Unpublished author: the working life of a writer

I have 2 questions:

  1. Do you know anyone who has a Patreon?
  2. Do you follow/support anyone with a Patreon?

I’m just curious what people like you and me, bloggers who write and engage for the sake of storytelling, think or know about Patreon.

Definition: Patreon is a subscription content service for creators such as musicians, artists, writers or podcasters (etc). Fans pay a few bucks per month or per project to the creator who pledges to publish fresh content such as music, stories (etc) for them.

Many newspapers and some magazines do this; they release some free content for everyone but certain articles can only be accessed if you subscribe (pay) for that privilege.

I used to read, and write a bit, on Medium.com (an online publishing platform) back in the day. When they started limiting reading content to 3 a month before requiring subscription payment, I retracted. It’s kind of unfortunate because I enjoy numerous writers on Medium, and I like the originality of some of the content. But, pre-covid, I didn’t have two dimes to rub together, so I didn’t stick around. After all, there is so much free content on the web…

I should know. I am a free content creator right here on WordPress.

Here’s the thing:

With the dog walking business out the window during the pandemic (everyone is working from home, it seems, and walking their own pooches) I’ve been expanding my search in income supplementation.

One way to do this is to get paid for publishing something you write.

Except.

THAT journey has been a major pain in the ass recently.

I have traveled around the world-freakin’-wide-web querying, entering contests and answering submission calls, on and off, for several years, but mostly in recent months. I made numerous mistakes along the way, but learned a lot as well.

Meh.

I threw in the towel. Actually, just this past week I gave up (for now).

Obviously I know that the mistakes I made can all be overcome. For instance, rejections are not necessarily a bad thing. It means I’ve accomplished something:

  • I’ve written something from beginning to end
  • I’ve read the magazine I wanted to submit to and enjoyed the content and learned of new authors
  • I’ve followed the guidelines which educates me in terms of etiquette, style and professionalism
  • I’ve practiced marketing myself/my work

I have also been fortunate to have received positive feedback on some of the declined work I wrote, which I know is not necessarily the norm. Not all editors ignore you. 🙂

I can appreciate that. None of them rejected my writing itself; quite the opposite. They liked the story or the style or the topic itself. Sometimes they even gave me a helpful tip.

So I thought about what to do. There are literally thousands of publishing places to submit written work to around the internet. I could rewrite/modify/add or subtract to my declined/rejected pieces and resubmit to other places. I could expand the querying, enter more contests, even offer to post elsewhere for free as a guest writer/blogger.

But I didn’t do that. I am not doing that.

Why?

Because it’s damn time consuming.

For each new publishing venue, submission call or contest you have a lengthy process to fulfill:

  • read the submission guidelines (which are often lengthy and detailed and take time to get through)
  • familiarize yourself with the venue or periodical’s content (which means you have to read some of the stories to get an idea whether your piece is suitable or not)
  • pay a fee (not always but usually, ranging from a few dollars to to $25 is fairly standard)

In addition to that, you may be required to submit a cover letter, and often a blurb or synopsis of your written masterpiece (which will probably get rejected several times before it gets accepted someplace).

This is all taking time away from actual writing you may still need or want to do. If your time to write is limited already (life/family/work) this is a challenging situation to navigate.

Don’t forget, all this work is costing me money (internet, electricity, coffee…) – I’m spending money, not actually earning anything yet just by trying to get published.

No wonder writers get frustrated.

Which leads me back to Medium and Patreon.

I’m just curious if you know or follow anyone that would be worth checking out. I know of a few myself but they provide content of a different nature, mostly tech-related reviews (apps, how-tos) but I bet there are many storytellers on Patreon as well.

You’re turn to share your thoughts.

See you in the comments.

52 thoughts on “Unpublished author: the working life of a writer

    1. It takes time and dedication. The best advice I can give you is to read other blog that have content that interests you. Then, like the post and leave a comment. But be honest and transparent in your comment. Just saying “I liked your post” isn’t very engaging.

      Many people will read your comment and then click the link to go to your blog, so make sure you have good content up on there too.

      Another way is to read the comments on other blogs. Is there someone who made a comment that agrees with you? If yes, click like! Put your own comment in. Maybe you can connect with your own blogs that way as well.

