Every organization has its legends, and Champlain Publishing is no exception. Having been around for about seven years now, we’ve seen quite a few faces pass through our proverbial doors. A recent Champlain alumna, Taylor Covington, served as Champlain Publishing’s Director of Outreach during her time on campus. We were sad to see her go when she graduated last May, but just because Taylor isn’t on campus anymore doesn’t me she’s not still doing really cool things. In fact, Taylor is one of the authors featured in our next book!
Our upcoming anthology, Publishing: Digitized and Personalized, is a collection of essays exploring publishing in our rapidly changing digital world. It was edited by yet another Champlain alumna, Colleen Rooney, and will launch its way into the world on February 3. (It’s actually at the printer’s now. We’re pretty excited.)
Taylor’s contribution to the book is an engaging overview of three major crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and RocketHub. Taylor’s interest and experience in crowdfunding stems from her time at Champlain, when she took Tim Brookes’s Publishing in the 21st Century course during her junior year.
“It was a very hands-on, project-oriented lesson plan,” she explains.
Taylor was part of a group of students working to promote a personal project started by a Champlain professor. Their goal was to raise funding for the creation of an app which would “help law enforcement provide aid to human-trafficking victims by overstepping the language barrier.” An admirable endeavor if there ever was one.
But crowdfunding is a tool that can be used for lots of different types of publishing projects, which is why Taylor decided to base her essay around subject.
“I think it’s a very powerful tool, a democratic equalizer, for those who believe in a dream or product to take the means of production into their own hands,” she says. “For artists of all kinds, it gives them the chance to focus more on their craft, rather than having to please some hot-shot publisher or big-time producer.”
With crowdfunding, there seems to be a place for everyone. Taylor focuses on three main platforms in her essay, and each one seems to have its niche. Indiegogo, she explains, is more technology-based, driven by a desire to improve the world. Kickstarter on the other hand, they’re all about creativity. “Zany” is how Taylor describes them.
So with tons of new crowdfunding platforms popping up all the time, how are you supposed to know which one to choose? Well for starters, you could read Taylor’s essay. (Don’t forget—out February 3!) From there, our author recommends that you do some of your own research to figure out which option best suits your project.
“Find the platform that speaks to your product or idea,” she says. It might take a little more work at the get-go, but it will be worth it in the end to see your project flourish.
Besides, according to Taylor, hard work is what a crowdfunding campaign is all about.
“You have to be ready to commit,” she says. “Just like in indie publishing, you have to be a one-man show—for months at a time.”
When Taylor was taking the publishing class, she and her classmates had to take on all kinds of different roles, including those of salespeople, marketers, writers, and video editors, to get the job done.
“By the end of it, we were all exhausted,” she admits.
Not that that means crowdfunding isn’t worth the effort. After all, some really innovative projects have come out of the process, from movies to gaming devices to funding for social good. Of her exhaustion, Taylor says it just “goes to show the incredibly hard work these small-time creators have to go through to get their ideas out in the world.”
So what’s the takeaway here? (Besides: Wow, I should really go read this book.) I’d say it’s something along the lines of, “Crowdfunding isn’t going anywhere.” More people are rebelling against mainstream media every day, saying that they want something new, something other than the same old, same old. People want control over the projects their money is going toward. So if you think you have what they’re looking for, then crowdfunding might just be your route to getting it out there.
Still a little nervous to start your campaign?
“It’s a very weird feeling having to convince people to invest in something that is so near and dear to your heart,” Taylor admits.
Her advice to potential crowdfunders?
“Make it your story,” she says. “What inspires you to do this? Why? Crowdfunding isn’t about who has the biggest sob story—it’s about finding that unique connection that speaks to a place that might have been silent for a long time.”