Introducing the Crowdfund Your Book self-paced online course

Are you working on a new book but wondering how to pay for a professional editor, a cover designer, and maybe even printing? Have you considered starting a crowdfunding campaign to help fund your book project? Crowdfunding is a great way to raise seed money for your initial book expenses–but creating a successful crowdfunding campaign requires a great deal of planning and preparation.

This self-paced course will walk you through everything you need to know about how to plan and execute a crowdfunding campaign. The course covers the following main topics:

  • What crowdfunding is and how to use it for publishing projects
  • An overview of the different crowdfunding models and platforms (like Kickstarter and Indiegogo)
  • How to effectively plan your crowdfunding campaign
  • How to come up with perks and rewards to attract support
  • How to create a project budget
  • How to create a simple yet effective video that summarizes your book project
  • And finally, how to launch and manage your crowdfunding campaign

This course includes over an hour of video lectures broken up into small, easy to watch segments. You will also get a 30 page workbook full of useful information and in-depth exercises to help you prepare virtually all of the information you’ll need to launch your own crowdfunding campaign.

I launched a successful crowdfunding campaign for a very niche book and raised over $5,000 that covered all of my production costs. I was successful because I followed the guidelines I’ll share with you in this course. Are you ready to find support and fans for your book? If you are, sign up today and get started learning how to crowdfund!

Are you working on a new book but wondering how to pay for a professional editor, a cover designer, and maybe even printing? Have you considered starting a crowdfunding campaign to help fund your book project? Crowdfunding is a great way to raise seed money for your initial book expenses--but creating a successful crowdfunding campaign requires a great deal of planning and preparation. This self-paced course will walk you through everything you need to know about how to plan and execute a crowdfunding campaign.

Pros and Cons of different crowdfunding methods

Author training | Pros and cons of different crowdfunding methods, including fixed funding (Kickstarter) and flexible funding (Indiegogo).If you’re thinking about crowdfunding a book, you probably know about the different crowdfunding options available online. Two of the most popular are Kickstarter and Indiegogo and they have different methods for raising cash for projects.

Kickstarter uses a “fixed funding” method. That means that you must raise the entire amount set as your project goal in order to get any of the funding. For example, if your project goal is $5,000 but you only raise $4,750 you don’t get any of the money. What about $4,900? Nope. You must hit your goal, otherwise the credit cards of your backers will not be charged and you get $0.

Indiegogo provides an option for “flexible funding.” That means no matter what you goal is, you’ll get all the money you raise. If your goal is $5,000 and you raise $100, you’ll get $100 (well, minus project fees). If you raise $4,900, you’ll get $4,900 (minus fees).

This concept confuses some authors. I mean, why in the world wouldn’t you just want to get all of the money you raise? What’s the point of setting up a project if you might not get anything?

Well, there are some really good reasons why you might want to choose a fixed funding platform (either Kickstarter, the Indiegogo fixed funding option, or some other platform). For one thing, what is your project budget? Are you producing only an ebook and if you don’t raise your entire project amount you can still deliver a book and perks to your backers? Well then, flexible funding might be for you.

But what if you want to product a hardback  book and your overall project budget really is around $5,000. What happens if you set up your project as flexible funding, but then only raise $1,000–well below the funding you need to print your book for your backers. Will you be able to afford to produce the book you promised your backers? If the answer to that question is no you should strongly consider fixed funding.

Another reason why some crowdfunding experts recommend fixed funding is because of the sense of urgency the “all or nothing” approach conveys. People know that if they don’t back your project, your book may not get printed. That’s additional incentive for some people to go ahead and pony up and back your project.

Selecting either fixed or flexible funding is one of the most important decisions you’ll make while setting up your crowdfunding campaign. Make sure you choose wisely!



How to get ready for crowdfunding a book

Author training | Are you thinking about trying to crowdfund a book, but you don't know how to get started? This post shares some easy ways you can get the word out about your book project to lay a strong base for a successful crowdfunding project. Many authors want to know how to crowdfund a book. You might look up some projects on Kickstarter and think one of two things. You might think that the process looks overwhelming and it would be too difficult to crowdfund your book. Or you might think it looks really easy and all you need to do is create a Kickstarter page and backers will magically flock to your project. Neither assumption is accurate.

