This post has two key announcements, which I’ll sum up here:
- I’m moving Paxwood from Vella to its own site. You can read it here!
- I’m moving from Patreon to Ko-fi
Read on for the why’s
Re: Moving from Vella to Self-Hosting
When Amazon Vella initially launched in July, I’d already been planning on serializing Paxwood and posting it somewhere. In the excitement of a shiny new thing, I jumped into Vella thinking it just might match the plans I was already making.
The thing is, by now–the start of September–I was feeling frustrated because Paxwood wasn’t picking up engagement, and I just didn’t have time to market it, especially not when marketing it involved also explaining a whole new platform to potential readers. (And the platform wasn’t available to anyone who doesn’t live in the US, besides.) I started to hone in on my frustration and ask myself some questions, like:
- Why did I want to publish Paxwood this way in the first place?
- Where is my frustration coming from: The platform, my attitude, the ten thousand things life threw at me in July and August? (Seriously. The AC broke, the dog got sick, my eye condition got worse, enrollment at my virtual school quadrupled and the workload quadrupled with it. It was a lot.)
- How can I fix this?
The answer actually came from listening to my students share stories they’re reading on Wattpad and AO3 with each other. (I opened up self-selected reading to include these platforms with the caveat that students refrain from sharing content that is not school appropriate with other students because my goal is to get them to become lifetime readers, not to be a literary snob about what they read for the rest of their lives.)
I remembered being their age, in junior high, no job, minimal pocket change. My parents would take me to the library frequently to check out books, and I used the school library, too, but I also discovered stories online. All these stories, shared by writers of all ages and skill levels and imaginations, all there for free. There was joy in reading them, and I dreamed of being like them and serializing a story some day, too.
Over time, I got it in my head that for my writing to be taken seriously, I couldn’t just publish it for free online. That was a shortcut, an excuse, letting myself down, or a thousand other things. No, I told myself, I want to be traditionally published, and that means no sharing! Ever!
I still want to be traditionally-published. I still want to write full-time and be paid for the quality of my work.
But when it comes to Paxwood, I want joy. It’s a story that’s been stewing in one form and another practically since my best friend Rachel introduced me to the works of P.N. Elrod and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes when we were teens. It’s a longform series with so many characters and connections and plans in my mind and heart. I want it to have room to breathe and grow and evolve. I want to plant seeds and let them bloom. I want to mix metaphors and allow myself to just enjoy my own words while I work on this one thing.
I started hosting twitch writing streams because other writers who did them had brought me joy. I decided on Paxwood as the project I would stream because I knew it would be two joys combined.
Now, I’m choosing to self-host Paxwood as a free web serial because I know that is the publishing path that will bring me the greatest joy for this particular story.
Maybe it’s not the fiscally-responsible choice, and maybe it’s underselling the value of these words, but there are other novels in my WIP pile that are at various stages of readiness for traditional query or for self-publishing in other ways. This one, I’m taking on a journey, and I want to freely and openly invite you along for the ride.
Re: Moving from Patreon to Ko-fi
This one’s a little less feelings-y. Patreon is awesome for a lot of creators, but what I notice is that the creators who I see who are most successful are offering content that their supporters can actually use in some kind of way. Or, they’re already successful and it gives their fans more access to their process.
I don’t fit either of those categories, and I wasn’t too surprised when my Paxwood launch led to me gaining a sum total of zero Patreon supporters. (My two supporters were friends who had already supported me, and I love them dearly because friends are awesome.) It was a Patreon for a story nobody’s read, written by somebody nobody has any reason to care about. Woohoo, failure!
If I leave the Patreon up and let the story and support grow naturally over time, I’m sure the Patreon would pick up more supporters, but since I’m already making big changes and I don’t have a big audience yet, I decided to consider alternative options.
What’s cool about Ko-fi is this:
- There are still membership tiers, like on Patreon
- It opens up the opportunity for people to throw one-off support my way when they feel like it
- Ko-fi takes no cut of donations – Patreon does
- I can run commissions through Ko-fi (and there’s no listing fees like on Etsy)
So, Ko-fi takes all the benefits of Patreon and adds a few additional perks for me and for you. I’ll still be working hard to grow an audience of the type that might maybe find enough joy in my writing to feel charitable and through a skein of yarn my way, just as I would with Patreon, but I can pull together the many threads of this whole Steph Weaves Tales thing all in one place.
If you have been considering reading Paxwood, but you couldn’t access it through Vella, now you can read it freely.
If you have been considering becoming a monthly supporter, but you hadn’t hit that Patreon button yet, now you can now support me over on Ko-fi.