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ysabetwordsmith in crowdfunding

Crowdfunding and Personal Causes

Recently I've seen a spate of "Why doesn't anyone ever write/draw/film/etc. any strong female/black/queer/poor/etc. characters?" posts.  Also included in this flurry are the "stop-trope" posts, which list cliches ("Dead Lesbian," "Magical Negro," "Mythical Straight Boy Unicorn") to be avoided, often with suggestions of what should be done instead.  Now, for writers, both of these streams of input are useful; they indicate underserved markets where a good piece could easily find a hungry audience.  But there's more to it than that.

Trotting Out the Hobby Horses

Cyberfunded creativity gives the audience a great deal of influence, and allows creators to cater to a market that the mainstream wouldn't touch with a 100-foot-long polearm.  This makes it ideal for trotting out the hobby horses.  You want to see favorably portrayed characters of Type X?  You want something set in an overlooked ancient culture or a modern location that never makes it into the news?  You want to read a certain flavor of romance that doesn't  end in tragedy?  Here are some options:

1) Create it yourself.  Then boost your audience by promoting it to other people who are interested in that stuff.  Ask them to support YOU and YOUR work which is THEIR kinda stuff, instead of supporting McFantasy Novel #666 or Hollywood Gives Us the Shaft Part IX.

2) Search through cyberspace and find a project in progress that focuses on what you want.  Throw money at it.  Tell all your friends about it.  Good places to look include Web Fiction Guide, IndieGoGo, and Kickstarter.

3) Watch for crowdfunded projects that have "open prompt" policies.  Then you can specifically request  that the creator saddle up your favorite hobby horse and trot it around the ring.  It usually doesn't cost anything to leave a prompt, which may or may not get used.  However, almost all prompt-based projects will guarantee coverage to donors, so if you have any spending money this is a highly effective way to make it support YOUR ideals rather than someone else's. 

Ideally you can find a creator who shares your interest, or at least will get interested in it once you point it out.  If this continues long-term, a substantial body of work may build up.  Note that it doesn't take much to make a big splash in a small puddle; if there are few or now poems/stories/films/etc. on your specific focus yet, then a dozen poems/stories or one film will make a serious contribution.  A determined sponsor can have more impact than a magazine editor or book publisher these days, online or in hardcopy.  That could be you.  Think of your pocket money as Hobby Horse Press.

4) Whenever you see a "Why doesn't...?" or a "stop-trope" post, there are things you can do to promote both the featured ideal and the crowdfunding business model:
* Link to one or more ongoing crowdfunded projects that feature whatever the person is wishing for.  Encourage people to support that in hopes of getting more such material in the future.
* Link to one or more crowdfunded projects that accept prompts.  Encourage people to drop by the next open session and submit prompts for the motifs they wish to see.
* A surprising number of these posts include some variation of "I would pay money for..."  If you're a cyberfunded creator, that's your cue!  You say something like, "I am/could be writing/drawing/making that sort of thing.  If you're serious about supporting this kind of material, please drop by my project page at [link]."

5) Link to this post, or start a discussion along similar lines, in communities/blogs/other forums that cater to specific topics -- such as gender studies, people of color, religious tolerance -- which are often oppressed or ignored in the mainstream.  Suggest cyberfunded creativity as an alternative to unsatisfying conventional options.  crowdfunding and freestuffday are both good places to look for ideas on finding or launching a project.

Call to the Gate

* What crowdfunded project(s) are you currently doing?  What kind of ideals do you present in your work that might appeal to audiences disappointed by mainstream materials?

* What are some of your favorite crowdfunded projects by other people?  Which of your hobby horses, if any, do they exercise?

* What ideals or motifs would you like  to see, in which format(s), that you have been unable to find?  Maybe someone else knows of a project and/or creator that would cover those.


What I'd like to start crowdfunding :-)

1. Safe havens for natural, outdoor pets

2. A secondhand bookstore that pays royalties to living authors

3. An independent though commerce-friendly e-magazine, similar to what Associated Content originally offered writers

4. My natural, independent, creative, rural, Green lifestyle, for myself and as many other people as possible (but not in a commune)

5. Other projects I've not considered from this angle before...I've written some conceptual fiction (not what I'd call SCIENCE fiction) but never thought seriously about posting it online, but if someone wanted to buy it I might.


>>1. Safe havens for natural, outdoor pets<<

My Sept. 6 Poetry Fishbowl has a theme of "pets & livestock." Feel free to jot that on your calendar so you can give me prompts then.

>>2. A secondhand bookstore that pays royalties to living authors<<

I think people would LOVE this. You could probably get good support from writers as well as readers.

>>4. My natural, independent, creative, rural, Green lifestyle, for myself and as many other people as possible (but not in a commune)<<

I've toyed with the idea of crowdfunding a garden, but haven't quite pulled it together. However, there's a branch of crowdfunding that people rarely think of as such: community-supported agriculture. Check it out, sounds like your direction.