The first thing you need to know about crowdfunding is that planning and advance publicity is absolutely essential. If you are even thinking about crowdfunding your book, start talking about your project now on social media. Start describing your book, sharing the plot or theme, and sharing research gems if you’re writing a nonfiction book. These posts should not be “buy my upcoming book!” Rather, you should just share your excitement and enthusiasm about your upcoming project. The point of talking about your project early and often is that when you launch your crowdfunding campaign, people will already know what you’re doing and you will have a good base of support out there.

When I was working on my first nonfiction book, I knew I wanted to try crowdfunding to help cover my expenses, which would be substantial since I was producing a pretty long print book. About four months before I launched a campaign, I started telling people I was working on a book and what it was about (it’s a VERY niche book about the discovery and exploration of a cave in north Alabama). At the same time, I also started sending Facebook friend requests to everyone interested in the niche of cave exploration. I looked for friends of friends and sent friend requests to people who participate in caving groups. My friend list swelled to about 600. I did the same thing on Twitter, following everyone related to caves and caving. I made sure people who like my niche found out about my book.

I got a lot of questions about the book. People wanted to know how long it would be, when it would be available, how much it would cost, and as I nailed down the answers to those questions, I shared. I posted photos I uncovered during my research along with a short caption or story that described the photo. I posted updates on my writing progress. When I finished chapter 17, I would share that news and describe what the chapter was about. When I hired an editor, I described what that process was like. I posted blurbs in online groups related to my niche. I needed help occasionally with research, and would post questions like “Hey, I’m working on a new book about Fern Cave and I’m looking for anyone who’s taken photos in the cave. If you have photos I’m looking for, I might include them in my book!”

By the time I launched my crowdfunding campaign, every single person I knew in real life and on the internet knew about my book, and the people who are interested in my niche topic were interested in buying my book.

The day I launched my crowdfunding campaign, I raised $1,000. That is only because I blabbed about it so much for so long, and went out of my way to share my excitement and generate excitement in others.

If you are thinking about crowdfunding, look at your writing and editing schedule and think about when you might want to launch a campaign. When you have a date selected, like June 15, 2017, back up four months from that date. On February 15, start talking about you book. I recommend talking up your project for at LEAST two months before you launch, then your crowdfunding campaign itself will last anywhere from 30 to 60 days. Just nail down your schedule, see if crowdfunding will work with your timeline, then start your marketing!

The next post in this crowdfunding series will talk about how to get ready to actually launch your crowdfunding campaign.



Should you investigate how to crowdfund your book?

Are you working on a book and wondering how to pay for an editor, cover arr, and maybe even printing costs? Have you thought about crowdfunding? Setting up a crowdfunding campaign on a site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo is a realistic way to raise the cash you need to get your project off the ground. But first, you need to do some planning...Two years ago, before I started my own publishing company, I crowdfunded a very niche nonfiction book about a cave in north Alabama. Many people who don’t enjoy exploring caves asked how I could actually write an entire book about a cave, much less 300 pages! Well, the cave has a fascinating history and the story of how a bunch of guys from Huntsville, Alabama discovered and explored the 15-mile-long cave is similar to stories about people who figure out how to climb and explore remote mountains. When I decided to write a book about the cave, I knew I wanted it to be a really nice printed book, and I also knew I wanted to self-publish. The problem was money.

When I started getting quotes for all the help I would need to create a quality book–a professional editor, a cover designer, and a printer–the costs added up to around $4,500. That was way out of my price range for covering the costs myself. However, a few months earlier, I’d discovered a new fantasy author at a science fiction convention and bought a copy of her book. I’m always interested in publishing companies, especially small ones, and I really liked the name of this one: Silence in the Library Publishing. I checked out their webpage and discovered they were running a Kickstarter campaign for an upcoming book. The campaign had blown past its initial goal and was well over $10,000.

I was actually pretty shocked. I had no idea people would contribute to book projects on Kickstarter. An idea started to form. I could set up a Kickstarter campaign for my book project. Could I really raise the money I needed?

I actually wasn’t very familiar with Kickstarter when I first started poking around on their webpage to investigate book projects. I noticed than some campaigns were wildly successful while others maybe only raised $100. Others raised a modest amount of money and reached the project’s goal. I started to wonder what made a crowdfunding campaign successful. Marketing and advertising were obviously critical. Just posting a book campaign on Kickstarter would not be enough to gain backers.

