Kickstarter, the platform known and loved by anyone with an idea, has become mainstream for creative people and entrepreneurs worldwide. It has become a means, but not an end, in our plan to change the creative industries, like book publishing, one project at a time.
But why is a publishing startup using Kickstarter as an aspect of its business model? I can sum it up for you in two words: community and evergreen.
When I founded Holon at the end of 2011, this is what I was after. A community that powered projects sustainably. Resources and energy would flow in interconnected patterns between each part of this business. The vision is evergreen book publishing - where projects pay for themselves, and more.
Yet what do I mean by sustainability? Sustainability of what? Sustainability of resources? Sustainability of time? Sustainability of energy, of purpose? The answer is all of the above - and more.
The Interconnected pieces
Follow me for a moment. You walk into a coffee shop and you order a cup of coffee. This single gesture has countless circumstances tied to it, that not even the person behind the counter will fully recognize. You make the request for your order, the usual, Sheila behind the counter knows it by heart. You hand them your debit card. Your payment is processed and enters a digital limbo land for three days before going to their bank account. Your coffee, which was brewed at precisely 5:30AM that morning - is poured for you. The beans were roasted locally, but grown perhaps in Southern California or Mexico. Shortly thereafter, they were packaged and shipped from San Francisco, Chicago, and finally your local store. Sheila woke up at exactly 5 - and arrived just in time to start the brew - where, an hour later, she hands you your cup. You walk out. One sugar, one cream - or no sugar and no cream, and make your commute. The 300 purchases that from that morning go into the coffee shop's ecosystem - into the rent, into their paychecks, into their store supplies, and hopefully, what's left over is very likely used for something basic, like the day-to-day necessities for the owners. Or their son's college tuition. Or someone's salary, or side-project. Which is perfectly great on its own! Hopefully the "extra" - that thing called profit, is used for something really great. The cycle goes on. You keep coming because of the people. You get the same cup of coffee for 20 years.
The publishing process has a great many more variables in play - so I won't bother to bore you with them all - but it works exactly the same. A person "walks in," with intention, either to set a product in motion or to make a purchase of an existing product. A product, produced by a similar process as our cup Joe, manifests itself as the result of an idea, of maturation, curation, labor, refinement, then printing and shipping. Wherever you go to make your book or to buy a book that's been made, hopefully, you make a relationship out of this process - and so it becomes meaningful.
Evergreen Publishing - Where Readers and The Creators Collide!
To publish a book, intention and resources find some way of meeting each other through the laborers involved and to the reader's hands. Whether the resources come from a large company, from an investor, from the authors themselves - or a community of readers - they flow with purpose towards the singular end of creating something that perpetuates itself, and hopefully something greater. A network of Relationships.
We don't have all of the answers to publishing. We know that the industry is very, very different today. When we embarked on our journey of publishing in 2011 the world had changed. Self-Publishing was on the verge of becoming sexy again - and so it did. Nevertheless, for many authors, this method would not necessarily guarantee success, a good product, or relationships with readers. Without relationships to readers, the cycle, for the author, could not continue. The writer, serious or not, was at a loss. This has changed. Self-publishing can be truly profitable for authors and serious writers, but the steps that it takes to get there are great indeed.
We have shortened the distance from the stage at which a book is conceived through the writer's creative medium, to when the product becomes edited and designed, to when it hits the press, and then your hands.
Like a Tibetan Mandala - a sand painting portraying how everything in the universe is connected - we have created a system where each part is connected in a greater whole. Through kickstarter, we can fund projects, and get them from the idea stage to the physical stage. This is a beautiful revelation for writers who previously had to take much greater risks to publish their works. We've cut out the middle man completely, and shortened the process greatly, bringing you directly to the source. Using methods like Kickstarter - you can be even closer to the writers, the editors, the designers, and the book itself.
What about the extra? Using Kickstarter, where does it go? Why, I'm glad you asked. It goes to you. The readers. After your thirst is quenched and your needs are fulfilled, as the backers, it goes into other projects for our writers. So that we can perpetuate the process evermore.
This is evergreen publishing. This is how we will build a community that publishes itself. This is Holon.
That is why we use Kickstarter as one of many means of getting this stuff done!