(Disclaimer: I’m posting this on Patreon and PPC.)
I’ve been on Patreon for a few years now. I’ve had my ups and downs in that time, but I knew from the start that it would never be a primary source of income. At best, it was a side hustle, as kids these days like to say. Writing is a passion for me, and I hope I’ll keep doing it until the day I die, so leaving the Patreon platform isn’t the end of my life as an author.
But it is a step that needs to be taken.
From the start, the platform has given me no assistance whatsoever on building a community. Seeing what other content creators deal with on a daily basis, reading the occasional Patreon newsletter, I get the sense that this is intentional. The site has always seemed geared towards boosting those who already have an audience, not helping new talent get noticed. As someone who doesn’t have that online presence, whose mental state and personal opinions mean he never will, I’m lost in the shuffle.
In a way, that’s probably a good thing, If I didn’t fly under the radar, I’d probably already be banned for holding “wrong” opinions, or else I’d be pressured to sacrifice my authorial integrity to placate the mob. That’s something I’ll never do. My novels, novellas, and short stories will always be the real thing. I would never dream of taking corporate sponsorship that requires me to add product placement, nor would I consent to see my stories bowdlerized because their content upsets someone. I’m better than that. We’re all better than that.
I know it’s well past time for me to leave Patreon. I’ve posted almost nothing but status updates for over a year now, thanks to the stress of my job, my ever-precarious relationship, the lockdown that has left me as close as I’ve ever been to suicidal, and the general collapse of civilization as we know it. Besides an aunt and a cousin, nobody subscribes to me, and I’m almost glad, because I’d hate to disappoint paying subscribers with my lack of output. That would only add to my own problems.
This doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing, or that I want you to stop reading. No, consider it another step in the journey instead. I’ll find somewhere else to go, I’ll find some way to let my stories be told, and I want others to walk with me for as long as I can. Maybe that’s another eighteen months, as I calculated during the depths of my depression last year. Maybe it’s fifty more years. No one can say for certain, but I can truthfully declare that whatever happens next for me won’t happen on Patreon.
Call this an amicable separation. I hold no grudge, because there was never any serious connection between myself and the platform. It was nothing more than a bookshelf, in my mind, a place to put the things I had written. I was given nothing by Patreon, but I will take lessons away from this experience.
It’s been a ride. For anyone who’s reading on either side, I thank you for riding with me.
Now, these are the parts I couldn’t put on Patreon.
My reason for leaving is simply: I can’t, in good conscience, remain on a platform whose stated goal is to marginalize me for who I am. I’m a straight, white male, and they hate that. I’m not afraid to speak truth to power, and they hate that. I support the classical liberal values of the Enlightenment, and they hate that.
But I don’t hate them for it. I pity them, in fact. I know they will fail in the end, and they will be left wondering why, because the people who run Patreon, just like those running most other Big Tech sites and platforms, cannot comprehend the thought that they might be wrong. And that is worthy of pity, if you ask me.
On Patreon, I’m not allowed to state this fact: Biological sex is permanent and determined even before birth.
On Patreon, I’m not allowed to state this opinion: The Ukrainian state is a puppet of the US, EU, and NATO, and Russia is doing the world a favor in exposing them.
On Patreon, I’m not allowed to be myself. So why should I stay? They clearly don’t want me.
The alternatives aren’t much better. SubscribeStar has all the same problems as Patreon plus the lack of an audience. Substack is great for blog-type content, but awful for an author of long-form stories. Smashwords, last I checked, is a cesspit of progressivism. Wattpad is awful if you’re doing original content.
A couple of years ago, I started a project called Liblio. Its purpose was to become kind of a distributed Patreon competitor. Connecting to the fediverse using the ActivityPub standard, it would allow authors and other creators to reach an audience of their choosing, while giving them full creative control over their online presence in a way that hosted platforms just don’t want to offer.
Liblio never got off the ground; its development ended when my depression worsened. Now, though, I wonder if I should dust it off and see if I can finish it. Using the lessons I’ve learned from my time on Patreon, the four fediverse accounts I’ve gone through, and six months as a project manager, I wonder if I could finally build something worth the name.
I guess we’ll see.