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Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 2)

This is the second part of a two-part blog post. Read Part 1 – The Wrong Way.


Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 2)


The second project is from the artist/writer team of All New Issues web comic who wants $4,000 USD to publish a print book.

This Kickstarter is to raise enough money to pay for a print run of a 140 page perfect bound book, collecting the first 200 strips of All New Issues. The funds we raise would cover the cost of the print job, Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and help cover the cost of any extra shipping for the incentives. Any additional funds that we receive will be used to help pay for travel costs for conventions this summer.

This is a tightly focused and more realistic project with all the ingredients for success available from the start.

  1. If you check out the archive page, the source material is ready for book form.
  2. An established audience wants to see a web comic book in either PDF and/or print format.
  3. The $4,000 USD price figure is typical for a printed web comic book.
  4. Additional funds beyond the minimum goal will go towards traveling on the summer convention circuit to meet fans and sell signed books.
  5. A short video introducing the project sponsors, the web comic and the goals for the project also helps.


The initial $4,000 USD minimum goal got met within the first week. The project sponsors upped the incentives for reaching the new $5,000 USD and $5,500 USD funding goals. With less than a few days to go before the project gets funded, the $6,000 USD level is within easy reach. The project sponsors will have a busy summer traveling the convention circuit as they reach out to fans and sell more books.

Updated 04/21/2012 — The All New Issues Kickstarter project completed their funding goal at $8,111 USD, doubling the initial amount they were seeking. The completed book will be available in early May 2012.


If you have a realistic plan, a proven track record and an established audience, Kickstarter might be a useful tool for funding your project.

If not, don’t bother. Raising money is an important aspect of the creative business. If you’re not willing to treat this as a business with a hard-nosed attitude towards defining your goals, you have no business asking people to fund your project. Don’t waste everyone’s time by throwing your project out there and hoping for the best.

With my content producing business model (i.e., blog postings and short ebooks), I really don’t have a need for Kickstarter. I’m still in the audience building stage. If I have written and self-edited a novel trilogy within the next few years, but don’t have the funds to pay for the professional editing, cover art and ebook formatting, I might give Kickstarter a try.

Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 1)

I came across two tweets last week about artists using Kickstarter to fund their projects. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a social media website for hosting creative projects, setting a minimum funding goal, and offering various incentive levels for people to make pledges. If the pledges meet or exceed the funding goal within 30 days, all the pledge backers will have their credit/debit card charged to fund the project. If not, the project isn’t funded. This is a very clever mechanism for funding creative projects. The tweets illustrated the wrong way and the right way for setting up a Kickstarter project.

Kickstarter Logo



Should Kickstarter Fund Your Next Writing Project? (Part 1)

An unpublished writer wants to self-publish his unwritten epic fantasy novel for $20,000 USD.

[…] I will be working to create an epic fantasy. There will be warriors, wizards, possibly a damsel maybe a dragon or two, fights, and of course, mead. I’m planning to self-publish, which means that there will be many additional costs. Printing of the books (as I intend to have a limited print run), marketing, editors, more editors, the list goes on and on. That’s where Kickstarter and you come in. Your pledges will be used to fund all the minutiae involved in self publishing, like the purchase of ISBNs, having the formats converted to work with all the different readers, and other assorted minor costs. Also, these pledges will go to the larger costs as well, like the cost of editors and marketing. In all, these pledges take this self publishing dream from something that might be fun, but not truly profitable, to something that might make enough money on this first book  to allow me to move to writing as a full time job, once this book is published, instead of something I do when I have the time.

The rational for this project seems absurd. Give money for an unwritten novel from an unpublished writer without an outline and/or synopsis in hand? No, thank you.

Perhaps I’m biased from my experience as a short story writer. I had 200 rejection slips before my first short story got accepted for publication, another 100 rejection slips before my second short story got accepted, started publishing regularly in the genre anthologies not long thereafter, and recently started publishing my own essay and short story ebooks. That’s six years of hard work to develop my talent, learn the business and be somewhat successful. I’m still a few years away from quitting my tech support job to write full-time.

What made this unpublished writer so special that he could solicit money to write full-time without proving he’s capable of doing so?

Kickstarter allows you to send private messages to the project owner to ask questions. The lengthy reply that I got back to my question was that the bulk of the money would go towards editing and marketing as these are the two areas for why novels often failed to break out.

Having written a sprawling 700-page rough draft for my first novel (a postponed but not yet abandoned horror/urban fantasy/OMG-WTF-BBQ story), editing is a daunting and relentless task. This is why most epic fantasy writers sometimes go for years between publishing books. You shouldn’t bother with professional editing until your manuscript had gone through two or three drafts and spit polished to the best of your ability.

You shouldn’t worry about marketing until you built up your author platform via website and social media to establish yourself—the writer—before an audience. No brand, no audience. No audience, no pledges. At the time of this writing, the project had no pledges to get funded with. If you’re careful in laying down the ground work before your publishing your novel, the marketing should take care of itself.

An epic fantasy novel ebook with professional editing, cover art and ebook formatting can be done for $2,000 USD.  I would recommend that the project owner write his novel—and build up his brand in the meantime—before coming back to Kickstarter with a focused plan to turn his novel into an ebook. If done right, the pledges will come in. And even at $2,000 USD, success will still be a long shot.

UPDATE 04/13/2012: The project owner cancelled the project on the same day that this blog post appeared, which, presumably, was purely coincidental. A wise choice given that the project failed to attract any pledges after two weeks.

