Many authors come here to publish beautiful books, but we’ve also helped fund zines, literary spaces, launch parties, podcasts, digital news outlets, and so much more.
By Oriana Leckert and Margot Atwell
October 26, 2020
Kickstarter’s Publishing category is home to so much more than books. Over the last 11 years, this community’s backers have pledged over $200 million to bookstores, independent presses, art books, literary spaces, literary festivals, radio programs, podcasts, news outlets, and, of course, lots of books.
Here, our Publishing team has shared a list of some of their favorite projects, which we encourage new creators to draw inspiration from in terms of positioning, storytelling, reward ideas, community engagement, and more. (Plus, be sure to check out our creator tips for Comics, Journalism, and Publishing creators.)
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls A groundbreaking book filled with stories of incredible women throughout history.
- Attack Surface Audiobook Boingboing co-owner and open-culture activist Cory Doctorow’s independently-produced audiobook for his latest techno-thriller.
- Sesame Street’s Autism Book Sesame Street’s first-ever crowdfunding campaign raised money to help children and families, funding a digital storybook featuring Julia, the first muppet with autism.
- The Time Scouts Handbook A handy guidebook for intergalactic time-travelers of all ages, created by California nonprofit 826LA, which supports students and teachers across Los Angeles.
- Derby Life A crash course in everything roller-derby penned and published by Margot Atwell, who spent six years running Kickstarter Publishing.
- Food City A treatise on the lost history of making food in New York, completed through this campaign by the author’s daughter, in honor of her mother who passed away before she could finish the book.
- Bed Bug: The Return of the World’s Most Reviled House Pest Science journalist Brooke Borel raised funds to do research for her book about crawly critters, which was recently published by the University of Chicago Press to much acclaim.
- Elastic City The culmination of the 14-year Elastic City journey: a book collecting stories of 35 participatory art walks as well as 40+ artistic prompts for readers to create their own.
- Daniel and Ismail: A picture book about a Jewish boy and a Muslim boy who bond on the soccer field—translated into English, Hebrew, and Arabic
Literary events and festivals
- The Worst Book Launch Party Ever An incredibly, intentionally awful launch party at Brooklyn’s powerHouse Books for Josh Gondelman & Joe Berkowitz’s You Blew It, which brought backers into the party-planning process through creative rewards like choosing which terrible song(s) would be played five times in a row.
- All Black Cats launch party at The Strand A spooky scary party for Chronicle Books’ reissue of the Kicktarter-funded All Black Cats Are Not Alike, in partnership with the ASPCA, at New York City’s venerable independent Strand Bookstore.
- Moby Dick Marathon A three-day marathon with 150+ readers each sharing 10-minute sections of Herman Melville’s classic whale tale at New York City’s nonprofit Housing Works Bookstore.
- She Podcasts Live A weekend-long festival of learning and camaraderie for women at all stages of their podcasting journey.
- PULP Public School A membership-based online academy presented by a female-helmed digital outlet for news and culture dedicated to sex/uality, reproductive rights, and all things body.
- Bronx Book Festival Two days of panels, workshops, talks, author signings, and tons of books in NYC’s Boogie Down Bronx.
- Well-Read Black Girl Writer’s Conference and Festival The Brooklyn-based book club and online community furthered their mission to celebrate Black literature and sisterhood with a festival featuring talks, classes, panels, and lots of literary guests.
- Montana Book Festival Building on MBF’s 15-year legacy, this campaign brought new ideas and perspectives to the annual Missoula, Montana, festival that gathers authors and book-lovers from across the West.
- San Jordi Festival 2020 The NYC version of Barcelona’s Sant Jordi Book Fair: four days of literature in translation, all moved online at the last minute due to—well, due to the curséd year 2020.
- Wordplay Book Party A massive two-day book party in Minneapolis, Minnesota, convening 10,000+ book lovers to celebrate literature.
- Duende District Pop-Up Bookstore An intersectional shop founded by a Latinx woman, serving Washington, D.C.’s immigrant and minority communities.
