The reader and the author win together
Publishing is a growing and ever-changing industry. As recently stated in a letter from Amazon to its authors, paperbacks revolutionized the book industry many moons ago, then came the eBook revolution, and most recently the self-publishing craze. I believe the rise of crowdfunded publishing is the latest improvement to the industry.
“What in the world is crowdfunding?” you ask. The quick oversimplified answer is, “You make it happen.” You choose a project you like, and you help fund it. The result: exciting new projects, that might otherwise never see the light of day, come to life and provide big payoffs to those who support the project. Crowdfunding makes you the reader and the author a team like never before.
There are many websites that can be used to raise money for causes, events, organizations, and products. But one in particular which has gained a lot of attention in recent years, is KickStarter, and to me it stands above the rest. Creators post projects with numerous support levels that are directly related to a reward.
For example, in my KickStarter someone can fund the project with $35 and receive eBooks of all three titles in the Sages of Darkness series, along with cool digital series art, and the fun of being immortalized with their name in the acknowledgements of each book. Or they can fund the project with $4000 (Yes that says four with three zeros), and I’ll write a book about them as the main character (plus they get a whole lot of other cool stuff.)
You see, in crowdfunding, the author or artist needs to motivate you the reader to fund the project, so we dangle all sorts of “once in a lifetime exclusive opportunities” in front of you, as well as the simple “just get the product” rewards. The key is to have something for everyone and to dazzle those who want to get something very unique in return.
What crowdfunding is doing, is allowing projects to release that might otherwise not find a publisher or label because they are too costly or the audience isn’t large enough. But when an author goes right to their fans and their friends, amazing things can happen quickly.
For example Andrew Peterson launched a KickStarter to finish his Wingfeather Saga last year after WaterBrook ended the series after two of the projected five books were released. Andrew set his KickStarter goal at $14,000 to fund a fourth and final book, but ended up raising $118,188. He blew everyone’s, including his own, expectations away and set a record on KickStarter.
I asked Andrew why he chose KickStarter as the platform to fund the book, and he said,
When it came to publishing this last book I thought it would be a fun opportunity to raise some extra funds in order to go out with a bang. That meant a fancy hardback edition, tons of illustrations, a fold-out map, an audiobook, that sort of thing.
And “out with a bang” they went. With nearly $120,000 raised, they were able to add a whole lot of awesome stretch goals (more on those later.)
Andrew agrees, KickStarter is about the reader and the author co-creating the project.
This Kickstarter thing gave the readers a chance to express their encouragement and to interact with me as the author. It was wonderful.
And Andrew has worked hard to show his gratitude and fulfill his commitment to the backers. He explains, “One of the perks for backers was a signed set of all four books; that meant I had to sign about 6,000 books in two weeks.” Still he’ll tell you it was well worth it. “I’ve cried quite a few happy tears in the last month.”
Another KickStarter just successfully concluded for Enclave Publishing (Formerly Marcher Lord Press) by Steve Laube. Enclave turned to KickStarter with very specific goals in mind:
We needed a way to allow our readers to pre-order the new books since, at the time, the online outlets did not provide that service. Ironically the last day of the campaign a major online retailer announced they are now offering a pre-order service! In addition we were looking for a way to announce the new books and create anticipation. Kickstarter seemed to be a good method for that type of marketing.
I myself backed this project to see what it was all about and for $20 landed ebooks of their five latest releases, plus helped get more Christian fiction into the marketplace. Crowdfunding brings on the euphoric, “We did it!” feeling and that’s something most of us can appreciate, the way we do the end of an awesome book.
The great news is, if you go to fund a project, but they don’t reach their goal, no money exchanges hands. You keep your funds, and the author goes on to find another way to finance their work. But when a project meets its goal, and begins to exceed those goals, the creator usually starts to add stretch goals. These promise more perks for the supporters when they reach higher funding levels. For example, though my goal is just $6,000, I have a stretch goal at $20,000 that says, “I will give a digital download of the audiobook for HowlSage at no extra cost.” Andrew had a stretch goal to write an original song for the series at $110,000 (a goal his supporters reached, which prompted him to indeed write the song).
I myself faced a similar situation as Andrew with a trilogy I was writing. The first book HowlSage was released, but the publisher ended their fiction imprint and the second and third books never saw the light of day. Yet I would get emails, comments on my website, and queries at book signings, “Where is BlizzardSage?” After hearing of Andrew Peterson’s success as well as a $55,000 Potato Salad KickStarter, I decided to give it a try and within two days became a KickStarter Staff Pick, which isn’t an easy thing to do.
So this is your chance to take part in creating awesome fiction. Find a project and try your hand at becoming a backer. You might find some cool one-of-a-kind rewards, and you might just help create a project that changes another reader’s life. You can check out the Sages of Darkness KickStarter, happening now until October 15th by clicking HERE or visit KickStarter.com and search for Sages of Darkness.
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Brock Eastman likes to write. He is the author of The Quest for Truth series and Showdown with the Shepherd, book 5 in The Imagination Station series. He’s been the producer for the Odyssey Adventure Club from Adventures in Odyssey and Focus on the Family. He is the co-host of Adventure’s in Odyssey’s Social Shoutout. He now works for Compassion International.