Wattpad Offering Crowdfunding For Publishing
Posted on August 12, 2013
Wattpad, the website that allows people to post their writing for free to get readers and feedback, has announced that they are now offering a crowdfunding model to help writers with popular works on the site publish their work. They are calling it “Fan Funding”, and they already have one successfully funded project and two others that are currently raising money.
According to based on the video on Wattpad’s site, “Wattpad is providing the infrastructure (Amazon provides the payment structure for Kickstarter) and requires the use of a credit card. Lau said Wattpad will take a “minimal service fee”—5% of funds collected, while online payment company Stripe will also take a 2.9% fee plus 30 cents per transaction.” Much like Kickstarter, the writers can offer different funding levels with multiple types of incentives from signed books to becoming a character. The already successfully funded work Catch My Breath by Tara Simpson had someone back her with $3000 to put themselves in the story.
Crowdfunding has become more popular with sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter leading the way. I myself am a huge fan of it precisely because I get to choose cool projects and then feel like I’ve become part of a small community enjoying seeing it come to fruition. Plus, some of them have some pretty cool swag. So far I’ve backed several film projects, a couple of Amanda Palmer‘s projects, and a few publishing projects. I also backed a friend’s short film project on Indiegogo. My favorite swag came from Matt King and The World of Steam with a steampunk heart necklace and my orders as an air mechanic on my dirigible.
However, publishing projects tend not to do so well on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. The ones that do get my attention tend to have a video explaining what their work is about and that serves as a type of book trailer, a well-written explanation that not only gives details but makes it interesting, a clear detailing of how the funding will be used, and great backing levels with interesting swag. Those that have successfully been funded tend to be from already established writers who come in with a fan base. And that’s where Wattpad may have a huge advantage.
One of the problems that new writers have in using crowdfunding to help put out their first work is visibility. Without an established readership, how does a debut author get attention and beyond that the actual funding? Debut authors’ lack of available writing risks not getting enough attention to their work. It requires a sample of some sort in order to entice someone to take a leap. Wattpad is the perfect platform that solves the problem of not having any samples to read. In fact, they are smart in calling it “fan funding” not only for their clever use of alliteration but also because the writers build the fans first with their writing presumably before creating a fan funding project.
Now for some possible negatives. There are those that are against writers using crowdfunding for just a basic book. Those that have gotten funding on Kickstarter have been given leeway if the book offers something extra such as illustrations or additional material. Wattpad also has a younger writer and reader population that skews itself more towards the Young Adult genre. So far, those who have gotten traditional publishing deals have been writers of YA. My estimation would be that fan funding on Wattpad will be successful in very specific genres and types of books.
Another possible negative is what may happen when their fan funding project page gets flooded with projects. Currently, there are only two live projects, so the likelihood of having the project discovered and possibly backed is higher than say randomly looking on Kickstarter. But once more of their writers start producing projects, it will dilute the pool of funding.
Typically, the money raised through crowdfunding for publishing projects has been allocated towards production costs such as paying for a cover, paying for editing services, and for marketing. The basic average funding requested ranges between $3000-$7000 with some asking for much less to asking for much more to also cover marketing costs. I’ve run into some ire over writers asking for production costs to be covered when they’re going to self-publish the work in the long run, but they’d be more interested in checking out the project if the money goes towards making a special edition or something more than just the book itself. So far, out of the three projects that Wattpad is featuring, it doesn’t seem to be a hindrance.
Based on Wattpad’s FAQ for fan funding, the crowdfunding platform is limited to just the three projects as a trial run. Those three represent different types of writers on Wattpad so that they could see how it worked. Based on looking at them, it looks like two out of three have no problems. If you’re interested in trying it, know that Wattpad states, “The current initiative is still in its early, experimental phase. As a result, it’s not yet open to all writers on Wattpad. If we consider it to be a successful experiment, watch for future opportunities to participate in your own fan funding campaign.” So it’s not totally live yet, but it’s looking like it will give Kickstarter a run for its money in terms of publishing projects.