Friday, September 18, 2015

PLEASE GIVE ME MONEY!!!!

No, but seriously, I want to hear the "normal" reader reaction to this idea.

I was talking to a reader the other day about turning Fatal Shadows into a graphic novel, and I mentioned Kickstarter and he mentioned  Patreon. That was the second time in three days I'd heard of Patreon. I'd previously read a post by an author relatively well known in our genre, and X made an interesting argument, although I was still doubtful about how it would all work.


PATRONAGE.

It's nothing new in the arts. in fact, as time-honored ideas go, patronage of the arts is right up there with chopping thieves' hands off and hanging pirates. Oh, and burning witches (which I used to get a lot, by the way). :-D And group patronage would be the best option given how few dukes are left with money for the arts burning a hole in their pockets.

Group funding.

Is it the new reality? Is it the future? For some artists--musicians certainly--it is the fiscal present.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. And I'm sincere about that--an album, unlike a book, costs a horrendous amount of money to produce (as in, if there are authors out there spending a minimum of 20K to put a book out, we need to chat.)

Confronted with such publishing realities as B&Ns dwindling ebook sales, Audible's reduction in royalties, Kindle Unlimited, Scribd's decision to cut romance titles (too many romance readers are not cost effective!!) etcetera and etcetera.

Where are we headed?

I honestly don't know. I'm taking this one step at a time, one year at a time. And I wish I was saving more.

At this juncture, it would be very difficult for me to go back into the regular workforce. But should the fiction market go away (HUH?!) I could switch gears and do ghost writing, non-fiction...I got mad typing skilz, let's put it that way.

Do I want to stop writing fiction? Hell no. The idea makes me literally ill. Of course it wouldn't be a matter of not writing, it would be a matter of not publishing. But even that feels pretty unthinkable at this stage.

The gathering funding for a specific project makes more sense to me. I'm not sure whether readers would really get behind the idea of recurring funding.

You tell me.

Oh, and for your edification, here's an article discussing the difference between Kickstarter and Patreon.

What is your feeling in general on this idea? I'm interested in hearing from both authors and readers on this one.




52 comments:

  1. I learned the first time about Patreon when I followed a link from YouTube. Turned out that guy had enough subscribers to make a minimum living on it (without even counting ad-placement). And for what? Making ASMR-videos Which I had thought was a nice pastetime but there seems to be money in everything. But, hey, what do I know? There seem always to be people who are ready to pay.

    Before that I had thought patronage to be the logical step when selling art didn't work anymore. Either patronage through a majority of people or by single wealthy ones.
    I'm kind of okay with this as one form of finding funds, but not if all art depends on it. The caveat I see is the dependence on your audience. It feels to me like the influence of the audience on the creative process would be stronger. It's more like "I pay you to create something that I like along the following specifications." than "Oh, that seems to be nice. I'll buy it to take it home."

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    1. Yes! This is how I look at it. There are projects I would support just because I like the artist -- and if there's an added perk for support (a personally signed album or an exclusive making-of DVD or so forth) that would be even better.

      I also worry that given the push to drive ebook prices lower and lower, this kind of patronage might be inevitable.

      Most bands I know don't make money on music as much as merchandise, so...

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  2. I know people who do or have done both, Kickstarter type campaigns and also Patreon, and for most writers, Kickstarter seems the way to go, if you want to crowdfund. Patreon is intended to support people who do on-going projects that dribble out relatively small amounts of content on a fairly regular basis. A lot of web comic creators are going Patreon because what they do fits it pretty perfectly. Writers tend to do a book at a time, and books are large-scale projects that tend not to give patrons something for their money every month.

