“For 15 years now, it’s been a break-even operation,” founder Dave Eggers said of his small, Mission District-based publishing house McSweeney's, in an interview with the New York Times last October. “I’ve always been attracted to books and projects that we love and are passionate about, and it doesn’t always intersect with books that will sell a million copies.” It was then that he announced that the organization would become a non-profit but would continue to produce about 25 books a year, run its popular website McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and publish its magazine, The Believer, which is no longer a monthly but now includes longer, more in-depth stories.
However, as ThinkProgress reports, currently McSweeney's is in a kind of limbo between its former status as a for-profit and its coming one, and for now it's “fiscally-sponsored," which is to say it's Kickstarting. As McSweeney's writes, "applying for 501(c)(3) status takes time, as does building up the backing every nonprofit depends on. We’re working hard to develop funding from grants, foundations, and memberships, which will form the bedrock of McSweeney’s for many years to come. This Kickstarter is designed to ensure that we can keep putting new work into the world while we set ourselves up for long-term sustainability."
Currently, McSweeney's website has a testimonial message from Ellie Kemper, a contributor who was most recently the star of the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
As McSweeney's is no typical publisher, this is no typical Kickstarter campaign. The $150,000 goal comes with a variety of strange enticements and prizes for donors that call on a cast of popular writers and personalities associated with McSweeney's. Here are just a few of them:
Pledge $350 or more:
AN ILLUSTRATION OF YOU IN AN ISSUE OF THE BELIEVER
You or a subject of your choice will appear in an incidental illustration by a guest artist in an upcoming issue of the Believer. You'll also get the signed original artwork, and a copy of the issue in which the illustration appears. (The subject is subject to editorial discretion, but we're pretty relaxed.)
Pledge $750 or more::
THE GEOFF DYER EXPERIENCE
The writer and Believer contributor will record your outgoing voicemail message, or meet you for a drink in London. (Travel + lodging not included.)
Pledge $750 or more:
TOUR OF "FICTIONAL SPOKANE" WITH JESS WALTER
A personal literary tour of Spokane, Washington, in the author and McSweeney's contributor Jess Walter's Lincoln Continental. (Travel + lodging not included.)
Pledge $2,500 or more:
COMMISSIONED ANIMAL PAINTING BY DAVE EGGERS
You choose the animal. Dave will choose the words. 22" x 30". Acrylic on paper.
Pledge $3,500 or more:
A WALKING TOUR OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE WITH DAVE EGGERS AND TUCKER NICHOLS
The author and artist behind the forthcoming McSweeney's picture book "This Bridge Will Not Be Gray" will lead a fun walking tour of the Golden Gate Bridge that might include a fact or two, followed by a picnic in a scenic spot. (Travel + lodging not included.)
Other rewards, some of them sold out, include personalized stories, insults from the staff of the satirical news site The Onion, and correspondences with the likes of Nick Hornby (he'll email you every day) or Spike Jonze (as in his movie Her, he'll write a personalized note to someone on your behalf, and he'll do it on the original script for the movie).
Here's the full Kickstarter promo, which indicates the campaign has already raised a fair share of its goal, and quite quickly.