Or, sources of revenue other than selling books.
1.) The tip jar, or, the paypal button.
This is a common feature for bloggers, or authors with an extensive blog. It provides a way for fans to provide compensation for the blog posts, extra information, or as a tip because they already bought the books used.
This doesn’t have to be paypal, but should take all major credit cards and be pretty painless to use: your fan’s likelihood of giving you money drops drastically with every extra hoop they have to jump through.
2.) Related merchandise, or the cafepress / zazzle / etc. store.
Have a catchy phrase that your fans like to use? Have some art of the characters or cover? Have a nifty logo or slogan for your fanbase? (Note: if you didn’t draw the art or design, make SURE you have licensed the right to resell on merchandise. It’s not automatic, especially with royalty-free sites.)
Then check the terms, conditions, quality, and reliability of various POD merchandise sites. Because they handle the printing and shipping, your input is limited to image uploading, descriptions, site headers or art, etc. This means a fair amount of work up front, and then the need to periodically publicize it / make the link obvious…. but other than time, the investment is fairly minimal unless you are specifically acquiring art for resale.
3.) I made this myself, or the etsy store
For those of you who are artists in mediums other than words, you may end up with sketches, paintings, pendants, necklaces, costumes, knives, etc. related to your worlds. In which case you may want to put those up for sale, before they overrun your studio. It’ll let you buy more art supplies to start the cycle over…
This seems to work best when released in small batches – as in, upload a few things, announce to fans that those things are up. A while later, release more things, announce that the new things are up.
Again, does not have to be etsy specifically. Research what’s best for you in terms of setup time and cost, fees, and other details.
Patreon was created to provide a way for fans to regularly fund their favorite content creators in small amounts, in return for extra content. This does great things for the content creators, by providing a much more stable income than the tip jar, but also increases their workload by the need to regularly put out extra content to their patrons, and to interact with that community separately from their regular community.
This is great for webcomic artists: they can provide extra sketches, or background information, or let their patreon community pick the names & descriptions of upcoming characters / be tuckerized. For novelists, this is much trickier; John C. Wright is releasing a serial, and I believe snippets of upcoming novels, to his patrons.
5.) Kickstarter / GoFundMe
Kickstarter is useful for discrete project funding; the basic premise is that a creator proposed a project, a budget, and rewards to each person by donation level/package if the project is fully funded. If it’s not, then no money is paid.
Marian Call (who is an awesome singer, too) wrote an excellent primer on the usefulness, and on the true costs for each project here:
Now for an unusual link: I’m going to recommend a resource that’ll cost money, but if you’re serious about Kickstarter, is very worth it. MCA Hogarth is a great author, artist, and entrepreneur. She runs kickstarters as needed for projects, and they range from very successful to wildly so. She wrote a book on running them successfully, with realistic budgets, numbers, and checklists. Oh, and cartoon jaguars.
(If you’re curious about her track record, check out her Kickstarter page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/profile/mcahogarth )
So, there you have it. What, if any, of these do you use? What else do you use? What do you recommend for or against? What pitfalls or awesomeness have you found along the way?