Other People’s Money: Crowdfunding and the Writing Life

Crowdfunding is all the rage these days. Indigogo, Kickstarter, and now GoFundMe have made many an author’s dream come true. But all that glitters isn’t gold, and crowdfunding isn’t necessarily a cure-all for shallow pockets.

Depending on your publishing path, most (if not all) of your expenses will be taken care of, one way or another.

When I interviewed author Bill Campbell, of Rosarium Publishing, he mentioned his initial ambivalence toward crowdfunding for his latest work, Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond. He saw it as more of a marketing tool, than as a means of bringing dreams into practical fruition.  I suppose that could be true (especially since some of the lower-levels of donation compensation involve acknowledgement of said donation and donor via social media).

The concept of crowdfunding is a great one: instead of relying on bank or framily loans, you ask people to donate a few bucks to The Cause. In turn, donors get a hookup that is directly proportional to the size of their donations.  It could be something as simple as a public “Thank You” when the project finally launches, or as major as a personal “free” copy of the book/film/gadget when it comes out. It’s a great way to not only raise money, but also to garner awareness of whatever you are trying to bring to the public.

As with all things, crowdfunding can lead to an assumption of the Golden Rule: S/He who has the gold, rules. Or rather, megadonors (those who donate at the higher levels) can easily cop an attitude of, “I paid X amount to help you get on. Ergo, I own you, even a little bit.” Even those who donate at the lower levels can see themselves as the pillars who are keeping your house aloft. To an extent, that is true. However, the spirit of crowdfunding is to help someone else’s dreams take flight out of a sense of altruism, not quid pro quo or positioning as some sort of status symbol, like a Birkin handbag or a Rolex watch.

And before you ask: yes, I have considered crowdfunding, but I am hesitant. The concept is being abused, what with people asking for donations for graduate degrees, vacations, cars, etc. I’m loathe to reach out to my network, since they are being bombarded with such nonsense. I’m not ruling out ever doing crowdfunding, but there’s not much I can give to donors other than a free book.

Meh…I guess I’ll just do it the old-fashioned way: hustle and flow.

Thanks for stopping by.

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