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17 February 2014 @ 03:50 pm
Patreon update :)  

So I logged into the war room after launching the MAGIC & MANNERS Patreon project and got hit with a bunch of suggestions on how to improve the page, which I’ll be doing, but one of them was “more explaining about how the funding works”, so I’ll do that in a blog post.

So. Funding with Patreon is Not Like Kickstarter. Patreon does not ask for one large donation; it asks for many small ones. And when we say small we can mean “ten or five or even one cent”–micropayments are totally cool with the Patreon model.

Patreon allows you to cap your monthly donation. If it’s a year-long project with 50 chapters (as I anticipate MAGIC & MANNERS being), if you want to cap your monthly payment at $1, so that over the course of the year you pay $12 for the eventual e-book, that’s totally cool.

I’m setting a cap of my own on the number of chapters I’m willing to post: no more than 1 a week. So, for example, if you have opted to donate $1/chapter, over the course of the month the most you can possibly get hit for is $5 (in July & October, I think, which are the months this year with 5 Wednesdays, which is the day I expect to post). But if you’ve set your own cap of $3/month, that’ll be your total donation regardless of the caps on my end of things.

I want to emphasise again that this isn’t like Kickstarter: if you tell Patreon you want to donate $10/chapter, it’s not a one-time donation of $10, it’s $10 every week! And, I mean, don’t get me wrong, if you want to and can afford that, that’s great, but as the project creator, I’m not expecting people to be able to donate at that level! My goal/hope is really to basically get 250 people at $1 each–or, of course, ideally more than that so that editing and whatnot can be part of the whole project process. :)

Basically I’m going to give the Patreon project a month to fund. If we haven’t reached the base level of $250/chapter by the middle of March, I’ll call it a failed experiment and close it down. If we do, of course, then there will be new chapters every week, which would be lots of fun. :)

Questions? Hit me with ‘em!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 04:56 pm (UTC)
This is the kind of thing that makes me feel like Patreon's a harder sell than Kickstarter. It's very easy to say, "Kickstarter! Help someone get the capital to finish a project with a one-time donation that gets you a prize!" When you explain Patreon, though, it becomes this weird convoluted "and then, but also, and it's just that, and finally" explanation that usually leaves people as puzzled at the end as they were in the beginning.

I've seen a handful of people start using Patreon and I still don't know what it means or what I should expect for my money. o_O
kitmizkit on February 17th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
Well, you can eyeball me as a test case and we'll all see how it goes. I *genuinely* have no idea, so it's kind of interesting. Fortunately, if it's a flop, I think my ego can take it. :)
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 05:02 pm (UTC)
If it flops, I think it will be more because Patreon's doing a bad job of explaining itself than it is about you...!
Bryantbryant on February 17th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC)
My simple Patreon explanation: "it's a subscription-based Kickstarter, but you only pay when the creator delivers an installment of the project."
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
So it's different from Kickstarter in... that... you keep paying for installments? Because Kickstarter is also a "you only pay when the creator delivers" thing. I guess, then, "You only pay per chunk?"
Bryantbryant on February 17th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
Kickstarter is "you pay up front, and hopefully the creator delivers." In general I've had good experiences. I have one product that hasn't delivered three years after the funding completed and the money left my bank account, though, and another product that won't ever complete, and so on.

As a patron, the thing that attracts me about Patreon is that my credit card isn't billed until the material is made available.
Chrysoulachrysoula on February 18th, 2014 12:57 am (UTC)
Keep in mind that Patreon is creator focused, not project focused, generally. So you... pay each time there's a new story, or a new song. It also works in this chapter format, but Catie could _also_ say: 'I will write a new novella for every $4000', bring in $4000 worth of backers, then (theoretically) get $4000 each time she churned out a novella-- and people who will buy everything she writes don't have to manage each individual novella fundraiser.
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 18th, 2014 01:07 am (UTC)
*nods* I think "creator-focused" is a good model, I just feel like Patreon doesn't make it easy to grok, partially because of its emphasis on prizes/products/etc. I don't blame it for wanting to instate something like that, but the metaphors get mixed in my head.

