McSweeney's raises half its $150,000 Kickstarter goal in 5 days

McSweeney's raises half its $150,000 Kickstarter goal in 5 days
Two of the projects underway at McSweeney's that will be enabled by its $150,000 Kickstarter campaign. (McSweeney's)

McSweeney's launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday and by 8:15am Friday, it had reached half of its (not insignificant) goal of $150,000.

McSweeney's is a tripartite enterprise, publishing the humor website, magazines The Believer and McSweeney's, and a number of imprints of its print books. All were founded by author Dave Eggers, who has often been seen as the creative force behind the various McSweeney's projects.


Apparently, Eggers is dialing back his involvement. "Dave is trying to devote more of his time to writing as McSweeney's sets itself up for long-term sustainability," Shannon David, who has been doing fundraising for McSweeney's since March, explained in an email.

"He's definitely a big believer in everything we do and is excited to see this campaign underway," she added.

Indeed, Eggers is featured in the rewards that will be provided to donors if the project meets its fundraising goal. For a $2,500 pledge (9 remaining), contributors can commission him to paint them an animal portrait -- they pick the animal, he picks some words to go along. For a less dear $55 gift, contributors can pick up the McSweeney's tote, a digital book pack and a copy of Eggers' forthcoming picture book about the Golden Gate Bridge, "This Will Not Be Gray," illustrated by Tucker Nichols and published by McSweeney's. Anyone giving $35 or more gets the McSweeney's digital bundle and the tote bag for print books.

Gifts, like the publishing house itself, tend toward the unique and idiosyncratic. Authors and friends of the publishing house offer to make book recommendations, sit down for a chat. Comedian David Cross offered to take a book off his shelf and give it to a contributor (gone) and author Wells Tower contributed a set of his own allen wrenches (gone). For $1,500, artist Adrian Tomine offered to do a commissioned portrait of the contributor (gone).

In its many projects, McSweeney's has often been at the cultural vanguard, launching the humor website in 1998, creating unique, distinctive hardcover books, finding and celebrating unknown (but not for long) authors, creating the DVD art movie magazine Wholpin (now shuttered), and launching the intelligent and stylish food magazine Lucky Peach (now spun off on its own). The latest change is to turn from a for-profit publisher to a nonprofit.

Late last year, McSweeney's announced that it was converting into a nonprofit. The nonprofit model has proved successful for some notable independent publishers, including Greywolf and Heyday Books.

"We've always been a hand-to-mouth operation, and every year it gets just a little harder to be an independent publisher," Eggers told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Now there's the opportunity to raise money around a certain project or to write a grant for it, or even crowd-fund for it."

However, crowdfunding and nonprofits are separate. Donations to the McSweeney's Kickstarter campaign are not tax-deductibe.

Which hasn't slowed donations.

The Kickstarter campaign continues until June 5.

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