Would you pre order digital content?

I raised this question on my twitter feed,

I started thinking about how crowd funding models are mostly used to launch a physical product, best example is printing costs. I started wondering if people would fund a project if it mainly meant the contributors would get paid. Or to put it another way, the priority of the fund raising would be to pay the artist/s involved and not the physical object. I think this model is not that unusual and only slightly different from most fundraising projects.

I will I give an example of the type of project I'm thinking of:

Invite 3-4 comic artists to create 5-10 pages of comics based around an interesting/strange theme. For Example, get 4 alternative artists to write a short comic on superheroes, supernatural romance, or a space adventure* Or perhaps pay a few artists to recreate a classic comic, like Herge's unfinished 'Alphart' (copyright issues aside).

The artists involved all have a life, day jobs, bills to pay etc, and myself as an editor/art director would like to hire them to create work that otherwise would not have existed. I would expect that I would be able to pay them a decent page rate $50-250 and also offer a fair percentage of the after sales**
The main product created from such a venture would be an eBook. What format the eBook would take and where it could be sold is a completely separate issue, the main thing would be to fund the work to be produced.
I would imagine the lowest contribution being around $5 would get you the eBook, a higher contribution may get you a printed copy but these would be a special POD deal. Check out Lucy Knisely Project for a similar idea,

Often it is just expected that artists will work for free and if their work is any good they will get compensated by sales. However I think that model is based on a mass marketing ideal, and not the mirco/niche market we find today on the web.

Interestingly enough, I had this possible project pointed out to me which is asking the almost exact thing I am talking about,

Here is how they word it,

"One of the advantages of going electronic with the relaunch of Spellbound is it allows us to pay our contributors more.  When we were publishing in print 90% of our costs went to printing, leaving very little for the authors, artists and poets who made each issue of Spellbound so great"
The main problems I can see is that we are still a good 2-5 years of e-content reaching a critical mass of acceptance. Many are still arguing that print is better than e-content, which in my mind is like saying radio is better than TV, they are just two distinct mediums each with their own qualities.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

*these are probably all bad examples but you get the idea.
** Rates depending on funding success and the idea of after sales being a pipe dream, optimistically you might only sell a few hundred copies with a $1-3 profit on each split between the artist and editor ends up being not much, therefore making a prepayment on a page rate makes sure artists are somewhat compensated.


  1. If you spearheaded an effort like this, I would financially support it

    I would rather see digital content from artists who were compensated than see no content or content that takes forever to come out because it's spec work

  2. While my initial reaction was "No!" to the idea of purchasing something that was digital only, as I read further this concept has piqued my interest. The fact is the models for all media are changing, and your concept of funding the actual work this way is an interesting one.

    Personally, I'd still always like the option of at least being able to print the ebook out at reasonable quality myself - low quality, or worse, locked, PDFs are just frustrating when you've paid money for them!


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