How to Crowdfund a Book: An Australian self-publishing success story #LostMtns
Crowdfunding can be a powerful way to publish, promote and distribute a book…plus build a brand with longevity. But like with any ‘overnight publishing success story’, it requires a great concept (including writing, and depending on the genre: illustrations/photos), as well as quality execution, social media marketing skills, follow through and customer service.
As an author and publisher, you need to deliver: the crowd can be hungry for your work, but they can also turn hangry if you let them down.
So, might crowdfunding be a potential option for you as a previously traditionally-published author, indie author and self-publishing entrepreneur?
When I was writing Look – It’s Your Book! Write, publish & promote your non-fiction book: a self-publishing guide for Australian writers (2022), I split the 100,000+ words into five sections:
- Writing and Editing
- Publishing Your Book
- Distributing Your Book
- Marketing Your Book
- Leveraging Your Book
Many authors think that Section 1 is what it’s all about. I mean, after all, isn’t writing the book the hard part? Well, yes…and also, most definitely: no. Why? With millions of books being released around the world each year (not even counting all the backlist books vying for attention), the challenge for authors, traditional publishers and self-publishers becomes: book visibility, author visibility (oh, did I say book visibility and author visibility?), and distribution.
Chapter 34 in Look – It’s Your Book! is called Crowdfunding As a Way of Distribution. When I was writing it, I had a hard time working out in which section it should land, because crowdfunding a book can actually tick off: book publishing, book distribution and book marketing.
Yes, crowdfunding your book means you can:
- test the market for your book concept
- be paid up front to write and produce your book
- set your own price
- distribute your book directly into the hands of readers
- grow your brand and earn a variety of revenue streams
- collaborate with other artists and businesses
I write about the ups and downs (there can be plenty of of both!) of crowdfunding a book in that chapter, and there are plenty of examples from around the world where crowdfunding books have been successful but, what is a great Australian example of book crowdfunding?
I have writer, author (stay tuned for her books coming out soon!) and adventurer Yvonne of Coffs Trails to thank for pointing me to the current (running until September 2, 2022) successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign organised by the team at #LostMtns.
Who are #LostMtns? Well…they were the team behind the hugely successful crowdfunded coffee table-style guidebook This Ain’t the City. You can read about that 2020 Kickstarter campaign here…yes, 1337 backers raised $AUD108,336 to bring the project to life. Why do I say ‘hugely successful’? Because to be able to raise $108,336 before you hit PRINT is fabulous!
Crowdfunding a book is not just about writing a book, it’s about community-building. And to do it well, you ALSO need to be an amazing administrator. It will mean being on top of customer service, responding to emails, caring and being adept as much about freight, admin and customer service as you are at design and stringing your sentences together.
Why do I say that? Well, read some of the backer comments from the 2020 campaign here. The customer isn’t always right, the parcels don’t always get through, backers can change address between the time they order and when you deliver…the crowdfunding platform might not always deliver the IT you need either…but your customers HAVE paid in advance for something…so it will be up to you to sort it out.
And that is what is super cool, about the #LostMtns team. They are learning by doing, learning by delivering and writing, publishing and adventuring on their own terms. They’ve done it once, and now they’ve built on that knowledge and their relationships, and will no doubt do it even better this time.
At the time of updating this blog on Friday 15 July 2022, their second crowdfunding campaign has reached $79,995 thanks to 554 backers with 49 days still to go…if you go to the #LostMtns Kickstarter campaign you’ll see where it ends/ended up.
As an indie author, that’s what’s exciting. You get to not only write, but to build your skills, a business and a following – all around your life and writing passions.
So, if you love a good hike and adventure and are heading to the Blue Mountains, check out #LostMtns and if you’re heading to the Mid North Coast, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and the North Coast, check out Yvonne and her upcoming books at CoffsTrails.
But if you prefer to let your fingers and mind do the walking…I know that my book and workbook on writing and self-publishing, my one on one consulting, and my writing and publishing presentations and workshops, will help you get there faster, smarter and with the knowledge you need to plot your own path. It’s all a bit invigorating really! 😀