    There are exceptions. Dean Wesley Smith started using Patreon recently. He's only making a couple hundred and change per month so far, although if you go to Patreon and do a search on "writer" that's actually quite a lot. (Which is depressing in itself, but anyway.) He puts up a short story every week, though, and a blog post about his writing every day, plus periodic chapters from various nonfiction books he writes about writing and publishing. He produces a LOT of fun or useful content on a very regular basis. Here's his Patreon page if you want to see how he's presenting it:

    https://www.patreon.com/deanwesleysmith?u=430342&ty=h

    And his blog:

    http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/

    I've heard that other writers are serializing novellas and/or novels a chapter at a time on their blogs, once a week or so -- often enough to justify asking for support. If you can make that kind of committment, and hit your deadlines long-term, I can see that working

    The point seems to be, how often do you provide valuable content for your readers? If it's less than once a week -- or you don't think you could provide that once-per-week hit in the long term -- then I'd go for a Kickstarter instead of Patreon. If you have cool stuff on your blog periodically, but not regularly enough to justify a Patreon, then a PayPal type tip jar is probably the best way to go.

    Angie

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    1. That's interesting.

      I think the problem for me is the one you point out. My writing habits are more and more sporadic. Huge creative bursts in between long periods of time when I'm focused on other stuff. So I would probably be unable to provide that steady stream of enjoyable original content that someone like Smith does.

      Serializing novellas and novels really seems to stir mixed feelings in readers. Not that it's a new idea, but it seems to strike many modern readers as a rip-off.

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    2. Re: serializing things, IMO it's a rip-off if the chunks are monetized such that you end up paying significantly more for the total product than you would if the writer just published the damn book. :P When you see a kerfuffle about someone's "serial," that's generally why. Double bonus points if they were marketing it as a series of short stories, when in actuality it was a strung-out novel and the individual pieces weren't in any way stand-alone. Scalzi serialized a novel... earlier this year, or last year, something like that, and they priced the chunks such that readers buying the chunks ended up paying about the same as readers who waited and just bought the e-book. If you're going to serialize, that's the way to do it.

      But yes, Dean's pretty awesome at the constant productivity thing. If you can't do something at least similar, long term, then you're probably better off doing Kickstarters for individual projects.

      Angie

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  3. I only heard the words "talking to a reader the other day about turning Fatal Shadows into a graphic novel" and after that everything else became hazy. :-D

    So let me put it this way. If you ever decided to turn Fatal Shadows into a graphic novel, I would gladly join group funding the project. :-)



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    1. *Raising hand. I'm right behind Johanna on this one....

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    2. It's a fun idea, I agree. At this point it is just an idea! :-)

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  4. I do not know much about different ways of funding a project, but what I know for sure is that I would help funding a project I were interested in, and Fatal Shadows turned into a graphic novel is something I would love to see. So count me in if you ever decide on it
    ;)

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    1. Well, that's good to know actually! There are no immediate plans, but I'm always looking to the future.

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  5. A Fatal Shadows graphic novel!!! Yes, please! So much! That would be so awesome, and I'm all for joining in and funding that. :-)

    About Patreon, etc., the general dependence of an artist on funding is worrisome, especially since in this social media environment where the lines blur and reactions are sometimes out of proportion, one wonders if this funding would hinder creativity in the long run. I guess it depends on the project, and on the artist, and where that line is drawn that allows the artist to do what they really want to do.

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    1. KC wrote: " one wonders if this funding would hinder creativity in the long run"

      That's something I was thinking about too. If all art was funded by patronage, would the trend be even more towards mainstream to please the masses? What about original ideas/strange ideas that don't have appeal on first glance but turn out to be interesting on second? What about ideas that make the patron uncomfortable or make them think?

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    2. Yes, exactly. Too much potentially clashing subjectivity and demands. But I do see the appeal of helping fund projects that have a solid base to begin with, such as Fatal Shadows where we know Josh will choose a very good artist for it, etc. And part of that appeal comes from trusting the writer/artist.

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    3. *nods*
      I agree. I've seen it done with print versions of online comics and such. It's very clear then what the outcome will be and it's about pre-financing the production or such.

      I think it was suggested once around here that the production of audio books could be funded that way.

