Students use Indiegogo to help publish book

BY KRISTIN MILLER
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Students in Suzzanne Kelley’s introduction to publishing class have
been getting a crash course in fundraising for the nonprofit world.

Throughout the semester, the students have been working on
“Paper Camera,” an anthology of essays about the history of New
Rivers Press. They also put together an Indiegogo campaign to crowdsource
funds for the marketing and promotion of the book.

The project has involved every member of the class. Students have
worked to record and edit a viral-worthy video, design and produce
enticing prizes and promote the campaign to the campus and area
community.

For the video team, a big name added her vocal talents to
their project. Current Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen was
commissioned to write a series of poems for the press. One that gave
the anthology its name is featured in the video as a voice-over reciting
the poem “Paper Camera.”

“We had the crazy idea to ask Joyce Sutphen,” publishing student
Benjamin Friesen said, adding that he was unsure if he would get a
response. However, Sutphen answered the email inquiry within hours
and sent her vocal recording soon after.

Students have set their fundraising goal at $8,000 and hope that
the work they have put in will make a real impact on the future of
the book.

“It is a challenge — physical, mental and financial,” said Kelley
about finding funds to cover publishing costs when operating as a
nonprofit organization.

The press hopes that utilizing the popular fundraising website
will generate enough revenue to ease some of the financial strain
associated with printing the anthology, which is set to hit shelves and
e-readers January 2015.

Kelley also hopes that students will be able to learn some valuable
lessons about the challenges of independent and nonprofit publishing.
She has placed responsibility for the project and its success firmly in
the hands of the class.

This campaign also marks the first time the press has used crowdsourcing
for the publication of a book, Kelley said, adding, “Just as
students are learning new things in the publishing business, so am I.
The Indiegogo experience is a first time for me, so we are all learning
together.”

The students plan on having a celebration during their finals period
next week when the campaign goes live.

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