What the heck is crowdfunding, and how can authors use it to fund their books?

Crowdfunding.

I’ve heard of it, but I never really “got it.” I mean, asking for people for money BEFORE you write your book? Is that just plain weird, or is it revolutionary?

Today I asked author/publisher Danielle Ackley-McPhail to stop by and explain all this insanity.

Danielle has successfully crowdfunded several books. Let’s see how this stuff works.

Here’s Danielle!
Swish thin
Not everyone gets crowdfunding. A lot of people do it, for various reasons, but the general public doesn’t have a concept of what goes into such a campaign or what motivates one.

Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon, to name a few, are all platforms where individuals can learn about projects that meet their interests. Based on how well the creator has done their job, those individuals then decide if the project is one they want to support.


A lot of work goes in to a successful campaigns, from designing them, to explaining what they are about, to organizing the rewards backers can expect for their pledge and as bonuses when the goal is exceeded, and above all, promoting them. It is a long, exhaustive process that begins with an idea and is not done until all commitments have been met.


eSpec BooksFor me, I use crowdfunding to finance my efforts as a publisher. I have run seven successful campaigns as both myself and eSpec Books and am soon to wrap up an eighth. I have chosen crowdfunding as a part of my business model because I have been in the publishing industry for over twenty years as an employee and as an author. Over those years I have seen most of the pitfalls independent publishers get themselves into. Hundreds of Dollars MoneyThe primary one being that they tend to overextend themselves. They start with a certain amount of capital (or credit) and race to see how many books they can get out (one of them, with hope, a runaway hit) before those funds are gone. For a while they do okay, but a few bad book choices or slow selling months, perhaps paired with heavy returns, and suddenly the publisher finds he doesn’t have the money he needs to sustain the rapid growth and pay the authors.
I don’t want to be that publisher. For this reason I steadfastly refused for the longest time even considering to be a publisher.
Then crowdfunding happened.
All of a sudden I saw a way to make books possible. See, for a publisher (or an independent author), crowdfunding is basically a way to pre-sell a book. It is also a way to build an audience and increase visibility. Some use it as a way to fund their creative efforts, but I would recommend against this. There are too many complications in promising something that does not exist yet, after all…life does have a habit of getting in the way when you least expect it.


By using crowdfunding as a part of the eSpec Books business model I ensure my projects are in the black from the get-go, instead of needing to earn back their production costs before making a profit. I also ensure I have the funding to pay professionals to do any of the work I am not capable of doing myself. Lastly, by Size of a Dollar Areserving half of the money received in a separate royalty account, I ensure I have the money set aside to pay the authors what they are due. Our growth is slow, but steady, and the foundation we are building is solid. For most of our campaigns there has been little left over once everything is paid for, but everything we bring in after that is profit.


In addition to this, with each successful and completed project we grow our built-in audience as well as our credibility as a publisher.
Book Left1The key is to go into the venture with realistic goals. To know what you can and cannot do, and be prepared to work your butt off to make it happen. This is important. Most publishing crowdfunding campaigns do not succeed. This is because individuals go into it thinking they are going to collect free money. That people are just goBook Left1ing to hand it to them. They go into it thinking only of what they want to achieve, instead of what will make it worth a backer’s support.
Backers don’t care what you want. They want to know what’s in it for them. That is where your focus should be, making sure the backers feel they are getting good value for their support.
Yes, it takes a lot of work, but if you want to make dreams happen, it’s more than worth the effort.



Want to see a live crowdfunding project?

Check out the info and the link below. Interesting stuff.


eSpec Books is currently funding two novels by bestselling authors Jack Campbell (The Lost Fleet, The Lost Stars, and The Pillars of Reality series) and Brenda Cooper (co-author of Building Harlequin’s Moon with Larry Niven, and author of The Wings of Creation series).  The two books are very different coming-of-age stories.
Jack Campbell’s The Sister Paradox is an urban fantasy turned epic adventure, where a teen boy crosses dimensions to fight dragons and basilisks and other manner of magical creatures beside the sword-wielding younger sister he never had.
Brenda Cooper’s POST is a post-apocalyptic journey novel, where a girl name Sage leaves the safety of the botanical garden she grew up in to discover the world outside and with hope, help rebuild it.
To learn more or to support their efforts, visit http://tiny.cc/Novels2016.


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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

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7 responses to “What the heck is crowdfunding, and how can authors use it to fund their books?

  1. Oh! And I am thrilled to say our current campaign has successfully funded and we have 10 days left to unlock bonus rewards. Both manuscripts are in hand and have begun production.

    Best,

    Danielle

    • Fantastic news! Congratulations!

      • Thank you. We are thrilled. These are two amazing novels that the larger houses took a pass on just because they were different from the authors’ usual fare. We were lucky to sign them and thrilled to have them fund. Now to work on those stretch goals so we can give some bonuses away!

        (Did I mention crowdfunding was a lot of work? 😉 LOL

  2. Reblogged this on eSpec Books and commented:
    Jennifer Eaton hosts me on her blog today, asking the question, what is crowdfunding? Hope you enjoy my response.

  3. Hi Jennifer.

    Thank you for hosting me today. It was fun writing the article, if somewhat difficult to condense. There is so much that could be said on this topic.

    Anyway, to address something you said in your intro. While there are people who have used crowdfunding to raise money for projects they have not completed yet, others used these platforms merely to gather the funds for production costs on manuscripts or collections that are already complete.

    If you are running a campaign it is always important to be clear which is the case.

    Best,

    Danielle

  4. Hello,

    Thank you for reading.

    Yes, you definitely need to pay taxes on the money you receive, however, you can deduct the expenses of producing your project. So if you decide to crowdfund plan your campaign carefully to allow yourself plenty of time so the funds are spent in the same calendar year.

    Best,

    Danielle

  5. Interesting. Do you have to pay taxes on the money you collect, Danielle? I’d read somewhere that this is considered income and needs to be considered as such.