Like most writers, I have to work to support my writing. While I am very lucky to be able to earn enough to eat and pay bills, I yearn for the day when I can throw myself into my writing without having to worry about finding the extra funds necessary to pay a professional editor, graphic designer, and publicist for my books.
Imagine my surprise when, recently, someone suggested to me that I list my current project on one of the crowd-funding sites available to creative artists to source the necessary funding. Now I’ve always assumed that if it ‘seems too good to be true’ then it probably is. And being able to list a writing project online and have money pour in from unknown sources, in different amounts to reach a predetermined goal amount set by me, seemed way too good to be true. So began an extensive investigation into the phenomenon of crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding is the concept of an individual, usually a creative artist, receiving small contributions via the internet from many sources in order to finance a particular project or venture. It evolved out of the crowd-sourcing movement where one might solicit content, a service or project online from multiple contributors all over the world. It’s a business model borne out technological globalisation where anyone, anywhere that has the required skill has the opportunity to provide a service. Individuals and businesses alike are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing as an alternative means of reducing costs.
There are many sites for the purpose of crowdfunding, and more are popping up all the time. How it works it this: you list a project on whichever site you choose, and offer some form of award to contributors, for example, a musician crowdfunding to make an album might offer copies of the album, a writer may offer copies of the book, etc. You set an end date for the campaign and then publish and promote your campaign to all your online networks. People then pledge contribute amounts of as little as $1 to as much as thousands. If your target is reached by the end date nominated, the site releases the funds to you, minus their fees and charges, at which point you are obligated to release whatever rewards have been claimed. But if you do not reach your target, no money changes hands.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Most sites are ‘all or nothing’ sites, where if a particular campaign, so even you fall short just a bit, you don’t get the funds. Because the campaign takes place online, it’s important to have already established online networks. A fan base, so to speak. It is, after all, these contacts that you will be calling on to fund your project. And as with any venture you embark on online, there is fine line between promoting your project, and spamming your contacts. Much caution is required to walk this line.
Some fabulous projects have been funded using the crowdfunding model, albums, books, documentaries and movies, to list a few. But many many more have failed due to the project listers displaying more enthusiasm than project management skill. Running a campaign requires hard work and lot of preparation as well as strong belief in the project mixed with a heart-felt enthusiasm.
I spent quite a bit of time browsing the various sites based here in Australia, and overseas. And I found that crowdfunding is branching out further to include such initiatives such as educational scholarship and university research.
The socialist in me quite likes the concept of sharing financial resources to enable talent to be developed equitably. The capitalist in me likes the idea of investing in a project that will, in turn, give back to the economy. But the human side of me struggles with the idea of putting myself, and my work, out there and asking others to contribute to its development.
Regular readers may know that in addition to writing, teaching writing, and writing about the writing process, I’m also doing a PhD in Writing. You could say writing is my passion.
Still, I’d been struggling with the concept and notion of creating a crowdfunding campaign to get my second novel published and I remained a little ambivalent about using the crowdfunding model for myself.
But then, as a writer and academic researcher, I was presented with a fabulous opportunity where crowdfunding was the only realistic option that would enable me to accept it.
I had an abstract accepted to present a paper at an international conference on Writing. And I am about to step way outside my comfort zone to embark on the campaign of my life to be able to present my paper, which is about how technology is changing the way we write, at the conference.
Check out my Pozible Campaign!