I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing something akin to this. The idea of asking for donations in exchange for anything makes me twitchy, after the way it went last time; but I’m more comfortable with the idea of placing an optional tip jar next to my work than I am charging outright for it. So far, this has just been an idea floating around the back of my head. I haven’t had anything anywhere near ready to even show to the public, let alone suggest anybody might think it’s worth a few dollars.

But a few things have changed. First, I have a novella that’s almost ready to go. Since it’s a novella, and not a full-length novel, it’s going to be hard to market to mainstream publishers, and even when I thought I could squeeze a whole entire novel out of it, I still considered putting it online in some form, whether as an e-book or in podcast form.

Second, you know how ever since I got laid off in January, I’ve been saying that we’re doing fine, and it’s not time to panic? Well, I logged into my bank account earlier, and panic gripped my soul.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been looking for full-time work since that crap-tastic day in January, but haven’t been able to land so much as a temp job in the brick-and-mortar world. Online, things have been a little better. I started my freelance writing/web design/copy editing/virtual assistant biz in April, and since then I’ve secured two regular clients; but that’s not nearly enough to get by on, even with the continued unemployment benefits (if you’re wondering, in Oklahoma you have to meet a certain weekly threshold of hours worked and income earned before you’re disqualifed from unemployment, and so far I haven’t even come close to that threshhold).

My husband is disabled, and he filed for Disability Insurance in February. We’re still waiting for Social Security to make a decision. He’s already been to two of their doctors, and they just scheduled a third doctor’s evaluation for August. So that money, if we even get approved for it, isn’t coming any time soon. We’re trying to think of things he can do in the meantime, like maybe blogging or teaching beginner guitar, but those are both things that take time to build up a readership/clientelle and start earning anything.

Thing is, we’re running out of time. When I first got laid off, we had our emergency fund, and just as that started to dwindle to panic-inducing levels, we got our tax refund and were able to replenish our savings. But now that’s running out, too. I think we’re good for July, and in September, Husband should be getting a student loan check that’ll get us through the rest of the year. That leaves August. If I can just scrape together enough to pay our bills for August, I think we’ll be okay.

But for that I’ve got to pull out all the stops. Take on more low-paying, uncredited writing-for-hire assignments, auction off my Opus & Bill Christmas ornament collection, market the bejeezes out of my business, get my Etsy shop stocked…and pimp out my writing, any way I can. Whatever I can do to pay my mortgage and keep from losing my house.

So I’ve got this novella, and I’m pretty sure there are people who would enjoy reading it. I’m even pretty sure some people would be willing to pay to read it. But I know I’m tragically, comically far from being the only one struggling through tough times right now, which is another reason I’m more comfortable with the “if you like it, if you are able, pay what you think it’s worth” model. No obligation, no guilt, and feedback is lovely payment too.

Nothing’s written in stone yet. I kind of wanted to put this out there to see what kind of reaction I’m in for before I go and do it. Also, the story needs one more polish, and if I do this I want to set up a nice web site for it, and I might go ahead and podcast it, too, if I can get over my hatred of my own voice for long enough. And now if I do go through with it, I’ll be able to point to this post as an explanation.

And hey, this little experiment will do double-duty by testing the indie-internet-publishing waters to help me decide if that’s really the right venue for The Hero Factor, if I ever get around to revising that behemoth.

[Originally posted to Daydream Believer]