Thanks to the Emerging Writers’ Festival and their partnership with Pozible in an attempt to crowdfund their next event in Brisbane, I’ve begun thinking more about crowdfunding and whether it would work for my own purposes.
Arts funding is in dire straights at the moment, especially in Australia. Even major literary establishments like Island have lost funding, and funding for individuals I’ve found to be limited to those who already have a leg up in the industry. Emerging writers or those yet to emerge I feel are shut out of the process, or need to perform mini-miracles proving they are some kind of literary prodigy.
Crowdfunding is not a magic bullet for any of these problems. I think in the past when I’ve looked at it, I thought it might be a shortcut to funding, escape from dreary jobs, and a free ticket to full-time writing. But even for institutions like the Emerging Writers’ Festival, something that gives so much back to the writing community, getting funding can be hard (which is why you should all pledge to their Pozible project.)
Crowdfunding, via sites like Pozible and Kickstarter, basically involve setting up a project page with a funding goal and a deadline. Supporters pledge money toward the project. If the project reaches its funding goal by the deadline or before it, and only if it reaches the goal, the money pledged changes hands. If not, the project isn’t funded at all.
The project has to be a creative one. A movie, an album, a novel. And tears of funding have different rewards, perhaps a signed copy of the final product, a free show. This is all depends on the amount of money donated.
Money is often needed for equipment, to rent a studio, perhaps for research. But what I’ve found writers are lacking in the most is time. And time does cost money. Time spent trying to earn enough to pay rent could be better spent working on that creative project.
So what I was interested in was if people were willing to pledge to a crowdfunded project for the purpose of covering living expenses. Say, someone has an idea for a novel. They set a timeline for working on the project, calculate how much they need to live on and ask to get funded for that amount of time.
Now writers and creative types aren’t the most well off people, granted with a large chunk of disposable income to fund their friends and peers, but I thought I’d test the waters a bit to see how many were willing, and not just fund me, but writers in general.
Generally, the people I asked were encouraging of the idea, indeed any idea that allows emerging writers the time to work on their craft, though for them, criteria on which they would or would not fund a writer or their project was based around the quality. Most agreed that they would have to be “reasonably sure the work would be rad.”
How do you ensure that? It seems likely then that writers who have already had some publishing experience would be more likely to receive support. The other option was to put up sample chapters, but then again, someone’s first draft is not indicative of the end quality of the work. Possibly edited chapters could be put up, but that is a bit further down in the game, well past just getting funding to start the project.
Funding someone’s work in progress, especially first drafts by emerging writers, probably leaves people with too many unknowns to garner enough support. But the beauty of crowdfunding is that if it doesn’t work, there’s no loss.
When asking Lisa Dempster about my idea for using crowdfunding she said, “the great thing about crowdfunding at the moment is that imaginative artists can figure out how to make it work for them in unique ways!” but “I think you either need to have a large following OR put up a project that has a huge, unique wow-factor. Either way people won’t pledge money unless they feel personally inspired by the project, I don’t think.”
Now this blogger is left to conclude that crowdfunding my next writing project might be far off, unless I can somehow go viral with support and/or my idea is totally rad, perhaps backed up by some (edited) samples. But it is not impossible, certainly for other writers that might better bit the criteria and inspire supporters to fund them.
The problem now though is, if I were to even give it a go, I’d have to decide on a project, and the project that’s hogging my attention now is a web serial, weekly episodes of a serialized story, perhaps novelized at the end. I’m not sure that’d suit, but as Lisa said, nothing is impossible. But that project and its possibility is for another blog post.
Thanks to Comrade_S for the image.