use crowdfunding to raise money for book publishing
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How to use crowdfunding to raise money for book publishing

Are you considering using crowdfunding to raise money for book publishing? Here's how one author did it and what she learned.

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Associates links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a couple of pennies (at no extra charge to you).

With crowdfunding generating nearly $74 billion in North America in 2020, there’s good reason for authors to take advantage of this approach to raising funds to publish or market their books.

One crowdfunding company is even making it possible for authors to find a traditional or hybrid publisher. When those using Publishizer‘s platform generate a high volume of book proposal-based pre-orders, they can convince publishers that their book is marketable.

“Marketable” is, after all, one of the keys to securing a traditional contract that helps authors avoid the self-publishing learning curve and expense.

It’s not enough to say, “This is for me,” though. Considering only 22% of campaigns reach their goals, it pays to first learn the best ways to use crowdfunding to raise money for book publishing. What works? What doesn’t?

Meet Pamela Cummins

To help with that, I talked with spirituality author Pamela Cummins about her recent Kickstarter campaign.

Pamela Cummins

Pamela is a gentle soul who is using her gifts to help others.

An expert in dream interpretation and a spiritual growth coach, she’s written eight books and created four oracle decks.

In addition, Pamela is a psychic, certified Lenormand reader, advanced clinical hypnotherapist, ordained interfaith spiritualist minister, certified energy healer, and body/mind facilitator. She’s even an Attitude of Cattitude columnist.

Pamela is an active, supportive member of my Build Book Buzz Facebook group (please join us!) whose gracious approach to sharing what she’s learned always makes me smile.

Here’s our conversation. It’s loaded with helpful specifics.

What book did you run a Kickstarter campaign for and when did you do it?

The book I used for the campaign was Dream Interpretation for the Mystical Soul back in October 2023.

What was your fundraising goal, how much did you raise, and what, specifically, were you raising money for?

Many authors will do a Kickstarter to offset the cost of publishing their book. However, that’s not my reason. One day out of the blue, my angel told me to do a Kickstarter for the book I was writing, which surprised me because the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

That night I asked for a solution dream about whether I should do a Kickstarter campaign.

Here’s my dream:

I was sitting at my computer screen and a loud voice told me to research Kickstarter. Then I began typing to research it.

After my mystical messages, I knew this was the way for me to go.

My goal for the campaign was to reach a new audience, discover if Kickstarter was the right platform to market new books, and hopefully earn money from it, too.

I set the funding goal at $300 and raised $416.

Please tell us how you structured your campaign and why you used that approach.

Pamela Cummins supported her latest book with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

“Keep it simple” was the structure I used for my first Kickstarter, something I’m good at. Therefore, my campaign was about digital products and services. Etsy taught me how much shipping stressed me out before I closed my former shop. Hence, my decision not to do physical products.

One bit of advice I heard over and over was not to have a high funding goal. This way it’s easier to make and go over your goal.

This is important because if you don’t reach your money goal on Kickstarter, then you don’t receive a penny. And your campaign stays on the platform for the world to see it wasn’t funded. 

$500 is the recommended amount. An experienced Kickstarter author confirmed my feeling of having a lower goal of $300 because I didn’t have any physical rewards. Plus, my research showed (at the time) how past dream interpretation campaigns never funded.

Another word of advice I took was that the best length for a campaign is 21 days.

Campaign structure

Here is how I structured the campaign tiers:

  1. E-book.
  2. Digital swag (this tier included the e-book, two digital bookmarks, and two MP3 meditations).
  3. 20% off dream interpretation by email and e-book.
  4. 20% off one-hour dream interpretation session and e-book.
  5. 20% off coaching dream interpretation package and e-book.

Customers had the option to purchase the digital products separately as add-ons, and I provided an add-on, one-question psychic email reading that was only available on Kickstarter.

How did you prepare for your Kickstarter campaign?

Research is a must for a Kickstarter campaign! Backers can tell when someone didn’t do their research, and it’s all about the fundraiser making money. If they had done the research, then the campaign would have focused on the awesome products the backers receive before it’s available to the public.

