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Funding & Investors

October 24, 2015

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A First Time Author's Guide To Crowd-Funding Your Book

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By harnessing a crowd readers to preorder your book, you'll have a lot more publishing options to choose from - such as attracting a traditional publisher, self publishing or pay-to-play publishing. This article focuses on crowd-funding specifically for first time authors.

 

How feasible is it for a first-time author to get a book crowdfunded?

So. You've written a great story, and now you want to publish it.

On average, first time authors earn over US$5600 in preorders on Publishizer. This is typically enough to pay for professional editing, design and print on demand for several hundred copies of a trade fiction or non-fiction book. To reach your first $5000, you pre-sell a combination of rewards, such as a $10 ebook, $25 print copy, $50 book launch invite, $100 patron acknowledgement, $250 dinner with the author and so on. You can do a simple calculation to get a sense of how many rewards you need to sell to hit your goal. The flexibility with pricing and the ability to offer readers unique experiences is partly what allows authors to raise so much money through crowd-funding campaigns, versus selling a $2.99 ebook on Amazon.

At what part of the writing process would you recommend someone seek crowdfunding? Before the book is started? At the mid-way point?

We've seen a large range of timelines. We recommend authors to launch their campaign within 6 months of their planned publish date, although most authors launch within 1-3 months of their book coming out. One author launched their crowd-funding campaign before they'd written a single word for their manuscript, raised $12,000+ in preorders, and delivered the book on their exact planned book date. Readers are typically very patient and tolerant of delays, as long as they are kept updated through the publishing process using the updates feature we provide.

How can an author build and sustain enthusiasm for a crowdfunding project?

Readers and potential readers love hearing about celebratory milestones and achievements. For example, it's great to post a Facebook and Twitter update when a campaign launches, and when it hits milestones such as 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of the goal. When these milestones are shared via Facebook, Twitter and emails, it often drives a lot of preorders. We encourage authors to be confident and celebrate all little wins. We've seen authors use a huge variety of creative techniques to promote their books, such as an Ask Me Anything on Product Hunt, sharing sample chapters on Medium, offering prizes on Twitter, organising crowd-funding parties, hosting dinners for patrons, seeking corporate sponsorship and so on. By far, the single greatest source of preorders comes from sending regular updates to a mailing list (or via emails) during the crowd-funding campaign.

How much time and effort should an author expect to devote to the crowdfunding process on a daily/weekly basis? What types of activities (social media, etc.) should they expect to do?

At a minimum, authors should be sending updates to their mailing list at least once a week (if they have one), making social media updates 2-3 times a week, and sending out personal emails and messages every other day. We offer built-in sharing tools that make it easy for readers to share and promote the campaign, the key is to really push the campaign in the first week to help it get traction. The author should be publicly thanking or responding to their readers' on social media regularly. Once an author gets the ball rolling with preorders, promotional features kick in on Publishizer, such as Reader's Picks, a weekly digest of reader's top picks on Publishizer, social media mentions to our own followers, and a monthly newsletter that promotes trending campaigns. Some authors even use Whatsapp marketing.

How long does a typical book crowdfunding campaign run?

A typical crowd-funding campaign lasts 30-45 days on Publishizer. We've seen shorter campaigns, although our data shows that 30 days is the optimal campaign duration. We encourage authors to create a weekly plan for how they intend to promote their campaign, such as personal emails/messages in the first week, press/publicity in the second week, guest posts/podcasts in the third week, and more personal emails/messages in the fourth week.

If you could give one piece of advice to authors starting out, what would it be? 

Start building your mailing list now - I can't stress enough how important this is. Sign up for a MailChimp, Aweber or ConvertKit account now, if you don't have one already. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your mailing list and receive updates from you. It's possible to launch a successful crowd-funding campaign without a mailing list, and we've seen plenty of examples of that, however, the authors who run the most successful crowd-funding campaigns have all setup a mailing list, and use mailing list software to actively engage their audience. For example, one author was a retired man with no mailing list, however, he took a very personal approach to messaging potential readers, offered great rewards and raised over $12,000 in preorders. Anything is possible! Adopting a hustler mindset is the best approach to take during your campaign.

Running a startup? Learn more about funding in this great blog post!