Category Archives: writing

More on the Subject of Patreon

A common discussion among the Patreon creators community is what a successful Patreon campaign looks like and what it could mean for each of us.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this question.

A lot.

And what I’ve come up with is something maybe a little off script.

See, my current day job is in a corporate mall hair salon. I enjoy it, most of the time, but it comes with a fair share of headaches. One of the things I enjoy most is the people. As an extroverted personality type, I need people to function properly. I spent a lot of time in isolation before getting this job and my creativity suffered for it.

But now, I feel like the place where I am doing the job has become a drain.

That is due, in part, to the state of the world at the moment and especially now that the governor of Colorado has eliminated the risk dial and turned restrictions and mandates over to individual cities and counties. The county where I live has put into effect what they are calling “Free to decide,” which has and will continue to create holy chaos as everyone starts making their own choices.

Corporations are still going to require the strictest policies, opting for national regulations over local.

The State of Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies that is in charge of licensure for people like me in the personal services industries is still abiding by CDC recommendations meaning everyone with a DORA license must (should) also follow those regulations.

And us poor schmucks with the licenses get caught in the crossfire. Maybe literally given our Congressional representation *eyeroll*

But all of that is only part of it.

The other part is I work with nine other women. We are split 60-40 liberal to conservative, which shouldn’t be a problem except that nothing in our lives is done without political slant anymore. Wear a mask, you’re a liberal. Carry a gun, you’re a conservative.

Support basic human rights? Liberal.

And that’s the clencher right there.

The four “conservatives” I work with: openly and regularly refer to trans people as “it;” constantly malign Black Lives Matter; refuse to believe in white privilege; and decry the science behind the mRNA vaccines; believe liberals are lazy and entitled for wanting “free stuff,” among a laundry list of other things I am forced to listen to every day I work with them (which is every day I work). They refuse to keep their “political”—and I use that term ironically—conversations within their sphere. You are welcome to discuss whatever you want with your clients but don’t share those conversations with me or my clients, thirty and forty feet away.

Inside voices!

So, I feel like all of that negativity and—yes, I’ll say it—hate is draining all of the energy from my creativity. To that end, I would love to make a steady, reliable $500/month from Patreon to pay for rent on a studio salon. I could work the hours I want and write when I want. I could even write in my studio between clients. I’m still not sure I have the clientele to make this work but if I could, I think getting out of the toxic environment I find myself in currently would be a game changer. And I’d still be putting their patronage toward my writing, just in a round-about kind of way.


If you enjoy my content and would like to help me be able to create more, join me on Patreon or buy me a Ko-Fi.

Subscription support Platforms

Why do independent artists sound like they’re begging you for money all the time?

The answer? Because we probably are.

The thing is the creation and promotion of art, in any medium—be it paint, sculpture, music, writing—is costly for the artist. And even a represented artist ends up spending a lot of their own money to fund their dreams.

I can skim over the costs of being a professional musician, having known several of them over the years. But obviously, my knowledge is in the costs of being a writer.

So

Let’s talk about that.

First, let me begin by saying, obviously, there are ways to do it for free. It’s like trying to get to China in a rowboat, but it can be done.

However, if any artist—writer, musician, painter—wants to make a real living out of their art, they can’t skate by on free. At least not all the time.

Sure, you can recruit a trusted, honest, sympathetic group of writers to serve as beta readers and forego a developmental editor.

You can use the spelling and grammar checker in MS Word or Google Docs and forego the copy editor (warning, the grammar bot doesn’t catch everything!).

I have enough experience with graphic design that I can comfortably make my own covers. I am learning to sculpt in Blender so that I can make my own covers without using stock photography. And Creative Commons is free, but you can’t always find what you want there.

You can go to Pexels or Pixabay and download videos for trailers or teasers, but the really good stuff is only available with a free account.

The point is for everything we can do for free, there is a paid version that is going to offer a little more. There are sites like Bookfunnel or AllAuthor that send out newsletters with new releases, but you have to pay to be part of them. AllAuthor offers instant book cover mockups but maybe four or five layouts for free. If you want more, you have to sign up for the pro account.

Wix is an incredible website design and hosting platform. But if you want your own dot com, you have to pay for that. If you want your own contact@you.com email, you have to pay for that. If you want to sell your books directly from your site . . . yep, you guessed it. A paid add-on.

