The internet has made it possible for previously overlooked genres to thrive. Gay fiction is the perfect example. Not many publishers were willing to take a risk on it before. Now it doesn’t matter, because artists can market directly to interested people and still earn a living. That can change though, and quickly. A good example of this is YouTube's adpocalypse, when a simple change of policy saw independent creators’ revenue plummet. The result is that creators started producing fewer videos, or quit altogether, because they needed to seek new revenue sources. The same could happen to books, such as when Audible reduced the roaylties that authors receive. Amazon, who made this change after purchasing Audible, controls such a huge portion of the book market that a similar policy shift could prove ruinous for me and others. Most artists aren’t in it for the money, but we all need to eat and contribute to our households. That’s why in recent years I’ve been trying to establish an alternate source of income. For me, the most hopeful solution is Patreon. If you’re not familiar with Patreon, it’s similar to Kickstarter except you contribute a small monthly amount to keep a creator going while receiving perks in return.
Why do I need the extra cash? As a self-published author, much of my profit is eaten up by expenses. Aside from the usual costs associated with running a business, I pay for editing, advertising, and illustration. The audiobooks are a particularly daunting investment which require me to forward thousands of dollars despite not being certain if I’ll see that money return. Each year my expenses total a five-figure sum, which is reported to the IRS. Uncle Sam then rewards my entrepreneurship by taxing the remaining income at a higher rate than most people pay. So yes, the publishing business can be very expensive and stressful, but it’s also my dream job, so I’m willing to fight to make this work. That having been said, I wouldn’t mind a little help.
Patreon provides me with the security to deal with these changes as they happen. The additional income allows me to cover expenses while taking new risks so I can diversify. Thanks to my supporters, I was able to hire an artist to illustrate the Something Like Summer comic. I’ve also written more than I ever would have otherwise. I can honestly say that without Patreon, the Something Like… series would be two books shorter, since a good amount of that material originated here. My patrons have also supported me emotionally. Writing is normally a very lonely job, but each week I have a group of people there, encouraging me while offering honest feedback. I’ve tried to repay that kindness by working even harder to create new stories for them to enjoy. Although honesty, they’ve made such a positive difference in my life that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to thank them adequately. I can only hope that Patreon has been an enjoyable experience for them too.
I hope this model becomes successful, and not just for me. If enough people chip in a small amount to support the art they love, the whims of ludicrously rich corporations won’t matter as much, and creativity will be free to thrive for everyone’s benefit. So thank you for potentially lending your support to me or other artists. Your contribution can make a bigger difference than you might realize.