Balls Deep in Self-Publishing: Crowdfunding, or as it should be called, Begging.


It seems to be one of the more common things today, using one of the various crowdfunding sites to get your good idea off the ground and running. No problem with that at all; there are many interesting ideas, inventions, causes and the like that are worthy of the crowdfunding model.

However, I just can’t see independent authors and self-published authors using this method as a viable way to get their book published. If anything it should be the Court of Last Resort for any indie publishing effort, after all other options have been attempted.

I’ve seen quite a few campaigns on kickstarter, and particularly Indieagogo, from “authors” and even “publishing houses” trying to get money to fund their efforts. Most of them have been pretty outlandish, at least to anyone who knows the self-publishing game.

With many projects, you can estimate your expenses here and there. Hell, you don’t even have to give specific breakdowns for what you plan to do with the money, just say it’s going for this, this and this. A lot of people liked posting it like a budget. That’s where you get to see who’s fudging the numbers and who’s gonna be livin’ large on the fatted calf after the campaign’s over. People want money to cover printing expenses, e-book conversion, cover creation, editing, proofreading, promotional costs, and pretty much everything else that a self-respecting indie author works out on his or her own, either by saving up and forking over the dosh, working out a payment plan with an editor, or learning how to do things themselves. Three-quarters of the expenses of publishing a book, using Createspace and/or KDP (or Smashwords), normally end up adding up to a big goose egg for most indies.

Whenever I see exorbitant costs listed for “printing expenses” on self-published books, or expenses for turning a book into an e-book, and other items that don’t actually cost anything, I know that either someone’s playing the game, or they got caught by AuthorSolutions and are trying to get other people to pay for their moronic mistake. (And I am sorry if that offends anyone who got snookered, but getting caught by a vanity predator like AuthorSolutions, iUniverse, PublishAmerica or their ilk IS a moronic mistake, given the wealth and depth of information available about their shoddy business practices on the internet. Fucking learn to Google, people!)

I saw a recent campaign from a publishing venture that needed help, even though they were an “established” entity already. They noted the funds were going for such things as a new printer, and to pay their employees. Umm, I hate to tell them, but you can get a pretty decent printer at Wally World for about $50. If you can’t afford an outlay of fifty bucks without resorting to selling pencils on the street corner, you are NOT a publisher; you shouldn’t even be in business. I really felt sorry for the authors associated with that one.

It comes down to this: Crowdfunding is begging. It has its moments, where things gibe and the process works great and there is innovation. Publishing your own book is NOT innovation. I can publish a book. It doesn’t cost me a damn thing.

Indie authors are already at a disadvantage. There have been so many lackluster and generally crappy books out there since this new publishing paradigm started, that we’ve got a huge stigma to overcome when compared with “real” and “traditional” authors. We do NOT need to be called beggars and mendicants as well.

If you think you need to crowdfund the publication of your book, I think it’s time for you to sit down and completely reassess what you’re doing. You may not be cut out for the author game.

Now if you want a couple of indie books that didn’t resort to the crowdfunding malarkey, and turned out exceptionally good, here’s a couple of suggestions:


by Erin McGowan

An exceptionally good first novel. It kept my attention without a single dinosaur or outer space battle, so it’s got my seal of approval.


51241kL8zqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_SMOKE AND MIRRORS

by L.B. Clark

A very good story, that’s really hard to categorize: Romance, relationships, a dash of the paranormal, rock music, fast cars … well, it’s a very good read in any event.





3 thoughts on “Balls Deep in Self-Publishing: Crowdfunding, or as it should be called, Begging.

  1. Excellent article, Rich. Yes, I have contributed to crowdfunding campaigns. No, none of those have been for authors or publishers. What amazes me about some of these campaigns is that the “author” targets other authors in FB writing groups. How very insulting. What makes these authors think they’re so special that they deserve to have their writing time, printing costs, etc paid for by other authors? If the rest of us can pay our own way, so can they. And, if they are truly so desperate for funds that they can’t pay for the cost associated with publishing, they can utilize the free resources available. KDP and Createspace are not only free, but they also have free cover templates to choose from. Barter for editing services. Network with authors. Don’t expect us to foot your bill.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Great article, RIch, and two excellent book recommendations. The crowdfunding thing makes me squirmy. Yeah, I can see sometimes doing it for promotion of a book for a good cause, because things like buying printed copies and booth space at shows really add up and could help tremendously in getting the word out. But for the actual production of the manuscript? Doesn’t cost that much. I guess that’s between you and the folks who want to fund your efforts, though.

  3. Wow, luckily crowd funding my book never crossed my mind as an option. I agree with you it doesn’t make much sense. Also I couldn’t see myself ever contributing to one of those knowing what I do.

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