Ginger Nuts of Horror
The past five years or so has seen the horror genre turned on its head, the rise of self-publishing and the subsequent rise of writers who shouldn't be published has left those writers who can actually, you know, write a decent book struggle to find ways to support themselves. From Kickstarter, to Go Fund Me, from the ways in which an author can look for means to live the dream is richer than ever. However in the majority of cases a lot of the "crowd funding" methods are as hackneyed as the writer offering it, I mean £20 for a thank you in an ebook? That's going to get a lot of funding. So as with most things we have leave it to THE MATT SHAW to show us how it should be done. Read on to find out how Britain's most loved extreme horror writer and lip-sync champion shows us how to set up a successful Patreon account.
You set up a fan-club?
This is for the horror lovers out there. In particular it is for those who enjoy their horror reading. In fact, let’s start again. This is for those who enjoy reading in general as, it is common knowledge, I do not stick to writing the one genre. I like experimenting and - as such - have written extreme horror, horror, psychological horror, self-help books, memoirs detailing battles with depression, comedy, erotica, non-fiction and even a few tales for children although, in hindsight, I should have released the latter under a pen name. Not many parents seem to be willing to give their child a book from the author who wrote the number one best-seller (Amazon, Horror) “Sick B*stards”. Don’t know why…
When I was growing up, many years ago, I was a member of various fan-clubs. I belonged to The Beano and Whizzer and Chips fan-club. I can’t remember what was paid by my long suffering mother and I also don’t recall actually getting anything from said clubs other than one badge and my weekly comic, which I was getting anyway. In fact, looking back, it seemed as though it were a bit of a rip-off. I didn’t care back then, though. It gave me bragging rights at school and, for me, that was good enough. Now I’m not sure why I got to thinking about fan-clubs the other month but - somehow - that’s exactly what I did. You see, I am always looking for ways to reach out to the readers who genuinely enjoy what I do and support me by purchasing my books - of which I tend to release about one a month, plus a handful of short stories. I started thinking that, maybe, I could start up a fan-club for these people. Something that is easy to join and just as easy to leave, should they wish to. More importantly, though, something that offers them more for their money compared to if they were simply downloading my books direct from Amazon each month. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that it could be good. A new way to reach out to those who want to chat and get to know me better with various rewards along the way. And so, I got to hunting around to try and find a way to make this happen.
What is Patreon?
Patreon is a website that is kind of similar to sites such as GoFundMe. Now I don’t like sites like GoFundMe as a general rule of thumb because I find a lot of people seem to be using it for really strange reasons. For instance, GoFundMe because I don’t want to work. Or GoFundMe because I want to be a full-time author. The latter point being a little hypocritical of me considering I am using Patreon to help me in my role as an author. The introductory video, for example, states that I am using the monthly income to get to conventions in America. My readers keep asking me to travel over there so they can meet me (and I want to meet them) but I can’t do it without a little help. Now, the only difference between a GoFundMe page what I am doing on Patreon is that I am already a full-time author. This is it for me. This is my job. Not just that, I am not asking for money for nothing. I am not looking for a free-hand out. I have two aims for this fan-club: I want to get to America to meet people, I want to give my readers better value for their money. So - there it is in black and white - a selfish reason and an unselfish reason. But how do I give them better value?
The nice thing about Patreon is that you can set up different levels for people to join the club at. My page starts at $1.00 and goes up to $100.00. It also allows you to set up goals, a little like the Stretch Goals that are available on Kickstarter. Every time your page hits one of these goals - the subscriber gets a little bonus on top of whatever they are getting on a month to month basis. Here, I’ll break it down so you can see exactly what I mean.
What are the rewards and goals?
$1.00 - Access to behind the scenes information and a short story each month.
$2.00 - As above / monthly chapter of “The Book of the Dead” (a novel in progress due for release late next year.
$3.00 - As above / A “Thank You” in all of my books.
$5.00 - As above / early release of a novella / extra short story.
$20.00 - As above / personal handwritten letter each month.
$25.00 - As Above (not the letter) / Recurring character each month. Should they reader decide to leave, their character is killed off! Includes PDF of the book and - should the book go to paperback - an unsigned copy. (This reward sold out fast and now has a waiting list).
$30.00 - Rewards $1-$5 / signed paperback every month!
$35.00 - Rewards $1-$5 / Beta read ALL of my stories / signed paperback each month.
$45.00 - Get one piece of work critiqued per month (up to 15,000 words). Detailed feedback on structure, story, editing. Includes $1 - $5
$50.00 - Become a recurring villain in the universe I am creating across my books (one male, one female). Includes PDF of story and $1 - $5 reward.
