Part Eighty Kabillion in my ongoing series: What Is This Thing? What Can I Do With This Thing? and How Can I Make This Thing Better?
I’m still trying to figure out Patreon. I’ve had one for a little over a year, and I love it. Patreon has been the financial shot in the arm that I desperately needed to make my creative projects pay out. I’m not out of the woods financially by any stretch of the imagination (mainly because our woods keep coming down and requiring thousands of dollars to haul off before they crush the neighbor’s house), but it’s helped, and I am so very grateful for it.
So when I think about Patreon, I generally go back to the same two questions: How can I make Patreon a good experience for my current Supporters, and How can I attract more Supporters? I’ll unpack both of these, and then ask for feedback.
How can I make Patreon a good experience for my current Supporters?
Basically, how can I make sure everyone who’s pledged me any amount of money gets something of value?
I’m generally okay with the rewards structure: I’m overdue on sending out a new wallpaper, and this year I think I’ll send out Japanese maple seeds in addition to butterfly weed seeds, but otherwise I’m delivering what I’ve promised. Today was my 287th Crude Dick Joke.
There are some problems: I’ve recently had to limit how I send out some content, as there are some folks out there who don’t like Patreon. There’s a scam running in which certain persons take advantage of how Patreon delivers content, where as soon as a Supporter pledges money, they have access to all content on the site. What the folks running the scam do is pledge a large sum of money at the beginning of the month, gather the content until a few days before the month ends, and then cancel their pledge before funds can be collected. When the next month begins, they repeat the process. Many of them also take the Patreon-exclusive content and make it available online.
I’m not worried at all about someone stealing cheap puns and dick jokes–I’m very worried about someone stealing the short stories and novels that I send out to the top-tier supporters before their release date. So, now I’m sending this content out by email, which is a time-sucking chore for me and is probably more than a little annoying to my Supporters. I’m sorry, guys. I’ll go back to the old method as soon as Patreon plugs the loophole in content delivery.
How can I attract more Supporters?
More money more money more money. Because trees–these freaking things keep falling down! Let me list a couple of ideas I’m kicking around, and then I’ll open this up to feedback:
- Removing ads
- Exclusive NSFW Art/Content
- Me blathering on about crap
- Disasterhouse updates
–Removing ads: I had ad removal as a goal when the Patreon first started, but earlier feedback suggested that this could be better used by offering new content (the Wedding Story). Since then, my ad company has gotten really awful. They can’t seem to get rid of those ads which hijack mobile devices and drop the user in an app store. I think I need to bring this back, but I don’t know how many new supporters it will attract.
–Exclusive NSFW Art/Content: There are a lot of options here, such as releasing the Joshsmut monthly in chapter form, scandalous (*gasp!*) art, and so on. The problem with strictly NSFW content is that it can strongly alienate some people, and whenever I release it, I want to make it a completely opt-in process. By adding NSFW content after the fact, I’m effectively assuming that every current Supporter is okay with it. This may not be the case. There is the option of putting it behind a download “wall,” but that’s pushing technicalities.
–Me blathering on about crap: Apparently, some readers really enjoy Google Hangouts and whatnot with people who make stuff. I could do a podcast? Maybe answer questions? I…have dogs. Do you like dogs?
–DisasterHouse updates: Oh dear Lord, I don’t want to start the Disasterhouse blog up again, but I’ve gotten so so so so so many requests…this house is sucking our soul and I don’t want to write about it! Caveat: I don’t want to write about it for free, but I would definitely start writing in the blog again for money, because we would put that money towards the repairs, which would give me more stuff to blog about, because every time we fix something in this house another five things break I took down a piece of wood trim to refinish it yesterday and I found out that the door jamb isn’t fastened in place it’s just a free-floating door held up by trim it’s an exterior door what the actual fuck…
51 thoughts on “Open Call for Patreon Feedback”
Personally, I would love more in-universe content way more than the jokes or pinups, be it stories or art. I would especially love “smut-free” versions of such content; I read the preview of the Josh story and it looks great, but I’m not interested in the smut aspect. Not being a prude (although I’m all for people having standards and sticking to them), I just don’t want to buy a story intending to read about cyborg shenanigans, and find out I actually bought a romance novel with a “may contain cyborgs” sticker. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but if you ever sell a version that cuts it back to “sexy times happened, on with the plot”, I will buy it immediately to join the entire Rachel Peng set on my Kindle shelf. Love those, btw; will also be buying any other side stories as soon as work calms down and I have time to read again.
In fact, the no-NSFW preference pretty much cuts me out of any reason to join Patreon, since (afaik) that’s pretty much what the rewards are. I feel like I’m already supporting through buying the books as they come out, so the only options for me would be ad removal (not a big deal), DisasterHouse updates (which I love as a fellow prisone… er, homeowner… but funny as the writing is, they still make me sad), or additional comic or comic-related content. I’m basically here for the comic and the books, the tangential stuff
Does Patreon have a way to do separate reward tiers (a la Kickstarter)? I’d be interested in chipping in per-update or book chapter or something like that. I’d also be willing to chip in (reasonable amounts) of other professional help (semi-pro builder, civil engineer, and software/web developer) in lieu of Patreon pledges, especially for NSFW-free versions of the comic or books that I could freely recommend to like-minded friends, instead of always going “hey there’s this awesome comic, but there’s some stuff that’ll offend you…”
Even the Joshsmut is only about 10% smut. It’s about 90% cyborg shenanigans, really.
