So you wrote a book. You went through several drafts, found beta-readers, incorporated the advice you received, and revised the whole thing chapter by chapter. You get the picture – you have an almost finished product. It’s the best you can do. Unfortunately that’s not enough if you want to self-publish.
You still need to pay for at least a proofread of your manuscript, if not a copy edit. If you’re not a one man operation like I am or just don’t want to waste precious time on designing covers and formatting the interior layout of your book, then you’ll need to hire a designer. That’s more money. Maybe you want to pay for reviews from Kirkus or Foreword Clarion. Maybe you want to buy some banner ads on various blogs/websites, you might want to pay for a Goodreads ad or something similar. You might even want to pay for a book trailer.
The idea is that if you want to self-publish, you need money. Not a lot and the amount always depends on what you’re willing/capable of doing yourself. Like I said, I’m pretty much a one man operation. I do my own book covers; I can format my e-books (well enough so they get accepted on the first try in Smashwords’ Premium Catalogue.) But most people can’t do all this stuff on their own, so they need to pay someone to do it for them. And sometimes it happens that you don’t have the money.
So where to find it?
Simple. Crowdfunding. If you haven’t heard about it, it goes like this: you propose a project and people buy your product in advance. Whether is a comic book, novel, music album, or movie, crowdfunding has become very popular, simply because the way you pitch your project determines the level of success you have. It’s all about enticing your readers with a good blurb, a great premise, maybe a chapter or two. And a video, of course. Ultimately, most people buy movies and books based on limited knowledge – either because of a recommendation or just because they liked the idea behind that story.
Kickstarter is the obvious choice for those based in the US. It’s the number one platform. But there’s a catch: you have one month to reach your goal, otherwise you get nothing. If the funding is successful, they charge 5% of the income. There’s no upper limit, so you could be making a lot more than you’ve been bargaining for.
The downside to all this is that it takes a lot of promotion. Previously published writers, who already have an audience, will be more successful than, let’s say, an unknown. A lot of people have to see your project. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I think that a conversion rate of 4-5% is the absolute max. So you need to go viral on Facebook and Twitter.
Like I said, it helps if you have something to show people. You’re actually working on that project, but you need more money. Tell your potential buyers why you need the money for; tell them that the project can’t be completed unless you secure financing. Maximum disclosure is one of the factors that might ensure your success. And be realistic as well – don’t ask for too much, just the money you need, and don’t forget to factor in the expenses related to printing and shipping the products to your investors.
It’s your dream, so be honest about what you’re trying to do, show everyone that’s well worth supporting you as an artist. We humans are not only fans of seeing others beat each other to death in an arena. We also like to help others. Try to make people care, because, in the end, you’re asking them for their money, you’re asking them to take a risk. Any endorsements or advance praise for your book will also help a lot.
Kickstarter requires an US Bank Account, so it’s not available for international artists. But don’t fret, because we, the rest of the world, have Ulule and Indiegogo. The first one perceives a commission of 8%, while the latter takes only 4%. What’s maybe a good thing about Indiedgogo is that you can choose between two funding types: Fixed Funding – if you don’t reach your goal, you get nothing, and Flexible Funding – you get to keep what you raise, minus a 9% commission.
I haven’t tried crowdfunding yet, and even though I could use financing on a number of my more ambitious creative endeavors, I’m not sure I can raise any money. Like I said, it helps if you have some credentials, some fans, twenty-six cousins, maybe a lot of rich uncles. This is when that author platform I was talking about yesterday comes in handy.
Then again, it’s also about luck. And also about having a very good project to pitch – and being good at pitching it. A lot of factors to consider, but I think that crowdfunding is a great option, especially now, when more and more artists are going indie.