How to Finance Your Book Through Crowdfunding

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If you are considering crowdfunding your book project, you have lots of options to choose from. But which crowdfunding platform is best for you? Justine Schofield, the development director at Pubslush, outlines the different options in a recent article for the IBPA Independent. Here’s a summary of what she found:

Indiegogo

Funding Types: All or nothing or flexible funding

Platform fee:

  • If you choose all or nothing and meet your goal, 4% of what you raise goes to the platform as a fee.
  • If you choose flexible funding and meet your goal, 4% of what you raise goes to the platform as a fee.
  • If you don’t make your goal, the platform takes 9% of what you raise.

Accessibility: Public, global

Types of projects: Open to any project

Launched: 2007

Kickstarter

Funding type: All or nothing

Platform fee: If you meet your goal, 5% of what you raise goes to the platform as a fee.

Accessibility: Public, United States, United Kingdom, and Canada

Types of projects: Open to any project

Launched: 2009

Pubslush

Funding type: Flexible funding

Platform Fee: If you meet your goal, 4% of what you have earned goes to the platform as a fee.

Accessibility: Public, global

Types of projects: Books only

Launched: 2012

Deciding on a Platform

Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have more brand recognition and more traffic, but more traffic doesn’t necessarily mean more support for a particular project, especially a publishing project. Books on these larger platforms are often overshadowed by projects that are more innovative and visual. One advantage of a niche platform that accepts only book projects, such as Pubslush, is more visibility. Pubslush also offers author education, marketing tools, and specialized campaign support.

Setting a Goal

Once you decide on a platform, you need to decide on your funding goal. At Pubslush and Indiegogo, you will receive whatever money you raise there (minus the site’s fee) even if you don’t meet your goal. On Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal, none of your supporters’ credit cards get charged.

What you need to consider in order to set a realistic funding goal:

  • Will your book be printed or only offered as an ebook? or both?
  • What will design, editing, and production and/or manufacturing cost?
  • What will advance publication marketing cost, including the costs of sending advance reader copies?
  • What will marketing cost around and after pub date?

Knowing the answers to these and related questions will help you determine how much money you need to raise, but you also need to consider how potential contributors might perceive your goal. If you set it too high, people may see it—and you—as unrealistic. If you set it too low, they may assume their contributions aren’t actually necessary. It is important to price out your exact costs to determine an accurate goal. Do your research and be sure to take all aspects into consideration before setting a crowdfunding goal.

Establishing Donations and Rewards

Establishing support levels and deciding on the corresponding rewards are the next steps in building a crowdfunding campaign. Support levels can range from $1 to $10,000 or more and are accompanied by different levels of reward for contributions to a campaign. These rewards often range from the final product (such as a copy of a book) for a donation of $25 to a meet-and-greet dinner with the author for $200.

Campaigns that offer unusual and creative rewards and a variety of support levels are the most likely to be successful. With donation options starting at $1 to $5 and up to $1000 or more, a campaign can attract many types of supporters.

Recommendations

Generally, it’s a good idea to offer 5, 6, or 7 support levels, and often an e-book is a perfect reward for a donation at the lowest level.

Support levels in the $100 range can offer many different kinds of rewards. Along with print copies, popular choices include an invitation to the book’s launch party, a chance to meet with the author, and the right to name a character in an upcoming book.

Rewards that cost you little or nothing will help you make the most of funds, as long as the rewards are appealing to potential contributors. As you work on determining support levels, remember that you will have to factor in all shipping costs.

Attracting and Targetting Donors

A lot of work is required before a campaign goes live. You will need to:

  • develop a solid platform
  • understand your book’s audience
  • create a well-thought-out marketing plan

Crowdfunding campaigns have strict timelines—usually between 30 and 60 days—so it’s important to hit the ground running on Day 1.

As you prepare for your campaign, think about five sets of people to target as potential donors:

  1. Your close circle of family and friends. Make them the first people you ask to support you. Their responses can provide an instant boost to build on. No one wants to support a campaign that has raised $0, so it’s important to post an encouraging number as soon as possible.
  2. Your personal and professional networks. It’s important to reach out to them next, with a personal message, letter, or phone call.
  3. Your extended community. Sometimes being successful is all about momentum. If you make it a point to tell at least one new person a day about your campaign and ask them to spread the word, you can create a buzz around your project.
  4. The people in the market(s) for the book. If you don’t already know what they read, what social media they use, where they gather, and where they shop, find out now and then use the information to communicate with them about your crowdfunding campaign.
  5. Bloggers and other internet influencers. Since bloggers who serve your book’s market can have a lot of influence on the people in it, seek them out and ask them to spread the word about you, your book, and your campaign.

Actively Manage Your Goals

Setting weekly outreach goals for the duration of a campaign can help you manage your marketing efforts more effectively. Be sure to personalize what you send; talk about your book and why you are crowdfunding, and ask for support. Asking is key, and you will have to do it over and over again.

There is no shame in asking for support for your project. Remember that crowdfunding allows people to support a dream, a project, or a person they truly believe in, and to get a tangible reward along with feeling a part of the discovery process.

Justine Schofield has worked with growing companies to develop their online presence, and her work has been featured on many online publications. To learn more contact Justine.

A summary of this article is being posted with permission from the Independent Book Publishers Association. It first ran in the December 2013 issue of the IBPA Independent, the monthly magazine of the Independent Book Publishers Association. For more information or to see other articles, please visit www.ibpa-online.org