Rolling up the rim on new publishing models

First aired on Information Morning Nova Scotia (12/4/12)

$10: You get one advance copy of the ebook

$20: You get one signed advance copy of the printed book. Delivered by Canada Post.

$50: Your name appears in an alphabetized list of "Friends" on the Facebook page and the website. Plus, you get one signed advance copy of the printed book and one advance copy of the ebook.

$1000: Your name appears in an alphabetized list of "Pillars" on a special page at the front of the printed book. You get two signed advance copies of the printed book and two advance copies of the ebook. You get a limited edition hand-printed copy of the book's cover art, by Ben Brush. The author will also make an in-person appearance at a private venue of your choice in the Maritime provinces and do a reading/signing of Roll Up the Rim. Outside the Maritimes, this perk can be claimed over Skype.

Thumbnail image for leomckay.jpgThese are some of the options laid out on Leo McKay's Indiegogo campaign site. Indiegogo is a site where entrepreneurs can raise funds to start a project and McKay is an author, trying to drum up business for his next book. He launched his Indiegogo campaign "Roll Up the Rim" on Monday April 2, with the goal of raising $8,500 to publish his next book -- titled Roll Up the Rim -- in 30 days. The bulk of the money would go towards production and marketing costs. It's self-publishing and self-promotion with a twist.

McKay got the idea to go this route, which is called crowd-funding, after watching a few friends in bands raise money this way for booking studio time, cutting demos and touring. McKay's friends aren't alone. "Music" is a popular funding category on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter. "[I was] thinking 'musicians are so lucky, they get to fund their project this way,' and realized, well, I can do that if i want," McKay explained to Information Morning host Don Connolly in a recent interview. McKay isn't alone. While Indiegogo doesn't offer a "publishing" category yet, Kickstarter does, where you can fund the picture book Gwendolyn and the Underworld or the third book in the Veneficas Americana series, The Warlock's Curse, among other book-related projects. As more authors become aware of crowd-funding as a self-publishing option, it's only a matter of time before there are more projects to donate to.

The increasing popularity of self-funding creative projects raises interesting questions about the future of publishing, especially when someone like McKay -- who was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 1995 for his short story collection Like This -- is abandoning traditional publishing models for ones like this. "I am one of the first Canadian literary writers with an established record in old-school publishing to make the giant step in the direction of going Indie," McKay writes on his Indiegogo campaign site. "You can help make this happen."

McKay chalks up this change to the technology and community now available to creators, whether they are writers, artists, filmmakers or musicians. Creators can build community and create demand for their product on their own, thanks to social media. And that's exactly what McKay did. "Ten years ago this is completely unthinkable," he said.

McKay hit his goal of $8,500 within a week of launching his campaign. He now needs to secure an editor, finalize a printing deal, pay the artist of the book cover and the editor of the video that launched his campaign (which you can watch below). When the book is finished and available, it may change the game for how writers get published and for how readers can engage in the works and career of their favourite author. Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are changing the game, and authors like McKay are eager to roll the dice.

As McKay says, "It's really exciting."

As an author, would you fund your book this way? As a reader, would you support a project like this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.