Last week, I emailed Brian White from Fireside Magazine and told him I wanted to help with the Kickstarter. I offered to match pledges, up to $1000, for an hour. Truth be told, I’d kind of been kicking myself for not trying to get on board with Fireside earlier. I backed the first three Kickstarters, but that was the extent of my support. When it looked like the third one wasn’t going to fund, I shrugged and was a bit sad but figured that was what came of trying to use crowdfunding on an issue by issue basis.
In the year since Brian started Fireside, though, I’ve been doing a lot of writing, and even more thinking. For better or worse, the traditional publishing market is dying. Within the next five years, there’s a good chance that people will be able to trade and sell used e-books the same way they trade and sell (and give away and leave in motel rooms and bus stations) paper books. There are so many, many books being published each year that the chances of any one standing out from the crowd are even slimmer than that of finding the proverbial needle. And this market, where people no longer believe that a new book is worth $25, where people will be able to sell books for pennies, where each book is competing with millions of others, is the market I’ll be publishing in.
So how does Kickstarter fit into publishing fit into trying to make a living off my writing?
Connections. I think, more and more, we’re moving back to a place where the artist needs to come down from the ivory tower and be accessible. This means connecting with people. Yes, connecting with fans and readers is important, but it goes beyond that. It’s connecting with the people who read and/or write the same kinds of things you do and with the people who’ve never read a word you write but follow you on Twitter and the people who pass by the blog and leave the occasional comment. Because over time, the connections start to matter.
It also means supporting other artists. It’s no good to go out, hat in hand, if you’re not willing to chip in a bit when someone else comes asking. Because Fireside funding another year means more than having another literary mag that pays above market.
It means there’s a community of people out there who think that stories are worth supporting. And that’s a community I want to be part of.