So I sometimes find myself talking up Patreon to other writers or artists and they always ask why I like it so much. I’m writing this so I have a link to give them from now on, lol.
It isn’t a perfect site, let me say that right up front; for instance, it does not always notify me about likes on my posts and it will not let me do what I’ll be doing to Darkwood this weekend, which is separate out stories and posts onto pages where you can pick and choose your favorite characters or types of stories. Yes, I love the idea of giving you a Myths of the Silverlands page. BUT, as an author, as an artist, I push Patreon for reasons that go beyond its minor organization flaws.
The first reason is simple enough. Money. See those faces at the top of this post? They are beautiful, psycho, and my reason for living. They shout at me, jump on me to get me out of bed, and remind me that, no matter how bad things get, I’ve still got them. They come with a few requirements, besides my absolute devotion. They like to eat. I like to take them to the vet and keep them healthy. I also like to pay for my pet insurance cause life happens and to lose even one of them would end me. Beyond their needs, which, admittedly, trumps all things, I also like to eat and make my car payments and do things for those I love. Life costs money. And as much as I enjoy writing and selling books, the fact is that royalty payments do not come in instantly. I know, weird, right? Here we are in a digital world where everything is instant and automated and Amazon makes me wait 90 days to even see a dime if you buy my books today. I’m not complaining; it is part of the deal. But Patreon pays me monthly and the stability of a regular paycheck is necessary to pay the bills.
If you write and know anything about the business side of this game, you know that we have good months – like right after a book release – and we have bad months. The kids need their dinner, somebody broke a leg, Verizon definitely does not believe in getting paid once every six months or so. Money is a necessary part of life and you will never, ever hear me talking bad about it because money makes the good things in life possible. Lack of money, however, is the root of all evil. Especially when your work depends on a focused, relaxed mind. I say this to all writers who are serious out there. I don’t care if you have one fan. I don’t care if the only person that would invest in you right now is your mom – mine is one of my supporters and I am not ashamed of that. If you are lucky enough to have parents that believe in you, then go start a Patreon and sign them up. Do it because the day will come when this is the only thing you want to be doing, but art takes time, sometimes years of it, and yeah. The bank doesn’t take rough drafts as payment. Don’t expect Patreon to pay your bills, at least not right away, but you can lay the foundations for a better future. It isn’t even about the amount of money your first patron (or any patron) donates. It is about knowing that someone believes, full stop.
Which brings me to my second reason for using Patreon. I started my page because a dedicated fan told me to. C.B. read my early books, knew that I wasn’t in a great spot, and wanted a way to support what I do. At first, I was nervous as hell. I mean, to start Patreon and take his money meant I was basically making a promise to keep writing during a time when I couldn’t even see a way to keep eating. I have been doing this since I was eighteen and making an actual promise to continue? Easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done concerning writing and that includes putting my first book on Amazon as an indie author and inducing a full blown panic attack (remember that part in Tangled when she freaks out about leaving her tower? I did that for three days).
Since that fateful day when I hit the button to make my Patreon live, I have had what you might call an existential struggle with myself. About writing, about the kind of life I want (do I really want to spend my life writing about dragons?), about what was going on with my seemingly never ending writer’s block. I cannot credit Patreon entirely with helping me finally, and thankfully, figuring out that last bit. But I will tell you that, had I not had patrons waiting patiently (OMG, SO patient, thank you guys!) I might have just packed it all in and decided that I was not meant to do this. I isn’t that anyone was expecting anything. It was that there were these people who refused to walk away from me. Six whole people who thought I was meant to do this. In a world where so many people are dedicated to telling you to stop dreaming and get a real job (cause obviously they have never had to edit a thousand page book and have no concept of the work truly involved in creating anything) and you don’t yet have a name to bank on, six people is HUGE.
