Craft & Culture Professor Wu's Rulebook

Help support writers and the literary industry: crowdfund a book for Christmas

Pledging to crowdfund a book could be the perfect Christmas gift you get someone this year (and next) – here’s why
Supporting writers, readers, writers, and the book industry all at the same time; while giving your friends a truly unique, personal gift: what better present than crowdfunding a book for your friend this Christmas?

Are you looking for that perfect Christmas present? The one that shows a friend or loved one you care, without falling victim to the feverish calls from retailers trying to make you spend ever more on things nobody really ever needs? Perhaps you’re also looking for one that is eco-friendly, re-useable, creative, and utterly unique?

Well, perhaps it’s time to consider exploring the world of literary crowdfunding.

Helping to crowdfund a book on behalf of a friend or loved one offers you the chance to gift a present like no other, while also supporting people who make them. But don’t just take our word for it! Nothing in the Rulebook have spoken to people who have pledged to support crowdfunded books, as well as authors who are using this method to get published, to hear why we should all help crowdfund a book for Christmas.

Alternative Christmas presents – supporting people; not Amazon

Kayleigh Petrie is a twenty-something communications professional living in Southampton, UK. She says she discovered the joys of crowdfunding books this year after two of her friends crowdfunded their books this way.

“I always enjoy the act of gifting or supporting people and this is just another excellent way to do so. It means you get the warm fuzzies that you’re actually making a difference to someone more directly than buying from Amazon or any other friendly neighbourhood corporate conglomerate. Oh, wait…”

“There are a whole treasure trove of book proposals on sites like Unbound – and crowdfunding a book means that you are able to help support authors get to publication. Plus, you get your name in a real-life published book. Say. What?!”

Andy Griffiths, from Bath, UK, agrees, saying that it also feels brilliant when somebody pledges to support a book on your behalf:

“I actually had a friend pledge for a copy of a book that they thought I’d like on my behalf. I thought, ‘what a brilliant idea’ – it’s so much more personal, and it’s pretty fun seeing your name in the back of the book when it arrives. Plus, it means you don’t have to worry about wrapping paper or waste. You get a book – AND – you get to brag about having helped make it.”

“A book is for life; not just for Christmas”

Award-winning UK publishers Unbound have been disrupting the traditional publishing model for quite some time now, making over 500 books a reality since they first launched. Authors selected by Unbound fall into quite an exclusive club, as their proposed books have all gone through a rigorous commissioning phase that ensures only books of the highest quality make it onto their site. We caught up with some of their writing community to hear their thoughts on a crowdfunded Christmas…

Sam Dodson is just over 70% of the way through the crowdfunding campaign for the book he has created with his sister, Rosie Benson. Philosophers’ Dogs is an illustrated, humorous book based on the idea that all philosophers stole their ideas from their dogs (meaning readers can expect to be introduced to canine philosophers like Karl Barks, Sun Shih-tzu, and Mary Woof-stonecraft, among others). Sam says that, with consumers becoming ever more environmentally conscious, crowdfunding a book can be the perfect way to buy presents that are eco-friendly this Christmas:

“Is there any present you can buy that’s better for the environment right now than a book? After all, they are made from 100% natural sources, come with no plastic packaging, require no batteries, and can be used over and over again.

Obviously, I’m bound to say I think crowdfunding a book for Christmas is one of the best presents you can give this year; but speaking from a personal point of view, I can honestly say there is no feeling quite like receiving a pledge from an unknown stranger. It speaks to the utter brilliance of human beings that we all want to help one another and support each other in creating new things. Simply put: reaching our funding target would be the greatest gift I could receive this year, and hopefully the book (or one of our rewards, like our art prints) will also make the perfect gift for someone brilliant once it’s published. After all, just like dogs, a book is for life; not just for Christmas.”   

