Crowd-funding: What’s it All About?
Thanks to Ritesh, for inviting me to chat about crowd-funding today. First let me introduce myself: I’m an indie/self-published fantasy author with a few published books to my name, and more on the way. I’ll be visiting again later this month to talk more about all of that.
I’ve been both hearing and talking about crowd-funding quite a bit lately, because it’s becoming increasingly bound up with the challenges that independent authors face. It’s true that you can publish a book without it costing you a penny; that’s perfectly possible to do. But it’s very hard to publish a book really well without spending any money on it. Publishing one’s own books is like any other small business: there are start-up costs, and while you can get round or barter for some of them, you’ll have to spend something sooner or later.
Getting a book properly edited is a big challenge. There are ways to do this without hiring an editor, but many authors choose to get a professional in on it. Proofreading is another, similar problem, as is formatting the book for print or e-reader. Cover art is another big issue. Some of us are talented enough to make our own, but others, like me, haven’t a scrap of skill in that direction – and good cover art can make all the difference when trying to launch a book.
So that’s quite a list of potential expenses right off – just to get your book on the virtual shelves. If you want to do anything extra, that’s probably going to cost even more. Illustrated print editions. Audiobooks. Or in my case, a proper map for one’s fantasy world. You can get by without any of these things, but what if you don’t want to have to? And what if you really can’t find the money to cover all the necessities – are you stuck? Do you have to give up?
Well, no, because there’s crowd-funding. Many of you may have heard about this already – or you’ll know what I mean if I say “kickstarter”. Crowd-funding involves using a third-party website to launch a public project to raise the funds you need. The idea is to raise the target amount through lots of small donations – if you need $1000 then you only need fifty people to donate twenty each and you’re there.
In return for people’s help, you offer rewards for participation. Everyone who donates $20 might get e-copies of all your books and an exclusive short story, for example. If somebody donates $100 they might get a signed paperback or three. It can be a great opportunity to offer – and to gain! – exclusive merchandise or content related to the project.
What this means is that crowd-funding can be great for readers as well as authors, especially when it’s about self-published books. Most independents don’t do book signing tours, so how do you get a signed paperback if you want one? This can be one way, and rewards can be really imaginative. Independents also have total freedom to offer anything we like: from new stories to behind-the-scenes character info, to illustration or cover art prints, to signed books. It can be really exciting. And for authors, a successful crowd-funding project means the difference between achieving your dream-goals or having to put them off – again – for several more years.
When I got started last year, I didn’t know about crowd-funding. If I had, I might have done as many other authors have done, and used it to try to raise some start-up funds. As it is, I had a hard time getting those first books out. Now I’m facing another problem: I have all the basic necessities covered, but readers are calling for a map. A professional fantasy map doesn’t come cheap, but my resources are, for the present, tapped out. So what do I do? I didn’t want to just give up and put it off for another year or two, so I decided to give crowd-funding a go.
So far the project’s been going well, with nearly 40% of the target amount raised within a little over a week. There are still twenty or so days to go, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to celebrate in a few weeks’ time by commissioning the beautiful map I’ve been dreaming about for the Draykon world. If you’d like to check out how it’s going, you can take a look at The Draykon Map Project here.
I’d also like to highlight a couple of other arts-based projects now running on CrowdFunder, the site that I’m using:
The Chronicles of Professor Elemental: there’s a song called Cup of Brown Joy that’s been floating around YouTube for a while, courtesy of the notorious chap-rapper Professor Elemental. He and his team are raising funds to create a mini TV-series around the character. They already hit their target, but they’re hoping to raise some extra for improvements to the original idea.
Standing Still: This is a start-up project aimed at raising the funds to publish a series of vampire/sci-fi books and graphic novels. It’s only just got started so there’s loads of room to get involved.
CrowdFunder.co.uk is one of the popular options in the UK, and there are plenty more if you’d like to browse and see what kinds of things people are up to. Two other names that pop up a lot are KickStarter.com and IndieGoGo, both of which are aimed mostly at creative projects. If you enjoy books and like to support the independent community, it’s well worth taking a look for something interesting. And if you’re an indie with big dreams, why not try starting up a project of your own? You never know what you could achieve!
About author Charlotte E. English,
in her own words
I’m an independent fantasy author, born in England but now resident in the Netherlands. I live out here with my partner and two cats (every author has at least one cat, right? It’s nice to fit in). I’ve loved reading since I was a young child. In fact, it’s fair to say that I spent most of my teenage years living in books. When a person spends that much time dreaming in text, taking up writing is the only logical onward step. I like to write fantasy fiction because it gives me all the scope I could want to exercise my powerful (and overindulged) imagination. I have plans to write some historical fiction someday, but for now that can wait.
About Charlotte’s Books
When shy and retiring Llandry Sanfaer discovers a mesmerising new gemstone, she suddenly becomes the most famous jeweller across the Seven Realms. Demand for the coveted stone escalates fast; when people begin dying for it, Llandry finds that she herself has become a target.
Lady Evastany Glostrum has her life in pristine order. Prestigious, powerful and wealthy, she is on the verge of crowning her successes with the perfect marriage. But when her closest friend is murdered for the jewellery she wears, Eva is drawn into the mystery surrounding the curious “istore” gem.
The emergence of the stone is causing chaos across the Seven. Gates between the worlds are opening at will, pulling hordes of creatures through from the shadowy Lower Realm and the glittering Uppers. As Eva works to discover the culprit behind the spreading disorder, Llandry must learn the truth about her precious istore stone — before she herself becomes a victim
Lokant (Draykon #2)
The long-vanished draykon race has been restored to the Seven Realms, and the mystery of the istore stone is resolved. But Lady Eva Glostrum returns to Glour City with many questions unanswered. Who are the enigmatic sorcerers who woke the draykon? Their powers are beyond anything she has ever known. With one dead and one vanished — literally — Eva has little to go on save a book taken from a mysterious tower in the Lowers, its cover marked with the strange word “Lokant.”
Llandry Sanfaer is anxious to learn more about the glorious draykoni, whose story is so inexplicably bound up with her own. But when she brings another draykon back from the Long Sleep, she finds she has made a grave mistake. Worse, a white-haired sorcerer with a talent for mind control is stalking her across the Worlds…
As war builds between humankind and draykoni, Eva must uncover the identities of the sinister white-haired practitioners — and come to terms with the truth of her own heritage.
And Llandry must learn why she appears to be their primary target…
- Crowd Funding – good idea or not? (jbmandm.wordpress.com)
- Crowd-funding meets open-source (alexbcoles.com)
- CrowdFunding my business @BankToTheFuture [Simon Dixon] (ecademy.com)
- Crowd-Funding – Start-Up Businesses Need To Take Note (bizsugar.com)
- UKIE: Crowd-funding should be permitted in UK (gamasutra.com)