Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing, Writing Business

Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider? Part 2

pinterest_aaaaca81c6
Pic via Pixabay

Last week, I discussed traditional crowdfunding and today, I’ll be explaining the new way the publishing industry is using that same model to test a book’s profitability. They (the publishers), do it mainly to get out of hardest and most costly parts of publishing, which are acquiring books as well as marketing them.

Think about it, if a publisher doesn’t have to actually commission a book, then there’s no risk involved. It’s the perfect model for them. However for an author, it may not be such a great deal but you didn’t ask me all that did you?

Don’t Have Any Money to Publish? Then I Hope You Like Sharing

Seeing an opportunity to make money on the crowdfunding craze, several companies popped up catering specifically to self-published/indie authors. Many of them are publishers operating on the crowdfunding model.

Another thing I need to point out is that not all of these sites operate exactly the same way. As an author you need to be aware of this, for example:

Pentian Allows backers to share in the book’s profits.
PubLaunch is a service that focuses on helping authors through the publishing process through connecting them with other professionals in the industry as well as helping them with their crowdfunding efforts.
Unbound.co.uk  Here an author has to pitch the idea of the book and if the book gathers enough pledges, then the author can begin writing the book. Unbound takes 50% of the profits.

Now what do they offer authors in the way of distribution and marketing is a good question. None of them address those issues on their websites. Again at least with Kickstarter and other sites like it, you are in total control and after Kickstarter gets their cut, they leave.

The Problem With This Arrangement

Keep in mind that unlike a traditional publisher, these people don’t make their money from selling your book, they get it from crowdfunding. There is no incentive here to make your book a success.

Crowdsourcing For A Publishing Contract

For those of you who don’t know what crowdsourcing is, it’s the engaging of a crowd for a skill or resource. The steps here are so similar to crowdfunding that I had to add it to this post.  However unlike with crowdfunding, where you campaign for funds, here you campaign for votes.
Several publishers such as; Mcmillan, Harper Collins and Amazon, have created websites to engage readers to pick out the best books for them. In essence, they want to farm out the responsibility of the slush pile to the public and the most popular manuscripts will get a traditional publishing contract.

Kindle Scout
Here an author uploads a book, and the readers decide if it is worthy of a contract by voting for it. The author that gets the most votes gets a publishing contract from 47North (An imprint of Amazon) as well as an advance of $1,500. They also offer a 50% royalty and insist on a 45 day exclusive.

Authonomy
Authonomy, which is owned by Harper Collins, only offers the possibility of a traditional publishing contract. Each month, 5 popular manuscripts are chosen by the editors for review. However, I’m told by authors who’ve actually used the site that those odds are miniscule. Also, their terms aren’t searchable on the website so there’s not much to tell about them. There’s no mention of a royalty split or advance of any kind.

SwoonReads
Owned by Macmillan, Swoon Reads, is a site for YA Romance writers and just like Authonomy, it promises a publishing contract to the most popular stories. However, unlike Authonomy and Kindle Scout, they offer a $15,000 advance. They also insist on all your rights in all languages and an option on your next book.

Common Complaints

A lot of the authors I’ve encountered online have utter disdain for the alleged politicking involved in these ventures. A few claim that some authors have gamed the system by spamming people all day and kissing butt. Well, duh!  These books are chosen based on their popularity, not their merit. In my opinion, these types of sites are testing an author’s ability to market their work and connect with an audience. It has nothing to do with literary quality whatsoever.  If you feel that campaigning for votes or money is demoralizing or degrading, then this isn’t for you.

The Takeaway

It’s worth mentioning Swoon Reads and Authonomy gets less traffic than this blog according to Alexa, so I don’t know who’s gonna discover your novel when no one is really using the site. You’d be better off going to Wattpad, which has serious traffic, or commenting in the comments section of this post.

Another disturbing thing I noticed was that most of these sites also have poorly managed social media pages. If these companies aren’t marketing their own product, why would they market yours? Personally, I would have a hard time parting with 50% or more of my royalties to someone who isn’t adding anything to my publishing project.

But then again, you didn’t ask me all that…

Advertisements
Business, Indie Publishing, Publishing

Old School vs New School Crowdfunding: Which One Should Authors Consider?

pinterest_737c2dfb5d
Pic via Pixabay

Not long ago, Kickstarter became a household name when it became the go to place to raise money for independent artists without a corporate sponsor.  Crowdfunding websites have raised money for films, music albums, and yes, even books.  Now flash forward to 2014 and even mainstream artists like Kenny Loggins and Zach Braff have used the site to raise quite a bit of money for their own pet projects.

However, there is a new kind of crowdfunding popping up in the publishing world and it would be wise if authors learned the difference between the two if they want to fund a self-published book, or simply get a contract with a publisher.

In The Beginning There Was Old School Crowdfunding

Back in the day, artists would create an account on a crowdfunding site and go straight to the people thus cutting out the middle men like agents, acquisitions editors and yes, even traditional publishers.  It was like a miracle from heaven for independent artists everywhere.  Artists could keep their rights, retain creative control and still make money on a book.  However, as with most miracles, there was a catch…

Chicken Meet Egg

Quickly, a problem arose for those with no platform.  An author with very few connections often had a difficult time raising awareness let alone, funds for their project.  Like it or not, most successful crowdfunding requires a promotional savvy that most authors don’t have.

This is where marketing companies and PR firms who specialize in crowdfunding promised to come to the rescue, for a price.  In essence, another middle man had been born.  Go figure.

Are Promotional Services Really Necessary?

If you don’t want to build a platform then yes.  Because according to Kickstarter’s own statistics, only 43% of projects actually get funded.

I’ve seen prices for these promotional services vary dramatically from $17 to $2,991 which include anything from press releases written by a copywriter, to targeted advertising, templates for your email list (or so you can bug your family and friends), and even video tutorials. However, that’s only on the pricier side. If you want to go the cheaper route, you can get a press release (written by God knows who), a targeted Facebook ad, and a social media blast.  I’ve only listed the affordable ones because I know my audience.

*Not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned*

Since there are no guarantees that this visibility will result in a successful campaign, it makes more sense to build a platform and promote the project yourself.  There’s no way around this platform thing, trust me, I’ve looked into it!

Crowdfunding is a 24/7 Deal

Ask anyone who’s ever successfully funded a campaign and they’ll tell you it is a hard job that requires hands on management. Authors often promote tirelessly on social media, blog tours and even podcasts to raise awareness for their projects.  So this isn’t just a set it and forget it endeavor.  If your project is 30 days, then you need to be plugged in for 30 days. This money will not raise itself.

Ultimately the question you have to ask yourself is, do you have the dedication it takes to successfully raise money for a project? If not, then old school crowdfunding isn’t for you.  However don’t fret, that’s not the only game in town. Next week, I’ll explain another way crowdfunding is taking over the publishing world and why it may be the new business template for publishers.

Check out Part 2 of this article here: Old School vs New School Crowdfunding Which One Should Authors Consider?