      Good luck! And thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for this information. I looked at Medium and when I saw the fee I clicked off. I made the mistake of self-publishing many years ago (mistake for me, not for all, obviously) and I won’t do it again. I stick by the admonition, “If they want money to look at your stuff, run the other way.” Great post, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I setup a Patreon for the podcast, more to reserve my name than anything – but then I haven’t recorded a podcast in ages. It was straightforward. I suspect you need an audience before doing that though. I have a love-hate relationship with Medium – I suspect most of their audience is writers looking to attract an audience. Of course I could be wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know of both sites but never use or visit them. I’ve had people tell me I should write on Medium, but between the blogging, freelancing, and full-time writing job, I don’t need any more places to write, ha.

    I’m glad you got some good feedback from editors. I have found that many of them are happy to help aspiring writers through encouragement and suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There are 3 Patreons for content that I listen to/use on a regular basis – two are knitting related and one podcast. The podcast gives most content for free but has I think 2 tiers on the Patreon for extra stuff. I actually don’t contribute on the Patreon (though I truly appreciate all the work they put into the podcast and the enjoyment I get out of it) simply because I feel the content I do get is more than enough and I don’t need more, partly because I just don’t have time to listen to it all.
    One knitting one is a free online magazine with patterns and I contribute when I use one of the patterns. The other is newer (since the pandemic) and I haven’t contributed yet but am considering it. She has great content on her blog and I was actually so looking forward to seeing her speak in person at a Knitting “conference” in Montreal (god I’m a geek!!) in March, then in July when it got postponed…now it’s postponed to April. Hopefully one day! And I was paying for that so…

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  5. I don’t know any writers on Patreon, but if I did, I would encourage them with a one time payment. I’ve done that with music artists and podcasters. I do a one time payment to help the person whose content Im enjoying. Then I do the same for another artist. It doesn’t have to be much, like the “Buy me a cup of coffee” link some have.

    Keep writing. I know its hard, but as you know, the more you write, the better you become. Someone with pick you up, or at least but you a cup of Joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Honestly, I didn’t know what Patreon was. I started blogging, lo, those many years ago, because “they” said you had to blog to sell books. I blogged. I sold a few books, but never saw any evidence that the blog had anything to do with that. Later, “they” said blogging only worked for non-fiction. Thanks. By then, blogging and the connection to others all around the world, had become its own reward. Short of whoring yourself out to some product line, I don’t see a way to make blogging pay. I consider my readers to be friends, and I don’t approach friends for a hand-out. Completely separate from that, if a friend decides to read one of my books, I’m flattered and pleased, doubly so if they like it. I have real-life author friends who do make a small living–and they work hard at it. They lecture and tour and do the library circuit. They earn every penny. I may consider that, when the next book is published. In short, this is a tough world for a creative. (But, honestly, that has always been the case. Only the talented, or lucky, few were published and made money.) Now, Amazon and others want your work for nothing–and all too often, they get it. If your Patreaon research cultivates results, please let us know.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ll probably follow up on this post at some later date as I do more research. One guy who has a very interesting Patreon provides plenty of free content elsewhere but elaborates in Patreon. He has two tiers, $3 per month and $10 per month.

      His thing is to continue to give free content out to all of his fans, whether they can pay or not. For those who support him financially with the cost of a coffee (not Starbucks ugh) per month he gives even more to. But, he doesn’t write stories. He provides reviews, how-to videos on applications we may be using, more tech things for the layman. And to be honest, he has me very close to following him on Patreon only because he is one of very few who actually delivers. If he is this consistent in delivering the free stuff, I can only imagine he is just as consistent in delivering to his supporters.

