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