Crowdfunding is a game changer for Authors
In less than a decade, the landscape of publishing has changed dramatically. That’s good news for small publishers and independent authors who have been able to find alternative ways of publishing outside of the traditional models. Still, at the beginning, it was difficult for authors to find the resources to put together a quality product.
This takes money. Most authors don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in hiring an editor, designer, illustrator, not to mention printing and distribution for physical copies. Even if you do have a good chunk of change stored away, there is no guarantee of a profitable return upon the book’s release. For a major publisher with hundreds of titles, a few losses is a drop in the bucket. But for a solo author, that loss constitutes a major setback. Lack of capital; along with the high risk, has been one of the biggest deterrents for would-be self-publishers.
Enter crowdfunding. With the launch of sites like Kickstarter, and GoFundMe, writers are finding new ways to fuel their creative efforts. This breakthrough has allowed many self-publishers to get their work into the hands of readers, and on a much larger scale than before. The popularity of crowdfunding goes beyond the individual, however. In recent years, big publishers and best-selling authors have found creative ways to use the platform.
Take Julie Hudland. Julie is a children’s book author with Little Bahalia. When she approached them with her third book MY LOVE FOR YOU IS LIKE THE SUN, they loved it, but were not in a position to finance its publication since they mainly cater to ebooks and apps as opposed to print. Instead of calling it a day or pitching it to other houses, Julie came up with a creative solution. She used a Kickstarter campaign to finance the initial print run. With collaboration between her, the illustrator that she brought on board, her agent, and publisher, they were able to successfully publish the book. With children’s books being a high risk for most publishers, sharing that cost paid off for everyone on board the project. This hybrid model of publishing is a benefit not only to authors, but to small presses and independent journals as well.
Is crowdfunding for you? Here are just a few of the different options available:
Kickstarter is still the most popular and well known of the crowdfunding sites. It brings in big names as well as unknowns, and funds campaigns from as little as a thousand to beyond the million mark. Kickstarter was developed with the artist in mind. It allows creators to give rewards to their donors at certain levels. One of the unique aspects of Kickstarter is that the creator only receives money if they reach their funding goal. This takes some of the risk out for backers and provides a certain level of accountability that could convince backers to make a pledge. This is good incentive for the creator to do their homework in creating a successful campaign. Many have found success even in this all or nothing model.
Unfil recently, Kickstarter didn’t allow nonprofits to use the platform. GoFundMe and Indiegogo filled that niche, by allowing their platform to be used for personal and individual causes. There are still reward tiers and funding for products, but you’ll see more diverse types of campaigns. The biggest advantage to using these platforms, is that you can receive all of the donations even if you don’t reach your initial goal.
Patreon is fairly new compared to the other sites, but it has already grown exponentially. Patreon is unique in that it gives you the ability to have monthly donors, called “patrons.” Patrons often get special perks or access to the creators. This creates not just funding opportunity, but builds a community. Patreon is great for authors who are consistently creating content. Series, comics, and graphic novels have a large following there.
WIth the success of these companies, it’s quite likely that we will see even more options in the future. The traditional models of publishing are still around, but the dynamics are shifting. More access, direct contact with readers, and sharing of risks and resources, has created precedence for new and creative ways to publish.