"Your dream is my dream now, and I'll make it come true." -- Lady Sybil to Gwen in Downton Abbey
Today, even though we are not speaking of aristocrats and servants, people's dreams may feel just as far-reaching and unattainable. Authors know that the chances of getting their book in the hands of readers through regular publishing channels are very slim, and this can feel crushing. What is remarkable is that we, the community, get to be the ones that make their dreams come true.
So much has changed in the world of publishing in the last decade. People can create their own platforms and through the hard work of connection, build a community that can eventually lead to self publishing. Even more interesting is that publishers that once could hand a small check to a new author in an almost dismissive manner are taking second place to a new model. It is the new era of art patronage. And publishers need to pay close attention.
Writer CC Chapman recently posted on twitter: " In the old days artists use to have patrons. I wish that concept worked today. I could use a few." This is the new patronage and we hold the keys.
While I have had the chance to know many new authors, a few have stood out lately because they have taken this new model seriously and have seen their dreams realized. Last year Seth Godin set out to get his publishers' attention by first taking his book Icarus Deception to the Kickstarter community. He wanted to show what an active thriving community could do for a book launch. His plan did catch their attention. He not only raised $287,342 of the $40,000 goal, but also activated an army of 4,242 backers and ended up on the New York Times Bestseller List.
But that is Seth Godin, already a well-known bestselling author. What interests me most are the newcomers to publishing that are attempting to do the same. I have been watching one project that has not only attracted my attention, but many in the publishing industry as well. And what is even more interesting is that the author turned down a publishing offer.
AJ Leon had an offer in hand to publish his story about being a digital nomad after leaving his successful career in the New York financial world. The publisher offered him a $10,000. But AJ decided to turn it down. Instead he wanted to write a book about changing the world. He knew that a publisher would never take a risk on an unpublished author writing a book on such a bold topic. Leon, in a calculated decision, took a risk on his community using Kickstarter. Over the years since he left his life in finance, he and his wife have traveled the world, all the time gaining a community of like-minded artists and world changers. But would this community help him self-publish? His team sat wondering the night before the Kickstarter launch "would the campaign even meet its funding goal at all?"
The first 24 hours of the campaign told a much different story. By then it had reached 150 percent of the goal and was continuing to gain momentum. As of the writing of this article, Leon's campaign was just over $28,000 with 17 days still to go. His gamble in picking himself instead of traditional publisher paid off.
So what does this mean for other first time writers? It means that their community can be their greatest asset. It means the age of the art patron is alive and well. Instead of being the activity of the rich, the patron is the person with five dollars to spare and a favorite author to support. Their dream is our dream.