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Top Tips on Crowdfunding for Authors

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Ben Galley, ALLi’s new Crowdfunding advisor

Authorpreneur Ben Galley kicks off his role as ALLi’s new Crowdfunding Advisor with an introduction to the concept of crowdfunding for self-published authors and shares some helpful tips for crowdfunding success.

What is Crowdfunding?

As the name suggests, crowdfunding is the raising of funds via a individuals and small contributions: a crowd – a community of peers and kind backers.  What’s truly great about crowdfunding is that it enables you to raise funds at the same time as growing and strengthening your fanbase!

Using the crowd isn’t a new concept – the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary was heavily ‘crowdsourced’ – but with the advancement of technology over the last decade, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing have become a lot easier and also very popular.

Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing can be very useful to indie authors. Whether you want to fund the publication of a new book, source a book cover, or pioneer a literary project, the crowd can help you. It’s something I highly recommend, primarily as it enables you to expand your fanbase at the same time as raising money.

Crowdfunding Platforms

There are a range of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platforms out there, and they are all very easy to use. By the way, crowdfunding is the term usually applied to fund a project, whereas crowdsourcing crowdsourcing is normally used to source a service or a product, such as a cover design.

You may be very familiar with Kickstarter, one the major players in the crowdfunding world. Other platforms include Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, and also Flattr.

Kickstarter is perhaps the most well-known platform out there. Since its launch in 2009, Kickstarter has raised over $1 billion, funding films, music, apps, comics, and of course, literature. Kickstarter has been used by artists such as Whoopi Goldberg, Amanda Palmer, and Seth Godin.

Most crowdfunding platforms are very simple and easy to use, and usually work in the same way:

  • You post a project on the platform of your choosing, explaining in detail what your project is for and how the required funds will be put to use.
  • Within your project, you offer rewards for your backers, such as limited edition artwork, a copy of the finished product, or a t-shirt.
  • The project is launched, and given a set amount of time to reach its goal.
  • If the project is compelling and interesting enough, the crowd will invest.
  • If all goes well, and the financial goal is hit within the time limit, then your project is successful!
  • The platform takes a small percentage of the funds raised, and for the cost of processing transactions.
Pubslush logo

Pubslush logo

One platform that I’m currently using is called Pubslush. It’s a niche crowdfunding platform designed for books and literature. As a niche platform, their user base is smaller than platforms such as Kickstarter, but it means it’s more focused. Many authors have already seen success via Pubslush, and you can use it to fund all sorts of new books or writing projects. I’m currently using it to fund the release of my newest novel Bloodrush, and have found it very easy and simple to use. ALLi Director Orna Ross also used Publush to do a successful campaign to publish a hardback, special edition of her WB Yeats novel, Secret Rose.

Top 4 Tips for Crowdfunding

Whatever project you’re trying to fund, and whatever platform you intend to use, here are four quick tips can help you maximise your chances of success.

Confirm: Is your project worth it?

Before diving into crowdfunding, ask yourself honestly whether your project is exciting enough. Is it interesting? Does it have a wow factor? If it doesn’t, then it may struggle getting funded. The most successful projects are as exciting to their backers as they are to their creators. You have to give people a reason to part with their money and the best way to do that is with a great concept or goal.

Compel: Make it irresistible

Even if your project does reside at the shallow end of the cool spectrum, the way you describe your project and pitch it to backers is very important. Bear in mind that with crowdfunding, you are openly asking for money. People will want to know where their cash will be used, what they will get in return, and that you will make the most of it. Your project needs to cover all these details, and like a blurb on a book, convince them to invest. Videos and interviews within projects are always good ideas.

Prepare: Don’t assume your project will fund itself

From Kickstarter statistics released in 2013, the success rate of crowdfunding projects is roughly 50%. Where many people go wrong is that they assume the natural traffic of sites like Kickstarter and a couple of tweets will get their projects funded. Unfortunately, it needs a lot more work than that, especially if you’re raising thousands. Your marketing needs to be far-reaching, constant, and effective. Market your project as if you were marketing a new book!

