Crowdfunding a book

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Now before I launch into my tirade, please don’t be offended I’m not taking a pop at anyone who has done this. People who have are perfectly entitled too and no one forces any one to contribute this is just my personal opinion on it.

Publishing a book is a commercial exercise most do it with the hope of making some money. I know this isn’t the only reason we all want our stories heard, but let’s be honest we all hope to be best sellers even thou the odds make it unlikely.

So when you ask people to pay for your book to be published you are asking them to take the risk, to stump up the cost. Now I know this is in return for something, usually a signed book. That’s great but then you could easily get a signed book often for less than you had to pay for in the crowd funding site. So now the contributors have taken all the finical risk for the author and got a little reward. The real reward would be a share in the book sales but that goes to the author so the author has taken no finical risk but received all the reward.

The counter argument to this would be the person contributing has the pleasure of being part of it and perhaps would never write some book themselves, but by giving and feel part of the presses. I can see that and if that’s the case then carry on. You could all so say by crowd funding a book you are also contributing towards the arts. The contributor also gives the money of their own free will so how they wish to spend their money is up to them.

In my case I wouldn’t ask for crowd funning contribution without offering a share of potential profits, but that’s just me and I’m a miserable git.

What do you think is ok to crowdfund a book ok?

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20 thoughts on “Crowdfunding a book

  1. I guess I never thought of someone actually giving me $ to get my book published… as long as I still had copyrights, why the heck not? Just saying. I’ve not written a book or pursued publishing (yet), however isn’t it the same thing when you get offered a deal with a publishing company, they pay for all the stuff for a %? Maybe I’m not clear what crowd funding is?

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  2. I recently saw a story about a book that contained actual detachable filters that could be used to purify water. The creator of the book wished to provide them free of charge to people in need around the world. In the case of something like this I think crowdfunding is acceptable. If crowdfunding is being used to publish a for-profit commercial book, however, I don’t think it’s appropriate.

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  3. Admittedly I haven’t Kickstarter’d any books, but I’ve Kickstarter’d a LOT of Games (Board Games, Video Games, etc). I currently stand at 62 backed projects in total. Whilst these may not apply for Books (I should really look into them!) I thought I’d give my reasoning for backing as many assorted Games as I have… I kickstart projects that I think look good, and I kickstart them at a backing level where I am A: Comfortable with the money I am giving away and B: Getting the product in return (Usually for a cheaper price than it would be released for) So in many ways it’s like preordering an item. You take the similar risks, in that you don’t quite know WHAT you’re buying just yet, but it feels more productive as you’re supporting someone to reach a goal. I also do it because a lot of the people on Kickstarter wouldn’t be able to make their products without it. Sure you get the people on there who just do it for the money, but if you research the product you’re backing, you begin to learn who needs the money and who doesn’t… And hopefully a decent Kickstarter will tel you what the money is for!

    Lastly, I like to Kickstart because you get a connection with the creator… They give you weekly, monthly, etc updates on what they’re making. I LOVE seeing stuff in production, behind the scenes, concepts coming to life, all of it. I like to see stuff going wrong, or ideas starting out and maturing into something better. Kickstarter gives you that window. Again, it’s a risk, as some Creators aren’t the most open… But if you get a good one, then the price of admission is worth it just for the backstage pass 🙂 To me at least!

    I could keep going on! I just wanted to say, I think it’s a lot more than just “The crowd footing the monetary risk”. I think it’s a brand new way of funding the arts, and I love it.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I wouldn’t say miserable.. Cautious maybe! With good reason too. I think it depends on Who is Kickstarting What. Authors first book? Maybe not, unless he had something already proven. Same with Video/Board Games, have they created before? Do they have a good plan in place? Would I buy the product when it released? Lots of factors to consider 🙂 At the end of the day though, I think anything that makes art, in all of it shapes and forms, more accessible is a good thing!

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  4. I actually did contribute toward a book’s publishing through crowdfunding. My rationale was it was book two in a series and book one was a known, excellently written, quantity. I knew I was going to pay for book two, therefore the only variable in the equation was when it was going to be published. The author wasn’t asking for much. She wasn’t asking the crowd to fund her living expenses for a year off of work or anything like that (which I’ve seen some people try). She was just asking for a little help financing the book’s cover design, a necessary expense which can take awhile to recoup unless your book immediately takes off. I invested the same as I would have paid for the ebook once launched and in return, I received the book I would have paid for anyway, but with a really professional cover on it, and the knowledge that I’d boosted the confidence in a fellow author. Not a bad return on my investment at all.

