How (and why) Indie Authors Use Patreon - To Connect With Their Biggest Fans
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
With the copious amounts of social media options available but no guarantee of a positive ROI, indie authors are turning to Patreon — a pledge-based platform — to build lasting relationships with their readers. Readers get exclusive content, and Indie Authors get an immediate return for their efforts. It's a win-win!
What is Patreon?
Patreon is a pledge-based social media platform designed to connect artists with their fanbase by offering exclusive perks to the fans and additional support and supplemental income to the artist.
Artists provide fans with a number of Membership Tier options — each with different perks and prices — and fans choose which they like best and make a monthly, reoccurring pledge to gain access to the exclusive benefits therein.
Remember Hanson? Like... the boy band from the late 90s?
Let's get personal for a moment. Raise your hand if you remember Hanson? THE Hanson? No? Yes? I'm going to pretend you do, otherwise it'll break my heart. I'm also not going to pretend I wasn't obsessed with them in my early teens.
So. Many. Posters.
Anyway, most importantly, did you know they had (and still have) a Fan Club? Back in the day when I was a paying member (yes, as a preteen) it was called MOE. I had a fancy membership card and everything! Members get crazy cool things like exclusive songs, member-only meet and greets, swag, and more.
The point is, pledged-based "fan-club" memberships are not a new concept. Now, however, it is easier than ever for small business owners and independent artists to tap into that outlet with Patreon.
For the sake of full transparency, I haven't listened to Hanson in several years, so I had to look up information, hoping I could find something out there on the world wide web to back up my claims.
Imagine my surprise on learning they're still rocking the industry... and they still have a fan club. #goals. I especially like what Isaac Hanson says about it in this quote:
"We care first and foremost about the relationship we have with the people who like our band/music. We know how important that relationship is and that is why Hanson.net [Fan Club] exists. The Hanson.net Community is a place for all of us to stay connected with one another, fueled by one common passion, music.” -Isaac Hanson
Patreon is just that, a fan club wrapped up in an easy to use platform for both artists and followers.
At its core, Patreon is about support and community.
The fan-club concept is symbiotic in nature. For the sake of this blog post, we're going to focus on the symbiotic reader/author relationship. Ironically enough, Google Dictionary uses readers and writers in the very definition:
adjective Denoting a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups. "The reader can have a symbiotic relationship with the writer."
Without the reader, the professional writer cannot sustain their business. Without the professional writer, avid readers wouldn't have access to the hobby they're so passionate about.
As far as what's required for the relationship to work, it's simple: authors need to publish books, and readers need to read them. Anything beyond that requires the readers and writers to go above the normal reader/writer relationship.
Patreon bridges the gap between what readers want and what writers need.
Both readers and authors have wants and needs.
Readers, especially those heavily involved in the indie community, always want more: bigger books, faster publish times, more reader/writer interactions, increased number of teasers, etc.
Professional writers, once again especially those heavily involved in the indie community, need love, support, praise... and funds to both feed their families and cover the incredible costs incurred and amount of time spent to publish.
The hard, sometimes debilitating, truth is that publishing a book — even several — does not always cover the indie author's needs. Most are constantly looking for a way to make their readers happy and add supplemental income to their business plan.
Joely Sue Burkhart is a fellow Romance author — however, if I'm considered a "small fry" she's more like a "potato log" — and this is what she has to say about Patreon from a writer's perspective:
"Patreon is a great way to supplement your writing income, especially in non-release months. For indie writers who aren’t releasing every thirty days, you can keep your fans engaged by posting regular content and still have a steady income stream until your next release." - Joely Sue Burkhart
How about well-known author, N.K. Jemisin? She used (and still uses) Patreon as an income stream so she could quit her job and become a full-time writer instead. Talk about inspirational!
Huge pat on the back to fans for supporting Jemisin's dream by pledging to her Patreon Creator Page and, in turn, helping readers around the world get the amazing books in her The Broken Earth series, among others.
Huge pat on the back indeed! That said, her readers are not left wanting. Remember... Patreon is a symbiotic platform! In exchange for their pledges, Jemisin's patrons get free downloads, Q&A videos, books, and more!
One of my reader patrons had this to say about being a member on my Patreon page:
"Patreon is a fun way for me to keep up with my favorite author! There are teasers from the current book she is working on, which has increased my anticipation for the next book release. Plus, I love the bonus behind-the-scenes photos and adventures she shares." - Nichole T.
See? The platform is a win-win for both readers and writers alike!
What are you waiting for?
Here are some of the most common ways authors give back to their patrons:
Early Access to Digital Content (i.e. Draft Chapters, ARCs, etc.)
Exclusive, Signed Chapbooks
Live Video Chats with the Author
Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Swag Gifts (i.e. shirts, mugs, bags, magnets, etc.)
It's streamlined, generous, and a lot of fun! So what are you waiting for? Writers get out there and start your fan-club... because you're worth it. Readers get out there and join your favorite authors' Patreon pages... because the best, most dedicated fans deserve all the perks!
Before you go, check out these Patreon Pages:
A few of my author-friends' (adult romance) pages are up and running. Some are just beginning, some have a handful of followers already. Use these pages to garner some inspiration, add to your TBR (to-be-read) list, join a club... whatever makes you happy!