‘Litcoin’ experiment ensures Irish writer will not be down and out in Las Vegas

Julian Gough’s plan was to let people who enjoy his work “help to fund a research and writing trip, from Berlin to Las Vegas”

 Julian Gough: In return for a pledge of $1 or more, donors were offered a PDF of his as-yet-unpublished short story Harvest, which was shortlisted for the €15,000 Davy Byrnes award earlier this year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Julian Gough: In return for a pledge of $1 or more, donors were offered a PDF of his as-yet-unpublished short story Harvest, which was shortlisted for the €15,000 Davy Byrnes award earlier this year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Thu, Aug 7, 2014, 01:00

Berlin-based Irish novelist Julian Gough raised more than $2,000 (€1,500) from fans in just a few hours yesterday through an online project he hopes will pioneer “a new, more love-based way for fans and authors to finance the writing of amazing fiction”.

Using online funding platform Kickstarter, Gough went live with his “Las Vegas Postcards” project yesterday morning, describing it as “a literary experiment”. His plan was to let people who enjoy his work “help to fund a research and writing trip, from Berlin to Las Vegas”, where his next novel, Infinite Ammo, is set.

In return for a pledge of $1 or more, donors were offered a PDF of his as-yet-unpublished short story Harvest, which was shortlisted for the €15,000 Davy Byrnes award earlier this year. They were also given the chance to follow his “adventures in Las Vegas” through Kickstarter updates and, “most importantly, if you are in for more than 10 bucks, I will send you a postcard”.

Postcards for fans

The content of Gough’s hand-written postcards will depend on how much has been pledged. As the cash pledges climb, “the rewards, the postcards, get more extreme; lipstick stains, bullet holes . . . And what I write on the cards will also get more extreme: more self-revealing, if I’m telling you the truth; more wildly fictitious, if I’m telling you a fiction”.

He has dubbed his project “Litcoin” and believes it is becoming necessary because the “economics of writing weird, interesting stuff are peculiar: I win a lot of status, but I don’t actually make a lot of money”.

His flights and accommodation in Sin City are being funded by arts organisations, including the literature section of the Arts Council, but he did not have enough change left over to buy food for the month he will be in the US. However, within minutes of Litcoin’s launch, it became clear it was a runaway success.

“I sent a single email to one small group of old friends, to warn them it was about to go live, and then I mentioned it a few times on Twitter. That’s all I did,” Gough said last night.

While some of the donors are “actual real-world friends”, most are “Twitter friends”.

He described the almost instant response as “hilarious”.

“When I came back from showing a friend around the neighbourhood, I’d already reached my funding target.”