The Josh “Smut” gets a bad rep, but is actually more of what you’re looking for, believe it or not. 🙂 She actually notes that out of like 50,000ish words, it’s quite a few less than 4,000 that are smut. To be honest, in my opinion, the “Josh Smut” is way less smut, way less romance, way more old school, pulp mystery. While the cyborg shenanigans aren’t the focal point, there’s a LOT more of that then smut, and a lot more mystery, whodunit plot than anything (trying not to give anything away, here). Also, because it’s Josh: A LOT of comedy.
Honestly, I’d have paid the trade paperback price for The Russians Came Knocking, even knowing what’s going to happen several years down the line from it, because the story was that good. For 99 cents, it’s a steal, and really NOT the erotic overload some of Josh’s fans might wish. I believe it’s gotten more of a smut reputation because Otter’s store provider has a very strict policy on ANY sexy content, AND because old pulp novels always get that reputation.
To give you an idea of what I mean, I feel a lot like you do. It’s why I’m not a huge fan of Game of Thrones and am probably just going to read the books so I can speed read past the sex. Even in romance novels, I mostly glance at the sex scenes, because they bore the hell out of me —- and like you, I’m not a prude. Not by a long, long shot. And mind you, I consider myself a very versatile reader who goes from thrillers to fantasy to scifi to romance to young adult, coming of age stuff to freakin’ Dickens. I go all over the place, and some of my favorite authors are romance authors. But sex just isn’t that fun to read most of the time, so I skim it.
I didn’t do that with this, because while it was “smut,” it was so minimal and *so freaking well done,* it was just a natural, great part of the story. Not sex for the sake of shoving at least one sex scene very 20 pages or some crap. Like, very, very minimal, very good while being realistic, and not boring as all hell like 99% of smut out there. And it actually made me understand Josh better, which I really enjoyed.
I really, really recommend giving it a shot so you can see what Otter means when she talks about smut (because she really is not over the top with it, at all), and because honestly, NO AGAHF fan should miss that story. I was so sad when it was over.
I’m already sold on the book’s story, I’m sure it’s great – that’s why I’m bothering to ask for a smut-free version. The point isn’t that it’s “only 10% smut” and still fantastic, it’s that “this product contains smut” and I don’t want any.
If I went to a restaurant and told the server “I have a peanut allergy”, I would expect them to either say “we can make it without nuts” or “sorry, we don’t have any nut-free dishes.” I would *not* expect them to say “go ahead and get this dish, it only has a few peanuts and you can just eat around them or spit them out. It’s really delicious, it’ll be worth it!” I’m not going to demand they change the menu, I’m just going to ask nicely and then go someplace else if they can’t meet my needs.
People with food allergies are free to not patronize restaurants that don’t serve food they can’t or don’t want to eat, and restaurants are free to choose what foods they will serve and lose part of their potential customer base. However, those places that do accommodate customers with specific health or lifestyle requirements are often more profitable and can draw in both types of customers.
I hope the parallel is clear. The book sounds great, but I’m still on a lifelong smut-free reading diet and won’t be buying it until there’s a version that “contains no smut”. If that never happens I understand, I’ll just have to find other reading that works for me. But I’ll still be sad for myself and all the other smut-free readers who are missing out on a great story, and for Kari for doing all the work to write a great book and then not taking one more step to make it available to a wider audience. I know lots of people who would love it but feel the same way I do about content.
“…and then not taking one more step to make it available to a wider audience.”
An alternate way to look at this same issue is that all of the other AGAHF books and works are (mostly) completely smut-free, and this is one more step I took to bring my work to a different audience who appreciates smut. 🙂
Also a valid way of looking at it – especially coming from the source. 🙂 I love that more AGAHF content exists, and (as I mentioned) I’m certainly not going to tell you that you’re doing it wrong by writing a story with out also producing a smut-free version, or demand (or even suggest) that all your work should be sanitized. Although I do want to say thank you for keeping the other novels and the comic pretty clean, and hope that continues. The Rachel Peng series is one of my top 10 favorites; I won’t list the others because that’s irrelevant, but I am a pretty avid reader of sci-fi/fantasy and the majority of that list are well-known works by very well-known authors. Mostly with international movies based on the books; I eagerly await movies from the AGAHF universe.
