I don’t hide the fact I love the internet and I believe the democratisation of information is a good thing. But as much as I love all this free flow of ideas and cutting middle men out of my life I am still struggling with how all of this can help me get published. Lately I’ve been looking at crowd funding and crowd sourcing. The idea that you can get a lot done for a little by recruiting the power of big numbers.
The power of big numbers
For those unfamiliar with the idea, the power of big numbers can be summed up by the old adage “Many hands make light work.”. The business success of Google, Facebook and Blizzard rely on the power of big numbers. Can you imagine a corner shop selling widgets for $0.05 each with a profit of just 2 cents? Maybe they’ll sell twenty widgets in a day to the five people who stop in. That is not a good business plan. But imagine if you put that same business on the internet where five million people stop by each month. Suddenly your profit looks very healthy. Blizzard for example has World of Warcraft which is a game you play by subscription at something like $20/month. They had 12 million subscribers at one point. Imagine $240,000,000 / month revenue. That’s the power of big numbers. The internet has them, I want them. Where do I go and what do I do to get a piece of that action?
Getting into the global market is easy. Publish an e-book to Amazon and your book is available for purchase by pretty much anyone in the world. That’s a potential 6 billion customers minus those unfortunate who don’t get the internet. If you publish your bock in the US via a traditional publisher who doesn’t e-pub then your market drops to a maximum of about 250 million, minus those unfortunate who don’t give a rats arse about books. So hurdle one overcome, publish on the internet to get the biggest market. That’s the first big number working for you. But if you self publish a self edited and self artworked book, you’ll not get far.
Editors and artists cost money. They cost real money not the imaginary money you’ll be hauling in once you make it big. I don’t have real money, I have only the make believe stuff that grows on trees and flutters like butterflies in the back of my mind. But you can employ the power of large numbers to overcome this too. There are many sites now that provide crowd funding. They work simply: Register, create a project, give it a deadline, add an amount you want to raise and make your pitch. Then people give you money to see your project come to fruition. Of course they don’t do it for free. You have to provide different incentives for different levels of funding. For example you could say if you give me $1, I’ll send you a thank you email but if you give me $20 I’ll send you a thank you, a signed copy of my book and you’ll be listed in the acknowledgments on my Facebook page and so on. The idea is that you will provide what you can easily in exchange for a bit of money. The trick is to carefully balance what you can provide against what they will donate. But when you boil it down you are pre-selling your book. It would be easy to say for $10 you get a copy of the book because you know it will cost you $3 for the book and $2 postage so out of the $10 you’ll make $5 which will go to the editor and artist.
The easy one is kickstarter. I’ve seen some projects raise over $60,000. Most of the book projects are looking for maybe a couple of thousand to pay for art, editing and sometimes printing. This is another instance where describing it is easier than doing it. There will be work involved. You can’t just create a project for say $1,000 and hope people will give you money. You’ll need to provide real incentives and you’ll need to advertise your project so people know about it. You’ll need to keep your backers updated on progress and in essence be all very business like and professional. The most successful projects are by those people who already have a fan following. Maybe it is easier to get crowding funding for your 3rd book in a series rather than the 1st, but I still think it is worth investigating.
This is the other side of the coin. I want professional cover art right? I can go to an artist and commission a work or I can go to 99 designs and offer a design bounty. That’ll use the vast number of hungry designers to create an affordable book cover. I haven’t found a way to do this with editing yet, but when I do, I’ll let you know.