Last year I did my first Kickstarter project and I was bowled over by how brilliant the platform is for authors. Today, though, I'd like to talk about the joy it has given me as a reader. And why readers love Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is fast becoming one of the most exhilarating spaces on the planet for those who love the written word. New stories, poems and literary projects flow from the platform every day.
More and more readers are coming to love the platform, and this is forming a fabulous community of readers and writers on Kickstarter, who value craft, creativity and diversity in literature.
If you love to read, you should be on Kickstarter.
Why Readers Love Kickstarter: It's So Creative
If you don't know much about crowdfunding, you might think Kickstarter is like Go Fund Me or other platforms people use when they need to raise fund for hardship reasons. On the contrary. Kickstarter is a place of joy, and innovation, and creative ferment.
It began in 2009 with a stated mission: “to help bring creative projects to life.”
Kickstarter's roots are not in hardship charity, but in patronage of the arts. Within the category of crowdfunding of the arts, Kickstarter is ten times the size of all the other platforms combined, says co-founder Perry Chen. As I write this (in February 2023), Kickstarter has received US$7 billion in pledges, from 21.7 million backers, to fund 233,626 projects, from movies to musicals, comics to journalism, video games to board games and food to publishing projects
The platform has now become a home to the most innovative creatives on the planet. Filmmakers, musicians, artists, theater professionals, gamers, designers and more. And of course writers.
The most successful Kickstarter project is a fiction project “Four Secret Novels” by novelist Brandon Sanderson, run in March 2022, in which 185,341 readers famously raised $41,754,153.
But it's not just about what you give. In exchange for backing a Kickstarter publishing project, readers are offered tangible rewards, bonuses and perks.
Altogether, publishing and comics campaigns have raised more than $310 million from nearly 4 million backers through Kickstarter Publishing, which calls itself “a proud home for independent books, comics, and literary projects of all kinds”
The Director of Publishing is Oriana Lockhert, who encourages literature, periodicals, literary spaces and festivals, bookstores, zines, and literary projects of all kinds on the platform.
“It's just wildly inspiring to get to work with an endless array of creative people, helping them figure out how to raise money to fund their bookish dreams,” Leckert says.
Why Readers Love Kickstarter: It's So Creative
Here you'll find the kinds of books and literary projects you won't find anywhere else—graphic novels that break the mold, poets who expect to get paid, experimental stories that bend reality…
Leckert deliberately nurtures a culture of experimentation, and helps writers and literary outlets to identify projects that can have a big impact. Because Kickstarter is all about taking risks and trying new things, you’ll find projects here that are too bold, too niche, or too avant-garde for traditional publishers.
If you love the idea of exploring literature that pushes boundaries, that comes directly from the author, this is your playground. Check out some of the books and literary projects on the platform here, the Kickstarter store on Bookshop.org here, which highlights some brilliant books, and their X account, Kickstarter Reads, here.
Why Readers Love Kickstarter: Special Offers and Perks
But having most diverse range of cool and quirky literary projects on planet Earth just one of the reasons why Kickstarter is such a great place for readers to hang out. During their Kickstarter projects, authors offer special deals and all sorts of bonuses, add-ons and perks.
Here are just some of the things I've seen Kickstarter authors offer to their readers recently:
- Unique hardback specials.
- Digital copies of their entire works
- Autographed, limited editions.
- Immersive literature, where you're written into the storyline in the author's next book. (I'm offering that in my next campaign). Or personalized postcard with a unique message “sent” from one of the characters in the book.
- Marked up copies of a first draft—typos, fuzzy structure, and all.
- Location shouts, where your hometown becomes the background to their next story.
- Personal photo ops, coffee, dinner or lunch dates. I backed Someone's Daughter, Someone's Son for the opportunity to have dinner with the amazing Lorna Tucker.
- Listed in the book as a backer or even a personalised dedication of the whole book to you.
- Reading list associated with the book. The Kurt Vonnegut documentary, Unstuck in Time, offered Vonnegut’s list of must-reads.
- An illustrator to draw your image in the book.
- Mention of your business by a character in the book
- Reading and activity guides for book clubs
- Vote on which book characters you’d like to see featured next
- Raffles, and
- Book swag: handcrafted mugs, T-shirts and clothing of all kinds, bookmarks, digital art, pin sets, stickers, notebooks, playing cards, even a special Irish fiddle performance by the author.
