As the name suggests, crowdfunding is the raising of funds via a crowd – a community of peers and kind backers. Crowdfunding serves a dual purpose: it enables you to raise funds at the same time as alerting readers to your new book. Imagine you can promote your book while raising funds to promote your book! Creating a campaign takes months of planning, and once it’s launched, it can be a full-time job. Crowdfunding is not for the faint-hearted; if you are afraid to ask for help, don’t bother with crowdfunding. It won’t work.
In my experience the most successful campaigns are run by people who know people who have a large, active following. To use a wedding as an analogy, your wedding list is not enough to be successful. It’s the well-connected people coming to your wedding who can then invite their network that truly makes a difference. This is also true for launching your book; it’s not just who you know, but who knows you. The first step in any campaign is organizing your list. Who do you know that will contribute?
The preparation time could be as much as 6 months before you launch a campaign. The preparation involves determining how much you will ask for, who will you ask, who will contribute, who will offer benefits, who will help create a video, who are your teammates, and who will bring you lemonade while you are working?
Before you begin there are some questions you need to ask yourself:
Is your project worth it?
Before diving into crowdfunding, ask yourself, honestly, whether your book has 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. Ask yourself how your book will or your campaign benefit your crowd?
Is it irresistible?
No matter if your project lacks WOW factor, the way you describe your book and pitch it to backers is key. Create an authentic video of you looking directly into the camera. Sincerity counts. If you believe in your project and are passionate about it, it’s more likely that you will be able to excite other people. Remember that with crowdfunding, you are openly asking for money. Just like the blurb on the back cover of your book convinces a reader to buy the book, you must convince backers to invest.
Are you willing to work for the benefits?
According to 2013 statistics, the success rate of crowdfunding projects is roughly 50%. The natural traffic of crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, will not fund your project. This is why we suggest to clients who are thinking of doing a crowdfunding campaign to time it before their book launches. That way, they can use the buzz being created by the campaign as advance publicity for their book. Daily social media networking, newsy updates, and emailing encouraging notes to your followers are only a part of your campaign. Your marketing needs to be constant and effective.
Will your backers find it worthwhile?
While some backers invest solely on the strength of a book/project’s concept, others invest for the rewards that are on offer. This is why it’s important to make sure they’re attractive and truly beneficial. Rewards are arranged in levels. Usually the reward levels start at $10 and can range up to $500. The easiest and least expensive (for you) reward is a free eBook. Rewards can be signed copies of your print book, Skype chats, even custom merchandise. Rewards can also be donated by others to make your campaign more appealing. Those donating benefits will receive the benefit of the publicity you are creating for your campaign. And you will receive the benefit of their bonuses, as well as communication with their networks.
Some of the most reliable sites for crowdfunding are kickstarter.com, and Indiegogo.com. Other sites include unbound.com and rockethub.com. Each site has their pros and cons. Do your research to see which site will work best for your campaign.
And, most of all, be grateful. Say thank you. Say it a lot. People have invested in you because they believe in you and your work. They have put their faith in you and backed it with their hard-earned cash. Do a good job. Make them proud. And say thank you.
Have you run a crowdfunding campaign? I am writing a book about crowdfunding and I want to interview you. Whether it was successful or not, I would love to know what you learned. Email me from my website below. Thank you!
© Mari Selby, September 2016
MARI SELBY founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher where she was successful in improving their sales from 20,000 books to over 100,000 books in one year. Prior to being a publicist Mari was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years.