Inspiration for Lorna Sixsmith’s book came when a blog post entitled ‘Advice to those considering marrying a farmer’ went viral and Lorna wondered if people would read a book based on this concept. To put it to the test (and to raise some finance), Lorna raised €6,100 via crowdfunding, wrote, self published and sold 800 copies of her book ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ in six months. Lorna is an avid blogger at Irish Farmerette and believes her social media presence was hugely influential in raising the funds. Here she explains why crowd-funding can be a great option for self publishers, and details some of the things you need to consider before jumping in!
Crowd-funding is a method of raising finance for a creative project by creating a campaign on a crowdfunding platform such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter or Fundit and asking people to pledge an amount of money in return for a reward. With books, the most obvious and popular reward is going to be a signed copy of the book so in effect, you are asking people to pre-order your book, a few months before it is in print.
Some crowd-funding platforms operate an ‘all or nothing’ system whereby unless the goal is reached, the creator receives nothing. Others allow for a partial claim but the percentage paid to the platform is higher. Many people see the success stories and think crowd-funding is easy but only 44% of campaigns on Kickstarter succeed while Fundit is higher at 73% – too many rush into it – it’s actually like preparing for the most indepth interview you’d ever do!
Crowd-funding is wonderful if you need the following:
- A defined deadline – you will have to tell your pledgers when the book will be available in its finished format and although there may be a little leeway, it is best to state a deadline that is realistic. If you are a procrastinator and need a fixed deadline – crowd-funding is perfect.
- Partial funding – Self publishing is not cheap if you are going to print the books – between an editor, illustrator / cover design, website and the printing, the costs can really add up to thousands. To have even half of the cost met by crowd-funding really diminishes the feeling of risk.
- Confidence – will anyone read your book? Will anyone part with money for your book? Knowing that a number of people believe in your book and your project will do wonders for your self confidence so you can concentrate on the writing and editing rather than worrying about the ‘what if nobody buys it?’ scenario.
- Promotion: all authors need to promote their own books and crowd-funding gives it a head-start. If your crowd-funding project is covered in print or on radio, it gives your book valuable publicity. It also means that you have journalists to contact for possible coverage when your book is launched (and to possibly review your book).
- Ambassadors – some of your backers will become your ambassadors once the book is available, they may write blog posts about it, they may tell their friends, they may review it on Amazon.
- Include an extract or link to an example of your writing on your campaign page. You need to show backers what they will be investing in, and that they will enjoy your book.
- If you have written a book before, include details of it and its success to date.
- Campaigns with videos tend to be more successful so a video that shows your personality and what the book will be about is essential.
- Social media is crucial for both the crowd-funding and for promoting the book when it is launched so make use of Twitter, Facebook and your blog once you start writing your book. Your followers will become your community so start engaging with them from day one. It is never too late to start either.
- Have rewards that people will attach value to and will want. Some will pledge for the book for themselves, some will want it as gift so think about your timing (Christmas, Mother’s Day etc).
- You will need a huge number of backers at €15 for instance, to reach your target. Try to include pledges that hold a higher value and that a few people would like and will pledge for – an example might be a dinner with the author at a fine restaurant (creator pays for the dinner, backer arranges transport to the creator’s town) for €300 or that you will do a talk and a reading at specified locations for €300. Another popular ‘book’ reward is that the backer can choose a name for one of the characters in the book or its sequel. Beware of creating rewards that will take you considerable time and money – it can be a fine balance between choosing rewards that people will want and won’t take up precious time and prevent you finishing the book. Remember that producing the book is the ultimate goal.
- Don’t forget to be realistic with your target. Work out what self-publishing will cost you, itemising the printing, cover design, illustrations, editing, crowd-funding fees and any other costs to show potential backers. I would recommend that you do not look for crowd-funding to cover the total cost – backers like to see the creator putting some of their own investment into it. You need to look for an amount that ensures the success of your project and yet is achievable.
When your book is published and your backers receive it, many of them will become your ambassadors. They feel that they are part of the journey if you have provided updates along the way and they will tell their friends about it.
Crowd-funding really increases the brand awareness of your book as well as providing some much-needed funds towards the publishing costs. However, it is not for the faint-hearted and many successful creators compare it to a full-time job for the month of the campaign. Nevertheless, the advantages far outweigh the risk and it is very possible to raise the much-needed funds, once the work and preparation is put into play.
(c) Lorna Sixsmith
Is a farmer a good catch? Compare the farmer of days gone by to the modern farmer!
Would you like to marry a farmer?
Are you wondering where to find a nice farmer?
Does the prospect of marrying a farmer scare the life out of you?
Irish farmerette Lorna Sixsmith provides a witty account of the Irish farmer as the ideal husband. A must-read guide for anyone wanting to know more about Irish history, considering marrying or already married to a farmer.