I can't vouch for the authenticity of any of those opportunities, but I can offer some information on Kickstarter, a newish funding platform for creative endeavors. Including literary ones.
Kickstarter works like this: Creators describe their project, set a funding goal, and submit their project to the site. If it follows the basic guidelines, the project goes live on a specified date and remains open for backers to pledge funds for between 1 and 60 days.
Some recently successful publishing projects from Kickstarter you just can't help but love:
Hannah Stevenson of Lily & Thistle Creative Studio launched a project to publish her paper doll coloring book. Her goal was $2,000 and she received $4,434 from 181 backers.
Novelist Keri Topouzian received $6,556 from 107 backers to get her novel, A Perfect Armenian, edited by a professional editor. It took her seven years to write and is based on historic events and cultural conflicts. The author says, "If it weren't for fiction, I believe we would know very little about our world. A list of historic facts might come and go, but when our imaginations become involved, we learn."
Documentary filmmaker Ron Faiola will turn his film, Wisconsin Supper Clubs: And Old Fashioned Experience, into a book thanks to $3,011 in pledges from 32 backers.
And, yours truly has a Kickstarter project that's live until April 20th, titled, Secret Cuts: A Cherry Orchard Mystery. At the time of this writing, my $2,500 project is 92% funded by 53 backers with 7 of my 30 days remaining.
So, here's what I've learned about getting a writing project funded in this way:
One, take some time to define the project for yourself before you launch it. I wanted to write an investigative article about a local crime and publish it as a Kindle Single. The more specific you are, the more likely you can communicate your idea to others.
Two, don't skip the video. If you haven't ever made a video before, consider this an opportunity to learn how to work in this increasingly important medium. It doesn't have to win an Academy Award, but it does have to describe you and your project well. According to Kickstarter, 50% of projects with video in the description get funded; only 30% without one do.
Three, you can launch it, but that doesn't mean they will come. Don't just launch your project and expect Kickstarter to do all the work of getting it funded. The site gives you some very easy to use tools to get the word out about your project and to communicate with your backers. Link your project to your facebook page, blog about it, and send an email to friends, readers, supporters, your dog groomer and librarian.
Use tact and retraint when doing this -- don't spam and don't overdo it. There's a difference between letting people know about what you're up to and repeatedly clogging their inbox, their facebook timeline, and their voicemail.
Don't forget to drop a line to the media - Kickstarter is still relatively new, so it's news. As in, here.
A couple caveats: Kickstarter works with Amazon to deliver pledges to creators and funding is all or nothing. If you meet your goal, your backers' credit cards are charged and the money is transfered into your bank account. If you don't meet your goal, all pledges are cancelled. And, even if you do meet your goal, Amazon holds onto the money for about two weeks.
The site only allows projects that have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and that makes something. You can't fund your trip to Europe unless you plan to create something about the trip too, like write a book, make a film, or paint a series of landscapes.
After identifying a project, making the video, launching it on the site and working to get backers, I can say that for me, this has been a rewarding process. I made a promise to myself that I would use this as a test case and wouldn't do the project if it wasn't funded. The process itself has made me anxious to get going on the real project though, and I'll consider using Kickstarter again.
So, if you've been thinking about launching a Kickstarter project but haven't gotten around to it yet, what are you waiting for?
Update: My Kickstarter project funded April 20, 2012.