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Crowdfunding: Sometimes, it works

So here's kind of a cool thing.

I write this serial online, "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom." Or rather, it was a serial. About halfway through the third "book," I realized it was unsustainable. Each "book" is defined by a story-in-story, and at the pace the main story was going, it'd be 30 years and literally hundreds of stories-in-story before I was through with the main arc. I'm nearly 50, I don't have 30 years. So I decided it was better off as a series of novels.

I'm an independent, aka a self-published author. Hold the rotten tomatoes, please.

All the current advice and comment coming out of the traditional publishing industry pretty much amounts to "Don't Bother." And I know too many people with bad book deals, including midlist authors who've been dropped in the middle of a series and have to wait years for their rights to revert to them--even though they've been dropped.

I totally understand these guys are in it to make a buck. We're not talking about art here, we're talking about commerce. (The funny thing is, when you talk to them about it, they defend in both directions: "But we DO care about good books, not just marketable books"--"We can only publish the ones that'll make a lot of money." Can't have it both ways, guys.)

Thing is, I don't know if my work is commercially viable. I've been told no, though admittedly not by people who've read my work; I've never had a real rejection of it. Even so, I want things the way I want them, not the way the publisher wants them.

The other thing is, while self-publishing is free-to-cheap, doing it right is not. Everyone needs an editor--it's the number one complaint against self-pubbed books. Good cover art and good typography help sell the book too, because while I'm not in this to make zillions, I want to be read. And frankly, I'd like a little return on my work as well. I deserve to be paid.

I didn't know how I was going to raise the funds, though, to pay for this professional help--I estimated about $2,000. I didn't have it. I had a readership, though, from what has come to be known as the Crappy First Draft. At the time I started asking for funds for the project, I had 2,000 unique readers a day. I decided to start with the editor, Annetta Ribken. I needed $1,000 to hire her. I had $500. So I came up with a presale package to raise the other $500. For $50, you could get the unformatted manuscript, hot off the word processor, the minute I finished it, plus the formatted ebook, plus an autographed copy of the paperback, and a thank-you in the acknowledgments. I thought I'd leave it up a couple of months, and then I'd give up and raise the remaining money some other way.

Well, that first $500 came in less than 48 hours. I closed the presales, but people howled that they hadn't had a chance to buy one so I opened them back up. The rest of the $1,000 came by the end of the week, and I hired Netta (smartest thing I've ever done).

Almost all the money for the rest of the project has trickled in via presale--close to $2,000. Presales are still open till tomorrow at midnight, but that's not why I've written this, to get you to buy one--why would you? You've never read my work, you don't even know who I am.

No, it's to encouage you to trust your audience.

If you have something worth reading, worth viewing, worth listening to, build your audience. Give stuff away. And when it comes time to make something, like a book, ask your fans for help. You might be surprised.

I sure am.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
Gah! I didn't realize the preorders were still open! I thought it was this time -last- month. x.x I've been complaining to my b/f how I'll have to wait and not get an autograph!
Jul. 15th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
You have ten hours left! :D There's an ebook-only version for $25 and a full version with paperback for $50. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )