Written by A Guest Author November 24th, 2021

Creating a Successful Author Patreon

By Aliya Hall

Outside of book sales and contest prizes, it can be challenging for authors to bring in income for their creative writing skills. Fortunately, there’s a handful of websites where fans can directly pay authors for their creative goods, all while authors grow their reader base.

Patreon is one of the best options for writers to receive compensation for their creative work. The site runs on a tiered subscription-style payment model, where creators offer in exchange exclusive access, extra content or personal insight into the creative journey.

Setting up a Patreon

The entry level of Patreon is free to join and creators keep complete ownership of their work. (Patreon does get its income through a platform fee, and there is a payment processing fee as well once you start receiving revenue.) You create the membership levels you want to offer to readers on your author account, and each tier you offer correlates with a set of benefits that you will provide for those patrons. Many authors have their lowest tier set to $1 to $3 a month as a “general support” option that could unlock basic author updates, newsletter access to base level digital content.

As you add each tier and assign a monetary value with it, the number of benefits you include grow. Creators have seen the most success when offering three to five membership options, keeping the top tier for the most valuable offerings. While this price ranges based on the creator, you could charge anywhere from $10, $50 or $100 — depending on what you offer.

(For what its worth, Patreon also offers a paid “Patreon Pro” option to create an unlimited number of tiers, but this is not necessary to have success on the platform.)

It’s also important to keep in mind the balance of accessibility for the reader without shortchanging yourself. Having tiers with a wide range of financial support helps you reach a wider audience but will also ensure you’ll be paid for the work you’re putting in.

Maximizing the Benefits

Although your benefits will range based off the type of writing your pursuing, there are benefit options tailored for short story novelists, poets, episodic writers and long-form writers.

With mid- to lower-level patrons, its common to offer behind the scenes extras such as character studies, deleted scenes or access to personal projects. Writers who use Patreon to publish a serial novel will often offer access at a lower level to cast a larger net of readers. This content is usually available digitally, sometimes with the option for readers to download. Some long-form writers will even upload early drafts or first access to drafts as a way to entice readers into the story before the editing developments.

For upper-level patrons, these benefits can increase to providing an annual, physical edition of the content you’ve been producing through Patreon, discount codes for books or merch, or even short stories. At their highest membership level, indie authors have even offered a signed, physical copy of their next book release.

Every writer sets up their membership tiers differently, and it’s up to you to decide your level of accessibility and what content you feel comfortable providing on a recurring basis to your patrons. There’s a lot of customization options available too, so writers can get the most out of their Patreon page while also keeping it a fair value to their fans.

Alternatives to Patreon 

If Patreon doesn’t sound like the right fit, or you want to add more options to your arsenal, there are other platforms that authors can use to get paid for their work. Ko-fi and Buy Me A Coffee are two different income producing sites that allow for either one-off tips or membership packages, which could be beneficial for writers too.

Sites like Patreon give authors more revenue flexibility, but it can also be used as a marketing strategy. For some writers, Patreon is the only platform they use to publish their work and they have a dedicated patron fanbase for it.  For other writers, it may make more sense to use this platform to supplement book sales by selling added content that relates to your book. At the end of the day, these sites are designed to help creators make a living off their work and give fans a direct tool to support them.

Aliya Bree Hall is a freelance journalist and writer based in Portland, Ore. She is currently editing her first novel, an adult F|F science fantasy. When she’s not writing, she’s hosting Sapphic Stories Bookclub (and Other Queer Tales) or cohosting the podcast Shit We Wrote.













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