by Melissa Yi
Last year, during my day job as an emergency physician, I worked with a resident who was over twice the usual age. Since I’m a curious writer/doctor/nosy parker, I asked him what he’d done before medicine.
“I retired from my first career and decided I wanted to become a doctor.”
“But why?” I gestured at the general insanity of stretcher patients in the hallways and ambulances trying to offload more patients.
“That’s what they asked me during my medical school interviews. Only two schools even considered me, and at the interview, they just goggled at me and said, ‘Why?’”
I nodded agreement. Whatever he’d told them had obviously worked for him, since he was less than a year from obtaining his license to practice.
He grinned and leaned forward. “I told them to think of it like a crime. I’ve got the means—I’ve already earned enough money. I’ve got the motive—I want to do this. All you have to do is give me the opportunity.”
As far as I’m concerned, that is the perfect answer. Which is why I’m trying a new crowd-funding model: Patreon.
I’ve resisted crowdfunding up to this point. I just wanted to put my work out in the world and have people buy it. Sink or swim. Also, I didn’t want to start a huge Kickstarter campaign and fall on my face. I hate failure.
But in the past year or so, I’ve started to take more risks for my writing. For example, I’m flying to Hollywood next weekend as one of the Roswell Award finalists. I flew to Oregon for a fantasy workshop last month even though I’m not actively writing a fantasy series, where I met people who encouraged me to take even more risks. So here goes.
What does Patreon mean to me?
1. Means: the ability to commit the ‘crime’
Basically, Patreon is a platform where people can send you money either per item (like per article, song, video, etc.) or per month. They’re your patrons. I’ve seen as low as 25 cents per oil painting.
I chose per month because I’m blogging twice a month here, at my own site, plus writing books, short stories, and articles for the Medical Post. Patrons will have special access to content through a secret page, as well as individual rewards. People can cancel their donation at any time, turning it into a one-time donation.
If I reach my goal of $100 per month, patrons can request a blog post. For example, if a Sleuthsayer has a medical question about a type of poison, I could post the answer here. [Medico-legal warning: I won’t act as your physician, but I can ask questions in general.]
2. Motive: the credible reason to commit the ‘crime’
You may think medicine is a sure thing. I pointed that out to a friend who works in the private as well as public health care system and is actively building his own business. I said, “That’s risky.”
He said, “Look at the way the government is cutting our pay. Look at the way the government is cutting operating room time. To my mind, not doing anything is risky.”
In comparison, me taking a few courses and setting up a Patreon page are baby steps. But they’re still steps toward taking my writing seriously as a profitable business.
3. Opportunity: the chance to commit the ‘crime’
I hesitated a long time before I made that Patreon page. I wanted to make the perfect video (ha). I couldn’t figure out what I should write, or what rewards to give. I researched other people’s pages.
And then I just decided to do it. True, it may just sit there like a lump of zeros. But so what? Not trying guarantees me the big bagel; trying means I might get a bagel, might net enough money to buy my kids a gumball, or I could win big over time. I’m looking forward to meeting people and having them tell me what video health course they’d like me to do, or what audio book they’d like me to tackle first.
As I told another doctor who was cramming in at least three different hospitals in two different hospitals, along with a busy family life, “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Sprint with me!
Sprint with me!