There’s no doubt about the benefits of crowdfunding for authors.
It’s a way to raise funds for publishing, collect pre-orders, market a book before it’s published and engage with readers. Every serious author in the publishing world should consider crowdfunding, as a successful campaign proves market viability and helps authors to build a buzz and drive traffic to their book pre-publication.
Crowdfunding fits seamlessly into the publishing process, but is only useful to authors who are ready to publish. Having the build it and they will come mentality doesn’t work in publishing.
Just as simply having your book on Amazon doesn’t equate to sales, creating a crowdfunding campaign doesn’t guarantee you’ll raise the funds you need to publish. Both publishing and crowdfunding require a working knowledge of the industry, having an established audience and substantial marketing efforts.
So, what exactly needs to be done to conduct a successful crowdfunding campaign for your book? Below are a few questions to ask before deciding to use crowdfunding to publish, along with some answers that will help to shed light on how to build your own success in crowdfunding and beyond.
How will I gain momentum?
Building momentum for a crowdfunding campaign is essential. There’s no way around this. If a campaign doesn’t start off with a bang, it will most likely end as a dud. The initial supporters of a campaign must be brought by the author, so it’s necessary to have 5-10 “inner circle” people that are willing to kick off the campaign by pledging on Day 1.
Let’s face it, no one wants to support a crowdfunding campaign at $0, so rally Mom, Dad, your husband, best friend, Grandma…whoever can commit to boosting the campaign above the initial low funding hump.
Who will I ask to support my campaign?
Crowdfunding acts on the principle of the pack—if others see there’s an interest in a project, their own interest will be piqued. Understanding this underlying current that runs through crowdfunding will greatly help authors to succeed. The inner circle acts to build momentum and helps the project seem enticing to others.
Next, it’s time for an author to personally reach out to their extended network and ask for them to support their campaign. Because the initial funding is already in place, those in the author’s network will be more likely to pledge their support as well.
Do I have an established audience?
All the outreach and support up to this point is most likely people the author knows—friends, family, colleagues, etc. Now is the time to rally the audience of the book, which is much easier to do if the author already had a solid relationship with potential readers. Building an audience takes time and is something that needs to happen organically.
This is why blogging is so important as it creates an ongoing connection between writer and reader that can be maintained. An author should have their audience established before publication and crowdfunding is a great way to see just how hooked the audience actually is.
How can I expand support past my network and established audience?
This is where crowdfunding gets fun! Authors need to come up with creative ideas to get their crowdfunding campaign out to the world. Connecting with bloggers who have a similar audience and asking them to share a campaign is always a good way for an author to expand their reach.
Getting out to local events or book clubs is another way to personally connect with readers and spread awareness. Offering special freebies to those supporters who share the campaign with their own network helps to generate a lot of attention to a campaign. Authors should capitalize on the shareability of a crowdfunding campaign and use that to build a buzz around their book.
How will I ensure I reach my funding goal?
First, make the goal realistic. Also, after following the steps described above to build momentum, an author should continue to plug away and promote their campaign. Every day.
Campaigns are time sensitive and it’s important to have just as much enthusiasm on the last day as the first. Campaigns naturally go through slumps, and tend to hit peaks at the beginning and end. Don’t let the natural ebb and flow of a campaign be discouraging.
All authors should treat their book like a business. We all know businesses don’t survive without customers, which is why having an established audience and knowing how to market a book to potential readers are two important aspects of publishing.
Testing the market and gauging interest through crowdfunding can help authors to be more informed and ultimately more successful when it comes time to publish. After all, books often take years to write, so what’s the hurry? Authors should be as prepared as possible when publishing, and now, crowdfunding offers a tangible pre-publication step in the process.
Justine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a global a pre-publication platform that allows authors and publishers to raise funds, collect pre-orders and tangibly market their upcoming book project. A writer at heart, Justine received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. A prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding, she has contributed to IBPA’s Independent magazine, Self-Publishers Monthly, Book Marketing Magazine, Business Banter and many more online publications. Connect with Justine on LinkedIn.