We always suspected we would hit a wall of Kickstarter fatigue doing Fireside this way, raising funds for four issues a year, one at a time. Even before we launched the Issue Three Kickstarter, we were starting to think about ways to raise money differently.
We seem to have hit that wall. The Issue Three Kickstarter is going much more slowly than our first two. We still need nearly $4,000 by the end of the day Monday, putting us at 38% funded. At this point in the Issue One Kickstarter, with four days to go, we hit 100% funding, and in the Issue Two we were at 80%.
We still think we have a strong shot at a late surge on this, but we obviously can’t keep doing Fireside this way. The ideal would be to fund it through subscriptions, but we are a long way from that being viable. We currently sell eBook subscriptions through Weightless Books, and we have about 60 active subscriptions, which go for $2 an issue. If we did Fireside as purely an eBook, it would cost $5,000 per issue. So that’s a big gap. While we think we can build our subscribers up, for now we need to still rely on our model of combining preorders with the premium rewards, kind of a hybrid of sales and patronage. The other way to make funding easier would be to slash the high rates we pay our writers and artists, but we’re not willing to do that. A key part of the Fireside experiment is making a fiction magazine work while paying our contributors in a way that helps them make a living from their creative work.
So, here’s where that leaves us. As I said, even before this Kickstarter, we had started brainstorming about new ways to fund the magazine in a longer-term way. Whether or not this Kickstarter succeeds, we will be back in 2013 with a new, more sustainable model. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but it will keep intact the two central tenets of Fireside: great storytelling and fair pay.
Thank you for believing in Fireside.