Image: Matthew Loffhagen
The Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding Your Book
How to set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund your book
As much as you may try and avoid it, self-publishing a book will cost some money. Whether you hire an editor, pay for a book cover design, or use an online distributor, you will need to pay for something somewhere along the line.
The question is, where will you get this money? Will you…
- take it from your savings?
- use income from another job?
- borrow it?
- use proceeds from a previous book?
Or are you going to join the many self-published authors who use crowdfunding to finance their editing, production, and marketing?
There are a few crowdfunding companies out there, but Kickstarter is a major player. It enables you to raise money from the general public to help fund a creative project. In return, you give your funders rewards such as free versions of your books.
Getting started with book crowdfunding on Kickstarter
First of all you need to go and look at what is currently working on Kickstarter for authors. Look at the most funded list for fiction for examples of book funding projects that have worked.
Make sure you have a clearly defined goal
Kickstarter require that you have a fixed end goal for your project. This will ensure you don’t land up in the bin with the 25% of projects that are denied. As an author this could be any of the following:
- Funding towards editorial costs
- Funding towards production costs
- Funding towards marketing costs
- Funding for all of the above
What will not work is asking for people to fund you to pay your bills while you try and write or come up with ideas.
A great scenario would be where you have a perfectly formatted ebook and want to raise the money towards marketing costs to get the word out there.
Another would be where you have a manuscript and want to raise funding for editing and production costs.
This is what Kickstarter have to say about it:
What are you raising funds for? Having a focused and well-defined project with a clear beginning and end is vital. For example: recording a new album is a finite project — the project finishes when the band releases the album — but launching a music career is not. There is no end, just an ongoing effort. Kickstarter is open only to finite projects.
Choosing a project title
Here is where you need to take a look at the great headline writers. This post is not enough to cover the art of headline writing but see Copyblogger for more information. I’d recommend signing up to their newsletter, it is excellent.
Keep it related to your book, the title might be enough but if you can create something the makes people open your project then you are on to a winner. Don’t over stuff it with keywords.
Choosing a Kickstarter image
Along with your good heading the image is what will draw people in to your book funding project. If you already have (good) artwork for your cover then this could be a good place to use it. Whatever you do, do not put up a shoddy homemade cover. You don’t want people to think that the end result they are funding is going to be shoddy. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ROBOTIC EDITION is a good example of an eye catching image that is relevant to the book and which makes you curious.
When to set your project deadline
Set it at 30 days with an absolute maximum of 60 days. Anything longer than that and you are simply inviting your funders to think that it is not urgent and to walk away.
Set your funding goal realistically
Get quotes from your suppliers. If you want to we can give you an exact quote for all of our services well in advance so you can plan around that. Make sure you factor in the cost of fulfilling your reward promises.
Setting rewards with your book in mind
- At a very basic level you should offer your ebook to everyone who funds you. (This is the easiest for you to fulfill and will only cost you time);
- You can offer a copy of the ebook and the physical book;
- You can offer signed copies of books;
- Offer to name a character in the book after a major funder;
- You can offer things like lunch with the author (yourself);
- Invitations to the launch party;
- You could offer exclusivity to a physical bookstore for a while for a certain price;
- Your creativity knows no bounds. If your book is set in and around a certain city or place that you have had to research in depth then you could offer guided tours of the city/place.
Limited edition/premium rewards are a unique way to reward your backers. Limited edition dust jackets or simply giving backers access to the book before it goes on sale are ways to make your backers feel special. At the end of the day you want to get them as engaged as possible. They are making your project a reality and you need to thank them appropriately.
Make sure you price one of your rewards at below $20, this will ensure that you get the most backers. Seeing as you are an author promoting your book on Kickstarter this shouldn’t be too hard. Just offer a copy of the ebook as an entry level reward.
Get people engaged in your book funding project from an early date
You can offer an early bird discount for people who fund you at the beginning of the campaign i.e. fund $5 and get a free copy of the book when the entry level is normally $10 and it will retail for $12. Building up momentum is vital at Kickstarter. People automatically want to back successful projects, it’s part of the herd mentality that makes books into bestsellers even if they may not be the highest works of literary art. Use this, get people to commit early on, especially if your family or friends are going to contribute. Make sure they get on board early.
Don’t forget the price of shipping a book
Remember that in the case of physical books you will have to consider the cost of shipping. Here’s an example of the possible wording:
Free shipping to USA. (Add $10 for shipping to Canada, $15 for international shipping.)
Your story as a Kickstarter Author
A major part of the campaign is your video
This is the fun part where you get to actually talk to the potential backers of your book and connect with them. You are selling your book, yourself and also the concept of crowd funding.
You can create a video that is a reflection of the book as done well here:
Or you can do an interview style video in which you are able to get your personality across like this one by author Michael J. Sullivan:
Here’s a video from Kickstarter themselves on how to make an awesome video. It doesn’t get more from the source than that![fve]https://player.vimeo.com/video/38523940[/fve]
A quick summary of things to remember for your video:
- Be personal – people want to engage with you
- Get straight to the point – like any good book, people need to be hooked early
- Tell your story
- Make sure you have a clear call to action at the end of your video!
Check out the best Kickstarter videos from 2011 as chosen by Kickstarter themselves.
Write a killer description
You can really go into detail here, include the exact steps you are taking, what companies or individuals are you hiring to do your editing, formatting, printing, distribution and marketing?
Make sure you break up the copy into clear sections and make sure you use good sub headings. People tend to skim text online so they will look for the sections that interest them. Make them stand out.
Now the work starts
Now you have to actually get people to sign up and support you. You will get a certain percentage of support from the Kickstarter community but the majority will have to come from you.
Get your friends and family involved – even if they just give a small amount it will help to get the needle going the right way. Get everyone you know to share your project on social media.
Reach out, try and get involved on blogs and forums on the net. It might take a while but if you do this steadily over the course of your project it will make a difference.
Don’t forget to reward your backers
Once it’s all over and you have exceeded your expectations and you have used your funds to create the perfect book, ebook, interactive reading app or even interactive medieval adventure desk calendar, make sure you reward your backers as promised. You may need them again for your next big book.
Have you had any experience with funding a book with Kickstarter? Are you currently running a book funding project? Mention it in the comments below and we will check it out. Likewise if you have any questions on anything specific that this guide hasn’t covered please ask.
Oh and it would be great if you could share this guide below, the more authors we can help with this the more self-publishers will succeed in creating quality products.