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Old 06-11-2012, 11:58 PM   #1
Steven Lake
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Kickstarter for Books/Ebooks?

Has anyone done, or heard of someone who's done a kickstarter project for an upcoming book or novel? Any success, or is it really one of those things that's more trouble than it's worth?
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:38 AM   #2
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At first I was going to ask what Windows NT logon scripts had to do with ebooks ... then I finally remembered that I had seen the kickstarter website some time in the past.

I guess I can see it as a suitable/viable option for non-fiction or fiction-collation work, where research and/or access needs to be funded and the result has some tangible societal benefit. But I have trouble seeing it as suitable for funding a fiction writer to write. I can see that they do have some ... including one I notice that ostensibly wants help getting existing books into bookshops. Perhaps that has merit ... although, to be honest, it seems to me that either your book does well enough to fund this for yourself, or it doesn't, in which case why would anyone invest money in something that has apparently already failed?
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:55 AM   #3
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I've contributed, but only to projects that involved fairly well-known established print-published writers/artists who had some experience with solo/shared production of e-works whose stuff I either really wanted because I'd bought "regular" works from them previously and/or had a good reputation and the pledge with decent rewards cost was low enough that I was willing to throw a small amount of money at them.

For a relative-to-total unknown, I doubt I'd even be willing to look, much less take the chance. I did pass on several vaguely-interesting but I-don't-know-this-person-and-what-kind-of-quality-they-really-produce projects (and I missed the deadline for a couple of others I was somewhat-interested-but-dithering on and mostly don't really regret).

Personally, I don't think it would be a good idea to rely on crowdsourcing your funding unless you really have an already established and loyally supportive audience and a decent set of quality works under your belt.

For the record, I supported: 1 mostly-already-written-but-not-otherwise-economically-viable-to-finish fantasy novel by a favourite author, 1 multi-author shared world anthology, 1 multi-author shared world anthology with accompanying role-playing-game, 1 reprinted how-to artbook with new extras by the original author, 1 educational graphic novel anthology by established comic book artists, one of whom is a favourite.

Missed and regretted: 1 AU historical steampunk novel follow-up to a print-published series by an author I've never read but was willing to check out and will probably keep an eye on her next related project; 1 feminist science fiction anthology being assembled from the works of classic established writers like Joanna Russ et al. by the editor for a small press whose official e-book edition I'll probably buy on sale when it comes out.

Missed and not regretted: 1 tie-in by Big-6 established author to some print series of hers (I was interested, but the price was too high for a pledge that got me the free e-book versions of the novellas she was going to write); 1 novel continuation by small press established author of some fantasy series which again set too high a price for bare minimum e-book reward and I didn't have time to check out the writing to see if was good enough to merit the $15-25 being asked.
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:56 AM   #4
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Lawrence Watt-Evans has done something like Kickstarter for I think 4 or 5 of his novels. Only just had fans pay him direct.

He starts off by writing a few chapters and posting them on his website. If he gets $250, he posts another chapter of the book. When he gets another $250, another chapter, on and on until it's done, where he takes it off the website and gets it edited and turned into a book.

When it's done, people who paid enough will get a copy of the book ($25 for paper, $10 for e-book).

Apparently he's thinking about giving Kickstarter a try.

http://www.ethshar.com/serials/

Last edited by JeremyR; 06-12-2012 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 06-12-2012, 01:58 AM   #5
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And also, I know Phoenix Picks (a publisher) tried to kickstart a novel by Mike Resnick starting a "shared universe" for I think $10,000.

It failed pretty badly, I guess because most of his fans probably want his work in his own universe (which is like what, 40 novels? Something like that)
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Old 06-12-2012, 04:30 AM   #6
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Maybe as a way to pay for translation rights?
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:43 AM   #7
Steven Lake
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Owly, now that might be a possible ebook use for Kickstarter. I can easily see something like a translation project for an existing, well established book being more practical to run through kickstarter than a new book.

JeremyR, Stephen King did that as well with one of his books, but ultimately the project failed halfway through because too many were reading, and too few were paying, so he just walked away from the project after a while.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
Lawrence Watt-Evans has done something like Kickstarter for I think 4 or 5 of his novels. Only just had fans pay him direct.

He starts off by writing a few chapters and posting them on his website. If he gets $250, he posts another chapter of the book. When he gets another $250, another chapter, on and on until it's done, where he takes it off the website and gets it edited and turned into a book.

When it's done, people who paid enough will get a copy of the book ($25 for paper, $10 for e-book).

Apparently he's thinking about giving Kickstarter a try.

http://www.ethshar.com/serials/
That seems like a pretty bad way to crowd-source a book, but if it's working for him then fair enough. If I recall correctly Stephen King tried something similar, probably with higher goals, and failed - letting a lot of people down.

There have been quite a few successful comic/web comic Kickstarters.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steven Lake View Post
Has anyone done, or heard of someone who's done a kickstarter project for an upcoming book or novel? Any success, or is it really one of those things that's more trouble than it's worth?
I've seen it work. I've seen it fail.

The real question is: do you have a following and an asking price scaled to that level?

(There are also other details to handle, such as appropriate rewards, options, marketing, etc. but those won't help if you don't address the first point.)

Currently the most ambitious (in the sense that it's 12 books in 12 months... not the amount raised) is Matt Forbeck's 12 for '12: http://www.forbeck.com/12-for-12/

It bears mentioning that Forbeck has developed a following, whether it's gaming, fiction, or comics, and it's a relatively modest goal ($10,000 per trilogy).

The Order of the Stick comic Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...-reprint-drive) was asking for around $60K and ended up being one of Kickstarter's top grossing Kickstarters for books, breaking the $1 Million mark. But then again, Rich Burlew has been nurturing the series for the past decade, and the comic has had a strong following (it helps that it's free). If Burlew's goal was $1 million to begin with, I doubt if it would have succeeded.

Mur Lafferty also had a Kickstarter for her books and quickly surpassed the $5K mark in a day or two, but she has a strong following in the podcast community.

If you're random indie author asking for $5K funding, why would your supporters fund you for that amount? ($1K seems more reasonable but you already need to have an audience.)

Suffice to say, it's a tool for those with an audience, rather than a means of acquiring one. (It can happen, such as when someone famous supports it like Neil Gaiman, but for the most part, it's more of maximizing the potential of your existing base rather than expanding it.)
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Lake View Post
Has anyone done, or heard of someone who's done a kickstarter project for an upcoming book or novel? Any success, or is it really one of those things that's more trouble than it's worth?
I know of one succesful one. MeiLin Miranda did a Kickstarter for her next book and got rather more than she had asked for.

Possible factors to keep in mind for why she was successful include things like
- A lot (but I don't think all) of the contributions came from existing fans - that whole 1000 true fans thing, only with 100 instead of 1000.
- She had already asked her fans to do something similar for book one (that was pre-Kickstarter, only done via pre-sales) when she needed funding to turn the thing into a proper book (editor, type setting, cover art, ...), so both she and her fans were already familiar with the idea.
- It was for the second book in a series, and the whole first book was available for people to read for free on her web site, so they could find out whether she's worth it.
- She had a lot of reward levels starting small and going way up. (Also notice that there were backers even for the highest levels, but the project would have funded even without the "crazies" in the top three reward levels.)
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