“Money can’t buy love, but it can buy us time to write, and that’s pretty close to love.” Mari Selby
In addition to buying you time, money can buy you recognition in advance of publishing through contests and crowdfunding, as well as the funds needed for marketing the book once you are published. Most artists and authors need money to accomplish their dreams. It’s hard to write when you’re juggling a baby on one hip and minding a toddler and can’t afford ink for the printer. However, we don’t have to be starving artists, women without a voice, or authors who have a garage full of self-published books. We don’t have to think of our writing as a hobby because “our real job” keeps the lights on and buys the dogs food.
We can have our cake and eat it too, by supporting ourselves through our writing. Look for grants, awards, and fellowships to make your writing goals easier. Enter contests that bring name recognition. Or you can start crowdfunding to subsidize your project and create simultaneously a loyal fan base.
Grants or fellowships provide funds that can be used to pay the rent and other expenses, allowing you to work full-time at being creative. Grants are very competitive and the amount awarded, stipulations, and application procedures for each vary widely. Some are given to allow a writer to complete a specific proposed project; others are unrestricted. Some are awarded strictly based on need, others as a prize given out as part of a competition. Some are open to application, others only by nomination. These grants can be public through universities or private through foundations.
In addition to private foundations, publicly funded arts agencies can also be a source of funding for writers. According to Americans for the Arts, in 2015, 35% of local arts agencies (LAAs) provided financial support to individual artists, and 30% supported both arts organizations and artists. (Here’s a directory where you can locate your local or states agencies.
Then there are writer/artist residencies, which typically require a writer to spend time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. Residencies will often provide studio space, meals, housing, and travel and living stipends. One example is PEN America. Their mission is to stand at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. They champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. PEN America unites writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
Another way for writers to gain funding is to contact a nonprofit with a related mission that will serve as their fiscal sponsor. This allows writers to apply for grants and solicit tax-deductible charitable contributions under the sponsor’s exempt status.
As of March 2018, this is accurate information on Crowdfunding for authors:
Before a book is published, authors and publishers can host crowdfunding or pre-order campaigns for upcoming titles. While self-motivated readers explore the site looking for interesting material, authors can begin to publish and receive the financial backing (and interest) from a group of hungry readers. If leveraged appropriately, crowdfunding isn’t just a more efficient way to fund a book’s publishing, it may be a better way. Consider the traditional crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter with their Kickstarter’s Publishing category and Indiegogo Indiegogo’s Writing category
Then there are the sources that are specifically for creatives.
Unbound is in the UK and is both a funding platform and a publisher open to international authors. Their mission is to make publishing work, for everybody. “We believe that everyone should be given the chance to seize their own success, and that great ideas shouldn’t fall between the cracks because they don’t fit the mould.” Their method is for you to pitch an idea to our commissioning editors – if it has the makings of a great book, they’ll launch it on their site.
RocketHub is known for helping content creators connect with partners to fund their creative projects. Their website has been specially designed to help all writers achieve their goals. They work with governments, educators, and communities to make sure your opportunities will reach success. There is no charge to launch a project, and, unlike other crowdfunding platforms, RocketHub doesn’t carry an all-or-nothing system.
Patreon allows writers to earn continuous funding directly from their readers. As a content creator, you get paid for creating the things you’re currently working on. Fans pledge money per month or per project, and then you get paid every month, or every time you release a new project.
And, if you have money to support you while you write, then let nothing stop you. If you have a financial cushion, then you have many options from book packagers, to co-op presses, to creating your own publishing imprint. You can hire Selby ink to be your book shepherd and walk you through your journey in becoming a publisher/published author. We all have a story to tell, and that story may make a difference to more people than you can know. The truth is that, we are no longer alone today it does take a village to create, publish and market a book.
MARI SELBY founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher where she was successful in improving their sales from 20,000 books to over 100,000 books in one year. Prior to being a publicist, Mari was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years.
© Mari Selby, March 2018