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.