$100.00 - Work directly with me to write and publish your first piece of work. I’ll get it edited, I’ll give you detailed feedback etc. I’ll teach you all I learned through university and set you up to publish your own works moving forward. (only one left)
So as you can see, I’m trying to offer as much as I possibly can for my readers. But it doesn’t stop there. I am known for selling “Die in a Matt Shaw book” slots on eBay. I don’t ask much money for these and used to offer them for nothing but sadly it became impossible. People were getting annoyed with me for not choosing them when spaces became full and… Well, I couldn’t please everyone. By putting it on eBay, it means people really have to want it to get it. For those on the fan-club page, they get 50% discount from any such listings on eBay. They also get first dibs on other items I offer (such as personalised horror stories, something I started about three years ago). And then, of course, there are those goals that I am offering…
Goal #1 = each member of the club received 10 badges (based on my black cover books and only available through conventions normally) (GONE)
Goal #2 = each member of the club received the second set of 10 badges. (GONE)
Goal #3 = each member will receive a copy of MENU, the film I made. This particular goal was hit in August meaning all people who sign up at any level before September 1st gets this reward. (GOAL HIT)
Goal #4 = The top three supporters get a Terror Ted bear posted to their house (GOAL HIT, so the top three supporters by the end of August will get the bears posted out).
Goal #5 = Every one receives a signed paperback book.
Goal #6 = Someone on the page, no matter what level they join at, has the potential to win a holiday to England. They will get to hang out with me for the week. I will pay their hotels and flights. If they’re based in this country, they will get £500 spending money and a hotel for a week. The scary thing is, we’re close to this goal… Someone is going to get a holiday.
I’m not interested in slowing down or stopping from offering people more bang for their buck. Money is tight in this world for pretty much everyone so I want to ensure I am giving such good value, and good stories, that the readers want to keep coming back. I like the fact that having a fan-club is another way of reaching out to my readers too - inviting them into my world to get to know the real me, just as I get to know the real them. Yes, I write books for them. Yes, they like to read my books. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get to know each other on a personal level too? What should I - or any other author - hide behind the words they write? Step forward and take the time to get to know the readers and offer them amazing value for being good enough to support in the first place!
Turning your back on people not in the club?
I respect all of my readers and - more importantly - I am grateful that they have given my work a go, even if it is just one book. Setting up the fan-club doesn’t mean I am turning away from my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mattshawpublications) or even dismissing my website (www.mattshawpublications.co.uk). In fact, it’s worth mentioning that my website will be having a huge overhaul over the next couple of months by someone who knows what they’re doing! Not only will it be offering a couple of free books to people who want them, it will be a lot more user friendly to find my work and - again - get in touch with me.
Isn’t it a con?
The reasoning behind the fan-club is for those people who know they love my work and know they want to continue getting it… If you think about it - on Amazon - one short story is $1.00. So, in the club, that $1.00 will get them the short story and lots of secret information I can’t put in the public domain immediately. For instance, I am working on a book called The Devil’s Guests. Not only have they had a sneaky look at one of the chapters but they knew who the authors were before anyone else. The reason it wasn’t announced on Facebook immediately? I needed to get the contracts back and couldn’t put it in the public domain. Looking at prices further - two short stories and a novella work out at $5.97 and yet, for $5, they’re getting all of that (the novellas before they’re officially released, sometimes months in advance) and the exclusive chapters of “The Book of the Dead” and behind the scenes information…
It’s also worth noting that - supporters can cancel their pledges at any time. It does mean they lose access to the page (including all the stories already published there over the last couple of months…) but, if they want to leave, it probably isn’t a problem for them anyway! It’s also easy to cancel the pledge. They don’t get stuck going through phone operators having to explain things to them, they just get to switch off!
What if I want to join?
Supporters can join at any level they desire and it is easy. You just head on over to the club’s page and hit the button Become a Patron. They then choose what level they wish to go in with. It’s worth noting here that any support is gratefully received. I had one lady apologise to me for only supporting $1.00 a month. This is honestly NOT a problem! I am grateful for any support, it doesn’t matter the level they join at. I’m just grateful they’ll willing to come on over to the page. If someone ever got shirty with someone, due to the amount they’re supporting them with… Then clearly that person is not worth supporting in the first place!
The full page can be viewed on the link below. Once the supporter joins, they’re usually billed the following month and I think they have access to a lot of the stories etc immediately. I consider that a bonus for them! Before they have even paid anything, they get to see lots of content. Can’t argue with that.
Of course it would be lovely to see some more people come over to my twisted little club at whatever level they want. Going forward I want to offer the readers even more! But - putting my stuff to one side - hopefully it will encourage more established authors to set themselves up clubs which save money for their readers and give them the content they crave. Hopefully they’ll be original in their execution and more readers will get to know their favourite authors on a more personal level. Let’s get the horror community (or any literary community for that matter) chatting to one another, not just writing and reading! Let’s get more sociable!
Want your favourite author to get on Patreon? Reach out to them and ask! Any authors, or people in the industry, got any questions? By all means - get in touch and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Thanks for reading!