Publishing Strategies: Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding models like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are becoming more and more popular for creative projects of all kinds. What’s really interesting, though, is what this is going to do – and already doing – for the traditional model of self publishing in the book industry.
Self publishing as it is can often – though not always – require a significant amount of money from the author at the beginning of the venture, with little promise of return. There’s no guarantee your book will make money, even in traditional publishing models, but it can be even less uncertain without the backing of house that has money and marketing teams and experience working the market. That’s not to say it isn’t possible, it just requires a lot more work on the author’s part to be successful!
Through crowdfunding, though, a successful author can put little to none of their own money into their self publishing venture. All they need is the interest and support of strangers. Sites like Kickstarter work by allowing creators to offer incentives to encourage backers to donate to their project. These incentives – as far as for book projects – include anything from copies of the books to other merch like t-shirts or bookmarks to naming characters in the story, and turn the process of crowdfunding away from donations to purchases of sorts. Backers aren’t throwing money at a project they won’t get anything out of; they’re getting a product or other benefit out of their donation. In addition, the donations from these backers only go to the creator if they reach their pre-determined money goal.
These projects aren’t just novels, but book ventures of all types. A web comic anthology raised over $195,000. A YA superhero novel gathered more than $3,500 to fund printing, as well as hiring an editor (something not as common with typical self publishers who have to fund everything themselves). An eleven year old girl raised more than $5,500 to fund the publishing and illustrator-commissioning for her children’s book. And there’s even more beyond that: comic books, travel books, food guides, anything you could think of. On top of that, these projects succeed in gaining the funds they need to move forward. Of course, what happens after that relies on the marketing of the creator and continued interest in the project, but that’s the same in any kind of self publishing venture.
Still, crowdfunding models like these are going to give more power to people who are really passionate about getting their projects going, but might not be able to afford the costs of printing or production. In addition, I think it will push more quality endeavors ahead of those that might not be so good, since backers don’t tend to give money to projects they aren’t interested in, or look poorly made. Of course, no one really knows until the book is final and in their hands whether it’s any good, but it’s an interesting perk to be able to judge quality a bit this way.
Overall, I think the benefits of this strategy are obvious, though many of the struggles of self publishing – which we’ll discuss more in depth another time – are still there to be dealt with. I think this could lead to more self-publishers being able to be more professional and hire actual editors, graphic designers to create the cover, and even have their books professionally set and printed. It also might allow creators with a devoted following to pursue more personally-designed and executed projects rather than relying on the judgement of a traditional publishing house. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more projects coming out of crowdfunding, and will be interested to see how it bolsters the self publishing model in the future.
This is the first in a series of posts that will be looking into different publishing strategies, their benefits and their drawbacks, and what they might do for the future of publishing. What do you think about crowdfunding? Would you back a book, or any other kind of creative project, like this? Would you try this to fund your own self publishing endeavor?