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  1.  (7517.1)
    I've been thinking about using Kickstarter for a book that features stories from the unemployed. I actually posted a thread about my idea here on Whitechapel a couple days ago but didn't specifically mention Kickstarter as a source of funding for it.

    At this point I don't know how to continue with the project. What I'd like to do is something similar to what oldhat said: travel around the country and interview people. This would require me to quit my current job. As much as I want to, I fully recognize that it pays the bills.

    The other option would be for me to solicit stories from people across the country, on a website or something like that. This would require just a fraction of the budget for the first method since I wouldn't need money for travel, but I feel like I wouldn't get the full story unless I got to do the traveling and meet with people in person.

    I'm unsure how to proceed. I'd really like to move forward with the idea but I don't know how well it'd turn out just by phone/email. Plus, getting people to find my website and submit their stories might be a little difficult, too. First I'd have to worry about just getting the word out, but besides that only certain people would even hear about my website and be able to submit stories...plenty of factory/blue collar workers have been laid off, and I would like to get their stories, but it's doubtful that many of them are very good with computers. I work at an unemployment office and can tell you that about half the people I see don't know very much about computers at all.
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2010 edited
    How were you planning to find people in the "hit the road" idea? Is there a way to integrate finding them & getting them to a computer - perhaps someone who can help arrange the meeting via the internet/skype, perhaps post fliers on local bulletin boards to solicit interviewees for you. If you could get most of it done via the internet in that way, that might then allow you to travel out to only a few locations, which might work better to help you keep your job.

    On the other hand, quitting the job and taking off would make a neat final entry to the book.

    Plot out all of your options & find ways to compromise between them to make the most of your funding.

    (edited for redundancy edit)
    • CommentAuthorAllen
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2010
    I present to you, the Zombie Conversational Kickstarter! Aka, we need a decent camera so we can make fun of zombies!

  2.  (7517.4)

    What I've been thinking about doing is just interviewing people in the southeast, which is where I am. That way I'm never traveling too far but will still be able to visit a bunch of different areas. I really like the idea of meeting the people in person. For one, I think the interviewees would open up and be more honest. For two, I was thinking about taking some photos along the way. I'm not a professional photographer so at the end of the day the first reason would be more important.

    So basically, as long as I set it up beforehand I could leave Friday night/Saturday morning and come back home Sunday night in time for work Monday. Not too shabby.

    I'd need a website though, that much is for sure. Something minimalist, just something SEO friendly that I could point people to on flyers/posts/etc. The big question is just how I would get the word out about the project. I know from personal experience that the most effective advertising is often the hardest kind to create: the local stuff, like in newspapers and on bulletin boards at local shops. I don't know how I'd be able to set that up for all the different cities.

    Here's a question that I haven't done much research on yet: Can I go the Lulu/POD route while simultaneously releasing the file for free digitally? I definitely want to give it away for free, but at the same time I'd like to offer something POD for the people that donate more than X amount of dollars. The price of the POD book would strictly cover the cost to print and ship the book, nothing extra for me. I don't know if Lulu would allow me to release it digitally if I was also using their service. Anyone got any experience with this?
  3.  (7517.5)
    Still, I don't know...I can't seem to get very much feedback about the project. It's not that I'm trying to write a bestseller or anything, I'd just like to write/edit something that has some level of interest from the general public.
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2010
    Newspaper ads seem like a good idea - especially if the newspaper also has a website & advertising fees include exposure on both.
    If you know anyone in other cities along your route you could ask them to post on bulletin boards & the like, perhaps if there are online communities (places like LJ have city-based groups) that you might be able to churn up a street team to help out/refer you to people they know.

    Lulu might stop you from also releasing a free PDF (their distribution section of their website is a bit iffy - but if you're just doing a one-time run and not having them continuously sell, then I don't see why not) but Blurb is not about that from their Terms & Conditions Policy. This was just after going to their pages and running a quick Find for "free PDF" or "distribution rights".

    As for whether or not to do it based on current level of interest from the public, I can't give any real advice on it. I know that with my personality and if it were me, I'd go ahead and start the research, create the budget and make the Kickstarter anyway. The best way to gauge proper interest is to just see if they throw down money in support - I've had tons of projects where there seemed to be a high level of interest and then nobody stepped up to help, while at the same time, projects with seemingly no interest drew a huge crowd. At the very least, doing the leg work behind getting it set up means that one might be able to fashion a budget where it can be done by oneself, instead of requiring outside funding.
  4.  (7517.7)

    Thanks very much for the feedback/encouragement. I'm going to keep looking into it and hopefully have most everything laid out in a week or two.