Reward: Make it worthwhile for your backers 

While some backers invest solely on the strength of a project’s concept, others invest for the rewards that are on offer. This is why it’s important to make sure they’re alluring. Rewards are usually arranged in levels. For the Kickstarter project I ran last year, I offered reward levels ranging from $3 to $500. The smallest reward was a free eBook, while the biggest was multi-faceted, involving signed copies, Skype chats, even custom merchandise. It’s important to be creative with your rewards too. They need to correspond to the value of the investment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be quirky. You can even theme them if you wanted to.

 Whatever you’re looking to fund, I hope these tips have helped, and I’ll be happy to respond to any any comments or questions.

And if you’re an author currently running a crowdfunding project, please feel free to post a brief description of it, along with a link to it, in the comments box.

Good luck in your crowdfunding endeavours!

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“4 Top #Crowdfunding Tips for Authers from @BenGalley for @IndieAuthorALLi http://selfpublishingadvice.org/crowdfunding”

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17 Responses to Top Tips on Crowdfunding for Authors

  1. Sebastian Klassman August 19, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

    Hey ben, thanks for the write up and some good tips to consider. I think it’s important to prove your project among closest circle before actually diving into it. If it is compelling and you have approval, there is a lot of work that needs to be done before the campaign is live. To build an audience and support. Consider the platforms as well, make right choice in terms of what your project involves. It might not even be an existing platform, you may even crowdfunding directly off your website.

  2. Curtis green August 7, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

    Great Info, Im starting a crowdfunding campaign for my book titled Silk Road Memoir, a story of Crime, Greed and Murder. Its being written by me, NYT best selling author Dave Farland and Diann T. Read. Its an amazing, yet true account of a billion dollar (illegal) web site that involved dirty DEA and Secret service agents that stole millions and made it look like I did it and they had to fake my death to save me from the guy they stole the money from, this is just one of the many facets of this story.

    The Campaign starts on Sept 1 2016 and Ill be giving some perks for those that pre-order. Feel free to sign up for updates.
    https://publishizer.com/silk-road-memoir/

  3. Kim Bogren Owen August 8, 2015 at 6:28 am #

    Thank you for the tips! I have been using your tips in my crowdfunding campaign for the printing costs of two children’s books I have written. The campaign is coming to a close in about a week, and I am still not near to my goal, but it will be a start. I have learned several lessons, but the big thing was that it took me until almost half way through the campaign to finally personally ask my friends, family, and colleagues. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many responded with a contribution. If you would like to learn more about my project here is the link to my Rockethub campaign- https://www.rockethub.com/projects/54711-words-reflected-children-s-literature-kim-bogren-owen#description-tab.

  4. Victoria Noe May 15, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    I’m researching various companies now. My project would be a little different: research expenses for my next book. It’s nonfiction and will require some travel (don’t know how much yet).

    I know people who have had great success in raising money to cover marketing expenses, but have you heard of anyone doing it for research?

  5. Joseph Hogue March 5, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    Great tips! I say if you have a crowdfunding campaign, invest time in outreach and marketing. Get your family and friends on board to start and then more people will back your campaign when they see it’s a worthwhile project.

  6. Katherine March 4, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    about to launch a business need an interested investor for my mind puzzle book business preferably local in Coquitlam, BC or in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster. If anyone knows of anyone please have them contact me they will not regret being on board…

  7. Tamekia November 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Good information! I recently started my campaign on Indiegogo for my first book Waiting For The Beast. I wish I had found this article before I started. I was not fully prepared for the marketing part but I’m learning and I won’t give up. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/waiting-for-the-beast