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    4. I find the idea of group funding for more than a particular unique product worrying too. For reasons you cite, but also just because I don't like feeling dependent or trapped by commitments. And I believe that kind of on-going funding would trigger my anxieties.

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    5. Yes! We did talk about it for audio projects, and those might make sense. For example, One of my producers finished a large project a month early. So I would love to charge ahead with that--but charging is what I'd have to do. I don't have 8K extra in my bank accounts a month early. ;-)

      I think for artists like me, the old fashioned concept of a business loan might actually make the most sense.

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    6. Please let me pay you for early access to an audio book
      ;)

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    7. Please let me pay you for early access to an audio book
      ;)

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  6. I'm torn on this one. On one hand, I would be happy to donate to my friends to enable them to be able to pursue their writing. On the other hand, there is such a glut of writers, not good writers, that I wonder if it's doing them and the genre any favors to support and unsupportable dream. I guess it all comes down to who you're willing to donate to. Then you have the people who don't make much money and become embittered by it. Then comes the public meltdowns and the YOU DON'T LOVE ME madness. I guess as far as crowdfunding, I'm more inclined to donate toward a catastrophic event than I am to help someone maintain a lifestyle. There is no one on the face of the earth that hates working more than I do. I resent every hour I have to take away from doing the things I want to do. I don't know. I'm torn.

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    1. I think it's a given that you're not going to donate to creators you don't like quite a lot. Giving to people whose work you're even lukewarm about just isn't even on the table, so no reason to fret about it. Of course you're not going to donate to people whose fiction or comics or whatever you don't care for.

      And note that the whole idea of crowdfunding like Kickstarter or Patreon is that you're getting something for your money. Indigogo (and I think a couple of other sites) let people ask for straight up donations, but in general it's not meant to be charity. Donating to someone who's had a disaster crush some part of their life is a completely different thing.

      Any creator who doesn't get that a lot of people aren't going to like their stuff is in the wrong business. Name any huge bestseller, anyone who has to build more fireplaces onto their house so they have multiple mantles to hold all their awards -- no matter how popular they might be, there'll be hordes of people who don't like their work. Actually, the more popular they are, the more people who won't like their work, because they'll have come to the attention of that many more people. Creators, definitely including writers, need to understand this, and figure out how to deal with it out of sight. Anyone who indulges in a public "You don't love me!" meltdown -- and it is ridiculously self-indulgent to put on that sort of display -- deserves every bit of backlash they get. [shrug]

      Angie

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    2. Well yes, M. There is all that. And there is also the practical, logistical reader side of things which is...how much per month extra do you want to spend funding readers you enjoy? Because I can't imagine anyone would only buy from those writers...so we're basically talking kicking up your monthly book-buying budget to include $-5-10. a month to support favorite authors?

      It doesn't feel workable to me. Not if everyone tries to go that route. Right now, yes. Right now I could kick in a few extra dollars per month to a favorite artist or two.

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    3. This is absolutely true, Angela.

      But the funny thing about art is that a lot of artistic types are temperamentally unsuited for a large part of the "artistic lifestyle." Which by default includes tons of rejection, criticism and erratic finances. :-D

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    4. Josh -- You're right, of course. But I'm going to be brutally direct here and opine that artistic types who can't handle the tons of rejection, criticism and erratic finances really need to either 1) work to get over it, or 2) keep their artistic pursuits as a hobby. Delicate and special snowflakes who step into the commercial ring are just torturing themselves, and most early-career (much less pre-career) artists don't make nearly enough for the therapy they're going to need after falling to pieces over and over because people are criticizing their precious babies. [sigh]

      Angie

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  7. Hi Josh,

    I agree with KC's comments on Patreon. It is worrisome, and frankly the idea doesn't appeal. I think it would put a strain on a creator to produce within a recurring timeframe and as someone who has experienced burnout, Josh, you have to know that is never going to have a good outcome. I have dealt with artists who have GoFundMe set-ups on their sites with an explanation. Those seem to be a reasonable way to go. Anyone interested in funding a project gives what and when they can, and in the meantime the artist continues to create. It’s not perfect, but it is a way for an artist to take in funding without having to constantly give back along the way. Hopefully the finished product is its own reward.

