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Greg Ioannou

Crowdfunding for Writers and Editors

In 2011, I switched Iguana Books from a quasi-traditional publishing model to a hybrid model: the author (or someone who wasn’t me) paid the costs of publication, and we put out professional-quality books that were distributed worldwide as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks.

It sort of worked, but there were problems: lots of people couldn’t afford the service and there’s a stigma about paying to get published. The worst problem was the one inside my head: I didn’t like charging writers a lot of money when I knew there was a good chance their books would sell poorly. It became a conscience thing, knowing that I was selling a service that would leave many of my customers’ dreams pitifully crushed.

In 2012, one of our would-be authors said he wanted to crowdfund to raise money to pay for publishing his book. In four weeks, he managed to raise a bit over $16,000.

That caught my attention, and I started suggesting to authors who couldn’t afford our fees that they try Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.53.47 AMcrowdfunding. And fairly soon I was suggesting it to authors who could afford the fees.

So what is crowdfunding, and how does it work for publishing projects? Crowdfunding, according to Wikipedia, is “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

There are thousands of crowdfunding companies offering variations of the same model: a variety of rewards or incentives are offered at different funding levels. Contribution levels usually range from $5 or $10 (for which you might just get a “hi and thanks” on Twitter) to thousands — the largest contribution any of our campaigns has received to date is $5,000.

By the beginning of 2015, we were crowdfunding most of our projects using Pubslush, a crowdfunding site designed specifically for publishing projects. In May 2015 — our best crowdfunding month to date — Pubslush paid us over $32,000 to cover publication costs of four books. Then, in August 2015, Pubslush announced that it was closing.

We decided to start from scratch with a new service called PubLaunch. The crowdfunding part of the site is up and running, and soon we’ll be launching a “marketplace” to connect writers with editors, designers, indexers, marketing people, printers, distributors and so on. Everything you could need to publish a book. (We’re currently accepting registrations.)

Crowdfunding solves three problems:

  1. It helps people afford publishing (and editing) services they couldn’t otherwise afford.
  2. It gets rid of the dreaded “vanity publishing” stigma that comes with paying to get your book published.
  3. It offers a really valuable market test. If a book does well when crowdfunded, it will probably sell reasonably well. If it sells 2.3 copies when crowdfunded, it would also have sold terribly when published. So the writer has discovered that the book has no market without spending thousands of dollars to find that out.


What do you think? Would you try crowdfunding for yourself, or recommend it to a client?

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6 Comments on “Crowdfunding for Writers and Editors”

  • I wish PubLaunch luck in their plans. Will check into your approach. I am thinking of going this route.

  • Great post Greg.

  • Rosemary Shipton


    What is the profile of the supporters? Relatives and friends of the writer? People to support particular causes? People who hope for some return? If the last, what kind of returns – acknowledgment in the book, copy of the book, invitation to a launch event, investment opportunity, or what?

    • Mostly, at least at first, the contributions come from friends and relatives. If the book is about a specific cause, you get people who support that cause. If the book is a specific genre, you get people who really like that genre, particularly if the writer has been active at conventions for readers of that genre. The largest contribution we’ve seen to date was from a writer’s former lover. You never know who will contribute or what the motivation will be.

      If the marketing of the crowdfunding campaign has been particularly successful, you start to see contributions from complete strangers. That’s the goal, but it usually doesn’t happen.

      The incentives are all the ones you ask about except investment — that’s illegal in Canada for this type of crowdfunding. “A carton of books and author visits your book club” is an increasingly popular one.

  • Rachel Small


    I would certainly recommend crowdfunding to a client. All the best with your new venture, Greg!

  • Leah LeDrew


    I would like to be crowd funded for my writing. Alas, I am far from the madding crowd funders.

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