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Comparing the best crowdfunding platforms for book projects

Comparing the best crowdfunding platforms for book projects

By Claudia Besant |

whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

Indiegogo

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform with over nine million supporters, offering flexible funding and fixed funding options – meaning you don’t have to raise 100 per cent of the funds to proceed with the project but may be charged slightly more. Creators can access guides on audience growth and email strategy for extra fees ($10 per guide). Indiegogo tends to lean towards technology and hardware products, but publishing and creative projects are growing. 

Platform fee: 5 per cent setup fee, plus third party credit card fees (3 per cent).

Payment fee: 2.9 per cent + £0.30/pledge + £25 transfer fee; additional fees for donors outside of the setup country.

Rewards for project sponsors: Varying rewards organised by the creator depending on how much is pledged.

Indiegogo Positives:

  • Unlike Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms, Indiegogo provides the option to receive all funds from a campaign instead of going with the all-or-nothing structure. Fees will be higher if you decide to receive cash despite having not reached your funding goal, but at least you’ll receive something for all your hard work.
  • Indiegogo allows a campaign to stay live for up to 120 days, giving you more time to start marketing your campaign to your chosen demographics and increase exposure. But be sure to use this flexibility to the best of your advantage, keeping in mind that most contributors will donate at the beginning or the end of a campaign. If you feel like you might need a bit more time, you also have the chance to continue your campaign past its end date for a 5 per cent fee.
  • Campaigns aren’t individually approved like on Kickstarter, so there’s no delay when starting your campaign.

Indiegogo Negatives:

  • Failure rate and fees, especially flexible funding, are quite high on Indiegogo.
  • Indiegogo doesn’t have the strongest brand recognition compared to platforms like Kickstarter, which is about four times more popular. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t benefit from having a campaign go live, it just means that you’ll have to work a little harder to get the exposure you deserve.
  • If you fail to meet your funding goal, you’re still contracted to provide the promised rewards to campaign supporters. This can place you in a weak financial position, as you’ll need to pay for internal infrastructure costs in order to get the rewards out to people despite not having raised enough money.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a great platform for creative projects, with over twenty million supporters. The platform takes an all-or-nothing approach, requiring 100 per cent of the funding goal in order for a project to go ahead. There is a 35 per cent success rate for publishing projects and a chance to build a community. Patrons only get charged if their project meets the funding goal by a set deadline. Fundraisers (non-project initiatives) will need Kickstarter’s approval.

Platform fee: Free.

Payment fee: 5 per cent fee on successful projects; 3 per cent + £0.20/pledge processing fee (5 per cent + £0.05/pledge for micropledges of £10 or less).

Rewards for project sponsors: Varying rewards organised by the creator depending on how much is pledged.

Kickstarter Positives:

  • Discoverability is high on Kickstarter as it receives a lot of traffic. Creators have a number of options to increase the discoverability of their campaign further, such as specifying where the project originated so visitors can filter based on location. 
  • If you’ve funded other projects, those project creators will be notified when you launch your own campaign.
  • Kickstarter is a well-known and trustworthy crowdfunding platform, which is important when you’re asking people to support and donate to something that does not yet exist.
  • Kickstarter has a dedicated subsection specifically for books, making it far easier for potential backers interested in writing-based projects to fine-tune their search, narrow down their options and filter out competition from unrelated projects.

Kickstarter Negatives:

  • Although users can filter projects, Kickstarter is still a massive platform so there will always be the potential risk of getting lost in the crowd.
  • It can be difficult to get your campaign approved as Kickstarter has many restrictions on what can be funded, so you may have to wait some time before you can properly kick things off.
  • Kickstarter only offers an all-or-nothing approach, the consequence being that individuals only receive the money pledged if their goal is met or exceeded. This requires authors to have an existing audience or degree of popularity already. Only around 35 per cent of campaigns actually succeed.
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Patreon

Patreon is a subscription platform used by over six million people that turns the one-off interaction between creator and crowd into a continuous relationship. Subscribers will make monthly payments for access to exclusive content from the creator. Patreon allows people to support creators of all kinds, including musicians, visual artists, podcasters, video creators and authors, with a monthly pledge that can be discontinued at any time.

