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Self-publishing Tips

Crowdfunding for Authors. How to Use Kickstarter to Publish a Book

By November 13, 2022No Comments

You’ve probably heard of crowdfunding before, but have you ever thought of crowdfunding your children’s book? Crowdfunding is a way to get others to directly fund your passion project. Let’s discuss how to get started with crowdfunding for authors.

There are many ways to go about self-publishing. It’s easy and accessible to everyone, and can cost as little as the fee to upload a book on IngramSpark’s platform. But when you self-publish you don’t have a team behind you doing your book promotion and providing editing services and cover design, all of that work falls onto you.

At first, crowdfunding for your book sounds like a weird idea: asking strangers to invest in your artistry. But is it any different than asking an agent and or a publisher to market or publish your book? They’re strangers too, and they’re financially investing in your artistry. The only difference is that you’re appealing directly to the public and not to the publishers.

Start building audience

Why are you writing this book? What types of readers do you want to attract?

It’s important to understand your writing goals and target audience so you can develop an effective plan to reach potential readers. A crowdfunding campaign can create awareness for your book and help build your readership.

One of the  benefits of using crowdfunding for your book is validating your book idea. You can use your crowdfunding campaign to test the buying public. If you can sell your book idea through a crowdfunding campaign, this portends the viability of your book.

There may also be companies and organizations that are relevant and will benefit from your book. You may find success raising funds when you tap into communities of like-minded people who share your passions.

Use crowdfunding to raise awareness for your book. Crowdfunding is a great way to market your book and build a list of interested readers before you even publish.

Don’t just focus on the money, but focus on the community-building aspect of it. Think about your funders as potential readers, and it will shift your campaign in the right direction.

Figure out how much you need

Here’s the hard part. How do you determine how much you should ask for in your crowdfunding campaign? If you ask for too much, you probably won’t meet your goal. But then again, how much is too much?

The best way to tackle this part is to look at current, similar campaigns of crowdfunding for authors ad their books. Here are some of the most popular reasons you may need financial assistance:

To support your life for the time you write the book

  • To self-publish the book
  • To promote the book online in ads
  • To print the book
  • To ship your book copies
  • To pay for the illustrations and cover design
  • To pay for editing services
  • To Build a website

Your goal will dictate how much you need. If you’re new to self-publishing, consider starting small. But don’t underestimate the power of a simple, cheap first run that you can learn from. Mistakes are relatively cheap to fix, initial costs are low, and so is the amount you have to raise. Unless you already have ready access to a moneyed community, a $15 paperback is going to sell better than a hardcover in the long run. Starting smaller helps you to build up an audience and a community around your work and the passions behind it.

Decide how much you need to give your supporters

People love free stuff. Be sure to offer something to thank your supporters and encourage larger monetary donations. What will you give your supporters for their donations? If you’re not sure, here are a few ideas:

  • An ebook – every supporter should get an eBook
  • A cover art book poster signed by you
  • Signed copies of the physical book
  • Invitation to attend your launch party
  • Special recognition in your book
  • A t-shirt featuring your book characters

Make sure that your rewards are interesting. Set time frames that you’re sure you can comply with, and if you reach your goal it’s a good idea to send out updates to your pledgers to let them know how everything is going—and to reassure them that you haven’t forgotten about them!

Set a time frame for your crowdfunding campaign

The best campaigns are time sensitive. It’s highly recommended that you shorten the length of your campaign. It’s better to campaign for two months than for 12 months. Your investors will lose interest. Your campaign won’t feel as urgent and necessary.

Also remember that the bulk of your investors will join at the start of the campaign or in the final moments. There’s usually less growth in the middle section of your campaign. This is another reason to keep it shorter. 

Write your passion story

The foundation of your crowdfunding campaign will be your story. Why should investors fund your book, especially if they’ve never read it before?

You’re going to have to create a compelling story to market your book. It may sound easy, but copywriting is a different skillset than creative writing. You’ll need to find a way to appeal to the reader directly. 

Be relatable – You’re a human appealing to other humans. Show your personality. 

Be honest – Transparency is important when you’re asking people to invest their money, so explain exactly how you’ll use the money.

Edit your work – Typos distract.

Spend some time creating a compelling crowdfunding page that will let potential readers know why they should care and support you. Readers feel inspired to support authors when they become emotionally invested. Not only do they want to read the book, but they also believe the story needs to be shared with others.

Prepare a video

The most important element of a Kickstarter campaign is the video. It’s your first opportunity to catch people’s attention and show them that you are professional, passionate, and have a worthwhile project. 

In your video it’s important to explain your project, make it sound as interesting as possible, convey your excitement about it and be very clear about what the money will be used for. And of course, be sincere and honest. If your nerves allow it, try to let your personality shine through!

What if you fail your crowdfunding on Kickstarter?

When you think crowdfunding, you probably think “Kickstarter”. Afterall, it’s the most popular crowdfunding platform out there. Because of its popularity, it’s not a bad idea to start a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. However, there’s one major drawback to using Kickstarter: If your campaign doesn’t meet its goal, you don’t get any of the money. For example, if your goal is to raise $1000 but you only get $987, you get nothing. Yikes.

On Kickstarter, two out of three campaigns fail. Your failed Kickstarter campaign will live forever on the Internet. Kickstarter doesn’t delete failed campaign pages. So maybe one day a reader searches for reviews of your book on the Internet and finds your failed Kickstarter campaign, which negatively impacts your book’s credibility and your book will forever be associated with a failed crowdfunding campaign. There’s nothing worse than a failed Kickstarter campaign, so if you go that route, do everything you can to succeed.

Is kickstarter the only crowdfunding for authors plaform?

Nope. There are many wonderful alternatives to Kickstarter, such as IndieGoGo, Patreon, CrowdRise, and GoFundMe.

Whichever platform you choose, remember to research them well before you start your campaign. Check out reviews for each platform to know what to expect. You may need to set up an account that has to be approved several days/weeks ahead of time, which may spell bad news if your project is time-sensitive. Some platforms require that you back other campaigns before starting your own.

Not all crowdfunding platforms are created equal. Some platforms are free to set up a campaign but take a small percentage of your funding. Others take a percentage AND charge a fee for every transaction. 

The publishing-focused crowdfunding platform Unbound will publish your book for you if you reach your campaign goal, but will take 50% of any profits earned.

Promote like crazy

Once you set up a crowdfunding campaign, it’s go time. This is where having done some posting previously comes in handy; people will recognize your project from hearing about it on your social media and will be more inclined to participate. 

Reach out to your friends and family and any random acquaintance that you’ve saved in your phone. This includes folks that you haven’t spoken to in years. Leave no contact unreached. Tell them about your book and direct them to your crowdfunding campaign’s homepage, making sure that they don’t feel pressured, and suggesting that if they are unable to contribute, they could support you by sharing the link on their social media.

It’s also important to share your Kickstarter link on Facebook and Instagram (or whichever social media you use) but without being overbearing.

Keep your followers updated

Because your funders are literally invested in your novel, it’s important that you keep them updated about your progress. Remember to update your investors frequently throughout the campaign on the status of your project. 

After the campaign is over, continue to share news and exciting updates. Do so frequently. This keeps your investors engaged with your project, and inspires them to share your project with others. It’s also important to build an ongoing relationship with these investors.