The Magazine Turns to Kickstarter to Fund A Collection of Stories

We’ve already discussed how the media is increasingly turning to crowdfunding as a source of financing.  The Magazine, an all-digital pub focused on non-fiction reporting and essays (about a variety of geeky topics), is the latest outlet to hop on the crowdfunding bandwagon.

The editors decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a print and eBook featuring a selection of writing from their first year. As of this writing, the campaign has earned $31,015 and they have nine days to go to reach their goal of $48,000.

10,000 Words spoke with executive editor Glenn Fleishman (via email) about his reasons for using Kickstarter: “We had a lot of options at our disposal, including soliciting pre-orders directly over whatever period of time we chose until we reached a set amount,” Fleishman said. “Without a call to action, however, it’s hard to get people to pull the trigger unless you’re very popular and have something timely as well as compelling. We felt that crowdfunding would let us show our cards: We need to raise this much to pay everyone involved and produce a good-looking book.”

As for why he chose Kickstarter over Indiegogo, Fleishman says it had everything to do with the scope of the project.

“We thought Kickstarter was the way to go because of its reach. Indiegogo is simply smaller in scope, and less familiar to people. For particular kinds of projects, they likely have a better community,” Fleishman explained. “For something with a broad reach like ours — a book of non-fiction essays and reported articles — Kickstarter felt like the right fit.”

When asked about the overall experience, Fleishman had only positive things to say. The editors decided to try for 1500 copies of the book, and see what happened. The results were almost immediate.

“Based on that, funding 33 percent (about 600 copies) in 24 hours was terrific. We’re nearly at 50 percent a few days later, which is a very typical Kickstarter pattern. We’ll climb slowly, I wager, over the next week, and then scale upwards to the goal as we get into the final days.”

And were his fans as generous as he hoped they’d be?

“Generous is a definitely interesting question! People who knew the publication, specific authors, or my work leapt in *instantly*. It was amazing,” Fleishman recalled. “From the rewards side, we’ve had pledges mostly at the book level, with a few people coming in for fine-art prints or at patronage levels.”

When asked why he chose to create both a print and eBook version, Fleishman explained that there’s just something unique about the tactile pleasures of print.

“I thought there’s a different experience one gets from reading a print book, and it had to be hardcover to stand out from a high-quality magazine or paperback book,” Fleishman said. “I wanted this to be a work of art. I wanted it to be something that people would want to return to and re-read stories or look through the photos and artwork.”

As far as the eBook is concerned, Fleishman says he created one because his customers were asking for it.

“We’ve also had a lot of people tell us that while they like our work, the volume of what we publish is too high. They asked for a book or even a regularly issued eBook that they could purchase if they liked what was in it.”

There are so many media companies using crowdfunding to raise money these days. When asked what this says about our current media landscape, Fleisher had an immediate answer.

“Uncertainty! Crowdfunding lets us put all our ideas together at maybe 5 percent to 10 percent of the cost of producing the real thing, and scale accordingly,” Fleishman said. “If 5,000 people want The Magazine: The Book, that’s terrific. We just print more, and we have more resources from that to put into more app development and higher writers’ fees. If 500 people wanted the book, well, that tells us about our reach and ambition.”

As far as the future is concerned, The Magazine has one major goal: grow, grow, grow.

“We’d like to have a lot of different ways that we publish the same articles for different readers and markets, both to get more bang for the buck and to be able to pay writers more,” Fleishman explained. “That’s part of our experiment with Medium as an outlet, which is paying us for developing original daily content. I want to stay a periodical, but produce more books and formats that people can buy as a single decision, instead of a subscription. A subscription is a commitment, and we respect that.”

For writers interested in contributing to The Magazine, read How To Pitch: The Magazine. [sub req’d]

Have you funded a media Kickstarter campaign? Let us know in the comments.

@aneyafernando Aneya Fernando is digital projects manager at Adweek.