Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#1
I published a modest story on RR last year. Great success from my POV. It proved how much I loved writing and that I have the discipline to finish a project. I'm currently working on a new story. I'd like to think that I upped my game a lot with this new one, thinking about including a Patreon link. 

I know, or I think I know the basics. Advance chapters and Discord. The thing I don't understand is the variety in results. Some of the top stories on RR have average revenues on Patreon while others stay in in trending for a 2-3 weeks and soar to 6-8k per months. 

Anyone knows why? Are authors posting on other sites or in other languages and their story gets vastly more popular somewhere else?

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#2
The biggest factor I'm aware of is to post a story that aligns with the interest of the site you're posting on. The biggest Patreons I can think of that post on RR are all LitRPG, while the biggest Patreons I'm aware of that post on SOL/Lit are harem erotica. I don't track every story, though, so my info may be out of date; isekai and reincarnation are also popular on RR, but I don't know what their Patreon accounts look like--and a lot of the stories in those two genres are also LitRPG.

The next biggest factor I can think of is to get on Trending, and I'm not sure how that currently works. If you manage to get on Trending, then you'll get a lot more potential readers. I wasn't aware of Trending when I first started posting, and I'm also not writing LitRPG, isekai, or reincarnation, so my readership here has been somewhat limited.

Quality will play a role (though maybe not as big a role as one would hope), as will how interesting the story is, and how good it is at drawing in new readers.

This paragraph is guesswork, and may not be accurate: As far as I can tell, most successful writer Patreons are long-running serials, male-focused, within the fantasy, sci-fi, or erotica genres. I don't get the sense that readers of other genres have really made the switch to the Patreon model yet.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#3
It also depends on your followers. 

I'm on trending right now and I believe my story is doing "well" or at least fine enough. 

But I only have 750 followers. about 1000-1200 people got to latest chapter. 25 people on discord.

Let's say I open a patreon, i could expect 10% of followers participating (and I believe this to be an overestimation even), so 75 patreons, at 3 dollars on average that's just 200 dollars/month. 

I'm not sure it is even worth the trouble (setting the account then having to declare the revenue for taxes and co... ) 

Consider a patreon once you have at least a 1000 followers and thousands of readers on your latest chap. 

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#4

Tynian Wrote: Let's say I open a patreon, i could expect 10% of followers participating (and I believe this to be an overestimation even), so 75 patreons, at 3 dollars on average that's just 200 dollars/month.



10% is definitely an over-estimate, especially for the initial launch. You probably can't count on getting more than 1% in your first few months. It'll continue growing after that, but more slowly. I usually recommend waiting until you have about 2000 followers, with the hopes of getting 20 patrons in the first few months your Patreon goes live. I think some potential patrons are less likely to sign up if they see an account with fewer than 20 patrons, since they'd be worried that it's just going to go inactive.

Note that it'll be tough to hit 2000 followers on Royal Road alone unless you align very closely with the interests of the Royal Road reader base.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#5

IvyVeritas Wrote: I usually recommend waiting until you have about 2000 followers, with the hopes of getting 20 patrons in the first few months your Patreon goes live. I think some potential patrons are less likely to sign up if they see an account with fewer than 20 patrons, since they'd be worried that it's just going to go inactive.

Do you think that getting Patreon up to soon could actually hurt the story/revenue long term? I agree that it is unlikely to get patrons with few followers, but maybe you can get some if you are lucky? If you get a lot of followers for the story here on RR later, does it matter that much if you had Patreon up for some time already with few dedicated patrons?

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#6

IvyVeritas Wrote: 10% is definitely an over-estimate, especially for the initial launch. You probably can't count on getting more than 1% in your first few months. It'll continue growing after that, but more slowly. I usually recommend waiting until you have about 2000 followers, with the hopes of getting 20 patrons in the first few months your Patreon goes live. I think some potential patrons are less likely to sign up if they see an account with fewer than 20 patrons, since they'd be worried that it's just going to go inactive.

