How has an author recently raised over $1 million to fund the publishing of a book that tells the stories of 100 inspiring real-life women?
The answer is Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site.
Better known for raising money for tech gadgets, Kickstarter has become a powerful presence in funding self-publishing and independent publishing in the US and the UK.
MANY BOOKS, BIG MONEY
As reported in an article by Richard Lea in The Guardian, in 2015 there were 1,973 successfully-funded publishing pitches, plus another 994 for comic ands and graphic novels.
That added up to $32.5 million. To date in 2016 another $20 million has been raised for such projects.
There are other crowdfunding sites that raise money for publishing books, but they are dwarfed by Kickstarter.
HOW IT WORKS
The people doing the pitch set a goal sum and a time limit within which they hope to raise it; if they fail, those who did pledge money are not charged and the project doesn't get any money. On some other sites, if a project raises only part of the goal, the people doing the pitch get that amount.
Kickstarter takes a 5% fee, and payment processing charges. If funding doesn't reach the goal, there are no fees.
THE SECRETS OF KICKSTARTER SUCCESS
Some successful projects have an author who already has a following he or she can tap. Without that, you have to work much harder.
It's vital that the pitch video is compelling and that the goodies on offer are attractive to the target audience.
There is usually a range of rewards tied to various levels of pledges, from a thank you postcard if you pledge a very small amount, to one or more copies of the publication, to signed copies, to bonus posters, to having a character named after you, to spending a day with the author.
Even when those elements are in place, the author or publisher has to drive people to the Kickstarter site. This requires a lot of marketing, usually via social media.
The Kickstarter site says, "The majority of initial funding usually comes from the fans and friends of each project. If they like it, they'll spread the word to their friends, and so on."
THE BENEFITS (BEYOND THE MONEY)
Of course, not every pitch gets funded. One of the benefits of using the site is that it gives you a good indication of whether there will be enough demand for your book. In many cases the books haven't been written yet when their Kickstarter campaign starts. If there is a lacklustre response, the author may decide not to go ahead with the project.
For the projects that succeed, it's a great way to guarantee a good number of readers who, if they like the book, may help spread the word. Rebel Girls, the book about inspirational women, will start its life with 20,000 readers in place, from 71 countries.
WANT TO CHECK IT OUT?
If you have a book that you think might be suitable for crowdfunding, check out this page on the Kickstarter site: https://www.kickstarter.com/learn?ref=nav.
For a more general overview, take a look at their FAQ page.