      But I will probably write about this another time. Thank you for your feedback.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t follow any bloggers who use Patreon (that I know of) but I do follow a bunch of vloggers who use it. I don’t give them any money, but I am happy that they do get some. I follow kydeanderic on YouTube. They make videos once a week and I watch them religiously. They spend the money they make on travel–which is what the videos they make are about. They have a good following of about 50 thousand subscribers and they get about 2000 dollars a month from Patreon–minus Patreon’s fees.
    Their video explains a lot about Patreon (look in their profile) and basically they appreciate it because it funds what they do and they are not beholden to anyone else. They have been offered “work” doing travel videos, but chose not to do so for fear of losing control.
    They explained that at the 1 dollar level, they only get about 30 cents from that. At higher contribution levels, they get more. That was quite interesting.
    I also watch a lot of woodworking videos (my new obsession) and many of those people seem to be sponsored and receive lots of stuff to review. That’s pretty awesome. However, as the guy from “Woodworking for Mere Mortals” explains, there is a pattern to it. Sponsorship starts with reviews, then as time goes on the sponsors want and demand more from the hosts of the channel. They basically have to do live commercials for the brand (like 1950s TV). Then the watchers tend to get jaded and disappear.
    As for Blogging. If you have got a good following, you might be able to get some funding, but I don’t know how much. I don’t know if you can bank on it or not.
    As a blogger, I don’t have a big enough following to leverage that into any amount of money or free stuff. I did manage to get a ten percent discount on my travel from one company. They have pledged this to me for the future, but they stopped short of anything more.
    Obviously, I would like this blog to do more for me.
    I would love to review products (travel, cycling, housewares, tools…) and I would like to do more cycle and adventure tourism. For the time being, I am just working on getting more followers and making fewer typos).
    I know I rambled and didn’t even talk about entering contests. Sorry.

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    1. There is a guy, Steve Dotto, who is everywhere on the net. His most valuable content is the reviews of apps and how-to videos on youtube. He’s the one who gave solid advice about Patreon and the reason I committed to using Evernote as religiously as I do.

      (Did you know you can take an image of a passage in a book and upload it to Evernote and then search for it inside the app even if you don’t tag it? It actually searches the content in the image for the term you’re looking for. That is brilliant and so helpful when I take photos or screenshots of passages in books I’m reading that help me with research.)

      Main point I think is the nurturing your content and its fans whether they are paying ones, or not. I mean, loyalty has to mean something, regardless of whether there is payment or not, no?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Does the name Amanda Hocking mean anything to you? No? Look her up. Why rely on a single publisher to determine if your writing is any good, when you can self publish through Amazon, price your e-line book for $1.00 and let Amazon readers decide if you are any good? I believe that Amazon now has 10 millionaire self publishers, 99 cents at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow you just reminded me that I need to write up my exasperating experiences with the ongoing research about self-publishing. UGH! lol

      But yes I’m on it. I have a friend in Europe who is self-publishing and I am riding along her journey to learn from her.

      There was an article about the amazon 99 cent thingy or the free giveaway thingy somewhere today that makes thing sound very discouraging.

      Having said that, I have an incomplete account started with amazon kindle for self-publishing. I just want to do more research on the Canadian tax side of things before I jump off the cliff and drown in the ebook waters. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I too have wondered what storytellers gain from Patreon. Totally agree with you that looking for markets is more time-consuming than the writing itself, and sometimes I’d just rather put all that time into writing and just put everything up for free.

    Am going to stay on top of the discussions here though, because I’m sure it’s going to be interesting. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I Stuart, I just went to check out your about page, which is a great about page! 🙂

      Yes, there is some dedicated dialogue here and all of it is very informative. I may do a follow up on this topic at some later date. Please feel free to contribute to the conversation.

      Thank you for reading and commenting! I look forward to reading your blog too.

      Like

  10. Hola! I have never used Patreon and just now found out what it was about. In my experience, magazines that require a fee for submissions are harder to get in than regular publishing houses that, thankfully, pay us, not the other way around. It helps to have a niche (I am Cuban and write mystery novels set up in my country). Do you have a finished novel?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have a semi finished romantic story with some erotic parts in it that I’m about 80% completed. I also have my memoir which I’m on the fence about how to finish. I may make it into several parts – childhood, adolescence/YA, and adult/motherhood.

      You have a great niche. I’m going to go back and re-check you out. Thanks for reminding me!

      Are you on social media? I’ll check twitter too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have no experience or knowledge of this whatsoever. But I understand your frustration. With so many writers flooding the web, I imagine finding a paying audience is getting more difficult all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a lot of free content that is good. Equally, there is much that is bad and a waste of time. But I know I’m particular and picky. For instance, I don’t follow every person who follows me on twitter because I don’t want my feed to be populated by all kinds of idiocy. I treat twitter as a source of passing the time at a rink with a kid during practice, not a business medium to push for followers or stats. (Maybe that’s a mistake but I have not seen anyone succeed with their eleventymillion followers in making the big bucks or selling their products…other than the Kardashians but let’s not go there.)