Patreon keeps you honest, but more than that. It keeps reminding you, month after month, that someone, even if it is just your mom, believes in you enough to drop cold, hard cash on your head. It is a physical reminder that, if you aren’t working to get better, working toward your dream, or just working to get working, then you aren’t doing what you promised. I don’t know about you, but I loathe breaking promises. Everything you have gotten from me for the past few weeks and will continue to get from now on is a direct result of these people making it clear they are still there, still waiting, and know that I won’t let them down. This monthly payout literally takes your ability to forget what you said you would do. It is a real time gauge of where you are and where you are going. Even when the whole rest of your life is being overwhelmed by… well… life, Patreon gently reminds you that there is something else, a passion, a fire, a dream and helps you get back to it, even when you are busy elsewhere; Mom is giving you two bucks a month to at least make an attempt, better not disappoint her, right? So even when I’m having one of those ‘who do you think you are, stealing time from other, more pressing issues to write’ moments, which happen all too often, I have these people who I have promised to write for. And, next thing you know, I am working hard on getting that next story moving or just trying to understand my block so I don’t disappoint them. I owe all my current patrons, Airiana, Dee Dee, Jessica, C.B., Billy, and, of course, my mom. Because of you guys, I not only got past my block, I own that bitch. You guys are amazing and I love you.
And what about the people who tell you how silly you are and that you ought to quit? Patreon is proof they are wrong. I really enjoy that bit, but not because it is about telling other people to take their well intentioned interference and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. If you know me, you know that people like that actually don’t stop me. I am a red head. I am naturally the sort of person that hears ‘you can’t do that’ and goes ‘hold my beer.’ I cannot help it. One of my favorite things, without being a vicious bitch about it (unless you are one of the few people that has managed to get on my bad side and buy a house there), is to quietly point out that I can, in fact, do that. I enjoy showing people not just that they are wrong, but why they can do it too. I like lifting people and I am the sort that believes the best way to inspire is to be an inspiration and crack their protests by being exactly what they said I couldn’t be. Yes, yes, I’m that sort of annoying person. But I grow on you.
My third reason for using Patreon (and my personal favorite) is getting to share. You may have noticed there has been a lot from me lately. Like, an everyday sort of a lot. My patrons get it all first, of course. Right now it is three or four days in advance. By this weekend, they will be a week ahead and that is my gift to them because everything you have seen lately is because of them. Because they made me take a long look at myself, because their support made it necessary for me to figure out where I was going wrong. And I figured it out. More that figured it out. The Silverlands will be a massive undertaking, the sort of thing with so many people and stories that it is unlikely I will ever find the end. But there is so much about it that is not book sized, so much that would usually be in the appendix, lost and forgotten, or tucked into some magazine nobody is ever going to read. I did not have to think about what to do with this information. It was obvious that it belonged to my patrons. More than that. It belongs all of you. If things go as I expect, there may be a podcast coming soon, bedtime stories, of a sort, and quite a few other surprises. But my patrons? There will be things I get to create just for them. I get to finally pay them back for all that they have given me and all their patience. I love this; I like gifts as much as the next person. Okay. Maybe a little more than that. Seriously, show me a wrapped box and it doesn’t even matter if there is anything inside, I just like unwrapping stuff. But giving gifts is my absolute favorite thing to do. I am that person that goes Christmas shopping and cannot settle for getting Aunt Margret yet another cinnamon scented candle. Nope. I gotta figure out what you have secretly wanted since you were eight and wrap it up under the tree. So the ability to give back to those who have given me their amazing support is enormous. To be able to give them things they can get no-where is else is, as the old commercial says, priceless. Best of all? Every bit of this is actually working toward the books I’m writing without rushing the process, which might take months or even years before I see a completed product.
Patreon allows me to just let the process happen. No stress over when I’ll finish this book or the next one. No worries over when I’ll have something to sell because the puppies need food today. No distress that my fans want a new book and are losing interest because I haven’t made one in a while. AND, as an added bonus, my Patreon proceeds will be dedicated to making my books better; I’ll be using those funds, when the time comes, to find both cover artists and editors for my work, giving it the professional polish it – and anyone who reads it – deserves.
Are you a writer? An artist? A fantasy tailor, creative baker, or cinnamon candlestick maker? Go, make your own creator page. Then tell that one person who always has your back, be it your mom, dad, or Aunt Margret that you’d like them to pledge to your future. And then tell everyone else!
Want to be one of my supporters and keep those adorable monsters fed? I adore you already, here’s the link. Feed The Dragons