I've learned to be direct and transparent when it comes to being paid for my work. I couldn't do it for a long time, now I like it, being paid for one's work is a basic human right, especially for a writer.
It's a good thing, it's time, and it matters, financially and creatively. I realize this week – especially when contemplating my taxes – that I've been essentially working for free for much of the past year writing about the New York Carriage Horses, Joshua Rockwood, and several other people and issues in need of attention. Nobody made me, I wanted to do it. I take full responsibility for myself. The real subject behind all of these issues is the future of animals in our world, I want to keep writing about that and researching it.
That has also been very time-consuming and expensive, it involves travel and many hours of research. Animals have altered my life, saved it in some ways, I owe them this much at least.
I also want very much to continue to share my life on the farm, with Maria, the dogs and donkeys, my wonderful community, my poetry, photographs and changes. Lots coming this year – books, blog posts, a pony, a dog or two. And there is lots of good stuff already here to share – Red, his therapy and herding work, the sheep, Lulu an Fanny, my wife's endless genius. Our creative lives, our love and connection.
I've loved this writing and photo-sharing on the blog and it means a lot to me.But it is yet one more reason why subscriptions in support of the blog matter. I write about subscriptions rarely, the last time was a few months ago, and I was heartened that a number of people subscribed, either to my P.O. Box (P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816, via credit cards of by Paypal.
The subscription program is new, and it makes a huge difference in my writing life. As traditional publishing evolves, or devolves, writers, like musicians and artists, need to find and construct new models for earning a living and being paid for their work. Subscriptions make it possible for the blog to remain free, even to those who can't afford to subscribe. And the blog is now the most important element in my writing work and photography.
Subscriptions make it possible for me to write about the carriage horses, the future of animals in our world, the growth and sometimes disturbing nature of the animal rights movement, about Joshua Rockwood, the young Glenville, N.Y. farmer who was charged with 13 counts of animal abuse and neglect, and who I believe – and many others believe – has been unjustly accused.
My regular paying work – my books – remain an important part of my life. I will never give up on books, I've written 28 of them, although revenue from hard cover books has plummeted. My blog, which draws about four million visits a year, is the centerpiece of my writing and my creative life. And I love doing it, it is the right venue for me. I consider it my living memoir, my great work. I am committed to being honest and open here, even when it is not pleasant or easy.
I have a contract for my next book Talking To Animals, and a voice in my head says that is paying work and contract work, stop everything and finish it.
I don't seem able to completely do that. I am working on my book every week and very much loving it, but I am also drawn to continue to pursue these other subjects as well. Subscriptions help me do that, they pay for the maintenance of the blog, they support my photography, which I also give away free online (…I see a pattern here.)
So I'm reminding all of you once again to consider subscriptions, they pay me for your work, as I hope you are paid for yours.
Subscriptions are essentially payments in support of the blog, it's maintenance, the photographs, the time spent writing. I don't have any mugs or trinkets to offer you. They just help me pay for it, and for the hard work that goes into it, just about every day. Those of you who are not online or don't wish to go there can subscribe by mailing checks to me at P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.
There are other subscription options. Whatever you decide to pay, you will have access to the complete blog, there are no tiers or partial plans. I offer different amounts because people have different abilities to pay. You can subscribe for $3 a month, $5 a month, or $60 a year. Subscriptions can be canceled at any time, and there is automatic reminder e-mailed to you 51 weeks after you subscribe, so that you decide whether to cancel or renew at the end of one year. No credit card or financial data is ever stored on my blog or on any server attached to my blog. You can use credit cards or Paypal.
There are two different security companies that protect and monitor the blog and filter messages.
I also ought to say that I have no access to any of your financial information, I cannot add subscribers or cancel them, there are very simple ways for you to do both. That is for your own protection, and I don't want access to your money or to get bogged down in doing that. I sometimes see the names of subscribers as they enroll, I do not keep track of who subscribes and who doesn't. I understand when people have pressures and need to cancel. My blog has millions of visits, a very small fraction of them subscribe in any way. This is the nature of Internet marketing for writers and musicians, large numbers of people paying small sums of money. It does add up, or so we hope.
So there is room to grow, and I want and need to grow. My blog is important, and expensive. It costs thousands of dollars a year to maintain. And I would like to grow it further.
So thanks for considering subscriptions, we have tried to make them as comfortable as possible for everyone. If you can't subscribe or don't wish to, the blog is still free for you to access. So many of you never gave up on me, I will never give up on you.
In my former life as a best-selling author, I never had to think about money, and I would never have solicited subscriptions or talked about money at all. It was considered beneath the dignity of a New York Times bestselling author. Big shots do not have to do that. I am in a new place, happy and creative and inspired, but not a big shot anymore, at least not in that way. Like everyone reading this, I have to think about money. This the life I chose, the life I love.
I am a lucky man. I am proud of my blog and want to keep it vital and strong and creative. I want to be a pioneer in showing the way for writers to make a living online. I embrace change, I don't whine about it. Many people, I think, are beginning to understand that they get what they pay for, and the work of an artist or writer ought to be paid for, if creativity is to flourish and prosper.
So thanks for reading, and for considering subscribing. I hope you find the blog worthwhile. With your help I will continue to write about the things that matter, and that are important to me and hopefully, to you.