While printers like Lulu and CreateSpace have made it possible to create physical copies of an author's work without money from the author (they recoup the costs of printing each book as it is sold), there's more to self-publishing than just printing a book.
Before indie authors send their manuscript off to the printer, they need to hire an editor to proofread their work and an illustrator to design a cover. As an indie book reviewer, I've seen my share of bad covers and poorly edited works. While there are readers who don't care about the finished product (so long as it costs 99 cents), they are in the minority. Too many writers feel that they can self-edit and illustrate. Those that can do both well are rare (I am not in this select group). For me, nothing really detracts from the reading experience like a manuscript riddled with typos.
I sympathize with my fellow self-published writers. I have my own experience with the cost of self-publishing. As I was concerned about the quality of my finished work, I hired an editor and an illustrator. While these are costs I have yet to recoup, if I had to do it all over again, I'd still spend the money on both of them.
While making a living as a writer is a dream, I'd really like to just break even at this point. There are many other indie authors in the same boat. Let's face it, many of us have a limited budget to work with. Paying illustrators and editors means more start up costs and delays that break even point. It's tempting to cut corners and spend as little money as possible on them, or forgo utilizing their services entirely; but that's a mistake. Just like plumbers and electricians, their skills are essential and they deserve to be paid for their time and effort. Fortunately, there's a new way for writers to pay for these costs: investors.
Kickstarter is a company that allows writers, artists, inventors and businessmen to pitch their ideas to the general public and find investors (for detailed background info and tips read this Wired article). If an author can make a compelling pitch, they might be able to convince some people to assist in the cost of preparing their novel for publication.
Our very own Rob Steiner is attempting to secure funding for his novel, Umbra Corps, via Kickstarter. Here's his pitch:
If you visit his Kickstarter page, you'll see how much money Rob is hoping to raise and what "thank you gifts" you'll receive from him based on the amount of your investment.
Afterwards, check out how other authors are pitching their projects and consider utilizing Kickstarter for your next work. Be sure to let your friends and readers know what you're trying to do by posting to your blog or Facebook or even tweeting. You never know who believes in you enough to help publish your next book!