Pay For Publishing Costs With Pre-Orders
Whether you are using print-on-demand or printing books yourself, it takes a substantial investment to wind up with a quality product. You can read about How to Budget here. One of the best ways to offset this cost is to get people to pre-order your book through a crowd-funding campaign. I raised $4200 through pre-orders which is what made it possible to get my book to print! I have a relatively active social media presence, and this post assumes that you have one as well. If you don’t, read on and you might change your mind.
Get people invested in, and excited about your project from the earliest possible stages.
Facebook is my go-to social media platform, but you can leverage any of the platforms to get people excited about your work. I started talking about my book on social media a year before publication. This is the first post I ever put up about the project. It explains why I’m passionate about the project and shows one of the earliest illustrative concepts.
This next post talks a little more about what the book is about and showcases an illustration that made it into the book. Please note, these are all design mock-ups I did for social media and don’t represent the final design of the book.
In this next post, I asked people for input into the title of the book, which is a great way to generate engagement. I also thought (naively) we would be done with the project in February, but it actually took another six months.
We even made and shared this video of Amanda painting one of the illustrations:
Expand Your Social Media Audience
The point is, that people were following and getting excited about my project for a long time. They became invested in my success and the success of the book.
During this time, I started liberally accepting friend requests, which was something I hadn’t done before. I used to only accept friend requests from people I knew well, but now I accepted requests from friends of friends who at the very least didn’t look like stalkers. You can always unfriend someone after all. In particular, I started cultivating friends in the horse community, because they made up one of my target audiences.s
Choose a Crowd-Funding Platform
During this time, I started liberally accepting friend request, which was something I hadn’t done before. I used to only accept friend requests from people I knew well, but now I accepted requests from friends of friends who at the very least didn’t look like stalkers. You can always unfriend someone after all. In particular, I started cultivating friends in the horse community, because they made up one of my target audiences.
If you are on social media, then you are familiar with crowd-funding campaigns. People ask for community support for all types of projects. Here are few of the most popular platforms:
Go Fund Me
Go-Fund-Me campaigns are popular with people who want to raise money for events, projects or something they need help with, but not necessarily projects where they have a product to sell, so this probably isn’t the best option for your project.
Kickstarter is the original crowd-funding platform and is very popular with authors. You can check out some examples of Kickstarter campaigns for books here. You’ll notice that the campaigns are just selling books, but offer multiple ways and incentives for people to support the project. For different funding levels, you offer different rewards. A person who pledges $20 might get a copy of your book, while a person who pledges $30 might get a signed copy of your book. Although millions of people visit Kickstarter, you’re still going to have to start your campaign the grassroots way – with people you already know. If you’re lucky, your project will get featured on Kickstarter and people you don’t know could start to fund it. However, this is not a sure thing. If you use Kickstarter, you will have to choose a funding goal and a time period in which to meet that goal. Here’s the kicker. If you don’t reach your goal, you get zip, zero, nada money. (Nobody who supported your campaign gets charged either). If your goal is to raise $4,000 and you only take in $3,500, you won’t receive any money. However, you can always give $500 to a friend and have them pledge enough to make sure you meet your goal. You can also raise more money than your goal. Kickstarter keeps five percent of the money your project brings in, and you’re also hit with three percent in credit card fees. If your project raises $4,000, you’ll pay just over $300 in fees, which isn’t too bad. You can learn more about how to start a Kickstarter campaign here.
Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo is a great place to raise money for your project. The biggest difference for authors is that Indiegogo does not penalize you for not reaching your goal. If you set a goal of $3,000 but only raise $1,800, you still get $1,800, less the fees charged by Indiegogo and third-party payment processors, which are five percent and three percent respectively. This is the same as Kickstarter fees.
New platforms are coming online all the time, so you can also search Google for Best Crowdfunding for Authors to find out what else is available.
Back to My Story
I didn’t use Kickstarter or Indiegogo for my crowd funding platform. I didn’t want to pay either one of them fees and I wanted to manage everything on my own terms. Instead, I created a page on my website that functioned exactly like a crowd-funding campaign. I design websites for a living, so this was easy for me, but if you have a website that is built on Wordpress, it’s not particularly difficult. You can contact me for support if you are interested in doing it on your own. Regardless, the following information applies to any crowdfunding campaign.
Come Up with Creative Offers
We had eight different funding levels for people to choose from, ranging from $10 for a Kindle version of the book, to $500 if you wanted your horse to have a cameo in our next book. You can see the page we set up and all of the offers here. We also used a feature that allowed people to spend more money than the suggested price for each product set, and this was surprisingly effective. For $85 you could get four signed copies of the book, but many people who choose this option, also opted to make it an even $100. For anyone spending $60 or more, we entered them into a drawing to have their pet (dogs or smaller) included in a cameo in our next book. This was an extremely successful incentive. All told, we raised $4,200, but it wasn’t easy.
Generate Excitement About Your Campaign
I have a marketing company, and I am great at marketing other people’s products. However, it was really hard for me to ask people to spend money on my own product. And it was terrifying. What if nobody bought books??? We gave ourselves six weeks to raise money. It helps people contribute if they know there is a deadline and four weeks probably would have been enough. And then the nerve-wracking part of it all began. Below are some examples of posts we used to encourage people to order the book. I tried to keep them light-hearted and somewhat humorous. The one disadvantage of using my own platform was that it meant only my friends, or in some cases if they shared my campaign their friends, would know about it. If you use a platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, there is a chance you’ll reach a broader audience. It also cost me about $150 to set the site up, which is only one percent less than the five percent fee I would have paid to use an existing platform. One advantage is that people could write checks, which helped me avoid some credit card fees, although we also took credit cards.
Do You Have a Crowd-funding Success Story?
I’d love to share stories about how other people raised money for their books. <strong><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">So drop me a note and let me know what worked for you.</a></strong>