The category, which includes art books, literary spaces, zines, and more, is having its best-ever year—and just hit a major milestone.
By Oriana Leckert and Margot Atwell
October 26, 2020
Kickstarter has seen a number of category bests this year: Games are on track for their best year ever and Comics have already seen more money pledged than ever before, with help from the highest-earning project in the category’s history. Now Publishing has also reached its best year yet, with a total of $25.6 million pledged as of this writing—and a total of $200 million pledged over the 11 years Kickstarter has been in business.
1,424 Publishing projects have successfully funded this year, and anthologies, art books, letterpress, literary spaces, and zines enjoyed a success rate of more than 50 percent.
Some of the most notable projects this year included Margins Virtual Conference, which forged new pathways to an inclusive literary future; Brick House, a new digital media collaborative bringing together writers from the Awl, Splinter, Gawker, Deadspin, and more; the Black Diplomats podcast and video series, centering people of color in the foreign-policy conversation; and Boing Boing co-owner and open-culture activist Cory Doctorow’s self-produced audiobook for his new novel, techno-thriller Attack Surface. Plus: Brandon Sanderson’s tenth-anniversary leatherbound edition of The Way of Kings became the most successful publishing project of all time, raising nearly $7 million from almost 30,000 readers. We recently published an in-depth interview with him and his team to learn more about what made it such a hit (spoiler: lots of extremely exciting planning and fulfillment considerations).
Of course, this category’s success has been a long time in the making. Over the 11 years since Kickstarter launched, there have been so many notable projects, from the constant output of Thornwillow Press, Beehive Books, Microcosm Publishing, and PM Press to the Bronx Book Festival and literacy program to The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s “home on the range” to the community-based project that brought Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna in contact with migrant and Native communities and helped the School of Visual Concepts create beautiful accordion-print books of the resulting poem to share with local libraries—you can read about how they pulled it off here. Claudia Castro Luna used Kickstarter to fund a beautifully printed poem—and distribute it to local libraries.
Join the celebration—back some projects
We invite you to be part of the next generation of Publishing projects which are working to build an even more inventive, inclusive literary world. Here are a few of our favorite projects you can back now:
- Dracula: The Evidence: Beehive Books’ reimagining of the nightmarish classic in a gorgeous interactive art book that turns readers into supernatural archaeologists
- F(r)iction: The latest issue of a highly designed, visually stunning literary magazine filled with stories, poems, essays, comics, and custom art by diverse creators from around the globe.
- Li’l Queens Picture Books: The first in an inspiring new series about royal Black and Brown women throughout history, for children ages four to nine.
- My Name Is My Own: Two beautiful anthologies by iconic feminist poets June Jordan and Ruth Stone, from Copper Canyon Press.
- St. Nell’s Residency: A writing residency giving space to womxn humor writers to wrestle their projects into submission.
- Working Class History: 350+ pages covering a people’s history of protests, strikes, uprisings, and revolutions around the world—with a foreword by Noam Chomsky.
- Constelación Magazine: A quarterly bilingual speculative fiction magazine, with stories appearing in both English and Spanish and half the stories written by authors from the Caribbean, Latin America, and their diaspora.
- All of Nicola Tesla’s Patents: 500 fascinating pages of patents and technical illustrations.
If you’d like to bring your own story, festival, or other literary dream to life, you can peruse this list of past projects for inspiration or learn more about launching Kickstarter campaigns here.