You Can’t Afford to Ignore Crowdfunding

Last year, Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson ran a Kickstarter project that raised $42 million USD.

$42 million is a very nice payday, but it’s an outlier, not a common outcome of publishing Kickstarter projects. However, Brandon Sanderson’s success drew attention to crowd funding in a way that made most of the indie publishing industry sit up and take notice. 

Even as a midlist indie author, you can gain several serious advantages for your career and your business by using crowdfunding.

Here are four major reasons why you should consider incorporating Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platforms into your publishing schedule.

  • 1.       You Reach Readers Far Beyond The Retail Stores
    • Discovery is a built-in factor of Kickstarter campaigns. There are readers who browse Kickstarter and regularly back Kickstarter projects who may not have heard of you via the retail stores. Kickstarter promotes certain projects they like, which further increases your discoverability.
  • 2.      The Average Kickstarter Project Out-Earns The Average Book Release, Every Time.
    • I’ve yet to find any reports or statistics that will back this up, but having helped organize two Kickstarter projects now, I can affirm that the average price a reader will pay to participate in the project is much higher than they will pay to buy your new release on a retail store.
    • In order for the reader to pick up the bonuses and goodies that you offer, they’re willing to spend double figures. Given that the average retail indie title usually sells for far less, you’re already ahead of the game just by releasing on Kickstarter. If you can further enhance your tiers with goodies and bonuses that the readers really want, the readers will spend even more.
  • 3.      You Can Road Test New Ideas.
    • This is a facet of Kickstarter campaigns that isn’t talked about a lot, but it is a legitimate use of the crowdfunding platform. If you have a wild idea for a story that’s outside your usual genre, you can run a Kickstarter campaign to measure the interest readers have in this exotic idea of yours. If the project funds, you’re committed. But that also means that you have the interest there and know that when you release the story elsewhere, you’re not going to crash.
    • If you fail to fund, you can move on with nothing lost, not even the time it takes to write the book.
  • 4.      You’re In Direct Communication With Kickstarter Readers.
    • Kickstarter allows you to communicate directly with readers and buyers, including those who have backed previous campaigns of yours. That means you’re building an audience inside Kickstarter, and controlling the messages you send out.
    • You can incorporate these readers into your email list, and with each Kickstarter campaign, you’re building a growing audience who are happy to consider backing your campaigns.
    • Compare this to launching a new book on any retail store, where you have no data about who has bought the book, who has bought previous books in the series, or how to reach them.

There are a great many other advantages to using Kickstarter. I’m just learning about them now, as I go through my initial campaigns.

With the exploding interest in crowdfunding, there are resources popping up all over the Internet to help indie authors set up their campaign and maximize its effectiveness. There are author groups on Facebook dedicated to helping each other set up the most effective campaigns.

One of the biggest advantages to Kickstarter is that it costs you nothing to try. There is no downside. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to set up a Kickstarter. And with a little bit of imagination, you’ll be surprised by how successful your project can be.  Success is cumulative; with each new project, the level of funding can steadily increase as your Kickstarter community grows.

I would be remiss, of course, to not mention my current Kickstarter project.  “The Great Family: Tracy Cooper-Posey’s Victorian Romance Mega-Series” launched on February 6th and funded within 12 hours.  Now the project is moving toward the first stretch goal (when backers will receive two series boxed sets).

This is only the second project I’ve been involved with, and the learning curve can be daunting.  But the rewards are worth the effort needed to learn how to build good projects with wide appeal.

Check out my Kickstarter here.

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