I sneered at the idea of funding a book via “crowdfunding” when I first heard about it a few years ago. But that sneer was a cognitive trap.
Crowdfunding (gathering finances from groups of people) a book trips authors out of the DIY Trap and out of the Prestige Trap, plus its benefits can supersede simply getting money from friends ands strangers.
Some of our Path to Publish clients are developing crowd funding campaigns. So I wanted to offer a brief introduction to the concept and the benefits and also tell you about a special free event and partnership with one of the fastest-growing crowdfunding platforms exclusively for books.
Funding 1.0 and 2.0
You can find a few benefactors and patrons to donate the money to edit, design, produce, promote, and distribute your book – as many teachers, renowned authors, and small publishers have done and do. You can fund it yourself. In these instances, you’re figuring out all facets of the business of publishing, assuming all risks, and dictating the terms and author royalties.
You can pitch your book and negotiate a deal with a publisher. A small publisher might or might not offer an advance on author royalties. A mid-sized publisher might offer a few thousand dollars or as much as $25,000 as an advance on author royalties. You might get to negotiate a few terms, and you might or might not earn out your advance.
An imprint under the Big New York 5 might offer an advance for as little as $25,000 and, in rare celebrity or hot political topics, as much as 7 figures. Your agent negotiates complex contract terms and intervenes on your behalf when necessary. In most cases, you won’t earn out your advance.
Some hybrid publishers such as Bella Books and Greenleaf – both headquartered in Texas – work with authors of trade nonfiction who have an existing platform audience and who have a business mindset for marketing. You partner in investing in the publishing and promotion.
And then there’s crowdfunding your book. And more.
Crowdfunding is gathering finances from numerous supporters for a project or initiative. It’s not begging. It’s not an option only for self-published authors.
Take entrepreneurial wizard and Hudson Valley neighbor Seth Godin – whose mantra is “Don’t wait to be picked. Pick yourself.” Seth made a deal with Portfolio Penguin to publish his book The Icarus Deception and to let him run a crowd funding campaign to engage his pack and sell pre-order copies. He raised over $200,000.
Dina Falcone is a renegade herbalist, friend, and fellow Hudson Valley neighbor. She and accomplished botanical illustrator and author Wendy Hollender had an idea for a new book – the Foraging and Feasting Cookbook. It would be exquisitely illustrated so readers could enjoy the visual feast but also could identify the herbs they forage in their yards or meadows to cook with. But Dina wanted to avoid all of the obvious traditional channels – including Amazon’s distribution channels. They launched a campaign and raised over $100,000.
Falcone and Luna Jaffe – who raised over $18,000 for her Wild Money book – will tell you that launching and fulfilling a crowdfunding campaign is not for the feint of heart.
So, why do it?
Benefits of Funding 3.0
#4 – You get funds up front. True, it’s sort of like getting an advance on your book. You also sell pre-order copies of your book before it’s published.
#3 – You learn what it takes to engage your right audience. You can no longer hide in your study and imagine your readers in the abstract. You must communicate with real, living people. You must learn to frame your book’s premise and why it matters to them – whether they know you or not. In a few words. Or in a brief trailer video. If you’re wise and genuine, your fans start spreading the word for you.
#2 – You learn about your audience. With the right crowd funding platform, you receive real data about your readership before your book is published.
#1 – You get a mini-lesson in the business artistry of book promotion. Because you have a real, tangible audience engaged in supporting your book, you must invent tangible, valuable deliverables at different levels. Signed copies. Video readings. Live readings. Workshops. And you have to plan such a campaign months in advance – how to kick it off, how to promote while in progress, and how to deliver on the goods once your goal is reached.
Kickstarter – Their tagline originally was “a new way to fund and follow creativity.” I heard a Kickstarter director speak at Chicago STORY. She prizes the unique and meaningful. PCreative projects only. They take processing fees of between 3-5%. They do receive the most website traffic among crowdfunding platforms. Consequently, there’s a strict application process. So, Kickstarter acts as another kind of gate keeper. You most likely win when you get their attention and get on their recommended list.
Frank Chimero is one such author. His book project, The Shape of Design, gained 2,109 backers and earned $112,159 USD – a big leap from his original pledge goal of $27,000 USD.
Unbound – Kickstarted for books – UK-based. It’s like submitting a book proposal to strangers. You propose your idea. If the crowd funds your idea, you write it, and Unbound publishes it for you, splitting royalties 50/50.
Pentian – a new model in Spain. Pentian aims to pay backers of books 50% and authors 40%. Pentian also plays a part in continuing to promote successful books through its international channels.
Edward Nowitka of Publishing Perspectives examines the gamble an author takes with Pentian.
The Funding 3.0 Option Tracking Wonder is Partnering With: Pubslush
We like the other platforms, but Tracking Wonder is partnering with Pubslush. AS recently covered by Forbes columnist Suw Charman-Anderson, Pubslush is one of the newer start-up crowdfunding sites. Its users are growing at 148% per month. Its page views in the last six months are up 471%. In their short span, over 100 campaigns have raised over $200,000. Even though it may not be the biggest platform, I currently prefer it for four reasons.
Its humanitarian edge. The Pubslush Foundation donates books and educational material to children in other countries where book literacy is not a given.
It focuses on books, especially literary books and authors with or without a social cause edge.
It offers exceptional customer guidance and training. An author gets a campaign representative and a team of experts who will help the author design the campaign and rewards. For the uninitiated in crowdfunding, Pubslush is a breath of fresh air. Its agents walk our clients by the hand through setting up campaign goals, analyzing reader data, and more.
Thanks for running with me,