Note that it'll be tough to hit 2000 followers on Royal Road alone unless you align very closely with the interests of the Royal Road reader base.


Thanks, that just reinforce my point. No use opening a patreon before being in the top 1% of RR.

Though you look like an exception: 500 followers but more than 200 patreons...  So maybe there is room for others to try that too. ^^  

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#7

IvyVeritas Wrote: The biggest factor I'm aware of is to post a story that aligns with the interest of the site you're posting on. The biggest Patreons I can think of that post on RR are all LitRPG, while the biggest Patreons I'm aware of that post on SOL/Lit are harem erotica. I don't track every story, though, so my info may be out of date; isekai and reincarnation are also popular on RR, but I don't know what their Patreon accounts look like--and a lot of the stories in those two genres are also LitRPG.

The next biggest factor I can think of is to get on Trending, and I'm not sure how that currently works. If you manage to get on Trending, then you'll get a lot more potential readers. I wasn't aware of Trending when I first started posting, and I'm also not writing LitRPG, isekai, or reincarnation, so my readership here has been somewhat limited.

Quality will play a role (though maybe not as big a role as one would hope), as will how interesting the story is, and how good it is at drawing in new readers.

This paragraph is guesswork, and may not be accurate: As far as I can tell, most successful writer Patreons are long-running serials, male-focused, within the fantasy, sci-fi, or erotica genres. I don't get the sense that readers of other genres have really made the switch to the Patreon model yet.



Out of curiosity, where else other than Royal Road would you think a superhero series with heavy sci-fi, fantasy, and political elements would do best?

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#8
Patreon is kind of a weird animal. I've found that it tends to grow in unpredictable ways.

My Patreon started as a six chapter novella (50+ novel length pages) called Rathorn: Savage Adventures, which was attached to the Battlemasters & Berserkers Kickstarter (a supplement for DnD 5E). Rathorn did well enough as an add-on, and then I picked up a few more sales for the Kindle once I released it there. I started a Patreon so I could keep going with Rathorn, and attempt to monetize it, and I immediately got about 5 backers. I personally know four of these backers, so they're just trying to cheer me on. Then I did a guest blog about Rathorn on Owen KC Stephens' website, and that drew in another. Then I couple more trickled in. Finally, I contacted an author of some barbarian fiction I enjoy, and he backed me. So at present, I have 10 backers for $62 a month, and we're in the first month. In return, I'm promising a second episode in the next three days, and then one episode a month after that.

One thing I like about Patreon is that it gives you a steady income every month, but I'm sure I'll eventually lose one or two of my initial backers, so the goal is to replace them before they drop, and then add some. Also, delivery of promised work is essential. I back a couple people on Patreon, and if they stopped delivering, my patronage would dry up real quick.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#9


Quote:Out of curiosity, where else other than Royal Road would you think a superhero series with heavy sci-fi, fantasy, and political elements would do best?




Kickstarter and Amazon.

An example would be Matt Forbeck's Brave New World series, which resulted from a Kickstarter where he said he wanted to take a year off work and write one novel a month. The KS was successful, he delivered, and BNW is one of the results of that year.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#10

Artim Wrote: Do you think that getting Patreon up to soon could actually hurt the story/revenue long term? I agree that it is unlikely to get patrons with few followers, but maybe you can get some if you are lucky? If you get a lot of followers for the story here on RR later, does it matter that much if you had Patreon up for some time already with few dedicated patrons?



I suspect that having a nearly dead Patreon (in terms of number of patrons) for a significant length of time will hurt more than it will help, but I don't have any data to back up that conclusion. Some potential patrons who decide not to participate when the numbers are low might not return to the Patreon page later to see that it's grown.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#11

Tynian Wrote: Thanks, that just reinforce my point. No use opening a patreon before being in the top 1% of RR.