For me, if I want a book or a novel, I buy the book or collection.

If I want to support the artist just doing things, I tip them without expectation of reward.

Kickstarter fits neatly into the first box: I want the book or collection, I give money, I get the story(ies). Donation buttons fit well into the second box (I also call this the "museum model" of patronage, in which you pay someone for the experience they provide you, but not for a thing--so, say, someone's blog post made me happy, I tip them, but I don't want them to send me a copy). Patreon seems to try to sit in both boxes, and that confuses me.

If I was the only person it was confusing, I'd wave it off. But a lot of other people seem puzzled by it too, so. :)

As a producer, I am not comfortable being beholden to a hybrid semi-continuous patronage system that doesn't guarantee me the money to finish a project (while encouraging me to finish occasional parts of it) while also requiring me to give answer to people who are (justifiably) anxious that I produce something. Kickstarter says "finish this project, or don't even start it." Patreon says... something else. I'm not sure what, which is why I haven't tried it yet (also, admittedly, because my existing patronage system works).
Chrysoulachrysoula on February 18th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
Interestingly, I think the 'donation' model is hard to grok if you're outside the crowdfunding community. At least, I've never had a single tip in my tip jar. (That could, of course, be me....)

I don't know. My first exposure to Patreon was the Nataly Dawn page. She has no basic tiers; she simply gets whatever amount is in the 'per song' field for each song she releases. She does have more advanced tiers: she will get an electric guitar at $2k and cinematographer at $2.75k. It made perfect sense to me: she was inviting people to be her patrons and in return they got early or exclusive access to her stuff. It looks like the SMBC page is the same way. Sort of a tip jar but more organized with the ability to demonstrate to the interested just how many other people think you're worth tipping.
Lola: Meidancewithlife on February 17th, 2014 06:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the further explanation. I went ahead and pledged before you posted it, but was having doubts about spending $50 (in one dollar pledges) for a single ebook. I also don't read serials so if the project closes down after so many chapters I will "lose" any money I put into it. I read the first couple chapters you posted to be sure I wanted to support the project, but won't read anymore until if or when it's complete.

I don't think I'll change my mind, but I do think I'll cap my pledge. The problem I see with that is that if everyone caps it at $12 or so then when we get that many chapters the book ends (because the pledges end), and we're left without a complete book. If I pledge $10 or $15 on Kickstarter I know I'll pay only if it funds, and that I'll get a completed book for my money. I have to admit that this model seems to be a big gamble for everyone who supports it.

I think this model might work better for self-contained weekly items--Hogarth's xenopsychology case studies, for example. Or a filker posting a song when donations reach a certain amount. You're worth a capped pledge (you have free items on your website, for example) even if the book isn't completed, but I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

ETA: I just looked at Patreon, and it offers me the option to cap my *monthly* pledge, not the option to cap my entire pledge. Am I missing something?

Edited at 2014-02-17 06:32 pm (UTC)
kitmizkit on February 17th, 2014 06:37 pm (UTC)
No, it runs the thing monthly, so the cap would be--if, for example, $12 is a reasonable amount to spend on an ebook--you'd cap your monthly pledge at $1 for an expected 12 months worth of chapters. I genuinely don't know if that means they take 25 cents a week or what.

It may be that it's not a great model for this kind of project, but I'll try not to leave anybody in the lurch regardless of how it eventually pans out. :)
Lola: Meidancewithlife on February 17th, 2014 06:58 pm (UTC)
Well, the FAQ says:
If your pledges reach this cap you will not be charged for more patron-supported content from that creator for the rest of the month.

So I don't see a mechanism there to automatically stop my pledge after so many months. I can stop pledging before the first of each month, of course, but that means I have to watch it and decide when, or if, to stop pledging.

