An Open Letter To Crowdfunded Authors
Written by: Nicole McArdle
*Originally seen on Pubslush Blog*
While America was transfixed with a $50,000 mundane side dish, I was preoccupied by Jedidiah Jenkins, who was conducting a campaign to raise funds for an autobiographical novel about his 16 month journey from Oregon to Patagonia…by bike. To date, this inspirational novel has made exactly $19,818 less than the $50,000+ potato salad plea,whose inspiration came from joking with friends. ”I figured my friends would laugh, and their friends would laugh,” said Zack Danger Brown, the potato salad mastermind. “That was all I needed.”
Compare this inspiration to Jenkin’s, who described his campaign by quoting Benjamin Franklin: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” This is my attempt to do both.
So how do all of the other campaigners feel? Particularly authors? The ones who have poured their heart and soul into their projects but can’t seem to make anywhere close to $50,000? Does having an author share a space with a bogus, yet widely successful, fully-funded campaign take away from the validity of their book? Doesn’t it just steal the spotlight all together?
I work with authors on a daily basis. I see their constant struggle of not only getting their work known, but in raising funds and differentiating themselves in this oversaturated literary market. I’ve worked with authors whose stories would break your heart, who utilized every resource and worked for every dollar that was contributed to their campaign. I can tell you none of them were able to make 50 grand in 20 days for their upcoming title. Perhaps it’s the simplicity and joy that this silly campaign brought that inspired people to give their money to something lacking any sort of substance or benefit at the end. But what about the authors who have a great story to share?
The grieving mother who wrote a book to help other grieving mothers deal with the loss of their child. The recovering anorexic who wrote a book to help others with their own recovery. Or how about the journalist’s biography of the life and death of her father, a flier in World War II. They each differ in subject and crowdfunding sites, yet they all share a commonality. Each of these three campaigns were something worth supporting and in total, all three were only able to raise a little over $50,000.
Kickstarter is a platform to be respected and admired. After all, they’ve arguably made the crowdfunding industry what it is today, proven in the fact that “the term is eight times more popular on the internet than the generic “crowdfunding” However, as their popularity continues to grow off the basis of many different types of campaigns, both serious and otherwise, this has led me to wonder, why are authors not exploring their options? It’s obvious that the allure of Kickstarter and other such sites like Indiegogo is their daily traffic, but why are authors opting to have their work overshadowed by campaigns that have nothing to do with literature? To be glanced over by users, not readers? To be hosted on a site that is “a home for everything” and not just “the literary world?”
My personal belief is that an author shouldn’t have to worry that the traffic they strive for is going to take a left turn towards grilled cheesus, bacon cupcakes or the first ever all-pug production of Hamlet. It has been a long road to gaining credibility as a self-published author and it seems to me that competing side by side with aircrafts that teach flying birds to fly or socks made of coffee, will only set this movement back.
So this is my message to all the hardworking authors out there. Your book is your business, so treat it with the respect it deserves. There are sites out there for the literary community. Sites where completing your campaign means collecting pre-orders, gaining market analytics and connecting with others in the industry. Sites that are dedicated to providing the support and resources necessary to accomplish your goals…reach your dreams. Where traffic is made up of lifetime readers and fans and the closest a book comes to food, is a colorful cookbook gaining funding for printing. Authors, know your worth and explore your options. You have the opportunity to prove your talent and assess the market viability for your book on platforms that are “all about you”, so you can move forward and successfully publish quality work and get out of that slush pile once and for all. Don’t let a little (okay, a lot of) potato salad stand in your way.