Why Readers Love Kickstarter: Early Access and Closer Community
Who doesn't love getting their hands on something special before the rest of the world? By backing projects on Kickstarter, you often get early access to books, exclusive editions, and cool swag that’s not available to the masses. It’s like having a VIP backstage pass to the literary world.
When you back a book or literary project on Kickstarter, you’re not just throwing money at a screen. You’re joining a community of like-minded readers and writers who enjoy reading the same genres and niches, and share your passion for book and the themes you care about.
The authors share updates and behind-the-scenes peeks, bringing you right in the heart of their creative process, and making you part of what's happening.
Why Readers Love Kickstarter: Spot Rising Talent
Kickstarter gives a platform to up-and-coming talents who might be the next big thing. By backing their projects, you’re not just discovering new favorites; you’re helping to launch their writing projects and support their publishing enterprises. Talk about bragging rights!
Why Readers Love Kickstarter: Be A Hero to Authors
Here’s your chance to directly throw your support behind authors and the publishing professionals who work with them: cover artists and designers, editors and more. When you back a project, you’re helping dreams take flight—plus, you get to be part of the creation of the book, from the very start. Your support helps bring amazing ideas to life. That feels so good.
On Kickstarter, creators get to call the shots on their projects. This means the stories you’re helping to fund are pure, unfiltered, and exactly as the creator envisioned. You’re getting the real deal, untouched by the heavy hands of big publishers.
How Readers Use Kickstarter
Here's a simple, step-by-step guide on how to get started as a reader on Kickstarter. It's quick and easy and you'll soon be enjoying great books and literary loveliness.
Step 1: Create Your Kickstarter Account
- Visit Kickstarter.com: Head to the website and click on the “Sign up” button, usually located in the top right corner of the homepage.
- Sign Up: You can sign up using an email address or by connecting your Facebook or Google account for a quicker process. Just follow the prompts to create your account.
- Confirm Your Email: Kickstarter will send you an email to confirm your address. Click the link in that email to activate your account.
Step 2: Find Projects to Support
- Explore Categories: Once you're logged in, navigate to the “Discover” section where you can explore projects by categories. For literary projects, your main focus will be the publishing section. Depending on your interests, you might also want to check out “Comics,” or “Zines”, for example.
- Use Search: If you have something specific in mind, use the search bar to look for projects by keywords, author names, or book titles.
- Browse and Discover: Spend some time browsing through the projects. Kickstarter has a lot of filters (like location, popularity, and funding status) that can help you narrow down your search to find exactly what interests you.
Step 3: Support a Project
- Select a Project: When you find a project that piques your interest, click on it to learn more. Authors usually provide a detailed description of the project, their goals, and what they plan to do with the funding.
- Choose Your Pledge Level: Projects offer various “rewards” for different pledge levels. These can range from a thank you note, a digital or physical copy of the book, to exclusive content or experiences. Select the pledge level that fits your interest and budget.
- Enter Payment Details: You'll be prompted to enter your payment information. Kickstarter typically uses a third-party payment processor like Stripe, and your card will only be charged if the project meets its funding goal by the deadline.
Step 4: Follow the Project's Progress
- Updates: Once you've backed a project, you'll receive updates from the creator about the project's progress, milestones, and any other news related to their work.
- Engage: Comment on updates, share your thoughts, spread the word about the project on social media to help it gain more support. The author will love you for it!
Step 5: Receive Your Rewards
If the project is successfully funded, the creator will work on bringing their project to life and sending out rewards to backers. The timeframe for this can vary, so check the project page for estimated delivery dates.
If you have questions, just ask. There's a direct message function for that.
You can also comment on the project as a whole, or individual updates from the author on Kickstarter.
Kickstarter for Readers: Indulge Your Passion for Books
That's why so many readers love Kickstarter. It's not just about shopping for a book. It's about being part of the most creative platform for publishing books today. It's about helping authors to realize their visions. It's about directly contributing to the diversity and richness of the literary world.
We are book lovers because books because they connect us to imagination, ideas and insights and something bigger than ourselves. Kickstarter is a way to deepen and strengthen that connection.
So head over to Kickstarter Publishing and get ready to explore, support, and fall in love with projects that are as unique and passionate as you are.
Here's my next project to get you started. OrnaRoss.com/MoreThanAMuse. Sign up to be the first to know what happens when that launches.
And here's the publishing section again: Kickstarter.com/publishing