One of the things new writers are unaware of is that they have options when they choose to publish their book. There is the traditional method, which involves writing query after query, followed by a bunch of waiting with no guarantee of acceptance. There is the independent method, which is similar, but you have a greater chance that an editor will actually pick up your work and read it. Then there is the avenue most writers end up shooting for, the self-publishing route. This is often the simplest because you do not have to write a single letter, and oftentimes all you need to do is point, click, and publish your work. The primary factor here is funding.
But let’s face it, no matter what avenue you walk down, undertaking a writing project can be costly. If your endeavor requires you to take a sabbatical or leave of absence from your 9 to 5 job, then you will need funding to replace your income. Unless you have money saved for this purpose or a wealthy uncle, you are left with funding your project on your own. Or are you?
What if there was a way to have friends, family, and other like-minded individuals help you reach your dream of becoming a published author? There is a way, and Crowdfunding is the pathway that will take you down the road to completing your project.
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is fairly simple. Have you heard of GoFundMe? Great. Everyone has. And crowdfunding is the definition of what GoFundMe does. Now you may be saying, “Isn’t that for people with hardships and charities?” For them, sometimes yes. But there are other sites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and Unbound that attack Crowdfunding from the angle of supporting entrepreneurial spirits like you who have something that they want to give the world but just don’t have the funds to get there. To put it simply, Crowdfunding is taking small investments from a large number of people and using those funds to finance a new business opportunity.
How Does Crowdfunding Help Authors and Their Unpublished Works?
Crowdfunding helps authors with the expenses it takes to get a book from concept to the shelves for readers to purchase. It really doesn’t matter what stage of your project you are at to participate in Crowdfunding. You just need a solid idea that you can put down on paper and give your voice to. You can be in the plotting stage and just have a title and characters or have a full manuscript ready to edit and print. The key is to be ready to announce your project to the world and to be as clear as possible. The clearer you are, the better your funding campaign will be.
Crowdfunding Sites for Authors
So, how does the crowdfunding process work? It all begins with your idea and ends with your work hitting bookshelves. We have reviewed three popular crowdfunding sites that help writers in their efforts to become published authors. The process differs slightly from company to company, but the backbone remains the same; you start a fundraising campaign, individuals contribute to it, then you use those funds to finance your writing project. It is that simple. There are some contingencies, and we will go over those as we review each site. But for now, just know that there is a way for you to fund your novel writing project, and it is your supporters who will get you there.
Our first crowdfunding site is Indiegogo. Their site has a great step by step guide to help you create your campaign. They begin with going over the benefits of Crowdfunding, then move into guiding you through planning. This involves knowing your end goal, specifically a dollar amount. Then, strategize on how you plan to advertise and get the word about your project, which means growing your following. The more people you know or have contact with, the faster you will reach your goal. Then the guide takes you into creating your fundraising campaign page and giving you pointers about what will draw attention to it, giving you the greatest success.
Indiegogo has options when it comes to the funding process. There are two of them: fixed funding and flexible funding. There are major differences between the two. Flexible funding means that you will be able to keep and use all funds that are raised, even if you fall short of the final goal you set up at the beginning. Fixed funding is all-or-nothing. You can guess what that means. If you do not hit your goal, then the pledged funding is not collected from your contributors.
Through Indiegogo, your campaign page is your beacon to the world announcing your project. There are different ways to tell your story. One is a pitch video; another is a FAQs section. All these bring life to your story and encourage followers to contribute to your campaign. They even provide resources to reach out to your contributors after the fundraiser ends.
Next, we have Kickstarter. It is similar to how Indiegogo functions. They start you off with a Creator Handbook that will guide you through each step of the process. Crowdfunding with Kickstarter also begins with you understanding your writing goals and conveying it to your audience before you launch your campaign. You show off your ideas on your Kickstarter project page. This is through telling your story in writing and in video form. You can also display photos, perhaps of cover designs or conceptual ideas, to give your supporters more of a picture of what is going on in your writer’s head.
Kickstarter has only one means of funding, fixed. As a reminder, fixed funding is an all-or-nothing means of Crowdfunding. If you fall short of your goal, then no money is collected at the end of the campaign. So, if you go with Kickstarter, don’t overshoot your goals. Set a minimum it would take you to get our project where you see it. There are no rules for receiving more than your goal.
Kickstarter also speaks heavily on developing rewards for those who contribute to your campaign. This is another way to incentivize contributions. You could give early access to your book, free copies, or other ways to pique the interest of your followers. To make it extra interesting, they suggest multi-tiering your reward system. Higher contributors get greater rewards. It is all about getting your project funded. They like Indiegogo stress the importance of follow up with your contributors. During and after the campaign ends.
Our final review is Unbound. This crowdfunding site is different than the other two because it is targeted at the writing industry. In fact, Unbound is a publisher. So, Crowdfunding with them can actually save a step in your journey to publication. This is where the primary difference surfaces; you must first pitch your idea to an Unbound editor before you can begin fundraising. If they are interested in your idea, then they will launch your project site. You will have a dashboard to tell your story, but not as advanced as Indiegogo or Kickstarter.
The process to begin your journey is also different. Once an editor accepts your pitch, you enter a contractual agreement with Unbound to publish your book. Unlike the other sites where you receive the funds once the campaign ends, the funding stays with Unbound to finance your book’s production. You are also entering a royalty distribution agreement with them from future sales of your book.
One of the greatest benefits of Crowdfunding with Unbound is that by going directly with the publisher, you know upfront how much it will cost to get your book to the shelf. That helps you set a realistic funding goal. It also cuts down on time collecting funds and paying for services to edit, print, and send your book; it’s all done in house.
No matter which choice you pursue to crowdfund your project, it is always beneficial to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. It also must be noted that you will have to do a lot of promotion and advertising of your crowdfunding campaign. Social Media presence is important, so is having an email list. The more people you get your campaign page in front of, and the clearer you are in conveying your dreams, the more successful you will be in getting your book to print.