A fortnight ago I posted a blog post about some of the changes that had been happening at Amazon, and how – as a writer – I was concerned at what future changes could mean for my income. Writing novels is more than just a hobby for me, it pays some of our bills and will hopefully one day be what I do for my job, all day, every day. In that blog post, I asked you guys if you’d be willing to participate in a survey about a potential way for me to diversify my income so that I had to rely less on Amazon – by turning to the crowdfunding model that is working so well for artists, musicians and writers across the globe.
Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey and wrote such thoughtful responses! Your answers really helped me to clarify what it was I wanted to do with this new platform and how best to structure it to ensure everyone got something awesome out of it. Due to the overwhelming positivity toward the idea, I’ve decided to go ahead and launch a Patreon page for my novels.
Even though I’m only officially launching the page today, I’ve already had a few people jump on as backers. You guys are awesome!
Want to support my work via Patreon? Click below to pledge an amount.
To answer all your questions, here’s a little FAQ:
Why are you going to Patreon?
The main reason is that I’m very aware that I’m putting all of my eggs in one basket in self-publishing exclusively with Amazon. Unfortunately, there are very few options out there. What I’m trying to do with Patreon is diversify my income potential by allowing fans who wish to do so to support me via another avenue. I get some semblance of a regular income I can count on – despite the ups-and-downs of royalty payouts – and you get books, rewards and bonus content directly from me. It’s a win-win.
I also love crowdfunding. I’ve been a huge supporter of Kickstarter over the years, backing more than 30 projects. And I’m starting to shift some of my support over to artists on Patreon, too. It’s fun being able to be a part of seeing creative work come to life, and I’m excited to finally be involved in the community as a creator.
What is Patreon? How does it work? Is it different to Kickstarter?
Patreon was designed by a couple of Youtube vloggers who wanted to create a platform where fans could support artists who make work on a regular basis. Most people are familiar with the Kickstarter model, where a creator can make a page for a project – such as a single book, a board game, a collection of cartoons, or a short film – and ask for money to help fund the project’s creation, in exchange for rewards. Kickstarter is great for one-off projects, but doesn’t really work for creators who put out work on a regular basis.
So Patreon was created to allow fans to give regular pledges to support artists over a longer period of time. It means that instead of having to create a Kickstarter campaign for every new video, cartoon, book, artwork, or game, the creator could direct fans to one page where they could support all ongoing work.
Creators ask patrons to pledge a certain amount of money either per month or per “Thing” produced. I am running my campaign per “Thing” produced, and each pledge is eligible for cool rewards (similar to Kickstarter, but the rewards are ongoing). If you want to see the different pledge levels and rewards, you’ll have to check out my Patreon page.
Patreon is designed around the ancient patronage system, where a wealthy person like a king, nobleman or businessperson would financially support an artist, philosopher, writer, or astrologer to create their work. During the Medieval and Renaissance periods, wealthy people would become patrons, and in return be rewarded with increased social status, prestige, and sometimes political assistance. Patrons also often had some say in what work was created and how the finished product may look – it was an active, two-way relationship. Now, with Patreon, you don’t have to be a king to become a patron, and instead of climbing the ladder of society through your generosity, you get cool rewards and bonus content from the artists you help support.
Patronage has provided the world with some of its most beautiful and important art. Without patronage, we wouldn’t have the works of William Shakespeare, Michelangelo, or Leonardo da Vinci. I’m not putting myself on the same level as those guys here, but I’m saying this is a valid and vital way of supporting the arts, and now in the digital age, it’s easier than ever to become actively involved in the creation of work you enjoy.
What constitutes a “Thing”?
As a writer, I publish many, many finished things in a given year. But I don’t expect you to send me a pledge every time I publish a blog post or write a grocery list. These are things, but they are not Things (with a capital T). I consider my Things to be substantial works of prose, or other projects with significant production requirements.
Defining a “Thing” is difficult, because I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be producing in the future. But, since I have some idea of my current upcoming projects for the next year, I can tell you that a Thing will include a novel, a novella, a short story collection (but not the individual short stories), a children’s book, etc.
