By Justine Schofield
Crowdfunding is a way to raise funds for any creative project or business venture from a large group of people, typically via the Internet.
Reward-based crowdfunding is a system in which the project creator offers rewards at various support levels ($1, $10, $25, $100, etc.) in exchange for the supporter’s financial pledge to their project. The higher the dollar amount pledged, the more the supporter gets in return.
The project creator also sets a funding goal that they must meet in order to receive the money they raise. On some crowdfunding sites, if they don’t meet the goal, then none of their supporters are charged and they don’t receive any of the funds.
More Than $5 Billion Raised
Crowdfunding raised $5.1 billion at the close of 2013, up from $2.66 billion in 2012 and $1.47 billion in 2011. In 2013, 74 million people worldwide participated in crowdfunding, and that number is expected to hit 362 million people in 2014. As you can see, crowdfunding is a fast-growing industry and will only continue to flourish.
It’s becoming an increasingly popular way for authors to mitigate the financial risk of self-publishing and gauge the initial market for their book. As we all know, publishing costs can add up quickly. If an author is choosing to self-publish, all the financial burden and risk falls on the author. Crowdfunding provides a way for authors who are publishing to raise funds that can help cover publishing costs before they have to dig into their own pockets.
Also, the reward-based model provides a unique advantage to authors because they can offer their book as a reward, which allows them to collect pre-orders during the crowdfunding process.
Crowdfunding is a tool for those who know how to successfully market themselves and their book. Finding success in the crowded book publishing market can be tough. Let’s take a look at what’s needed to be successful with crowdfunding.
It Takes Hard Work
The most important thing to know: It requires a lot of hard work, motivation and determination. Although it would be nice, it’s unrealistic to think people will flock to support your crowdfunding campaign. Unless you’re of Oprah-like status, the odds of being successful without putting in any effort are not in your favor. Conducting a successful campaign can be very time-consuming, but if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it’s completely worth it.
Another thing many people don’t realize: a lot of work is required before you launch the campaign. Since crowdfunding campaigns are time sensitive (most last 30-60 days), developing a marketing plan is the first step to help you hit the ground running and keep up momentum throughout.
Key Points in a Marketing Plan
Your plan will serve as a starting point and keep you on track. Here’s a look at the basics of a successful marketing plan for crowdfunding:
- A list of bloggers and crowdfunding advocates who could help spread the word about your campaign. You should reach out to these people before the campaign begins. Be sure to let them know what makes your book unique and why they should help you market your campaign.
- A list of go-to people (parents, siblings, best friends…you get the idea) to reach out to pre-campaign. Ask them to pledge their support as soon as your campaign launches. Securing some funds in the first few hours will provide more incentive for others to support. People are much less likely to contribute to a campaign at $0.
- A list of other people in your network you plan to ask to support your campaign after you receive your “cushion” funds. Decide how you will reach out to each person, whether it’s via email, social media, or a good old-fashioned telephone call. Remember, personalization is key when you’re reaching out to your own network.
- Determine the point in your campaign when you will follow up with people who said they would support, but have yet to do so. Sometimes people feel they have plenty of time to support and end up missing the deadline. A friendly reminder towards the end of your campaign is important for the procrastinators.
- Create or attend an event to promote your book and your campaign. Attending local readings or other places where writers and readers gather could help spread the word organically.
- Research local book clubs that may be interested in your book and offer them a deal. (Check out Kim Hruba’s campaign for Elevator Girl to see how she used book clubs to create her reward levels.)
- Make sure to research and follow up with all organizations and businesses that may be interested in your book. If your book has a niche, there’s a good chance there is a market just waiting for you to tap into. Using rewards to entice these types of larger groups will help you raise the most funds.
As you can see from the preliminary marketing plan, there’s a lot of researching, planning, reaching out, and following up involved in crowdfunding. Don’t get overwhelmed: dividing your plan into weekly goals will make the large task much more manageable.
Crowdfunding also provides a great opportunity for all types of literary projects, from events to app ideas.
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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 specializes in social media and public relations and in the past she has worked with growing companies to develop their online presence. She has become a prominent industry voice for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding, and her work has been featured on many online publications. She tweets for @pubslush. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Editor’s Note: Pubslush was mentioned prominently in The Publicity Hound’s webinar Crowdfunding: How to Use Other People’s Money for Your Book or Project with Judith Briles.