Guest Post: Crowdfunding: The Newest Tool for Self-Publishing
Self-publishing provides writers with an alternative to the institutionalized world of traditional publishing and affords them with more creative control over their work. Seems like a win-win, but as with everything, there’s a downside. Writers who choose to self-publish—and the number of writers choosing this route is ever-growing—are then charged with the responsibility of funding the publication of their book and the marketing efforts that are required for a book to be successful.
Anyone who publishes a book is taking a substantial financial risk—a prominent reason why traditional publishers mainly acquire risk-free authors, i.e. authors who are already established or famous household names (how do you think Snooki got a book deal?). The out-of-pocket expense is a big factor in a writer’s decision to self-publish versus taking their chances with the ever-elusive slush pile of the publishing industry. However, what if there was a way to lessen the financial burden and thus the risk of self-publishing?
Enter crowdfunding. Crowdfunding platforms are a means for artists, entrepreneurs, and businesses to raise funds for their creative or business ventures. Crowdfunders utilize their personal and professional networks to ask for financial backing for their crowdfunding project. The money they raise goes towards the production or creation of their proposed product.
Crowdfunding has created a unique opportunity for writers whose ability to self-publish may have been hindered by the costs of publishing. A successful crowdfunding campaign (meaning the pre-determined crowdfunding goal is met or exceeded) will not only provide the author with funds for publishing, but also provide them with the assurance that there is a market for their book.
Furthermore, sites like Pubslush provide detailed market analytics post-campaign that will tell an author precisely who supported their book providing information such as age, gender, geographic location, etc. This information will be extremely valuable for future book marketing purposes.
A successful crowdfunding campaign can help bring a book to life. If you’re an author and you think crowdfunding may be a viable option for you, here are some tips to get you started:
Pre-campaign preparation is essential. Time is a big factor in crowdfunding campaigns (most campaigns run for 30-60 days), so don’t put your project up until you have developed a comprehensive marketing plan. Also, it’s very important you research your costs up front so you can create an appropriate funding goal (the amount you hope to raise) and reward levels (incentives you offer for various levels of financial support). To be successful, you will need to determine how much money you’ll need to raise to complete your project AND fulfill the incentive levels. Tip: don’t forget about shipping costs!
Knowing your audience will help you target your outreach efforts. As with all books, there is a specific audience that will be more inclined to be interested in and support your book campaign. Knowing who your audience is—age, gender, occupation, etc.—will help you maximize your time and efforts. If you know your audience, you can discover where these people are, both on the Internet and in your community, and reach out to them through the appropriate platforms. A targeted outreach plan will prove to be much more effective than reaching out to just anyone who may mention books in their Twitter description.
You can’t be shy when crowdfunding. Here’s the most important tip when it comes to crowdfunding: it’s a lot of work. Your success is directly connected to the time and effort you put into your campaign. The funds aren’t going to raise themselves (wouldn’t that be nice, though?), so to be successful you must be assertive. Ask people to support your campaign, the worst they can say is no.
Connect with people on a personal level and make it easy for them to support you. When asking for support, it’s always more effective to do so on a personal level. Reach out to your close network via a personal e-mail or message with the link to your campaign. Make organic and personal connections with your audience on social media sites like Twitter and they will be much more inclined to fund your campaign than if you just blast out generic, spammy tweets every day (or worse, every hour).
Having enticing, yet creative rewards will be rewarding to both you and your supporters. Although people generally don’t support crowdfunding campaigns for the rewards it’s still important to put a lot of thought behind the reward levels you create for your campaign. Some of the most enticing rewards are the fun and creative ones that don’t necessarily cost the author very much money. For example, an author can promise to name a character in their book after the person who donates $500+. This costs the author nothing, but is a fun and appealing incentive.
Keep your supporters updated: Once someone supports your campaign, don’t just let them fall by the wayside. Keep them in the loop by sending out a newsletter or e-mail updates throughout your campaign and post-campaign. Make sure they know their support is appreciated.
Crowdfunding is just one of many tools to fuel your success as an author. Combine crowdfunding with the power of social media and the accessibility to a global audience that the Internet provides and you have the capability to bring your book to life and then some. Keep these tips in mind and visit Pubslush 101 for more information on crowdfunding for your book.
Justine Schofield is the communications coordinator of Pubslush, a global, crowdsourcing publishing platform for authors to raise funds and gauge the initial audience for new book ideas. Pubslush also operates an independent imprint that acquires books from the platform, and for every book sold, donates a children’s book to a child in need. Justine graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and is currently enrolled at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, earning her MFA in Creative Writing. She specializes in social media and public relations, has held various freelance editing and writing jobs, and her work has been published in many online and print publications.