SHORT STORY SALES/CONTESTS
and kinda/sorta COMMISSIONED WORK if you want to count that. Let's work through these one at a time.
This has been may main source of writing-to-money success over the last 18 months or so. You can check out the page for yourself right here. As of right now, every 10000 words I write nets me $81 on Patreon out of $87 pledged. This is a good incentive to try and get my output up to a steady 120000 words a year, but so far life has gotten in the way, so let's assume I stick with ten payouts a year. That gets me up to $810 dollars a year, but I also have to take care of backer rewards (mostly printing and shipping paperbacks). Those costs wobble, but if I'm putting out two paperbacks a year I think $250 for the twelve months is a good estimate. So that's $560 a year from the Patreon, reducing my yearly money hole to $700.
As of right now, my Patreon backers can be roughly divided into three groups: Family, Friends, and new fans from Instafreebie. These groups are equal in terms of head count (if not necessarily in terms of money pledged). I've got a lot of relatives, and their support means the world to me, but I'm hoping that as time goes on the proportion of backers that share my last name goes down. I don't feel quite as anxious about the Friends category, if for no other reason than because almost all of my social life revolves around reading series and other writerfolk, and I don't think that anyone who's decided to back me is doing it just to be nice.
The third category has been the biggest surprise for me. The way building a mailing list is supposed to work is that you get the e-mails of as many potentially-interested people as you can, send out an e-mail when you release a book, and then get your book purchased by some of the people who get the e-mail. This hasn't really worked for me at all (a situation I'll discuss further once I start talking about e-book sales), but ever since I set up the Patreon two releases ago I've found that every release leads to a $5-$10 increase in support, mostly from people I've never met who have never contacted me before.
I've got another story coming out in a few weeks, and I'll be interested in seeing if this pattern continues. If it does, that obviously has some implications. It's also worth noting that if I shut down my Instafreebie and switched to a free mailing list service I could get my fixed costs down to $600 a year, which would almost put me in the black all by itself. I don't think this is a good option while traffic from Instafreebie is still causing my Patreon to grow, but it's worth keeping in mind. I could also fast-forward to the break even point by not paying as much for book covers, but that's feels like a risk also, for reasons I'll explain further.
I'll stop for now, still $700 in the hole for the year. I'll touch on my other 3-4 sources of revenue in my next installment.