And most of these things are cheap. Five to ten dollars per month or maybe $100 for a year. Not much if that’s all you need. But when you need ten things that are $100 per year . . .

So, we sign up for Patreon or Ko-Fi or similar because—especially in the beginning—it’s hard to make the kind of money we need from book sales alone. Maybe you sell 1000 copies the first week or the first month but then you sell five or ten the next month and three the month after that. But with subscription services like Patreon, all you need is 100 people who appreciate your work enough to give you $5/month and BOOM! Your website is paid for, your advertising budget is secured, maybe your registration for a con or two. And all each person had to invest is the cost of one (or two, in my case) cup of luxury brand coffee each month.

That’s why you find these video game players on Twitch who are making a couple thousand dollars a month. Because 1000 people pledge $1 to see their content. That’s the breakdown. It really is that easy and that hard, all at the same time. The support subscription model really is pretty awesome.

Providing you have the kind of content people want to pay for. And that’s where the real work starts.


Patreon
Ko-Fi

Venting Frustrations

I want to be completely honest and transparent here for a moment.

Motivation is becoming more and more difficult for me to find. For anything. Lack of reviews on my book make it hard to want to finish the trilogy. Lack of participation in my Facebook group makes me not want to post there. Lack of participation on my Patreon makes me not want to post anything there.

And dealing with negative conversations and attitudes in my day job makes me dread going there every day.

I am normally a positive, people-person but I just want to tuck myself away and not see or talk to anyone. Because seeing people and talking to people, right now, makes me frustrated and angry.

I saw a conversation a few days ago between an author and a reader (who were also friends). The reader wanted to know when the author would be releasing the next book in one of her series. She called him to the mat and said sales on the first one were dismal and it had literally ZERO reviews so she was focusing on the series that had been successful. His response was to tell her he didn’t understand why no one reviewed it; it was soooo gooooood.

He didn’t even see the irony of his statement.

If it has literally zero reviews, that includes you, pal.

And part of the reason this conversation caught my attention is this same reader has told me the same thing about my series. It’s so good!

Okay? So? Don’t tell me, tell other people.

Sign up for (and read and share) newsletters.

Get involved with Patreon campaigns.

Buy books for friends.

Join reader groups and tell people there.

And for the love of everything good and green on this Earth, LEAVE A REVIEW!

Building Something Unique

I have set a goal for myself to promote my work to readers. I understand that writers are also readers but readers who are not writers, I feel, are less likely to be interested in things like editing tips and tips for developing characters or writing good dialog.

Not to mention, it seems like every other writer thinks this is the way to go with their platform building. Cater to other writers. Share your tips with other writers. So doing that makes me feel like just another bark in the kennel.

But I don’t know what to do—outside of sharing stories—to cater to readers instead of writers, or to cater to the reader side of other writers.

Obviously, sharing stories is important but I also don’t feel like I have the mojo to do that consistently.

I’ve been mining my old work, finding anything I think is worth sharing again. But I’m also quickly running out of old work to share.

Ideally, I would just write, all the time. But I need the connection of being around other human beings in order to keep my creativity flowing. And lately, that connection has been a source of nothing but frustration and irritation. Which is not nurturing. Not at all.

I don’t know the answer. I just want to stand out, be different and original, not blend in with what all the other writers are doing, while still doing things that will resonate with the people I need them to resonate with.

If you are interested in finding out more about what I AM working on, find me on Patreon, Instagram, and TikTok.

A Yearly Bout of Wanderlust

Every year, around this time, I get a serious wave of wanderlust. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the fact that for several years, I, either by myself or with family, have gone somewhere for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

When I was in college, we would travel to Mesquite to see my dad’s family for Thanksgiving.

I also visited my then-boyfriend’s family in Corpus Christi the week before Christmas my senior year of college.

After college, my mom and I would travel to Tucson to see her family for Christmas.

And the annual sojourn to Chicago for the New Heart for Christmas festival (yes, festival…three days of concerts, five days with basically no sleep, good friends, good memories, it was a festival).

And I was making a habit of traveling to Denver for my birthday.

So, for the better part of twenty years, I was going SOMEWHERE in November and December. So I start to get the wanderlust around this time.

