Once Upon A Time In Egypt?
Desert Siren -- Part 1
The Art of Sidney Sime
Guilt and the Artist
Making Green Art & Staying Healthy
EMG news for June 2008
Cyberfunded Creativity -- What Is “Cyberfunded Creativity”?by Elizabeth Barrette
Maybe you’ve seen a friend put a PayPal button on a website to collect donations for an art project. Maybe you’ve read a novel being published online chapter-by-chapter, as sponsored by fans. You’ve probably seen the “Portrait Adoption” section on Ellen Million Graphics. All of these things, and more, are aspects of “cyberfunded creativity.”
Cyberfunded creativity is a new, growing business model. It allows writers, artists, musicians, crafters, and other creative people to sell their goods and services directly to audiences online. Cyberfunded creativity (sometimes abbreviated CFC) is most often done through personal websites, online galleries, blogs, and other social media. There are many variations on how people do it.
I coined the term “cyberfunded creativity” early in 2008. I’ve been studying electronic publishing and cyberspace theory for over thirteen years. After observing several converging trends online and in the publishing industry, I began tracking them on my blog “The Wordsmith’s Forge,” where I chose the term “cyberfunded creativity” as a tag for projects, theory, and news. I founded the Cyberfunded Creativity virtual community on LiveJournal and encouraged people to use this term in their tag and interest lists.
Creators include writers, artists, musicians, and other project providers. People who contribute money to cyberfunded creativity projects may be called “patrons,” “donors,” or “sponsors.” Projects funded by pooled donations, rather than individual purchases, may be described as “community-sponsored,” similar to community-sponsored agriculture. All of these are important aspects of cyberfunded creativity.
This business model has a number of advantages and disadvantages, which may vary depending on the exact methods used. It affects participants somewhat differently depending on whether they are creators, patrons, or both.
The advantages focus on interactivity and control. Cyberfunded creativity allows creative people to market their work without the approval of a publisher or gallery owner, without changes demanded by an editor. Therefore they retain much greater control of the content and exposure of their work. Because cyberfunded creativity encourages creators to use electronic formats, they can sometimes escape size constraints, such as the “dead zone” in fiction between short stories and novels.
Financially, cyberfunded creativity cuts out the middlemen, putting more money in the hands of hard-working creators and more market influence in the hands of enthusiastic consumers. It allows ordinary, individual people to support performers and artisans they admire, which encourages creators to produce more of what their audience members enjoy. It provides an alternative to mainstream media in a time when many creative people and audiences feel frustrated and bored by more conventional options.
This business model also gives gregarious people an edge in promoting a creative career or fine-tuning their entertainment choices, vastly expanding their potential audience and menu. It fosters cooperation, giving people who feel cut adrift a chance to invest in a community and cultural material of their choice. Networking among both creators and patrons increases the effectiveness of cyberfunded creativity.
The disadvantages focus on effort and exposure. Like other self-publishing models, cyberfunded creativity relies on creators putting in a substantial amount of time and energy to promote their own material. For creators with minimal interest or skill at publicity, this often results in low sales. In theory, cyberspace has a vast audience. In practice, however, actual exposure tends to be much narrower than conventional distribution.
Cyberfunded projects have less quality control and supporting services than conventionally produced and distributed material. Writers lose the advantage of professional editing provided by a traditional publisher. If they want that, they have to pay for it themselves. Consumers lose the filtering effect of a professional selection process by publishers and galleries; they have to work harder to sift out worthwhile entertainment from garbage.
The cyberspace venue leads much of the material to appear only in electronic form. This is less durable over time and less appealing to many consumers. Hardcopy books, art, and other merchandise can be created or sold through cyberfunded creativity, but this is a less common approach. Finally, many literary awards disqualify material that appears in electronic magazines or blogs -- no matter how good or popular it is -- restricting eligibility to traditionally distributed materials. Discrimination against electronic publication and self-publication discourages many people from creating or enjoying such material.
“The Aphorisms of Kherishdar” by M.C.A. Hogarth -- community-sponsored art and fiction series.
Cyberfunded Creativity -- community on LiveJournal
“The Dangers of Writing to a Market” by M.C.A. Hogarth
Fledgling: A Liaden Universe Novel by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
The Lorelei Signal webzine edited by Carol Hightshoe
The Wordsmith’s Forge blog by Elizabeth Barrette
Elizabeth Barrette writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the fields of speculative fiction, gender studies, and alternative spirituality. Recent publications include the short story "Clouds in the Morning" in Torn World and poem "The Forest of Infinity" in Star*Line. She serves on the Canon Board, editing and selecting material at Torn World. She hosts a monthly Poetry Fishbowl on her blog, The Wordsmith’s Forge (http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com), writing poems based on audience prompts. She enjoys suspension-of-disbelief bungee-jumping and spelunking in other people's reality tunnels.
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