I just wanted to voice that there are some of us in your audience that *would* like a ‘clean’ version, since you were asking for feedback on what would entice more people to become Patreons. I know a lot of people who would love the AGAHF universe (and other stories I love), but I know they wouldn’t read it because their content preferences are very “clean”. I keep my standards and expect them to keep theirs as well, so I’m not going try to talk them into reading (or watching or listening to) something I know has content that falls outside their standard, even though I know they’d enjoy it “except for that one part…”
I think a smut-free version of the Josh story (and a non-swearing version of the comic archives, for that matter) would be a great option. I don’t know whether there’s enough demand for it to be profitable, or if that approach makes sense for a Patreon reward, but I thought you should know there’s at least some market for it. Whether that’s a redacted version of the original(s), or the original is seen as the extended-cut version is just semantics to me – ordering a “cheeseburger-without-cheese” or a “plain hamburger” gets me what I want at a restaurant, regardless of what the rest of the clientele is eating. Some people (yourself included) may see an edited version of artistic works as a corruption of the artist’s intent (R.I.P CleanFlicks, long live VidAngel), but that doesn’t mean others aren’t interested in filtered content and willing to put their money where their mouth is. As I said, I won’t be doing Pateron because it doesn’t align with me supporting the type of content I want to support, but I will keep buying (clean) AGAHF books as fast as you write them. Or if there’s an alternate Patreon, I’d do that. If you ever decide to tackle a filter tool for the archives, I’d be happy to help develop it. Also willing to provide other technical help in lieu of Patreon.
Didn’t mean to write an editorial, and certainly not trying to start a flame war or hijack the thread. Smut-free versions or no, thanks for writing awesome stories and sharing them with us.
Also, I know your post already addresses the topic of NSFW content on Patreon and the main site; I commented in the first place to respond to that, to let you know that the separation is appreciated, and to voice the opinion that doing so can (hopefully) be a good business choice as well as The Right Thing To Do ™.
>”The problem with strictly NSFW content is that it can strongly alienate some people, and whenever I release it, I want to make it a completely opt-in process. By adding NSFW content after the fact, I’m effectively assuming that every current Supporter is okay with it. This may not be the case.”
As a $10 patreon subscriber I have to say I’m happy with what I receive. I think I speak for a fair few of us when I say we give that amount to support you, and help fund whatever you’re writing next, not really to get something tangible in return, but I do enjoy that joke in my inbox everyday as a bonus. :). I wish patreon would protect you however as I find it ridiculous that people can abuse the system as you described above.
Personally I love your novels and the comics, and am just happy that you are still able to write those. I would/do pay for each novel / smutbook / short story individually as well as still donate via Patreon, so I hope you keep making them available through the store in addition to however you decide to go with P. Good luck. X
So, my husband & I are major fans of your work. We fanboy out, hard. We insult each other using our Speedy plush, I wear my Future Member of Ben Franklin’s Undead Pixie Army pin everywhere, etc. Puttin’ the “fan” in “fanatic,” right here.
Now, we’ve been broke lately ’cause life does that. BUT, one of the first things on our list of To-Do’s once money is back where it should be is to start supporting your Patreon because of exactly what other commentators have said: We LOVE your work. What you already give us via the comic, and enabling your being able to write books and short stories, is what we want to support.
I’ve been reading AGAHF for almost eight years. Life would totally suck without it. The thought of the comic ending because life screwed over one of the most talented authors and artists I’ve ever known pisses me off to *no end.* And I believe that’s what most of us want to support, less than having access to tangible things.
Now, personally, I like dick jokes. They’re fun. But won’t lie, if what YOU would rather do is comic/story related, I’m gonna’ jump all over that. I’ve bought every short story in the store except for Ami’s Issues (’cause broke), including making sure that even when we were scraping cash, we supported the KickStarter, and was one of the funders during the sectional-release of Digital Divide. Now, I’m not saying any of this to sound like I’m special or anything, but to make a point:
My husband & I consider you one of our favorite authors, and we’re hardcore bookworms & geeks. We do SciFi HARD and judge it just as harshly. Your stories sit loud-and-proud in my eBook library with the likes of Tolkien, Robert Jordan, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Douglas Adams, & Isaac Asimov.
I think while most of us would never, ever turn down say, Pat & Hope’s wedding story (DID that ever happen? I don’t remember hearing it did, but then again, like Hope, I get distracted…), or say, news on Speedy’s kids’ tales of world domination, or really, ANYTHING to do with our favorite alternate scifi-paranormal universe, but we also understand you’re already writing novels, putting out two comics a week, working with pain in the butt publishers to get out what you already have done, working on finishing audiobooks of the first two Rachel novels, so on, and so forth.
So while I can’t speak for every single person, I’d say most of us are in the mindset of “Whatever you feel like / whatever you can, because we just want to support your work.”
And I am a fantastic moron and totally forgot that the Pat & Hope wedding story had been a goal thingy on Patreon. >.> Been a few weeks since I oogled the Patreon. *facepalm* Ignore the stupidity right here folks.
Okay, I can’t leave your amazing comment here without mentioning THANK YOU!!!!!!! for it.
Sort of belated – just stumbled on the blog, I’m in agreement with Soulsorrow’s comment above. I give to your Patreon account primarily to help keep A Girl And Her Fed going. Anything else is gravy. Not that I don’t like gravy, but it’s not essential in this context. I would also (mild hint. approaching) be delighted to support a Kickstarter (or other crowdfunding platform) campaign to fund hard copy sequel(s) to Rise Up Swearing. Just saying.