    As for Fatal Shadows as a graphic novel, definitely an interesting idea and I’m sure if you set something up—anything—just a Donate button, you would have what you need for this project pretty quick! Good luck with that! :)

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    1. We have a PayPal button for donation, but it's just because Cory Doctorow said every writer should have one. There's no pressure and every so often someone sends me $5.00 ;-)

      I couldn't make a living on donations without getting serious about donations, and as you say, that would stress me out no end. I'm not temperamentally suited to that kind of arrangement--which is not a judgment on those who are.

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  8. The overall concept reminds me of how public broadcasting supports itself--you don't buy specific content (like when you purchase a premium channel on cable) but rather invest in their past successes and the concept in general and hope the content you want will follow. Public broadcasting is reasonably successful at this, but you have to have an established reputation and have a broad appeal to make enough money at it--public TV broadcasts news, documentaries, drama, comedy, children's shows, travel shows, you name it. Would I support an author this way? I might, but only the ones I really like--and I would expect special rewards for doing so. For example, I might expect a story written around certain specifications of mine--kind of like how artists in the Renaissance painted specific works of art on demand for their patrons. I don't imagine that kind of writing would be very interesting for the writer.

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    1. Well, if you look at it that way, yes. It makes sense. I say this as a long time PBS subscriber.

      I'm supporting them out of principle more than anything--although it's true I will continue to support Mystery! for as long as it runs.

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  9. As someone who frequently participates in Kickstarter campaigns, and actually helped with a few, I do think this is a good idea.

    If you already have all the pieces in place.

    Failed Kickstarters, as in the kind that don't meet their goal, usually are because the creators had a vague idea of what they wanted to do, but didn't actually have a business plan.

    Having clear ideas of who/what is involved with the project (and maybe some sample drawings/pages) to show that you have everything ready to go, you just need monetary fuel to get the whole thing rolling. It shows you won't drop the project out of disinterest, or run out of money because you miscalculated costs.

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    1. I've supported a few campaigns, and sadly most of them have failed to meet their goal. So you're probably right about the difficulties of presentation.

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  10. As usual, I don't see what there is to get upset about. If you don't want to support whatever cause, then don't. Don't donate, or whatever. If the author wants to set up a GoFundMe or Patreon or put out a hat on the curb, then they are free to do so. It's up to me to ignore or donate as I see fit. Someone else setting up one of these upsets you, then you really need to get a life.

    I donated to a cause or two. One was a marriage fund and one was to a catastrophic illness fund. I didn't expect anything in return, and I didn't even tell anyone about it.

    Susinok

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    1. It surprised me that there was so much hostile reaction to one well-publicized campaign--even before the author began to act out.

      Once I saw it all broken out in the Trout Report I better understood why it was making so many writers crazy, but at the same time...I don't know. Yes, we all dislike people who try to take cuts in line. But what does it ultimately matter? How is it my business? To me that looked like a last ditch effort from someone who was about to face the brutal truth that most people cannot make a living writing fiction.

      No need to heap abuse on her--because the reality is stark enough.

      That's my take away. The fact that she reacted like a loonie is a whole separate issue.

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  11. Thank you, Josh (which I will continue to call you, because that's how I know you.)

    I'm a female M/M writer since I discovered slash fan fiction. I have been writing for 28 years, even though I was only published commercially in 2012. I've heard all these arguments in fan fiction and M/M commercial fiction for decades. Plus, all the rules & regs by which erotic publishers try to keep the censorship police off their backs. Plus, the cliques, purity tests, and 'No True Scotsman' arguments I keep hearing from (largely) female M/M authors.

    I am tired of it.

