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PEI comedian Patrick Ledwell turns to the crowds to support his first book

Popular PEI writer and comedian Patrick Ledwell spends a lot of time onstage, and now he’s turning to his audiences to help fund his first book.

I Am an Islander, a collection of sketches, rants, and stand-up pieces that Ledwell wrote and performed over the last four years, is being published by Acorn Press in June.

Ledwell, a frequent CBC Radio contributor, wanted to take two months off from his digital media business to refine the manuscript, but had already spent his author’s advance. Like many writers, he needed other means of financially sustaining himself “ without relying on credit cards “ during the final stretch of the book’s development. Visa is going to be the main funder unless there’s a way of taking the support from a publisher and trying to bridge that gap, Ledwell says.

Inspired by the success of several filmmaker and musician friends on philanthropic websites like kickstarter.com, Ledwell turned to indieGoGo.com, a platform that hosts fundraising campaigns for personal causes. While crowdsourcing funds has become popular in other creative disciplines, it is now gaining momentum with authors. Currently, there are over 200 publishing-related projects looking for funding on the indieGoGo website.

For $30, I Am an Islander donors receive a signed copy of the book; for $45, they also receive a copy of Think Like a Fish, an animated DVD Ledwell produced with his brother Daniel, who will also provide illustrations for the book. Ledwell’s already sold one of three $850 Point Me Where to Go packages, which includes a 30-minute comedy performance, to a local dairy.

Since starting the campaign a few days before Christmas, Ledwell has raised over $1,800. He set a modest goal of $3,300, with 100 people pre-ordering the book (indieGoGo charges 9 per cent if the target isn’t met), which he says will allow him to pay Daniel and his longtime collaborator and editor David Malahoff for their work on I Am an Islander. It’s also an opportunity to market the book in a way that respects the donors, he says. If I can’t get 100 people to vote for it over the course of the next couple of months, I don’t know how well I’d do with a box of books sitting in my basement.