Crowdfunding an sf anthology? Some suggestions

I've seen a couple of Kickstarter/Indiegogo listings for crowdfunded sf anthology projects that don't mention some important-to-me issues. Some crowdfunded-anthology editors are great at talking about the vision behind their proposed anthology, and the reasons why it should exist, but don't provide info about the business/publishing side of things. So I have some suggestions for things to mention when you're setting up such a project.

But before I go into my list, I should probably say why I care. If the anthology looks good to me as a reader, why wouldn't I just send money? Lots of people do just that. But here are some reasons why I want to know about the business side of things:

  • As a potential backer of your project, I want to have some sense of how likely it is to succeed at its goals (whatever those goals are). Remember, I'm not just pre-ordering your book; I'm making an investment in your project.
  • As a potential publicizer of your project, I want to have some sense of whether it's something I can recommend that others help fund. (There've been a couple of projects that I decided not to spread the word about because I didn't know enough about them to be comfortable recommending that other people donate.)
  • As a writer, I want to know whether you'll be having an open call for submissions.
  • As a member of the sf community who wants writers to be paid well, I want to know whether you'll be paying writers professional rates.

So, with all that in mind, here are some things to consider mentioning (in addition to the exciting vision stuff, which is important too):

  • Explain who you are and what your qualifications are to edit an anthology. If you've never done any editing before, that's not necessarily a dealbreaker, but in that case it might be worth saying a little about how you plan to go about the project, so funders will know you've done some preparation and aren't going into this cold.
  • Say whether you've already got the complete contents of the anthology in hand or whether you'll be filling some or all of the anthology after you get funding. If you do already have some or all of the contents ready, then post about who the authors/artists are, especially if they already have followings. Whatever your situation is, say explicitly whether there'll be an open call for submissions later or not. Also make clear whether the contents will be entirely original or whether some or all of the pieces will be reprints.
  • Say whether you're paying your authors, and if so, say whether you're paying pro rates. Even if you won't be calling for subs, some of us are much more interested in helping fund (and raise visibility for) paying venues than nonpaying venues. And if you're not planning to pay your authors, then think about whether you could add some money to your fundraising goals and pay them. You could even make that a stretch goal.
  • Speaking of which, say what you'll do if you exceed your funding goals. Will you pay your authors more? Will you have fancier covers and/or higher-quality printing?
  • More generally, say what the money you're raising will be used for. Printing books? Advertising them? Mailing them? Paying you for your time and work? Paying authors? Paying artists? There are lots of good answers to this question, of course.
  • Explicitly say whether your book will be published as an ebook, as a printed book, or both. And if it'll be printed, will it be softcover or hardcover?
  • Say who's publishing it. Is this a self-published thing? Is it from your own small press? Are you going to try to get another publisher involved? Have you talked with any publishers? If it's your own small press, have you published other things before?
  • Say how you're doing distribution. Will the book be available from major stores? Will it be sold to anyone other than funders? Will it be available for sale on a website of some sort? Will it be available as an ebook for Kindle and/or iBooks?
  • If you're using a platform like Indiegogo where you get the funds even if you don't meet your goal, then say what'll happen if you don't meet your goal. For example, will the anthology be published anyway, with a lower pay rate or a smaller number of stories or something?

None of this, of course, has to be front and center. A lot of your backers won't care at all about it; your vision, and the opportunity to read your awesome book, will be what will inspire them. But the writers and editors who are considering backing your project will probably want to know at least some of the above businessy things, for the reasons I mentioned above.

So please consider putting some notes about this stuff somewhere in your project writeup. (Maybe in your FAQ if nowhere else.) I think it has a fairly good chance of bringing in more money and good press from people who want to support you but want some transparency about what you're doing.

P.S. (added later): I should note that I have never run a crowdfunding campaign, so I'm not speaking from experience about what works; I'm only speaking as a backer of such campaigns, and talking about what I would like to see.

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