Here’s the deal: Fireside Fiction is awesome. They continue to do amazing work, publishing great stories by great authors (myself willfully excluded from that adjective) and actually — gasp! — paying them well in the process. And it’s that pay rate Brian wants to talk a little about, today. What I’m also going to tell you up front is that Fireside is now eschewing Kickstarter as a funding platform and instead going with Patreon — which mean, Fireside needs funding to keep telling beautiful stories by authors who are awesome. Here’s Brian to talk a little more about it —
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I could go on about people telling stories to their dinosaur friends around a fire way back when. Or about the power of a narrative to raise empires and shatter dreams. Or about a lonely kid who got by largely on sci-fi books, keeping him company on lonely afternoons and providing a handy weapon against bullies. (Thanks, Dune!)
I could, but I don’t need to. You know why stories are important.
I don’t want to talk to you about why we need to care about storytelling. I want to talk to you about why we need to care about storytellers.
You know. Those pantsless marvels who pull the puppet strings on characters we fall in love with, build worlds we want to soar through, and smash our hearts with a hammer over and over again. They work hard to bring us these stories, these escapes and adventures and visions. Hell, a lot of you reading this probably ARE telling stories. It’s hard work. Hours of writing, hours (so many hours) of revising, maybe coding ebooks and marketing too. It’s real, goddamn work.
And here’s the thing. Storytellers gotta eat.
So if you’re a storyteller, this means probably you probably have a day job. Or a night job. Maybe it’s a job outside the confines of space-time. I don’t know your life.
Point is, most storytellers don’t make a living off their writing.
When I started Fireside magazine back in 2012, we had two bullet points on our mission statement: publish great storytelling regardless of genre, and pay writers well. And we’ve been able to do both now, 24 issues and counting. We pay 12.5 cents a word, enough that a 4,000-word story nets $500. That’s money that can help pay for rent, for groceries, for 50 viewings of Mad Max: Fury Road. Is one well-paying story going to change anyone’s life? No. But publishing is an ecosystem. We want to be a nourishing part of that.
(Speaking of ecosystem, you should check out some of the other great magazines that are out there. To name a few: Daily Science Fiction. Lightspeed. Clarkesworld. Shimmer. Nightmare. Crossed Genres, Podcastle and Pseudopod and Escape Pod. Have your own favorites? Throw ’em in the comments!)
Fireside’s pay rate has been our greatest asset, and our greatest challenge. We’ve attracted a wide range of great storytellers, and it’s made the magazine, we think, interesting and strong.
But it’s also expensive. Fireside is free to read online, but each issue costs between $1,500 and $1,750. Almost all of that is going to pay for stories and art. We’ve had five Kickstarters between 2012 and 2014, raising over $70,000. They’re hard. On us, on our fans, on everyone who has the misfortune to follow me on Twitter. We’re holding a subscription drive right now, both for ebook subscriptions direct from our site and via Patreon, where people can join Fireside starting at two bucks a month (for a bit more, there’s lots of Galen Dara’s illustration goodies).
We want to publish 10,000 words a month in Year 4, which begins in October. We have done two serialized longer works in Years 2 and 3 (Chuck’s The Forever Endeavor and Lilith Saintcrow’s She Wolf and Cub), but Year 4 will be all about short stories.
10,000 words a month. Every time we’ve had open submissions, we end up turning away good storytellers because we just don’t have the money to buy all of the good stuff they send our way. We want to buy as much of it as we can, and share it all with the world.
Right now? We’re funded for about 1,800 words a month.
We need your help. Let’s feed some storytellers.
Brian White’s night job is as a newspaper copyeditor. He lives around Boston with his wife and an illegal number of cats. You can find him at talkwordy.com and @talkwordy. He also has a completely nonsensical newsletter.