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    1. I think that’s a really good idea, getting advance sales but as you said some are not always like that. I think the main point is it’s free will and I’m the last one to tell someone how to spend their money but I have seen undue pressure put to contribute. The article is more about why I’m not going to do it but I don’t hold it against anyone who does.

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  5. Having crowdfunded the first publication with plans to do the same with future ones, here are a few thoughts and counter arguments.
    Firstly, I absolutely agree 100% that it is out of order to ask backers to pay more for a book (or any reward) than you would expect to sell it for once produced.
    Having said that, you rightly point out that nobody is forced to back a project, and if someone should choose to “help fund the arts” then that is their choice.
    Blue Poppy exists because of a successful Kickstarter project to fund the printing of a novel by a new author.
    Some backers did not ask for any reward, or asked for a cheaper reward than their pledge value. One gave a three figure sum but only asked for a £30 reward. In fact most of those who did so, ended up receiving a reward commensurate with their pledge, unless they actively asked not to.

    There is also, in many cases a “money can’t buy” reward offered, such as having your name included in the credits in work itself, and some highly creative projects include personal performances (more usually music projects) and other quirky rewards.
    In my case, the top reward was an original work of art by Somerset based fine artist Iver Klingenberg whose artwork graces the cover of the book itself.

    It was nice of you to warn me of your impending post and to assure me it was not personally directed at me, but in all honesty, your observations are reasonable and understandable; IF we are talking about a project with poor reward values.
    A project which offers a fair return for an investment is surely acceptable.
    Now, onto the question of profit share. It is worth noting that such an arrangement is actually prohibited by the No1 crowdfunding website Kickstarter.
    There are business based crowdfunding sites, which do encorage issuing “shares” for pledges, but these are completely different proposition.

    Lastly, and I have enjoyed having this argument with many people in the music business before myself moving into publishing, for most artists who have a finished product but no access to either a major publishing/recording contract, and zero capital, crowdfunding is simply the only option available to them.

    I believe that book publishing is moving in the direction that the recording industry has long since moved into, whereby most unsigned artists now have no desire to sign a recording contract at all since they are able to make a living and retain full artistic control without it.
    With about a hundred advance sales of the first Blue Poppy publication, I would not hesitate to crowdfund the next and more as the need arises.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the comment and I’m really glad you didn’t take it personally. The article was very much my personal opinion and I know not everyone agrees with me. I think the main point is no one forces you to pay and getting your name on a book will mean a lot to some people. When we next meet I will tell you about the two crowdfunding cases that did inspire this article. If you read the comments you will see a very interesting one from someone who regularly gives to crowdfunding.

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  6. I think a couple of commenters have already made this point, but I’ll make it again: you seem to be looking at crowd funders as investors, and I think there’s another way to look at crowd funders as patrons of the arts. A lot of art work (including novels) is not going to attract commercial interest because it’s too risky, but some people believe it deserves to be created anyway, because, you know, art.

    I think it’s really ballsy to ask other people to pay for your own vanity project–and IMO most self-published novels are vanity projects–but if you can convince other people that your project needs to see the light of day and get them to bankroll it, I don’t have a problem with it.

    I’ve only ever contributed to two crowd-funding campaigns–one was for a board game and another for a novel. For the most part, I think the world doesn’t need any more self-published novels, but I was familiar with the author of the novel and had read excerpts of the book, and wanted to read more. My contributions to the crowd funding campaigns got me a copy of the game and a copy of the book. I would have bought both items anyway, but without crowdfunding, neither of these items would have been created.

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    1. I take you point about being patron of the arts it is a very valid one.
      I do take exception at the idea all self-publishing is vanity publishing. This may be true in the past but with traditional publish being in the state it is a lot of career authors are going for the self-publish route. Traditional publishing does not over a lot to a new author unless you are prepared to write a book with very narrow criteria aimed and just selling.
      I’m am not suggesting all self-published book are great, far from it but there is an awful lot of rubbish traditional books out there. My current plan is not to bother with the traditional route, not because I think my book wouldn’t get a deal, I believe in my book, although it still might be a load of hogwash. But rather I would get very little benefit from a traditional publisher and lose an awful lot. I’m planning on writing a more detailed post about it in the future.
      Thanks for stopping by and contributing.

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  7. Having looked into crowd funding for my upcoming book, I concluded that I could get the same results by pre-selling my book (which is really what crowd funding is anyway) three or four weeks before it comes out, through my own website, instead of asking individuals to pay more than what I would be selling my book for. There was just too much pressure all around. And when I did the math, that is, calculated the costs of the gifts, paid the platform fees, etc., I really wouldn’t have come out that much ahead. However, each person has to do what works best for them. A few authors have done well with crowd funding.

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