Would you buy a book before it’s written?

Joëlle Anthony, one of my lovely clients, pointed me to this article about a new crowd-funded book project, Unbound. Much like Kickstarter, but only for books and only in the UK, the site allows you to make contributions to a project that’s been conceived but yet begun. There are several levels of support, starting at merely £10, which gets your name in the back of the book plus a free e-book, up to £250, which gets you two tickets to lunch with the author, tickets to the launch party, goodie bags, signed books, e-books, etc. Not a bad deal, if you ask me. In addition to all of this, readers also get access to what they’re calling the author’s “shed,” where the author will post updates on the book, interviews, and even material from the work in progress.

What makes this even better is that the authors that they’re working with have, for the most part, already been published. There’s already an audience for their work. This could be an ideal set up for an author who is trying to branch out, say a novelist who decides to write nonfiction, or vice versa. It could work when a publisher says to an author, “You know we love your writing, but there’s no audience for this idea.” It’s a safer way to test the waters, even for the author, who won’t be committing to writing the book until the funding is secured.

I don’t think this is a system that would be appropriate for every author or every book, but I know I’ve been in situations with clients in the past where I wish this had been a possibility. Anyone out there going to crowd fund (oh, how I hate buzz words!) their next book? Or has anyone supported an author in this way?

5 Responses to Would you buy a book before it’s written?

  1. Vanessa Robinson says:

    I have funded other mediums like this such as clothing, figures, and the second Firefly movie. While it would be interesting to keep up with my favorite authors this way, I would actually be more interested in doing this for newer writers with interesting ideas trying to break into the market. As a member of a writers group, I know how creating a system of support and creative input can get people interested in stories that they would otherwise never read so it would have the capability of widening the potential audience. Of course, they would have to be decent writers to start of with, but providing a mix of new writers and established writers in this manner could make an interesting balance to draw a wide audience in.

  2. It’ll be fascinating to see how Unbound pans out in the end. I could see it working well for non-fiction. As long as the writer has sufficient expertise, it would seem reasonable to expect a successful outcome.

    I think it might be harder to find support for fiction projects, because of the diversity of writing styles. If I’m not sure that I’ll like the book, I don’t think I’d pay money and commit to having my name printed in it. :-) For fiction, I prefer to support the author after the fact, by buying books I like.

  3. It’s interesting and I’m sure there are certain personality types that would be very enthusiastic about this idea, but I’m not one of them. I want the book completed, and then I want to dive into any extra stuff (by or about the author) after the fact. And if I really like the story, I’ll get too impatient waiting for it to be finished!

  4. I’m too poor to contribute to crowd funding, but would happily accept contributions 😀 (Just kidding.)

  5. Michelle says:

    I’m finding lately that the more I know about an author’s process as she’s writing a book, generally fiction, the less I’m interested in reading it. That’s one big reason why I’ve been unfollowing some writers on Twitter. When they start discussing details of the story, or how a character did this, or most especially when they quote from the text, it drives me batty. I’d much rather be surprised and delighted by a book once I have the finished product in my hands. Knowing too much of what happens during the process can ruin the book for me.

    I may be in the minority, as some people relish every one of those things I mentioned. So I see this exactly as you said: something that works well for some projects but not others. I’d say nonfiction is better suited for it.

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