If it works for peanut butter and potato salad, does that mean it will work for writers and books? Crowdfunding is all the rage at the moment. You can’t open your email or sign in to Facebook without getting a (rather pushy) request from some far-distant acquaintance asking for contributions to a passion project or crazy scheme. But is crowdfunding for authors a good idea?
Well, why not put follow the crowd? Maybe you’ve got a manuscript you’d like to publish or a collection of poetry that needs a final push to bring all the rhymes together. It’s good, isn’t it? If you place the project on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, people will surely contribute. And you can just sit back and watch the contributions roll in.
Er, not quite. We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Maybe crowdfunding for authors is not the best option.
What is Crowdfunding for Authors?
It’s a straightforward idea: you have a project, you post it on a crowdfunding platform, create perks and benefits, and people contribute. The last few years have seen many new platforms cropping up, including sites like Pubslush and Authr catering specifically to writers. Check out this list. As you can imagine, these sites are packed with projects, and it’s hard to get yours to stand out.
Is Crowdfunding for Authors a Good Thing?
Yes and no. Crowdfunding does offer another way around the traditional publishing route: you can use the crowd to fund the publication of your book and use the platform to begin building an audience. As the author, you can offer perks like signed copies, advanced ebooks, exclusive reading events, and other interesting benefits. In doing so, you can reach potential new readers and create excitement for when the book is published. And you might benefit from the carry-over marketing work of your backers, who enjoy being involved and helping to spread the word.
Doesn’t that sound great? So collaborative and creative and successful. Well, if you want to get to that point, be prepared to work. Making your campaign a success has much more to do with promotion, marketing, and networking than with the artistic merit of your project. If you’re looking to crowdfund, think of it as a full-time marketing job: for several weeks prior to the launch, during the campaign, and several weeks after.
What’s the Money for?
Here are some of the possible ways writers might use crowdfunding resources:
- Finance the writing of an unwritten book. This will be difficult, unless you’re already famous. And if it takes two to three years to write a really good book, the amount you need to raise will have reflect that time taken. There’s also nothing tangible for backers: only the promise of an unpublished manuscript.
- Finance the publication of a finished book. Again, a tough bet unless you are already published. But there’s a lot to be gained from trying to raise money for editing, proofreading, layout, and design, especially if you succeed.
- Finance certain parts of the publishing process. Focus on raising money for one aspect, such as a dynamite cover design or even the development of an author website.
- Finance a tour or promotional event. This is useful for already published books and building an audience. Perks can include signed books and tickets to events. It can also have a trigger effect, expanding the scope and range of the tour.
- Finance a cross-media project. Work together with another art form to separate the project from the crowd and benefit from cross-media promotions.
Who Contributes to Crowdfunding for Authors?
For every peanut-butter bonanza with backers from all over the world, there are thousands of projects that waste away with few or no backers. The truth is that crowdfunding relies heavily on the people in the close circle of the crowdfunder. It is actually very difficult to get strangers to support your project, whether you’re famous or not. It’s also difficult to get your project to stand out from the crowd. And asking friends and family for money may result in some awkward situations.
Tips for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
- Don’t enter a crowdfunding campaign lightly. Start early, be patient, and make the time to give the project the required amount of effort.
- Be prepared, be organised, and be committed.
- Make a budget and choose a wise amount to raise.
- Be willing to spend some money to create a good, professional campaign.
- Choose the right crowdfunding platform for your project. Do some research first.
- Don’t be shy about marketing and networking. Crowdfunding is all about marketing, online and offline.