Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Meet your creative needs with crowdfunding

Yeah, I never heard of crowdfunding either until a friend on Twitter got tired of my bellyaching about the costs of cover art, editing, etc. for a self publisher. Good friend that she is, she sent me this article.  Essentially, crowdfunding in its various forms allows you to get your creative project off the ground through much-needed donations or assistance. It's more than just begging virtual strangers, friends and family, or anyone in your social circles to help you. Your backers expect something in return for their generosity.

I had two months of reservations about crowdfunding to work out, before I launched my first project with Kickstarter, which focuses on creative projects needing a source of capital. For now, it's only available in the US, but there are similar international sites like Pozible (Australia) and FundIt (Ireland). To date, the site has connected artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, musicians and writers with backers who have pledged varying amounts; the minimum pledge is $1. The setup costs you nothing, unless your project is fully funded. Some exceed their goal with the creators receiving all funds, minus a fee of up to 5%. Over 10,000 Kickstarter projects have been successfully funded; that's approximately 44% of the total submitted. With the average successful submission raising up to $5,000 (much of it donated by strangers), the rate seems reasonable. This isn't a quick or easy opportunity to abuse the kindness of others; not only do you have to provided incentives to donate and fulfill those requirements, you're expected to fulfill the project or cancel your funding request if you don't think you can complete the work.

But before you rush to sign up, consider the guidelines. Also, think about what you have to offer as a reward. Can you provide greater incentives for those who donate a little more? When can you offer those rewards? It's important to consider how you can thank those who help, including the associated costs, like shipping, for delivering rewards to them. Lastly, what's your timeline to achieve your funding goal? Kickstarter allows creators up to 60 days in advance. If a project is successfully funded, the money is transferred to your account via Amazon Payments, using the same settings you may already have in place as an Amazon buyer or self-published author through Kindle Direct Publishing.  

Here's the way in which Kickstarter works:

  • Sign up for an account at the Kickstarter website. You can also login with Facebook, but at some point you'll need to provide a password.
  • Follow the steps under Start A Project to submit your proposal to the Kickstarter staff.  It may take upwards of a day to receive a response. Your proposal includes;
    • The category and name of your project; for a writer, the genre and title of your book.
    • A range for your funding goal.
    • A project description; writers, try a two-line summary of your work with a sample of the first two or three lines.
    • Reward levels, if any. There should be at least one.
  • Once your proposal is accepted, you can flesh out the ideas. Set realistic goals on your funding amount, the timeline and rewards deadlines. None of this can be altered once your project is launched.
  • Make a video that explains your project - this is required. Since I hate this slightly nasal twang in my voice, I decided to do a book trailer pertaining to the project. If you look at the site, you'll see a variety of creative ways in which others are making videos.
  • Lastly, set up an Amazon Payments account, which will allow you to collect funds if you meet your goal.        

Once your project goes live, you can update backers on the status as your project. You must achieve the goal of your funding in full to receive the money - all or nothing. If you set a goal of $1,000 but only receive $990, you get nothing. Seems tough, doesn't it? Not when you consider the role social media has in our lives, or the shared interactions you have with others. If you're a writer with an interesting concept or story to tell, the same way word of mouth works to sell books, applies to crowdfunding. Also, if you're just that close to reaching your goal, perhaps a friend or family member would be willing to help you achieve it - you never know until you ask. In case you're wondering, don't try to get over by providing that last $10 yourself - Amazon has ways of tracking that kind of activity.

My Kickstarter funding goal is to raise $1,200 for editing fees and costs of my cover for The Rule of Love, a historical set in fifth century India, by February 4.  It's due out Fall 2012. Wish me good luck with my crowdfunding project.        

1 comment:

History and Women said...

Fascinating, Lisa. Please let me know how this all works out. I learn so much about the publishing world through you!

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