Crowd-funding is the new black

Life is peppered with turning points – those ‘ah-ha’ moments, or forks in the road. In my first post I wrote about a turning point I’d had at the Wheeler Centre last year. It was when I finally realised that the traditional publishing models were floundering, and that I would need to find new ways to get my work to readers. I had sat amongst the crowd with my focus on the speakers – stalwarts from the old publishing institutions. I looked to them for direction. Now I wonder if I was looking the wrong way. Should I have been looking at the crowd instead?

Thanks NASA for this inspiring image!

Crowd-funding is what its name implies. Anyone can make a pledge (from a few dollars upwards) towards a project they’re interested in. Just about anything can constitute a project. Most of us are aware that Barak Obama used crowd funding to help fund his 2008 US presidential campaign. Some of us have performer-friends who have used crowd-funding to finance performances and CDs.

It wasn’t until I saw a presentation by Kate Toon and Rick Chen at the Melbourne Emerging Writers’ Festival that I realised writers could use crowd-funding too. Duh!

In trying to find markets for my article I had looked at community-funded reporting like spot.us and youcommnews.com (which are essentially crowd-funding initiatives). But though established writers have had success with this, I questioned the viability of Communit-funded reporting for an emerging writer. The stakes are high (often tens of thousands of dollars). Who would pledge that kind of money to an emerging writer?

Yet asking for a smaller amount through a general crowd-funding site is an idea that has legs. Toon used crowd-funding to raise money for her book of poetry, ‘Gone Dotty’. Elmo Keep successfully funded a spot on a Kiss cruise. New Matilda stayed afloat with the help of crowd-funding. More recently a campaign was undertaken to fund an online magazine-to-be matter.com that will focus on long form journalism (Crowd-funding and long form journalism = double points for this post!).

The popular crowd-funding sites include:

www.pozible.com

www.kickstarter.com

www.indiegogo.com

Also check out www.crowdfunding.org to help get your head around it (including this video about crowd sourcing).

For now I’m going to be staring at strangers wondering what non-fiction topics they might like to fund. Meanwhile, have you had any experience with crowd-funding your long form non-fiction projects?

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