Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
Huh? What are you talking about, Liz? What is crowdfunding?
Well, according to Wikipedia, crowd funding "describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations" (Crowd funding, Wikipedia, June 19, 2012). You may have heard of it -- Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games used Kickstarter to bring back his very popular out-of-print game Ogre. Rich Burlew's Kickstarter to fund bringing his older Order of the Stick graphic novels back into print topped out at over a million dollars, and Crossed Genres' Kickstarter to cover their publication costs for the rest of the year has already reached triple the stated goal, and the campaign isn't complete yet.
In a nutshell, with a crowdfunded project, the person behind the project has a goal -- printing a book, completing an artistic project, filming a movie (or in my case, funding a trip to an awards ceremony...). They figure out how much it would cost to do whatever it is that they want to do, and they figure out what they want to offer in return for pledges. It's a little like Public Television pledge drives, but cooler -- if they don't make their target amount, no one is charged anything. The people who pledge their money are only charged if the project makes goal.
In my case, I never would have tried this if a dear friend hadn't blazed a trail for me -- she used Indiegogo.com to fund a major purchase that she desperately needed for a school project. When I mentioned in my blog that my first novel, Princes of Air, had been nominated for the Passionate Plume, a major award in the Romance Writers of America, but that I couldn't afford to go to the awards ceremony, she suggested that I try crowd funding. I considered it, and figured "What have I got to lose?" If I made the goal, I could go to Nationals. If I didn't make the goal, I at least tried.
First part? Find out what the tax liability would be if I made it! I sent an email to my lovely accountant, who works with us crazy creative types, and is an artist of no little renown herself. She got back to me within a day to let me know that crowd funded money is considered income, and is therefore taxable. However, what I would be using it on was tax-deductable for business (except for food -- special rules for food), so it would work out pretty much even. My tax liability would be very low. Great!
Second part? Figure out how much this is going to cost! Now, RWA National is not cheap. And this year, it is in Anaheim. In a Disneyland Hotel. Which leads me to the lovely irony of flying from the Mouse to the Mouse, since I live just outside Orlando. When I finished figuring dollars and cents, the cost for this grand adventure would be over $4,000! Just for me! Add into that the fact that Indiegogo takes 4% of the money if you make your goal, and we ended up with a round sum of $4500.00. Ouch.
Third part? Figure out the perks. I will admit, I got a little whimsical -- one of my perks is Hot Smut and Warm Cookies. Yes, I'm running a bake sale. I actually crowd sourced the perks, too. I posted to Facebook and asked what people thought of the perks I'd come up with, and got suggestions for a few more -- including the perk of being written into a sex scene in an upcoming book. (Oh, is THAT going to be weird!)
My final list of perks ended up being:
- $5 - Acknowledgment in an upcoming book
- $10 - Signed copy of Princes of Air
- $20 - Naming rights (10)
- $30 - Walk on! (you appear in an upcoming book. I promise NOT to do anything untowards!)
- $35 - May you die beautifully! (your walk on ends in a creative death!)
- $40 - Hot Smut/Warm cookies (signed book and a dozen homemade cookies, choice of Choc. Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Molasses or Snickerdoodle)
- $50 - Exclusive short story set in the Princes universe (included in any perk over $50)
- $75 - Walk on with benefits! (you appear in an upcoming book. I promise to get creative.)
- $90 - Collected words of Elizabeth Schechter on CD AND a signed copy of the not-yet-released Fantastic Erotica
- $100 - Hand Knits! (5) You pick the color, and I will knit you a pair of fingerless mitts! (choice of wool or non-wool. No acrylic, please).
- $150 - Shiny! (5) Handmade necklace and earrings (sterling silver, your choice of stones).
- $500 - The WHOLE Enchilada! (You get EVERY perk!)
Now, usually there is a 45 day run on a crowd funded project. In this case, however, we don't have 45 days. RWA Nationals are at the end of July, and it takes two weeks from the end of your project to get the money. (Also, I didn't want to make all of the arrangements, and then not make the goal). So I set a time limit -- I needed to have the money by July 13th. Subtract two weeks... and my project ends on June 25th. Giving me a grand total of 13 days to raise $4500.00.
Anybody wanna cookie?