Crowdfunding When Kickstarter Isn’t An Option—Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE Magazine should have had no problem raising the $25,000 she needed to publish The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine through a Kickstarter project. The beautiful and rather hip ode to the typewriter was guaranteed to her magazine’s readers, many of whom had already helped to fund previous UPPERCASE books.

Crowdfunding UPPERCASE Vangool

The one, apparently unforgivable, blemish on Vangool’s record? She and her company are Canadian. Currently, Kickstarter only supports project creators from the U.S. or U.K. But that hasn’t stopped Vangool from adopting a DIY crowdfunding approach. Her Typewriter project has been underway since July and, as of March 30, she was 92 percent toward meeting her goal.

“Our funding campaign has been slow and steady,” said Vangool. “As a Canadian company, it was difficult to access the Kickstarter platform, which would have been my first choice. With a limited time for a campaign plus a wider audience available via the Kickstarter community, I think we could have achieved this more quickly. However, since our campaign is ‘DIY’ and implemented on our own website, we are thankful for the continued support of our blog readers and magazine subscribers who have contributed the majority of our pledges.” In fact, UPPERCASE has managed to fund its past seven books by garnering preorders and offering clever, creative incentives for supporters.

In 2007, Vangool published The Shatner Show, a hardcover book featuring 76 illustrations of William Shatner. Prior to the book’s release, contributors could make a deposit toward the book and receive a unique, original artwork from its pages. “When the book and exhibition were launched, these patrons had first dibs, in the order of their pledge, to purchase their favorite artworks, with a portion of their pledge going toward the purchase,” said Vangool. “It was a way that I could have some cash flow available for considerable costs with getting the book printed, months before the physical product was finished.”

For The Typewriter, Vangool offered an even more complex selection of project perks. For $45, The Standard option gets you a hardcover copy of the book when it is released and listing in the book’s acknowledgement pages. For $75, The Electric backers receive those perks, as well as an authentic advertisement from the early 1900s, a personalized typewritten letter, and an UPPERCASE typewriter club mirror. She’s even taken a page from Kickstarter’s book by including a project tracker on her website that shows her overall project progress and the number of backers who have contributed to each set of perks.

Crowdfunding UPPERCASE Perks

Vangool knows her audience well. A self-described “magazine for the creative and curious,” UPPERCASE caters to readers who are interested in art and design. It’s this loyal following which has allowed the independently-published magazine to succeed, even without the support of Kickstarter.

UPPERCASE magazine has an excellent core group of subscribers who love everything that we do and tend to support all the other publishing endeavours,” said Vangool. “Our readership is also very engaged in social media and blogging and generously tell their friends and colleagues about the magazine and our books. They are happy to share their appreciation since our publications are always unique and high quality. As the publisher, editor and designer on the magazine and books, everything falls in to the labour of love category—and I think it shows.”

Despite the limitations of being a Canadian company in a publishing industry wracked by growing pains, UPPERCASE has managed to cultivate an active, devoted readership. For more information about the magazine or to preorder your own copy of the book, visit the UPPERCASE Magazine website.

Madison Andrews is a writer, editor, and designer living in Austin, Texas. She is founder and editor of Email her at [email protected], find her on tumblr, or follow her @madskillsvocab.

Jeremy Lesniak
Based in Vermont, Jeremy Lesniak is managing editor at and founder of Vermont Computing, Inc. and Email him [email protected]
Jeremy Lesniak
Jeremy Lesniak
Tags: Business,Entrepreneurship,Tech Culture

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