Revamping my Patreon!
One of my big projects for 2018 is Revamping My Patreon, which has now largely been accomplished. First off, of course, I’ve been running a Patreon a while now, and you’ll find short stories, book proposals, even whole novel drafts here, immediately available when you become a patron.
But I’m offering lots of new fun stuff this year! I’ll be writing individual pieces of flash fiction, ranging from up to 250 words all the way to stories of 10K in length on commission, so you get what you ask for! I’m looking forward to that. :)
Another goal–in fact, the first couple blogs have been posted for these–is to have a lot more patron-first blogs before they go out to my regular blog, and I’m doing a live-blogging-the-writing series that will probably remain Patreon-only.
I’ll also be wrapping up the second Old Races Short Story Project, which is a collection of stories set post-Negotiator-Trilogy, and which will set the Old Races universe up for potential book-length sequels, which I may or may not ever actually write. :) Subscribing to the Patreon gets you early access to those stories, credit in the acknowledgements, and a complete e-book once the project is done.
The Patreon, right now, is almost halfway to an early release of a CE Murphy novel, which is one of my long-term goals for it–I have great hopes of being able to release one or even TWO novels early to the Patreon crew, and even possibly writing a couple of bonus novellas a year. So there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on there, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all! ♥
Writing Wednesday: Patreon patronage
A while ago I was muttering about how I wanted somebody I *knew* to have test-run a relatively new distribution opportunity for self-published writers, and one of my friends said, “Er, Catie, you’re the one who does that. You go charging off the cutting edge and we all wait to see how it works out and then follow, having learned from you.”
I said “!” because I didn’t know that was a thing I was perceived as doing, but since it apparently is, I’m gonna talk about my experiences with Patreon now. :)
I’m on my second Patreon project: the one currently running is an Old Races Short Story Project, plus occasional extra sundries as I happen to do them. My first project was MAGIC AND MANNERS, a Jane Austen pastiche in which I asked the all-important question, “What if the Bennet Sisters had too much magic rather than not enough money?” (It will be widely available in October! Or November if things go badly, but definitely around then!)
Patreon has two options: one is that patrons pay a creator Per Thing, and the other is that patrons pay a creator Per Month.
I did M&M as a weekly serialized novel, with Patreon’s Pay Per Thing option, with a promise to not post more than one chapter a week, and with a guess as to how many chapters it would run, so that patrons could decide how much they wanted to/could afford to pay per chapter.
It worked, but frankly, I don’t recommend serializing something on Patreon that way.
The problem is that on the creator end, you end up getting nickel-and-dimed on micropayments and percentages going to the site. If I post 5 chapters in a month and get paid Per Thing on it, and someone donates $.25 per chapter, or $.05, I can end up actually getting nothing at all from their donation after the credit card fees, which do not like tiny tiny payments at all. This isn’t good for anybody! My patron has spent fifty cents (or whatever) in support of…credit card fees…and I have given chapters away! (Which frankly bothers me a lot less than the idea that people who are trying to support me are only succeeding in supporting a credit card.)
I think there’s a great window of opportunity for Per Thing support on Patreon, but serializing a book is not the way to take advantage of it. I think it works better for more one-off kinds of projects: songs, completed books maybe, poems, paintings, I don’t know. Not chapters, though. Not in my experience.
I therefore debated with myself a lot over whether I was going to do Per Thing or Per Month with the new Old Races Short Story Project. My goal is to post a story a month, plus some extras, but Patreon WILL let you *not* charge for something, so I could’ve kept doing Per Thing.
But this is a thing I’ve noticed by running crowdfund projects: lots of people are actually interested not just in The Thing, but in Supporting The Artist. Especially if it’s relatively convenient. Many people have $5 (or whatever) that they’re willing and able to spare per month to help artists, you know, not starve. Or pay the rent, or the cable bill, or just basically worry a tiny bit less about all of those things so they can do more art.
It makes practically every creator I know twitchy to imagine going out and just…asking for money. “Hi! I’m a writer! Give me some money so I can write, please!” We almost all feel like we had damn well better provide something in exchange for that money. We almost all always *do* provide something in exchange…but honestly, my experience has been that most of the time, patrons say “No problem,” if there’s no new content that month. Especially if they’ve been warned in advance, as I did when I switched my Patreon from the M&M project Per Thing payment system to the ORSSP By Month system. I did that in May or June, and told my patrons I’d be starting the new ORSSP in September.
I lost a handful of patrons, but I expected to lose *most* of them, and was kind of stunned that I didn’t. And now the new project is underway and I’ve picked up more patrons, and I’m getting near to my funding goal, which is enormously exciting to me. So I’ve learned that Patreon is a spot where creators can potentially go to just hang in there for a few months if life gets chaotic (as, gods know, mine did this summer), because a majority of patrons really do seem to be there to support the artist; the stories and whatnot are sort of a perk.
I’m trying to come up with some closing statements here and not doing very well. I think the Per Thing model is a really good one, especially for bigger ticket projects (hello, Amanda Palmer), but I didn’t like it for myself for a weekly Per Thing. I’d no doubt be happier with it as a monthly Per Thing rather than a weekly one, but there’s an ease in the Per Month payment, because that way I don’t have to set it to trigger a payment on a piece when I post it. (That burned me last year, when Patreon’s user interface wasn’t as good/I hadn’t grimly memorized what I had to do, and I ended up posting several things for free, which was aggravating because it was so easy to do accidentally more than because I hated to post the chapters for free…)
A thing to remember going into it, though, is that Patreon isn’t Kickstarter. With all that that entails, good and bad. It’s not a huge cash cow, generally speaking. I know artists whose Patreons will cover a nice dinner out with drinks, monthly (or, more practically, the cable bill). I know others who are actually breathing more easily because they’re paying the mortgage now, and others who can buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks once a week with their Patreon funds. It doesn’t have that shiny video-game high-score goal thing that Kickstarter does, or the pressure of SUPPORT IT NOW BEFORE IT DISAPPEARS! And that’s not its purpose, of course, but it does mean it’s a very different kind of fundraising and success has to be judged very differently, and realistically.
I awakened this morning to discover the short story commission has reached its minimum goal! On Friday, August 7th, I will send out “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” to all of my patrons, who will be the only people to see it until I find a market elsewhere for it or even possibly until I have enough stories for an Old Races anthology. If you were waiting to see if the story was going to be a go before becoming a patron, perhaps this is the time to act.
I’m trying to figure out if it would be…fair, for lack of a better word, to let people become patrons via direct payment to me instead of through fundable, which requires a $10 minimum. I think I’d probably still have to set it at $5 or something, because I would not want people who went through fundable to feel ripped off, but I’m kind of afraid that offering a buy-in option after the base goal is met is…well, not fair. If people, particularly those who’ve become patrons, would like to weigh in on this, I would be very interested to hear your opinions.
/Bryant (who suggested this experiment) refers to this as a potential sustainable funding model. One of the peculiar things about being a writer is that there is no steady paycheck, and there’s not a great deal of direct-market paying work done on individual levels (tons of fan fiction, yes, and plenty of freebies, but less in the way of finding a market than, say, many musicians or visual artists seem to have managed). Mostly we sell books or short stories which are provided to the reader via a publisher, so this is an interesting, exciting, and somewhat terrifying thing for me to try. I would *love* to be able to do this quarterly, presumably with stories of differing lengths and therefore differing minimum commission goals.
Thank you all very, *very* much for making this work for me. You have no idea how excited I am, or how much I’m looking forward to writing this story. I’ve known since the beginning that there was some kind of story about Janx and Daisani and the Great Chicago Fire, and now I get to find out what it is!