I did more research and discovered crowdfunding was becoming a pretty big thing, and there are lots of different models out there for raising funding. Kickstarter requires projects to meet the project goal or you don’t get any money. If your goal is $5,000 but you only raise $4,750, you’re out of luck. However, other sites let you keep everything you raise. If your goal is $5,000 and you raise $100, you get $100 (well, minus fees you owe the crowdfunding web page). That sounded like a good bet for me and I decided to set up a project on Indiegogo. I was fairly certain I could raise at least enough to cover printing. If I didn’t raise the full amount–well, maybe I could dip into savings to hire an editor.

I decided to crowdfund my book with a goal of $5,000. This is what I did:

  • I spent some time researching and planning out the whole process. I outlined my timeline and what I needed to do along the way to get the word out about the book and the campaign.
  • Four months before I launched my campaign, I started talking about my book on Facebook and Twitter. I talked about it A LOT.  I posted about my progress on the book. I posted photos I’d uncovered during my research, along with a little story about the photo and a mention of my upcoming book (this was really popular and many people shared the photos, thus helping get to the word out to a much wider audience). I posted random short stories I’d uncovered during my research that would interest people.
  • I set up my campaign page early, came up with perks I thought people would like, and created a simple video (even though I had zero video experience) using Microsoft Movie Maker and still images I used in the book.
  • Two weeks before launching the campaign, I told everyone about it. I told everyone how much editing, design, and printing would cost that that there probably wouldn’t be a book at all if I couldn’t raise the money to cover costs. I shared the different perks people could get. I talked about when the book would be ready. I talked about the campaign A LOT for two weeks until I pressed the button to make the project go live.
  • The day I launched, I had a whole series of blog posts, social media posts, and web pages ready to go to promote the campaign. I told everyone about it and asked for their support. On my first day, I raised $1,000 (in all fairness, one of my best friends pledged $500 on that first day, so really I raised $500–still not too shabby!).
  • Over the two months the campaign was active, I posted updates, more photos from the book, the cover design I was going to use, and more stories from the book. I kept the book front and center for people on my social media feeds.

I reached my goal. I will admit I slacked off a bit raising money after I reached my $5,000 goal because I knew I had enough to cover production costs and I wasn’t sure what else I could do with additional funding.

What I learned from this project is that crowdfunding can be very successful, but is reliant on some key factors:

  • You must have an author platform, or social network of people who are potentially interested in your book
  • You must thoroughly plan a crowdfunding campaign
  • You must do a LOT of marketing way before you launch, as well as market during your campaign

Should you investigate crowdfunding your book? I think it’s definitely worth it. It can help you pay for essential services like editing, cover design, and marketing. If you’re really ambitious, it can cover printing costs and creating an audio book. But whatever you do, don’t just decide one day to launch a Kickstarter page, post it, and expect fans to find you. That won’t happen.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more posts about the different aspects of planning and executing a crowdfunding campaign, for both fiction and nonfiction books.

Introducing the Rocket City Writer’s School

Introducing the Rocket City Writer's School! Do you want to learn how to be more successful as an author? Check out our self-paced online courses! Are you an author struggling with getting the word out about your books? Are you unsure about how to market your books? Have you considered setting up a crowdfunding campaign to help cover your initial costs, but don’t know where to start? My new online school will help you.

For years, I’ve worked as a professional writer, editor, author, and marketing professional. Recently, I decided I wanted to use my background, skills, and experience to help authors sell more books and to succeed. As I started to plan my new publishing business Rocket City Books, I knew that so many authors with fantastic manuscripts still need help setting up an “author platform,” they need help understanding social media marketing, and so many other things that really help sell books. That’s when I came up with the idea for the Rocket City Writer’s School. It’s an online school that integrates video lectures, printed materials, and online course notes to provide self-paced training. I jumped in.

Today I launched one new course aimed at helping authors with one of the most critical aspects of running a successful writing business: setting up a good author’s website.

Introducing the Rocket City Writer's School! Do you want to learn how to be more successful as an author? Check out our self-paced online courses!

I am always surprised at how many authors I meet who tell me they don’t have a website. I consider a good website so critical to every marketing effort for any professional writer that I chose this topic for my first online class. The self-paced class will walk authors through analyzing other author websites to see what is effective, what is not effective, and what types of information would be useful, fun, and engaging on your own website. We’ll discuss all of the information you MUST have on your websites (obviously your books, but also information about you and how to contact you), plus information that is not essential but extremely helpful if you’re serious about selling your books. I also think building an email list is so important that I also go over that, as well as how to start an effective blog.

