Let’s face it, crowdfunding your book is scary. Not only are you putting your writing out there for the world to see, you’re making yourself vulnerable by asking your friends, family, and network for support. Many writers let these fears stop them from taking the crowdfunding plunge. So today, let’s review a few crowdfunding anxieties and see if we can alleviate them. Or at least help you feel a little less terrified.
Fear #1: Asking the people I know for money feels icky.
If there’s one thing that makes me want to curl into the fetal position, it’s the idea of asking every single person I know to lend me money. I can certainly see why anyone, facing the idea of crowdfunding, would shy away from the fundraising part.
But here’s the thing: asking for help with a crowdfunding campaign is not the same as asking for money. Try to change your thinking about this issue. Focus instead on the idea of sharing your book and getting people excited about it (which is exactly what you’ll need to do once your book is published).
With crowdfunding, every contributor is getting something in exchange. And these same people are likely visiting your campaign page because they’re already excited about your book. Presumably, you’re excited about your book too. So share that excitement! Talk about why you want to get it published, what you think is special about the book, where your crowdfunding funds are going, etc. Then make sure people have the right information (i.e., the campaign’s link), and they’ll figure out the rest.
One more thing to consider: if you’ve ever been asked to support someone’s campaign, book launch, or any other sale or fundraiser, you’ll know that getting asked for support (financial or otherwise) isn’t annoying, offensive, or upsetting in any way. Most likely, you’ve been excited for that person and wanted to support them. Annoyance only happens once that request keeps getting asked over and over, to the point of becoming spam.
So, if you’re afraid of asking the people you know to support your campaign, remember to 1) focus on your book and why you’re excited about it, and 2) be assertive but not spammy.
Fear #2: My family and friends might not support me.
I’ve seen a few campaigns where that’s happened. A writer spends energy and time gearing up for their crowdfunding campaign and getting super hyped up for the launch. Come launch day, they send out their announcements and…nothing really happens. Maybe a few people contribute $50 each, but your campaign funds are nowhere near your target.
Often this is the result of a lack of proper preparation, not a family or a friend group who doesn’t support you. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, your friends and family want to support you and are excited to chip in a few bucks if that means it’ll help you achieve your dreams.
The trouble, more often than not, is that people are busy and distractible. They want to support you, but they also have work, laundry to do, emails that need to get sent out, and children to pick up from soccer practice. Your Facebook post announcing your campaign competes with all these distractions, not to mention fights against busy social media pages and algorithms that decide what shows up in someone’s feed and when. It’s possible some friends and family didn’t even see your announcement!
What’s the solution to this? Prepare your supporters. Contact your first wave (your inner circle of family and friends) well in advance of the first day of your campaign, and make sure you contact them individually. Keep them in the loop about how your campaign prep is going, what you’re planning to do, when it’s launching, what rewards you’re offering, etc. Get their feedback on your campaign page and rewards in advance to get them involved in the process (both mentally and emotionally). This way, they’ll be ready to support it on Day One of your campaign because they’ll have had ample time to become aware of what you’re doing and are emotionally invested in its success.
As far as everybody else goes (the people who aren’t your friends and family), a good thing to remember is this: if you’ve ever donated to a campaign that wasn’t being run by someone you knew, it probably wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. You probably thought about it. You weighed how likely you were to get the product, how excited you were about it, what the risks were, and what the benefits were. You might have even left the page to think about it and then contributed on a different day. Or you put it aside for the moment, and in the end you forgot to contribute.
All this is to say that people get distracted, so you need to make sure that everyone is hearing from you more than once. That might mean tweeting daily updates about your campaign, sending a follow-up email to someone who said they were interested but hasn’t contributed, or posting every few days on Facebook to let people know how the campaign’s doing.
Fear #3: Crowdfunding my book could ruin my chances of getting traditionally published.
In a word, no.
But you probably want a slightly longer explanation than that.
Before taking on a book, traditional publishers will first assess whether it will sell. A crowdfunding campaign is a perfect indicator for a publisher on the kind of sales they can expect from both a writer and that writer’s books, which helps them decide whether it’s worth the investment of their time and money. A successful campaign indicates that a writer can promote their book and has a list of people who are willing to buy it. It’s the perfect, risk-free market test. In fact, there are currently two publishing companies that openly use crowdfunding to vet books before publishing them (Unbound and Inkshares).
Most publishers would be thrilled to publish a fully funded book with a clear indicator that people are excited about it. Self-publishing your book after you crowdfund likely won’t hurt your chances either. Publishers have been known to take on self-published books with good sales numbers. (Two obvious ones are 50 Shades of Gray and The Martian.) Otherwise, you can use a fully funded first book to help yourself ink a deal for the next one.
Any other crowdfunding fears? Shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!