  8. Dave McCall September 17, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Very helpful, Ben. I’m just three days into a Pubslush campaign to seek funding for my next novel, The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour: A Novel of Waterloo. I chose Pubslush precisely because, as Sandy says, it has that facility to set a “minimum” target as well as a maximum amount – on the basis that, so long as you reach that minimum figure, you qualify for whatever you’ve raised. That was important to me since, while I was naturally keen to use the platform to raise money, I also wanted it to serve as a market testing and pre-publication sales tool. I have a daily schedule arranged for the next few weeks to make sure that the campaign page gets as much profile as possible with any Twitter, FB and Linkedin contacts who might have an interest in action & battlefield adventure, feisty women characters (the two female leads make Richard Sharpe look like a cissy), and Waterloo in general – since we’re coming up to the battle’s 200th anniversary. That’s all on top of my own e-mail list contacts, of course. Here’s the campaign page…
    http://pubslush.com/project/2722
    As we’d all expect, most of my initial support has come from friends or existing readers but, to be honest, I could have done that much without a dedicated platform. Three days in and only 7% funded, but at least I’ve got enough commitments to know that I’ll reach the minimum. That’s fine. And I certainly don’t expect a bunch of strangers to rush in and provide the funding. But then, on the other hand, if crowd-funding platforms DON’T have some market penetration of their own – at least the POSSIBILITY of attracting some external and extra income potential, then what is the point of their existence? As it happens, I was satisfied that both Pubslush and Kickstarter DO have that capacity (I didn’t research any others), but that’s the only tip that I’d want to add, Ben – to carefully check out (from previous users of the platform) that it’s got a track-record of bringing additionally to your own fund-raising capability.

  9. Joe Cottonwood September 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Don’t expect a bunch of strangers to rush in and fund your project. Most of the money will come from people who already know you or who have read something you’ve published. The larger your existing fan base, the more you can raise. My kickstarter project was 90% funded by fans who already knew of me or who helped spread the word — even though I was a kickstarter “editor’s pick” with prominent placement at the top of the page. It’s not like there’s a world full of people with money to give away to unfamiliar authors. A few, yes. And bless them.

  10. Sandy Osborne September 13, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Hi Ben – great post! And an amazing coincidence that I am also in the middle of crowdfunding campaign with Kickstarter to publish my second book – a standalone sequel Girl Cop in Trouble. http://kck.st/1rOcjQJ
    This is my first venture into the scary world of crowdfunding and I have experienced an enormous learning curve in the thirteen days it has been running. The first week went swimmingly and I reached my half way target with apparent ease. I had a few random backers from around the world but most are from people I know, or friends of friends. But now my ‘sure fire’ pledges have been made, the second half is proving an uphill struggle and I am having to work hard to reach my target. Twitter, FB, backing up e mails with another one, handing out flyers. Truly prostituting myself for my art!
    I spent a lot of time researching how my Kickstarter page should be laid out and what rewards to offer. The video is a MUST as some backers have actually stated that it was the video that persuading them to pledge. It was tough to a) think of an idea/theme for the clip and b) find someone to help me do it. But I did it and I’m glad I did! It’s a good hook to tweet about too! Check it out – filmed partly from a Police cell! http://kck.st/1rOcjQJ
    As to the rewards, I based these on what I would expect for MY money. I didn’t bother with rewards that didn’t offer something tangible – I went straight for the e book version and built up from there, making the rewards good value for money. As my book is Police related, I used ranks to name the rewards which also prompted a few positive comments. Helen Hart – Publishing Director of SilverWood Books also suggested I included a ‘big reward’ which was to have a cameo role in the book named after the backer. I never thought it would be taken up – but it went on the third day!
    An interesting fact that I have discovered during these two weeks though (and I am willing to be proved wrong!) is that crowdfunding is an initiative more accepted by the younger generations. I say this because I have e mailed many of my friends (of a more mature generation!) and when I have followed it up, having had no response, they say that they did see the message but that they weren’t familiar with crowdfunding/don’t understand/trust it – and have thus decided to wait until the book is out to buy it! Arrgghh!
    Finally, I would point out that unlike Kickstarter, Pubslush (I can’t speak for the others) allows you to set a minimum goal which you will receive if you don’t reach your final target. Alas, if I don’t reach my target, I don’t get a penny! So please feel free to have a look at my page and pick up any tips you may find helpful for your own campaign. http://kck.st/1rOcjQJ Thanks Ben!

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