A new model for publishing short fiction.

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Hey yall. I’d like to share with you the new model of short fiction publishing I’m developing.

As most of you know, I’m on Patreon. And recently I came up against a problem with my original model, where I only published via established markets: even though I was placing my work regularly at great places—TEDTor.com, Kaaterskill BasinThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Outlook Springsthe publishing world didn’t and couldn’t move at the pace I wanted to write, or at a pace that resulted in a steady income, as was my aim. That was no individual’s fault—it’s just how the system works at present.

So I asked my patrons what they thought about self-publishing. They basically said, Go for it, as long as your stories are still vetted by an experienced editor. (Here are all the survey data, password: “melovedata.”)

With my patrons’ good will, then, I wrote to a handful of writers and editors to ask whether they were interested in the following model:

  1. Every 1-3 months, I send them a new story, and they receive a flat assessment fee just for looking at it (currently $25 apiece, paid out of my Patreon income).
  2. Those who are willing to edit it, with public credit and attribution, get back to me with some initial thoughts for how they’d shape the story.
  3. I choose an editor, send them a contract, and pay them a fee for their work (currently $125, also paid out of my Patreon income). The contract also includes 15% of all future income from that story, including film options.
  4. The finished story is exclusive to my patrons for a minimum of one month, after which it may be published elsewhere, like a traditional market or Kindle Singles.

And that’s it. What’s new about this model is that it puts the writer in control of the publishing model, without sacrificing quality. So far, it’s gone beautifully. The editors I reached out to were gracious and game. My first self-published story will be out by the end of the month, available exclusively on my Patreon, edited by the award-winning novelist, short story writer, scholar, and editor Dr. Kat Howard. (I will say that it felt very strange to choose among such excellent suggestions from multiple editors; I hated saying no to anyone. Then again, this is exactly what editors have to do all the time, when faced with a pile of good stories and limited space.) Ideally, what I want is for multiple writers to go this route, which would then sustain a population of freelance editors, and these one-off pairings would then become eligible for awards, anthologies, etc., just like stories published in the traditional way.

So! If you find this model useful, copy it. Spread it far and wide. Let’s see what happens. 🙂


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4 Comments on “A new model for publishing short fiction.”

  1. Pam says:

    So your short stories would not be generating income for you? Your sole income is from your patrons? So Patrons are paying for editors to publish your stories that they have not yet read? I can see how 15% of all future income would give them incentive to market the stories, but wouldn’t you be cutting yourself out of future income?

  2. Monica Byrne says:

    Hi Pam! Yes, my aim is to make a living wage from Patreon. It’s not charity; it’s a solution to a business problem. The short stories would not be generating income on the traditional market. The most lucrative market listed above is Tor, who paid me $1,075 for one story, but they’re far and away the exception when it comes to short fiction markets; most others pay far less. And of course $1K pays only one-third of one month’s basic expenses.

  3. […] I caught a social media share from Samuel Peralta. He cross-posted a blog post from Monica Byrne, which details her plans to make a living wage from her writing via Patreon. An idea I have been […]

  4. thatssojacob says:

    Congrats on the new project! BTW, haven’t seen your usual presence around my blog lately, something wrong? Let me know…

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