Publishing may finally be having its “Kickstarter moment.” That’s the opinion of writer John Biggs in the piece he posted to TechCrunch today. Biggs discusses how hard it has been for independent published works to get attention from the literary establishment. Then he points out that following the example of Kickstarted gadgets, it is now possible for writers to finance complete creation of a work from start to finish, including paying for professional editing and cover design. As a result, indie writers are suddenly about to become respectable.
I would argue that we are about to see the tipping point. Indie writers will become the norm rather than the exception as mainstream publishers find it harder and harder to reach an audience. Publishers will keep trying to nab the tiger’s tail of online popularity and fail. Why? Because they once depended on the perception that publishing was hard. Now it is easy, and the removal of barriers to entry are dangerous to established businesses.
He comes up with a list of things that need to happen for indie publishing to become fully successful: come up with lists of indie-friendly reviewers to whom to send books, get services like Bookbub to cough up more details about their reach and promotional success rates, get distribution and PR houses to offer discount packages for Kickstarted indies, and writers need to make sure they budget for editing and such in their Kickstarter projects.
It’s an interesting enough perspective to be sure, though upon reading it a couple of points do come to mind. First, all the independent writers who have managed to make a living or even make enough money to supplement their normal salary will probably be very surprised that it’s taken Kickstarter to give them respectability.
Furthermore, the many people who’ve been successfully using Kickstarter or similar methods of crowdfunding to launch book and comic projects over the last few years (you only need click our “Kickstarter” tag or category to see our coverage of such people) would also be surprised that it’s apparently only becoming possible now.
It’s also important to note that plenty of Kickstarter projects fail through aiming too high or providing too little. Not everybody understands what goes into a successful Kickstarter project, after all.
Kickstarter is a great tool in the box of an independent writer who knows how to use it, but it’s not the only such tool, nor is it exactly new. The idea that it somehow requires Kickstarter to make a go of independent writing seems a little silly to me.