- Milkweed Books A nonprofit, independent bookstore in Minneapolis, launched by the beloved independent publisher to nurture the best literary art and build an engaged bookish community.
- The Ripped Bodice Founded by two sisters in Los Angeles, California, this is the only bookstore in the entire United States dedicated exclusively to romance novels.
- Coven Bookshop An English-language Bookshop and café in Paris, France, dedicated to intersectional feminism, engaged literature, and ethical hospitality.
- Kew & Willow Led by three female former booksellers, a new bookstore in Queens, New York—only the second for the entire massive borough.
- Twenty Stories An independent mobile bookstore operated out of a renovated vintage van showcasing and sharing 20 new titles each month all across Los Angeles.
- Street Books A bicycle-powered mobile library in Portland, Oregon, lending books to people who live outside.
- Poetry to the People Literary nonprofit House of SpeakEasy retrofitted a 27-foot truck into a mobile library, then took it on a 10-day, 10-stop tour from NYC to New Orleans, with events, workshops and readings all along the way.
- The Rocky Mountain Land Library A historic cattle ranch in Colorado turned into a literary “home on the range” by two veteran Tattered Cover bookstore employees.
- The Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library A bigger and more beautiful home for the museum dedicated to Indianapolis, Indiana’s native son, opened on the 10-year anniversary of his death.
- London Centre for Book Arts The first and only public studio space in London for artist books and art-led publishing doubled in size, making room for so many more workshops, classes, artist residencies, exhibitions, and publishing collaborations.
- Literary Lots For two years in a row, Literary Lots brought books to life by transforming vacant lots near inner-city libraries in Cleveland, Ohio, into interactive, book filled playgrounds for children to enjoy.
- A New Home for the Independent Publishing Resource Center After a 300% rent increase, Portland, Oregon’s nonprofit IPRC relocated to a new space to continue facilitating all manner of artistic and creative practices.
- Little Free Library Big Book Access Campaign A major push to help the social enterprise nonprofit Little Free Library install hundreds of tiny book boxes across the US in rural and urban “book deserts.”
- OlioHouse A sleepaway school for lifelong learners in Upstate New York, featuring weekends full of classes, seminars, and talks from humanities professors.
Indie press books
- Don Quixote: Brooklyn-based Restless Books created a beautiful illustrated edition of Don Quixote and offered backers access to an online seminar on the book taught by Cervantes expert Ilan Stavans.
- DOC/UNDOC The great City Lights brought together performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and book artist Felicia Rice to create a lush, multidimensional book combining 19th-century print technology with 21st-century digital typography.
- Native Voices: Indigenous American Poetry, Craft, and ConversationAn anthology of Indigenous poetry in which each poet presented new work alongside resonant pieces from previous generations, all lovingly produced by Massachusetts-based Tupelo Press.
- Shout Your Abortion In 2015, Amelia Bonow and Lindy West kicked of the #ShoutYourAbortion movement. Three years later, PM Press brought this book to life to chronicle the inception and nationwide growth of the movement, telling beautiful and diverse abortion stories from all across the United States.
- My Struggle: Book One Archipelago Books, a Brooklyn-based press focused on works in translation, published Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book One in 2012, when the author was still relatively unknown in the US. Two years later they ran this campaign to fund a beautiful hardcover edition befitting the sensation the series had become.
- A Spaceship in Bronzeville Mouse Books, Chicago-based publisher of pocket-sized literary treats, brought out this Afrofuturist trilogy set in a speculative version of one of the country’s most iconic African American neighborhoods.
- Summer of the CicadasCalifornia’s Red Hen Press continued their commitment to nurturing queer voices by publishing the Quill Prose Award–winning Chelsea Catherine’s Summer of the Cicadas.
- The Chemical Wedding by Small Beer Press Massachusetts-based Small Beer Press made alchemical magic by bringing to life a weird and beautiful illustrated hardcover edition of a 400-year-old science-fiction novel, reimagined by John Crowley and Theo Fadel.
