Question: How can an author use Kickstarter to fund a self-published book best?



From start-up companies to music, films to books, people use crowdfunding to finance their passions and creative projects. Authors can use crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Unbound to raise money when self-publishing their work. Think of it as pre-selling your book with the added bonus of building a readership as you do it.

If you are considering using a crowdfunding campaign to offset some of your publishing costs, it’s important to understand that a great book idea isn't enough. Crowdfunding for books can be very competitive. To stand out and improve your chances of having a successful event, you should follow these steps:

1) Start building an audience BEFORE launching a campaign
2) Plan your budget wisely
3) Research crowdfunding options to determine the best platform for you/your book
4) Engage your audience and promote your event

Authors can use crowdfunding to raise money to cover their publishing costs.

Tips for successfully crowdfunding your book

1. Start building an audience

Why are you writing this book? What types of readers do you want to attract?

It’s important to understand your writing goals and target audience so you can develop an effective plan to reach potential readers. A crowdfunding campaign can create awareness for your book and help build your readership, but it's best to have a foundation of followers in place before launching your campaign. These followers will help spread the word and ensure your campaign starts off strong.

Some ideas for building a fan base ahead of your campaign include using a blog, social media, or newsletter to start connecting with people and communicating your message, book concept, and author brand. Let potential readers know who you are and why your book matters.

There may also be companies and organizations that are relevant and will benefit from your book. You may find success raising funds when you tap into communities of like-minded people who share your passions.

2. Plan your budget wisely

How much money do you really need to publish and launch your book? That all depends on your chosen publishing path.

Research your planned publishing path so that you have an understanding of the costs involved, and see what comparable authors are doing with their campaigns. Asking for too much or too little will set you up for failure. Here are common self-publishing costs to consider:

•  Editing
•  Cover art
•  Interior design and formatting
•  Publishing platform fees
•  Printing
•  Logistics and shipping
•  Website development
•  Launch promotions such as online ads

3. Research your crowdfunding options

Not all crowdfunding platforms are created equal. Some platforms are free to set up a campaign but take a small percentage of your funding. Others take a percentage AND charge a fee for every transaction. On Kickstarter, for example, if you don’t reach your target goal you don’t get any of the funding – it all goes back to the supporters.

The publishing-focused crowdfunding platform Unbound will publish your book for you if you reach your campaign goal, but will take 50% of any profits earned.

It’s important to factor these platform costs and policies into your overall budget. The last thing you want is to take a big loss on publishing your book.

4. Engage your audience and promote

It's important for authors to promote their crowdfunding campaigns.Readers feel inspired to support authors when they become emotionally invested. Not only do they want to read the book, but they also believe the story needs to be shared with others. Spend some time creating a compelling crowdfunding page that will let potential readers know why they should care and support you. What is unique about you and/or your book? Let your passion and authenticity shine and consider using imagery or video to entice them.

If people don’t know about your crowdfunding project, they can’t support you. Use your website, social media, newsletter, and word of mouth to let your network know about your efforts. Once you start to see some momentum, keep your followers updated on your progress. This may inspire them to share with others as you get closer to reaching your goal. 

The most effective crowdfunding campaigns have a time limit. The platform you choose may require a specific campaign length, but if it doesn’t, keep your event short to create a sense of urgency and excitement.

Don’t forget to give back

People love free stuff. Be sure to offer something to thank your supporters and encourage larger monetary donations. For smaller donations, you can offer a free, signed copy of your book. For larger intervals of giving, get creative. You can offer items such as artwork from your book, a t-shirt featuring your book's cover art, or even a special service related to your expertise. The possibilities are endless.

Before starting a crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to know there is no guarantee your event will be successful. By planning ahead and doing your research, you can increase your chances of engaging with potential readers and earning their support long-term.