Help an Author Get to Afghanistan

There’s about four different kinds of confluence on this one, so I had to write about it. Ted Rall’s working on a graphic nonfiction book for Hill & Wang about Afghanistan. He’s asking people through Kickstarter to help fund his return research trip.

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, the site allows people and small groups to publicly seek donations for their projects, to be financed by whatever size donations people wish to contribute. If the stated goal is reached, the bank completes the donation transaction. If not, no money is exchanged. Kind of like an online escrow for good works.

I’ve seen the platform used for research and philanthropy before, but never tied to reportage in a war zone. Rall even provides a disclaimer that he can’t guarantee project fulfillment since he may be injured or killed. Questions of new journalism aside, I find this fascinating from a publisher’s perspective. One of Rall’s donation tiers mentions he’ll give back a copy of the finished work. It’s diffuse, web-enabled patronage. Tao Lin tried this with a novel, which was more of a stunt. Would it work for a serious topic?

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