Crowdfunding continues to be an excellent yet often overlooked potential source of author income. This especially holds true for indie authors who won’t be seeing that advance and who will be investing in their own editors, cover designers and marketers.
Happily, we’re seeing more and more authors make and even exceed their production and marketing budgets with their crowdfunding campaign. But above and beyond picking up that paycheck, crowdfunding offers up book pre-orders, creating early interest that will also help sell more books after publication, too. And, at a royalty rate much greater than if they’d taken the advance in a traditional deal.
In other words, rather than having a single publisher investing in you and taking a lot of the returns, crowdfunding provides a lot of tiny investors (usually the price of the book unless you provide other packages/incentives). Crowdfunding a book isn’t about asking friends and family to give you a handout; it’s about taking pre-orders. In some cases, authors won’t write and publish the book UNLESS there’s enough interest to hit their preset funding goal.
This is a case of “success breeds success.” By encouraging your friends and family to pre-order your book (and if you can’t encourage them, how will you ever encourage a room full of strangers?) you’ll create initial interest and buzz. It can all grow and multiply from there.
Where to Crowdfund:
Crowdfunding sites take a small percentage/fee for their services, and can help expose your project to a much larger audience (theirs) than you likely have. That said, don’t count on their audience/customers to fund your project. You need to build up a network BEFORE launching your crowdfunding campaign.
Here are some current major players in the crowdfunding space:
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Kickstarter – Features artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors, and other creators/startups.
Publishizer – Built especially for authors, this site aims to connect readers with authors.
Rockethub – For creators and art lovers; we’ve seen some graphic novel success here.
How to Crowdfund Successfully
Before you decide to crowdfund, ask yourself: Is your book project exciting? Is it uniquely qualified to grab an audience? Who is your audience and which crowdfunding site are they most likely to frequent?
Those who have successfully crowdfunded will tell you that the most successful projects are as exciting to backers as they are to the authors, AND that there’s no shortcut to preparing a smart campaign and getting the message of that campaign out to as many people as possible!
From Forbes: “… your initial pitch and messaging absolutely must grab your funder or investors’ attention right away and pull them in… This means engaging both the Rational Brain (the “what” of what you’re doing) and the Emotional Brain (the “why” of what you’re doing). The most effective way to do this is via telling a great story – either about yourself, the story of your project or company, or the story of your customer or who your project truly has an impact on.”
From Entrepreneur: “Start working on your campaign six months before you want to launch. When your crowdfunding campaign begins, you should already have done the lion’s share of the heavy lifting in terms of getting the word out, sharing your news and collecting email addresses.”
From Mashable: “Know your audience, and go where they are. Those who don’t gather an audience ahead of time and prescribe to the ‘if you build it they will come’ theory are often left disappointed.”
From IgnitionDeck: “There’s no way of guaranteeing crowdfunding success, but by studying the projects, strategies, and crowdfunding secrets that have worked for others, you can certainly maximize your chances.”
Study up with the additional resources we’ve provided below. Read the full articles from the references above, and by all means, visit the books (we searched both “book” and “novel” on the various crowdfunding sites and saw several that earned their goals. Read their pitches and note how each spoke to their reading audience.
If you’ve crowdfunded your book project, we want to hear about your success or failure. Share your insights with your comment below!