Should Authors Crowdfund Their Books?

This is a question that has been on my mind for quite some time now.  I have heard about it, have seen tweets pointing people towards their books, and have clicked links to video pitches.  All of these things made me want to know more.  It seemed too good to be true: You pitch a book to a group of avid readers, if enough of them like your idea, they support you, your book gets published and into the hands of said avid readers.  Simple.  Effective.  Perfect win-win for all involved.

Reality Check 1: Zach Miller reports that 1 out of every 3 Kickstarter projects is successful (37%).

Reality Check 2: Bethany Joy Carlson says, “Unless you’re a natural-born hustler, (and most authors are not), selling your book is hard.”

Reality Check 3: Do you like to speak on-camera?  If not, you’d better learn because a key ingredient to a successful crowdfunding campaign is to have a video pitch.  Zach let’s us know that, “Effective crowdfunding videos explain to your backers what your crowdfunding campaign is all about and why they should participate.  The best videos do that by creating an emotional pull.”

However, there are a number of ways to crowdfund a book.  Different platforms offer different services, and levels of publication.  Here are some top crowdfunding platforms.

Publishers with Crowdfunding:

Unbound (UK)

You pitch your book/story idea to Unbound’s Commissioning Editors.  If they feel it has a shot, they will launch it on their site.  Once the project is live, they will draw up a contract.  The author and Unbound split the profit 50/50.  The author retains intellectual rights to their work, but licenses Unbound to produce and publish the work.

As you write your book, Unbound gets the pre-orders going.  Once your book reaches its funding goal, then it goes into publication which is akin to a traditional big publisher with designers, editors, copyeditors, a marketing team, etc.


Similar to Unbound, Inkshares allows authors to pitch their books as well but not to Commissioning Editors.  With Inkshares, authors pitch their projects directly to the community.  An author can pitch a book in draft stage (meaning: prior to going for funding), in order to drum up interest in the project, and to gain a following/readership.  THEN, once the book has some traction, and/or the author receives feedback from the community, the author can then move forward to funding the book.

At that point, the author has 90 days to reach one of two funding goals:

a) 250 pre-orders – Quill Publishing (with light editorial work done on your book)

b) 750 pre-orders – Full Publishing as with a traditional publisher with full marketing & editorial teams working on your book with you

If you don’t meet your funding goal, the money is returned to those who pre-ordered books.

It is entirely up to the author to get to the first funding goal of 250 pre-orders.  Once there, then Inkshares comes in and assists.

Many successful authors on this platform rode the waves of contests to gain awareness and readers on this platform.

Crowdfunding with a Publishing Category:

Both of the platforms below do excellent jobs.  The main difference between the two is the pricing/funding structure.  With Kickstarter, it is an all-or-nothing model.  You ether achieve your funding goal and get the money.  Or, you don’t get anything at all.  All partial funding goes back to your supporters.

With Indiegogo, if you don’t achieve full funding, there’s a fee and you get to keep what you did raise.

These platforms are not specifically for books; these platforms are for any project you can imagine — an album, a rock bank, starting a new business, helping a nonprofit organization, helping someone raise funds for a medical procedure, etc.  Therefore, if you are looking to build a readership, these platforms can work, but they are not geared specifically for your purpose.  These platforms work well if the author wants to retain full control of all aspects of their book being published.  Why?  Because once your book is fully funded, you, the author, must take the funds and find your editorial team, design team, marketing team, yourself.  It is self-publishing with “angel” investors. 🙂



Something Wholly Different:


Patreon is a site that allows creators to publish episodic works to sell to their patreons (patrons) on a subscription basis.  So, if you write short stories, or postcards with poems on them (like my buddy Julie Reeser!), Patreon is specifically good for you.  You have a platform where you can connect with those seeking your particular brand of creative expression.

To explain it differently, Patreon is a platform where a creator/author/writer can offer their project on a monthly basis such as Deadman’s Tome, a new horror magazine.  For $6 bucks a month, you can support this project. That means that each and every month, Julie gets the support and backing of her patreons for her creative endeavors.  The more patreons you have, the larger income/support you will accrue and the further reach your work/project will have.


So, in the end, as a writer, you have to decide if crowdfunding is right for you.  And, which form of crowdfunding is best for you and your project.  Thought should be put to the emotional quotient of things: Do you have the inner gumption to just market, market, market?  Are you able to craft a compelling video pitch (without throwing up)?  Do you want to create flyers and go to bookstores and use the 3-foot rule?  (Talk to everyone within 3 feet of you about your book/project…)

See, I probably should have done much more research and homework before I decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign for my book Fury From Hell.  I went with Inkshares as it was the one that came to my awareness first.  However, after my research, I think I made the right choice.  (Except, I should have waited for a contest!)

However, I still have 43 days left to reach my first funding goal!  I would love your support and your pre-order to help me realize my dream of getting Fury From Hell professionally edited and published.

Thanks in advance for any support, shares, mentions and pre-orders!

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Rochelle Written by:

Writer. Dreamer. Lover of Life. Photographer.
I bring all of these elements to my work and share it with you.
Enjoy the ride!

One Comment

  1. March 7, 2017

    This is a great summary. Timely, too! I’m working on self-publishing a book of poetry through my Patreon site, but haven’t quite fussed out the details yet. So many options! Best of luck on Fury from Hell. I’ll be excited to hear how it goes for you, but I’m sure you’ll be a success. You are fabulous! xoxo

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