Though you look like an exception: 500 followers but more than 200 patreons...  So maybe there is room for others to try that too. ^^



Royal Road isn't the only site I post on--I've got about 7000 weekly readers, though it's hard to give an exact number because each site uses different statistics. In the first three or four months after opening my Patreon, I got 80 patrons, which was slightly over 1% of my weekly readers. I'm pretty close to 4% now (nearing the two-year mark). There are other stories that will have higher conversion rates than mine, but they're not going to be wildly different.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#12
I don't have enough readers to justify starting a Patreon, but I hope I can offer something besides early access to chapters. Even with a backlog, it sounds overwhelming to me. I want more time to edit, and I don't know if I can keep track of both the Patreon schedule and the RR schedule.

Are patrons willing to support serials that only offer bonus features and short stories?

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#13
I don't offer anything additional on my Patreon. No early access, nothing regarding the story, although I do post once or twice a month talking about random things. I do pretty good, but I didn't open up my Patreon until I'd been writing for about 6 months.

I didn't see a huge jump in it after joining RR. I've been pretty much stagnant at the same level for about 4 months, but that's OK, I like where I'm sitting at.

RR isn't where you get a Patreon devoted fanbase. You get those from sites that are more tailored to what you do.

I'm not an expert. I mainly write and check my patreon every two or three weeks to see how it's going or if anyone left me an important message or just said hello.

Patreon is up to the whims of your fans. How you give them what they want is up to you, but one thing they want is consistency out of you and for you to carry through with your promises.

One of my promises when I put up my Patreon is nothing would change. Nothing hidden behind paywalls (All my posts are public) nothing held back, that I would keep going the way I had for six months. I think that is important to my supporters, that I keep my word.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#14
I'm not too concerned about making money off my story (and it has far, far too few followers for the amount I've written to make that worthwhile, anyway.) But I am pretty new to the whole world of original online fiction, so I didn't realize at first how much certain sites were focused on particular audiences. I've got a more straight-up fantasy story (no time loop, isekai, litrpg elements, etc) and while I've definitely got some fans here, the growth has been fairly slow. Do you guys have a recommendation for a site that might be good to post the story to, alongside RR?

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#15

Ralts Wrote: I don't offer anything additional on my Patreon. No early access, nothing regarding the story, although I do post once or twice a month talking about random things. I do pretty good, but I didn't open up my Patreon until I'd been writing for about 6 months.

I didn't see a huge jump in it after joining RR. I've been pretty much stagnant at the same level for about 4 months, but that's OK, I like where I'm sitting at.

RR isn't where you get a Patreon devoted fanbase. You get those from sites that are more tailored to what you do.

I'm not an expert. I mainly write and check my patreon every two or three weeks to see how it's going or if anyone left me an important message or just said hello.

Patreon is up to the whims of your fans. How you give them what they want is up to you, but one thing they want is consistency out of you and for you to carry through with your promises.

One of my promises when I put up my Patreon is nothing would change. Nothing hidden behind paywalls (All my posts are public) nothing held back, that I would keep going the way I had for six months. I think that is important to my supporters, that I keep my word.



More power to you! I just calculated what you're getting if every single one of your Patrons only contributed the lowest tier, and while so many here would consider that amount either "modest" or "utter failure", I would consider that amount to be a rousing financial success.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#16

Ralts Wrote: RR isn't where you get a Patreon devoted fanbase. You get those from sites that are more tailored to what you do.

It most certainly is a Patreon devoted fanbase. It has a very high conversation rate compared to so many other places. You are right about that part that you get devoted fans from sites that are tailored to what you do. And RR is is tailored to certain types of fiction, primarily LitRPG.

As for my advice on getting a Patreon going... don't start thinking about it till you actually have a reader-base, and once you do, think about what you want out of it. Ralts above clearly has it set up as a "support the author" kind of thing, while the largest on the site like mine have a more transactional system where you offer something people want and they support for that. Again, consider what you want out of writing before committing to either option. If you begin offering things on your Patreon you change the dynamic significantly from just posting as you like, with donations being entirely optional. You create a commitment.

I personally didn't think about opening a Patreon until I had a lot of people asking me about one, and in retrospect, that was likely a good move. At least it turned out pretty well.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#17

TienSwitch Wrote: More power to you! I just calculated what you're getting if every single one of your Patrons only contributed the lowest tier, and while so many here would consider that amount either "modest" or "utter failure", I would consider that amount to be a rousing financial success.

I think it's weird that some people would consider it an 'utter failure'.


I guess it depends on where you are in your life. I owe nothing on my house, nothing on my two cars, nothing on anything except for the one credit card I keep revolving balances on. Low energy bulbs, modern appliances, high R insulation on the house, modern heat pump and furnace, no cable TV. So my bills are REALLY low, even with my habit of stocking up disaster supplies (3 months food for 1.5 times the people in your house, same amount of bottled water, medical supplies, emergency tools, generator, gas tank, solar generator, it can literally save your life) and my wife's habit of buying expensive yarn to make baby stuff out of for the grandkids.

Oh well, mileage may vary and all that.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#18

TienSwitch Wrote:
Ralts Wrote: I don't offer anything additional on my Patreon. No early access, nothing regarding the story, although I do post once or twice a month talking about random things. I do pretty good, but I didn't open up my Patreon until I'd been writing for about 6 months.

I didn't see a huge jump in it after joining RR. I've been pretty much stagnant at the same level for about 4 months, but that's OK, I like where I'm sitting at.

RR isn't where you get a Patreon devoted fanbase. You get those from sites that are more tailored to what you do.

I'm not an expert. I mainly write and check my patreon every two or three weeks to see how it's going or if anyone left me an important message or just said hello.

Patreon is up to the whims of your fans. How you give them what they want is up to you, but one thing they want is consistency out of you and for you to carry through with your promises.

One of my promises when I put up my Patreon is nothing would change. Nothing hidden behind paywalls (All my posts are public) nothing held back, that I would keep going the way I had for six months. I think that is important to my supporters, that I keep my word.



More power to you! I just calculated what you're getting if every single one of your Patrons only contributed the lowest tier, and while so many here would consider that amount either "modest" or "utter failure", I would consider that amount to be a rousing financial success.

10 patrons giving $2 is better than 1 patron giving $20. Patrons come and go over time, and a large volume of low contributors is a lot more reliable an income than a small number of high contributors. Personally I think a lot of low tier patrons is a great thing.

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#19
I have an excellent Patreon following.  Not so much on RR but this site really doesn't tumble to my genre, I continue to post here for the few readers that follow the story.

I offer up a ton of my research on my Patreon site and since my story is a daily, serial saga the readers take them as just that.  My tiers are simply donation levels and there are no additional benefits.  However I do blog freely about the concepts in the story and in our world as I write.

I supported IvyVeritas for quite a while but my interest fell off when I lost track of where the story was last, I'm not quite clear on how that happened because I enjoyed the writing quite a bit.  I think it was the book thing, perhaps if I went back and read them as a series of books instead of as just a story.

Regardless, I don't do Patreon to make money - I do it to post a story with all of the historical research (regardless of how controversial in the modern day.)  

I'll subscribe to Ivy again once I get the story line down again.

-Emmeran

Re: Can we talk about Patreon?

#20
Okay, I'd say most of the names present in this thread understand who I am and why I'm doing research. For the rest of you, I've been spending a lot of spare moments researching best practices in web publishing for the last seven or eight months now. 

Here's the first thing to get clear about any income from writing at all, whether you're in web publishing or trad publishing. If you only compare your income to the big names you'll always feel like a failure. If your goal is to be independently wealthy and sleep on a bed of money, then you'll never get it through writing. 

Writing is an art. You can turn art into a career, but I'll come right out and say that a career can never be art. Oh, you might be an artist at something that makes you money, but that's what we call an analogy. I'm talking about literal art, and what draws people to that is something that transcends normal economics. In almost everything, people will respond to attempts to sell them something with "Okay, but what do I get in return?" With art good enough to make a career, your audience feels they have already received something, and want to give you something in return. 

