You’ve probably heard about crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where people can ask for pledges to help them fund just about any kind of project: a new product, a film, a book, etc. Not as well known but of particular interest to writers is Unbound (www.Unbound.co.uk) which deals specifically with crowdfunding books.
They put it this way:
“Unbound puts the power of publishing in the hands of authors and readers. Authors pitch their book ideas directly to you. If you back a project before it reaches its funding target, you get your name printed in the back of every copy and immediate behind-the-scenes access to the author’s shed. If any project fails to hit its funding target, you get refunded in full.”
So far, most of the writers chosen for the site have been well known, but a few are proposing their first project. There are a variety of rewards depending on how much money you pledge.
All supporters get their names in the book and the e-book version. Some higher levels include a meeting with the author, perhaps at a site relevant to the book.
The author has 50 days to attract the needed funding, which varies depending on the nature of the book and I didn’t see that amount revealed on the site (Kickstarter is transparent about the amount that needs to be raised for each project). I also didn’t spot how many days of fund-raising were left for each project.
As a supporter you also get updates on how the book is coming along, draft chapters, and the chance to give your feedback.
What is the experience like for an author? This is what Kevin Parr, author of “The Twitch”, a novel about an extreme bird-watcher, said:
“It’s been a lot of fun for the most part. I really feel as though I am part of something that is going to be pivotal in the future of publishing. The staff are lovely and there is a real sense of camaraderie between the authors, who are all really keen to support one another and spread the word.
It has been tough convincing some people of the concept. Anything ‘new’ seems to be met with suspicion, and a lot of people have been unnecessarily concerned about the safety of their pledges or the idea of buying into something that, for the time being at least, is virtual.
This attitude is definitely changing, and as more and more people become aware of Unbound, then so the reader and the author will benefit.”
Unbound acts both as a funding mechanism and a publisher. They split the book’s net profit 50/50 with the author. Some people have expressed skepticism—is this just a way to remove all risk for the publisher, while the author goes ahead to write the book—at least for 50 days—without knowing whether or not it will be funded? Also, how much overhead is built into that initial target and charged before there is any net profit? It’s hard to make an intelligent assessment without specific figures.
It’s true that authors could do the same thing for their own project and keep 100% of the profits but they wouldn’t have the platform of the Unbound website and would have to hire an editor, work with a printer, etc.
One book funded via Unbound was“Evil Machines,” a collection of black comedy linked short stories by Python Terry Jones, who was an early supporter of the venture. You can see a video of him talking about the book here.
A project that has just 4% of its desired funding at the moment is “Titanic and Me,” by Hart & Nikkel. It offers three levels: the ebook, access to the author’s shed, and an e-book version for £10, those plus a first edition premium hardback for £20, those plus the author’s autograph and personal dedication in the hardback for £50.
(If you need some help writing your book, get a copy of Your Writing Coach, published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)
If you think you might want to submit our project, here are the guidelines:
We welcome all types of proposals: if you’re a novelist, historian, philosopher, economist, biographer, scientist, journalist, comedian, filmmaker, gardener, cook, academic, traveller or have lived an interesting life or done extraordinary things, we’d love to hear from you.
Each proposal has the potential to become the book you really want to write, pitched to the people who really matter: your potential readers.
If you are a published author - or a literary agent - and you’re interested in finding out more about Unbound, you can drop us a line at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com.
If you are a first-time author, we will consider proposals submitted through literary agents or writing websites like HYPERLINK "http://www.abctales.com/"www.abctales.com and HYPERLINK "http://www.jottify.com/"www.jottify.com, but we will also accept unsolicited proposals sent to HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"email@example.com. These must be in the form of the pitches we have on the site:
- a first person pitch summarizing what your book is all about (max. 400 words).
- a short excerpt (approx. 1000 words).
- a first person author biography (max. 300 words).