#20BooksEdinburgh writer’s conference: using #Patreon

20BooksEdinburgh was a blast – the weather was baking hot (!!!), almost unheard of in Scotland, great company of old and new writing friends, all like-minded people across disparate genres, and a mixed programme that brought something to everyone.

Some of the information duplicated that from 20BooksLondon, so I won’t repeat as you can find it on this page of posts.

As the conference is aimed at writers at all stages of their careers, some of the presentations, particularly those on writing craft, were very basic, while some of those on advertising whizzed past with more information than I could take in, assuming a level of knowledge I’m not sure many of us have yet attained. Hey ho, the slides and extra info were provided for us (online, to reduce paper), so I have those squirreled away for the future, along with the notes I took at the time.

What I will do, is pick out the parts that were (a) new to me, and (b) new to almost everybody! As indie authors, we have to accept the ever-changing nature of our business, and try to adapt and stay up to date as far as possible to remain effective.

Today, I’m picking on PATREON.

This came up during a presentation on the second day by DAKOTA KROUT, on building a brand and fan base.

Sunday’s schedule
9:00 AM Cover Elements – Stuart Bache
10:00 AM Release Strategies – Craig Martelle & Michael Anderle
11:30 AM Building a Brand & Fan Base by Dakota Krout
12:15 PM Power of Networking by Jon Brazee & Kevin McLaughlin
1:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM Marketing to the right readers – Derek Murphy
3:00 PM Being productive while holding down a full-time, day job – panel with Martha Carr, Katie Forrest, and more
4:00 PM Guest speaker reload – Q&A
5:00 PM Wrap up
6:00 PM Informal events

If you don’t know who Dakota Krout is, let me introduce him as an example of one of the high-powered authors gathered at this conference – all at their own cost (they buy a ticket just like the attendees, and fund their own travel and accommodation), holding true to the ethos of 20Books, that of giving back to the author community.

That’s him, on the left of the kilted speaker (big cheese, Craig Martell).

Dakota released a book the day before the conference began. It went straight to no.14 overall in the Amazon store!

Here’s how it looks 10 days on:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Teen & Young Adult Sword & Sorcery Fantasy eBooks
#1 in Teen & Young Adult Humorous eBooks
#1 in Strategy Gaming

And from his presentation, his credentials:

• Audible: Top 5 Fantasy of 2017.

• Audible Listener’s Choice September 2018.

• 40,000+ combined reviews on Amazon and Audible, 4.5-5 stars overall.

• About $500,000 personal income in 2018.

An author worth listening to, methinks.

PATREON

I’ll cover more of his presentation in another post, but this was one thing I might think about implementing sooner, rather than later. You need to have a certain level of fan base to make much from it, but as it doesn’t cost anything to set up, even a small regular income would be worth it, and it might also work as an incentive to keep to the production schedule!

Fans sign up to Patreon to get rewards. They can choose their own financial tier for their regular payment (I support one author’s newsletter this way at $2 per month, as she puts loads of time and effort into free marketing for others), with different tiers providing different rewards. In this case, chapters of the next book each month, instead of having to wait for the finished article.

Dakota stressed the importance of delivering fully and precisely on rewards. 

At the end of each newly released book is a link, saying that the next 10 chapters of the following book are ready for them to read and comment on if they sign up to Patreon. This allows readers to become involved in the creative process, and possibly help steer the book to a limited degree. Readers love to help and be involved, and this enables them to do that to a greater extent than previously possible.

Pricing

Each Patreon decides how much they think the rewards are worth. Dakota sets pricing tiers which they can choose from, the only difference in the reward being how soon they get the chapters.

ALL Patreons get an ARC of the book before publication (these are in KU, so this is essential to comply with Amazon’s TOS). This will be an unedited ARC, so many Patreons go on to also buy the published version. As these Patreons are already paying $5 per month, they have already paid for the book, even if they don’t buy the finished product – and without the author losing a chunk to Amazon!

Many of these people will review the book, whether they bought it at release or not.

Benefits to the Patreons

  • They feel involved in the creative process
  • They get to see the book before ordinary customers
  • They might be offered special editions with added content as collectors items

Benefits to the author

  • Regular income.
  • A set deadline to keep productivity up to scratch.
  • Develop a closer relationship with fans that turns them into superfans.
  • Find fans willing to do other stuff, e.g. Dakota now pays one of this fans to do his social media, and another regularly checks reviews to bring highlights (good and bad) to his attention, saving Dakota from needing to look at his own reviews – we all know how that can bring highs and, unfortunately, terrible lows that we don’t need as they can wreak havoc with our self-belief.

Sound interesting to you? Patreon is something that has been simmering at the back of my mind, but I’ve been unsure how to leverage it, and this provided an outline of an already successful model.

Do any of you use Patreon already? Do share your strategy and results, please.

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10 comments

  1. Sadly, Patreon is another of my failed marketing efforts. I spent all the time setting it up and got not even a single hit. I guess I needed to then market it aggressively which I didn’t. I marketed like I do everything else. Patreon, the Houghton-Miflin Marketplace, Google Books–no winners.

    I’ll be interested to see if it works for you. I know people who have had phenomenal success with it.

    1. It sounds like you have to put in the marketing effort at the start, though like most things, if you can get it underway it might perpetuate itself.
      Disappointing to hear of your experience, I don’t think I will be trying it immediately, because of the commitment factor to regular production for rewards, but I might look at it later in the year, when my life settles down!

  2. Deb, thanks as always for sharing such great info. I know a few on Patreon and have been considering it myself. Like you though, I’m on the fence and have yet to give much thought as to how to keep the readers engaged – especially in between putting out new books. 🙂

    1. Yup, that’s the challenge, isn’t it?

  3. […] So today, the first step – branding, courtesy of Dakota Krout (if you missed it, read more about his phenomenal success and his advice in this earlier post. […]

  4. Deb, I found your blog through the lovely Debby Gies. ❤ I set-up a Patreon account a year or so ago. I ended up closing it before I had even started to promote it, because of a message that popped up from the creators. It said that there were rewards available for promoting other creatives on Patreon. It smacked of pyramid selling to me and is an old trigger from Amway days and I spun off. I may have been too hasty, so I will have another look. Thanks for a great post and the way you share insightful information that helps the writing collective. Xx

    1. Hi Jane, pleased to meet you!
      I understand what you are saying about pyramid selling – I got burned by that a couple times when I was younger before I learned my lesson.
      I have no knowledge of the way Patreon presented it to you, but I can say that I know several reputable (and high profile) authors who use it as a successful means to supplement their writing income. I plan on adding it to my life when, eventually, I have the time to make use of it. Perhaps you might take another look, now you know it isn’t just a scam?

      1. Thank you, Deb. Your post and kind comment is timely and I appreciate you taking the care and time to reach out. I think it was the wording they used and obviously, it triggered issues. I have no problem with supporting others and maybe the time wasn’t right back then. How I work has evolved now, so I am having another pass at it and I have you to thank for that. It’s how we flow with things that counts isn’t it? Thank you for your support and I look forward to your future blog posts. x

      2. You are most welcome, ‘see’ you around 😀

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