Kickstarter: An opportunity for writers?

What would you say if you could post a creative idea somewhere and get people to agree to pay you a small amount in order to complete it? That’s the concept behind Kickstarter, generally speaking. Users are able to describe their concept creative project in some detail, offer certain returns for their supporters (like a writer could provide a copy of a finished story) and collect money from supporters. It’s a sort of grass roots approach to getting certain types of work done.

A Few Success Stories

  • The Misanthropic Misadventures of Bony Levi: 89 supporters have paid a total of $2,130 (passing the requested amount of $1,500) to help Magen Callaghan produce a comic book from a script she’s written. The first issue will be coming out soon and backers will receive a copy, along with t-shirts, character sketches and other rewards for different levels of financial support.
  • Hadean Lands: Interactive Fiction for the iPhone: In one day, Andrew Plotkin raised $10,000 for an interactive fiction game that he wanted to work on full time. His goal was $8,000 and now, with 32 days still to go on his goal, he’s received more than $17,000 in pledges. That amount could easily go up.  
  • The Book of Knish: Loss, Longing and the Search for a Humble Hunk of Dough: Laura Silver needed $5,000 to cover the costs of writing her book on knishes. She received pledges of $5,055 from 71 backers, including one pledge of $500. 

There are plenty of Kickstarter users who don’t raise huge amounts of money, but there are impressive numbers of successful stories on the site.

A Funding Model for Writers

There are a wide variety of books and written projects on Kickstarter, making the site worth considering as a funding model. There’s a certain sense that particularly creative projects do well on the site — stuff that more traditional approaches (like finding a publisher) would never work for. Of course, the truly successful projects all have a few other things in common: the creators tend to have fans or followers in other venues they can bring over, the rewards contributors receive are about in line with the purchasing power of their donation ($20 will usually get you a book, for instance), and the creator is willing to put in time to promote the project. There is plenty of work that goes along with creating a successful, well-funded project on the site.

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