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How to Kickstart Your Book
You have an incredible story and you’ve perfected it until it shines. In your heart of hearts, you know your work is solid and will appeal to a broad range of readers. You have been searching in vain for the very best publisher or agent. No one is biting and you are seriously considering going the self-publishing route.
But self-publishing is expensive
Marketing your book, whether in person or online, will include fees, travel arrangements, advertising materials and more. You will need an attractive book cover. There are cheap and easy means of obtaining a book cover but you want yours to be exemplary and a personal reflection of your work so it will cost you depending on the artwork or photography chosen. And an editor may be necessary – although your grammar skills are excellent, it is always safer to have another professional review and, if necessary, correct your work. This could cost anywhere between a few cents per word all the way up to several hundred dollars. So how are you going to pay for these services?
Crowd funding may be a viable solution
Crowd funding is an online method of gathering funds for a project by requesting friends, co-workers, relatives and virtual strangers to financially support or invest in your project. The very act of asking others for their hard-earned dollars may make you cringe but you it might be worthwhile to take a second look at this unique concept.
The level of professionalism on the three leading crowd funding sites may astound you. The quality film, book, business, charity, software, gaming and personal entries add up to a lot of talent and philanthropy – talent and giving that will only see the light of day if supporters don’t step up to the plate and help their fellow artists achieve their goals.
Kickstarter.com places its emphasis on specific creative endeavors such as film, music, design, photography, writing and gaming. Fundraisers who do not reach their monetary goal will not receive the funds but if they do, there is a 5% fee for services. They accept specific projects only and they must fit the categories listed on the site. They do not fund charities.
Indiegogo.com opens the funding options to whatever may strike a person’s fancy. They are the most flexible of the three sites. They allow groups or individuals to attempt to raise money for almost anything and operate worldwide. This site also allows fundraisers to keep their funds even if they don’t reach their goals. They have two types of fee systems: fixed and flexible. Under the fixed fee plan, they will charge 4% of the total if the goal is reached and 9% if it falls short. The flexible plan charges 4% if goals are reached and if they are not, the funds are returned to the contributors.
Startsomegood.com is mainly concerned with creating change for the good of fellow individuals around the world. They stress the importance of creating change and raising awareness of causes. They have a unique fee system where the fundraisers not only choose a monetary goal but also a “tipping point” – the point where the funds will be enough to actually do some good. After that point is reached, the fundraiser will seek to make his ultimate monetary goal. This site charges 5% of total funds after the tipping point, not the final goal, is reached, Unless your book has some type of social change theme attached to it, it will probably not be a match for this site.
There are several ways to get individuals to support you on crowd funding sites. Use all the social media contacts you have on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about your project and give regular updates. Add pictures, quotes, comments and even videos with the content to get your audience’s attention – and dollars.
Always keep your contributors posted on the status of your project – they would, of course, like to see some return on their investments and be comfortable with the fact that your project is progressing.
Maintain a website with regular entries as to the work accomplished. Add excerpts to provide even more interest and intrigue. If it is in your budget, film a short trailer explaining the book or acting out the scenes of the story. Put it on YouTube for all to enjoy. You can also pre-sell your book – promise the first autographed copies to those who invest in – and believe in – your final work.
You owe it to those who stand by you to produce a quality product. Use the funds received to make sure your book is properly edited, has an eye-appealing cover and is properly organized and marketed (See resources for self-published authors below). It would be most embarrassing to produce an improperly prepared novel after all your contributors have made possible for you.
The pros of crowd funding include publicity for your work, funds for your project and a tool to prove to editors that you do have what it takes to make it in the publishing world. Cons are few but include a public showing of your work that could be twisted and reproduced in a similar manner by another individual. You can combat this by making sure your book is copyrighted. You also risk not gaining any funds at all if your contacts are not strong enough.
An excellent example of crowd funding is the efforts of Seth Godin to gain the funds needed for a book he was writing. In a matter of just a few days, he managed to raise a total of $232,000. Granted, he was an established writer and already had a large fan base but this is an example of what one individual can accomplish once he knows the ropes and has a captive audience.
Some may think that asking friends, acquaintances and virtual strangers for funds to develop your project to be an extremely bold and demeaning gesture but it is actually a way for artists to help themselves to help others. After an individual receives assistance and sells his book and then ultimately gains success and recognition, he is in a much better place to pass on his monetary assistance to others who may need it for their own projects.
It’s all about artists working together to realize their dreams. Under ideal conditions, giving back will be the premise for beginning and maintaining this circle of support.
Recommended resources for self-published authors:
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