In the past, large publishing companies had full control over which authors got to share their work with the world. The concept of self-publishing shifted the dynamics of the industry as it gave passionate writers the ability to publish any content they wanted to, but funding remained a major obstacle.
Now thanks to the wonderful world of crowdfunding, authors can overcome this challenge as they can receive financial contributions from multiple individuals in exchange for rewards or ‘perks.’ Joel Hughes (right), UK and Europe Director at Indiegogo, shares his top seven tips on how to successfully crowdfund a book.
1. Research thoroughly
We recommend allowing at least two months before your desired launch date to prepare for your campaign. Start by determining which crowdfunding platform is right for you, as each platform is different, and some platforms offer both fixed and flexible funding options, while others offer only fixed funding. Then, research both successful and unsuccessful publishing campaigns to gain as much insight as possible into best practices. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these campaigners directly to learn more about what worked for them.
2. Be realistic
To determine a funding target, include all possible expenses such as hiring an editor, a cover designer, a layout artist, printing the book or recording an audiobook. Research the average amount of investment needed for projects with a similar scope. We’ve found that with crowdfunding it’s usually advantageous to err on the side of a lower target and surpass it, as contributors are more likely to fund a campaign that’s close to or past its goal.
Remember that you also have to determine how long to run your campaign. The ideal timeframe to run a campaign is around 45-65 days. If it’s too short, potential backers will not have enough time to contribute to it. If it’s too long, they might lose the sense of urgency or grow tired of constantly being reminded to contribute.
3. Build a community
A strong community is critical to the success of a campaign as the larger your network of potential contributors, the higher your chance of success. Be proactive before and during your event, and spread the word beyond your friends, colleagues and family. Reach out far and wide, as anyone is a potential supporter.
One of the most tried-and-true method of expanding your database is attending and hosting events, as well as holding competitions on social media channels. It’s also very helpful to engage with the community by guest posting on other blogs to reach new readers, and connecting with writer friends and influencers to help promote the project.
4. Be active on social media
Social media is another great way to build your community and tell the world about your project. Successful campaigns raise 21% of funds from people who have learned about the campaign through social media.
There are an overwhelming number of social media platforms available, and we don’t encourage anyone to be active on all of them. Instead, choose those that ones are most relevant to your specific product and can be managed with ease. Be sure to add fresh content every two to three days to maintain an active and dynamic presence. We know it can be easy to forget to post, so consider scheduling posts ahead of time with social media management tools such as Hootsuite.
5. Build the campaign page
Once the preparation stage is complete, it’s time to focus on the campaign page itself. Use emotive, illustrative words to appeal to the audience when summarising your book and explaining why you decided to use crowdfunding to bring it to life. Instead of using words such as ‘donate’ or ‘sponsor’, use phrases like “support a project,” “help to bring this book to life” and “pre-order a book.” Make your supporters feel like they are part of your creative process.
Use a mix of strong visuals such as infographics, graphics, video and static imagery to break up chunks of texts and make the page easier to read. We’ve found that campaigns with a pitch video raise four times more than campaigns without a pitch video, because it allows potential supporters to get to know you. No matter how charming you are, make sure your video is under three minutes to keep up with a modern-day attention span!
6. Create appealing perks
It’s best for a crowdfunding campaign to offer four to six rewards for different contribution amounts. Perks can range from a handwritten ‘thank you’ postcard, original artwork, a public thank you on the author’s website, or inclusion in the “acknowledgements” section of the book. Larger rewards can be experiential, such as a video call or meal with the author.
Be careful about creating rewards that will take considerable time and money to fulfil. Try to find a balance between choosing rewards that people will actually want that don’t take up too much time for you to put together. Also keep in mind that while crowdfunding gives you a unique opportunity to reach a global audience, double-check international shipping policies and costs. Remember, producing the book is the ultimate goal.
7. Keep the momentum going
Keep the energy of the campaign up by answering any questions from your backers and posting updates whenever you have new perks or a campaign milestone to share. Once the campaign closes, thank backers for their support and keep them posted about the book’s progress. Make sure that perks are fulfilled in a timely manner, and with the quality you promised. If it’s not possible to fulfil the orders by the estimated delivery date or in the way that was promised, make sure that this is communicated with the backers. While you might feel like working on the book is more important than anything else, remember that your backers signed up to be part of the journey, and they made it possible for the book to happen in the first place. By building a strong relationship with you backers, they will become ambassadors and help spread the word about the book to their friends and family.
Crowdfunding is a great tool for authors considering self-publishing as it helps overcome the challenge of financing book production. To pave the way for a successful campaign, take the time to prepare, build buzz around the book and community, and develop a stunning campaign page. Lastly, even once the campaign has ended, you still have work to do. It’s important to nurture and develop your relationship with your backers by keeping them updated on both the progress you make and the challenges you face.
This is a guest blog by Joel Hughes, UK and Europe Director at Indiegogo