Back in 2012, Seth Godin took on a daring venture. He decided to try and crowd-fund the publication of his book The Icarus Deception. Over four thousand backers answered the call and contributed almost $300,000 to the work’s publication. It was a resounding success. The campaign was a hit for several reasons. Seth Godin’s social media following was already huge. He had already been supplying them with new, daily, relevant blogs for years. The premise and pitch of the entire project was simple and easy to understand. It also proved Seth’s point that underpins much of The Icarus Deception: the creative economy is changing, and it’s up to artists to seek new and innovative means of funding their projects.
Since that time, self-publishing has only increased, and the publishing industry has continued to change. So too have notions of authorship. There’s now an entire industry that turns authors into Kindle Kings. These Amazon auteurs write genre fiction, market it, design it and have a direct and meaningful relationship with their readers. It’s a full time, exhausting job, but it has the potential to pay wonderful dividends if the books find their readership.
The trouble is, you don’t have a readership until you’ve published your first book. And you can’t publish your debut book without a readership. An irritating catch twenty-two. So traditional notions of writing processes are now shifting to fit the economy. No longer do writers toil away in private for years – un-funded and under-nourished – before releasing their magnum opus to the world. Blogging and social media serve a convenient double purpose: draft your writing while also building your readership.
There are cons to this model, of course. I’ve read a memoir that the author happily tells the reader was ‘originally based on Facebook posts.’ It won’t surprise you that the book was shallow and uninteresting. Too much of a focus on readership too early in an author’s process can severely erode creativity, undermining risk, and create cookie-cutter corporate work that rarely transcends the constraints of such capitalist pressure.
Still, when it works it works. And for some authors the new creative economy is a brilliantly positive event. When Jen McDonald, author of My Big Breast Adventure, started blogging about her journey through breast cancer recovery, she didn’t have an entrepreneurial intent. She was merely attempting to make sense of the messy pathway, and to connect with other survivors around the world. The blog took off, and its popularity only grew as Jen wrote more. Now, with thousands of words and an eager readership, My Big Breast Adventure has become the perfect candidate for a crowd-funding publishing venture.
Crowd-funding projects in this way puts complete control back in the hands of the reader and writer. The exchange of goods is only the first step. A reader is also getting additional rewards and personal touches that bigger publishers simply don’t have the means to provide. In the new creative economy, the reader and artists and more empowered, and this can only benefit writing overall.
Visit the Indiegogo campaign here to donate now. To hear Jen speak more about her work, and to listen to her first audiobook for free, visit our podcast here. Or visit the store now to buy Jen’s first work, Vegetarian Vampires.