Sometimes the hardest part of getting your book finished, is getting the funding to even start the work. It used to be that funding was a strenuous task forcing you to tap into your closest friends and family, followed by a self-made PR campaign. Luckily with the advent of crowdsourcing sites, such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, fundraising has been made easier. However, you still need to help your own funding project.
First, you need to realize that even though internet fundraising has been made easier with people’s access to online funding sources, the system doesn’t work on auto pilot. There is work that you need to stay on top of to make your funders feel safe in their investment to you.
Before you start your fundraising, there are a few things you will need to do. For most fundraising sites, this is pretty straight forward, and each site walks you through the steps pretty easily. It is recommended, though, that you have certain things ready to go so you’re not scrambling for the material you’ll need. You’ll be asked for a pitch for your project, as well as an artist’s statement. You also will include pictures and other media that represent your work. The more media you have, and the more diverse this media, the more attractive your campaign page will look. If you can have a video up of you explaining your project and engaging people off the bat, that is great. Whatever you do though, make sure there is enough for people to know what your project is about and who you are. More importantly, let them know why your project is so important to you and how it serves the greater good.
Keep Funders Informed
This is one of the most important things to do to get funding. Your investors want to know that you are staying on top of your work, and that they aren’t funding an idling ship. Utilize social media and features built into the websites that allow you to write updates, share photos, or even post videos of your progress. You need to take advantage of this so people know that you’re actively working on getting the project funded or started. It also takes some people multiple visits to the site before they decide to donate, so make sure you keep them coming back to increase that chance. Don’t let people get bored with your work.
Pick the Appropriate Platform
Some projects can still be worked on even if they’re not fully funded. Others don’t stand a chance if full funding isn’t reached. If your project can benefit from any amount raised, make sure you choose a flexible funding platform that allows you to keep any amount raised. A flexible platform means that while you set a funding goal, you will keep any amount raised even if you don’t reach your goal. Strict platforms will return donations to investors if you don’t reach your funding goal. If you can only survive if full funding is reached, choose a strict platform that only disperses funds if you fully raise the money.
Indiegogo offers both flexible and strict funding, but if you choose flexible funding and don’t reach your goal, they do take a higher fee from what you raised. Kickstarter offers only strict funding options, and you will only get funds if the full amount is raised. Sometimes with strict funding sites, donors’ money is returned if funding isn’t reached and actually provides them with a sense of security to donate. If you go with a flexible funding platform and decide that not reaching a funding goal is still workable and can be used, you have to let people know how it can be used. Don’t use the “every little bit counts” excuse, but actually let people know how the money can be spent. You can use this option in tandem with the above tip, which is to keep people updated on how their funding will serve you.
Now you can get really creative. Most of the internet fundraiser programs allow you to offer rewards to your funders. These are things that you can personally provide, like professional services, promotional work, posters, etc. Some people get very creative and offer to have funders over for a fresh cooked meal and a movie night at home, or they can give out credit in their book. For instance, a lot of filmmakers offer producer credits in their films, and people really enjoy those perks and will shell out some money for that. Another good example of a perk, and one that fits well with being a writer, is to provide a signed copy of your work when it is published. Also, try to tap into what is unique about yourself and what unique things you might provide. Are you crafty or can you bake well? Use these skills to make offers to your funders. One of the popular perks I have seen is to throw a party at the end of the fundraiser for those who donate a certain amount. Funder perks are really endless in variety, and you can set them at different amounts to encourage higher donations.
There are certain restrictions, however; don’t offer any perk that you will need your funded money for. Keep it simple. Also, don’t tell everyone about all the perks you are willing to give up front; release new perks throughout the process. Incorporate the updates and tell your potential investors to keep an eye out for an upcoming perk. It will gain your project exposure and relevancy.
Whatever route you take, and whatever site you use to get your work funded, just remember that the pieces are not just going to magically fall into place. You need to do the work on your end, and most importantly you have to show how much you believe in your own project. People are going to be sold on your idea if you aren’t invested in it yourself. Funding is a process, and you won’t reach the magic point where everything is sustainable. Instead you will have to work on your funding efforts up until the last day of the fundraiser. Most importantly, try to have fun with it, because the less “work” you make it, the more you will enjoy funding your book, and this attitude will radiate to your funders.
About the Author
Jordan Mendys is a media professional and freelance photographer and filmmaker. He is currently in post production on my documentary set to be released in August called (Re)Defining Family – Amendment One about North Carolina’s recent super-DOMA.He lives with his wife in North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Google Creative Commons