve written a year on from publishing the book (though not my favorite anymore). I really need to keep focusing on adding heavy amounts of emotion to my writing. When it works, it really works. This is one of the stories in the book that I’ve received almost unanimous positive feedback about. Nothing I’d change here.
  • Elk Ridge – I’m so confused by this story and the reader reaction to it. Both me and my editor thought this was the weakest story in the book, even after adding quite a bit of length to it. Yet most people who have given feedback thought it was one of the better stories in the book. The ending is what seems to be divisive. I personally hate the ending and would re-write it if I had the chance. The whole ghostly spirit being released from a demolished building angle is kind of cliche and the longer it’s been since I published8Spoilers. But it’s my book. So I get to spoil it if I want to. Please buy my book.[/modern_foonote], the less I like it. Readers liked it though. I have no idea what people want.
  • The Strongest Feelings Are On the Inside – The reaction to this story was by far the most surprising of any story that went into the book. I received ZERO negative feedback on this story prior to publishing. Considering it was one of the few stories that had been on the blog prior to going in the book, this was doubly confusing. People were split down the middle as to what they thought was the biggest issue with this story — either it was too long compared to the rest of the book’s stories8Probably valid in hindsight. or they were upset that the story’s main villain was bisexual. Remember what I said about stuff getting taken out of context? In context, it’s a story about a woman who loves someone of her same sex who doesn’t love her back and she doesn’t feel totally comfortable with it because of her religious background. She then tries to repress it with a deeper dive into cult-like religious practices to try to “fix” herself. Then, when her love dies, she has a mental break, using her warped religious views to exact revenge on those who hurt her beloved, going so far as to kidnap a lookalike and treat that lookalike as if she were the departed woman. Then the villain chooses to die once she finally has closure through that surrogate. That wasn’t the takeaway by some readers though. It’s a learning experience on a lot of levels.
  • Awkward? – The other story in the book that I didn’t particularly like but people loved. It was the closest thing to a light-hearted story in the book, and it was only included to serve as a change of pace following the previous story. Most people thought it was funny. I found it corny. If I did it all over again, this and A Delayed First Date would be cut in favor of making other stories longer.
  • Use As Directed – Along with Awkward First Date, this is the story I did the most research for prior to writing it. I’m really happy with how it turned out. Feedback was largely good, it had a neutral ending that I liked, and apparently I did a decent job at representing a perspective of someone with a mental illness fairly and objectively. This story makes me happy.
  • Laments of a Disillusioned Twenty Something – Oh my fucking god I was so whiny in this story. I’d re-write this story to be something more like what happens in one of the other short stories I’ve written if I had it to do again.
  • Tia – This has become my favorite story in the book over time, however as one reviewer said, they really wished it was longer. I agree. It’s a very powerful story, but I could have done so much more with it. Definitely my biggest disappointment story-wise for that reason.

As for me and how being a published author has impacted me…it really hasn’t. As I mentioned, there hasn’t been a financial impact of any kind. It’s not like my social media life has taken off[5]. Even though I still a see a copy or two of my book purchased every now and again, the book sits largely dormant now. I definitely haven’t been able to make a career change to be a full-time author…not that I’d be able to if currently proposed healthcare plans pass anyway.

I’m still writing though. I’m working on a couple of different projects as a writer, as well as trying to get some work together as a copy editor. If anything my real job prevents me from writing as much as I want or need to due to mental fatigue. That said, it’s largely been a positive experience, in spite of my gripes. I’ve learned you can’t please everyone, even if you have the best intentions. I’ve learned that I can produce quality work. And I’ve learned above all else that I love writing — even if my family still doesn’t know I’m a published author, even a year on.