There’s been a lot of controversy the last week in the m/m world concerning authors who have Patreons set up. Patreon is basically a service artists (from all walks of life, like photographers, musicians, painters, filmmakers, models, you name it) can employ for fans who wish to support them in ways beyond buying their end product.
Patrons have been around for thousands of years. Shakespeare had patrons, and considering some of the salacious rumors surrounding just how much of himself he shared with his patrons, it’s possible he took it to levels well beyond what the modern patron does through the Patreon website. The artists of the Renaissance had patrons, and how many of you have seen the Starz network TV show Spartacus? Ilithyia, Glaber’s wife, became a patron of the House of Batiatus, promising enough money to completely cover the expense of training and caring for one of the gladiators. While parts of that show are not historically accurate, this detail is, and Spartacus lived a hundred years before Christ’s birth.
So patronage is not a new thing, though it has morphed into something the modern artist can take advantage of digitally, and in ways people from all walks of life—not just the rich—can take advantage of.
Being writers, we don’t get a fixed income. I know 60 days in advance what I’m going to get from Amazon. Payments from Draft 2 Digital—my distributor through Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Inktera—are monthly, so we know what we’re getting there as it hits our accounts. ARe were great at telling us what to expect each quarter, until they decided to keep it all instead. And my French publisher is still in the process of translating Power Exchange.
There is little margin for error in living like this. The most I get is 2 months’ notice that what I’m bringing in isn’t going to pay the bills—less than that if I switched to KU for my income, because Amazon only decides what they’re paying those authors two weeks after the month-end. Two months is nothing if you need to scramble to find a job, start working, and earn your first paycheck before then.
“So, if you can’t cover your bills through writing, get a job that does cover them,” some people might say.
I released 2 books in 2016. That’s the same output I had when I was working full time as a corporate drone, not the doubled quantity I’d hoped for when I was laid off and in a position to really have a go at the writing gig. Why?
Because I have gotten another job. 2 of them, in fact. I’ve picked up transcription work and have also become a virtual assistant for a multitude of clients… a lot of whom are like me, artists who are trying to free up their time from the doldrums of business running so they’ll have more time for their creations. I’ve also watched my wife, who only released one book at the beginning of 2016, become completely inundated with virtual assistant work to the detriment of her writing career. Kate has a post about her side of this as well, and you can read it here.
We are killing ourselves to make ends meet, and not because we’ve mismanaged funds, or because we’ve sat on our asses eating ice cream in front of the TV all day. Kate spent thousands to move here and a few months later, she had to have emergency surgery, adding thousands in debt to our situation because in this country, healthcare even for non-chronic issues can be enough to bankrupt a person. Amazon keeps changing the algorithms on how they feature books that are selling in order to support their Kindle Unlimited model, which is a royalty vampire for all but the biggest of names involved in it. Those algorithms are what put our books in front of new readers when people are browsing for what to read next. A writer friend of mine said the other day, “Is it any wonder only 15 of the top 100 books on Amazon’s rankings are not KU products?” All Romance eBooks decided to make off with our (and a bunch of others’) royalties for the last quarter of 2016. For Kate, Scribd changed their model in an attempt to compete with KU, and also nixed most romance books out of their inventory (which is why now only 2 of my titles are in it anymore) and that cut our royalties from them down by hundreds.
More $ going out + less $ coming in = unsustainable bill paying + AJ & Kate getting side jobs that have quickly become full time jobs because the paycheck is monthly as opposed to every 60 days for Amazon and descending amounts at varying points in time from the smaller vendors.
So while this might seem to some to be coincidental timing given the latest brouhaha, Kate and I have set up a Patreon after months of waffling back and forth on it. We waffled in part because we’ve seen grumblings like what has become a swell of voices this week decrying the practice, and in part because we keep trying to cover ourselves with “one more client” on both our VA client rosters. And I’ll be honest, there’s a little fear on my part that we’ll do this and the response will be chirping crickets.
We’ve decided to go into this jointly, because it’s all for the same household, and together, we think we can give patrons double the bang for the support—with new writing each month from the both of us, ebooks, signed paperbacks, and swag (plus we might come up with other ways to offer our talents and gratitude to patrons as we get better at this) depending on the tier patrons subscribe to.
For those who think this method of interaction between reader and author is nothing but bribery for content that “should be done out of love” or a demand for more from readers who already buy our works, I totally respect your decision to stick to supporting your chosen authors by buying their distributed works as you see fit. For those who think you’d be interested in helping support Kate and I in exchange for more content in the form of short stories, scene flashes from future works and WIPs, and perks above and beyond the traditional exchange of money for a formatted and edited ebook, check out the link to our Patreon and see if it’s something you might consider supporting.
On another note, as a result of the ARe closure, I realized my readers who prefer the PDF version of my books have no venue from which to purchase them. I’ve taken immediate steps to correct this, joining the Sea to Sky Books family in the hopes of providing readers with another choice in book buying options. My Books page has been updated with the new links to each title. I hope those who once used ARe as a source for buying books will consider this new option, run by Tina Haveman who is the owner/operator of eXtasy Books publishing. I’ve had extensive conversations with Tina and feel this could be the beginning of a good working relationship for both me and my readers alike. Happy reading!