Also (still trying to figure this out), it says you are the one who initiates a charge. So you don't charge for each chapter until you have enough pledges for that chapter--is that right?
kitmizkit on February 17th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)
Oh. Right, no, the only way I can see to stop the pledge after X months is to do it manually, yeah. Sorry. :/

Right. So if this month we hit the pledge amount every week, and then it falls down below $250 for a week, I don't hit the button again until it's been reached again. Ideally, of course, the fundraising goal is reached with enough room to spare that irregular chapter postings/donations won't be an issue--but I honestly have no idea if that'll happen.
Chrysoulachrysoula on February 17th, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
I think the best way to do that and make sure funding stays steady is to figure out how much you want to pay in total, then divide that by 40 (or 48) and then pledge that amount per chapter. Say, .25 cents.
Michellemsagara on February 17th, 2014 08:21 pm (UTC)
I don’t know how responsive the Patreon people are, but I’m wondering if there’s a way to have a “per project” donation system, or a flat donation, rather than a per-chapter/per-item pledge.

I think when Lee and Miller used to do their crowdfund per chapter model, they had a cap for the whole thing, so you could shoe-in money at any stage, rather than on a per-chapter basis.
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
I don't see how a "per project" donation system isn't better served by Kickstarter, though... for both creator and patrons.
Michellemsagara on February 17th, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
My thinking - and I have run neither Kickstarter or Patreon so I’m looking at these very much from the outside:

Kickstarter has a period of 1 month. 30 days. You have to get word out there in a limited span of time. You usually have a video - you don’t usually have the 5 chapters that Catie does of this project.

Patreon doesn’t have a time limit. Your readers can link & etc., and people can come to read what’s already there and decide whether or not they want to contribute - even if it is months from the launch.

They can also just... contribute exactly what they want. If they’re happy to pay you a dollar per chapter as you write, you could in theory have a “support the Author” nexus, in which the Author could write more than one book, a chapter at time.

So: *If* there was some kind of one-time project donation, it would benefit from the “long tail” build, in that people could come to it 60 days or 90 days later, and still be relevant and helpful.

ETA: I’m not at all wed to this - I’m just looking at possible advantages. I can also list disadvantages as well - but in this case, just went down the “advantage” column I am making in my head :)

Edited at 2014-02-17 09:30 pm (UTC)
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC)

I can buy all that, except for one problem, which is that readers tend to be impatient about receiving novels, and very grumpy when stories don't get finished. There's a community of serial writers and reviewers online that I've been part of for... five? Seven? Years? And the most common way to raise the ire of readers and reviewers alike is an abandoned serial.

Even in the traditional market, readers are irritated by series that drag on too long.

I've run novel-length serials now since 2004, and I have a cluster of readers who flatly refuse to read anything on a chapter-by-chapter basis. I'd call the ratio about 4:2:1: for every one person who actively enjoys the serial format ("because it gives me something to look forward to every week"), there are two who are neutral ("I don't care, if I lose track I'll just buy the e-book or whatever") and 4 people who actively avoid it ("I hate having to wait. Ping me when the e-book comes out.").

I can see the long run-time of Patreon being good for something that can be taken in chunks: say, poems, or short stories, or flash fiction (in our field), or world-building bits. But for something that requires continuity, my guess is that a lot of people will be turned off by the possibility that they're not going to get the whole story.

It took me about three serials to adequately prove to a good chunk of my readership that if I said I was going to finish a book online, I was going to do it. And that with a guarantee that I would post at least once a week whether I made the payment cap or not.

The payment models here are formative. I'd be interested to see how the Magic & Manners experiment pans out. :)
Michellemsagara on February 17th, 2014 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. My experience is pretty much zero in all directions - but I can absolutely understand the differing reader attitudes.

And yes, KS doesn’t take your money if the entire project fails to fund. I imagine that successful subsequent Kickstarters would require at least successful completion of the first one.
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 10:06 pm (UTC)
Kickstarter will let you launch as many projects as you want, whether you fail to fund or fail to deliver... it's really up to the patron to do the research about whether to take the risk. Fortunately the community seems pretty good at spreading news, and KS makes it easy to check a creator's profile for some historical data, if you want to check up on people.