Platform fee: Free, but a percentage of earnings will need to be paid to Patreon.

Payment fee: Packages with varying benefits: 5 per cent, 8 per cent or 12 per cent of monthly earnings. Standard payment processing fees apply (3–5 per cent).

Rewards for project sponsors: Depending on how much they pay monthly, members have access to various content (e.g. tutorials, videos, early access to new work, merchandise, etc.).

Patreon Positives:

  • Patreon is a great platform to use if you’re looking to grow a genuine, loyal community of supporters that might help to fund multiple projects over time.
  • While it may take a few days for payments to process, Patreon ensures everything runs smoothly for creators and that payments are received from patrons each month.
  • Although you’ll have to be consistent with creating content each month for your subscribers, there is no final goal or all-or-nothing model that prohibits you from receiving the money you’ve earned. There’s also no set time limit, so you’ll be paid monthly by your patrons for as long as you’d like.
  • There are countless content ideas for writers to reward their patrons with at each subscription level. It’s completely up to you what you’ll offer and for how much. For example, you could share short stories linked to your book’s topic or featuring some of the characters, or offer an exclusive look at a deleted scene that you loved but ultimately had to cut from the final manuscript, or you could even let your readers contribute to your work by naming a character or location. There are so many possibilities and it can be great fun for everyone involved.

Patreon Negatives:

  • For indie authors, a Patreon account can be used to supplement writing income. But, it’s important to recognise that Patreon is not like other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, which some authors use to fund entire publishing projects. The platform is not intended for this use and therefore might not be right for indie authors with such intentions.
  • Discoverability is not as high on Patreon as it is on other crowdfunding platforms. While the search and tag features have been improved, categories are very broad and sometimes only featured creators are listed. Patreon also has fewer users than the other platforms, so your chances of getting noticed and raising the funds needed for your publishing project may be slim in comparison.
  • Creators will need to pay a percentage of their income – 5 per cent directly to Patreon, and another 5 per cent or so in processing fees.

GoFundMe

GoFundMe is one of the world’s largest social fundraising platforms with fifty million supporters, and is unique to crowdfunding in that the company is not an incentive-based platform. Unlike Indiegogo, GoFundMe allows charities and individuals to raise money for just about anything. However, the purpose of the platform is more focused on fundraising for personal causes and life events such as medical bills, education and animal aid rather than creative projects, so this is something to bear in mind.

Platform fee: Free.

Payment fee: Charges a 5 per cent fee and also deducts a 3 per cent payment processing fee from all pledges.

Rewards for project sponsors: N/A

GoFundMe Positives:

  • Creators can withdraw the funds they’ve raised at any time, without having to wait until the project has reached its desired goal, and there are no deadlines or limits.
  • GoFundMe helps you promote your campaign by connecting to Twitter, Facebook and email providers. It also offers a detailed campaign dashboard where you can post updates and send thank you notes to those who have donated.
  • GoFundMe is a popular, well-known platform that people will instantly recognise. This can help increase the likelihood of your campaign receiving the funds needed to make your project a reality.

GoFundMe Negatives:

  • It may be difficult to garner support for your project without rewards as an incentive, but you could always offer digital or print copies of your book to supporters to show your gratitude.
  • There is no guarantee of success. GoFundMe has helped to raise more money online for causes than any other existing platform, but this means you’ll have to deal with a lot more competition from campaigns that may be considered more important than your own. If no one can find your campaign, or if your social network isn’t very large, it will be a struggle to generate enough attention to acquire the funds you need.
  • GoFundMe is available in only nineteen countries at the moment. The complete list is available on the platform’s support page, but most eligible countries are in Europe and North America – with the exception of Australia.

Alternative crowdfunding platforms and routes

We have covered the most popular crowdfunding platforms authors use to raise the funds needed for their publishing project. However, platforms like Ulule, WritersFunding and Fundly are also worth researching to determine whether they might be a good fit for you and your book project.

You may also wish to explore the private crowdfunding route, which avoids the involvement of third parties and any fees associated with them. However, this will limit donations to purely within your own networks and require more time and management. If you’ve already got a dedicated following or large network of people interested in your book idea then this could be a really great option. But if you lack an existing audience, it may be worth considering the public crowdfunding route.

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