Wattpad, one of the leading writing communities with traffic of 16 million visitors every month, has announced the launch of a Kickstarter-style fan-funding program for self-published authors. While Wattpad makes much play on this new crowdfunding option as an original for its writing community, it certainly is not the first, even as a dedicated program for authors. Indiegogo and Pubslush both have similar programs, and, of course, the real originator for crowdfunding was Kickstarter, one of the darlings of the gadget and tech industries.
The Wattpad fan-funding program is launching with three projects from writers; Brittany Geragotelis (Ki$$ and $ell), Jordan Lynde (A Proscriptive Relationship) and Tara Sampson (Catch My Breath). Crowdfunding is becoming one of the big growth paths for authors in the indie and self-published communities, but, as yet, crowdfunding has had very mixed results for authors. While one of the three launch projects for Wattpad’s program has reached target, it actually took two months to reach its funding goal, twice the timespan Wattpad will actually allow new sign-up authors to the program. Another book project in the launch has five remaining days and is more than a third short of the funding target.
I think Wattpad was wise to allow at least two of the launch projects to ‘mature’ for a while before making the formal announcement of the crowdfunding program, but this could still prove embarrassing to Wattpad if any of the three projects don’t make target, considering all three authors are well-established on the Wattpad writing community with varying degrees of success in the self-publishing and traditional publishing communities, and very solid fan and reader bases.
Therein lies the secret to crowdfunding a book project. An author simply must have a strong inbuilt following, and like many such programs, the pledges revert back to its funders if the project does not achieve target. Wattpad take a service fee of 5% of funds collected, and its online payment company, Stripe, take a 2.9% fee plus 30 cents per funding transaction.
Wattpad also has a stipulation that the book must remain free on its community platform and that is the bit I just don’t get if this is to be a long term success.