This year it’s even worse because I can’t go anywhere. There’s just too much garbage in the way. The flights are going to be miserable, then getting somewhere there isn’t anything to do because everything is shut down or restricted. There are no concerts, no conventions. I’m just stuck here wishing I could be anywhere else. 

I am changing my milestone goals on my Patreon. Where, right now, I have a goal of adding a new “subscription box” tier when I reach $50 in monthly contributions, I will be changing that to a trip.

One thing about writing urban fantasy is it’s hard to write about a city you don’t know. With something like contemporary fiction or romance, you can focus your setting on the high points. Writing a contemporary romance about Chicago? Send your characters to Giordano’s or the Sky Deck and you’ve accomplished the goal. With urban fantasy, the city is just as much a character as the breathing creatures and you need to explore the side streets. You need to explore the nuances, eat where the locals do, go off the “beaten path” for entertainment. What places are only frequented by tourists? Where would your character live if they were in a bungalow versus a condo? Which side streets are one way and which way is that way? Do locals skirt around the city and drive on the Interstate/Freeway or do they wind in and out? Grab a Lyft or a cab and watch how the driver gets where they’re going. Talk to the driver and find out what is important to know about the city.

So I’m going to take my two week vacation from work and go somewhere and do all of that and document my adventures. I’m going to spend a lot of money on food and Lyft rides but I’m going to explore and learn. It’s a long way off but so is the freedom to do it so it seems like a good time to implement it.

If you would like to help me reach this goal, join me on Patreon.

Come to the Creepy Side

First, I want to make it clear that I am not comparing myself to others. That is toxic and unhelpful. I am, however, looking at what others accomplish as a means for setting goals.

For years, I was a horror writer. Until a vampire story I wrote in college turned into what I had called at the time dark fantasy. Now, it’s urban fantasy.

Urban fantasy is when you take elements of horror stories like vampires, ghouls, ghosts, and instead of monsters, you make them characters in a modern setting. The name of the genre is new but the concept is not. The concept goes back decades. Stories like A Christmas Carol are now included, retroactively, in the genre.

And it’s a fun genre to write in. So many possibilities. I’m not complaining about that.

It’s just frustrating to know the kinds of things I used to write that I can’t seem to find the ideas for any longer. And then to come across these Tumblr threads and Twitter threads where people are making up these creepy AF stories on the fly . . . That used to be me.

I used to make those kinds of stories up quickly and easily. Maybe not completely “on the fly” but I did a lot of flash fiction when I was writing what I still consider to be really good, and I’d churn out a 1000 word story in a couple of hours. Good, creepy stories.

I read one from Tumblr the other day about why humans are the only species to experience the Uncanny Valley effect. It got weird. Then it got historically feasible, but also still weird. I miss writing things like that.

I keep thinking I need examples of my creative work to share in various places—here, Vocal Media, Instagram, Patreon—so that people can get an idea of the kind of writer I am. But I also need that to be consistent so people can start to expect it and look for it.

Because that is ultimately what I want; people to actively seek me out.

On the Subject of NaNoWriMo. . .

I guess I’m participating by default? The third book of my trilogy is due to the editor in January but I reached a point where I hated everything but the beginning and end so I binned almost 40k words to rewrite the whole thing.

Publishing this trilogy has worked out very different to how I planned.

When I was going to DIY, I intended to have everything finished so everything could be edited together. Because it’s one story from start to finish, a loose three-act structure over three books. Editing it in pieces has brought up some interesting hurdles.

Not that that is why I scrapped all of book three. It just got weird. I needed to bring it back to the reality of the story universe.

I also cut out the torture scenes.

There. Chew on that for a minute while you decide if this series is for you.

I’ll release them, eventually, because they’re important, I think. They might end up in a book, they might end up on Patreon, I have yet to decide. I think it will depends on what the next year brings.

So, I won’t be on the NaNoWriMo site logging my progress. But I don’t have much choice other than finish 50k words this month.

And speaking of Patreon, if you like my content here, please join me there.

Building a Loyal Audience

I want to talk a little about audience.

I write books. Books are a special animal in that they are not readily conducive to multitasking, they are time consuming, and they draw a very specific kind of audience. People who like certain genres of book are quite in tune to what they like about that genre and if you stray from those parameters, you run the risk of being roasted, as it were.

Which is largely why I have worked vehemently to keep my book out of the paranormal romance category.

I honestly wasn’t even going to have a romantic element but I got talked into it. By the romantic element.

