For those of you who don’t know crowdfunding is a relatively new business model that creative people of all types have been using to get their work out into the world. There are different ways to do this, including Kickstarter and the various other sites that use a similar format; Patreon; using a website; or mixing and matching the available options to create something that works for them.
I’m a crowdfunded writer. Although it was an easy choice for me to make, because I readily admit that I am a control freak, it’s not something I would recommend for anyone who writes. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been simpler to take one of the paths that have been walked by other people, but there are reasons for the choice that I made that I feel make it the right one for me.
My first reason, and possibly the most important, is my love of people getting involved. What I want is for the worlds I’ve created to be fascinating enough for my readers to join me in whatever way they want to. Fanfiction is something I’d love more of, and fanart, and people creating worlds they want me to write in or characters they want to place in one of the already available settings. I do have a worlds that have been created by my readers, just not as many as I would like, unfortunately, as the hardest thing with this, for me, has been to get people interested enough to do that.
That, for me, has been one of the hardest things. Most of the time I don’t write for other people, because I mostly write what’s been nagging at me the most, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want someone to comment on a story and say they like it, or they didn’t like it, or they like the character and want to see more of them, or just tell me they read it. When you have your own website one of the hardest things can be looking at your site stats and realising you have no visitors. Of course they could be reading elsewhere – but sometimes it’s incredibly disheartening. If you’re going to crowdfund that is something you have to be prepared for. Not writing for other people is probably what’s kept me going some days. I love writing, so I keep going, no matter what.
The second reason I chose crowdfunding does mix in with the first, and that is the fun I have with experimenting with different ways of getting people interested. I offer character adoptions and setting rentals, where the purchaser will get a number of stories sent to them over a period of time with a word count of their choice. Buying 1000 words means you’re likely to get a fragment of a story, but it’s simple enough to have them extended. Some will end up being much longer than I expected. Some will be short and sweet, and often with the chance of seeing what comes after that one, as the one thing I have worked out about what I write – there is never really an end. One story almost always leads to another.
Another thing I offer is story bundles. Buy stories for all of your favourite characters and have them sent to you together. This gives the reader much more freedom to get what they want from me, including putting a character from one of my worlds into another one. I love doing that myself, or seeing what would happen if they made another decision, or changing their gender. That is the third reason I chose to crowdfund – not only do I like experimenting with what I’m doing as a crowdfunder, but I want to be able to do things to my characters that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to do if I was publishing in a more normal way.
One of the more recent things I’m attempting is funding some novellas and novels. Due to some of the other work I’m doing taking up more of my time than I ever expected I have much less to spend writing my own work, so, in an attempt to change that, I’m asking for a little income in advance, making it easier for me to slot my writing into my very full calendar. A donation of $5 (because it’s much easier working in dollars, even though I am from the U.K.) will get you one free novella, as soon as it’s complete, and then for every $5 after that you’ll get another novella. I haven’t announced it on my website yet, but I will be soon, because I think I’m pretty certain of what I’m doing now.
Crowdfunding is a very personal thing. Everyone does it a little differently. That, for me, is part of the fascination with crowdfunding. It’s another way for us to claim our creative freedom, in the same way self publishing is. Not everyone is going to be able to make a living this way, but I think, as readers start to realise there is a lot of fiction posted online by numerous crowdfunders who are writing fascinating stories, it will become much easier.