- McSweeney’s A sweeping campaign befitting one of the world’s most beloved independent publishers, designed to fund a huge wave of books and magazines and accompanied by a smorgasbord of more than 120 delightfully quirky rewards.
- Microcosm Spring Books A whole season of books designed to empower and entice, from fermentation to sustainable mending to the yoga of bicycling, put out by DIY stalwarts Microcosm Publishing.
- Enchanted Lion A slew of remarkable and gorgeous children’s books, all designed to be as thoughtful, complex, nuanced, and honest as young readers deserve.
- Flamingo Rampant Discovery A year’s worth of bold and beautiful picture books, sharing values like racial justice, disability pride, and loving, positive LGBTQIA+ families and communities.
- The Bolted Book / Depero Futurista A stunning reissue of the landmark avant-garde design project: Italian Futurist Fortunato Depero’s Bolted Book—described as “not just a book, but a portable museum”—this replica was picture perfect, down to the bolt through its binding. This was a collaboration by Designers & Books, the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York, and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto in Italy.
- Bibliotheca An oversized, elegant four-volume edition of the Bible, designed without its modern encyclopedic and navigational conventions, to be consumed as it was in ancient times: as pure literary art.
- The Great Gatsby Thornwillow’s exquisite Art Deco–inspired edition of the classic novel, featuring handsome typography, multicolored plate illustrations, letterpress printing, heavy archival stock, and genuinely engraved covers bound by hand.
- Reissuing Newton’s Opticks One of history’s great scientific works reimagined in high artistic form by Kronecker Wallis, from a cover that reflects the light with the tones Newton described, to interiors tinted by his rainbow.
- The Tiny Type Museum A limited run of 100 marvelous miniature museums in custom handmade wooden cases filled with genuine artifacts from the history of type and printing.
- The Way of KingsA beautiful leatherbound two-volume set of Sanderson’s bestselling fantasy epic The Way of Kings.
- I Will Live Forever Meditations on mortality by Maëlle Doliveux, award-winning innovator of three-dimensional cut paper cartooning and illustration.
- The Broadside Library A curated selection of artfully crafted, letterpress-printed broadsides, collecting titles old and new, famous and obscure, flamboyant and refined.
- GREAT: Photographs of Hip-Hop 2002-2019 Seventeen years of pictures from one of the most celebrated and accomplished music photographers, Mel D. Cole, filled with iconic images of Kanye, Rihanna, Erykah Badu, Common, Tyler, Pharrell, The Roots, RZA, A Tribe Called Quest, A$AP, Uzi, and more.
- Le Pater
A massive, glorious reprint of Alphonse Mucha’s deeply personal 1899
masterpiece of symbolism, a retelling of the Lord’s Prayer filled with
mystically coded illustrations, brought to life by Century Guild.
- BOMB Magazine A venerable nonprofit arts & culture publication, which has been publishing in-depth interviews with artists of all disciplines since 1981.
- Kazoo An inventive print magazine for girls ages 5–10, inspiring them to be smart, strong, fierce, and true to themselves.
- Guernica Annual The first-annual print edition from the decade-old online literary and intellectual journal.
- Ìrìn Journal A biannual periodical exploring Africa and African culture, with stories on food, fashion, history, art, design, film, and more.
- The Oxford American’s Texas Music Issue An entire issue dedicated to the astonishing musical legacy of Texas, from the great Mississippi-based magazine for Southern literature and culture.
- Uncanny Magazine A Hugo Award–winning online magazine filled with groundbreaking science fiction and fantasy, poetry, prose, and provocative nonfiction.
- Fatventure Mag A print publication sharing stories from fat creators who love joyful movement but not toxic diet culture.
- The Second Shelf Quarterly An online bookshelf and print magazine focused on increasing the visibility of women’s writing and contributions throughout history.
- Racquet Magazine An artfully designed quarterly showcasing the best in-depth writing on modern tennis culture, from art to fashion to history.
- Anxy Magazine A biannual design-forward publication that illuminates inner worlds, personal struggles, and foolish fears, through interviews, essays, reported features, and visual stories.