      So, when I come across a great article on the Atlantic, NYTimes, a blog post, Medium or just random other places, I will seek out that author and check out where they post. If they have a Patreon (most don’t), or twitter or any other place, I would take the time to investigate.

      But again, it all takes so much friggen time away from writing, I choose my time wisely to do this sort of thing.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. An academic blogger who used to post here on WP submitted to Medium and I loved reading her work. As you noted though, limiting and charging came about and so no more Medium. I loved wandering through the content available though, just not will to pay for it that much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting point made by ashleyleia that your subscription to Medium pays to read all of the content, whereas in Patreon you choose what author to pay your subscription to (or which project). I’m on the fence whether it’s worth it at Medium or not, but will keep an open mind for now.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I don’t know of anyone who’s had success as a writer on Patreon.

    The nice thing about Medium is that you don’t have to get people to open up their wallets specifically for you, and there’s a pretty large base of subscribers. I write on Medium, and the most I ever made in a month was about $70 US. I haven’t been very active on Medium lately and only cross-post stuff from my blog, but I still earn more than the cost of membership. In a given month about 7-8% of writers earn more than $100 US per month. Payment is based on how much time people spend reading your content, so short form content is hard to make money from.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. There is a guy who did a youtube thing about Patreon (Dotto Tech) who said that the most important thing about Patreon is not the money but the nurturing and relationships you foster. Why did you leave your Patreon creator? They didn’t follow through. My guess (I could be wrong) is that they wanted many subscribers ($) so they would feel encouraged to continue to create. The ended up with less than they wanted and dropped the ball. Result: they lost you and likely other customers.

        $100 per month can supplement a lot for the average Joe Blow. I can buy a lot of groceries for that amount of money…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, they essentially lied about what they offered per tier than had the gall to actually say on their podcast how the only real supporters are the ones that don’t care about the swag. I still listen now and again, but I refuse to support them.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok there is much here you got me thinking about and probably will result in a follow up blog post.

      Main point: Medium is different from Patreon bec you pay to read from a larger pool, whereas at Patreon you pay the individual creator (or his/her project). That’s an important distinction. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I supported a podcast thru patreon. They had different level payment tiers that said you’d get either exclusive online content or really cool swag. They didn’t deliver on either end. If you promise your patrons something, you should deliver not knock said patron on your podcast . I eventually got the “swag” but pulled my funding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is one thing I know will kill the fan base: if you pledge to do something for their interest, you have to nurture that relationship. It’s not so different in blogging, although here we don’t make money. Do you like it when people take time out of their life to read you, like you, comment? Once you start getting paid, you need to follow through or you lose credibility. Good point, Matt. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I follow one site that utilizes Patreon, but otherwise I know nothing about it. The blog/website has a definite theme and point of view and doesn’t have any commenter engagement. The author treats it as more of a news site

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are many kinds, as I’m just beginning to figure out. I only like one but I don’t follow him (yet). He only asks for $3 / month and since his content is good, I may actually pursue him. He’s Canadian, from Vancouver, and the reason why I use Evernote so religiously, it’s his content on youtube that had me convinced to give it a try. Maybe I’ll share him on a subsequent post…this whole thread is causing me much food for thought.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Yes, this is why it is amazing to get publishes with all the road blocks ahead. Time, discipline, and a sense of resiliency like a rubber band is required along with a very thick skin. The youngsters seem to have the blog paying all wrapped up, in my opinion…through vitamin supplements, keto, exercise/life coach or at least the commercially adept do and that is not what my blog is about. I limit the time I spend submitting during the summer. I wrote about this in my last blog about my time spend writing about Korea and being published.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, as I mentioned on my two last memories of Korea blog, the story “Laughing Africa” was years in the making. Beginning as a poem in the 90’s and then the story morphed and finally published by two journals after some interest, some redoing and a few nice words from editors. I kept those!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My work hours vary but yes last year after COVID was very busy for me. This year, I have more balance planned, mostly. Although working with teenagers at risk was challenging, I liked adding it to my part time plate, so yes it became a full time plate.

        Like

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