Hello, internet and all the ships at sea! If you’re reading this, then chances are good you either know who I am and what I’m about, or you’ve read my recent viral rebuttal to a terrible essay. In the first case, hi, how are you doing? Great to see you again! In the second case, let me tell you a little bit about myself, and then make you a proposition.
My name is Alexandra Erin. I’m an author. I started doing crowdfunding and micropatronage before we had the words for those things, much less the tools we have now. My life has had its ups and downs. I wrestle with severe anxiety, intermittent depression, chronic insomnia, and a mitochondrial condition that produces chronic fatigue symptoms.
I’ve always been good at writing. The real challenge of my life the last few years has been learning how to do that while other things are happening. In April and May of this year I started to really hit my stride with this, and in May I made some bold plans. June—the month of my 36th birthday—would be the month I started my year of being completely awesome.
Way back before anyone knew who I was, the few people who had heard of me were calling me the most prolific author on the net. I don’t know about “most”, but I was certainly up there, and I meant to get there again. After struggling for years to more narrowly define the focus of my work, I decided to embrace the breadth of it and think of my output as being more like a magazine: you get some humor, you get some commentary, you get some fiction, you get some poetry, you get something of everything.
So I made a checklist of the bare minimum I would produce each month (one work of satire or other humorous piece, one piece of flash fiction or poetry, some amount of commentary, one short story, and a continuation of a longer story). Some of this would be posted for public consumption, some would be reserved for my patrons, but all of it would be rounded up after the end of each month and put out as an actual zine.
I decided I would do this separately from my longest running project (Tales of MU), as that has its own established following and enough backstory (about a thousand chapters of it, and counting) to be daunting for newbies. As of this month, its funding is separate.
I’m writing this at the end of June and despite some personal upheaval and setbacks including illness, my first month has gone better than I could have expected. I’ve met or exceeded every goal I set for myself, in terms of producing work. Getting attention for it has been a bit harder, at least until I had the dubious fortune of encountering the infamous sad boner confessional piece I so recently satirized.
So here I am, with hundreds of new sets of eyes on me, setting aside my insecurity to put myself forward. Are you here because you liked something I wrote? Well, I bet you’d like other things I’ve written, and things I’m going to write in the months ahead. How much do I bet? Well, I’ll bet the time it takes me to write it all, against a a dollar. One thin dollar.
Here’s how it works: you go to my Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/AlexandraErin) and pledge as little as a dollar a month. That pledge does not get processed until the end of the month, so if you do this any time between July 1st and July 31st, you won’t even be charged. But as soon as you’re pledged? You gain immediate access to anything I post to my Patreon stream.
Now, I bet you that by the time the end of the month rolls around, you will agree that the entertainment and insight you have gained from my writing will be well worth your dollar, but if I’m wrong? Heck, you cancel your pledge, and it costs you nothing. I still wrote what I wrote, and you still read what you read, but you’re out nothing. How’s that for a fair shake?
Of course, you might not have a dollar to bet, and you know what? That’s fine, too! I don’t want you feeling like my work isn’t for you just because you can’t pay. A lot of what I put up in June was free for the public to read and so will some of what I write in July, and through successive months. There will be times when my patrons see something early that everybody else gets to read later. The entirety of Tales of MU is available to the public, and I have no mind to change that.
See, the “crowd” part of “crowdfunding” is as important as the “funding” part. You can’t have one without the other. I don’t much mind if you enjoy my work and you’re not able to pay anything. I don’t want you to feel the least little bit of shame about that. Shame is not a productive emotion, as far as motivators go. If you like my work, I want you to be proud that you read it. How proud? Proud enough to share it. Proud enough to tweet links and recommend it to your friends you think might enjoy it, too. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.
To my way of thinking, if one reader in a thousand is able to pay me a dollar for my work, what I need to do isn’t find the other nine hundred and ninety-nine and shake them upside down for spare change. What I need is thousands and thousands of more readers! There’s no such thing as a freeloader. Just by reading you’re giving me a little boost. If you have it in you to tell a friend, you’re giving me a bigger one.
But if you’ve got a dollar?
I bet you’ll think I’m worth it.