Yesterday, I wrote about Patreon, a service that connects writers, artists and other content creators with audiences willing to pay a small subscription fee for fresh, monthly content. With the help of friends and fellow writers on Google+, I've decided it isn't for me at the present time, and thought I'd share some of that discussion with you.
One writer mentioned that he doesn't use the service but knows several people who do because they remind him fairly regularly via social networking. That made me cringe a bit, since Sean and I moderate an online community of several thousand vegans and see that sort of spam nearly every day. It's annoying, and we moderate it out because nobody wants to be spammed. This brings me to an important point about the Patreon service; the audience doesn't come in the box with the rest of your membership. You have to pick that up separately. So if you don't already have an audience for your work, you're going to be advertising for it in a social networking environment where people frown on spam. I do have a small audience for my work via con appearances, interviews, reviews, regular blog posts for BBI Media and my quarterly newsletter, but I don't want to pester those folk into paying more attention to my work than their natural interest dictates. Yes, I do post about my writing life and the things that are happening in it, and yes, if I have a shiny new story out or a giveaway going on or some other such thing, I'll tell you about it. But that's a bit different, I think.
And this brings me to another important point the same writer made. He told me that he follows a number of authors whose work he admires, but he wants for them to create quality work he can sample and decide whether or not to purchase. The Patreon service requires patrons to pay in advance for work they might not like. For my part, I tend to be a slow writer of short stories who cares deeply about the flow of the prose. So I don't know that I would want patrons to pay me in advance for something I simply churned out to meet a deadline while I was working on more important projects. Call it pride if you like, but I wouldn't want you reading a story that didn't have my very best effort in it.
Finally, I already know writers who offer subscription stories to readers. One of my mentors, Liz Williams, often does this and doesn't need a third-party web service to make it happen. She offers the stories, and her following signs up to buy them. Simple as that. There's no reason I couldn't do the same if and when I have a goodly number of people who like my work, and I probably will. Right now, however, I'm working on the ebook and audio recording for Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly, and that will be a finished product I can be proud of for which I'll only charge a couple of dollars.
Right about the time I came to these conclusions, another writer chimed in and told me she had put a great deal of effort into her own Patreon account for very little return and was thinking of closing it, which rather validated my thinking on the matter. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great service that has the potential to make important connections between indie artists and the people who want to support them, but it isn't for me right now. I'd rather give you something from Triskele Media Press once in awhile as I expend the rest of my creative energy writing for a place in the traditional market1. It might be nose-bleed competitive, but it's home.
- 1. My present opinion, of course, is subject to change without notice. I am large. I contain multitudes. =)