The answer to getting published in a crowded marketplace just might be crowdfunding. Crowdfunding raises capital for a business or project via the group efforts of individual investors. Done primarily through social media and crowdfunding platforms, this method of fundraising taps into a person’s network to gain needed funds and exposure.
Crowdfunding turns mainstream business financing on its end. Instead of writing a business plan and presenting it to potential investors, or in the case of publishing, showing a finished manuscript to a publisher who might turn it into a book, crowdfunding gives the entrepreneur or the writer the upper hand. The writer presents his or her concept online and asks for people to help pay for publication by contributing any sum of money.
Contributors receive a stake in the profits that the book eventually garners. If a project does not meet its fundraising goal, the project is canceled and the funds returned to donors.
Authors can use crowdfunding to finance the entire publication process, or just portions of it, such as copywriting or cover art. Alternately, they can submit their work to a publisher that uses crowdfunding to determine which books to publish, based on level of public interest.
Crowdfunding and Reader Engagement
Not only can crowdfunding cover the costs of self-publishing a quality book, it also allows direct engagement between writers and their readers. Readers who become involved in funding a book by giving even a nominal donation tend to become passionate fans. These deep fans become advocates who spread the word about the writer whom they patronize. Ultimately, that leads to more books sold and greater profits.
Writers can engage with the reading public through both fundraising platforms and full-service book publishers who determine which books to publish based on crowdfunding results. Authors who already possess a well-developed fan base and network benefit most from crowdfunding platforms. Readers who want to propel the publication of new books by a favorite author also like the idea of having a stake in that writer’s future.
Unknown authors with fresh and interesting ideas can also garner a considerable audience on crowdfunding sites. Projects presented on publishing crowdfunding sites often present topics that are not seen regularly on bookshelves, such as titles about minority cultures.
Kickstarter Publishing Projects
In August, Kickstarter, a well-known crowdfunding platform, announced that it had garnered more than $100 million in fundraising for general publishing projects since its 2009 launch. In 2015 alone, it raised $2.2 million in pledges, with 26 percent of the projects on its platform successfully receiving funding.
The traditional model of book publishing has been hit hard by Amazon and other changes in book retailing. Authors can no longer command the lavish advances that were once common. Switching to a crowdfunding model fits with the digital age, where social media connections are meaningful and can help fund the publication of a book.