If you are new to the writing life and unsure how to proceed setting up a professional author website, check out the class link above. You can review the entire class curriculum as well as watch an introductory video about what you’ll learn. I hope that many of you will take the class, come up with some killer content for your own author website, and launch a website that will be a great marketing tool for you for years to come.

Some of the other courses I’m working on right now that will launch in the next month include:

  • How to set up an effective crowdfunding campaign for your upcoming book
  • Social media strategy for authors
  • How authors can use Pinterest to sell books and attract new fans
  • How to use Facebook groups to promote your book series
  • How to write for magazines
  • And next year, even more!

I offer discounts on new courses to my email subscribers. If you want to get the discount code to try out new courses at a discounted rate, just join my mailing list now.

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How to write a compelling About page for your author website

Jennifer Pinkley cavingLearn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Include interesting and unusual photos of yourself.
One of my favorite picture of me in a cave–I like to use this image to supplement my more formal photo.

Even though you may think your webpage is all about your books, many readers also want to know about YOU. Take some time to craft a really compelling About page for your website. Don’t just include a few lines that say “I’m an author and here are my books.” Let readers get a little glimpse of your personality, what you’re like as a person, and why you write the books you write. Here are some tips to create an About page that will draw readers in an make them want to learn more about your books.

Describe your books. 

Well, this one is obvious. Yes, you should share information about all of the the books you’ve published. Provide the names of all of your books if you only have a few, or your most popular ones if you have published several. If you’ve won awards or hit any bestseller lists, share them. This section doesn’t necessarily have to come first.

Learn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Having  a photo of yourself in a Star Trek costume doesn't hurt!
Here’s a fun photo from the DragonCon science fiction convention. Photos like this can show readers your fun side.

Where are you from and where did you go to school?

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to grade school or college? What did you study in college or what were your favorite classes? For example, I studied history in college, so it makes sense that I like to write historic nonfiction. However, I’m also a huge fan of science fiction even though I had no aptitude for many science classes. I have encountered other writers who have degrees in astrophysics and now write romance novels. Readers will find your background interesting.

What jobs have you had?

People are often interested in the career path that led you into writing. Talk about your career path and how writing became a part of your life. This kind of information is especially interesting if you worked in fields completely unrelated to writing. Tell your readers how you made the transition from your field to an author. If you’re not a full-time author, you don’t have to tell us. Just describe how you integrate writing into your daily life.

What inspired you to become an author?

Was there something interesting in your life that inspired you to become an author? Share that story with your readers. People love learning what inspires you. For me, I was inspired to write science fiction by reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was 9 years old. I can still see the characters that appeared in my mind when I read that glorious book. I loved that book so much I wrote my very first book report about it when I was in the third grade. That book inspired me to seek out other science fiction and fantasy books, which then led me to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, which remain in my top ten list of all-time favorite books.

What are some of your hobbies? 

Do you have an interesting or weird hobby? Are you a sports fanatic? Do you enjoy gardening or shopping? Share some of yourself and you’ll make a stronger personal connection with your readers. I like to go caving, and caves show up in many of my books. People find caving a weird hobby so I enjoy adding my love of caving to any “About Me” pages. It’s also helpful to add a photo of your interesting hobbies to your webpage.

Is there any other personal information you feel comfortable sharing?

Do you want to mention your family? Many authors mention that they live with a spouse, children, and pets. Think about describing your childhood, especially if you have some great stories about childhood events that inspired you to become a writer. If you don’t want to talk about your family, what about your pets? What about describing the house where you live or your town?


Provide a photo. People want to know what you look like. In addition, if you want to get some attention in the press about your book, reporters will often want your official headshot. It’s helpful to provide a high quality photo that anyone can download and use in an article. If you want to be all mysterious and protect a pen name or something, include a photo of your cat or a landscape photo from your last vacation. At least those photos will give people a better idea of what you like. In addition to a portrait-quality head shot, you can also include photos of your family, your home, your hobbies, your pets, or whatever else you think your readers might enjoy. Any additional information you feel like sharing will make your About page more interesting. The photos I’ve included in this post are two of my favorite photos of me. I often use them in addition to my more formal portrait photo. They are just more fun.

Learn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Include photos of some of your favorite hobbies.
A photo of one of my solo camping trips in the New Mexico desert.

About Page examples

I just flipped through my Kindle and looked up some of the first authors in my “recently read” list who have About pages that are fun to read. Check them out for inspiration: