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Publication Date : 30-07-2014
Crowdfunding makes it easier for would-be authors to raise money and get their books published
Li Yang, a college student in Wuhan, Hubei province, has loved writing poetry since childhood, and he always wanted to publish his works.
However, Li is not famous enough to attract publishers, and he can't afford to pay for the publishing by himself.
Last month, Li turned to a crowdfunding website to raise funds to publish his works.
He's not alone.
Although there are no official statistics on how many bids for publishing are on such websites around the country, or exactly how many millions of yuan have been pledged to those programs, there are more than 120 book-publishing programs on Zhongchou.com, among the country's popular crowdfunding platforms, with goals from 500 yuan (US$81) to 1 million yuan.
"Crowdfunding for books is a relatively new concept in China, but it's gaining a lot of popularity in a very short time," says Li Yaohui, senior executive at Zhongchou.com.
The idea is simple: Potential readers can finance a book directly, in exchange for various value-added services at various pledge levels, such as signed books, meeting or even dining with the author, and getting access to important events related to the book, Li says.
Chen Liang, a young mother in Beijing, has spent months rewriting Flowers in the Mirror, a 300,000-word ancient-Chinese-language myth novel, into plain modern Mandarin for her own child. She recently decided to publish the book so that more children will be able to enjoy the inspiring ancient tale.
She promoted her idea on a crowdfunding website on July 25, and in two days, she got more than 200 backers and received pre-orders worth 4,100 yuan at Zhongchou.com.
Yi Lang, a post-80s Suzhou resident in Jiangsu province, launched a crowdfunding program to raise funds to publish a book, Traveling Is an Earnest Thing.
Yi also runs an online group of 180,000 participants on the social network website Douban.com, and the book is a collection of the group members' articles on their travel experiences.
His goal was 22,000 yuan, but he ended up with more than 24,500 yuan at Dreamore.com, another crowd-funding website.
The list is endless, as authors are now flocking online to raise funds and generate buzz for their new books.
Recently, a book named Crowdfunding: The Revolution and Innovation of Traditional Funding, published by China Machine Press, received wide attention.
The book, written by three Internet observers and Internet company executives, discusses the history of crowdfunding in both China and abroad, as well as describing classic crowdfunding cases and how to do it successfully yourself.
Significantly, the book itself is a result of crowdfunding.
In April, the publisher set up a fundraising page at Zhongchou.com, and offered to provide various rewards, including the final books and a membership that gives holders access to resources of the publishing house, according to different amounts of money backers pledge, which can range from a single yuan to thousands.
In two weeks, the publisher earned more than 80,000 yuan, meeting its financial goal and generating news coverage with its success.
Li Xin, an editor with Chemical Industry Press who has overseen the company's book crowdfunding projects, says that for publishers, the promotion effect is "way more important" than the cash crowdfunding can generate.
Li Yaohui, an executive with the crowdfunding website, agrees.
In mid-2013, he suddenly noticed that nearly all of his friends on WeChat, a popular instant-messaging service in China, were talking and posting about a book titled The Benefits of Social Network, which talks about the online networking.
At that time, few people had heard about crowdfunding, and the book was among the very first crowdfunding programs, to raise 100,000 yuan.
The author offered backers signed books and an opportunity to have afternoon tea with him.
The book and his author soon made news headlines and became famous even before it was published. In two weeks, the book got 3,300 pre-orders.
Within a month after publication, the book sold 100,000 copies.
Besides being a promotional tool, Li Yaohui concludes, crowdfunding can also help book producers to better understand potential readers, and to predict the market response.
"It is very useful for a publisher if there is a way to better know how many copies a book should be published on first round of print," Li Yaohui says.
"Crowdfunding certainly can help with that."
Meanwhile Li Yang, the college student, is still waiting for his dream to come true with the help of crowdfunding website users.