Use Crowdfunding to Finance Your Christian Book
Crowdfunding is a trending method of raising money on the Internet.
The principle is a simple one. You share your dream with the public, and they make a financial contribution to help your dream come true.
Of course, your dream must have a tangible result. Crowdfunding has provided the capital for a wide range of projects. They include offbeat products like personal air conditioners and devices that turn a class or meeting speech into written notes. And they also include funding for films, video game and app development, and even educational endeavors. Some crowdfunding sites allow fundraising for social and political activism groups.
Can you use one of the crowdfunding sites to gather money to write your book? More importantly, can you use crowdfunding to finance your Christian book?
The answer is yes.
How Crowdfunding Works
The two biggest players, Kickstarter and Indiegogo (and numerous smaller online venues) allow users to raise money for all sorts of projects, and book development (research and writing) and publication is one of them.
So, if you have an idea for a book, and can convince backers to support your work, then you don’t have to hope you’ll profit from the sale of the book. Money will arrive in advance and you can have peace of mind to research and write at your own pace without worrying about paying your bills or repaying the money.
The process is similar for most crowdfunding sites. Good advanced planning is essential to your success.
1. Check the requirements of the crowdfunding site you intend to use. All have similar procedures, but you need to conform to the particular policies of the site you select.
2. Determine how much money you need. Include all costs like your time at more than minimum wage, and research costs including books you need to buy, phone bills or travel costs. Remember to include your overhead and anything else that’s part of the project.
This step requires discernment. You want to set a funding goal that meets your needs, yet at the same time is realistic and achievable.
3. Research other book projects on crowdfunding sites. You’ll see the successful ones offer rewards to those who support them.
You’ll want to offer at least 4-5 levels of rewards. Level 1 may be a copy of the completed book, for example. Level 2 may include the patron getting the book plus credit by name in the book preface. Level 3 may include a signed copy of the book, the credit in the preface, and a certificate of appreciation suitable for framing. You scale up the rewards as an incentive for your backers to give more.
4. Create your campaign. Tell your story. Use a video and graphics.
5. Promote your campaign. Most run from 20-30 days. During that period you must do everything you can each day to make people aware of your progress. Success starts with your pre-launch plan, but determined follow-up helps ensure success.
You don’t need to beg or sell, but rather you want to inspire people to support your writing project.
Keep in mind that you don’t get the money unless you reach your funding goal.
For example, Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing policy. If you only raise $1,000 from a $7,500 goal, then the funds are not collected from those who make pledges on your behalf. Kickstarter believes that this policy means less risk for backers because you can’t finish a project and deliver rewards if you only get a fraction of what you need to accomplish the task.
Their statistics prove that if you can get 20 percent of your project funded, you have an 81 percent chance of getting fully funded. If you reach 60 percent of your goal, they say your chances of full funding skyrockets to 98 percent.
So, the old adage, “Nothing succeeds like success” applies to crowdfunding. And it underscores the need to pre-plan so you have at least a few people ready to back you immediately upon launch. Early support motivates others to back you. Momentum is very important.
All the crowdfunding sites take a percentage of the total amount of money you raise when you reach your goal or it is over-subscribed. The fee is normally 5 percent and you need to factor that into your budget.
Be careful when you select a crowdfunding site. One that specializes in crowdfunding books, Publishizer, mixes book proposals and contests and charges exorbitant fees. That includes 30 percent of your take if your book is picked up by a publisher through them. Since they cater to the pay-to-publish crowd as well as traditional publishers, their plan does not seem feasible. Carefully investigate all crowdfunding platforms before you submit a project to them.
What are your odds of success on the mainstream crowdfunding sites? According to Kickstarter statistics, the most successfully funded projects in the publishing category are under $10,000. Overall, you will have about a 36 percent chance of reaching your goal according to independent statistics.
Is that low? Not necessarily. If you have an appealing writing project, a great story to tell backers along with incentives for them, and a solid network of possible supporters, you can succeed. In fact, about 10 percent of successful projects go over the goal, which means more funding for you.
You can never tell what will attract public attention. Elan Lee and Shane Small came up with the crazy idea of a card game called “Exploding Kittens” and sought $10,000 in funding. In less than 30 days they had $8.7 million pledged from 200,000 backers.
Author Eric Ries sought $135,000 (a huge amount) to fund his novel, A Leader’s Guide which would be available only to people making pledges. How much did be receive? Over $500,000 in less than 30 days. That is Kickstarter’s most successful book writing project so far.
How to Make Crowdfunding Work for You
Christian writers may have a jump on others when it comes to funding a writing project. Why? Because most of the money does not usually come from strangers.
Crowdfunding is a way of bringing together those who already know you and your work and getting them excited enough to fund your writing project. The momentum you build will attract new people, but that’s a bonus.
The genius in Crowdfunding for a Christian writing project is that the network of donors is already in place. You start with mobilizing your base, which is the people in your homegroup, Sunday school class, and church.
You want to get like-minded churches involved and members of Christian organizations where you’re involved.
Once you get these people involved, you urge them to contact their relatives and friends about your crowdfunding campaign, and then you are likely to reach your funding goal.
You can’t expect to succeed without preparation. You must plow the field and plant the seed before you see a harvest.
Crowdfunding may be an opportunity for you as a Christian writer. Explore the possibility, and if you offer a book on a crowdfunding site, report back so we can share the results.