A Christmas tale…

Author Stevyn Colgan, meanwhile, is the author of nine books – five of which have been published through Unbound. The former police officer (and one of the ‘elves’ who research and write QI), is currently crowdfunding for his sixth Unbound book, Cockerings, which is the third book in his ‘South Herewardshire’ series, and is over half way towards its target at the time of writing. Of crowdfunding at Christmas, Stevyn told us:

“At Christmas I like to think about the struggling writer who was forced to crowdfund his early works in order to get them into the public’s hands. Public subscription is never easy but it does work. And it creates a bond between reader and writer that is stronger than when a book is traditionally published. Eventually the struggling writer was picked up by a publisher and produced a series of modestly successful novels. But then his sales started to decline and his publishers threatened to drop him. So he dug deep, found a new story, wrote a novella in six weeks and it became one of the most famous and popular stories in the English language. The author was Charles Dickens. The book was ‘A Christmas Carol’. Never give up. Never stop believing in what you do. Merry Christmas!”

And, sticking with the Dickensian theme for a moment, Pete Langman, whose Unbound book, Killing Beauties is currently preparing for print, wrote into us:

“’Bah,’ he said. ‘Humbug.’

Scrooge may not have liked Christmas, but he didn’t ban it, as Cromwell is reputed to have done. Scrooge may well have disapproved of supporting a book on Unbound because you don’t just get a great book that you can spend Christmas day with (barring the odd break for vital seasonal refreshments), you also get to make an author smile as you do so.

So pledge away, and be part of something a little bit bigger than yourself.

And stop misquoting Scrooge. Poor fellow gets a bad enough press as it is. He changed, people! Read to the end.”

“Bringing new literature to life”

One theme that kept coming up in our conversations with authors was the idea that crowdfunding could help bring something new and creative into the world as part of a collaborative experience. Instead of the standard consumer model of simply purchasing something over the counter or online, the act of crowdfunding was participatory – creating bonds between authors and supporters that stand the test of time.

Amelia Kyazze (A.B. Kyazze), has just finished crowdfunding for her book, Into the Mouth of the Lion, which tells the story about a photographer looking for her missing sister at the end of Angola’s civil war. With a publication date expected in Autumn 2020, there’s still time to pre-order Amelia’s book and get your name (or your friend’s) printed in the back. She told us:

“As both a funder and author, I see crowdfunding from both sides. As an author, you are so grateful for the support from friends and strangers, to help bring your creative work into the world. As a funder, you feel great that your support – whatever level you can give – is part of the momentum that will literally change one author’s life. Because there is nothing an author wants more than to get their book out there and into the minds and conversations of readers. What better x-mas present can you give than that?”

Like Amelia, Paul Waters is also already over the 100% target for his book, Blackwatertown, which follows the story of a maverick cop on the hunt for a killer against the backdrop of the troubles in Northern Ireland. While Paul’s book is currently in the editing stage, it is still open for pledges – so readers can still support it and get their name in the back! When we caught up with him to talk festive crowdfunding, he said:

“I’m a book lover and a book giver, especially at Christmas. People can usually guess what sort of present they’re getting from the shape of the wrapped object, if not which book is inside. And naturally I write their name on the wrapping so they know which is theirs. But how much better to also have their name on the inside too – actually printed inside the pages of the book? In fact, printed inside the pages of everyone’s copy of the book. You don’t get that by ordering from Amazon or queuing up at your local bookshop (no matter how welcoming it is). But you can make it happen by pledging for a new book via Unbound.

What’s not to like? A new book. Personally boosting the author and creating a link to him or her. Having your name printed inside – or in this case, your Christmas giftee. And an introduction to a whole new way of bringing new literature to life. And depending on how you pledge, you might even get to name a character or a spaceship. With Unbound, all sorts of new literary involvement becomes possible. Oh, and authors will love you. Especially me. (Hint, hint).”

Go get crowdfunding for Christmas

So, dear readers, what are you waiting for? If you’ve been inspired to help crowdfund some books for Christmas, you can head on over to Unbound’s website to explore their wide range of titles on offer. And you can also check out the projects listed above in the article through the direct links listed here below:

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