How Kickstarter Is Changing Publishing

From Electric Lit:

Laura Olin raised the money to publish her book in a little over a day.

Olin, an author and social media strategist who worked on President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, spent November Kickstarting her children’s book Our President Was Called Barack.

The book, written by Olin and illustrated by artist Franziska Barczyk, was funded in 33 hours, raising $39,792 — $14,792 more than its $25,000 goal, falling just a few hundred dollars short of its $40k stretch goal.

. . . .

“’I’m not asking you to believe in my ability to bring about change — I’m asking you to believe in yours’ was his overriding message from the beginning,” said Olin. “I think it’s important that kids hear that right now. Most biographies or otherwise traditional books seem to be uninterested or downright timid about getting into that space.” She wrote the book to provide a good presidential example to her nephews and kids like them.

It’s the second book for Olin, whose novelty book Form Letters: Fill-In-the-Blank Notes to Say Anything to Anyone came out in 2016. That project was published by a traditional publisher, Harry N. Abrams. It was a process Olin described as “perfectly okay.” But she had different aspirations for Our President Was Called Barack. For one thing, she wanted to get it on shelves quickly.

. . . .

“I realized that I wanted to go faster with this book than traditional publishers can go,” she said. “Their time horizons tend to be a year and a half from proposal to publication, even two years.”

Olin was also inspired by Chance the Rapper and other artists who’ve found an audience and without the help of traditional publishing gatekeepers. “We’re at this point in the life of the internet where being pretty autonomous can be possible sometimes, if you’ve got something compelling to offer and you get a bit of luck,” she said.

. . . .

Publishing, a category which encompasses books, comics, and journalism, has so far had 13,297 projects funded in Kickstarter’s nine years, raising $132 million total. Right now, there are more than 300 publishing campaigns live on Kickstarter. Those projects include bookstores, journalism projects (notably, a campaign to save Gawker), and of course, books.

Link to the rest at Electric Lit

9 thoughts on “How Kickstarter Is Changing Publishing”

  1. What is the success rate of Kickstarter? That is, how many projects funded out of how many projects proposed? How many projects deliver out of how many projects funded? Anybody know?

    I subscribed to only one Kickstarter project and that one delivered. What was your experience with Kickstarter?

    • I subscribed to six.
      Three publishing of which two delivered; for the third, the author died before delivering it.
      One was a local community project that was delivered.
      One was a video game that warned it would be a couple of years. It sends weekly updates with professional designs, graphics and video, created an immense amount of content, and evolved into three interrelated games at advanced alpha build stages. However after three years, it is still to deliver a completed product.

  2. I’ve funded three small films through Kickstarter, and backed thirty or forty projects in a number of categories. It can be pretty fun and useful, but keep in mind that it’s more of a financial mechanism than a social network. You still have to bring your own audience TO Kickstarter; almost nobody spends their days trolling through the site looking for new projects to throw their money at.

    • They needed $25,000, actually (they raised extra), and since it was a children’s book, I’m assuming they wanted to do hardcover offset printing at a reasonable per-unit price (which is more expensive for four color spot printing, which I’m sure this was), and then there’s marketing costs (which in this case, no doubt, include hiring someone to call thousands of libraries and bookstores.) Also, we don’t know if the illustrator was paid outright, or is making royalties.

      This isn’t an adult thriller ebook that works just fine on Kindle. Completely different market.

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