By now I'm sure you've all heard about how Patreon is changing their fee structure. They're tacking a thirty-five cent plus 2.9% service charge onto each contribution you make, per creator. This is going to increase the cost, especially to folks who give small amounts, by a significant amount. If you give someone a dollar a month, your cost is going up by more than a third, which is kind of ridiculous.
Early responses were outraged, and folks were accusing Patreon of doing a cash grab. If they were charging your credit card or PayPal account once per month, the argument went, then they were only paying a once per month service charge. If you support ten creators and they were charging you the service fee ten times for a given month, people were assuming they were planning to pocket the extra nine fees. I actually read some commentary by folks who thought Patreon was trying to pump up their value for a (secretly?) planned IPO, or something similar.
It turns out that's not the case. The original write-up was very badly written; whoever wrote it, and whoever approved its release, needs a good smack upside the head. :/ They've put out some additional info since, and what's actually going on is that they're changing how they process charges.
Instead of charging you once a month, they're going to charge you for each creator you support on the anniversary of the day of the month you first began supporting them. Why? Because that lets them give the insta-pay option to everyone, rather than just a few creators, which is what they're doing currently. So from now on, if you click on a creator to support them at whatever level, you're charged for a month's worth of support right then and there, and then a month later, and every month after that.
Why? Because some people go around pledging to support a creator at whatever level, then go in and read/see/download/use the Patron-only materials they now have access too, then cancel their support before the end of the month, so they're never charged. It's basically theft, if you want to look at it that way. However you look at it, it sucks and it's uncool. And yeah, I've had a couple of people do that to me.
It's a small problem, though. At least in my experience -- I suppose there might be some bigger creators out there who are losing much larger amounts of money on this scam. Patreon says this instant-pay system is one of the most common things creators have asked for, so this is how they're implementing it. If they're charging your credit card once per month for each creator you support, then they're going to end up paying that many processing fees, and the fees have to come from somewhere. They apparently have some data saying that most of the patrons using the system would rather pay those fees themselves than have it come out of the creator's slice of the pie.
Judging by the response, that data might've been a bit off. Or maybe it wasn't -- maybe the patrons who are fine with this just aren't making any noise. But a lot of other patrons are, and every creator I've seen express an opinion is upset about it.
I'm not happy about it either. What it looks like to me is, they had a small problem, and they're solving it by replacing it with a much bigger problem. Not smart.
If any of you folks who support me need to lower your support level, or quit all together, I totally get it. I support a bunch of creators myself at a buck each, and my costs are going to go up by a lot, so I understand where you're coming from if you need to cut back.
If you want to complain to Patreon about what's going on, use this form. Please be polite; companies tend to ignore folks who are cussing at them. Make sure you use the "Get Help" option when it comes up, because they apparently don't respond to "Feedback." (And actually, now that I look at the form, the "I'm here to..." drop-down doesn't seem to even have a Feedback option anymore. Interpret that however you like.)
Some creators are talking about leaving Patreon. I'm going to hang in here for a while. There's enough of a stink being made about this that I think there's a good chance Patreon will backpedal and figure out some other way to handle the situation. I hope so, anyway. I'll be around for at least a couple more months.
Some folks have talked about moving to other support platforms. The problem is, I've never heard of any of the ones they're talking about, and chances are you haven't either. One of the things that makes Patreon work so well is that it's been around for a while, it's built up some trust [wry smile] and it has a big audience. If the community shatters, moving in smaller groups to half a dozen other platforms, it's going to hurt everyone. No one wants to have five or six different places to go to get the stuff they're supporting, and creators don't want to see the huge reduction in patrons that move is likely to bring about.
The one possibility along these lines that I can imagine working is something called Drip, which is a Patreon-clone type service that Kickstarter has in process. Right now it's invite-only, but Kickstarter is another large, established service, that's been around longer than Patreon and could absorb pretty much everyone who wants to move from Patreon, providing another large audience for creators to play to. If Patreon stays stubborn about these extra charges, and folks start leaving here in large numbers, I'll probably keep an eye on Kickstarter/Drip, and move over there when they open it up to everyone. If that happens, I'll let you all know in plenty of time.
For those of you who are supporting me at a dollar a month, and can't afford to increase that cost by almost 40%, there's an option right now. I post my monthly listings, with two months' worth of deadlines, on my blogs, same as I've done for almost a decade. You can follow one of them in your blog reader (I use Feedly, and it works great), or you can bookmark it and just check it in the middle of the month to see if I've posted the new listing yet.
For a dollar a month here, you're basically getting my grateful thanks and a notice in your e-mail once a month when the post goes up. If you're okay doing without that monthly e-mail, you can still use the listing and I'll completely understand.
Angie's Desk This is my main for-writers blog. I only post a few times a month, sometimes about what's going on in writing/publishing, sometimes about what I'm doing, sometimes about whatever I think might be fun or interesting in general. It's my oldest blog, and is half professional and half personal. This is where I announce publications in the SF/Fantasy/Crime/etc. areas, when I have something come out.
Angela Benedetti's Blog This is the blog of my romance writer persona. I haven't published any new romance in ages (although that'll change soon, I hope) so pretty much all I've posted here for a while is the monthly anthology listings. I'd stop, and leave this as a dormant for-readers blog, but a lot of folks have this blog bookmarked, or posted on their blogrolls or forums or resource lists or whatever, just for the anthology listings, and I don't want to leave all those folks hanging. If you want to subscribe to a minimum traffic blog and pretty much (for now) only get a notice in your reader when I post the anthology listing, this is the one to go for. I'm working on getting my romance backlist republished, though, and am still writing new romance, so it's not going to stay dormant. And I write gay romance, so if that offends you, you're definitely going to want to subscribe or bookmark the other one. :)
However this works out, I'll be around. I appreciate every single person who's supported me, and I'm very annoyed at Patreon fumbling the ball here. I hope they come to their senses before charging over the approaching cliff. If they don't, I'll still be doing the anthology listings, and you know where to find me.