TBT | Still Fighting, Ten Years Later

Cover for T.O.F.U. Issue One

Although I don’t have a specific date (well, I could probably find it if I really, really looked, but I’m tired) for when the first issue of the magazine was released, I can say that it was ten years ago this year. Yet again, that’s another accomplishment that wasn’t even on my radar when I first started this journey.

If you’ve read any of the interviews I’ve done or listened to the podcasts I was invited to be a part of, you probably know that one of the most popular questions revolves around just what exactly brought me to start a vegan magazine. To this day, I don’t have a solid answer since it really just seemed to be the next step in the weird little journey I had started with a past partner and some friends.

However, I’m not writing today to finally give a firm answer to that question. Today, I want to talk about a question that I often ask myself, but that I am rarely ever asked by anyone else:

How do you find the energy to keep fighting?

The truth is, the only answer I often have is that I simply couldn’t imagine stopping. T.O.F.U. has been a part of my life, and very much a part of my identity, for a long time now (ten years, apparently) and taking that away from what I do and who I am usually seems incredibly sad.

Well, okay, maybe there are times when the thought of doing that seems rather freeing, and one of those times has been for an extended period that continues into today, but I usually find my way out of it based either solely on the idea that I can’t imagine anything else or with the help of other thoughts (such as the excitement I felt with launching the Kickstarter).

Strong Company

One of the other ways in which I find the desire to continue with this work is by connecting with other people who are faced with the same struggles. Whether that’s musicians that I know who have been putting out original material for years while trying to pay their bills or fellow vegan publishers who are doing great things while still trying to find the support they need to keep doing it, knowing that I’m not the only one willing to keep producing things when life would probably be easier if I took a 9-5 and a mortgage has made some of the days when I struggle a little easier.

Through conversations and simply being connected to all of these amazing people somehow, I know that my interest in producing an intersectional vegan magazine isn’t completely ridiculous. However, as all of these people would confirm, understanding that you’re not alone doesn’t pay the bills.

And that’s where (hopefully) you come in.

A Stronger Community

Although it’s always been the case that artists and creators must have both a platform to showcase their art and an audience to support it, it seems the need for the second (and possibly most important) factor is becoming more and more crucial as social media continues to shift more to advertising and paid promotions to present content (read: big business and those with money are more likely to be placed in front of your eyes) and people like Donald Trump continue to gut crucial funding to things such as the arts in order to build walls, fund wars, and hang around NYC.

Basically, it’s becoming even more obvious that without people such as you investing time and money into the work of those you admire, the chances of those people being able to continue to create while paying bills and taking part in general society are getting smaller and smaller.

Sure, there are success stories from such things as Kickstarter that involve a creator finding great success, but those stories are far from normal. Kickstarter, which is one of the biggest crowdfunding platforms, has a success rate of only 36%. Although that stat is sadly low, it’s one of the highest ones from the various crowdfunding options. Along with that, it seems Kickstarter’s success comes from a much higher number of backers compared to other platforms, while also having one of the lowest average pledge amounts.

So, at this point those of you who are aware of the fact that I’m running a Patreon campaign might be wondering just why I didn’t choose to go with Kickstarter again, especially since I found success with it the first time?

Simply put, I need long-term support from my readers in order to do the things I want to do, and Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing and single project focus just didn’t seem like the right way to go about finding that support. Sure, it worked great to print the anthology, but how many times could I run a Kickstarter to print a single issue before everyone was tired of hearing about it? Personally, I know I would be tired of promoting the same sort of thing over and over every few months!

Thus, Patreon’s focus on offering people a chance to be patrons instead of one-off backers appeals to me. Of course, I’ve been struggling with finding ways to get the word out, but I’m still happy that I chose this platform.

If a T.O.F.U. Falls in the Forest…

At the end of the day, despite my interest in publishing issues focused on topics such as body image, sexism, ageism, and the upcoming one on chronic illness and failing health, if I don’t have readers to support the work of the authors, illustrators, photographers, designers, and myself, then there’s only so long I can go before reading the writing on the wall. Although, in this case, it may be more a matter of me no longer writing on the wall, but you get the point.

It’s possible that the proverbial tree falling in the forest may not fit 100% here since there will always be creators that create things regardless of having an audience or a strong platform for their art, but after ten years of releasing material because I wanted it to be out there (and over two of those years being done without any other source of income), I’m now to the point where I can’t really continue if the support isn’t really there.

Basically, just because the magazine isn’t on Kickstarter, doesn’t mean it might not be all-or-nothing this time.

Don’t get me wrong. I still intend on releasing the eleventh issue of the magazine, especially since so many people worked so hard to put it together, but having to do so as a digital-only publication isn’t exactly a step in the right direction in my books. I’ve been doing that for years, and after seeing the anthology as a physical thing and the excitement people had from holding it in their hands, I don’t really want to go back to just making PDFS.

Hopefully, if you’re still reading this, then you feel the same way. If so, please consider subscribing to the magazine through the Patreon campaign. If that’s not an option for you, then please share this with others you think might be interested. As the stats show, success comes to the campaigns with as many backers as possible, and every little bit helps.

Until next time,
Ryan



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  2. Mary wrote: Mar. 25, 2017

    Thank you for continuing to create! Thank you for inspiring me to push forward with my own art and writing and making me realize I am not alone in this struggle! I will share as much as I can. Whatever the future holds for T.O.F.U. magazine, thank you for 10 years of rad content.

    • Ryan wrote: Mar. 26, 2017

      Aww, thanks for this! It helps a lot to actually hear from people, especially these days when the most you usually get are likes and maybe a retweet! On that note, if you want to share your art/writing so I can check it out, feel free to leave a link. 🙂

      Thanks again,
      Ryan

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