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Guest post by Stephanie Chandler
Lately a lot of authors have been asking me about how to use crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise funds for book publishing. Unfortunately, many have asked for advice after launching their campaigns, which doesn’t leave much time to make adjustments. If you’re going to go through the work of setting up a crowdfunding campaign (and it is a lot of work), there are some best practices you should know before you proceed.
What is Crowdfunding?
Services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo provide a platform for you to launch a funding campaign and invite people to contribute money to your project or cause. Campaigns can support all kinds of ventures from publishing books and producing movies to developing videos games and apps.
When you create a funding campaign, you will define various donation levels. Most importantly, you are required to offer the contributor something in exchange for their donation. For example, if you’re publishing a book your offerings might look something like this:
$5 – Moral support donation, in exchange for good karma. Thanks!
$15 – Digital copy of the book once it’s available.
$25 – Autographed copy of the book.
$50 – Autographed copy of the book, plus a matching t-shirt.
$100 – Five signed copies of the book to share with your friends.
$250 – Five signed copies of the book, plus you will be thanked in the book.
$500 – 25 copies of the book, a bonus audio program, and thanked in the book.
$1,000 – 25 copies of the book, five hours of consulting time with the author, and thanked in the book.
$2,500 – Spend a day in wine country with the author and enjoy some one-on-one consulting time, and thanked in the book.
$5,000 – 50 copies of the book, plus the author will speak at your event on an agreed upon date and time.
How to Create a Crowd Funding Campaign
Kickstarter is the largest of the crowd funding services, but it’s also harder to get a campaign approved. Authors have reported having to create several iterations of a funding campaign before finally getting approved, while others have had their projects turned away completely. There are quite a few rules that must be followed, and you can see the latest guidelines here.
When you create a new campaign with Kickstarter, you need to set a funding goal. However, if you fall short of meeting your goal when your campaign ends, you won’t be allowed to keep the contributions you collected. So if you want to raise $5,000, and feel confident you can raise at least $2,500, you may want to set your goal to the lower amount.
You can still accept contributions well beyond your goal, provided your project is still open and active. Note that this rule is unique to Kickstarter. With some of the other funding platforms, like Indiegogo, you can keep all of your contributions even if you don’t meet the funding goal.
After having spoken to many authors who have used these funding platforms, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- You need to bring the audience. Campaigns are usually 50% to 90% funded by the fund raiser’s own audience. Don’t launch a campaign and expect the world to flock to it—you need to promote the heck out of it to your business colleagues, family, and friends. Ask them to help spread the word, too. Leverage social media, your blog, mailing lists, and any other resources you can get your hands on.
- Load up your campaign with lots of details and try to appeal to the emotions of your contributors. Provide photos if you have them.
- Video is mandatory. Well it’s not required, but it’s strongly recommended as it can have a big impact in attracting contributors.
- Offer great rewards for contributions. Don’t just offer copies of your book. Think of other rewards such as tickets to an event you’re hosting, access to training that you offer, time spent with you, or experiences. I’ve seen authors off one-on-one consulting time in a limousine to top dollar contributors!
- Study other campaigns similar to yours. You can browse these sites for completed projects to see what rewards were offered, how many people selected each reward, and how much each project earned. There is a lot you can learn from simply studying the success of other projects.
I don’t view crowdfunding as a quick and easy solution by any means, but it can certainly be effective if you have a large network, a compelling project, and can offer up some great rewards. Plan to invest quite a bit of time and effort to assemble your campaign and then promote the heck out of it. Then come back and share your results with us! We’d love to hear about them.
[Note from Bob: Pubslush is a site I recently discovered that looks very promising. It’s described as “Crowdfunding for books only.”]
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books. Stephanie is also CEO of AuthorityPublishing.com, specializing in custom book publishing and social media marketing services, and NonfictionAuthorsAssociation.com, a marketing community for authors. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur, BusinessWeek, and Wired magazines, and she is a blogger for Forbes.