Kickstarter launched in 2009 and in the United States authors and publishers have raised over $100 million dollars. This is the new paradigm in which people with a good idea for a coffee table book or a new e-book reading app can raise money from people all over the world.
Although the number of Kickstarter publishing projects and the amount of money raised for those projects declined slightly in 2016 compared to 2015, the platform helped raise millions of dollars to support an array of unconventional titles. Last year, 32.6% of the 5,617 general publishing projects launched met their pledge goals and were funded, and the category totaled almost $20,543,000 in pledges (down from $22 million raised in 2015). Of the 1,087 projects launched in comics, 58.7% met their funding goals, raising almost $12,561,000 in pledges (down from $13 million in 2015). In journalism, 17.5% of projects met their funding goals, with almost $1,963,000 in pledges (down from $2.8 million in 2015).
Kickstarter’s publishing “lead”, Margot Atwell, wants to make it clear that the site “definitely doesn’t supplant the role of editor, publicist or publisher” and is really “just one more tool an author or publisher can use to connect with readers and spread the word about their book”. But writers all over the world are choosing this new route to publication in unprecedented numbers. The books and comics section has grown steadily and accounts for around 13% of successful projects. In 2015, pledges totalled $35.2m and already in 2016 more than $20m has been pledged for more than 1,500 projects.
“When you’re creating a book, it’s very affirming to know that it’s something there is desire and demand for, versus the traditional publishing model of investing in an author and the production of a book, trying your darnedest to get the word out and reach readers, but not really knowing whether there is a readership.”
“I believe it’s critical to our culture and our society that people from every conceivable background have the opportunity to share their stories, and find stories that resonate with them and their experience,” Atwell says. “Even more than that, I think it’s important for people to seek out stories that seem alien to them, so they build greater understanding and empathy for others. Empathy seems to be in short supply in the world today, and I really do believe in the power of literature to help increase it.”
I think Kickstarter and Indiegogo have worldwide appeal for creators that have a great indie for a book or app developers who want to do something innovative. It is a solid way to gauge customer acceptance and see if there is a market for it. The last thing you want to do is submit an e-book to Kindle Direct Publishing that took you a year to write and only get a few sales.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.