Feature Friday: A New Way to “Kickstart” Your Writing Career

by Tqwana Brown

logoWhat does crowd-sourcing mean for the publishing industry? For users of the website Kickstarter, it means getting your book into readers’ hands on your terms, bypassing the traditional publishing route. What Kickstarter does is allow users to crowd-fund creative projects of their choosing, including books. Since its start-up in 2009, users have pledged over $540 million towards the creation of books, magazines, films, and music. To date, over 10,000 publishing projects have been created, with over 3000 successfully funded for an estimated $21 million. In fact, one of Kickstarter’s most successful projects is an enhanced e-book – a “chooseable-path adventure” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet –  written by Adventure Time comic book author Ryan North, which managed to raise over $580,000 with nearly 16,000 backers. However, most publishing projects earn between $1000 and $10,000. But, with those amounts, a new author could pay for professional editing, cover design, an ISBN number, and/or e-book distribution or paperback distribution through sites like lulu.com.

photo-littleWriters essentially set up a sort of business/marketing plan, that includes a synopsis of their work, a biography, a short video about the project or themselves, as well as giveaways to investors when certain monetary goals are met. Cute and quirky videos, with animations and songs are more successful. Sample chapters usually help as well. Those freebies usually include autographed paperback copies of the book, invitations to launch parties, and even a character named for you. So, not only does a new author get the funds to publish independently, and retain 100% ownership of their creative work, but they get an established audience long before their book or magazine ever hits the shelves. Even if a project doesn’t make its goal, because they are never taken down even if you delete your account, Kickstarter can offer you free exposure and publicity for your next project (users are only allowed to post one project at a time). If a project doesn’t meet its goal, no one gets charged any money. Writers should note that successfully funded projects are charged a 5% fee.

quill and booksBut, what does this mean for the intermediaries in a publishing world that is getting smaller and more digitally focused? As with sites like Wattpad, Kickstarter can offer a new avenue to literary agents for finding clients. Publishers like Simon and Schuster who have self-publishing imprints that are admittedly costly, now have a pool of users who can possibly afford those services. Traditional publishing houses can look at the projects on Kickstarter to find the current and up and coming trends. What Kickstarter represents is more change for the industry that is changing by the second.  Does success depend more on your name, rather than the project like Ryan North?  Or could this become a legitimate route for all self-published and hybrid authors? Give us your thoughts, WNBA-ers, in the comments section.

Click the link here to read an article about Book Riot’s Kickstarter experience and their advice on using the site.

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