An annual magazine packed with personal narratives about the Asian
American experience, as well as an online and IRL community with
gatherings, parties, and more.
- True Trans Bike Rebel: Taking the Lane #15 A feminist bicycle zine about riding across—or beyond—the gender binary.
- Solidarity Onboarding A zine collecting friendly pro-worker mementos and quotes, designed to help tech employees unionize their workplaces.
- Street Flash Zine A photo series focused on climate activism and social justice issues in New York City and beyond.
- Pinko A biannual publication dedicated to discussions of capitalist sexual relations from a queer communist perspective.
- All We Have Is Each Other A monthly box filled with books and t-shirts advancing radical ideas like mutual aid and solidarity from PM Press, aiming to make the dark days of 2020 a little bit brighter.
- Margins Box A monthly box featuring books by Black, Indigenous, and other young-adult authors of color alongside handcrafted items from BIPOC creators that relate to the books’ themes.
- Snail Mail Party A USPS-venerating subscription club, with packages full of postcards, zines, and other delightful surprises.
- The Alignist
One novel about pressing international issues delivered each month,
along with relevant ethically sourced artisanal goods, recipes,
illustrations, and author Q&As.
- Tortoise Kickstarter’s most-funded journalism project to date was the launch of a new digital media endeavor in the UK: a community-supported slow-news organization helmed by executives from BBC News, the Wall Street Journal, and Sony Music.
- Bring Gothamist Back The relaunch of NYC’s beloved local digital media outlet, reborn in partnership with public radio institution WNYC.
- Brick House A daring experiment in reader-supported digital media, with nine publications joining forces and sharing resources to create an independent journalistic alliance.
- Block Club Chicago A nonprofit news site dedicated to reliable, nonpartisan, and essential coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, born from the ashes of DNA Chicago.
- Brooklyn Deep Civic storytelling and investigative journalism from Central Brooklyn, one of the largest historically Black urban centers in the United States.
- Feministing Times Ten A 10th birthday present for the pioneering feminist website, including a site relaunch, a full redesign, and sustainable infrastructure to serve the outlet’s vibrant online community.
- Aurore A curated community and online home for true erotic stories, written by, for, and centering feminist and queer voices.
- Media Diversified A nonprofit digital media outlet working to foreground the voices of people of color and diversify the media narrative.
Radio and podcasts
- Radiotopia: A Storytelling Revolution A new kind of public radio filled with adored shows, which raised so much more than the original goal that the creators also made a pilot development fund for new producers and hosts.
- Black Diplomats A podcast and video series about foreign affairs from a Black perspective, featuring interviews with people of color who specialize in global issues.
- The View from Somewhere A deeply researched podcast about the myth of “objectivity” in journalism, and the journalists throughout history, often from marginalized communities, who challenged and changed the field for the better.
- Bellwether A podcast of speculative journalism—true stories of the world as it is through the lens of what it might become—and a campaign run in a wild way: rigged so that no matter how much money it raised, the project would be cancelled if it didn’t reach 1,000 backers.
- Zaatari Radio A radio station in Jordan’s Zaatari Refugee Camp designed to empower its residents to navigate challenging circumstances, created in partnership with humanitarian volunteers from the UK.
- Country Queers Stories of joy, struggle, resilience, creativity, isolation, fear, love, and community, told through interviews with rural, small-town, and country LGBTQIA+ folks across the U.S.
- Animal Meditations
A collection of guided meditations that bring the listener into the
minds of a variety of animals, from a sloth to an egret to an octopus to
- Botanica Tarot Deck A gorgeously painted, floral-inspired tarot deck that explores the biological roots of the Arcana through the lore and mythology of the plant kingdom.
- Literary Art on Letterpress Classic texts reinterpreted as stunning black-and-white letterpress posters designed by independent creative studio Obvious State.
- Custom Litographs Elegant and chic infinity scarves printed with custom quotes—from classics to contemporary literature, including prose written by campaign backers themselves.
