Crowdfunding is a phenomenon of the 21st Century. You can search BookWorks.com for a number of blogs on this topic, including one of mine titled, “Crowdfunding, A Viable Option for Self-Publishers” posted back in October 2013. But even within 2 short years, the practice and its popularity have grown significantly. New platforms have launched specifically designed for writers seeking to fund their next book project. These sites have customized the Kickstarter model for the indie author to reach new audiences that are not only readers, but also potential investors.
Back-Story on Crowdfunding . . .
For those not acquainted with the methodology, crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions on the Internet from the public. It’s an alternative form of financing, which emerged outside of the traditional financial system. It eliminates the need for self-funding or a loan to subsidize one’s literary goals.
Three types of actors fuel the crowdfunding model: 1) the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; 2) individuals or groups who support the idea; and 3) a moderating organization (the "platform") that brings the parties together to launch the proposition to the public.
Historical Antecedents . . .
It’s been said that crowdfunding is a throwback to the Renaissance when benefactors were rich families. Among the greatest patrons of 15th-century Florence were those with power. Most well known was the Medici family who subsidized the works of famous artists like Leonardo DaVinci and Botticelli. Concurrently in England, William Shakespeare attracted several financial donors over the course of his career, including Queen Elizabeth I and King James I in addition to the Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley and William Hebert, the Earl of Pembroke.
Flash forward to the 21st Century, and those aristocrats of yesteryear have been replaced by family, friends, and peers — and now with the able assist of the crowdfunding phenomenon — your online audience.
Publishing Crowdfunding Platforms
Today, we’ll look at two start-ups that specialize in fundraising specifically for self-publishing authors. Both Publishizer and PubSlush are platforms that help writers seek out financial resources to get their projects off the ground.
Publishizer was designed to allow authors to run preorder campaigns [for more on how preorders work, see my previous blog post, titled: “Preorders, Underutilized Marketing Tool”]. This is particularly beneficial for customers seeking incentives such as limited editions, advance delivery and discounts.
This funding model retains 5 percent of the funds raised [on successful campaigns only] plus assesses PayPal fees of 2-3 percent. Authors, in turn can set their pricing and can sell either their eBooks, hardcovers and/or signed copies. The platform operates on an all-or-nothing crowdfunding scheme, after the funding target is reached during preorders. In the case of unsuccessful campaigns, money does not change hands.
While this Australian company is based in Singapore, their services are supported anywhere in the world. Currently, however Publishizer only operates in U.S. dollars and is only available in English.
PubSlush is another global crowdfunder for the literary world, but its focus differs slightly from Publishizer’s. Using PubSlush you can create and launch a book campaign, which will serve as a landing page to drive traffic to your book before it’s published. In so doing, your campaign can be merchandized with photos, videos and links to your social media and website.
Differing from Publishizer’s all-or-nothing requirement, the Pubslush platform operates on a keep-all basis, after the minimum amount of $500 is raised within a 15-45 day window.
Pubslush features a ‘Buy” button on each ‘successful’ campaign page. This helps to drive traffic to wherever an author’s book is being sold. There’s also a premium upgrade offereing, priced at US$250 for writers seeking extra customization and enhanced social media tools.
Unique to Pubslush, analytics give authors analytical data about readership to assist them in targeting their intended audience.
At the completion of each campaign, Pubslush charges a fee of 4 percent, plus payment provider fee to Stripe [similar to Paypal] of 3.5 percent. If the minimum goal of $500 is not met, no money changes hands.
The book ‘Crowdfund it!’ written by Anna Maguire is an eBook sold at GoogleBooks. Priced at $7.99, it’s a comprehensive guide to the global crowdfunding options and includes a dozen or so more software services that can be considered by the authors for their book and/or artistic expression projects. Start-ups like possible.com, rockethub.com and seedrs.com are just a few you might be looking into to see what best suits your goals.
Time to Crowdfund?
Successful campaigns require enthusiastic, dedicated authors. Whether it’s crafting your campaign to appeal to a particular group, field of study or organization, it’s important for all crowdfunding campaigns to have accessible targets. Campaigns that have demonstrated success are those where the author is its greatest advocate. You’re the cheerleader. You’re the one to stimulate interest, create excitement and ultimately reach your goals.
However, like all popular enterprises, it’s wise to understand that as the crowdfunding market becomes more successful, the irony is that it’s going to become more and more crowded [pun intended] and difficult for creators to gain attention for their projects. This is where diligence and hard work come into play. This is when authors need to swap out their creative hats for their marketing caps. This is when you need to start promoting your campaign in innovative ways to both capture the imagination of your current readers and expand your reach to a whole new group of fans.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.
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