Self-published authors know that you can spend months — or years — honing your writing craft, but as soon as your book goes to print, you’re no longer just a writer; you’re also an entrepreneur. Your publishing imprint is your company, and your book is your product.
Indeed, crowdfunding is a popular fund-raising method for entrepreneurs seeking support for their new idea. Lately, authors have been finding success with it, as well. And this includes authors building startups and small businesses.
At first glance, the process seems temptingly easy: Set up a page on the crowdfunding platform of your choice, and watch as total strangers invest in your product.
However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Statistics from Kickstarter show that most of that platform’s campaigns fail. And that’s not good, because your Kickstarter page is never deleted. So, for years to come, anyone who Googles your name may stumble upon that failed campaign. Out of 349,504 total campaigns,Kickstarter reports, just 123,447 succeeded –a 35 percent success rate. Some 14 percent of projects finished without receiving a single pledge.
Fortunately, however, there are measures you can take that will build momentum for your crowdfunding campaign: Here are three things to make crowdfunding work for your self-published book, gleaned from interviews with self-published authors who have already been there.
1. Treat your campaign as the marketing vehicle it is.
The purpose of crowdfunding isn’t just getting funds; it’s about finding and connecting with people interested in your product. With the right approach, a Kickstartercampaign will win you not only funds, but fans.
“I’ve used Kickstarter with my last two books and it’s been a great way to generate interest and buzz ahead of publication,” athy Strahs, an award-winning cookbook author, who has been featured on Oprah.com., told me.”Backers become evangelists for the projects, sharing via their own social channels to help spread the word,” Strahs said.
Crowdfunding is a great pre-marketing strategy, all right, but only when there’s a plan in place before that campaign goes live. Just as self-published authors should not hit the “approve” button on CreateSpace before they have a marketing plan lined up, Kickstarters should not hit “submit” until they have created a plan to attract backers to their project.
“I started planning a few months in advance — [I] worked with videographers to get a video made, figured out my rewards,” Strahs said.”Putting together the project page itself took several weeks. I started mentioning it on social media about a month prior to launch, so my network of friends and followers knew it was coming.”