Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why I've Opened A Patreon

Dear readers, I'm launching a Patreon to help fund myself, my articles, and writing my book. I'm going to be leaving the GoFundMe for the book open, but advertising it less. The simple division between the two projects is this: The Patreon is for me, Rowan Kaiser, and the GoFundMe is for Possibility Space pre-orders. If you don't know which one to give to, a recurring Patreon donation would be FAR preferable.

I struggled with deciding whether or not to open a new crowdfunding source, but eventually decided that it was the best thing to do. Here's why: first, a Patreon fits my work-style really well—consistent work then reward. It also fits the book, as a series of essays on specific aspects of Mass Effect. Unfortunately, Patreon started a month after I launched this project, a fact of notable annoyance to me.

Second, I’m broke. I’ll get into the details of how that came to be momentarily, but the short version is that freelance writing stinks. We get recognized and published in high-profile spaces, but we barely make a living—or we don’t. My friend Jenn Frank recently posted a piece called “Why do you write?” that gets at both the terrible practicality of trying make a living writing, and the compulsive destructive need we have to do it anyway. I highly recommend reading it for understanding.

So, let’s talk about what “being broke” means, since I don’t think the details of the freelancer life are known enough. I made ~$14k in 2013, even with the bulk of the crowdfunding occuring in 2013. That’s actually down slightly from my 2012 revenue of ~$17k, which was the most I’ve made in my half-decade as a writer.

The crowdfunding money was wonderful and necessary and helpful, but a few things got in the way. First, taxes—freelancers get screwed on taxes. Second, a $1000 chunk of it went into savings in order to be able to print the copies I promised those of you who made larger pledges.

Most of the rest was used dealing with the usual summer doldrums. My income is derived relatively evenly between TV and video game writing. TV hits a huge lull in the summer, and video games get a slight one. I also lost my most regular gig, my RPG column at Joystiq, when they stopped doing columns. My partner, with whom I live and split bills, has a similarly fragile employment situation, except in academia, which also has their own summer lull. Worse, one of her most consistent gigs gave her less work last fall, and no work this past spring, meaning bye-bye to savings.

So there you have it. Barely enough money--for now--for rent, taxes, food, catfood. No money for savings, taking the cats to the vet, any luxury items or upgrades, decent booze, going out to eat with any regularity, or moving out of a far-too-small apartment. And it's getting worse, not better, even though I'm published at some of the most well-known and respected pop culture and video game outlets on the internet. Yes, freelance writing stinks, but I have to do it. Help me?