- Tak: A Beautiful Game
Bestselling fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss teamed up with James Ernest
and Cheapass Games to create the abstract strategy game from the wildly
popular novel The Wise Man’s Fear.
- We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live The first and only documentary about Joan Didion, told by her friends, family, colleagues, and critics—and through her own work.
- Unstuck in Time A definitive meta-documentary about the great Kurt Vonnegut, filmed in snippets from 1982 until the author’s death in 2007, by his close friend Robert Weide.
- The Maya Angelou Documentary The first documentary of Dr. Angelou, created by friends from her inner circle, reflecting on the ways history, culture, and the arts shaped her life—and how she, in turn, helped shape the world.
- Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin A feature-length documentary exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the groundbreaking science-fiction and fantasy author.
- Women Destroy Science FictionA tongue-in-cheek anthology of science-fiction stories written and edited by women and produced by Lightspeed Magazine.
- The Wind Is Spirit: A Bio/Anthology A celebration of Audre Lorde told in Griot style through living color and vivid photography, with personal essays, stories, poems, recollections, and memoirs from a diverse group of contributors.
- Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong A collaboration between Coffee House Press and Walker Art Center that brought together more than a dozen writers to talk about how taste develops, why we love or hate something, what art is, and why we all love cat videos on the internet.
- A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins An anthology produced by the Mexicanx Initiative and Fireside featuring 14 stories by Mexicanx artists, writers, filmmakers, culture shapers, and fans.
- Anchored in Deep Water A seven-book fisherpoet anthology filled with original poetry, prose, and songs of commercial fishermen and women.
- Out of Eden Pulitzer prize–winning journalist Paul Salopek’s dispatches from a 10-year “slow journalism” journey, retracing the steps humans took from the beginning of time and telling stories along the way
- Relaunch of Reading Rainbow A tremendously successful campaign to design a tablet app based on LeVar Burton’s beloved children’s show, filled with books and video field trips, with thousands donated to disadvantaged classrooms across the country.
- Bellingcat An online platform bringing together citizen investigative journalists to use open-source information to report on critical global stories.
- LAAB Cartoonist Ron Wimberly’s full-color broadside newspaper is a laboratory for audacious thinkers, writers, artists, musicians, theorists, cartoonists, and genre-defiers.
- Stay Gold A negative-space sculptural installation of the words STAY GOLD in Miami, Florida, inspired by Robert Frost’s poem.
Archival projects and reprints
- Save Their Stories An incredible undertaking to catalog, preserve, and make available online—for the first time ever—more than 200 handwritten diaries from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s collection.
- The Studs Terkel Archive Digitizing more than 1,000 of Pulitzer Prize–winning radio host Studs Terkel’s radio programs to preserve his legacy and make his work free and publicly available.
- Preserve 30,000 Historic New Orleans Newspapers A heroic effort to digitize 42 years of Daily Picayune and Times-Picayune newspapers from the turn of the 20th century, using a cutting-edge high-speed scanner designed for large delicate documents.
- Reading Zimbabwe An interactive digital library committed to the discovery and celebration of Zimbabwean literature, as well as a physical People’s Library in Harare.
- Reprinting Ai’s Killing Floor
Tavern Books’ 40th-anniversary edition of the groundbreaking poetry
collection by Ai, master of the dramatic monologue and patron saint of
- The Lost Poems of Pablo Neruda A collection of previously undiscovered poems by the great Pablo Neruda, brought to life in a splendid edition filled with both English and Spanish text, rare archival photos, facsimiles of the lost poems, and more, by Copper Canyon Press.
- Translating Feminisms A set of chapbooks showcasing poetry, essays, and intimate collaborations between female writers across Asia, from Vietnam to Nepal to South India.
- One River, A Thousand Voices A beautiful accordion artist’s book made of one single long sheet of paper by SVC Letterpress, displaying Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna’s poem honoring the Columbia River and the Native populations who have long called its banks home.
- Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic
A 250-page anthology of poetry and photographs arising from the
pandemic, produced by Tupelo Press and featuring unique 12-page folios
from 16 essential poets.