Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kickstarting your Writing.

I am a member of a few science fiction communities on Google+, where an increasing number of authors want me to give money to their Kickstarter projects. I had ignored these requests, considered them to be a new form of begging.

I had also thought why would a writer need the money? With the new world of self-publishing all a writer needs is to pay an editor and book designer, and a few other incidental costs. If they couldn’t afford an editor than they would need to find some good critiquers or someone to edit their book for free. If they wanted people to pay them while they wrote, they could go and get a job.

But then I thought, maybe there are actually people willing to pay me to write my novels, so I went and checked out the Kickstarter website.

The website says that since 2009, more than 4.3 million people have pledged over $670 million to fund more than 43,000 creative projects. It has an all or nothing approach, so the project only gets funded if it reaches it fundraising goal. A respectable 44% of projects achieve their goal and then Kickstarter charges a 5% fee.

Okay then, 44% was not bad. But what do these authors want the money for? And more importantly, how can I get people to send me money. I decided to check out a few book writing projects. 

The Big Aha 

Rudy Rucker’s The Big Aha, had a video at the start of the Kickstarter page where the writer told us about the novel and his writing career. The novel sounded partly original in that it is set in a future world where animals and plants have replaced machines. But not so original in that webware has made everyone telepathic. In the novel telepathic aliens appear and – here he lost me a bit – start swallowing up humans. For a five dollar pledge I would get a free ebook of the novel when it was finished. Five dollars is about the average price of an ebook.

Rudy said he had published over 20 novels with traditional publishers but is now finding it harder to get them to publish his quirky novels. I had never heard of him so I went and checked and the first novel of his I saw had an introduction by science fiction icon William Gibson. I also discovered that Rucker had won the Philip K Dick award twice, so he can obviously write very good science fiction.

He had a goal of raising $7,000. He said the money would pay for more time for him to finish writing the novel, which was 80% complete. Anyone who pledged $25 gets the novel as an ebook, as well as an acknowledgement of their pledge in the ebook, and two further ebooks, one a collection of short stories and the other an illustrated collection of notes on the writing of The Big Aha. Anyone willing to pledge $1000 got all that and an original Rudy Rucker oil painting.

But how is Rudy assured of getting any money pledged to his project? Well when money is pledged, credit card details are taken. The amount of the pledge is then only credited to the credit card if Rudy’s total pledges reach his goal of $7000, which they had. 

The Energy Room 

In contrast to Rudy, Christyna Mansfield is asking for a much more modest $2,700 to help with her debut novel The Energy Room. She had no video at the start just a not very inspiring mock-up of a book cover for her novel. Her novel is a fantasy, about a young woman who can manipulate the elements. The woman had been raised in a government facility that prevented her from using her abilities. But there were others with her gift and the government wanted them.

Christyna plans to self-publish the novel so there are no barriers between her words and the reader, and to wipe out the middleman. She needs the $2,700 to pay for a professional editor and a designed book cover.

Anyone who pledges five dollars to her cause will receive a copy of the ebook. A ten dollar pledger would get the ebook and a limited edition bookmark. A $1000 pledger would get a one page advertisement in the printed and digital book, an invite to the book launch, a reoccurring side character in the book with a name and appearance of their choosing, a signed copy of the sequel before it is released to the general public and copies of the printed and digital book.

In her spiel for the money, Christyna admits to stopping and starting on the novel over many years. Many potential pledgers might ask if she will finish it, which might be why, with nine days to go, she has only raised $164.

As publishers cut back on the number of books they publish, the future of publishing could be writers funding themselves through sites like Kickstarter and then self-publishing. Kickstarter offers the chance to be paid while writing, and have editing and other expenses paid for. It also can give the writer pre-sales for their book, and is an additional way of marketing and promoting a book and its author.

I have already thought up a great concept for a video to go at the start of my Kickstarter spiel for one of my works in progress.

1 comment:

Anthony J. Langford said...

Very interesting Graham. I actually didn't realise that authors were using the site too. I know that many filmmakers use it as its such an expensive business but when well known actors such as Zach Braff are using it, kind of takes it out of the hands of genuine struggling artists.

Sounds like its great to support writers such as Rudy ( a real tragedy that he can't get published despite a stellar career-demonstrates how hard and how fickle publishers are-too busy searching for the next fucking Stephanie Meyers).
But then the second person makes you realise that its rife with potential problems, people getting ripped off, getting nothing out of.
Worth considering though.
Cheers for the info.