Patronage without Patreon

I did my year-end accounting yesterday, double-checking bank statements and receipts and credit card statements and making sure everything was in the Expenses Spreadsheet of Doom. (Doom, I say!)

My earlier financial predictions were wildly overblown, but we’re doing okay. Books take longer to write than I thought. Well, decent tech books, at least. I imagine crap books could be written pretty quickly.

More than one person has offered to support me via Patreon. The models there don’t really fit with the way I work. Some could be made to fit, but would require extra time and attention from me.

But people still want to offer me extra support. And when you’re working as a full time writer, the rule is that when someone offers you money for no good reason, you take it.

I’m pondering a per-book sponsorship, sold through my site. There would be an ebook tier and a print tier.

An ebook sponsor would get their name listed in the back of the ebook as a sponsor. They’d get a copy of the completed ebook, as well as access to in-progress drafts.

A print sponsor would get their name listed in the back of the print book and the ebook. I’d send them a copy of the ebook and a signed copy of the print book.

Sponsorship sales would remain open until the book goes to copyediting.

The question is, what would people offer as sponsorship? (The voices in my head say to charge $25 ebook and $100 print.) And are enough people interested to make it worthwhile?

I’m not entirely comfortable with this model. It shifts some risk to my sponsors. I might be attacked by a flock of rabid seagulls, or catch wheat rust, or succumb to gelato poisoning. But the sponsors know that risk.

Why post this hypothetical? I want your opinion. Would you buy some kind of sponsorship, and if so, how much would you think is fair?

12 Replies to “Patronage without Patreon”

  1. I’d do it, though maybe the prices aren’t fixed. For instance, with something small and focused like Tarsnap Mastery a sponsor price of 25/100 seems a little high, maybe 20/50 would be more reasonable, but for something bigger than 25/100 is appropriate. You’re the author though, you know much better than I the amount of work and research that goes into your work. I just know I like reading them 🙂

  2. Just reporting an oddity… in the emailed version of this page, the link to your “earlier financial predictions” is, which doesn’t work for anyone. But the link the blog post works properly. I hate wordpress.

  3. I’m in too.
    100$ might be a little expensive but as @Matt said, it depends on the book size!

  4. I’m in as well.

    Ditto on the size and topic considerations, though I have been looking on these as chapters of a larger work that is being released over time. Pretty much everything you have covered recently carries over to other platforms (e.g. ZFS, sudo, tarsnap). I am looking forward to the your thoughts on jails, especially since I have a huge docker project on the near horizon.

    Try to give me an idea of how many of titles you plan to produce cover in a year, so I can get it in the budget.

  5. You can get my blog via email? When did that happen? (scurries around looking at WP) Wow, I guess you can. Huh.

    Adam, I put the wrong link into the post at first. I realized it three seconds after hitting “publish,” of course… Sorry about that.

  6. Thanks, everyone.

    If I knew how many books I’d publish in a year, I’d just Patreon. But my 2016 goal is five Mastery books: PAM, OpenBSD web services, and three more TBD.

    Then again, I thought FM:SF would take me six weeks to write, and it was more like six months. #headdesk

    In any case, folks should pay less to sponsor, say, Tarsnap than the advanced ZFS book.

  7. Ignore everything said about “We should pay less for this vs. that” or whatever. Nobody ever said “I’ll pay more than what you suggested”, ever.

    Ask for the amount of money you need to do well and continue your work. Asking for less means you don’t get what you need and also that people are giving you money that won’t accomplish its purpose – keeping you writing.

    You have been offering early drafts of the books as a way to capture sales before the publishing date – why not create a Patreon with access to early drafts as a benefit? You will get a constant revenue based off of that, that won’t be tied to someone initiating the process of ordering a draft – it’ll be monthly money where you give access when there’s something to show. Overall, that will probably make more money and it is another way to keep people involved in the process.

    If you don’t want to provide drafts, or not just drafts, how about topic-specific talks? You have presentations I’ve seen you give at conventions – you can do subscriber-only or subscriber-early-access versions of that as ‘rewards’ to keep a Patreon-equivalent going.

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