A New Concept or 21st Century Begging?
Something has been nagging me since I watched the news the other night – the concept of crowdfunding. It’s strange to me that it has become acceptable for people, including writers and authors-to-be, to ask for free (meaning without strings attached) money from strangers to help with a book/situation/health condition. I get asking for help with disaster relief but is the money given truly free? No. You have a responsibility to spend that gifted money on what you campaigned for and nothing else (or you might end up in legal trouble).
What I don’t understand is how writers can ask for money to help publish their books, then ask people to spend more money to buy their books.
There are many affordable and even free options out there; you just have to do the research: Lulu Press, Amazon KDP, Lightning Source (Ingram), just to name a few; these are great options. Check their criteria to see which one fits your needs best. I’ve always used Lulu Press and have had good results. They pay me on time every month, without a hitch. To get your book into bookstores, libraries and other public venues, Ingram Spark is the way to go. There are a few up front expenses that you must budget for: book cover (eBook or hard copy), editing (developmental or finishing touches), and layout. And there are so many options out there for these, you certainly can find what you need to fit your budget.
On the news the other evening, there was a blurb about a new website called GoFraudMe. Its purpose is to expose fraudulent crowdfunding campaigns, mainly on GoFundMe; an inevitable invention if there ever was one. I searched through the site and read about several campaigns where people have fraudulently collected a lot of money (one was for over $400K for a homeless guy who never saw the money) and spent it NOT on the issue of the campaign or just plain faked the health issue or situation. Luckily, the folks at GoFraudMe are bringing these cases to law enforcement and many are or have been charged with the crime of fraud, some as felonies.
So be careful where you donate your money.
That said, if you have a campaign to help with publishing your book, make sure that money only goes towards publishing and keep receipts/details of your expenses. I’m thinking that because others have paid for the publishing and other miscellaneous expenses (editing, layout, etc.), you cannot claim them on your federal taxes, as these were not paid for with your money. You might want to check with a tax specialist to be sure, or call the IRS, to be safe.
I read about a new crowdfunding option to publish one’s books on one of the author blogs I follow. A new site where crowdfunding campaigns can lead to a publishing contract is Inkshares. This is a legitimate site where, if you navigate their process successfully, you can land a publishing contract. After a quick read, I surmised that this might be a more plausible option. Inkshares will offer a publishing contract if you can secure a pre-order of 750 books. According to their FAQs page, they write: “We publish any work that successfully hits a pre-order threshold on our platform.” Sounds like a good deal if you’re on SM and have 750 friends who might be willing to ante up. Certainly is worth looking into, don’t you think?
Inkshares appears to be a safer, smarter crowdfunding option for those who choose this road. I still question the integrity of asking the public to pay for both the process and the finished product. When it comes down to it, as writers, we have a responsibility to be both self-sufficient (to earn a living this way) and to provide work that is worthy of the price we charge.
That, in my opinion, is an author’s responsibility to their readers.
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