As writers, we know the biggest qualm about self-publishing is the out of pocket expenses and subsequent financial risk and burden on the writer. Many writers have to skimp on must-have publishing services because they don’t have the funds to pay for them. Sadly, it’s true. Most people will judge a book by its cover and as a result, self-published books have developed the stigma of being of a lesser quality.
Good news, though. Self-publishing authors now have the means to raise funds pre-publication in order to lessen the financial burden and to help their book live up to its potential. Crowdfunding is quickly becoming the newest tool in the self-publishers toolbox that can help writers practice more informed and successful publishing.
So, what exactly is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a new technology that allows people to collect many small financial pledges from their extended network and audience to fund a creative project or business venture. Let’s break crowdfunding down into real terms.
Say you’re a writer and you’ve just finished writing your very first book. You really put a lot of time and effort into your book and you want to share it with the world. Self-publishing seems to be the way to go. You won’t have to hassle with finding an agent or publisher, you’ll have more creative control, and your book will be published in a timely manner. Plus, you have a pretty large network that you know will buy your book. The only issue is coming up with the funds for all the costly publishing services you’ll need.
You decide to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for your publishing project. You find the platform that’s right for you (a very important first step!) and setup your campaign. Then, when your campaign goes live, you reach out to your network—family, friends, colleagues, your book audience—and ask them to make a financial pledge to your crowdfunding campaign. The pledges add up and by the end of your campaign, you’ll have enough (or at least more than before) funds to publish your book.
Okay, so this is a very simplified version of crowdfunding, but it’s just to give you an idea of how it works. There are a few very important things to keep in mind, though.
First, people are not donating to help publish your book. Crowdfunding is rewards based, which means as the campaign creator you would develop different reward levels to entice your supporters. The reward levels can range anywhere from $1 to $100 to $1,000 and above, and everywhere in between. As the dollar amount increases the rewards get better. No matter what, your supporters are receiving something in return for their financial pledge. Often times, writers will offer a copy of their book as a reward, so they are actually able to collect preorders during their crowdfunding campaign, too.
Second, crowdfunding is a lot of work. Sure, it sounded pretty easy in my simplified version of the process, but in order to be successful the writer must be 100% committed and ready and willing to promote and market their campaign. Having a marketing plan, a pre-established network and knowing your audience are all very important factors to the success of a campaign.
Lastly, you must be willing to ask for support. A majority of the support for your campaign, especially in the beginning while you’re building momentum, will come from your own network. People won’t know about your campaign if you don’t tell them. Just as in the publishing world, you are your own biggest advocate and it’s up to you to make the initial connections and build a buzz around your book.
Crowdfunding requires the same marketing necessary to finding success in the book publishing world, but it allows you to raise funds pre-publication, which can overall ensure more success in the future. As I mentioned, crowdfunding is not a venture to be taken lightly. A lot of hard work and commitment is required, but a lot of hard work and commitment was required to write your book, too. So doesn’t your book deserve to be the best it can be when it’s presented to the world? At Pubslush, we think so.
About the Author:
Justine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform only for books. Authors can raise funds and gauge initial market viability for their book projects. 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 and in the past she has worked with growing companies to develop their online presence. Justine has become a prominent industry voice for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding and her work has been featured on many online publications.