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haikujaguar in crowdfunding

Payment Models

Hi, crowdfunding! A lot of new people have joined since I last posted, so as a Very Brief history: I have been crowdfunding fiction, nonfiction, art and card readings since 2003 and I'm always on the look-out for new payment models. I like creative payment models, because they create two points of interest for readers: they can get excited about the story and they can get excited about how it's being funded, and that means more reasons to check back.

For instance, my first experiment involved "pay to vote," where readers who tipped were allowed to influence parts of the story I deemed amenable to that kind of ambiguity. We had a lot of fun: the readers, who got to see their choices change the story, and me, since I sometimes didn't know what I'd be writing until the day I wrote it!

Anyway, most of my crowdfunding efforts have been to fund stories I haven't finished yet. People pay, I write, we discover the story together. But I've been wanting to serialize some already written novels and I thought, "well, let's try some new things with these." My attempt with my latest, a spiritual fantasy novel entitled A Rosary of Stones and Thorns, is "pay to accelerate." Since the book is already written, I thought, 'why not accept tips to post more often.' So I post one free episode on Tuesdays, and if I get enough tips, we can get extra episodes on Thursdays and Saturdays.

This works really well. It works so well I'm busier prepping this story for upload than I am writing the not-yet-finished serial I'm posting simultaneously, Black Blossom. That one's on a "pay to post" model: a certain amount gets the episode posted, and if I don't have enough, then there's no episode until I do.

So a round-up of the models I've tried with fiction, so you can experiment with them if you're looking for ideas:
Pay to Post. Set a price tag for each episode you upload and wait until you accumulate enough tips to post. Bread and butter money.
Pay to Accelerate. Set a price tag for extra episodes and see if people are eager enough to read the next segment to tip you. Try this only with stories you already have mostly or entirely written, just in case!
Pay to Vote. Let your readers influence the story. Great for when you want to see what people are interested in, don't really know what to write next, or want to be as surprised by the story as your readers.

One final note: I tend to prefer models that let readers try the story for free; in cases where they have to pay to get a chapter uploaded, I always start the serial with 3-5 free episodes before going pay-to-post so readers can decide whether it's worth the investment. "Try before you buy" is very good marketing, and it's kind to the audience as well. :)

If you'd like to keep up with my stories, they go up on my Livejournal weekly. Or if you want to see previous crowdfunded fiction efforts, they're all listed on my Webfiction Guide shelf. (My only advice there is to wait on Flight of the Godkin Griffin; I'm negotiating a contract for it and there will probably be a print book and compiled e-book version within half a year, making it far easier to read!)

I have been doing this for 8 years! And I now make pretty good money doing it. I welcome questions anytime, just ask. :)

Comments

Thank you! This was well timed for me, as I'm about to Start Something. :)
How is crowdfunding art different than crowdfunding fiction?
I have helped crowfund some of her art.

Projects I was involved in were her New Brushes drive. Money was sent to fund a new set of brushes, which produced much art which was posted for free - I believe that if the new brushes were not funded, there would have been less art.

I have also donated for some of the Sketchbook Retrospectives (though I am not sure if the scanning from the one I donated to last spring has finished, as haikujaguar had to move house). Since she has been making art and filling sketchbooks for quite some time, she has over 100 sketchbooks filled with stuff! Much of it has not been scanned. So when she hit 100 sketchbooks, she started to look back through the old ones in groups of 5 or 10 sketchbooks. She would select a number of sketches that she wanted to scan for free, and then posted a list of other sketches that could be sponsored. So I could pay something like $2 or $3 per sketch I wanted scanned, and thus I would select art that I thought sounded neat.
I am still slowly working on that Sketchpost!

There are two reasons sketchbook retrospectives take so long:

1. Scanning, naming, resizing, uploading and describing work takes a very long time.
2. Almost no one comments on them! Which removes incentive for me.

But I do slog on, in the slices of free time I get.
I used to try to comment on every sketch, but have fallen well behind. Someday I will have seen the entire archive (and my favorites list will be EPPIC!).

Since I got to sponsor on this one, I will comment, though now I cannot remember which ones I sponsored for me, which ones aldersprig sponsored for me, and which ones I bought her.

I do enjoy the Retrospective project, but I may be alone in that.

Also, you moved house, twice! And summer vacation.
Yes. I juggle many balls, probably too many. :)
One difference is that pictures can't be divided into chapters, and posting in sections doesn't really work. I suppose it would be possible to post a thumbnail and then upload a higher resolution image if it gets sponsored, but my approach has been to post the work in stages (sketch -> finished drawing -> finished painting). I think djinni does something similar with his icons, offering b/w icons free and upgrading to colour if he gets enough tips. The 'pay to vote' model might be something I can adapt, though...I'll have to think about that.
I have done "pay to vote on which picture I should finish next" and the reward was photoblogged posts of me working on it. :)
My gut feeling is that because art has historically resulted in a unique physical object, people have different expectations of it. Even though The Book is a physical object, we don't think of it as a unique art object; since the printing press made copies of books common, we think of Books as commodities, and categorize them differently.

When I crowdfund art, then, I have to find some way to offer value to people who aren't going to be owning the Unique Object in a way that I don't have to worry about with fiction or nonfiction, which results in a story that everyone can own without it taking away the product or value from someone else.

If that makes sense? Or were you asking for specifics, different methods to crowdfund art, versus fiction?

Yay!

Those are good models. Another is "pay to expand" where the mainline story is posted free, but tips will get extra scenes or a different character's perspective, etc.

>>I tend to prefer models that let readers try the story for free<<

Agreed. You're also favoring open-access rather than subscriber-only models. While these principles apply to business in general, they are especially true in crowdfunding, where people really want to sample first.

Re: Yay!

Pay to expand is a good one, though I don't favor it for my own cause because it results in Extra Work. If you already want to do the Extra Work, that's great, but if you're already short on time, having people pay you to do things you haven't already done is a very very tricky business. Particularly because if you raise expectations that you're going to do something, you should meet them, and not meeting them will (justifiably) induce disgruntlement on the part of people who have given you money.

Re: Yay!

Different models work for different projects. I'm contemplating "pay to expand" rather than just "pay what you like" for a fiction project, because I've already got the thing written. I want to be able to upload it in big chunks for preset delivery so I don't have to keep fooling around with frequent uploads; I think "pay to accelerate" would drive me nuts in this case because it's in tiny pieces. But writing a poem or a few extra paragraphs wouldn't take me long.

Re: Yay!

It is a lot to keep track of. Rosary's chapters split (for the most part) into two chunks, which gives me ~34 chunks or so, which I was planning to spread over 34 weeks. When I introduced Pay to Accelerate the results were so overwhelming that I had to put a cap on how many uploads a week we'd get, or I would have spent every day preparing for the upload, and we would have run through the book in a month!

The 3-episodes-a-week cap is more about how much workload I can handle than it is about the money. But I'm glad it's going so quickly because I want to get the story tidied and up on Amazon sooner rather than later anyway. :)

Re: Yay!

>>When I introduced Pay to Accelerate the results were so overwhelming that I had to put a cap on how many uploads a week we'd get, or I would have spent every day preparing for the upload, and we would have run through the book in a month!<<

Ah, that's a good solution!

(Anonymous)

Re: Yay!

You've done a bit of pay-to-expand on Black Blossom, posting encyclopedia bits for extra tips. I like it! It doesn't work for me, though, because I have a certain amount set aside for funding Black Blossom, and don't often have random extra money to put into it.