You need to know before reading this essay that all I’m doing here is talking myself into doing something that terrifies me but makes complete sense. I’ve been punting this ball around in private since Halloween and have finally decided I need to shit or get off the proverbial pot.
So there’s this new thing, and by new I mean over the last year or so, going around the indie creator community. It’s called Patreon and it’s the hip new way to crowd source funds. Have you heard of it?
Been living in a cave, on Mars, and with your fingers in your ears? Here let me make it easy on you, because I'm that generous, not really but I have my moments.
Patreon, based in San Francisco, is a crowd funding platform created by musician Jack Conte and developer Sam Yam. It allows artists to obtain funding from patrons on a recurring basis or per artwork. It is popular with YouTube content creators, musicians, and web comic artists and has been featured in Forbes, Time, and Billboard magazines.
Patreon was founded in May 2013 by artist Jack Conte, who was looking for a way to make a living from his popular YouTube videos. Together with Sam Yam he developed a platform that allows patrons to donate a set amount of money every time an artist creates a work of art. The company raised $2.1 million in August 2013 from a group of venture capitalists and angel investors. In June 2014 the company raised a further $15 million in a series A round led by Danny Rimer of Index Ventures.
In late 2014, the website announced that patrons were sending over $1 million per month to the site's content creators.
Artists set up a page on the Patreon website, where patrons can pledge to donate a given amount of money to an artist every time she or he creates a piece of art, optionally setting a monthly maximum. Alternatively a fixed monthly amount can be pledged. This is different from other crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter, where artists obtain a single sum after a successful campaign and typically have to start over for every new piece. Similar to other platforms however, artists will often provide rewards for their patrons. Patreon takes a 5% commission on pledges.
As of February 2014, almost half of the artists produce YouTube videos, while the rest are writers, draw web comics or make podcasts. On average, patrons donate $7 per creation. Patreon is growing rapidly both in patrons and creators, with 10000 artists expected to use Patreon by the end of February 2014. While the website initially targeted musicians, established web comic artists such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Zach Weinersmith and Paul Taylor are successfully using it. Any content creation that may be deemed pornographic photography is prohibited since a December 2014 policy change. Non-Photographic sexual imagery (drawn, sculpted, or computer generated, for example) is allowed.
For those of you who have not been around since the beginning of my Self Publishing journey I have crowd sourced in the past. In 2012 I used Kickstarter, before people were using it to fund major studio movies, to get the ball rolling. I used the money I raised to get the first run of The Shores of the Dead Series published. That consisted of paying for professionally rendered covers and an editor. Since then I’ve been bootstrapping on the profits from that initial grubstake but it’s been a more or less break even scenario.
I have no problems telling you I ended 2014, $492.00 in the black.
But that was when I was working a fulltime job and therefore had a second stream of reliable income. I made the jump to full time writer at Christmas and my production rate has skyrocketed. I’ve gone from 5000 to 10,000 words a week written on average, to now pushing 20,000. But that had caused problems all of its own.
I’m creating faster than I can afford to finance it.
Like I said, I used Kickstarter to get the ball rolling but I hate begging for money. I know some creators who know how to do a Kickstarter right. They have excellent rewards and the products they produce are awesome but I feel uncomfortable doing it. That being said I made two more attempts to crowd source in the last two years and killed them both before they got off the ground. I just felt like I wasn’t the guy for it.
This is different.
In the next week or so I am launching something I’ve decided to call The Gorillas With Scissors Press Book Club (GWSPBC) via Patreon.
Now I know right now some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking something along the lines of:
“Oh great, another indie (writer, artist, musician, games creator, or film maker) begging me for money so they can sit on their asses!”
Or some other equally indignant sentiment I would normally agree with. Yeah you heard it right, one of my problems with normal crowd sourcing are the people who use it as a giant cash grab. They’ve already established themselves in some way but use the Kickstarter to bank cash.
*NOTE: I am NOT talking about legit indie creators who use these outlets. I am talking about companies and creators who’ve been around for years and just don’t want to invest their own capital but are more than happy to invest the capital of others. And yes there are always exceptions, I’m sure the Veronica Mars movie might have never happened if we hadn’t supported it.*
So what will members of the GWSPBC get?
Honestly that depends on the levels of membership. Which have not been finalized as of this writing. But I can give you a rough rundown of what we’ll be offering.
- Anyone who contributes at least a dollar will receive my current exclusive ongoing serial (The Door in the Basement) and all other exclusive stories.
- Exclusive previews of future work.
- The Opportunity to Beta Read GWS Press works in progress (May be subject to restriction depending on the contract with the author).
- Access to exclusive social media groups just for the GWSPBC members.
- Exclusive monthly giveaways of audiobooks, eBooks, paperbacks, and HARD COVERS (yep you read that right).
- The Entire GWSP digital library for free (Word, PDF, Mobi, or ePub formats).
- Every eBook free upon release.
- More to be added.
Now what will your dollars be financing other than keeping me in a perpetual state of half life?
- Expansion. With more funds I will be able to bring on more staff (Editors, Proof Readers, and Artists) and more writers.
- Convention appearances. Cons aren’t cheap but they are one of the best ways to get your name out there.
- Promotions and Marketing.
- Anything else I’m not thinking of.
That’s it, there is my big plan. I’m hoping to bring in enough by the end of the year to hire a layout artist, a proofreader, and continuity editor. I need to take the pressure off my full-time editor, Jennifer’s, shoulders. She’s my good right arm in the publishing business and I need to get her some help.
Okay, so let me know what you think and I’ll keep you all posted.
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