He’s just so damned charismatic he could probably sell water to a drowning man.

But building an audience, as a writer, is a special beast as well. One tip—or pointer or bit of advice—I found on the subject of audiences and social media is to make sure 80% of my content is on topic. It’s fine to, once in a while, show off a picture of my cat because writers have cats, right? But if I want to showcase my cat, it is better to have an Instagram for the cat and one for the words. Because if I flood my account with cat pictures and draw in thousands of cat lovers, they’re not going to care when I drop news about writing.

If they even see it at all.

What I need to do instead is aim all of my content toward the kind of reader who will want to read my books. In this case, urban fantasy readers are who I am trying to draw in. But also readers in general. So I use those hashtags and I write captions about that kind of stuff.

What all of this means, essentially, is that while I would appreciate the sales, I don’t want just everyone buying my books. I don’t want people who enjoy cozy mysteries or Christian fiction to buy my books out of an obligation to me as their friend. I don’t want family to buy my books because they think they should.

I want people who are going to dive in with both feet and devour half the book before realizing they need to go to bed. I want people who are going to be excited about my book(s). And that’s a harder audience to reach.

Casting a wide net and scooping up all the little fish in a 100-foot radius is fine but isn’t it better to use a rod and reel to catch a smaller collection of bigger fish? Who wants to clean all those little fish? Bigger fish are easier to prepare. Now that I’ve reached the 500 followers mark on Instagram, I feel like I can back off a little. Not in terms of content—although, unfortunately, that has happened—rather in terms of casting the net. I don’t need to join follow loops and just gain everyone else as a new follower. I need to draw in followers who found me under their followed hashtags. I follow “#amwritingurbanfantasy” because I want to see what I’m up against. So my goal is to end up under a hashtag someone else is following. Multiple times because it’s not something that happens on the first try.

But the real issue is I don’t want pity follows, pity buys. If you are interested in my books, buy them. If you’re not, share them so someone else might find them. Don’t buy out of obligation or loyalty then leave it to collect dust for the rest of forever. I appreciate your purchase and will never say don’t buy it, outright without quantification. But I don’t want it collecting dust on your shelves.

That said, if you would like to support my content, please join me on Patreon.

feeling disadvantaged

I have been watching various artists in various mediums and I have come to a conclusion. Writers are at a disadvantage when it comes to unique marketing.

Consider, for a moment, the amount of time it takes to read a book compared to listen to an album. Consider the active, hands-on nature of reading a book compared to the passive nature of listening to an album while multitasking and doing other things.

But it’s more than just that.

Music and art are active creations. There is behind the scenes moments. There are riffs and drum fills. There are concept sketches and models. There are levels to what can be offered to fans or perspective fans. In reference to something like Patreon, you can offer the lowest level still photos from video shoots and upper levels can get previews of songs. Lower levels can get sketches, upper levels can get a discount on commissions.

I’m on TikTok as well and I see musicians sharing the progression of their songs. I see visual artists showing their creations in progress.

What do writers offer?

Time-consuming, passive content. I can offer up all the flash fiction in the world but people have to have time to read it. I’ll be honest; I love the concept of Patreon and I want to keep using it as an alternative to social media because social media is a flaming disaster. I want Patreon to be the home my fans go to when they want information. But I probably wouldn’t pay for what I’m offering.

On the other hand, the common consensus is that a majority of patrons don’t sign up for the benefits; they sign up to support the artist and don’t really care about the benefits. Which is why I have a “choose your own price” tier with no benefits.

I’m not comparing myself to other artists. I’m just comparing what I have to offer. I feel like if I could just hop online and break out a guitar to play for my fans, or set up a canvas and paint for my fans or offer drumming or drawing tutorials, I would not have to struggle so much to figure out how to reach people.

But I am not a specialist in anything. I’m the proverbial Jack of all trades. I am a Master of none and frankly, I don’t want to be. I don’t want to shoehorn myself into posting about the same thing all the time. I don’t have the kind of attention span needed for that. Unfortunately, not having a niche means I don’t have a ready-made content library.

So, I struggle. I search and scour for ways to make my art active and interesting in a world filled with people looking for quick bursts of dopamine and serotonin, who don’t have the time or patience for a slow burn.

It seems a little desperate to say this now but if you enjoy my content, please consider supporting my Patreon.