Exploring Crowdfunding

A look at popular crowdfunding platforms and how they can be used for authors to publish their work.

Image Credit: 
Public Domain

With the explosion of digital media, it’s not surprising that many facets have begun to bleed into creative writing. One such concept that I, personally, didn’t see working particularly well with writing a book is crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is a way for a creator to ask the crowd to fund their idea. There are many different platforms for this: Kickstarter, Patreon, Go Fund Me, and more. They all have the same basic premise, saying I have this really cool idea, can you give me some money so I can make it a reality?

It’s only been recently that I became aware of this being used to get novels published; I saw some writers talking about it online and I started to look into it. Unfortunately, crowdfunding seems to be suffering from the same problems as the self-publishing market; over-saturation. I found 10,000 fiction novels on Kickstarter—one of many novel writing categories—and there are thousands of authors on Patreon. And, much like the self-publishing world, there are a few people on these that are doing quite well, either getting several thousand dollars a month in subscription donations or launching projects getting backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars. And then there’s everyone else getting a bit here and there.

Ultimately, crowdfunding suffers from the same problem as self-publishing: there isn’t anything vetting what gets published. Sometimes that’s a good thing, it allows real gems to shine through that wouldn’t have ever got published before, but it also means things that should never have really been published do. Also, unless you’re looking for a specific title or author, it does become quite a challenge to get through everything else. Usually, these platforms use algorithms to show you the most popular items before anything else. This means that you miss the ones that don’t already have backing, but the authors who don’t already have a large following struggle to get their projects backed.

One platform that bridges the gap between pure self-published crowd funding and traditional publishing is Unbound, who are very much like an independent publisher. You approach them, they decide if your book is right for them, and the book goes through the standard editorial and publication process. What sets it apart from traditional publishing, however, is that you pitch an idea to Unbound, not necessarily a complete book. They then launch the campaign on their site and you start crowdfunding. Much like the other platforms, rewards are set at different tiers. So, for instance, if you pledge £30 to the project, you may get a signed hardback copy of the book when it’s published. The rewards are tailored to what the author can and is willing to offer.

What benefits Unbound particularly is that it is very streamlined. I looked when writing this and they currently only have 312 active projects. What this means for an author is that you’re much more likely to be found randomly, regardless of your following. And, from a customer perspective, it’s much easier to find the type of thing you’re looking for.

All in all, I really like that there are other ways for authors to get their books read by people. And crowdfunding is a great tool, when properly used, to do this. I’m just a bit hesitant that it’s becoming a way for people to be paid to self-publish which is something that can be done for free quite easily.

Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.

Join the Discussion

Please ensure all comments abide by the Thanet Writers Comments Policy

Add a Comment