There is a lot of research on the subject of how a critical mass of grateful fans can support an artist. For one example, look up the True Fan model; but when you do, make sure you also read the follow-ups so you know it's not all rosy theory. Most artists are barely more than hobbyists who get a little something to recoup their costs. They do what they love, because if it's only worth doing for a paycheck then it's not worth doing for anything less. Instead, they're in it for something else. 

I'm not going to get into the philosophy of art for art's sake (which is a near-meaningless and extremely trite phrase that does about as much damage to art as over-commercialism), but I really want to pound it into you that financial success is not the same as artistic success. It's a great indicator, but it's just an indicator. It enables you to do more art, but it does not make the art. 

Okay, enough claptrap. On to some financial realities. 

In trad pub, a breakout debut novel is one that sells more than 300 units in its opening month. Yes, you read that right. Ten sales per day on average. And I'm not just talking about self-pub, either. That's a figure I got decades ago from Tor Books. At that time, an author could be expected to make maybe five cents on the dollar if there was a good contract. (It's a little better now, but it also gets really complicated with advances; suffice to say for now that if you ever get offered an advance, don't take it unless you're desperate.) So 300 units at about $7 each for a mass market paperback would therefore result in a maximum of $105 for the author that month. 

Sounds disappointing, doesn't it? Well, the longer you work at it, the more units are available and the more people see your book, so it can grow over time; but landing a book contract was never a guarantee of financial success. In fact, large publishing houses will often require around 15,000 sales before greenlighting a second book (or at least expect that they'll hit that mark within a reasonable timeframe based on their projections). A "reasonable time" varies by genre, but in almost all fiction it's about a year and a half. 

Now let's compare this to self-publishing on Amazon, where a sale can net you maybe as much as $3 on average. (Exactly how much depends on print versus ebook sales.) That's a much bigger chunk, but you get fewer eyeballs on your book unless you've got great marketing. Still, you can match that old-timey level of $100-ish dollars a month with just one sale a day. 

Some of you may recall me mentioning a few times that $300 a month is my marker for success. Now you know how I got that figure. It's equivalent to the trad pub level of sales per month. And while I've been pretty blunt about my criticism of the state of large publishing houses these days, they got to that standard value for pretty good reasons. 

So it is not worthless to open a Patreon before you have a huge number of followers. Don't look at it like you're failing if you're not making four figures instantly. And certainly don't get discouraged if you find your initial number of patrons decreases! I've watched several new authors open Patreons and kept track of how they developed, and a lot of them seem to treat anything less than a breakout success as a failure. The goal is not to quit your day job. The goal is to recoup the costs of your hobby and allow you to afford to spend more time on it. 

If you can quit your day job, great! Don't do it until you have enough saved up to last you a year. (That requires you to not let your living immediately expand to fit your means, just as a reminder.) Don't assume your new income is guaranteed. Don't take your patrons for granted. And don't let your patrons down. The more you get discouraged, the less you focus on what brought those patrons to you in the first place, and the less likely they are to recommend you to others. This happened to literally the first test case I was watching here on Royal Road, the first author I followed because it looked like he would be a great example of growth, only for him to crash and burn within two months because he clearly expected success to be instant.

If you want to get serious income from web fiction, then you need to do the same thing I've told trad novel writers for my whole career. Treat it like a job. Remember, careers don't become art, but art can become a career. Take the existing passion you have and nurture it. Grow your skill, and focus your time and energy on things that make you a better writer. Make your prose, your plots, and your characterization better. Interact with your fans and let them feel you value them as something more than merely customers. 

And yes, the more sites you post on, the more eyeballs you get on your story, and the more likely you are to gain new patrons. If you want to be really serious about this, you'll want to post on more than just Royal Road. As with everything, though, the more you do outside your story -- such as seek out and interact with fans in different forums -- the less time you have for actually writing. This seems to be the main reason why everyone focuses on Discord. I wouldn't recommend immediately launching the story across five different sites and trying to split your attention between them. Post on one at first and gradually expand.