A Thing will NOT include blog posts, social media updates, individual short stories under 15,000 words in length, any kind of essay or article I write for promotional purposes, or unfinished products, such as novel drafts.
From time to time I will send out a free Thing to Patreon backers, because you are awesome. This might be a short story, a novel excerpt, some drawings … just whatever. This will be clearly labelled as a FREE THING and you won’t have any money deducted for it.
Can you tell me how many Things you’ll be producing?
I understand exactly why you want to know this; you’ve got to budget accordingly, especially if you want to support me on a higher tier. You can’t offer to support me at $50 a thing, only to find out that I’m producing 65 things every month.
Writing books takes a fair amount of time, so if you look at my definition of “Thing” above, you can see that I won’t be producing 65 items for you every month. My fingers would fall off, and I need my fingers to write and buy candy and scratch the cat in just the right place under his chin.
Although my schedule may vary, I aim to produce one new Thing approximately every five-to-eight weeks. Sometimes, I may go crazy and publish two Things in one month, but it’s rare.
And remember, Patreon allows you to set a limit to the amount of Things you’ll fund each month, so just choose a limit you’re comfortable with and stick to that.
I’m only interested in one of your pen names. Is there any way to just support the one, and not the others?
Unfortunately, no. I didn’t want to leave anyone out by making the Patreon pen-name specific. This one page has to cover all the different projects I do, which might include other book projects that aren’t romance or science fiction novels. Even if you’re not into the finished product, you may enjoy following along with me as I chart progress and discuss project creation in the Patron-only feed.
If that’s not for you, that’s totally cool – you can always continue buying and reading my books in the normal way. I’m honoured to have your support!
Some backers are raising their pledges for projects they’re interested in, then lowering them for those that aren’t quite their thing. This is totally cool and a great way to show me what I should be doing more of!
To give you an idea of what you can expect, my yearly aim is to produce:
- Approximately 6 books under the Steffanie Holmes pen name.
- Approximately 3 books under the S C Green pen name.
- Approximately 1 other “Thing”, which might be a non-fiction book, a kids book, a collaboration, or some other surprise fun project.
I’m not interested in crowdfunding or supporting all of your books. Will I still be able to read your content / purchase the books I’d like to read?
That’s totally fine! I understand that this model doesn’t appeal to everyone, and that some people only like some of the books and projects I’m involved with. That’s totally cool, and I am so grateful for the support you give me. My books will still be available through all the normal channels, I’ll still be on Facebook and updating the blog, the only thing that’s changed is that now there is this new option for fans who’d like to support me regularly and get access to the rewards.
Is Patreon secure?
Some people who took the survey were concerned about their credit card safety, which I completely understand!
No credit card information is stored on Patreon servers. They use Stripe.com, one of the most secure and reputable payment processors available. All card numbers are encrypted on disk with AES-256 and decryption keys are stored on separate machines. For more information you can visit Stripe’s security policy right here!
You can also choose to pay by Paypal, which doesn’t require a credit card number at all if you have it set up.
In other words, your credit card details are safe! For more info on how payments work, you can check out the Patreon Help FAQs.
What’s the next Thing you’ll be publishing?
It might spoil the fun if you know what I’m getting up to next, so SPOILER ALERT if you don’t want to know.
The first project I’ll be publishing with Patreon is the third book in the Engine Ward series, Thorn. This is a dark steampunk science fiction story with dinosaurs and a very cool female main character. One of the biggest criticisms of the first book in this series, The Sunken, is the lack of a really obviously strong female lead, and so I’m excited to get Thorn’s story out into the world to help balance out some of that testosterone.
The next Thing will be two novels in the Crookshollow universe – Watcher and Messenger. I’ve nearly completed book one and I can tell you there are shapeshifters and vampires and a very damaged but wonderful heroine. I’m having so much fun with these books and can’t wait to write them along with you guys.
And after that, who knows? Perhaps we shall all take a vote. Yay, democracy!
I think I’ve covered everything. If I haven’t answered your question, sing out in the comments or read through the Patron FAQ on the Patreon website. If you like the sound of this, then PLEASE get over to my Patreon page and pledge an amount. Your support means I can continue to publish books and maybe one day do this full time!