I use KS regularly for book presales. Interestingly, running the book as a serial first often serves as good advertising for the KS. My most successful campaigns have involved stories that did well as serials; one of them overfunded so well that I had plenty for all three editions (print, e-book and audio). Importantly, though, I've never failed to fund a Kickstarter that was packaging traditional editions of stories that people had already paid to have serialized. Readers are generous when you explain the costs of production to them, and if they really like a story a lot of them will be happy to toss in a few final dollars to get a permanent copy they don't have to page through online.

In that sense, you can sort of use a serialized version of a story as the kind of long-tail advertising you were talking about.
Michellemsagara on February 17th, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
In that sense, you can sort of use a serialized version of a story as the kind of long-tail advertising you were talking about.

So, if you’re doing the serial version first, it is in theory more like a Patreon model? (Serious question). Actually, let me take that back. If it’s an older, pre-KS model, people can chip in whatever they want, when they want, and you write more when (in theory) you’ve reached a certain amount?

M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
A little, yes, except I promise that the story will be completed online. I've tried a number of payment models depending on the story and my whim to experiment, and the one that seems to work best for my audience is an acceleration model. I promise one update a week (usually about 1200-1500 words). If they want more, they can "buy" additional episodes. I set the price per bonus, and the cap for number of additional updates per week, based on the amount of money I want coming in and how fast I want the story to finish (a lesson I learned when I ran my first accelerated serial, planning for it to take about a year, only to have it finished within a few months)!

So every week, readers get a bit of the story, and then depending on their inclination and finances at the time, they can pool their donations to get one to three more bits posted that week.

This model works well for novels, since people tend to want to know what happens next immediately. I used a "pay to post" model for a series of flash fiction, since they weren't connected and it wasn't going to be a hardship for people not to learn what happened next, and for those it started with "you need to buy these at 5 cents a word, and once we've paid up the entirety, I'll post." By the end of the series, though, people were paying almost 12 cents a word to get those posted, because they liked them. I was flattered, and making more money than I would have had I sold them to most short fiction markets. I gave up a lot to make that money--being more visible would have helped with award nominations, etc. But I packaged all those stories later into collections and published them as e-book/print/audio and they've been quietly making royalties since.

It's hard work figuring out how to balance the "pay the bills" vs "effort expended" vs "visibility" equation in a modern writing career, but I'm grateful there are more choices. Ten years ago, I was supposed to be delighted to make $150 a year, writing fiction. Now I'm shocked if I make that little a month.
Lola: Meidancewithlife on February 17th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
I also like that your policy is that only the first book in an ongoing series is serialized, and that you try to write the subsequent books as quickly as you can.
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
I hate to be left hanging, so I don't want to do that to my readers. :)

*bows to faithful patron*
Lola: Meidancewithlife on February 17th, 2014 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you, gracious creator. *bows back*
There's a bunch of your stuff I haven't read yet because I know from experience that once I start I won't want to stop. So I have to balance free time and available money carefully :-) The upside of that is gleeful anticipation. I'm reading a bunch of series other than yours, most of which don't have the next book coming out for a few months (hi, Catie!*), so if I get too grumpy waiting for those I can start at the beginning of the Pelted stuff and have new things to read.

ETA: *Not a complaint, Catie!

Edited at 2014-02-17 11:02 pm (UTC)
M. C. A. Hogarth: presenthaikujaguar on February 17th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, my big concern right now is Heir finishing too quickly, since I'm only about four chapters into Book 2 and Book 2 really needs to come out quickly. I'm confident I can polish it off in two or three months, but I'm not sure I'm going to get to Book 3 this year with my other commitments. I will have to dangle more Kherishdar in front of people in the hopes it will mollify them. >.>
Colettebellinghwoman on February 17th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
The problem that I face is that the subscription is in dollars, which means for every payment taken I would get hit with foreign currency transaction fees, which even if the money was only taken once a month, would add up to a substantial sum over 12 months :-(

Harold Zablehzatz on February 24th, 2014 11:47 pm (UTC)
I don't think Kit is doing this is a test case for Patreon. I think she's just trying to have an excuse to see how many times she can use various forms of the verb "to discomfit" in a story.