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Sep 23

Crowdsourcing

I was looking into crowdsourcing as a possible way to publish Broken String next year. Kickstarter.com is the one I was looking at, but there are others. Crowdsourcing is a way to find supporters to fund your “project.” That project can be just about anything from a space satellite to a movie, or a book. You start by pledging something in return for supporters’ dollars. One project offered to shout out your name in a ballpark for a pledge of one dollar, but most just offer tee-shirts, mugs or deep discounts on the product they are trying to get started. Kickstarter has had some success with publishing books, but mostly graphic novels and children’s books from what I see on their website. They’ve had a little success with fiction books, but most fiction titles I see are “non-starters;” projects that did not raise the amount of money needed in the time allowed. Non-starters don’t happen and no one is obligated to anything. The project turns into digital dust.

Gulp.

It’s like a poker game where you’re all in. If you win, you’re up, up and away. But if you lose, you’re left with just hot air and no balloon. I’d love to hear from someone who’s published a novel this way, to get an idea of their experience. I’m not afraid to take a chance, I just want to have a look over the cliff before I jump.

Reading through some of Kickstarter’s history and success stories, it seems the most fully funded projects are the ones where you, yourself, bring in a lot of supporters in the beginning. The best way seems to have a rollout where you create a lot “buzz.” Then launch the project on a specific day and get your “circle” to “support” the project on Day-1. That initial surge of interest gets the casual Kickstarter members checking out what all the fuss is about.

That’s great if you’re a big satellite company or a movie mogul where you’ve got thousands following you on social media, but it’s scary for a lonely fiction writer whose circle of friends could be corralled with his belt.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Check out Kickstarter.com if you haven’t already. It’s easy to get lost in some of the projects, many of which are fascinating new ways to tackle old problems, like the mechanic’s glove with a magnetic index finger to hold nuts and washers in place at odd angles. Brilliant!

Would a suspense novel be a success? Would folks want to read it enough to actually buy it? You know, with money? What do I have to lose? Well, confidence for one thing. It’s like amateur night and I’m at the mike. Hope people will laugh at my jokes, but what if they don’t? This isn’t my first trip to the mike, so to speak. Guess I won’t know if my audience is growing or shrinking unless I try.

Kickstarter gives “publish or perish” a whole new ring to it these days. Any hints, ideas or suggestions to help me sleep at night?

9 comments

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  1. Sue Remisiewicz

    I’ve been curious about crowdsourcing. Your insight and those of the people who have commented is very helpful in understanding this resource. Thanks!

  2. Claire Murray

    I never thought of publishing a novel this way. It just might work, especially if you could get it up on YouTube.

    1. Phil rosette

      YouTube vids work well on Kickstarter, a lot of projects use them

  3. d.w. hirsch

    I’ve tried crowdfunding through two sites for two different reasons:

    1–Indiegogo, for funds for a book editor. That site has 2 options: all-or-nothing or get-whatever’s-been pledged. The difference is the fee amount Indiegogo takes from your earnings.
    2–GoFundMe, to raise money to defer costs for a writing conference I attended. That site is for more personal experience rather than project. That’s a site keep-what-you-raise.

    I didn’t have success either. I expect my promotion (or lack thereof) was a factor. I don’t think anyone found me on Indiegogo; Kickstarter is the name everyone recognizes. GoFundMe is really about people giving you a monetary gift, a turnoff for most people I asked.

    That’s my experience. Have you heard of anything else?

    1. Phil rosette

      Hi Dianna,
      I think Kickstarter is the way to go, but I’ve not heard of any that are book specific

  4. Karen Kittrell

    Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” is a bit of a deterrent, don’t you think. I surfed through the latest theatre offerings and was dismayed at the number about to be a big NOTHING. Some of the success stories with Kickstarter have secured major donors before going live. With any fundraising effort, getting a good third to two thirds before you start is critical.

    1. Phil rosette

      I think it’s all about building a base. The more interest you can build in the beginning the more success you’ll have in the end.

  5. Kook-Wha Koh

    Very interesting ideas.
    I enjoyed to read it.

    1. Phil rosette

      Thanks, Kook-wha.

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