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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)

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. >.>