Self-publishers must pay all the costs in absence of a deal with a traditional book publisher, and hopefully the book will sell enough to earn it all back and more. But many writers look for financial help from the public in exchange for copies of the finished book, or other enticements.
I browsed 3 popular sites: indiegogo.com, kickstarter,com and gofundme.com.
Indiegogo seems popular with writers. Right off the bat, the "Writing" page lists a number of campaigns well on their way to achieving their goals of several thousands dollars in donations:
Postcards From Richard Siken has raised $9,000 of a projected $10,000 with a month to spare.
The Gift of Stuttering has raised $11,000.
Confessions of a Boudoir Photographer has raised $5,000.
My Life with the Shakespeare Cult has raised more than its $2,000 goal.
On Kickstarter, I see some unqualified successes:
The Storyteller's Dictionary goal was $6,000, yet with over a week to go the pledges are over $21,000.
Bike Boom -- The Book. The funding goal was 6,000 British Pounds and the pledges have topped 11,000.
The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth -- A Children's book. The goal was $25,000 and the pledges are at $39,000 with still 3 weeks to go.
Other campaigns are struggling a bit. Coffee Trail Book, a proposed book about stories from coffee houses in England, is hoping for 12,000 pounds but has raised just 600 with 10 days to go.
Moving over to Gofundme I see:
Kari Moroz garnered the $600 she had requested to "Help me get my book published!"
Eric Moss has raised $565 of a project $1,500 after only 3 days in his "Help bring my book to market" campaign.
Naomi HS has raised $1,060 of $4,500 after 5 days of the campaign "A Writer's Dream -- Nailah's Passion."
Writers offer standard enticements to reward donors for their help:
- a digital copy of the book
- a paper copy of the book
- a signed copy of the book
- a thank you on the acknowledgement page
- a signed photo of the author
- a personal meeting with the author
I wouldn't exactly call it a stampede of authors looking for crowdfunding. Some of those who tried have succeeded but others have failed. The successes have interesting stories behind them and have captured the attention of donors that something about the book or idea is worthwhile, or maybe just the person seems like someone who deserves support.
What's the downside? You may not reach your fundraising goal, and that could be discouraging. And if you do achieve your goal, you'll need to live up to the promises made, and hopefully nothing offered that you wouldn't really want to do, such as lunch with big donors.
What happens if someone achieves the financial goal but decides not to publish a book anyway, and can't see the project through? In other words, grab the money and provide nothing in return for all the donations, as has happened with some types of projects such as a board game at the link above? Possible lawsuits? Would anyone bother? Lifelong loss of personal reputation?