Patreon and Publication Rights
This discussion started on Twitter, and I am moving it here because I feel this is a developing and gray area of publishing.
Question is: are locked works posted on Patreon for pay considered published?
Responses from SFWA-qualifying markets, from 2014, are collated here. (I just saw this link when Amal mentioned it on Twitter).
What I publish on my Birdverse Patreon are mostly: drawings (irrelevant), poems, and serialized novella drafts. I have not completed posting the novellas because I am still working on them, and both would undergo revising before they are ready for publication. I have recently found out that many, if not most markets would consider my Patreon-sponsored locked work published.
This is really perplexing to me. My feel of Patreon was, “A small number of Birdverse fans support me while I create more Birdverse stories and poems; in return, they get previews of work and glimpses into my process, as well as freebies, acknowledgments, and my undying gratitude.”
My thinking went like this:
A patron of the arts is a person who supports the artist so the art can be created. When I am supported in the process of creating, I can create more art. When a venue buys a piece of writing, this venue buys the right to distribute it worldwide, and the author can get nominated for awards in the year it was purchased. I understand the hesitation if the number of patrons exceeds, say, 100 – but in case of under 20 patrons, I simply don’t see how a work can be considered already distributed. Plus, I don’t think a locked piece on Patreon can be nominated for awards, though I am not sure.
I have not expected what I basically felt was a small group of patrons supporting a creator while they create work for publication to turn into something that blocks this creator’s ability to publish.
Complicating issues in my particular setup:
- most poetry markets pay 5$-10$ per poem
- no SFF market afaik pays per poem as much I get per poem on my Patreon
- but I have no issue selling work traditionally, and my published work gets eyeballs
- I have 19 backers, so only 19 people see the works; my nonpaying readership is bigger.
- most poetry markets do not take reprints.
- most prose venues do not take reprints.
- novella markets are really scarce.
- novella markets that do exist tend not to pay SFWA professional rates of 6c a word.
What’s further complicates the issue is that most venues do not have a posted policy regarding where they stand on this issue.
I published all of my work traditionally so far. I have a long bibliography and I know that I can and very likely will sell traditionally again. But if Patreon will, basically, impede my ability to publish traditionally, I am not at all sure that I will abandon Patreon.
This is interesting. Mostly because, up until very recently, I regarded self-publishing as Something Cool, but Not for Me.
One last thought: in poetry, there is a long-standing custom of writing for fundraisers. I have created any number of poems for fundraisers, and so have many other speculative poets. Then, after some money for the piece has already changed hands, these pieces were sold as originals and traditionally published.
I would very much welcome a discussion of this!