    Does anyone know how easy/hard it is to set up a nonprofit and get 501c3 status? Because, you know, I'd like to not have to pay taxes on the money I'd get if I met my Kickstarter goal. Seems kind of pointless, getting this money for a project and then have to pay 20% of it to the IRS...
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2010
    ...I'm taking over this thread but I do know a little bit about starting a non-profit and it is DAMN hard.
    Tons of paperwork, you need to have board members, there are issues about what's legal to use the money for, etc. I wanted to establish my art collective as a non-profit with the guidance of a comptroller for a non-profit and... after one of our members made a valiant, yet futile attempt to draw up the paperwork himself we decided to put it off. We ended up finding an established non-profit to help us do what we wanna do.

    An excerpt from an email from her explaining our starting steps for setting up in NY, for reference in case anyone is interested:

    "You have to incorporate first, make sure you tell them it is for a non-profit organization or 501 (c) (3), then you have to get your ID number and finally you apply for a 501 c 3 status. The attorneys can do all of it or part of it. The incorporation is the most difficult. Also you have to register as a Charitable organization with the State of NY CHAR 410.

    You have to develop your By-Laws, include a sample and write a Mission Statement.

    SS-4 is the application for ID number.
    Publication 557 is for tax exempt status from 1023 and 872c

    At the beginning you and your friends can be on the board and later on if any of you want to be paid and work as an employee you have to resign from the board and find another board member. The Executive Director position is a paid position. The President, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Presidents are unpaid they are part of the Board."

    I'm a simple bookkeeper, not an accountant, so take the following with a grain of salt: You'd probably be better off trying to balance the income from Kickstarter through deductions, especially if this is just going to be a one-time thing you're doing yourself. You'd also want to consult an attorney if you do go the non-profit road to get the full run down.
  5.  (7517.9)
    I really like the idea of meeting the people in person. For one, I think the interviewees would open up and be more honest.

    Have you ever read about the WPA Writers' Project? It's an ancestor of your idea.

    Can I go the Lulu/POD route while simultaneously releasing the file for free digitally? I definitely want to give it away for free, but at the same time I'd like to offer something POD for the people that donate more than X amount of dollars.

    If you just want to print X number of copies for your contributors you have all sorts of POD choices whether or not Lulu restricts downloads (I doubt that they do or should since they don't own the book - you do). You could try Amazon's CreateSpace, for example, and even Cafepress prints books.

    Whatever POD you use, you'd just order however many copies you need for your contributors and keep the product private since you don't seem to want to sell any of them.
  6.  (7517.10)

    Actually, I do want to sell it, just not for a profit. As far as Lulu goes, they have instructions for getting an ISBN and listing the book on Amazon. Assuming only one book is ordered at a time (which is what most people would do if they were ordering it from Amazon), a 200 page paperback would cost $8 to print and a hardcover would cost $18 (estimated page count). $18 is a little pricey for the hardcover but I want to make it available for libraries and such.

    The next question: How do I go about getting an invite for Kickstarter? Does anyone here have one or should I try contacting people directly on the Kickstarter website?
      CommentAuthorCameron C.
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2010
    I have a handful of invites I'll send to whoever. Just need an email I think
  7.  (7517.12)
    If you want your book on Amazon then probably the simplest way is to use their own CreateSpace service. Now that I think of it it might be difficult to completely avoid making money because their cut of a sale varies depending on whether it's an Amazon sale or a sale through your own store. Avoiding making money on purpose is a sort of interesting problem that I haven't run across before. :)

    Off the top of my head I think you'd want to price the book so that you would make no profit on an Amazon sale and then never post a link to the private store page they create for your book. Then all your sales would come through Amazon at the no-profit price.

    You could order your contributors copies yourself, and mail them out.
  8.  (7517.13)

    Though I don't need an invite immediately, I think I would like one if you have them to spare - I'm at bws at
  9.  (7517.14)

    I would like one as well if you have a spare. My email address is tcatsninfan at Thanks!
      CommentAuthorCameron C.
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2010
    @tcatsninfan, @Bradley -

    INVITES SENT. I got 3 left for anyone interested.
  10.  (7517.16)
    This is a very odd question, and I should probably know this, but do libraries typically carry trade paperbacks? The reason I ask is because Createspace looks great for the most part but they don't do hardcovers, and I know HC's are what libraries carry the most of.

    The reason I mention libraries is because I'd like to offer multiple copies of the book to pledges and suggest that they maybe donate one to their local library. For example, one of my incentives could be "Donate $25 and you'll receive 3 copies of the book: 1 copy for yourself and 2 to give away to friends, family, or your local library."

    Createspace is a bit cheaper though. For a 200 page paperback measuring 6x9, Lulu would charge $8.00 whereas Createspace is only $3.25 if you have their Pro plan set up. That's quite a bit of difference.


    I like your suggestions, thank you. Yes, admittedly it does seem a little weird even to me to be thinking about working on this with no profit. I think this will be a good opportunity for me, though, and I'd like to keep the price as low as possible so more people will buy it. I'd rather have 1000 people read my book and make no profit than 100 where I make a few bucks off each one. I'm going to include all my contact info in the book so afterward they can follow me on Twitter and such so that they can read about my new projects and such.
  11.  (7517.17)
    So, basically, if I don't have nonprofit status then I'm gonna have to pay taxes on this money? That seems kind of...not cool, considering there's no way my deductions could get anywhere near the $4000 or so I would need to do this project.

    I had a thought, though: if all the donators/pledges/whatever get some sort of incentive for donating, even if it's just access to the project updates, couldn't that technically be considered a fee that they're paying in order to receive a product or service, in which case taxes might not have to be paid?
  12.  (7517.18)
    @sgrsickness - got it, thanks!

    @tcatsninfan -

    RE trade paperbacks, that'll vary from one library to another.

    RE taxation... well, you're sort of painted into a corner there. You're soliciting funds for the project and that income should be taxable; but you don't want to make a profit from the book so you've got no sales to pay those taxes. That one's sort of a head-scratcher.

    (It sounds like you're in the U.S., so...) Since you plan to quit your job and travel, the expenses for the project include all your living expenses while you work on it, too. These deductions would be figured against your self-employment income, not your regular itemized deductions.

    I would never suggest you should live dangerously when dealing with the IRS because it has its very own court system. But it's interesting that payments of less than $600 don't have to be reported to them by the payer. Your contributors would be unlikely to do that but there's a possibility that Amazon might (since Kickstarter uses Amazon Payments to handle money).

    There must be some delicate and poetical mathematical solution: to set your project's goal high enough to cover your costs + the costs of the premiums you offer contributors + the taxes on the contributions; or to increase the sale price of the book just enough to more or less cover the taxes on X number of sales. The former is a lot simpler, but would increase the amount you have to raise for the project; the latter is a problem because you have no idea how many copies will sell in that first year when the taxes are a problem.
  13.  (7517.19)

    Thanks for all the feedback. Yeah, I've heard too many horror stories about the IRS to think about ever leaving them out of the loop. The only way I could cover all my bases for sure would be to include the tax amount in my funding goal, i.e. if I need $4000 for the project, I'll set my funding goal to something like $5500.

    I actually saw a successful project on Kickstarter where the creator had done just that. He mentioned something about not having to pay as much taxes as he thought he would. I'm currently trying to get a hold of a CPA to figure out how much I'd have to pay in taxes. Hard to meet with a CPA when I work 8:00-5:00 and so do they.

    The only downside to including taxes in the funding goal would be the higher goal I'd have to reach. There isn't really a way around it, from what I can tell. I wouldn't be able to work on the project if I owed the IRS $1500 or something like that.

    I think the key to it would be transparency. In the description for the project I'll include what all the money will be going toward: hotels, gas, newspaper ads, etc. I think more people would be willing to contribute if they knew exactly where their money was going.

    (BTW, I'm not planning on quitting my job. I work a regular Monday-Friday gig and will only be out of town on Saturday and Sunday.)
  14.  (7517.20)

    The hard and fast rule on capital gains is to retain 30% for taxes. (I was a tax preparer in my other life.) Now, that being a lot, you can also just factor in 10% for taxes on the project, since you're keeping your dayjob, and being employed will give you a certain amount in deductions. The key with any creative project is that you have to keep every frikken' receipt and you have to make sure you deduct every single expense related to that project. If you do so, the tax burden won't be as onerous.

    If you don't, see the previous paying of 30%.

    * * *

    Sorry I haven't been around. I had a health emergency come up and just a ton of other things ate my presence on the web. But I wanted to stop in and let you know how my project is doing. It could still use some love. At this point, I don't know if it's going to fund or not and I'm okay with that. My plan at this point is to figure out how to do a stripped down version (pun fully intended) if it does indeed fail to fund, and go from there.

    If nothing else, I've learned an enormous amount about crowdfunding and my art in general. I heart Kickstarter.