By Scott Lorenz
Hundreds and even thousands of years ago, it was essential for creative folks to recruit sponsors to help fund their masterpieces so they could succeed. Things haven’t changed as sponsorships are still important for creative people, including writers. Writers continue to recruit sponsors and patrons to promote their books and help them earn a spot on the best-seller list without clearing all of their savings.
Kickstarter is an invaluable resource for authors who would like to raise some money for their books. It is a website that gives authors, musicians, app developers, inventors and others the opportunity to recruit people to support their creative project.
Kickstarter is a for-profit company that was created to support creative projects (for a 5% fee against the funds collected) because they believe creative projects make for a better world. Since its inception in 2009, there have been 165,189 successfully funded projects for more than 5 billion dollars! Although the majority of projects raise less than $10,000, an increasing number have reached six, seven, and even eight figures.
Here’s how Kickstarter works: Project creators join Kickstarter and set a funding goal and deadline. If people like their project, they donate money to support it. An author can use the money for publishing or distribution costs, to upgrade to a better distributor, or to pay for the costs of the book publicist hired to give your book the push it needs.
Kickstarter has an all-or-nothing policy that states you must reach your goal before receiving any money. However, don’t let this scare you because even if you don’t receive a penny, you can get your book in front of more readers and obviously, that’s never a bad thing.
I’m going to be frank here: The reality is that while many authors have benefited from Kickstarter, a lot of the campaigns flat out failed, especially when the creative person tried to run their own campaign without first researching what works or asking for professional assistance.
Fortunately, Kickstarter recently launched a conference called “The Next Page: Creating the Future of Publishing” to help authors interested in reaping the benefits of Kickstarter. It spent four panels giving those in publishing the chance to discuss topics such as economic sustainability and cultivating community. It took place on May 11th, 2019 but you can watch it online here.
“Book publishing isn’t a huge portion of Kickstarter’s revenue — the “Publishing” and “Journalism” categories together account for just 9% of their successfully funded projects and 4% of the total money pledged. But, the industry’s “outsize cultural impact” makes it critically important to the Brooklyn-based public-benefit corporation,” explained Adam Rowe, a Forbes contributor who discussed the conference in a recent Forbes article.
As a book publicist, I have been involved on both sides of a Kickstarter campaign and have witnessed how authors have used the platform to attain the funds needed to publish and promote a book. Let’s take a closer look at some 2019 Kickstarter author success stories.
Author Jen Marr of Washington DC used Kickstarter for her book, “Paws to Comfort”, a book designed for anyone who has ever felt awkward when reaching out to someone who is struggling. It empowers readers with simple tools and inspirational stories that can help them break through the awkward zone and become better comforters.
As of June 2019, her campaign has received the support of 221 backers who pledged $33,819. The money raised will go toward manuscript to book, book production and delivery, and launch and promotion.
Art Brooks of Providence, RI is another example of an author who used Kickstarter to their advantage. His Kickstarter campaign is designed to support the “Star Wars The Vintage Collection Archive Edition”, a comprehensive historical manuscript and detailed visual archive of The Vintage Collection, one of Hasbro’s most popular lines of Star Wars action figures.
At the time of this writing the campaign had 1,058 backers who pledged $133,887. Brooks offered various perks to backers who pledge a certain amount. For example, anyone who pledged $100 or more will receive one printed copy of The Vintage Collection Archive Edition book and one limited edition 24×36-inch The Vintage Collection compendium poster.
Believe it or not, there’s also a Kickstarter campaign for 9-year old author MaKayla Rose Hubbs from Mantua, NJ. She wrote the book “Why Bedtime Sucks: The Opposite of a Bedtime Story.” The book begins with her witty objection to the various reasons she’s been told it’s important for her to get a good night’s rest. Her campaign had 124 backers who pledged $9,588. Anyone who pledged $10 or more will received an e-book as well as a downloadable coloring page.
These authors didn’t just get lucky and raise money for their books with minimal effort. Many of them were strategic in how they designed their Kickstarter campaigns and came up with incentives for pledgers. In order to attract pledges as an author, you can offer the following:
- Digital copies of your entire works if you have written three or more books
- Autographed, limited edition copies
- Free editing and critique of a donor’s draft writing
- A free review of a donor’s published book
- Your illustrator to draw an image of the donor to place in your book
- An in-person meeting with the author for a formal English tea
- Mention of the donor’s business with a testimonial given by a character in the book
- A gourmet meal prepared by the author of a cookbook at the donor’s home
- A free hot air balloon ride for two with this article’s author, book publicist Scott Lorenz, to any Michigan resident donating $1,500 or more to one of his clients
If one of my clients decides to pursue a Kickstarter campaign, I’ll help them design an appealing message, create a great video, and promote their campaign outside of the Kickstarter platform.
Other Crowdfunding Options
Indiegogo: A crowdfunding website founded in 2008. One compelling feature, if you don’t reach your goal you can still keep the funds pledged.
Ulule: This is the only international crowdfunding platform where the majority of projects get funded. It strives to empower creators and entrepreneurs.
The Bottom Line: If you’re an author looking for funding then check out how Kickstarter can pay for your book publishing and promotion.
Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com or contact Lorenz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist