Has Patreon brought writer patronage into the Kickstarter era?
June 25, 2014 | 12:25 pm
A new online funding platform called Patreon invites its users to “Be a Patron of the Arts” and “Support and engage with the creators you love.” Targeting all forms of creativity, including scientists and educationalists as well as practitioners of the arts, Patreon offers a Kickstarter-style funding approach to “Writers & Bloggers” and “Authors,” as well as their peers in other disciplines, including comics and graphic novels.
“It’s different from Kickstarter because it’s not about one big project that requires funding,” Patreon’s introductory video explains. “It’s more for bloggers or YouTubers, or web comics – anyone who creates on a regular basis.”
“Founded in May 2013 and based in San Francisco,” Patreon describes itself as: “Empowering a new generation of content creators.” Signed-up Patreon patrons agree to tip creatives a designated amount every time they release a new piece of content. Creatives in return agree to provide patron packages or other special bonuses and incentives to their patrons.
Writing projects on Patreon so far appear to be mostly comic strips and videos tagged with “writing” rather than specific literary or blogging exercises. That said, a good number of the projects appear to have attracted several hundred patrons, conferring funding in the three-to-four-digit U.S. dollar range, so it appears to be working for some. There are some more details here.
Could it work for writers and even self-published authors working on book projects? The jury seems out on that, but I could see the Patreon approach working well for short story writers, where each new story could be a gift to patrons before it even starts the regular round of magazine and anthology submissions. Kindle Singles certainly work on a similar basis, but if there are no exclusivity clauses on either side, I don’t see why the two platforms couldn’t dovetail with each other.
Furthermore, Patreon has only been up since last year, and can probably do more work fine-tuning its offering. But its approach and target donation range seem to be well tailored to new and upcoming creators, and the semi-micropayment capabilities of their likely backers.