Friday Forum: Reader-Funded Publishing?

Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

In a post yesterday about why there’s never been a better time to be a reader, Jeff mentioned that technology and social media have made authors more approachable than ever before. What he didn’t say, but is equally true, is that for authors, readers have never been so approachable, either. Many writers take to Twitter and Facebook well before their work is published or even sold in hopes of building a platform from which to publicize, socialize, and persuade. By the time publication day rolls around–if it rolls around–they have a community with which to celebrate, made up of readers they fervently hope will transfer their online enthusiasm into purchases.

Recently, though, authors have been going for the sale much earlier in the relationship. On Twitter this week alone, I’ve watched four authors solicit donations from their fans and followers to help fund their latest self-published projects through Kickstarter. A quick search of Kickstarter’s listings yields more than 2,700 book-related campaigns, ranging from an attempt to bring old comics back into print to an effort to print a photo essay collection by a former porn producer to a  reference book about the U.S. filming locations for the Star Wars films. And that’s just on the first page of results!

So, what do you make of this latest development in publishing? Would you donate money to help fund a writer’s publication? What would it take to get you do so?