I took my dream’s message to do research seriously by reading books, articles, and blogs, and watching videos. Kickstarter’s website has loads of how-to information.

A great way to learn how to run a Kickstarter is to back other campaigns.

A great way to learn how to run a Kickstarter is to back other campaigns. ~ Author Pamela CumminsClick to tweet

This taught me a lot about the process and what to do and not do.

For example, when one campaign ended, an author did not send a thank you. And her spiral paperback was available for sale on Amazon two weeks after her Kickstarter ended.

I felt annoyed her book was available for sale before I received my copy. (FYI Amazon doesn’t produce spiral books.)

This is why I thanked my backers with most of the updates and why I waited five months before making my book available to the public.

Join the Facebook group for authors using Kickstarter

The number one resource I recommend is the Facebook group Kickstarter for Authors.

There is a wealth of information to explore in this group managed by experienced Kickstarter authors. I spent many hours there researching and reading the posts. The members are very supportive.

What I found most helpful was the feedback on our campaigns before they went live. Kickstarter for Authors will keep you inspired!

The number one resource I recommend is the Facebook group Kickstarter for Authors.

Pamela Cummins

How did you promote your campaign?

Before the campaign, I called and sent messages to friends and colleagues. I asked if they would follow my Kickstarter before it went live, spread the word to help me get followers, and help again once the campaign went live. Even sharing it on social media would help.

I wrote articles, blog posts, and newsletters on what Kickstarter was about and my upcoming campaign. I was interviewed on a couple of podcasts and a live radio show. And, of course, posting on social media.

The Kickstarter for Authors Facebook group also does swaps to help market each other’s campaigns.

What lessons did you learn about using crowdfunding to raise money for book publishing?

I learned the following six lessons:

  1. Who I could count on to spread the word about my campaign. One of my colleagues went beyond what I expected and I let her know how grateful I was for her help.
  2. I would start at least six months in advance to collect followers before the Kickstarter instead of two months.
  3. October is not a good time to run a Kickstarter campaign because that platform’s Witchstarter promotion for magic projects that month floods the platform with too many campaigns.
  4. The platform is always changing, so continue to research it.
  5. I would make the funding goal lower for a digital-only campaign. Hopefully, another campaign would fund quickly so I could avoid worrying about reaching my goal. Perhaps it would fund in one day so I receive the fully funded in one day banner!
  6. Most backers want physical products, so I’ll think about using them in my next campaign.

What surprised you the most about your campaign and the response to it?

How stressful it is to run a campaign and the fear of looking foolish by not funding.

It’s one thing to hear about it, yet another to experience it. Part of me couldn’t wait until the Kickstarter was over.

Many people don’t understand what Kickstarter is about.

Some think it’s similar to GoFundMe, although a few got it when I explained it was about receiving new and cool products before the public can.

Others wanted to know why I was still promoting my Kickstarter after I hit my funding goal. A couple of people shrugged their shoulders upon hearing that was my bare minimum goal and I was hoping to go way over it.

Will you do this again for another book or product?

Possibly. Maybe an oracle deck? If I received messages to do it again, I would. At least this time I would have experience with how to run it.

What else (if anything) should we know about your Kickstarter experience? 

You might wonder why I would bother with all this work to only make $416.

My answer is to think about how many e-books I would need to sell to earn that amount – at least 60. It would take a heck of a lot more if I had the book enrolled in Kindle Select.

I had 10 backers and eight signed up for my mailing list. One purchased an email dream interpretation. The others may purchase and/or refer people to me in the future.

I have no regrets about the experience. My suggestion for your Kickstarter is to do lots of research and planning, but let go of the outcome.

Are you thinking your book is too weird for Kickstarter? It’s perfect because backers love those types of books.

Whatever path you choose to go for your books, I wish you much joy as you travel it!

Have you used crowdfunding for a book? Were you satisfied with the outcome? Please tell us in a comment.

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