People with aspirations to pen their first novel often have to juggle their family life, job and even live off of their savings to follow their dream. Writing an e-book or feature length novel is an arduous task and there isn’t many avenues to solicit funding. The average publishing advance from major company for a first time author is $10,000. Government grants, although plentiful are highly competitive and don’t provide a livable income.
The video game industry relies on indie developers to move game design forward. Over the years we have had amazing titles such as Day Z, Minecraft, Flower and Journey win tons of awards and reap in millions of dollars.
Epic, the company behind the Unreal Engine has just launched a new grant program. They know development can be fueled by creativity and determination alone, finishing and releasing a commercial project often requires money. The company has made a fund that totals $5,000,000 to provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to select projects being built with and around Unreal Engine 4. Any project that has reached the “working prototype” stage of development is eligible for nomination, and all nominations will be considered based on merit.
The Unreal grant requires no revenue sharing or splitting the profits, unlike the traditional publishing industry. The Intellectual property and international rights belong to the developers. Epic sees the more developers using their engine, the more people that will gravitate to their platform, its win win.
Indie authors often use specialized tools to convert their e-book from one format to another or utilize their favorite writing program to pen their novel. None of these companies provide grants, ditto with companies that piggyback an authors sales, such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Self-published authors have few options if they have practical writing experience and want to get a grant. There are a number of organizations in the US that have programs for men, women and Native Americans. The problem, is that most of the time you have to be a paid member, with no guarantee that you will actually get a cash disbursement.
The Arts Council of Canada is one of few choices to get a grant, but the application process is daunting and only a few people once a year are approved. The average cash disbursement is only $5,000, which certainly does not pay the bills for any length of time.
I guess the big program with grants is that they don’t provide a livable income for the duration of your research, writing, cover art design, marketing and editing.