Crowdfunding For Authors

Marketing your book is almost as vital to your success as writing it. Unfortunately, adequate marketing practices often come at an unfriendly price if not backed by a publishing house with a big budget.  Luckily, an industrious few have begun to investigate new ways to spread the word about their work and reduce personal expenses.

PubSlush, a startup modeled after Kickstarter (but for books only), aims to help self-published authors achieve the financial resources to get their projects off the ground. (Another up-and-comer to watch is Publishizer.) Today, Pubslush’s Development Director, Justine Schofield, shares a few star examples of crowdfunding campaigns, with some takeaways for how other writers can use the model successfully.

“Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In publishing terms, crowdfunding means that writers have the opportunity to raise funds for their book pre-publication to help lessen the author’s out-of-pocket expenses.  To better illustrate this relatively new practice, here are a couple of crowdfunding campaigns we have witnessed at Pubslush that have achieved impressive, even inspiring, success:

  • he never liked cakeHe Never Liked Cake by Janna Leyde is a memoir about dealing with her father’s Traumatic Brain Injury. She raised over $15,000 by sticking to her goal of telling one new person every day about her campaign. Also, she made specialty business cards (FREE from Vistaprint!) that she used to promote her campaign. By telling at least one new person a day and reaching out to her own yoga community and TBI organizations, she was able to gain the support of the 250 people who helped her share her story and make her book a reality.
  • Home Runs in Heaven by Tracy Sievers is another book about coping with the loss of a child, but hers is a children’s book that she wrote as a way to explain heaven and death to a child. Tracy knew how much money she needed to publish and pledged to donate the rest of the funds she raised to March of Dimes, an organization dedicated to research and prevention of early childhood illnesses and defects. By donating the excess funds to charity, Tracy appealed to a larger audience and was able to break a record by raising over $5,000 in the first 48 hours of her campaign.
  • You Are the Mother of All Mothers by Angela Miller surpassed its crowdfunding goal, raising almost $13,000. Angela wrote her book to help grieving parents who are coping with the loss of a child. She was able to rally support by connecting with her audience through her inspiring Facebook page and by offering rewards that really enticed people, such as a special “In Loving Memory Of…” dedication in her book.
  •  Elevator Girl, Kim Hruba’s debut novel, raised over $3,500 through crowdfunding. Kim is from a small town in Minnesota and she targeted her local community by creating rewards designed specifically for book clubs. By catering to her audience and her willingness to put herself out there in her own community, this first time author was able to accrue funds and pre-orders pre-publication.

The success of these crowdfunding campaigns boils down to authors being able to identify and target their niche audiences. Whether it’s crafting your campaign to appeal to a particular group or organization, or donating a portion of your funds to a greater cause, it’s important for all crowdfunding campaigns to have an accessible target audience. Successful campaigns also prove that every author who conducts a crowdfunding campaign must be their own biggest advocate. People won’t support a campaign unless they are prompted to, so it’s absolutely vital for authors to be their own biggest advocates and to get the word out there.”

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There’s no denying that crowdfunding is a process which requires a lot of work, a lot of time and sometimes, a lot of patience!  And in that way, it’s like all of publishing—traditional or not. But if you want your project to be successful, think small: it could be as simple as in-person networking, finding a way to send an email blast that’s creative instead of annoying and promotional, or linking up with a nonprofit to fundraise together. The beauty of crowdfunding is that it’s a democratic method to kick off the marketing plan pre-publication. We were excited to learn about PubSlush, and we hope that writers, more industrious and ambitious than ever, will use this resource among all the other free resources now available. Your options aren’t limited.

Final word: Today, the median revenue for authors self-publishing on Amazon is $16,000 and just under $4.5 million at maximum, according to a new Digital Book World report. Could authors be making similar figures or more through crowdfunding models tomorrow? Time will tell.

 

David Bodanis

"Writer and futurist Bodanis imparts fresh insight into the genius—and failures—of the 20th century’s most celebrated scientist...This provocative biography illuminates the human flaws that operate subtly in the shadows of scientific endeavor." — Publishers Weekly