Knowing when to prepare your crowdfunding campaign is an essential step of starting the journey of this method of self-publishing. Fortunately, you won’t be the first one to do this, and there is a wealth of information available to you before you even start drafting up your campaign. If you are planning on Crowdfunding, you need to be aware of the fact that you will have to commit a large amount of time, before, during, and after your campaign has funded. I’ve prepared a simple checklist to evaluate when you’re ready to start drafting up your crowdfunding project.
1.) Evaluate your novel
While tough, it’s essential to evaluate your novel fairly based on the feedback of your beta readers. If you haven’t had anyone beta read your novel, I’d strongly suggest doing this before even considering a crowdfunding campaign. You want beta readers that are fans of the genre (representative of your target customer), and beta readers that will be critical of your work. Other authors usually make some of the best beta readers you’ll find as they know the nuances of writing and know what works and what doesn’t. I was privileged to have P.J. Benney and Jenna Whittaker (Two awesome authors) beta read my work in addition to some other readers that don’t also write. If your book is close to completion (just needing final editing), or already completed then you’re good to go. If you haven’t yet had your novel evaluated, have that done before preparing your campaign to be sure it’s worth pursuing. If people think your book needs a lot of work, fix it, then return to this checklist and move on. The important thing is to be realistic, but don’t give up. Since your name will be associated with your work, you want to release a high quality product that will lead to repeat customers and free word of mouth advertising down the line.
2.) Estimate the time you need to complete everything
Next, estimate the time you’ll need to complete everything. You need to have a good idea of how long you expect everything to take once you’ve launched your project in order to come up with your estimated delivery date. You want to do everything in your power to deliver your rewards on time so your backers will be happy and likely to do support your work in the future. Calculate the time you’ll need to complete (and format) your novel and any auxiliary content you have planned. Auxiliary content could include custom bookmarks, digital wallpapers, posters, etc. For my campaign, my auxiliary content included custom bookmarks, digital wallpapers, a Google Chrome theme, and a prequel novella. The small stuff does add up, so it’s important to factor in the time considerations if you want to offer things in addition to your campaign. I’ll discuss stretch goals and auxiliary content more in depth in a later post, but for now, just be realistic with how much time it’s going to take you to do everything including shipping all rewards if you’ll be printing.
Crowdfunding campaigns that have a shorter time to deliver rewards after the campaign ends tend to fund better than campaigns that have a significant wait time to receive rewards. Try to knock your time frame down to less than six months, and if you can’t, delay your campaign until you’ve got it within that range to maximize the number of backers you’ll get that support your work. Oh, and go ahead and add one month to your time estimate. It’s far better to under promise and over deliver than it is to do the opposite. Life happens, and it’s likely that you’ll run into delays.
3.) Decide what you need to have done to run a successful campaign
Launching a campaign without graphics or a well-polished synopsis and excerpt is a recipe for disaster. At the very least, you need to have a cover image, some promo content, and an excerpt. You don’t need to worry about final editing costs before launching your campaign, just remember step 2 and include editing time (including the lead time from your editor) that you’ll need to complete your project. You need to be prepared to spend upward of $500 for cover design and promo images if you don’t have the ability to create a quality cover and compelling graphics yourself.
4.) Do some market research
Know your genre, know your audience, and know your target customer. Since you aren’t the first one that will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for a book, there is a lot you can learn from other projects, both the successful and unsuccessful. Take a look at comparable projects that are similar to your work, and analyze every aspect of their campaign. Look at their graphics, any excerpts they offer, the formatting, the rewards they offer, the pricing, everything. Look at campaigns that failed and try to look for elements that may have led them to failure. It’s hard to know exactly went wrong, especially if their failure was a result of poor marketing and getting the word out. Sometimes, it’s obvious and you’ll see things that kept backers away. I’m not going to post any examples of bad projects out of respect to other creators, but you’ll know them when you see them. You won’t really be able to set definite prices on your rewards until you’ve worked out all of your costs further down the line, but just know that most backers like to spend an average of $25 for rewards.
5.) Start building your campaign
If you’ve made it this far, it’s time to start building your crowdfunding campaign! Start designing it from the ground up, brainstorm what types of rewards you want to offer, and start looking for companies that offer these products and services at fixed or scalable costs. If you’re hit with unfathomable success, which I hope you are, you should already have an identified alternative publisher that gives volume discounts which will help you achieve economies of scale and help your bottom line in terms of the financial rewards you reap from your campaign. It’s time to start researching your publisher and learning what you’ll be able to do yourself and what you need to outsource. If you made it this far, you’ve still got a long way to go, but if you have a product worth sharing, don’t give up!
Next up in the series, evaluating your costs and pricing your rewards.
Do you have any questions? If so, let me know in the comments section below! I’d love to hear from you.