The Right Way  (Part 2)

Getting The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market For This Year?

After I got serious about being a fiction writer five years ago, I always bought a copy of “The Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market” (Writers Digest Books) to find new markets for my short story fiction. Every six weeks I would spend a weekend browsing through the current N&SSWM, finding markets that fit my short stories, and preparing 20 or so snail mail submissions. (I had 50 manuscripts floating in the slush piles for several years.) And then the Great Recession in 2008 made an impact: submissions started returning unread as magazine publishers went out of business, and I could no longer afford to buy envelopes and postage for snail mail submissions. A year ago I started revising my work on the computer, submitting my manuscripts online, and publishing my short stories as original or reprint ebooks. I’m wondering if I should even bother to pick up the 2012 N&SSWM when it comes out in September.

These days I’m browsing Duotrope’s Digest for new markets for my short stories. Since I made the transition from literary to speculative short stories three years ago, the majority of my sales have been to genre anthologies that get listed for a few months at a time. N&SSWM caters to the traditional literary magazines and annual anthologies that accept submissions year round. I haven’t tried the online version of N&SSWM but I don’t expect those listings to be different from the dead tree edition. You can also find new markets on Twitter as editors reach out to find writers for their new anthologies, such as One Buck Horror and War Of The Words Press.

If I do pick up the new N&SSWM, it will probably be for the literary agent and book listings. Unlike the fast changing short story markets, the traditional publishing industry is still slow to change and a dead tree listing is still relevant months later. By the time my first novel is ready to be submitted, I just might publish it myself as an ebook.

Tallying Up Read An eBook Week

The Read An eBook Week (March 6-12, 2011) is now over. All my ebooks over at Smashwords were available for free with a special coupon code. I gave away 109 copies among seven titles, with an average 13 copies for six titles and 31 copies for one title. If these were actual sales, I would have earned $60. By giving the ebooks away for free, I’m hoping that readers will enjoy my work enough to seek out my future ebook titles.

The one title with 31 copies was “The Unfaithful Camera” (a short story that originally appeared in Transcendent Visions, January 2010). Was it because of the little boy who comes home angry from school when his father doesn’t pick him up? Was it because he found his father and older sister doing the bouncy-bounce in bed? Or was it because of the cover art with the scantily clad girl?

Hard to say why that title did so well. I’m going to assume that it was the well-written story, although I wouldn’t be surprised by the bouncy-bounce theory or the cover. Ebooks with obvious sexual content is a specialty niche on Smashwords.

Out of 109 copies, no one left a review for any of the seven titles. This is becoming something of a pet peeve for me. As all of these titles were reprints of previously published short stories, poems and essay, I know editors liked them well enough to publish in their publications. I really don’t know what readers think of my work.

I was also happy to find out this week that I sold another 10 copies through the Sony retail channel for February. I’m still waiting for the sales numbers from Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. For some reason the sales numbers for my Kindle ebooks through Amazon has been tapering off. From what I read elsewhere about publishing your own ebooks, you need to come out with a new title about every other month. I got two original ebook titles coming out in the next six weeks and four more titles in second half of this year. Sales should perk up with those new releases.

Meanwhile, I will need to do some black magic to modify my ebook sales tracking spreadsheet to account for this sudden surge of free copies. Looks like my Christmas shopping essay will no longer be my most popular title. I’ll find out in a few months if this week-long promotion will result in future ebook sales.

Recovering From A Disappearing ISP

The ISP hosting my three websites and a dozen email accounts disappeared from the Internet for 36 hours last week, starting on Thursday morning at 10:00AM and ending Friday night at 9:30PM. If the outage was less than 24 hours, I would’ve shrugged my shoulders and went on with life. Internet outages do happen from time to time. When 24 hours came and went without a peep from my ISP, I started looking for a new website host.

I soon discovered that my domain registrar, DirectNIC, could host my websites for half the monthly fee I was paying. By the time the outage was over, all my websites got transferred over. This was purely a business decision. When you’re a writer who sends short stories and receive payments through email, being off the Internet for an extended period of time is bad for business.

What happen to the ISP? The separate data lines that the ISP had to the data center weren’t redundant and both went down at the same time. The ISP owner made alternative arrangements that was both expensive and time-consuming.

I’m sorry that I found it necessary to take my business elsewhere. I’ve been with this particular ISP for 15 years, starting with a shell account to view web pages in Lynx (a text-based web browser) over a dial-up modem back in 1995. The extended outage reminded me that this ISP was a successful one-man operation. That’s fine for hosting a personal website. Not so fine when you’re running a business with multiple websites and email accounts.

Fortunately, I had recent backups and retrieved the current data after the old ISP came back up. Since DirectNIC doesn’t offer a shell account for web hosting, I couldn’t upload and decompress the backup file on the server. Uploading all the files uncompressed took a long time with the DSL upload speed being slower than the download speed. Restoring the databases took a few minutes, chasing down the various glitches took a few hours. Having gone through a few of these backup transitions over the years, this was the smoothest to date.

I didn’t suffer too much from being off the Internet for 36 hours. My writing productivity was the biggest casualty: no blogging on any of the websites, no revisions on my first novel, and forget about writing short stories. All my time got focused on getting my websites up and running without any glitches. Queued email found its way home and web traffic soon resumed to normal levels.

The biggest benefits with the new web hosting are the reduced monthly cost, a finer control over the backend for each website, and a much more responsive support team. Otherwise, everything remains the same as it should be. If there is an outage next time, I don’t think it will take 36 hours to fix.


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