Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Much Is Your Author Really Making With Patreon?

Most of you know what Patreon is, but if you aren't familiar with it The Literary Mercenary covered it in the post Bringing Patronage Into The 21st Century. For those of you who skipped the link all you need to know is Patreon is a crowd-funding website that gives little payments to creators who work on a series of projects (making YouTube videos, writing blogs, drawing webcomics, etc.) instead of making a single, big project. In short you become a patron, and you agree to pay your artist $1.00 for every piece they create so that they can focus on making things you like.

It seems straightforward enough, doesn't it? There's just one, little problem that can really mess things up for a lot of creators. That little thing is the "earning per entry" field.

The What Now?

If you go to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page you'll see what I'm talking about easily enough. The left hand side of the page shows you how many patrons are supporting my blogs, and below that it shows you how much I get paid per blog entry.

If you're thinking "Wow, I wish I got paid $48 per blog entry" let me be the first to say I wish I was being paid that as well.

Then I could give up writing ad copy for lingerie catalogs and mail-order brides.
The difficulty with that little scale is that it doesn't take patrons' monthly limits into account. Say you became a patron (which you should totally do), and you decided to give me $3 per blog entry. I write an average of 8 blogs per month that I charge my patrons for, which means you'd be charged $24 at the end of the month. However, you might decide you're only willing to part with $10 per month, so you set your monthly cap at $10.

This is a really common patron strategy to avoid going over a budget, but it isn't reflected in that "paid per blog entry" field. According to my page I should make about $320 a month or so; in reality I make about $120. Not bad money, and I thank all of my patrons for their support because you all are allowing me to pay bills I wouldn't otherwise be able to pay, but it isn't enough that I can stop writing fake success stories for mail-order bride services (I really wish that was a joke... seriously, help me walk away from that job).

Why Does It Matter?

In a word: empathy.

Let's say you just discovered an author you like, and you're considering supporting them so they create more content that you like (hello to first-time visitors, by the way). You see they have a Patreon page, so you decide to go there and see if they need help. What you find is that this artist is getting $200 per entry, so you decide to just lean back and enjoy the content that's being created.

What you don't know is that each of those patrons has limited their support to $1 per month, so that $200 is all that artist is getting for a month's worth of work. No matter how much content gets created, or how much sweat equity that artist puts in, rent simply isn't going to get paid for the simple reason that a lot of potential patrons think the artist is well-taken-care of and doesn't need anyone else to brace the rickety platform they're standing on.

For a lull in the depression discussion, have a laugh at this silly goat.
Some of you reading over those numbers will be thinking "what a shame that artists and authors have one more hurdle to overcome in pursuing their careers," and some of you will be thinking, "pshaw, that's a lot of money just doing something you'd be doing for fun anyway." To those first people I say thank you for your compassion, and to those second people I'd ask you to read Why Do People Hate Artists Who Expect To Be Paid? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Finished? Good, glad we're all back on the same page.

Now Then, Would You Like A Free Book?

Now that I've made my point about how you can't always judge an artist's income based on his or her Patreon page I'd like to make a pitch for your patronage. If you become a patron during March 2015 and pledge at least $1 per month (not per entry, just per month) then in addition to that warm feeling of helping an artist stand on his own two feet I'll also give you a free book! No strings attached, you just pledge at least $1, and I give you a book.

For my patrons who are reading this, all you have to do is increase your limit by at least $1 per month and I'll extend you the same gift! Tell your family, tell your friends, and if you're not sure whether or not the sorts of things I write are the kinds of books you'd like to read then have a look at my short story "Blackwater" in the free preview of SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror, or check out a high fantasy black ops team busting heads and breaking chains in "The Irregulars" a story feature in Paizo's Pathfinder Tales.

Also if you want to make sure you get all of my updates then be sure you follow me on Facebook and Tumblr!

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