    Barring one series for an erom publisher I still like, my new work is going to be overwhelmingly aimed at the major commercial science fiction and fantasy imprints, because they are actually much more open to the kinds of stories I want to tell. They also pay better.

    Kudos to you for being successful and a great writer. You've been a great inspiration for me.

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  12. As someone entering the publishing industry and an avid reader of your work, I think the Patreon system would work very well for you. Part of the difficulty for most artists is producing something on a consistent basis and staying connected with fans to let them know when you have something new in the works. Since you don't have a problem with either of these, I think you would be surprised how well this system could work for you. I would definitely participate in it, and I don't donate to Patreon for anyone else. I hope to see this in the future!

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    1. It has interesting possibilities, for sure.

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  13. I'd definitely contribute to a Kickstarter.

    There's a really good webcomic (Check, Please!) about a gay college hockey player that finished it's first year a couple of months ago. She put up a Kickstarter asking for $15,000 to publish the first year in both hardcover and tradepaper with a number of stretch goals including making it possible for her to do more frequent updates in the second year. The Kickstarter final total was $74,290 so yeah, it can be really worth it.

    Vicki

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    1. I'll check it out.

      Ha. No pun intended.

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  14. I already support an artist on Patreon. I like it because I believe and enjoy what they are creating. They give a few pages of what they are creating each month so that the patron gets a first look at new projects.

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    1. And I can see how that would be fun and interesting. The pressure would be to keep coming up with fresh, original content to make it worth it to the subscribers.

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  15. Dunno if you've heard this, but sometimes people will pretend to support an artist to access the content, but then take away their payment before it goes through (since it goes through once a month?). So just be wary of that. Also, I'd love to see this.

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    1. Is that true? Sad. But there will always be a few of those in every crowd. I guess you just calculate those folks into the general writing cost.

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  16. Josh,

    While the idea of putting out a graphic novel is intriguing, I would, in many ways. rather see you putting out more new stories than repackaging the previously published works. That said, I probably would still support a Josh Lanyon graphic novel.

    Fatal Shadows is an interesting choice, but I think that Blood Red Butterfly would be an even better choice. Just my opinion :D

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    1. That would certainly be the more visual choice!

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  17. who cares what your sex is? A great writer is a great writer . I am so tired of everyone determining any worth [ relationships, jobs, value the list goes on, the bias never ends].
    who thinks a movie character is real life? idiots only. Idc what someone has under their clothes. Its about writing. I have read all my life as an escape from a hopeless world. I have found great authors in both sexes, writing in nearly all genre.
    I truly think that bisexual must be the norm, becuz love is not just about attraction. I can imagine the bitter vitriol spouted. After all women were arguably the first to be discriminated against.
    I would argue that one doesnt have to be gay, or male to support the glbts rights. Nor does one need to be a minority to support equal rights. to soon people are quick to judge and point and whisper. fuk them.
    It may hurt your sales based on your sex [ I have read numerous reviews based on written by a woman explains bad story, crap] . Honestly it shouldnt becuz a great story is a great story, I dont care whats behind the pen, only what they share with me. O came to the site to praise you once and found it entertaining. I still do. it wasnt about mor ethan that for me. I believe many others will feel the same way,
    It was a brave step , and others should have appreciated it from the years of hiding truisms. I applaud your courage and contine to await the next thing you write. If the pronoun goes from his to hers? who cars. I dont. ancestors keep ya

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    1. Thanks, Ashe. I do appreciate these kind thoughts. And I'm glad you left them. :-)

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. HAHA I figured out the delete duh well, i will let it stand becuz i wished to support ya even tho ya didnt need it m however im onboard for graphic novel, I have the dresden books and graphic novels too, it adds a change up when I cna see the artist vision of the text. Id go as far to say movie but they'd ruin them like the edgar rice burroughs franchise, ruined lol

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  19. The world just really wished a man like you could have existed.

    The anger was only from mourning the lost of such fantasy.

    I think you already know that.

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