With websites including Kickstarter, it is now easier than ever to “crowdfund” a project, be it a film, art exhibit, or book. “Crowdfunding” is the process of asking for small donations from a group of people to support your artistic endeavor. In the case of The Order of The Stick, a comic book by Rich Burlew, a lot of small donations added up to quite a lot.
Burlew was able to “crowdfund” over $1 million to print a compilation of his web-comic about geeky topics such as role-playing games, especially Dungeons & Dragons. So just how did this low-profile, non-mainstream author generate over $1 million in donations? And how can I do that for my book about less geeky things?
As Suw Charman-Anderson points out in her article for Forbes, Burlew has a massive, motivated, and technologically savvy fan-base. For “crowdfunding” to be effective, an author needs to be able to cultivate a lively online presence, so they can easily funnel them over to their Kickstarter page. In Burlew’s case, his demographic was gamers and web-comic aficionados, which worked perfectly to motivate his readers to not only contribute to his Kickstarter, but to promote it themselves through myriad internet communities. That’s not to say a writer has to be on the nerdier-side-of-the-spectrum to be able to “crowdfund” — but it sure helps to have a significant online presence before starting a Kickstarter or similar fundraising initiative.
An example is Lulu author Lori Lemon-Geshay, author of Dating Diva Adventures, who has created a Web presence at LoriLemonGeshay.com and in her YouTube video.
The idea that self-publishers can now receive an “advance” on their written work, something that only the publishing industry was once able to bestow on a writer, entirely changes how many will approach self-publishing. By “crowdfunding” before putting the pen to the paper, a writer who self-publishes will be able to either take off the necessary time from work or be able to gauge their audience. By putting up a sample chapter or by generating interest solely based on past work, writers can now find the time and reward that was once offered by a publishers “advance.”
“Crowdfunding” is a path many self-publishing authors could take in the future, and the viability of this model, and whether it completely revolutionizes the self-publishing industry, will depend on just how committed writers are to self-promotion and to connecting with potential readers.