Crowd funding and the Discerning Author
It’s no secret that crowd funding is becoming something of a phenomenon in the artistic industries. Webcomics, graphic artists, musical artists, authors, you name it are asking their fans to help them get started, to help them get their projects to the public. It’s a great concept and one I think is phenomenal, especially for the self-publishing author. Think about it. What is you could take all that up front cost and make it disappear because you managed to get enough of your audience, your true fans, to support you before those expenses are incurred.
When costs add up so fast as you run toward your publication date, it can certainly be tempting. A couple hundred dollars for a book cover, more than anyone would care to admit for editing, marking and promotion, proof copies, costs to set up with your printers, you name it. It adds up very fast and it gets awfully tempting to want to cut corners.
You in arrives crowd funding. With crowd funding, you present your project (in this case a book, likely already through several drafts), spread the word, offer incentives like bookmarks, ebook copies, paperbacks, hardcovers, naming characters, and even being featured in a future book.
The nice thing? I actually know of a few authors who were successful in funding a project through crowd funding. Vera Nazarian is a great example. I was offered an opportunity to review her latest book, Cobweb Bride, which was funding through Kickstarter. You can see the Kickstarter page here. 138 backers later, she had her over $5000 she asked for to finish the project. Which, to me, is sort of a whole crap moment. I mean, how long would it take to make that much money through sales? I don’t even want to think about it.
But her case is a little out of the ordinary. From what I’ve read, projects asking for more than $2000 rarely get funded and even projects less than that are only funded about half the time. Still, it gives an author something to think about.
Now, here’s where I feel like pulling my hair out. I know of two crowd funding sites and I’m really not certain if one is better than the other. They are Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
Kickstarter was the first. It prides itself on the fact that only fully funded projects will actually get the dough. If a project doesn’t reach its goal? No go. They explain that they do this because they don’t want to have people funding projects that are inferior because they didn’t get adequate funding. Makes sense, but there are those times when underfunded only means a project might take longer, not that it will be inferior. Kickstarter charges a 5% fee on funds raised as well as roughly 3-5% on payments through the Amazon Payments.
Indiegogo is similar but it also allows partially funded projects to still get some green. The fees are higher if goals are not met, but you’re still one step closer to your project becoming a reality. It breaks down into two types of projects: Flexible & Fixed funding. Fixed funding is 4% of funds raised and is structurally exactly like Kickstarter. Flexible funding is the same as fixed funding if you reach your goal. Otherwise, it is 9% of your raised funds. There is an additional 3% for credit card processing.
That I can see, Indiegogo is far more open and clear cut with regard to what it offers and what it charges etc. It makes things very straight forward. Kickstarter makes you hunt a little more to figure out things like what their fees are and whatnot. Granted, Kickstarter has pages upon pages, and videos upon videos helping you get through each step, learning how to make a success of your project.
At face value, I kind of like Indiegogo. The fees are lower and I have the option of flexible funding and since any project I do (read: book) will ultimately have the same quality no matter how much backing I actually get, the idea of partial funding of a goal is certainly enticing. But I can’t help but wonder. Is their a difference, one less tangible maybe, between the two? Being older, do more projects get successfully funded on Kickstarter?
Some other interesting articles/posts on the subject:
Huntington Post: Pointed out that Kickstarter does not take every project and that Amazon payments can be a real pain, taking five days to get authorized.
Random Blood Polka (yes, that was the name of the blog…): Pointed out that Indiegogo gives a 25% discount on fees to non-profits. The larger brand is Kickstarter. It has name recognition. They have more projects, members, and visitors to their site. The blog also showed a very nice table showing comparisons of various statistics between the two services, including a slightly higher success rate for Indiegogo as well as slightly higher average contributions.
What about you guys? Have you used either of these services before? Were you successful? Do you know people who have? What projects were successful and why do you think they were?