Patreon and other subscription services have gotten a lot of attention on the internet in recent years as creators have looked to monetize their following.
While authors certainly fall under the category of a creator, it might not be exactly clear how an author could utilize subscription services to boost their bottom line.
That’s why we decided to work along with Emilia Rose, a USA Today bestselling author of steamy romance who has a Patreon where her superfans pay her monthly to gain access to her bonus content.
Want to learn more about subscription services from Emilia?
Table of Contents
What are Subscription Services for Authors?
Subscription services are a growing trend on the internet where fans of creators pay a monthly subscription in order to gain special content, perks, privileges, and entrance into communities.
In addition to buying their books, an author’s fans can support their favorite authors by joining their subscription.
These memberships work on a monthly basis, and give access to all types of content, whether it be audio, textual, animated series, or pictures.
Why Would an Author Want to Use Them?
There are several different reasons why an author would want to set up a subscription.
In Emilia’s case, she used her subscription as a method to give superfans early access to her books before they were published.
Once she saw significant demand for the subscription, it gave her the extra confidence to spend time writing the book.
Another reason authors would want to use a subscription is to give their superfans more connection points and build a close community.
Authors with communities no longer need to worry about a social media algorithm showing their content. It’s a similar reason as to why email marketing is so vital to an author’s marketing strategy.
Building fandom is more than just books!
How Do Author Subscription Services Work?
Before we can jump into how these subscription services work, you first need to know which model you’ll be following.
The first model is the early access model, where fans pay early, typically monthly, to gain access to your drafts and content before the book is published.
The other model would be the bonus content or exclusive content angle, where authors give more content to their fans. This could be bonus scenes, merch, artwork, extra chapters, and more.
We’ll cover the pros and cons of each platform in the next section.
These platforms will host your community for all your fans to join. Interested fans will have the option to join your community to see your content, whether it’s free or gated behind a paywall.
What Type of Authors Should Use Them?
In Emilia’s experience, any author can benefit from having a subscription, but indie authors inside the romance and Lit-RPG niches are finding a lot of success. Emilia believes this happens for a few reasons.
In Lit-RPGs case, fans typically have already gathered themselves in communities on Discord. Romance is the best-selling genre by far, so therefore it will be overrepresented. That being said, romance writing tends to lead to strong communities anyways (Think Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray).
How do you Build and Sell a Subscription?
Next, we’re going to cover how to build out a subscription of your own.
Let’s start off with the pricing and tiers.
Emilia recommends no more than three tiers at first. Start simple, and expand as time goes on.
First identify what you want to give your audience, what you have the time to give to your audience, and then what your audience actually wants. Once you understand this, you can better set up the different tiers.
When it comes to setting your subscription price, Emilia recommends making the lowest tier at $5.
Considering all these options charge 10%~ + .$30 per transaction, a small subscription tier price causes a huge chunk of change to go straight to the payment processor and not the authors themself.
Starting a subscription at $5/month allows for the author to take home a significant portion of their earnings (up to 90%)!
Always underpromise, and overdeliver. Don’t tell them that you’ll release 20 chapters this month and then not come through with it.
If you promise something that you cannot deliver, then your readers will lose trust in you and unsubscribe.
If you promise a smaller number of chapters, bonus scenes, or merch and then give them more than what you promised, then your readers are going to feel special and want to continue to support you!
Emilia has more experience doing the early access model. The way she did it was to start writing a book live and provide free chapters on Wattpad and Inkitt, teasing readers. In order for them to get more chapters sooner, they have to join your paid community.
But for bonus content, some of her network has a lot of success in romance posting artwork that’s safe for work on social media and placing the not-safe-for-work content behind a paywall.
Best Subscription Services for Authors
Patreon is built for all types of creators and allows them to monetize their content. Anyone from a podcaster, video maker, or author can use the platform. Most subscription plans are monthly, but some can be paid for on a per-project basis.
There is creator discovery on the platform, but it’s not super powerful and contains tons of censorship for 18+ creators, which a lot of romance authors are.
There are a lot of really basic features on the platform like embedding videos, pictures, and textual posts, in a blog post format. Considering it’s catering to so many different kinds of creators, its feature set doesn’t cater specifically to authors.
As far as costs or fees go for Patreon, there are three main charges you’ll want to consider.
The first is the platform fee, where Patreon takes a percentage of the payments processed through the platform (including payment processor). The next fee is a payout fee, which Patreon takes from creators upon withdrawal. Lastly, there’s a 2.5% currency conversion fee.
What we Love
- Many features, built for all types of creators
- Plenty of features and integrations are built in
What we Don’t Like
- Built for all types of creators (nothing specific for authors except basic textual posts)
Substack is another leading platform for content creators to publish their work in front of an audience. The platform is completely free, and only takes a percentage of payment processing fees on newsletters with a paid subscription.
Substack makes it really easy for authors to get started putting out content right away. Your content is hosted on a website in blog format, and email blast to your subscribers when a new piece is released.
From what we can tell, the platform has little to no censorship on it, making it a good choice for authors in the more sensitive niches.
What we Love
- Great for journalists
What we Don’t Like
- Not Fiction-Author friendly
Examples of Authors Who Are Using Subscription Services
Now that we have some background on how a subscription service works, and what platforms you can use, let’s take a look at some authors leading the way with a successful subscription author using the above-mentioned services.
The first example we want to go over is Joanna Pen from the Creative Pen, who has a Patreon, where fans can subscribe for as little as $1/m.
Joanna Penn is giving exclusive discounts for her courses, if you subscribe to her, plus extra content like her backlist of non-fiction!
Shirtaloon – Early Access
Shirtaloon offers early access for his subscribers. With every higher and higher tier, he gives more exclusive access.
He utilizes RoyalRoad (free writing platform) to help people learn about his story, and then he directs them to his Patreon to read the chapters before they even drop on RoyalRoad!
Katee Robert – Bonus Content
Bonus content is working extremely well for Katee Robert as she already has a huge fan base.
She offers different types of merch for different levels of her subscription, sending them out about every two months.
Katee is giving her readers more of her worlds but using the bonus content method.
Last, but certainly not least, is Emilia’s subscription. On her subscription, she has five plans priced at $5/m, going all the way up to $150/m.
Some of her offerings include NSFW perks, which have caused her many issues in the past. Patreon reduces the reach and sometimes suspends accounts they deem as NSFW.
Overall, subscription services are a great way for authors to monetize their following and build a closer relationship with their fans.
While they don’t make sense for every single author to use, it’s important for upcoming authors to keep them in the back of their heads as a potential source of revenue.
That’s all we have for this post on subscription services for authors, if you have any questions for the Booklinker team or Emilia, drop a comment below and we’ll answer it as soon as we can.